Saturday, April 30, 2005

Day Late, but...

iPodding! I have been on the road, and not updating here - this isn't much, but it's something; keeping a finger in...

1. Rambling on My Mind - Robert Johnson
2. Accordian - Madvillain
3. You are My SUnshine - Norman Blake
4. I shot the Sheriff (live) - Bob Marley
5. Hell's Bells - AC/DC
6. Blue Spark - X
7. The Moon in June - Soft Machine
8. Discipline - Sun Ra
9. Purple Haze (Live at Winterland) - Hendrix
10. Inhuman - Sonic Youth

Friday, April 22, 2005

One for Idaho

Sweet! a bill, "Stating findings of the Legislature and commending Jared and Jerusha Hess and the City of Preston for the production of the movie "Napoleon Dynamite."" - it is the coolest public document I am likely to read this - century? I don't know. But it warms the heart, no?

(Link from The Valve and Terry Teachout.)

Another Friday Ritual

Yes, the mp3 shuffle game. This week's crop, I coulnd't have done better if I were picking them on purpose.

1) Silver - Pixies
2) Plastic Palace People - Scott Walker
3) Rockaway Beach - Ramones
4) Maggie May - Rod Stewart
5) Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Staples Singers
6) Spiders and Flies - Mercury Rev
7) Dry Rain - Meat Puppets
8) 5-4=Unity - Pavement
9) Big Fat Ma and Skinny Pa Went Dancing - Louis Armstrong and the Hot Fives
10) Moonage Daydream - David Bowie

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

April 19

It has been 10 years since Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. I don't remember how I reacted. I don't remember hearing about it, or thinking about it - I remember the aftermath - people on the radio accusing "towelheads" - me thinking they were probably wrong - and somewhere realizing what day it was.

April 19, 1993 is much clearer, the memory. It was Patriot's Day; I had been to see the Red Sox, and then gone to Cambridge with my pals; we were eating at the Border Cafe. The TV's were on, and the news came on, the shots of tanks driving into David Koresh's compound, the news that the place was on fire - the news that there did not appear to be any survivors. I felt horrified. I felt, before that, that there was no reason on earth not to simply wait Koresh and company out, and that any overt attack would lead to something horrible. It did. And in the aftermath, I thought it would create copy cats - the paranoids would spring into action. They did.

The Oklahoma City bombings left me numb. I remember feeling confusion and denial, numb despair, but very little else. It matters that I can't find my journals from the time - if I recorded any thoughts, they are gone. I don't think I recorded many thoughts - the bombing was too stark an event. It was not something you could have an opinion about - it was just horrible.

We must acknowledge these horrors. The memory of these evils. Those who suffered and died. Take a moment and reflect.

Monday, April 18, 2005

2 Korean Films

So are Korean films going to be the next big thing? They have, I think, been the next big thing in some circles for the last few years - and recently, seem to be making inroads in American commercial theaters. Chunhyang and Chihwaseon have been released; so have Untold Scandal and The Tale of Two Sisters - and Kim Ki-duk's films are becoming regular features in the states: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring was released; 3 Iron is going to be released; Bad Guy and The Isle are shown various places.... And so, this weekend, two Korean films turned up, and I saw them both....

OLDBOY took second place at Cannes last year, the Quentin Tarantino jury, and it’s easy to see why. It’s got all the Tarantino factors - ultraviolence, metaphysics, tricks with time and sequence (though not excessive), dark humor played close to tragedy (and tragedy played as comedy) - it does it all very well. The other obvious influence is Takashi Miike - ultraviolence, comedy, taboo shattering - and it lifts a couple scenes directly from Miike. It is, however, a luded up Miike - it is telling that the moment most obviously swiped from Miike comes at the climax of Oldboy - Miike put his version about a third of the way into his film, played it a lot more graphically (and funnily), and, well, topped it a couple times before he was done. Miike consistently starts where other people end up... In any case, Oldboy is slower and more ponderous than Miike - and a bit less clear than the best Tarantino. Still, it’s quite good, if not quite great.

MEMORIES OF MURDER, meanwhile, was a huge popular and critical hit in Korea, and is now being shown in the states. It is a serial killer policier set in 1986, and apparently based on real events. Two women are found raped and murdered - the local cops start investigating, but they are hacks - a cop from Seoul shows up and tries to investigate for real. Not surprisingly, they clash: the locals manufacture evidence and kick confessions out of suspects - the big city cop preaches science and real police work and makes some progess, enough to save the poor saps the locals try to pin the crimes on, anyway. But the plot is not quite the point - they find clues, they close in on the killer, but can't quite find him - and they can't stop people from getting killed. There is a political subtext to all this - the story takes place about the time of the collapse of the military regime in South Korea, and the protests and political unrest, as well as the government's continued oppression, keep interfering with the police investigations. The political tensions build (never quite at the center of the film, but always there), and end in a brawl, where the cops' sins finally come home to roost - the fact that, by that time in the film, most of the cops have become noticeably less brutal is just an added irony... And it's that - the development of the characters of the policemen, and the depiction of their interaction - that makes the film remarkable. The cast is superb - the cops are absurd, affecting and sometimes very nastyl all at once; the filmmaking emphasizes their performances and relationships. And throughout, the film maintains a funny, off-kilter style. The opening sequence sets the tone - one of the cops turns up at the first murder scene, where a bunch of kids are playing. One of them crouches on the drain where the body is, imitating the policeman, while the rest of the kids find the murdered woman's clothes in a nearby field and start playing with them. The film maintains this tone throughout, even as events become more and more appalling, and the police grow increasingly desperate - while creating an undercurrent of tragedy, particularly through subtle use of repeated imagery objects and situations.

Of these two - Oldboy has the hype - it has the international honors, it has Tarantino, it has a better distribution deal - but Memories of Murder is one of the best films of the decade.

(Update: Some editing for wording, and a couple more links added.)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Hen Mines

I have been struggling to come up with something to blog here today - I have to blog something here today - all that work redesigning the place (well - clicking on a different template - that's work, no?) and.....

Thanks to Electrolite for this link to Defense Tech - where we learn:

Like me, you've probably stayed awake countless nights wondering, "Did the Brits ever make plans for a nuclear landmine, powered by chickens?"

Well, dear reader, I'm here to tell you that the answer is yes.

What follows is, well - well,it's worthy of the opening....

Friday, April 15, 2005

Turn and Face the Strange....


Yes, it's redesign time. Why, you ask? To dabble with the "blogroll" a bit - though that's probably still to come. The main reason is to make it easier to read, especially if I start posting longer pieces. I've posted a couple - and hope to continue to post longer pieces every week or so. And I find them hard to read in the narrow, fixed width layout I was using. This template lets you expand the text a bit. So - that's the point. That and I was kind of tired of the green. I don't know if this orange lifesaver look is a lot better, but, it's what we're going with for a while.

It's Friday - what's on your iPod?

1 Bombastic Intro - Big Black
2 Kingdom Of Heaven - Thirteenth Floor Elevators
3 The Recluse - Cursive
4 Randy Described Eternity - Built To Spill
5 Caligari’s Mirror (Live - One Man Drives While The Other Man Screams) - Pere Ubu
6 God Only Knows - Beach Boys
7 Jet Plane In A Rocking Chair - Richard & Linda Thompson
8 Swimming Ground - Meat Puppets
9 Drunken Hearted Man - Robert Johnson
10 Araca Azul - Damon & Naomi

It was, I should add, something of a difficult commute home - usually I can get through 8-10 songs, depending on how many I skip or whether any epics come up. But today - those 10 got me one stop! Getting home took another 6, on the train alone... fun times! screaming kids, people crammed in like sardines - and a drunk on the platform as I was getting off, pushing against traffic, bouncing off people, and coming about 6 inches from going in front of an incoming train. Another day on the red line...

So here's my bonus 6. Lots of married couples in there...

Kid A - Radiohead
Back To The Base - X
Take Me Down To The Hospital - Replacements
I Can Learn - White Stripes
Miss Doris - Sonny & Linda Sharrock
Teenaged Lobotomy - Ramones

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Separating the Friday Posts

This is pathetic. Here it is Thursday night, and the last post on this thing is last Friday's iPod random ten. Pathetic! I am at least glad I started posting iPod lists every Friday - it forces me, every week, to realize what a sluggard I have been. (Last week, for what it's worth, I had an excuse - the flu; irritating work developments. But this week, I have had - well, I guess I have had something like an excuse - Wong Kar-wei series at the Brattle - I went to a couple of those - makes for long nights... But should give me somethign to write about.... sad.)

Enough! The movie world is getting interesting - this weekend, Oldboy is opening - can I believe the hype? Soon we will find out. Next weekend, it's Kung Fu Hustle - Stephen Chiao is always good for a laugh, and sometimes more... Can't be bad!

Last weekend, I had to settle for Eros. Not horrible, but given the talent, you could expect a bit more. The first episode - Wong Kar-wei's - is pretty good, though a bit repetitive and formulaic. I think the handover ruined poor Wong Kar-wei’s artistic reason for living. His recent films keep going back to the 60s, but with a mournful, nostalgic tone, which is a change for the worse from the much better, much more urgent movies he made before the handover. Even the ones set in the past were made with a sense of a deadline - they were dominated by time, and the sense of time running out. That sense is gone. It is completely missing from "The Hand", and not as compelling in In the Mood For Love as it was in any of his other films. So - much rides on 2046 I guess - he needs to find something, do something to move forward. If he keeps remaking In the Mood For Love he is not going to be a great filmmaker again.

The rest of Eros is not much. The Soderburgh episode is funny, but kind of a toy, a kind of in-joke . . . and not very sexy by any standards . . . The Antonioni piece is vile - a parody of Antonioni, with bad acting, bad dubbing, bad dialogue, naked models running around in fast cars and riding horses, fucking each other in crumbling towers and dancing naked on a beach . . . atrocious! No amount of FFN can make up for the inanity of it all!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Another Friday Music Post

On goes the iPod - and what comes out?

1 For You - Big Star
2 Airbag - Radiohead
3 Ramses - Steve Coleman and 5 Elements
4 I'm the One - Van Halen
5 One Lonely Night - REO Speedwagon
6 Walk All Over You - AC/DC
7 The Green Manilishi (live) - Fleetwood Mac
8 Celebrated Summer (live) - Husker Du
9 Dead Set on Destruction - Husker Du
10 She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult

So I don't know what principals of rendomness are at work when Husker Du comes up back to back like that, but whatever they are... well, I can't complain too much. As long as it's Husker Du and not REO Speedwagon.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Friday iPod Blogging comes on Saturday this week

30 Seconds Over Tokyo - Rocket From the Tombs (live)
Can't you Hear Me Knocking - Rolling Stones
Trouble on the Line - Loretta Lynn
Randy Describes Eternity - Built to Spill
Cheating on You - Franz Ferdinand
Embraceable You - Charlie Parker
40 - U2
In D - Acid Mothers Temple
Julio Iglesias - ButtholeSurfers
Thank You - Led Zeppelin (BBC recordings)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Dead Souls

This will be more pleasant than the last post (if it ever posts.) I started this last night, it wouldn't post - I know I should try to do something Funny Here, in Honor of the Season, but I think I'm getting the flu again, so I'm going to skip the levity and stick with, well, facts.

And what are those facts? Evidence that someone has some interesting writers! I was watching Jeopardy last night, and what should come up in double jeopardy, but the following three categories - "Warsaw" - "She's Lost Control" and "'Joy' Division" - very nice.