Monday, September 09, 2013

Yay! Dystopia!

So, I've been having a dystopia fest (this is not rare for me--I am fascinated by dystopian literature). I read Margaret Atwood's "Madadam," another book in the series that began with "Oryx & Crake." If you haven't read "Oryx & Crake," I can't recommend it highly enough. It just blew my mind when I read it several years ago. It is both dystopian--pre-apocolyptic, and post-apocalyptic. And watched "Metropolis," and "Things to Come." Then I consumed "The Hunger Games"--all three books--in three days. I had never read "The Hunger Games" before, and I found the writing hard to slog through. I understand that it was supposed to capture the simple, plain speech of Katniss, along with the present tense, but 1st person, present tense is a hard sell for a long book, let alone three. That said, the story was intriguing. I will be curious to see how they handle the horrifying violence of the last book. And yet, the writing, and even Katniss' tone kept me at a distance. I flinched in places, but I did not cry. Thoughts? Any dystopian books or movies to recommend?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WWTNPodcast: Episode #3 - Even More Summer Movies and Netflix O...

What Was That Now?  Episode 3

Loann and Art discuss more summer movies, including Pacific Rim and the disastrous box office performance of The Lone Ranger.

And we look at the emerging success of Netflix Original Series, such as House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, Arrested Development and the brand new Orange is the New Black.

Friday, August 02, 2013

On listening to music and the death of our idols

Someone on the train was listening to “Bohemian Rhapsody” today. I could hear it, thin and tinny, from their headphones. I don’t know how people can do that, listen to music so loud. Or perhaps, their headphones are simply cheap and bleed the sound. I’m feeling my age I suppose, but I’ve never been able to listen to music at high volume. I have fantastic earbuds at the moment. When I put them in, I can barely hear anything else. In some ways that’s what you want, but in others it’s almost disturbing. Am I missing announcements? People asking me to move aside? Telling me that there’s a stampeding rhino heading my way? A couple of weeks ago I could hear the music from the woman next to me. Hear it well enough to recognize the songs: Whitney Houston chirpily singing, ‘How Will I Know?’ followed by Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” A playlist of dead people. Would Nirvana be next, or INXS? Joy Division? Or, like today, Queen? Someone newer, Amy Winehouse? I suppose if you live long enough, most of your playlist will be dead people. Unless you cling—desperately—to the cutting edge, listening to music from people further and further from you in age.

WWTNPodcast: Episode #2 Summer Movies, A Horror Master Passes O...

WWTNPodcast: Episode #2 Summer Movies, A Horror Master Passes O...: In this week's episode, Art and Loann discuss the passing of horror writer Richard Matheson and how an artist deals with critics and fa...

Monday, January 14, 2013

One Month After Newtown Shooting, NRA Releases Shooting Game App With Coffin-Shaped Targets

One Month After Newtown Shooting, NRA Releases Shooting Game App With Coffin-Shaped Targets: pWhen 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down in Sandy Hook Elementary School exactly one month ago today, the National Rifle Association rushed to blame video games, not guns, for inspiring such mass murders. But the gun lobby seemingly lost sight of its target in the past weeks, and over the weekend released a [...]/p

Friday, August 24, 2012

This election and the future of democracy in America

I think this election is one of the most important in recent history. It will act as an assessment not just of Obama's administration, or even of Bush Jr.'s administration, but of the political policies that have been in place in this country for thirty to forty years--all of our lives for most of us here--an assessment of whether the American Dream is still alive and attainable for everyone, not just for those who start with many advantages such as money, social status of one's family, influence, etc. And it is a vote about two radically different views of how to make America a better place. The issues include: economic policies, the integrity of the politic parties, and America's place in the global economy and in global issues. What I keep hearing are attacks on whether one party or the other is actually "good." For the future of our democracy, I think we need to believe that both parties want America to be a better place in line with what they consider good, and we need to fight for that to continue to be true.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ah, Philip Larkin.  Being shown Larkin in college was revelatory for me.  I wrote my final paper on his poetry.  Looking at it now I can see both what appealed to me then, but I can also see how amazing his writing is, what depths can be discovered.  I think that I found him to be a bridge between the formal poetry of the past and the themes that would come to dominate poetry in the late 50's and 60's in free verse. 
Larkin was a bitter and cynical man and his poems reflect a very post-war, British sensibility of austerity and change (in my American eyes).  And while his poems reflect that cynicism, it is interesting to me that he was still able to produce this body of work--that nihilism and pessimism did not stop him from the need to write.  Like Dorothy Parker, he flirted with suicide, wrote of it as a desirable thing, and yet staggered on creating.

This is probably his most famous poem.

This Be the Verse
~Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

April, 1971

***

And a much earlier one

'Since the majority of me'

Since the majority of me
Rejectts the majority of you,
Debating ends forthwith, and we
Divide.  And sure of what to do

We disinfect new blocks of days
For our majorities to rent
With unshared friends and unwalked ways.
But silence too is eloquent:

A silence of minorities
That, unopposed at last, return
Each night with cancelled promises
That want renewed.  They never learn

December 6, 1950