Monday, April 21, 2008

I know what I said, but ...

... I have to take a brief hiatus hiatus, because who can resist:

1. James Cagney's charm


2. Muppets and Jason Segal:
"It's gonna be an old school Muppet movie like The Great Muppet Caper or Muppets Take Manhattan. Basically the Muppets have to put on a show to save their studio. And in the intervening years, there's been a Muppet Diaspora, so the main Muppets need to go off with Jason [Segel] and collect other Muppets from all around the world."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Snow Queens, Deadlines, and a Brief Vacation

I've got a very important deadline coming up, so this blog is taking a little nap until May 1st.

But before I abandon my pretty spinsters for a fortnight, I'd like to leave them with a little gift.

Last night at Light Industry I saw two beautiful short films: Michael Robinson's "All Through The Night" (2007) and Phil Solomon's "Rehearsals For Retirement" (2007). Solomon's piece takes fragments from Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas and creates a haunting shadow-narrative in which we follow a man through a misty dreamlike landscape. I've always been fascinated by video game animation, which I find frighteningly sophisticated, and appreciated that it has a certain beauty; Solomon's film explores its fullest potential. I'm not sure where the film is screening next but if you ever get a chance to see it, do. This article from CinemaScope does the work more justice and explains it much more cleverly than I can.

"All Through The Night" is a gorgeous 4 minutes featuring manipulated clips from Snezhnaya koroleva, the Russian animated version of The Snow Queen (1957), swirling snow, and Cyndi Lauper. There's an interview with the man in (again) CinemaScope wherein Robinson describes how "Romanticism’s linking of the natural world to spiritual exchange and transformation" partly inspired his use of clips from a story which features things changing into ice, and roses. Anyway .... I adore this story, I love what Robinson has done with the footage, and I loved the sound bridge at the end where the thrumming of a sped-up baseline merges deftly with the gentle sounds of Cyndi, singing sweetly as the world rights itself again. As it will do, at the end of a fairy tale.

See you on May Day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Les Fans de Maigret

Symphony Space is hosting a discussion on the great novelist Georges Simenon, "Inspecting Inspector Maigret."

For those Maigret fans in the NYC area with a few hours and 25 clams to spare.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Topper: Photonarrative Set To Music

Would a series of still photographs be complete without a La Jetee-style montage?
I didn't think so.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hemlines Rise In The East

Czechoslovakia, the dream and the reality; Our growing interstate highway system; Sharks, wolves of the sea; Ecuador-low and lofty land astride the equator. These were the stories in the February 1968 issue of National Geographic, which featured, among other things, a photograph of my mother in a homemade mini-dress in Wenceslas Square. My sister and I have always loved this photograph . One day she told me a story about when mom was young and she saw The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night something like seventeen times. The Beatles were one of the few western rock bands around in the Soviet-ruled land in those days, and she was a huge fan.

Finding this idea captivating, I re-created the scenario (and attempted to re-create the outfit) and took two friends to various NYC locations that, we imagined, could stand in for communist Czechoslovakia circa 1968. While we played fast and loose with history, there are a few things that are true. The movie wasn't released until around 1968 even though it had been released in 1964 worldwide. My mom was a huge Beatles fan (still is). And her style was pretty fly. The sad ending to the story, of course, is that tanks rolled in by the end of the year, leading to twenty more years of bullshit for the Czech and Slovak people. My mother went to Switzerland shortly after, and never went back.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Found photographs, 1967

These appear to be somewhere in Czechoslovakia ... the back of the photo says 1967.

I love how this girl is dwarfed by concrete blocks ...

I'm not sure who this girl is. She looks like my mother ...


As it feels exceptionally springlike today, I thought I'd post this picture of A Hare In The Forest (1585), which I found via Old Paint.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Guest Blogger Martha Stewart on "Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles"

Watching the Belgian avant-garde'feminist masterpiece "Jeanne Dielman" is a great way to spend an evening. It's a canonical movie that everyone interested in cinema should see, and I felt sure I was doing something very good by watching it.

During the inevitable moments when I found my mind wandering -- it's three and a half hours long! -- I noticed one or two errors in Jeanne's otherwise impeccable housecleaning techniques. I thought I'd list them here because I didn't found a lot written about them when I did a little reading up on the movie.

1. There is a very famous scene where Jeanne overcooks the potatoes, has a moment of anxiety and panic, and runs out to get new ones -- because she always has veal cutlet, potatoes, peas and carrots on Wednesdays. Fine. Many household cooks have a routine. But it's essential to vary it from time to time so your loved ones don't get bored with predictable cuisine. What's more, the home cook must be prepared for these inevitable little emergencies and use her ingenuity and creativity to work around them. Butter noodles, for instance, would have complemented her breaded veal cutlets perfectly! The truly prepared chef should always have some noodles on hand for just such an emergency -- dried goods like this are the hallmark of a truly well-stocked pantry. As soon as she ran out to the store to get another bag of spuds I thought, oh Jeanne, it's far too late to start that now! Whip up a batch of egg noodles and you wouldn't have risked drying out the cutlets on a "low burn" as you did (frankly, the cutlets looked almost charred) and you could have saved dinner, and your sanity.

2. Jeanne only rinses her hands after handling raw meat, then wipes them dry on her every-day towel. She should use soap and hot water, scrubbing for thirty seconds minimum before handling anything after preparing raw meat. If you are going to merely rinse your hands, which you shouldn't, then at least use a different towel provided expressly for that purpose.

3. I noticed her bedspread didn't have a removable, washable cover. That means she'll have to dry clean it to get it really clean. It's much easier to have a removable cover in cotton or linen for frequent, easy washings (and the use of the unsightly white rag could have been avoided as well).

4. Finally, one little nitpick (and this is really more of a personal choice): Jeanne cleans the tub immediately after washing. It's actually far better to clean it immediately before, that way you can be sure you're getting into an absolutely clean tub! And you don't work up a sweat scrubbing the tub right after you've enjoyed your refreshing bath! While that's really just my preference, one thing's for sure: using Ajax or another bleach cleanser while wearing a black skirt is a big no-no; you're just asking for stains.

I think that, if Jeanne had followed these few simple tips, she might have fared better. She'd feel better, her home would be cleaner, more sanitary, and dinner disasters could, with a little foresight, been avoided. Routine is important for efficiency in home cooking, but Jeanne, a little adaptability and improvisation could have done you wonders.