Sunday, March 23, 2008

Youth Speaks Grand Slam Finals

Try to keep this event on yr radar for next year. Last night was the first time I went and it is wonderful. We were in the nose-bleed section but we could feel the passion waaaaaaay back there. So many of these young poets (there was even a 14 yr old and he was fantastic!) were great -- in their poetry and their delivery. I highly recommend this event.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Youth Speaks Grand Slam Poetry Tonight

Yes, it's tonight at 7:00pm in San Francisco at the Opera House. My posse and I (it's sad when the geezers try to be hip and they're really a decade or two behind in slang) will be going tonight. I love having a teen and tween so that I can go to these things and not look like a teen wannabee.

I'm only a teen wannabee when I think of my joints and the knee replacement surgery that lurks up ahead.

Hey, but if you read this in time and live in the San Francisco Bay Area -- why not come to the poetry slam? You can support the young poets in the bay area.

About Youth Speaks

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins!

Today is his birthday and he's one of my favorite poets. He can be very playful in his poems ... and, yet, he is not afraid to get serious either.

Here's one of his poems ...


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Films We Saw This Week

Dora Heita (Ichikawa Kon)

Hammy, funny in parts, interesting tale of a samurai renowned for his drinking and carousing ways who is then appointed governor of an outpost close to a town filled with drunkards, gamblers, liars, thieves, cheats, prostitutes, pimps, smugglers, and all-around ne'er-do-wells. Not what I would call one of the great films of all time, but pleasant, amusing, a sort of Tokugawa-era murder-mystery with dancing and shenanigans.

Ugetsu monogatari (The Tale of Ugetsu: Mizoguchi Kenji)

We actually saw this before. Still good enough to see again. Mizoguchi Kenji was one of the golden triad (Yasujiro Ozu, Kurosawa Akira) of the golden age of Japanese cinema. We've seen several of his movies at La Casa de Los Gatos, and highly recommend Oharu and Sansho the Bailiff, as well as this one. Caveat: Mizoguchi's films tend to be sadder than Kurosawa's or Ozu's. This is a classic Japanese ghost story, moral and all. The scary parts are pretty damn scary in a "kids at the campfire" sort of way. Mizoguchi is very good at using light and dark to scare the pants offa you.

Le Peuple Migrateur (Winged Migration)

Oh, my. This is such a beautiful piece of work. If you do not see it, you will probably be labeled a very silly person and jeered by obnoxious sprogs who will secretly put chewing gum in your hair. Even Los Gatos loved it. We had to peel Gustav off the screen a couple of times when he did his best Gollum impression (birdses! tasty birdses!), and the others were actually rapt and well-behaved throughout a pretty long but stunningly beautiful film. The directors assure us no tricks were used, but some of those shots are ... unbelievable! Los Gatos assure me that they give it Ten Paws. Other inhabitants of mi casa offer four (unsevered) thumbs up. Total rating: Fourteen Thumb-equivalents.

When The Levees Broke

Let's just say that if this film doesn't make you scream and cry a few times, you need your ticker replaced. I'm talking to you Mr. Dick "Dick" Cheney. Fuck. This is part deuxieme. We have to, so to speak, get it up to watch part troisieme. Better lay in a good stock of booze and happy meds and whatever else it takes, if you plan to watch this. On the other hand, you have to watch it. Spike Lee proves his greatness and viability as an American director with this trilogy. He subtitled it A Requiem In Four Parts. We sincerely hope this is not the requiem, and that New Orleans comes back again.

Have His Carcase (Christopher Hodson)

The BBC did a fine job of putting Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey and his eccentric and clever companion, Harriet Vane, on the screen. If you like: good filmmaking, murder mysteries, British television productions, witty dialogue, Dorothy Sayers, you will love this film.

If you don't &mdash well don't just sit there, you great suffering gob, you've got Netflix, don't you?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Casey Affleck

I always believed it was the things you don't choose that makes you who you are. Your city, your neighborhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something they'd accomplished. The bodies around their souls, the cities wrapped around those. I lived on this block my whole life; most of these people have. When your job is to find people who are missing, it helps to know where they started. I find the people who started in the cracks and then fell through. This city can be hard. When I was young, I asked my priest how you could get to heaven and still protect yourself from all the evil in the world. He told me what God said to His children. "You are sheep among wolves. Be wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves."

-- first lines said by Casey Affleck in Gone, Baby, Gone

Just saw Gone, Baby, Gone and really liked it. I was greatly impressed with Casey Affleck way back when ... in Good Will Hunting. He just seemed like such a natural actor. Again, he embodies the character so fully and naturally in Gone, Baby, Gone. I really recommend the movie. Plus, it's full of wonderful acting by Amy Ryan -- who was so good in The Wire -- Amy Madigan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and someone new to me: Michelle Monaghan. Monaghan played it so nice and subtle.

So, with all of these really good performances, I'm even more impressed that Casey Affleck stood out.

The directing was also top-notch: Ben Affleck.

Kudos to everyone.