Sunday, August 31, 2008

Proust (ongoing)

I have almost finished the first Volume. Have read a great chunk since last I posted.

Rather on the topic of the last post but one:
Three-quarters of the mental ingenuity and the mendacious boasting squandered ever since the world began by people who are only cheapened thereby, have been aimed at inferiors. And Swann, who behaved simply and casually with a duchess, would tremble for fear of being despised, and would instantly begin to pose, when in the presence of a housemaid.

In his younger days a man dreams of possessing the heart of the woman whom he loves; later, the feeling that he possesses a woman's heart may be enough to make him fall in love with her.

I fear that I do this:
Sometimes, in spite of himself, he would let himself go so far as to express an opinion on a work of art, or on someone's interpretation of life, but then he would cloak his words in a tone of irony, as though he did not altogether associate himself with what he was saying.

And I would like to be someone who does this and am perhaps too proud of it when I think that I have succeeded:
There are certain original and distinguished authors in whom the least outspokenness is thought shocking because they have not begun by flattering the tastes of the public and serving up to it the commonplaces to which it is accustomed;...

We have learned of the monstrous Verdurin's who, like characters in Dickens one flinches to realize one knows--who judge Swan for his honesty while engaging in mock social niceties:
...as one sees in people who are doubtful whether the sight of the sea and the sound of its waves are really enjoyable become convinced that they are--and convinced also of the rare quality and absolute detachment of their own taste--when they have agreed to pay several pounds a day for a room in an hotel from which that sight and that sound may be enjoyed.

And then the exquisite beauty of this--referring again to that musical phrase I mentioned in the last post on Proust:
...that the field open to the musician is not a miserable stave of seven notes, but an immeasurable keyboard (still almost entirely unknown) on which, here and there only, separated by the thick darkness of its unexplored tracts, some few among the millions of keys of tenderness, of passion, of courage, or serenity, which compose it, each one differing from all the rest as one universe differs from another, have been discovered by a few great artists who do us the service, when they awaken in us the emotion corresponding to the theme they have discovered, of showing us what richness, what variety lies hidden, unknown to us, in that vast, unfathomed and forbidding night of our soul which we take to be an impenetrable void.

And plotwise Swann--in love with or at least possessive of the unfaithful Odette:
For what we suppose to be our love or our jealousy is never a single, continuous and indivisible passion. It is composed of an infinity of successive loves, of different jealousies, each of which is ephemeral, although by their uninterrupted multiplicity they give us the impression of continuity, the illusion of unity. Could that not be said of any of our emotions?

Who indeed can say whether, in the event of his having gone elsewhere that evening, other happinesses, other griefs might not have come to him, which later would have appeared to him to have been inevitable?

And with those thoughts we move from Swann in Love to our narrator's love for Swann's daughter. In this book, Proust captures so much of adolescent love--so much that we feel as adolescents that we alone must feel. For instance, when I was a teenager I would imagine certain events--my meeting Nick Rhodes for instance, or being "discovered" or even simply being asked on a date by someone in class and then when I had pictured the event in ever detail I would worry--had I just made it not happen because it could not now happen as I had pictured it?
I had realised that if I was to receive a letter from Gilberte, it would not, in any case, be this letter, since it was I myself who had just composed it. And from then on I would strive to divert my thoughts from the words which I should have liked her to write to me, for fear that, by voicing them I should be excluding just those words,--the dearest, the most desired--from the field if possibilities.

Too, he describes going to see an actress of whom he has read great things, Berma in Phedre and he cannot help but be disappointed because he has built up in his mind this transcendent experience that is supposed to be and so the reality cannot compare. I know that I do that still--in planning an evening at a play or concert I have trouble emptying my mind of expectations so that I may actually enjoy reality and not be disappointed.

And again, referring to Musing's question:
For it is difficult for any of us to calculate exactly the extent to which our words or gestures are apparent to others. Partly from the fear of exaggerating our own importance, and also because we enlarge to enormous proportions the field over which the impressions formed by other people in the course of their lives are obliged to extend...

...she knew a great deal of the pleasure which a woman finds in entering a class of society different from that in which she has previously lived would be lacking if she had no means of keeping her old associates informed of those others, relatively more brilliant, with whom she has replaced them.

On historical significance in the arts:
No doubt it is easy to imagine, by an illusion similar to that which makes everything on the horizon appear equidistant, that all the revolutions which have hitherto occurred in painting or in music did at least respect certain rules, whereas that which immediately confronts us, be it impressionism, the pursuit of dissonance, an exclusive use of the Chinese scale, cubism, futurism or what you will, differs outrageously from all that has occurred before. This is because everything that went before we are apt to regard as a whole, forgetting that a long process of assimilation has converted it into a substance that is varied of course but, taken as a whole, homogeneous, in which Hugo is juxtaposed with Moliere.
This is a remarkable observation and one which deserves a longer post.

It is always thus, impelled by a state of mind which is destined not to last, that we make our irrevocable decisions.

Oh, how tragically true I find his description of beginning his writing--that he can picture so well how it will be in a few days when he has written something that it seems foolish to begin in the evening but rather better to wait until the morning and then the morning finds other distractions:
...in the empty frame of the following day where everything was so well arranged because I myself was not in it, my good intentions would be realized without difficulty, it was better not to start on an evening when I felt ill-prepared.
Unfortunately the next day was not that vast, extraneous expanse of time to which I had feverishly looked forward. When it drew to a close, my laziness and my painful struggle to overcome certain internal obstacles had simply lasted twenty-four hours longer. And at the end of several days, my plans not having matured, I had no longer the same hope that they would be realized at once, and hence no longer the heart to subordinate everything else to their realization:...

In a language that we know, we have substituted for the opacity of sounds the transparency of ideas. But a language which we do not know is a fortress sealed...

We are all of us obliged, if we are to make reality endurable, to nurse a few little follies in ourselves.

One more on the Human League

Having developed something of a small obsession with them for the last week, I feel I would be remiss to not point out that pop songs aside, in the first incarnation they really remarkable innovators in the field of electronic music--that some of their early stuff sounds better than things being mixed and sampled today and this was in the days when computer storage was reel-to-reel.



I have to agree with many of the posters at You Tube that in some ways the girls ruin it--that several of the songs might be better if they weren't included, but after 30 years I rather doubt that Oakey is going to suddenly remaster everything without them.

In answer to Musing's Question

From some time ago--Self-Deprecating Minds Want to Know

For the most part I presume that people will not take the energy to either like me or dislike me, but will rather be indifferent to me. I do have trouble networking because I have not mastered that fine art of appearing interested and retaining names, faces, etc. (I can do one or the other). My boss, who is otherwise a cad, can appear terribly friendly at those things and still get his own pitch across.

What I do worry about is whether friends really like me. Friends who say they'll email me after some event in their lives is past, but never do. I stress over people turning down my parties--do they really have something else to do or do I give crappy parties. Do I bore them? Annoy them? Do they tolerate me for my talents, but really don't want to spend time with me (this is partially guilt, because I have other friends that I decline invitations from because they bore me or annoy me or tax me or just drain me). So I spend a lot of energy wondering if my friends like me, but very little wondering if strangers do. Am I at the bottom of their friendship list and if so, is that like being a doctor from the bottom of your class--what is the point?

What is odd is that I find most people would rather imagine active antagonism than realize that they are simply not important enough to rate.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hyde is vindicated

http://engrishfunny.com/2008/08/22/engrish-gives-it-to-us-raw-and-wriggling/

Regeneration Tour

Yes, we indulged in nostalgia. On Wednesday we went with three friends to the Regeneration Tour (not to be confused with L'Arc's Regeneration tour after Sakura left)--Naked Eyes, A Flock of Seagulls, ABC, Belinda Carlisle, The Human League. Ah, the 80's live again.

I think I am learning to enjoy myself in the moment. Because I did mind so much that we are getting old and so are they, just enjoyed a pleasant evening.

Naked Eyes I like, but in the way one enjoys some foods. They aren't your favorite foods and you don't search them out, but it's pleasant to eat them when they come up. One of the members died in 1999 so it was just one and a back up band. He was a better performer than I expected. Paunchy but working the crowd despite the fact that the audience was thin at that point.

A Flock of Seagulls is one of those bands everyone remembers because of the hair, without being sure of what they sang. Unlike Naked Eyes I actually seek out Flock of Seagulls music. I had seen the lead singer on a tv show fairly recently, so knew that he would appear much as he did--paunchy, Hawaiian shirted, hair in a baseball cap, pony tail through the back--like the aging boomer that he is. And it is to be noted that no matter how old we get, the bands of our youth will always be older. Perhaps it is that that keeps the Boomers flocking to Eagles and Stones concerts.

With the exception of Belinda, it was an evening of bands known for being synth bands, but the live shows were surprisingly lively with some serious guitarists, bassists and drummers--all studio musicians for despite the band names, it was really lead singers and..., not original line ups.

What I always enjoyed about Flock of Seagulls was that for the most part, despite the cold, mechanical sound of their music (as synthesizers are often labled) and the space age trappings of their look and their titles, the lyrics are simple love songs that could almost be from the days of standards:

It's not the way you look
It's not the way that you smile
Although there's something to them
It's not the way you have your hair
It's not that certain style
Though it could be that with you

If I had a photograph of you
Just something to remind me
I wouldn't spend my life just wishing

It's not the make-up
And it's not the way that you dance
It's not the evening sky
It's more the way your eyes are laughing
As they glance
Across the great divide

(chorus)

It's not the things you do
There must be something more
If I feel this way for so long
Tell me is it all for nothing
You still walk out the door
-Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)

or

I never thought I'd meet a girl like you
Meet a girl like you,
With auburn hair and tawny eyes
The kind of eyes that hypnotize me through
Hypnotize me through
-I Ran

In contrast, there was a cleverness to the lyrics of ABC that made me listen to them over and over--that and Martin Fry's jaw line and sneer, oh, and the orchestra, can't forget the orchestra.




If I were to say to you
"Can you keep a secret?"
Would you know just what to do
Or where to keep it?
Then I say"I love you"
And foul the situation
"Hey girl I thought we were
The right combination

"Who broke my heart?
You did, you did
Bow to the target
Blame Cupid, Cupid
You think you're smart
Stupid, Stupid
-Poison Arrow

I'm not saying they are great lyrics and certainly not great poetry, but there is a certain word play that always entertains. And hearing Martin yell out, "I've Seen the Future, I can't afford it," to start How to Be A Millionaire brought back some memories:

Roulette and blackjacks - gonna build us a paradise
Larger than life and twice as ugly
If we have to live there, you'll have to drug me

Something about the rhyme of ugly and "drug me" is just fantastic to me.

Belinda...well she did three Go-Go's songs, so it wasn't a total waste, but if I drank I'd have probably gotten a refill then--especially to avoid ever hearing either Circle in the Sand or Heaven is a Place on Earth ever again. However, notwithstanding her effect on our little group, people who hadn't seemed into any of the first three seemed into her. No accounting for taste. We wanted to ask if any of them even knew what the Go-Go's sounded like (or looked like) when they began:




And then there was The Human League. I think that "Don't You Want Me" was the first New Wave song I ever heard. It was probably one of the first rock and roll songs. I was 10 or 11 and we were at a cousin's house. She had just bought the single and insisted on playing it (she was 9 or 10). I could tell that my parent's were appalled, but I wanted more only I didn't know where to go (if I'd seen Phil Oakey I'd have wanted it even more).




The copywriter of the program (after waxing rhapsodic about Belinda and comparing her to Madonna???) mentioned the impact of seeing Phil for the first time on a show. Bowie supposedly caught a live show of The Human League opening for Siouxsie & the Banshees and declared that he had seen the "future of pop music." But then Bowie is always saying stuff like that, and this would have been the original line up. Phil Oakey has of course commented (as all good 80's bands do) on his own debts to Bowie and Roxy Music. But still the high-heeled, lipsticked and eyelinered and be-earringed Oakey on the screen would have been radical.

For those who don't know The Human League, second incarnation is a study in style becoming substance. Oakey was recruited as he has said, because he was tall and looked like a pop-star. And the girls (as they are still known--though looking them up, I realize that they are only a few years older than my husband, though Oakey is 53) were 17 and 18 year olds dancing one night in a night-club when Oakey asked them sans audition to come sing back-up. And here they are, now 30 years later, considered highly influential in their own right. And, damn, if Phil isn't still, strangely sexy (same song as above).


Because they were the final act they had the most stage with 7 screens in the back showing artsy films because they have always fancied themselves as "prog. rock" more even than glam. It is Phil and "the girls" with a new back up band--including Mac as instrument. Behind Phil in this clip you can just see the screens playing morphing images of politicians--the American version featured the Bushes, Obama, McCain, Rumsfeld, and even Fred Thompson. Brainless escapism, my fanny.

My husband loves them for the progressive side (this is a guy who has all of Genesis pre-Phil Collins on vinyl)--the instrumentals and the hard stuff. I don't know if most of the crowd was ready for as Phil put it, the serious songs--Seconds about the death of JFK:
Your knuckles white as your fingers curl
The shot that was heard around the world
For a second

It took seconds of your time to take his life
It took seconds

or the harsh, The Lebanon:

And who will have won
When the soldiers have gone
From the Lebanon
The Lebanon

Before he leaves the camp he stops
He scans the world outside
And where there used to be some shops
Is where the snipers sometimes hide

The 80's when lyrics said so much behind a dance beat. Because the crowd was there to hear the dance favs.--the ones I like least. Their biggest hit, Human, I never listen to because I dislike the lyrics and it was played to death, and over time, the creepy, obsessiveness of "Don't You Want Me," have become too much for me.

Performancewise, Phil started out as something from Dark City:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/31046907@N00/2784079290/
but he quickly shed the coat and glasses down to a very well cut Armani (I only know this because I read it--not because I can tell an Armani from 50 rows away) and finally down to a black shirt with trou. The girls had three costume changes in a 45 minute set.

We had seen them 10 years ago on another nostalgia tour {have you ever noticed that none of the bands want to be called a nostalgia tour? Each band points out that they never went away--"It's the pictures that got small."} with Howard Jones and Culture Club which I don't remember particularly well--which makes me sad--but at which our friends said Phil moved very little. I do remember that The Globe review was famously--the girls still look great, still can't sing. As if to make up for last time, Phil spent the whole show running back and forth from one side of the stage to the other looking (on the side screens and through binocs.) as if he would get to one side only to realize that he NEEDED to be on the other side. He also did a strange, awkward little rocking dance from side to side. He also smiled a lot, which was nice, and different from 30 years ago.

Which is not to say I don't enjoy their pop. After closing with Human and Don't You Want Me they returned with an encore of Phil's song for the soundtrack to the piece of fluff film "Electric Dreams." It's a piece of fluff too, but I love it.

I'm listening to them as I write--it's like rediscovering them because we only had them on vinyl. I hadn't really listened to their songs in quite awhile--even though it's a short list of albums--and the concert prompted my husband to download the discography. Louise, for instance is a sweet little ballad that prefigures British "rap" like the Streets.


I am ga-ga over Tell Me When, which I had heard briefly when it came out in the mid-90's but somehow forgotten.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Transformers

Is a terrible film (bad use of slo-mo, dreadful signalling music, etc.) that somehow manages to be quite a fun ride. I swear I am getting old, though, because some of the "hand-held" shots were too fast for me.

I'll go with this quote from Roger Ebert:
"It's goofy fun with a lot of stuff that blows up real good."

AND I will say that someone, somewhere (probably a room full of people) put some serious thought into how things transformed, which is pretty impressive for a movie called, oh, I don't know, Transformers. Oh, and it was very, very funny. John Turturro in particular was very, very funny. And one doesn't get to say that very often.

Dreadful coincidence

Bernie Mac died. Bernie Mac was in Ocean's 11-13. I enjoyed his comedy. Didn't love, love it, but thought he was good. Damn.

Friday, August 08, 2008

13

Ocean's 13 was quite fun. I really loved Ocean's 11 but it is a boy's club and having women in Ocean's 12 was a mistake. Even though it WASTED Eddie Izzard it pulled together (and Ellen Barkin was having fun).

AND it's so damn meta. Is it just me or was the whole walking through a Toys are Us at the beginning a little too Mr. & Mrs. Smith? Plus the small talk--settle down, have some kids. Heh, heh.

Marketing

I have been contemplating for some time the possibility of creating another blog based on my experiences as an accidental marketer, called either--The Accidental Marketer or Confessions of a Marketing Moron (Vote now). Neither of which is particularly creative, but then marketing is just taking the familiar and repackaging it.

I can't decide if I would show my work there which would open up the possiblity of someone at my job finding it and thus making it impossible to vent, or keep it as a venting plus what I've learned area. If I have any "marketing" aspirations for it, it would simply be to see if others who wear many hats would come and answer my questions, post their own, etc.--way down the road.

Anyway--part of Marketing these days is the place of Social Media, FaceBook, MySpace, Blogger, Linked In, Twitter, and I thought about making this my opening post, but decided it's a little dark for that.

My husband sent it to me. DO NOT WATCH THIS if you are easily offended and think Nazi-ism should never be funny. The film is Downfall--a very dark and interesting film (I really have to tag better because I could have sworn I posted on this and now I can't find it--I'm thinking it might have been comments on someone else's blog--Mirror's maybe???) which I will now never be able to watch again.

Oh...oh it's so wrong...but so funny. I hate myself for laughing at it. - Novel's husband

http://www.crunchgear.com/2008/08/08/twitter-is-down-again-mein-fuhrer/

And speaking of Gallow's Humor

I want to launch my friend Derek's (it's ok, he uses his own name) blog. I've known Derek for about 10 years so he went pretty high in the list. We met at R&S's annual Halloween party when he and his wife were dressed as dead Heaven's Gate cult members. We knew we were going to like them.

Derek is always fun to speak with (and once won some money on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but don't hold it against him) and I feel it's high time he dumped some of that into a blog.

Check out his mash up of Sexy Beast and Gandhi.
http://www.derekleif.blogspot.com/

He also is learning L'Arc's Ready, Steady, Go on the Ukulele which is a bizarre coincidence and still hasn't told me why.

I wish I were Amanda Palmer

She's reinvented Cabaret; she never let anyone tell her she couldn't sing; she's played the ART and the Boston Pops; Neil Gaiman's written songs for her and now she's singing a Neil Gaiman song.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Guinness is 10!


Happy Birthday, Guinness!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Doctor Who...

DID NOT SUCK! All in all, a very tight ending. One moment that bugged me, but it was in another universe and not really the Doctor, so not really counting, and maybe, just maybe it means that it is the end of Rose Tyler, amen.

It had some nice "human" moments, the gathered group was a little wasted--a problem whenever you have too many people in a story--why you end up with J'onn J'onzz staying on the space station all the time in the Justice League, or groups being isolated in stories. Someone always ends up twiddling their thumbs. When they (the writers) do manage to really use everyone's talents well--well, it's very exciting.

It posed the interesting problem of which is worse, to have traveled with the Doctor and not to be traveling with him any more or to have traveled with him and not be able to remember it--to have saved the universe and have to go back to being the sad loser you were before the Doctor made you better. Rather like the question that comes up repeatedly in Doctor Who circles, which is better--the world we have with our Doctor Who adventures, or a world with no stories, but a real Doctor. Perhaps we have both but how would we know? I would almost call this "The Flowers for Algernon Problem." Donna will never know what she has lost, except in the sad looks her grandfather gives her.

As to the bit I didn't like--am I the only one who never wanted to have sex in the Tardis? Who thinks that the Doctor should be asexual--beyond petty human desire? Of course in the early days it was easy--I doubt anyone was lusting after William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton or Jon Pertwee, but it got a little strange with Tom Baker (partially because he, the actor, in fact married his costar) and then Peter Davison was young and attractive, but never to me. I suppose I had a little trouble with how hot I thought Paul McGann was, but again I never wanted that to intrude into the show. It made Human Nature that more poignant--that the Doctor had to become human to feel emotions. But I always liked Spock and Data too--fully functional, but emotionally isolated.

Ah, Doctor Who. It can go to A-Z, the biggest of them all, world's destroyed and back to A in another time and another place. In fact, A is constantly changing. I mean, it started life as a sort of soft history show for children with the curmudgeonly grandfather and his granddaughter and just kept evolving.

The problem that that constantly moving A can bring is the Superman problem. When you have some one who is well nigh indestructible with super powers--how do you make the outcome uncertain? Who can beat Superman? Other Superheroes. Who can beat the Doctor? He can otuthink anyone, he'll regenerate if you kill him, etc. And then he's an alien (and they did fall into this trap). There's always some "previously" unknown physical quirk or circumstance that can save him (in this the residual regenerational energy channeled into the hand that he lost the last time he regenerated that was touched by Donna creating a duplicate but human Doctor--got it?). But aside from that, well done.

Eastern Promises

Gah, I could have sworn that I wrote about "A History of Violence" but I can't find it!

A subtle film, for all of the bloody and brutal violence and even those are relatively (for Cronenberg certainly) few. And an ambiguous one. Part (I vaguely remember hearing) of a triptych of films about whether the mark of violence is always on you. In this one quite literally.