Monday, December 31, 2007

Book List: End of 2007

After a year of reading and adding, this is what the 2007 list looked like:

A Cloistered War - Maisie Duncan
A Dictionary of Asian Mythology
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers
A History of Malaysia - Barbara Watson Andaya & Leonard Andaya
A History of Modern Indonesia - M.C. Ricklefs
A History of Selangor - J. M. Gullick
A House in Gross Disorder - Herrup
A Point of Light - Zhou Mei
A River Sutra - Gita Mehta
A Spy's Revenge - Richard V. Hall
A Will For Freedom - Romen Bose
Abraham's Promise - Philip Jeyaretnam
Agnes Smedley - J.R. & S.R. MacKinnon
American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang
Amerika - Franz Kafka
Anna Magnani - Patrizia Pistagnesi
Asian Labour In The Japanese Wartime Empire - Kratosha, Ed.
Baba Nonnie Goes To War - Ron Mitchell
Bang Bang in Ampang - Norman Cleaveland
Beating the Blues - Thase & Lang
Believer Book of Writers Talking To Writers - Vendela Vida
Better Living Through Bad Movies - Scott Clevenger & Sherri Zollinger
Between Two Oceans - Murkett, Miskic, Farrell, & Chiang
Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
Captains of Consciousness - Stuart Ewen
Captives of Shanghai - David H. & Gretchen G. Grover
Chandranath - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Chinese Blue & White - Ann Frank
Chinese Customs - Henri Dore
Clay Walls - Kim Ronyoung
Colonial Masculinity - Mrinalini Sinha
Crusader's Cross - James Lee Burke
Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
Daughters of A Coral Dawn - Katherine Forrest
Daughters of the House - Indrani Aikath Gyaltsen
Death and Justice - Mark Fuhrman
Dena-Paona - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Devdas - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Devil's Guard - George Robert Elford
Don't Know Much About Mythology - Kenneth C. Davis
Ethan of Athos - Lois McMaster Bujold
Extraordinary Popular Delusions - Mackay
Folklore of Tamil Nadu - S.M.L. Lakshman Chettiar
Force 136:Story of A Resistance Fighter in WWII - Tan Chong Tee
Foreign Land - Jonathan Raban
From Pacific War to Merdeka -
Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
Fury - Salman Rushdie
Gaijin - James Clavell
Ghost Baby - Wong Swee Hun
Glory - Vladimir Nabokov
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
Heroes & Other Stories - Karim Raslan
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
Heart Politics - Fran Peavey
Heavenly Intrigue - Gilder & Gilder
How I Adore You - Mark Pritchard
How To Write A Damn Good Novel - James N. Frey
I Married A Barbarian - Dennis Bloodworth & Liang Ching Ping
Imaginary Homelands - Salman Rushdie
In My Dreams - Kassandra Kane
In Pursuit of Mountain Rats - Anthony Short
In The Grip of a Crisis - Rudy Mosbergen
Jai Bhim - Terry Pilchik
Japanese Gods & Myths -
Kempeitai - Raymond Lamont Brown
Krait:The Fishing Boat That Went To War - Lynette Ramsay Silver
Kranji - Romen Bose
Kuching Past & Present - Elizabeth Pollard
Labour Unrest in Malaya - Tai Yuen
Lest We Forget - Alice M. Coleman & Joyce E. Williams
Life As The River Flows - Agnes Khoo
Living Hell -
Making Monsters - Richard Ofshe & Ethan Watters
Modern Japan -
Moving Targets - Birch
My Brother Jack - George Johnston
My Life In France - Julia Child
Nectar in a Sieve - Kamala Markandeya
Niskriti - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Nonsense - Robert J. Gula
On Beauty - Zadie Smith
On the Beach - Nevil Shute
Operation Matador - Ong Chit Chung
Palli Samaj (The Homecoming) - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Pandit Moshai - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Passions of the Cut Sleeve - Bret Hinsch
Pather Dabi - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Pioneers of Singapore -
Plays, Vol. 2 - Bertholdt Brecht
Popular Songs & Ballads of Han China -
Power Politics - Arundhati Roy
Praxis - Faye Weldon
Prometheus Rising - Robert Anton Wilson
Pronatalism - Peck & Senderowitz
Rabbit-Proof Fence - Doris Pilkington
Reading Lolita In Teheran - Azar Nafisi
Reality Isn't What It Used To Be - Walter Truett Anderson
Red Sorghum - Mo Yan
Rehearsal for War -
Republican Like Me - Harmon Lear
Robert van Gulik - van de Wetering
Rosie - Anne Lamott
Seventeen - Colin Cheong
Silences - Tillie Olsen
Singa - Gurcharan Singh
Singapore & The Many-Headed Monster - Joe Conceicao
Singapore English In A Nutshell - Adam Brown
Singapore The Pregnable Fortress -
Singapore's River - Linda Berry
Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas - Maya Angelou
Soldiers Alive -
Sometimes A Great Notion - Ken Kesey
Spices & Condiments - J.S. Pruthi
Stones From The River - Ursula Hegi
Strange Tales of Liaozhai - Pu Songling
Take the Cannoli - Sarah Vowell
Tears of the Giraffe -
That Fellow Kanda - AUPE
The Age of Diminished Expectations - Krugman
The Alchemist - Jonson
The Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pullman
The Art of the Novel - Milan Kundera
The Book of Tea -
The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
The Bride Price - Buchi Emecheta
The Boss Dog - M.F.K. Fisher
The China Study - T. Colin Campbell, PhD, & Thomas Campbell
The Courtship of Robert Browning & Elizabeth Barrett - Karlin
The Devil Finds Work - James Baldwin
The Double Tenth Trial - C. Sleeman, S.C. Sillein, Eds.
The Early Stories - Anton Chekov
The Easy Way To Stop Smoking - Allen Carr
The End of the War - Romen Bose
The Family:They Fuck You Up - Granta
The Ginger Man - J.P. Donleavy
The Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman
The Hollowing - Robert Holdstock
The Image - Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Jungle is Neutral -
The Literature & The Story - Vivian Gornick
The Marquis - A Tale of Syonan-To - S.J.H. Conner
The Mind's I - Hofstadter & Dennett
The Pacific War -
The Physics of Star Trek - Lawrence Krauss
The Plague - Albert Camus
The Post Office - Rabindranath Tagore
The Rise & Fall of the Knights Templar - Gordon Napier
The Sabahan - P.J. Granville-Edge, Rajen Devadason
The Secret Sharer - Joseph Conrad
The Sleeper Wakes - Knopf
The Subtle Knife - Phillip Pullman
The Ugly Chinaman - Bo Yang
The Unabomber Manifesto - Ted Kaczynski
Timaeus -
Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters
'Tis Pity She's A Whore - John Ford
Travels in Siam - Henri Mouhot
Tropical Vegetables - Periplus
Understanding Media - Marshall McLuhan
Virtual Reality - Howard Rheingold
War & Memory in Malaysia & Singapore -
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
Where The Oceans Meet - Bhargavi Mandava
Who Killed Rosalind Yong? - Sit Yin Fong
Why I Am Not A Muslim - ibn Warraq
Women, Outcastes, Peasants & Rebels - Bardhan
Women's Lip -
You Shall Know Our Velocity - Dave Eggers
You Must Set Forth At Dawn - Wole Soyinka
You'll Die in Singapore - Charles McCormac
Your Future, My Faith, Our Freedom - Chee Soon Juan
Your Memory:A User's Guide - Alan Baddeley

I've left out some of the authors because I finished the books, packed them away, and must now unearth them to update this post with author names. Will do, I swear.

Book List 2007: Beginning Of The Year

This is what our book list looked like in January of this year:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Abraham's Promise - Philip Jeyaretnam
Agnes Smedley - J.R. & S.R. MacKinnon
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers
Amerika - Franz Kafka
A Spy's Revenge - Richard V. Hall
Believer Book of Writers Talking To Writers - Vendela Vida
Better Living Through Bad Movies - Sheri Zollinger and Scott Clevenger
Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
Captains of Consciousness - Stuart Ewen
Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
Daughters of the House - Indrani Aikath-Gyaltsen
Death and Justice - Mark Fuhrman
Don't Know Much About Mythology - Kenneth C. Davis
Extraordinary Popular Delusions - Mackay
Foreign Land - Jonathan Raban
Glory - Vladimir Nabokov
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
Heart Politics - Fran Peavey
How I Adore You - Mark Pritchard
Imaginary Homelands - Salman Rushdie
Jai Bhim - Terry Pilchik
Moving Targets - Women, Murder, and Representation - Birch
My Life in France - Julia Child
Nectar in a Sieve - Kamala Markandeya
On the Beach - Nevil Shute
Passions of the Cut Sleeve - Bret Hinsch
Plays, Vol. 2 - Bertholdt Brecht
Porphyrys' Letter To His Wife, Marcella
Prometheus Rising - Robert Anton Wilson
Pronatalism - Peck & Senderowitz
Rabbit-Proof Fence - Doris Pilkington
Reading Lolita In Teheran - Azar Nafisi
Reality Isn't What It Used To Be - Walter Truett Anderson
Republican Like Me - Harmon Leon
Robert van Gulik - van de Wetering
Rosie - Anne Lamott
Spices & Condiments - J.S. Pruthi
Stones From The River - Ursula Hegi
Take the Cannoli - Sarah Vowell
The Age of Diminished Expectations - Krugman
The Art of the Novel - Milan Kundera
The Bride Price - Buchi Emecheta
The Courtship of Robert Browning & Elizabeth Barrett - Karlin
The Devil Finds Work - James Baldwin
The Early Stories 1883-1888 - Anton Chekov
The Ginger Man - J.P. Donleavy
The Hollowing - Robert Holdstock
The Image - Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Inner Eye - Satyajit Ray
The Mind's I - Hofstadter & Dennett
The Plague - Albert Camus
The Secret Sharer - Joseph Conrad
The Sleeper Wakes - Knopf
The Unabomber Manifesto -
Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters
'Tis Pity She's A Whore - John Ford
Where The Oceans Meet - Bhargavi Mandava
Why I Am Not A Muslim - ibn Warraq
Women, Outcastes, Peasants & Rebels - Bardhan
You Shall Know Our Velocity - Dave Eggers

We took a bunch of books off this list, and read a bunch more. Next post is our revised book list at the end of 2007.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Quote from Midnight's Children

I was born in the city of Bombay ... once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more ... On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what has befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter. I, Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Sniffer, Buddha and even Piece-of-the-Moon, had become heavily embroiled in Fate - at the best of times a dangerous sort of involvement. And I couldn’t even wipe my own nose at the time.

Now, however, time (having no further use for me) is running out. I will soon be thirty-one years old. Perhaps. If my crumbling, over-used body permits. But I have no hope of saving my life, nor can I count on having even a thousand nights and a night. I must work fast, faster than Scheherazade, if I am to end up meaning - yes, meaning - something. I admit it: above all things, I fear absurdity.

-- the first two paragraphs of Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

If you have never read Salman Rushdie, treat yourself ... oh, yes, it is a treat. The man has a wicked sense of humor. Plus, his writing is so delicious. His sentence structure is often intricate and I'll say to myself "what's he getting at?" ... and the sentence unfolds and everything becomes clear and then I'm filled with envy. That healthy kind of envy that pushes you forward in your own writing. Not the debilitating kind.

Woody Allen on his legacy

"Rather than live on in the hearts and minds of my fellow man, I'd prefer to live on in my apartment."

-- Woody Allen

Friday, December 28, 2007

Orson Wells quote

I want to use the motion picture camera as an instrument of poetry.
-- Orson Wells

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mayor of Castro Street to be filmed: Update

As reported in today's Leah Garchick column in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Matt Damon, who was spoken about for the role of Dan White in the movie version of "Milk," is out, replaced by Josh Brolin. Sean Penn, as planned, is Harvey Milk, and Bob McDowell tells me that there are rumors that James Brolin, Josh's father, may play George Moscone. Activist Cleve Jones will be played by Emile Hirsch, who starred in "Into the Wild."

Sounds good to me. Josh Brolin was fabulous in No Country for Old Men. (Actually the entire cast was so good.) I hadn't seen him in many things ... that I recall ... and he just impressed the hell out of me in that Coen Brothers' movie. I really believed he was who he was playing in that movie.

Same goes for Emile Hirsch. He was brilliant in Into the Wild. And ... was it yesterday? Mr. Hirsch got a SAG award nomination for that role?

[Oh, my god! From the previous comments above ... I actually sound like I get out and about! These are two of the five adult movies I've seen all year. No, no ... I always make that mistake ... not "adult movies" ... I mean movies made for grownups. I usually go to children's or family movies with my kids. But not so many made for grownups.]

Want to read my previous post on this? Please click here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not Only the Eskimos (Inuit, Inupiaq, Yupik)

This is my all-time favorite winter poem ... I send it out this time every year to friends ... written by the wonderful poet, Lisel Mueller.

Happy Winter Solstice, Everyone!

Not Only the Eskimos*

We have only one noun
but as many different kinds:

the grainy snow of the Puritans
and snow of soft, fat flakes,

guerrila snow, which comes in the night
and changes the world by morning,

rabbinical snow, a permanent skullcap
on the highest mountains,

snow that blows in like the Lone Ranger,
riding hard from out of the West,

surreal snow in the Dakotas,
when you can't find your house, your street,
though you are not in a dream
or a science-fiction movie,

snow that tastes good to the sun
when it licks black tree limbs,
leaving us only one white stripe,
a replica of a skunk,

unbelievable snows:
the blizzard that strikes on the tenth of April,
the false snow before Indian summer,
the Big Snow on Mozart's birthday,
when Chicago became the Elysian Fields
and strangers spoke to each other,

paper snow, cut and taped
to the inside of grade-school windows,

in an old tale, the snow
that covers a nest of strawberries,
small hearts, ripe and sweet,

the special snow that goes with Christmas,
whether it falls or not,

the Russian snow we remember
along with the warmth and smell of furs,
though we have never traveled
to Russia or worn furs,

Villon's snows of yesteryear,
lost with ladies gone out like matches,
the snow of Joyce's "The Dead,"
the silent, secret snow
in a story by Conrad Aiken,
which is the snow of first love,

the snowfall between the child
and the spacewoman on TV,

snow as idea of whiteness
as in snowdrop, snow goose, snowball bush,

the snow that puts stars in your hair,
and your hair, which has turned to snow,

the snow Elinor Wylie walked in
in velvet shoes,

the snow before her footprints
and the snow after,

the snow in the back of our heads,
whiter than white, which has to do
with childhood-again each year.

-- Lisel Mueller

* Of course, now the correct respectful term for Eskimo is "Inuit" ... well, depending on the tribe. See this entry from
Eskimo has come under strong attack in recent years for its supposed offensiveness, and many Americans today either avoid this term or feel uneasy using it. It is widely known that Inuit, a term of ethnic pride, offers an acceptable alternative, but it is less well understood that Inuit cannot substitute for Eskimo in all cases, being restricted in usage to the Inuit-speaking peoples of Arctic Canada and parts of Greenland. In Alaska and Arctic Siberia, where Inuit is not spoken, the comparable terms are Inupiaq and Yupik, neither of which has gained as wide a currency in English as Inuit. While use of these terms is often preferable when speaking of the appropriate linguistic group, none of them can be used of the Eskimoan peoples as a whole; the only inclusive term remains Eskimo. The claim that Eskimo is offensive is based primarily on a popular but disputed etymology tracing its origin to an Abenaki word meaning "eaters of raw meat." Though modern linguists speculate that the term actually derives from a Montagnais word referring to the manner of lacing a snowshoe, the matter remains undecided, and meanwhile many English speakers have learned to perceive Eskimo as a derogatory term invented by unfriendly outsiders in scornful reference to their neighbors' unsophisticated eating habits."

Zippy the Pinhead and Sartre

My all-time favorite Christmas joke ... don't know the origin.

[Zippy the Pinhead opening a Christmas present given to him by Sartre. ]

Zippy: Nothingness! You shouldn't have.
Sarte: I didn't.

Sandra Cisneros: Happy Birthday!

Photo by John Gay

Sandra Cisneros was born on this day in Chicago in 1954. If you have not read her ... oh, my, what a treat you have ahead of you!!

Start with The House on Mango Street. It will make you laugh among other things. If you're a writer, it will make you envious.

Then, Carmelo. I loved this book. Cisneros gives us history, family dynamics and drama, delicious writing, and so much humor!

From today's Writer's Almanac:
She went on to college, and she later said she was lucky to be a girl, because her father didn't care what she studied. He just expected her to meet her husband. So she was free to study an impractical subject like English. She kept writing, and one of her professors encouraged her to apply to the Iowa Writer's Workshop.

But once Cisneros got there, she felt totally out of place. She said, "My classmates were from the best schools in the country. They had been bred as fine hothouse flowers. I was a yellow weed among the city's cracks."

Oh, but weeds give us so much nourishment!

Enjoy her books.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Terry Pratchett's Sad News

Terry Pratchett, best-selling author of many delightful books, which I actually read most of straight through because you can't put his books down once you open one - announced today that, at 59, he has a rare form of early Alzheimer's.

That's just so unfair. A man who has brought so much delight to so many people everywhere, and suddenly, the very thing which makes man something different than rocks, stones, beasts, or nebulae - is going, though not gone.

Pratchett reported hand-eye coordination and dexterity problems which led to a medical exam and the doctor involved informing him that he had suffered a mini-stroke with the resulting dead areas of brain tissue. Further examination has revealed it was not a stroke at all, but this unfortunate condition.

He's going to keep writing as long as he can. I hope his daughter and wife get to enjoy him a lot longer, although all readers of his discworld series will miss him terribly. I hope science comes up with some startling innovation to cure him.

The Guardian has the details.

R.I.P. Ike Turner

He had many faults, but what he contributed to Rock 'n Roll can never be denied.

The Guardian has his obit.

AFAICT, the U.S. media are too busy getting their undies in a humongogantic wad over whether Hucksterbee really dissed Romney's weirdo cult or Obama really snorted coke, unlike our worthless drydrunk ex-coke addict of a current Dear Leader, who these days is positively looking gin-blossomed as well as zonked out of his mind on *some*thing. Probly stole the glassy-eyed wifey's Xanax prescrip.

At any rate, Ike Turner is dead and gone. Free at last.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

James Lee Burke: Happy Birthday!

From the Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of the mystery novelist James Lee Burke, (books by this author) born in Houston, Texas (1936). He's best known for his series of detective novels featuring Dave Robicheaux, an ex-New Orleans policeman, Vietnam veteran, and recovering alcoholic. The first novel in the series was The Neon Rain (1987) and the most recent, The Tin Roof Blowdown, came out this past summer (2007). Burke said, "I believe that whatever degree of talent I possess is a gift and must be treated as such. To misuse one's talent, to be cavalier about it, to set it aside because of fear or sloth is unpardonable."

James Lee Burke is one of my favorite writers. He wrote Crusader's Cross which I just read and think that it's very nearly perfect: He writes so well about setting (New Iberia, Louisiana), racism, and class; dialog is really good; characterization is right on ... and he philosophizes subtly. And he's deep. Highly recommended. His early books are raw and very dark. Those may not appeal to you. Start with Crusader's Cross.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Writers in Solidarity with Writers: You go, wrrrrriters!

Of course, I'm referring to the Writer's Guild of America strike. The Writer's Guild represents film, television, and radio writers working in the United States.

From Wikipedia:

The Writers Guild has indicated their industrial action would be a "marathon." AMPTP negotiator Nick Counter has indicated that negotiations would not resume as long as strike action continues, stating, "We're not going to negotiate with a gun to our heads—that's just stupid."

Okay ... let's be honest ... you mean the producers and other management types really would negotiate in good faith without that gun to their heads? Come on, we're not idiots.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Warming Hut Reopens!

Yesterday, a friend and I went out to the newly-reopened Warming Hut which is part of Crissy Field and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. The Conservancy includes places in the San Francisco bay area like Crissy Field, Point Bonita, Alcatraz, Baker Beach, Fort Funston, Fort Mason, Marin Headlands, Muir Woods, Point Reyes National Seashore, Tennessee Valley, Olema Valley, Mt. Tamapalais, Stinson Beach -- some of my most favorite places in the bay area.

To me, the Warming Hut is very special. The views are incredible. At the hut, you get a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

You can easily walk to the bridge's base on the San Francisco side. And, you can recreate that scene where Kim Novak jumps into the water (dangerous thing to do, not recommended) in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. You can see Alcatraz straight out in the Bay.

And, on a day like yesterday, the water and sky are beautiful and you’re likely to see lots of sailboats. Off to the right, is the city. The city by the bay per Herb Caen. Everything looked clean and vibrant yesterday. It was a glorious day to be out and about in San Francisco.

The Warming Hut had been closed because of a fire last January. The staff worked extra hard to get it back open. There’s a new kitchen, coffee and food prep area. We stayed and had brunch there. The food was scrumptious! Kudos to the chef. I indulged with a cup of café mocha. Yum!

The Warming Hut also has a wonderful gift shop ... lots of interesting and unique gifts. I got a seashore bird mobile, a couple of children’s books, and some uniquely packaged chocolate from Charles Chocolates.

I thoroughly enjoyed going to the Warming Hut yesterday! It was like those old coffee commercials used to say: perks you up while it calms you down.

All photos (c) 2007 K Smokey Cormier.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oakland's Lake Merritt at dusk

(c) 2007 K Smokey Cormier

Oakland. I've loved it for many years.

For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.

Jonathan Swift born on this day in 1667. That's his words in the title of this post.

From Wikipedia:
Died October 19, 1745. He was an Irish cleric, Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, and poet, famous for works like Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, The Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New York Times' 10 Best Books of 2007

December 9, 2007
The 10 Best Books of 2007

By Michael Thomas. Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic, paper, $14. This first novel explores the fragmented personal histories behind four desperate days in a black writer's life.

By Per Petterson. Translated by Anne Born. Graywolf Press, $22. In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude.

By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27. A craftily autobiographical novel about a band of literary guerrillas.

By Joshua Ferris. Little, Brown & Company, $23.99. Layoff notices fly in Ferris's acidly funny first novel, set in a white-collar office in the wake of the dot-com debacle.

By Denis Johnson. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27. The author of "Jesus' Son" offers a soulful novel about the travails of a large cast of characters during the Vietnam War.


By Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95; Vintage, paper, $14.95. The author, a Washington Post journalist, catalogs the arrogance and ineptitude that marked America's governance of Iraq.

LITTLE HEATHENS: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.
By Mildred Armstrong Kalish. Bantam Books, $22. Kalish's soaring love for her childhood memories saturates this memoir, which coaxes the reader into joy, wonder and even envy.

THE NINE: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.
By Jeffrey Toobin. Doubleday, $27.95. An erudite outsider's account of the cloistered court's inner workings.

By Linda Colley. Pantheon Books, $27.50. Colley tracks the "compulsively itinerant" Marsh across the 18th century and several continents.

THE REST IS NOISE: Listening to the Twentieth Century.
By Alex Ross. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30. In his own feat of orchestration, The New Yorker's music critic presents a history of the last century as refracted through its classical music.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Is legal sex anal?

Tracey Emin: Is Legal Sex Anal? 1998,
Pink neon and dimmer switch.
Photograph: Stephen White/Tate, London 2007

I was listening to NPR the other day and they had a piece about an art exhibition in London that I'd really like to go to. Here's a summary about the radio piece from the NPR website:
A major art exhibition in London at one of the UK's top galleries is not open to anyone younger than 18.

"Seduced," at the Barbican Gallery, is billed as the most sexually explicit fine-art exhibition ever staged. It attempts to show 2,500 years of sexuality in world art, and to explore how attitudes about what is erotic art and what is pornography have changed through the ages.

When are scientists going to finally invent that Beam-me-up-Scotty contraption? Also, while I'm wishing ... I want the service or device to be reasonably priced.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


SAVE THE DATE: March 20 to 23, 2008 - Washington, DC

Great group ... I'd love to participate. Here's info from their website:

Poets have long played a central role in movements for social change. Today, at a critical juncture in our country’s history, poetry that gives voice to the voiceless, names the unnamable, and speaks directly from the individual and collective conscience is more important than ever. The festival will explore and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for change: reaching across differences, considering personal and social responsibility, asserting the centrality of the right to free speech, bearing witness to the diversity and complexity of human experience through language, imagining a better world.

As we head into the fifth year of war in Iraq, our country faces a crisis of imagination. Most Americans agree that we need dramatic change: to end the war, reorder our national priorities to meet human needs, save our planet. How we address these challenges is a question not just for policy makers and strategists. It is a question for all of us. We believe that poets have a unique role to play in social movements as innovators, visionaries, truth tellers, and restorers of language.

Poetry and the arts are also vital to youth development and empowering young people to speak out and have confidence in their voices. Our intention is to bridge differences in our city and literary community: to place on the same stage poets who work primarily on the page and poets who write primarily for performance; gay and straight poets; African American, Latino, Asian, white, and Native poets; young poets and older poets; poets with disabilities; poets of all social classes.

The organizers of this festival believe that as citizens and artists, our obligation has never been greater. Our intent is twofold: To call poets to a greater role in public life and to bring the vital, important, challenging poetry of witness that is being written by American poets today to a larger and more diverse audience.

The goals of Split This Rock are:

1. To celebrate the poetry of witness and provocation being written, published, and performed in the United States today.
2. To call poets to a greater role in public life and to equip them with the tools they need to be effective advocates in their communities and in the nation.

For more info, go to their website.

On this day ...

Mike Nichols was born. Here's a favorite quote of his:

Cheer up. Life isn't everything.

I love it. It's almost spiritual.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Autumn, lookin' good

(c) 2007 K Smokey Cormier

Just wanted to put a couple of nice photos up here. These were taken at The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, California.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This is your state of mind during the Bush years

(c) 2005 K Smokey Cormier

Happy Halloween ... Día de los Muertos ... Oíche Shamhna ... the fire festival ...

To read a fascinating history of this holiday, click here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

They Walk Among Us

(c) 2007 K Smokey Cormier

Halloween - Dead Kennedys

So it's halloween
And you feel like dancin'
And you feel like shinin'
And you feel like letting loose

Whatcha gonna be
Babe, you better know
And you better plan
Better plan all day

Better plan all week
Better plan all month
Better plan all year

You're dressed up like a clown
Putting on your act
It's the only time all year
You'll ever admit that

I can see your eyes
I can see your brain
Baby, nothing's changed

You're still hiding in a mask
You take your fun seriously
No, don't blow this year's chance
Tomorrow your mold goes back on

After halloween

You go to work today
You'll go to work tomorrow
Shitfaced tonight
You'll brag about it for months

Remember what I did
Remember what I was
Back on halloween

But what's in between
Where are your ideas
You sit around and dream
For next halloween

Why not everyday
Are you so afraid
What will people say

After halloween

Because your role is planned for you
There's nothing you can do
But stop and think it through
But what will the boss say to you

And what will your girlfriend say to you
And the people out on the street they might glare at you
And whadya know you're pretty self-conscious too

So you run back and stuff yourselves in rigid business costumes
Only at night to score is your leather uniform exhumed
Why don't you take your social regulations
And shove 'em up your ass

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Halloween is coming .... are you ready?

Photo taken from a film ... photoshopped by K Smokey Cormier

Folks, can you tell who's in the photo?

Are you preparing for the night of costumes and disguises ... the night of the Celtic New Year ... the days of the dead ... the festival of the dead ... All Hallow's Eve?

Irish + Bleak = Booker Prize

Reuters photo

On the Yahoo news website there’s an article about an Irish writer winning the Booker Prize. In the article they associated the word “bleak” with Irish twice (and an association between bleak and the Booker Prize actually). True?

Methinks there is a component in many Irish people for bleakness. Maybe that’s why some Irish have drinking problems. There is that moment of hilarity when you get drunk ... moment, mind. And if you continue, like a couple of my family members do, on to oblivion. Is it to wipe out a certain bleakness? I think a sizeable portion of Russians have that component too ... I usually refer to it as “being glum.” Don’t be so glum, chum.

Anyway ... on to this writer: Anne Enright and her prize-winning novel, The Gathering.
"It is an unflinching look at a grieving family in tough and striking language," he [chairman of the judges Howard Davies ] told reporters after the judges spent 2-1/2 hours closeted together picking the winner of the prize of $100,000.

Enright herself described the book as "the intellectual equivalent of a Hollywood weepy."

"When people pick up a book they may want something happy that will cheer them up. In that case, they shouldn't really pick up my book," she has admitted.

Asked if winning the famous prize under a harsh media spotlight might now provoke writer's block, the 45-year-old Enright said: "I am no spring chicken so it won't stop me squawking."
To read the entire article, go here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sidra Stitch and her art-site travel books

Just read an article in the Oct. 13, 2007 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle about a woman who writes books that are part art book, part travel guide. The art-site books "identify and evaluate contemporary art, architecture and design."

Sidra Stitch will visit a region and then write about interesting art to see in that region.

Here's an excerpt in the article about the San Francisco edition of her book:
For example, she wonders, just how many of us have admired the sailboats moored at San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club in the Marina district and missed conceptual artist Peter Richards' installation "The Wave Organ" at the end of the jetty that extends from Yacht Road? "This wave-activated acoustic sculpture is a superb example of site-specific environmental art. It is one of the best-kept secrets in the city and ought not to be missed," Stitch writes as part of a longer description in the 2007 edition of her "art-SITES San Francisco" guide.

So far she's written books about the following regions:
  • London
  • Northern Italy
  • San Francisco
  • Paris
  • Britain and Ireland
  • Spain
  • France
To read the entire article which also talks about her background and how she got going on these projects, click here.

To go to Sidra Stitch's web site, click here.

Note: I have no association with Sidra Stitch, her publisher ... but I do have a passionate relationship with the city of San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Margaret Cho's Queerotica

One of my all-time favorite performers is Margaret Cho. She is so damn funny. There's a great article in the 10 Oct 07 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle written by Jeff Yang.
The scene: The Zipper Factory, a Manhattan midtown-west cabaret lounge whose decor is a psychedelic blend of Weimar Republic languor and zesty queerotica.

It's late, well past the do-you-know-where-your-children-are hour, and the butts in the theater's seats are mostly male, tanned, waxed, and gymmed to perfection. Pulling back the tatty velvet curtain, Margaret Cho steps onto the stage, her face a Cheshire mask, a sly smile tweaking her lips. Flexing the mike like she's wringing a neck, she shouts out, "It's Margaret, bitch!"

And all us bitches cheer, like the bitches we are.

Tonight's show, "The Sensuous Woman," isn't like any Margaret's put on before. Billed as an "adult variety show," it features Cho and some of her personal-favorite performers, an oddball mashup of comics and dancers and bawdy wenches, no holds barred, but plenty bared.

Wanna read all of it? Go here. It's a great article.

Only wished I'd seen the show in June here in the San Francisco Bay Area ... maybe there will be a clammer for her to bring it back to San Francisco.

And I am a major nester ... don't leave home at night much anymore ... but I would for Margaret.

A visit to Margaret Cho's blog is always fun.

Peace for John Lennon

Reuters photo

On Tuesday this week, Yoko Ono unveiled a monument to honor her beloved, John Lennon. And urged the world once again to give peace a chance.

A few years ago she had an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and I went to it. I loved it. I love her sense of humor and intelligence. I loved watching the fly movie ... a fly walks all over a nude woman's body to the soundtrack of Yoko making her weird screechy noises. I was the only one who watched it all the way through. You can catch it here. The film really is bizarre but for some reason it caught me. It's this strange mixture of sensual and humorous. I have a refrigerator magnet that is a still from this movie ... the fly exploring the woman's nipple. My kids' reactions to the magnet: "Eeeewwww!!"

I also have a magnet:

If you want it

This slogan was on many billboards all over the world ... a project in the 70's of Yoko and John's.

Anyway the monument is this tower of light constructed on Videy island near Reykjavik's harbor (the Icelandic capital). They lit it yesterday because it would have been ... get this ... John's 67th birthday.

Pause while I catch me breath. I'm feeling old. 67 for Christ's sake.

It will stay lit until Dec 8 ... which is the anniversary of John's death.

Sean was there as was Ringo and George Harrison's widow Olivia.

"We're all here for Johnny's birthday and the big light," Starr said. "I love the light."

The tower is a beam of light, radiating from a wishing well bearing the words "imagine peace" in 24 languages. The plan is for it to be lit each year between his birthday, Oct. 9, and the anniversary of his death on Dec. 8.

Yoko chose Iceland because it was a very eco-friendly country that relied on geothermal energy. So, the light too will be lit by geothermal energy. Cool, eh? The woman's always thinkin'.

Screw you, you "she-broke-up-the-Beatles" assholes. Get a life.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Once was too much

Last weekend I saw the movie Once. I’ve been reading a lot of good reviews about it. But, I was disappointed with it. And I really wanted to like it a lot. I thought it was going to be one of those little-engines-that-could kinda movies. But not for me.

I thought the acting was really good. I believed that these were real people. The sound was awful. I had a hard time understanding dialog ... and lyrics in the songs. Me mum was Irish ... so I'm used to listening to Irish folks talk. So that wasn't the problem. The sound was just bad.

Plus, there were too many songs ... played all the way through with footage “in the background” so to speak. I got bored of that. So, I really disagree with those reviews that just rave about it.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hope you've been resting, Janis

It was on this day--October 4-- in 1970 that Janis Joplin died.

I had just seen her in an outdoor concert in Boston a couple of weeks before.


In peace, hopefully, Janis.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Philip Roth, my 'bro

Surprised? Yes ... he’s an ally of mine ... so it seems. I find that many adults are embarassed to say that they are faithful practitioners of the gentle (maybe) art of masturbation. I’m glad to say that he has come out as a pleasure-seeker with no hope of propagation.

In a conversation with Hermione Lee in the October 1, 2007 issue of The New Yorker, he discusses his new book, Exit Ghost. And, within that discussion, he talks about a character named Kliman. This novel continues the journey of Roth’s character in several books - Nathan Zuckerman. Zuckerman hates Kliman for several reasons, one being “the kind of biography Zuckerman believes Kliman to be writing.” Another is that Kliman writes of Lonoff’s “secret history.” Lonoff is a former professor and onetime inspiration for Zuckerman. In his conversation with Hermione Lee, Roth says:
It would be as wrong-headed to read into the presentation of Kliman an attack on the genre of biography as to read, say, my presentation of Portnoy as an attack on the practice of masturbation. I count myself a friend of both.

Moi, aussi.

I have designed a t-shirt that says ...

Front: Dr. J. Elders' Magic Rub
Back: always satisfied ... ‘nuff said

PolCat says that the reference to Dr. J. Elders is too obscure. I'm referring to one of my heroes, the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jocelyn Elders.

Here's Wikipedia on Dr. Elders:
In 1994, she was invited to speak at a United Nations conference on AIDS. She was asked whether it would be appropriate to promote masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity, and she replied, "I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught." This remark caused great controversy, especially among conservative Christian groups and right wing interests in the United States. President Clinton, who had been recently traumatized by the Republican takeover of Congress, asked for her resignation.

Yes, that hypocrite, Clinton, asked for her resignation. I hope he feels great shame when he thinks of Dr. Elders and the way he treated her.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Filmmaker answers L. Paul Bremer III

Charles Ferguson, creator of No End in Sight, presents a video rebuttal to claims made by L. Paul Bremer III that top American officials approved the decision to disband the Iraqi army. It was posted on the New York Times web site. Go here. (You may have to register on the New York Times web site - but, it is free.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

400 Blows: New print, yum!

Everett Collection

The New York Times has an article written by Terrence Rafferty in today's online edition about François Truffaut and Les Quatre cents coups (400 Blows). Rafferty mentions that there's a new print to be shown at New York's Film Forum. I'm going to keep a lookout for it ... hope the new print comes to my town!

Here's an excerpt from the article:

He moves through the Paris streets (photographed with exhilarating clarity by Henri Decaë) confidently but a little anxiously, a trace of unease betrayed by an odd scurrying half-run he breaks into from time to time, as if he he’d suddenly remembered that someone was chasing him. It’s the gait he uses in the movie’s famous final sequence, when he escapes from the reform school he has wound up in and, his pursuers well behind him, makes his way across a bleak beach for his first-ever glimpse of the sea.

The camera travels with him, recording every jerky small step until he reaches the edge of the water, looks at the big-deal sea for all of about five seconds and then turns back, expressionless, to face us in what quickly becomes a freeze-frame: the last, powerfully ambiguous image of the film.

This sort of ending wasn’t common in 1959, and viewers were impressed. Mr. Truffaut, overcoming the considerable ill will he had earned as a Cahiers critic, won the prize for best director at Cannes; the movie was a hit in France and all over the world.

That freeze-frame stuck in people’s minds as if it were a sharp, nagging memory of their own. What looks most remarkable now, though, isn’t the blank still face that closes the film, but the daringly long run that brings us to it, that allows our emotions to gather and build with each short, stiff step until, without quite understanding why, we end up overwhelmed. It’s the movie in miniature, really.

Oh, yes. That last shot. I've never forgotten it.

If you want to read the whole article, go here. But, if you're not a registered New York Times user, you'll have to register. All articles are now free on the NYTimes website - you just have to register.

Old pirates, yes, they rob

On this day in 1980, Bob Marley gave his last performance in concert.

Bob Marley played his final concert at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1980. The live version of "Redemption Song" on Songs of Freedom was recorded at this show.


Old pirates, yes, they rob i;

Sold I to the merchant ships,

Minutes after they took i

From the bottomless pit.

But my hand was made strong

By the and of the almighty.

We forward in this generation


Wont you help to sing

These songs of freedom? -

cause all I ever have:

Redemption songs;

Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;

None but ourselves can free our minds.

Have no fear for atomic energy,

cause none of them can stop the time.

How long shall they kill our prophets,

While we stand aside and look? ooh!

Some say its just a part of it:

Weve got to fulfil de book.

Wont you help to sing

These songs of freedom?

cause all I ever have:

Redemption songs;

Redemption songs;

Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;

None but ourselves can free our mind.

Wo! have no fear for atomic energy,

cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.

How long shall they kill our prophets,

While we stand aside and look?

Yes, some say its just a part of it:

Weve got to fulfil de book.

Wont you help to sing

Dese songs of freedom?

cause all I ever had:

Redemption songs -

All I ever had:

Redemption songs:

These songs of freedom,

Songs of freedom.

Rest in peace. We're not there yet.

Their Eyes Were Reading Zora

If you'd like to read a wonderful essay by Zadie Smith about Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God ... and why that novel is so imporant to literature, go here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Quotes From Books: History could make a stone weep

Another new feature I'm starting up ... Quotes From Books.

For this post, the quotes are from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Photo from The Deseret Morning News

It was like one of those dreams where you’re filled with some extravagant feeling you might never have in life, it doesn’t matter what it is, even guild or dread, and you learn from it what an amazing instrument you are, so to speak, what a power you have to experience beyond anything you might ever actually need.

To be useful was the best thing the old men ever hoped for themselves, and to be aimless was their worst fear.

We human beings do real harm. History could make a stone weep.

Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen!

Photo from the Canadian Songwriters website

Anthem by Leonard Cohen

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

This little bit from Wikipedia:
Leonard Norman Cohen, (born September 21, 1934 in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963.
If you want to read more, go here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Diesel Dyke

(c) 2007 K. Smokey Cormier

Remember the old phrase "diesel dyke"?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

No One Recalled a More Cowardly Sound

Photo credit: André Natta

16th St. Baptist Church

Birmingham Sunday

Come round by my side and I'll sing you a song.
I'll sing it so softly, it'll do no one wrong.
On Birmingham Sunday the blood ran like wine,
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.

That cold autumn morning no eyes saw the sun,
And Addie Mae Collins, her number was one.
At an old Baptist church there was no need to run.
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom,

The clouds they were grey and the autumn winds blew,
And Denise McNair brought the number to two.
The falcon of death was a creature they knew,
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom,

The church it was crowded, but no one could see
That Cynthia Wesley's dark number was three.
Her prayers and her feelings would shame you and me.
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.

Young Carol Robertson entered the door
And the number her killers had given was four.
She asked for a blessing but asked for no more,
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.

On Birmingham Sunday a noise shook the ground.
And people all over the earth turned around.
For no one recalled a more cowardly sound.
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.

The men in the forest they once asked of me,
How many black berries grew in the Blue Sea.
And I asked them right with a tear in my eye.
How many dark ships in the forest?

The Sunday has come and the Sunday has gone.
And I can't do much more than to sing you a song.
I'll sing it so softly, it'll do no one wrong.
And the choirs keep singing of Freedom.

-- Richard Fariña

Still in our hearts and prayers

Addie Mae Collins (aged 14)

Denise McNair (11)

Carole Robertson (14)

Cynthia Wesley (14)

and 22 more were injured

In Birmingham, Alabama ... on this day in 1963, at about 10:25 a.m., when 26 children were walking into the basement assembly room for closing prayers after a sermon bombs exploded. Four girls were murdered. And 22 other people were injured.

I was 14 years old. I mourned them and prayed for them ... and I still do.

I invite you to watch Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls. It's a really good documentary about this subject.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Middle of Nowhere: Films

Every once in a while I'm going to pick movies at random ... movies I really like or maybe don't like and give a mini-review. Or ... pick a performance in a movie (like Lee Grant in The Detective Story) that I just want to talk about. I'll call this kind of tidbitty kinda post Middle of Nowhere.

My Waking Life (USA) animated but you won't find it in the kids' section.
It's an adult animated film which doesn't mean sex. Lots of conversations.
The use of animation is incredible. The director, Richard Linklater, actually filmed a movie and then created the animation afterwards with the help of animation software Very creative. He doesn’t just convert the live action to animation though. He changes it. And he’ll add things. Like when someone is thinking something deep or strange, there will be starts floating out of the top of her head. And the conversations in the movie are thought-provoking. Mostly they're about the nature of consciousness.

Spirited Away (Japan) Animated. It is a kids' movie but for older kids ... 8 and up depending on the kid. It's very trippy. Absolutely wonderful animation. You never know what's going to happen. I love this filmmaker--Hayao Miyazaki. He also made My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Just gorgeous animation. Plus, not your usual plot.

Eve's Bayou (USA) Just watched this recently. It's about an African-American family in Louisiana. The father's a doctor and a philanderer. The main character is an 11 year old girl. The acting is great. I'm shocked that people don't talk about this more. It's really a good movie ... very interesting.

All About My Mother
Talk To Her

Both from Spain and directed by Pedro Almodovar. He's one of my favorite directors. And Matador is one of my favorite movies of his but you can’t get it on Netflix because it’s not on DVD ... at least here in the U.S. Both were made in the past 10 years. Really good.

Y Tu Mama Tambien (Mexico) Sexy. Fun. With substance. Plus, gorgeous beaches. Great escape. But my kind of escape -- with substance/pain too.

Bend it like Beckham (U.K.) Just a fun fun movie. About an Anglo-Indian 18 yr old woman who wants to play soccer but her parents want her to start learning how to be a good wife to prepare her for marriage which she should be concentrating on instead of soccer. She's not married but they want her to start thinking in that direction. Good soccer scenes. Funny too.

Fire (from India) directed by Deepa Mehta. Set in India. It's about a young woman who is newly married to a man who's having an affair on the side from the very beginning. They live with his brother and the brother's wife. The two women of the household become attracted to each other. Sparks fly. Both women are very sexy in my humble yet haughty opinion.

Bleu (part of a trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski - the director) Sometimes titled: Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993) It's in French so I think from France. But the director is Polish. Juliette Binoche stars in it. The movie is about a woman -- a composer -- who is mourning the recent death by car accident -- of her husband and daughter. The acting is superb. The music is wonderful. And Kieslowski really pays attention to photography so it's beautiful.

Rushmore (USA) Quirky. Interesting. The acting is very good. It's about a 15 yr old boy at an all-boys school. He's got a crush on the female teacher from England who's grieving the loss of her husband. It's also about how this boy has failing grades yet a leader at his school. A real organizer. The actor who plays the boy is very good - Jason Schwartzman. All the acting is good. Bill Murray gives a really good, subtle performance.

In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong) Set in the 60's. This is such a subtle film. I really love it. But it's the anti-thesis of a Hollywood action film. Very little action. Lots of feeling - true human feeling. Beautiful photography, luscious music and close-ups. The slowness of two adult human beings spending time together. Mystery - human mystery, not murder mystery. No murders. No violence. Oh, I should amend that. No violence created by any of the main characters. Just some scenes from newsreels about the Viet Nam War to place the characters in time/context. The movie begins in 1962 and goes forward to 1966. It takes place in Hong Kong. Great acting. Subtle. It seeps into you slowly. The whole movie is a slow cooker. Until you're stewing in your own juices. An ending that defies the audience's desires. Directed by Kar Wai Wong. It stars Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai.


Just sent this email to several folks at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences ... you may borrow any or all wording if you'd like.

Subject: Censorship=boredom

Dear Representative of the Academy,

I like to watch interesting shows. Shows with real life in them.

If you're going to censor shows, I just don't want to watch them. That's boring. You're taking the interesting parts out.

Sorry, won't be watching your show since you decided to edit out Kathy Griffin's remarks.

I know you and other executives are very worried about revenue and offending certain people. Fine. But there are consequences when you do that.

There are a lot of us out here in TV viewing land who are sophisticated enough to know that Kathy wasn't making fun of Jesus. She's making fun of those mock pious people who sicken most of us. We hear what kind of lives they live and then they sweetly thank Jesus.

Plus, if you know Jesus' real teachings ... they were all about love and turning the other cheek, not punishment.

Go ahead. Transmit your boring show. I won't watch.


Ms. Manitoba

'nuff said

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Congratulations, Kathy Griffin! Jesus has a sense of humor

Here's an article that was on Yahoo Entertainment news today:
Kathy Griffin's Jesus remark cut from Emmy show
Tue Sep 11, 6:19 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comic Kathy Griffin's "offensive" remarks about Jesus at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be cut from a pre-taped telecast of the show, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences said on Tuesday.

Griffin made the provocative comment on Saturday night as she took the stage of the Shrine Auditorium to collect her Emmy for best reality program for her Bravo channel show "My Life on the D-List."

"A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus," an exultant Griffin said, holding up her statuette. "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now."

Asked about her speech backstage a short time later, an unrepentant Griffin added, "I hope I offended some people. I didn't want to win the Emmy for nothing."

The speech drew fire from a leading Roman Catholic group, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which condemned Griffin's remarks as "obscene and blasphemous."

"It is a sure bet that if Griffin had said, 'Suck it, Muhammad,' there would have been a very different reaction," Catholic league president Bill Donohue said in a statement posted on the group's Web site. He called on TV academy president Dick Askin to denounce Griffin's "hate speech" and on Griffin to apologize.

An edited version of the Creative Arts Emmys is set to air on cable television's E! Entertainment Network on Saturday, the night before the live Fox network broadcast of the main Primetime Emmy Awards.

"Kathy Griffin's offensive remarks will not be part of the E! telecast," an academy spokeswoman said on Tuesday. An "abbreviated version" of her acceptance speech will air, instead, she said.

Griffin's reaction to the imbroglio, according to a statement issued by her publicist: "Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humor?"

There is so much I want to say! First of all, if you believe in a Supreme Being ... do you really think something like this really bothers Her? I think it bothers folks that are insecure in their own religious beliefs.

If you believe the Catholic teachings about Jesus, do you really think he would preach punishment or revenge? What about all that stuff about love and turning the other cheek?

CHRISTIANS, CATHOLICS -- READ THE FUCKING BIBLE! Get familiar with the real teachings of Christ.

Here's what I believe: I believe that Jesus would have a sense of humor.

And, yes, of course, if she had said "Suck it, Mohammed" those radical Islamists would be up in arms. True. Is that who you want to copy?

I thought lesbians were supposed to have a lousy sense of humor ... you know "FemiNazis" and all that. Maybe male Catholic leaders have a worse sense of humor. Maybe it's to take their minds off all that young flesh that tempts them so much.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Mayor of Castro Street to be filmed

Sean Penn to play Harvey Milk! With Gus Van Sant directing.

Yes, the Hollywood Reporter says that there's a movie in the works with Sean Penn playing Harvey Milk and Gus Van Sant directing.

I'm excited to see this movie. What a combo.

And, if Matt Damon can wrap a project quickly, he'll play Dan White, Harvey Milk's assassin.

Here's the article:

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Sean Penn is attached to play gay '70s San Franciso politician Harvey Milk, and Matt Damon his assassin in a long-gestating project from director Gus Van Sant.

Once a distribution deal is finalized, Van Sant hopes to begin production on the as-yet-untitled feature in San Francisco as early as December. The uncertain start date may affect Damon's participation as Milk's killer, Dan White.

It's the latest chapter in a long-running race to film the biopic of the first openly gay prominent elected official, which has pitted Van Sant's project against another from fellow openly gay director Bryan Singer.

Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("Hairspray") have attempted to produce a big-screen version of Randy Shilts' 1982 bio "The Mayor of Castro Street" for more than 15 years. Warner Bros. Pictures attached Singer to the project two years ago.

This summer the studio's art-house arm, Warner Independent Pictures, brought in Singer's "Usual Suspects" scribe Chris McQuarrie to write a new draft of the script. But McQuarrie is now in Germany with Singer working on the Tom Cruise drama "Valkyrie" and also working on the "Castro" script, making an immediate production start less likely to happen before Singer starts his "Superman" sequel commitment.

In a coincidental twist, Van Sant once wrote a draft of the "Castro" project and was set to direct his adaptation for Warners. The script for his film was written by Dustin Lance Black ("Big Love"). Producer Michael London and his Groundswell Prods. are financing the film, set to be produced by "American Beauty" producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks.

Penn has never portrayed an openly gay character onscreen, but he did play the sexually ambiguous Olivia Newton-John impersonator "Groovin' Larry" in a section of Trent Harris' 2001 cult hit "Beaver Trilogy." Penn's video short was shot in 1981, then combined with Harris' 1979 documentary short on the amateur performer and his 1985 short narrative version "The Orkly Kid," starring Crispin Glover as Larry, to create "Beaver."

Damon would play White, who shot San Francisco city supervisor Milk and Mayor George Moscone in 1978. After serving five years of a seven-year sentence, White committed suicide in 1985.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter