Archive for December, 2009
Cara Williams: The Redhead Hollywood Can’t Handle
Meet a beauty with a whim of iron
Two of best actresses in Hollywood are Brooklyn-born redheads with tempers as fiery as their hair. One of them, Oscar-winning Susan Hayward, learned to control her emotional explosions and became rich and famous as a result.
The other, Cara Williams, is equally talented and equally beautiful. She might easily have become a reigning queen like Susan. Only Cara is a sex bomb with an awfully short fuse.
“Why do I flare up?” Cara asks, repeating an interviewer’s question. “I don’t know. It’s my natural reaction when someone rubs me the wrong way. I wish I had a nickel for every fight I’ve had since I came to Hollywood 17 years ago. Then I could retire.”
In an industry here girls are taught never to say no to a producer or director, the INSIDE STORY is that Cara is definitely unique. She has walked out on some of the mightiest movie moguls— and on parts that other actresses would have swapped body and soul to obtain.
Now 32, she has battled her way through two stormy marriages and scores of verbal duels with the top guns of Movieland. Because she never pulls punches, most Hollywood rahjahs would rather tangle with a tarantula than risk Cara’s wrath. Consequently, they reserve the choicest roles for dolls who are easier to handle.
“Cara would be a top star,” a famous director says, “If only she’d learn to button her lip.”
She inherited her flaming hair and disposition to match from her father, a newspaperman on the old Brooklyn Eagle. Her dad wrote a column on marriage and family life— but didn’t take his own advice. When Cara was a baby, her parents separated.
Her mother Florence Williams, obtained a job as manicurist in a barber shop next to Brooklyn’s famous Albee Theater. The theater manager and his wife were crazy about the pretty tot and frequently served as baby sitters while Flo was at work.
They would sometimes tie Cara to a seat in the back row of the movie house and leave her to watch the flicks. She learned to recognize all the famous movie stars almost before she could walk or talk.
Her favorite game was imitating the actors and the actresses she saw on the screen. By the time she had reached kindergarten, she was an expert mimic and her impersonations were the talk of the neighborhood.
“Cara would only have to see an actress once,” a Brooklyn neighbor recalls, “and she would have her voice and mannerisms down pat. If you closed your eyes during one of Cara’s acts, you would swear it was the actress herself talking.”
Flo wrote a Hollywood columnist about Cara’s talent. She asked for advice on whether she should try to get the little girl into the movies. The columnist replied with three little words: “Stay in Brooklyn.”
—from “Cara Williams: The Redhead Hollywood Can’t Handle,” by Ernest Frankheimer, INSIDE STORY, November 1961
Caz Dolowicz was born on Sands Street in 1923 and first saw The Ox-Bow Incident with Henry Morgan and others at the Albee Theater in 1943. More than anything in October 1961, fresh off his second divorce, Caz wanted to play horsey with Pete and Gladys.
“Juba Breakdown” is the first tune in Ellis’ Thorough School for the Six or Seven- Stringed Banjo (PDF). It’s a lot of fun to play.
This recording is 1:10 long. The tune would be a natural fit to connect segments in a larger piece like a radio play, so I have also clipped out shorter snippets to fit as needed:
Here’s the sheet music for people who are inclined that way (I use the 1st banjo part):
I’m playing it in an anachronistic style, something along the lines of 1930s country, which it absolutely wasn’t.
My recording is hereby in the public domain. Do whatever you want with it.
In seems very appropriate to announce on this New Year’s Eve that Tim and I are Super-pleased® to confirm Dr. Riley Crane as our last panelist. Riley Crane is currently a “Society in Science” Branco Weiss fellow in the Human Dynamics group at the Media Lab at M.I.T. After receiving a Ph.D. in physics from U.C.L.A. he spent several years investigating shocks and spreading phenomena in social systems in order to understand whether or not there are rules governing collective human activity. He is the co-founder of AppZoo.com, which uses “social intelligence” to help discover iPhone apps, and is also the co-founder of Charity Note, which harnesses the vast power of social systems in order to collect millions of dollars for charity. Riley is best known for leading the MIT team that won the DARPA Red Balloon challenge, mentioned everywhere, as well as on this humble blog, before we even knew him. Riley’s efforts and expertise – namely, using the creativity of crowds to solve big problems – makes him not only a perfect fit for the panel, but a heady addition to our humble team. Expect to see Riley’s name everywhere in the next few months (including the Colbert Report! Yow!); we’re glad to have him on board.
I was trying to think of something eloquent or comprehensive to post for the dawn of the new decade, but my brain is still a little flat-lined. For now, here's wishing you and your loved ones a glorious 2010 and beyond. May love guide us all.
* Previously, my post on a New Year's Eve in Tijuana.
The Institute for the Future is doing some really interesting things with Collective Creativity, harnessing the power of crowds and appeal of games to make predictions about the future.
One game – Superstruct – outlined five “Superthreats” that may not be powerful enough on their own to bring upon the extinction of the human race but together might spell disaster for all of us. The game, a “massively multiplayer forecasting game,” encourages players to act honestly, reacting to events in the game as they would in real life using their own personalities as the basis for their actions. The outlook? Grim.
From a press release dated September 22, 2019:
Humans have 23 years to go
Global Extinction Awareness System starts the countdown for Homo sapiens.
PALO ALTO, CA — Based on the results of a year-long supercomputer simulation, the Global Extinction Awareness System (GEAS) has reset the “survival horizon” for Homo sapiens – the human race – from “indefinite” to 23 years.
This is the last blog post of 2009. If this post were written by another blogger, I would probably be telling you about how 2009 was the worst year in recent memory or I would probably be arguing in very persuasive language about how the noughts were the worst decade since the beginning of the Judeo-Christian calendar — a charge that I cannot guarantee for sure, since I was not alive when we started keeping tabs on the years. But I cannot do this. Because 2009 raped me. And as a rape victim, I am too ashamed to chronicle the specific details of 2009’s violent actions. This would be a classic he said/she said situation, were 2009 able to respond to my allegations. But because 2009 is not a person, and merely a year, it cannot defend itself from my rape charge.
The major ethical question here is whether I am (a) lying about 2009 raping me, (b) a bit too influenced by other excitable, finger-waving, end-of-the-year posts, essays, and articles, or (c) attempting, through some foolish and over-the-top catharsis, to find a disingenuous manner with which to accuse 2009 of rape. It may very well be a combination of two or three of these elements. Were I interested in attaching some end-of-the-year list to justify my rape allegation against the year (and the decade), you might more ably believe in my convictions.
But I prefer to operate in the present and learn from past mistakes. If 2009 did rape me, I will certainly do my best to ensure that future years will not violate me. But were any of us really violated? And why do we all insist on putting the blame on any one year? Wikipedia informs me that “projection is always seen as a defense mechanism that occurs when a person’s own unacceptable or threatening feelings are repressed and then attributed to someone else.” Is it fair to project our more difficult emotions onto a single year?
There are a few absolute projections that I can make right now. But I can say that the next post I write will be in 2010. I am not sure if 2010 will rape me. It’s just too early to tell. Now that I have begun to ruminate upon 2009, I am not sure if the year actually raped me. Yes, there was a struggle. But it’s not as if 2009 was some strange year who picked me up in a bar. We knew 2009. And it is said that most rape victims suffer not from the despicable actions of strangers, but from people they know. But 2009 is not a person. It is a year. And we have something that 2009 does not, which is the ability to exist longer than 365 days. So is all this negative self-reflection (or, this post’s reflection of other self-reflections from other blogs) the result of not being able to confront the glorious prospects of the present?
Perhaps. But irrespective of these difficult questions and inside one earnest sentence devoid of satirical intentions, I do wish everyone a very happy new year!
What can I say?
Thanks for a great year, everyone! See you in 2010 …
Okay, I’m cheating, and hardcore FFO-heads will probably sue my ass, but this is my party so I’ll do what I want … gotta give this week’s FFO 2nd Place Medal to my favorite music video of the year:
This video is like the elixir of eternal life for me.
Friday Face-Offs!!! WINNING VIDEO IS NEXT!!!
This song really starts rocking at 0:23. I can’t decide what I think of the vocalist’s style, but I looove the beat. Sometime around 3:00, the tambourine player basically goes into Keith Moon mode with those insane triplets.
Video’s not bad, either …
Friday Face-Offs! Two more videos if it kills me!
From “Whaddya know?” to “Ya don’t say,” the 2000s will be remembered as the decade when catchphrases were king.
Here are the TOP TEN CATCHPHRASES OF THE DECADE:
10. Ya don’t say!
9. Are you for real?
8. If something does or doesn’t happen, the terrorists will win!
7. I’ll believe it when I see it!
5. No way!
4. TIE: You gotta be kiddin’ me!/Pimpin’ ain’t easy!
3. Tell me about it!
2. Did you like that movie or what?
1. It’s all good!
LOL, is this guy feeling it very hard? LET’S DO THIS.
In the comments to this video, haters are saying this guy looks like Stephen Hawking when he sings. Then another commenter says this: “Awesome cover. Btw, screw everyone else, I love the head bob. Real emotion is music is what it’s all about.”
Is there anything more invigorating than a youtube commenter telling a video’s poster to ignore the haters? ANSWER: NO.
I also like the very, very end of this video, because he puts down his guitar and then for a split second it looks like he’s debating whether to smash it against the wall.
Friday Face-Offs! “Real emotion is music is what it’s all about.”
I recently received an email from an enthusiastic Porter Grainger fan. In fact, his first comment was to point out that “Dyin’ Crapshooter’s Blues” actually made it onto piano rolls! Readers of this blog – and of the book – will know that the composer of “Dyin’ Crapshooter’s Blues” was Porter Grainger. Grainger was one of those souls who disappeared almost completely from public consciousness, even though he left a significant mark on the music of the 1920s.
[Blind Willie] McTell himself said of his most strikingly original composition, “Dying Crapshooter’s Blues” (1.9MB MP3): “I had to steal music from every which way you could get it to get it to fit.” Although the criminal’s mock testament has a history ranging from Villon to “Streets of Laredo” and “St. James Infirmary,” McTell’s three years of tinkering resulted in a structure part recitation, part theater — a three-act pop opera complete with opening fanfare.
If I was in high school, no doubt the Mountain Goats would be my favorite band. Are you kidding? All that heart-on-shirtsleeve over-emoting, all the lyrics about drinking Scotch and playing video games? In the words of one of the decade’s greatest catchphrases, “Fuhgeddaboutit.”
Stop-motion animation? Check. Multi-track vocal harmonies? Check. Extended shots of high school building? Check. This video couldn’t be more awesomely high school if it came with a diploma.
I’m pleased to finally reveal the project Matthew Battles and I have been working on for a long time, a comic exploration of the public spat between Arthur Conan Doyle and Houdini, up now at BarnesAndNoble.com.
This was a really fun project to do, not the least reason that Matthew is a terrific writer, and it was easy to shape images around his words. This was one of the first times I’ve been strictly the artist, instead of the artist-writer-auteur of a comic, and I really enjoyed it; it some ways, it allowed me to focus on the graphics more, witout worrying about the prose. I still love writing, but I may pursue this more. It’s also the first time I applied this vintage-collage style to comics, and I think it works well, Barnes And Noble’s apparent technical limitations notwithstanding (no Flash? Come on, guys.) I think it works well, and it’s also something I’ll exploring more. Max Ernst, eat your heart out. No, not literally, you weirdo.
This is the most depressing video of all time– since when did they start using CGI on Dr. Who??? If it ain’t a monster made out of rubber and duct tape, or a space ship made out of old BBC shipping containers and sparkle paint, it has no business being on Dr. Who.
Anyway, life is all about accepting change and living with disappointment and growing and whatnot, so I guess I need to make peace with the fact that Tom Baker isn’t Dr. Who anymore if it kills me.
Friday Face-Offs!!! Ex-term-in-ate … Ex-term-in-ate …
[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Jason Reich, has ended. Original price: $1.99. Final price: $41.00. Significant Objects will donate the proceeds of this auction to 826 National.]
It had been gifted ironically, natch. His friend had spotted it at the mall, and wasn’t it awful? The grotesque smile and bizarre skyward eyeroll. And what was up with those pants? “You’d think someone qualified for this award would be smart enough to buy pants that fit,” his friend said, and they both cracked up. He accepted the statuette with glee, proudly installing it on his shelf in a place of honor between the train whistle sound effects CD and the circa-1971 Zion National Park mug bearing someone else’s name. World’s Best Father. Looking at it, you had to laugh. All those pathetic, Precious Moments-collecting, pewter angel-buying nitwits who actually shopped for gifts at Hallmark Gifts and sincerely treasured this kind of crap. Hilarious.
She hadn’t taken it well when he finally pulled the plug. But what was he supposed to do? It was a big thing, to still not be sure about her after fourteen months. Sure, he’d had his fun over the years. Actresses, college girls, flat-out lunatics. Relationships stamped with obvious expiration dates. With her, it had been about something greater, at least until the doubts started to set in. He knew, in that way you just know things, that it was time. “You can’t be serious,” she snapped. “I mean, literally, you’re incapable of it. You expect to be taken seriously when your place is crammed with junk like this?” She was angrily waving something, a figurine, some gag gift a now-forgotten high school buddy had given him years ago and that he’d never had the heart to throw away. He held it dumbly as she collected the last of her toiletries, admiring again the character’s endearing grin, the appealing splash of color on its lapel. The little man on the pedestal was a doofus, no doubt, but he certainly looked happy, and what was wrong with that?
Something clattered to the floor upstairs and he rose from the kitchen table to investigate, finally abandoning the crossword puzzle at this, the third interruption. From the door of the spare bedroom, he could see his four-year-old leaning against the dresser, trying not to cry. The older one, his son, stood quietly over the fallen object: a small statue, long ago placed on a high shelf, out of sight. He picked it up. The figure, with its bemused eyeroll, seemed to empathize. Kids, right? “Go play somewhere else, guys,” he said. “Mom’ll be home soon and we’ll eat.” They padded out, and he gently scratched the back of his daughter’s neck as she passed him, giving her the chills, eliciting a giggle. He moved to replace the figurine on its perch, then paused, enjoying the weight of it in his palm. The thing was so goofy. Looking at it, you had to laugh.
Okay, basically this dude is the ultimate bad-ass. He keeps pushing through this song (which is supposed to be completely emotionally shattering) in spite of everybody ignoring him and talking and chattering every which way and thereby passively stripping the song of much of its power. I used to perform acoustic-guitar songs at open mics*, and if this guy is anything like me, he’s probably distracted from his performance by thoughts like: “What am I doing, why is everyone ignoring me, why am I such a failure, why does everyone hate me, I wish I was dead.”
True, he bails eventually, but he gave it the ol’ college try, so he earns a 7th Place Friday Face-Offs medal!
By the way, do you think the camera man was pretty happy at (0:16)? What is she picking up, census forms? LOL, “the government wants to know how many people live at this coffeehouse.”
(*Don’t hate the playa, hate the game)
“I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me.” Basically 2009 was so insane, it has led me to post Friday Face-Offs on a Thursday! I really should call this “Thursday Face-Offs,” except that New Year’s Eve is kinda like an honorary Friday.
Anyway, let’s get things poppin’ with our first contestant! Check out the banging harmonies and adorable cockney(?) accents exhibited hereunder:
NICE! They totally shred the line about feasting and dancing in Jerusalem (2:44). By the way, where is this concert taking place? In an operating room in the fanciest, most exclusive Beverly Hills hospital? Because if that’s true, somebody needs to maybe clean that operating room a little before the next surgery.
FRIDAY FACE-OFFS! I am gonna make it to the next video if it kills me!
One of the appetizers at Osteria Papavero is “antipasti di tartufo” — three dishes with black truffle, subject to chef’s whim and different every night. Truffle is one of those ingredients that I know is distinguished and I know is expensive but which has never really revealed its charms to me. Papavero is helping me out with that problem. I think I’m going to go ahead and order this dish every time I go, because it’s consistently the highlight of the meal.
Tuesday night, one of the plates was a truffled lamb sausage. Long, dark brown, a little pocked, served in a loose coil, looking a little disturbingly like — well, I’ll bet you can guess what it looked a little disturbingly like. But it was superb: coarsely ground, a little gamy or smoky, and rich as hell, without being, you know, stupidly rich. One of the best things I’ve eaten in Madison.
Papavero has a Christmas tree with comic photos of the staff in place of ornaments. Also a Xerox of the greatest New Yorker cartoon of all time:
Image courtesy of a post by Daniel Radosh, who observes that the caption is not identical with the one that originally ran in the magazine. But this version is the one I know and admire.
Guys, let’s be honest: As much as I liked updating my blog this year, on the whole 2009 totally sucked.
That’s why Friday Face-Offs is coming out of retirement for a year-end spectacular!!!
This week’s Friday Face-Off is “This Year” by the Mountain Goats. Watch the original here:
First contestant up next! Let’s end the year right! Friday Face-Offs!!!
As of yesterday, we’ve closed 17 auctions in Significant Objects Volume 2, with total sales standing at $653.04. So we’re on pace to make a nice donation to 826 National when it’s all over. Thank you for the bids! Keep ‘em coming!
Meanwhile two recent links of note:
- i09 digs Margaret Wertheim’s Owl Pincushion Story in a post here.
- And Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely assesses our project, here. (Regarding our hunch about stories adding value to things: “They were right.”)
This is the seventh of eight lectures recorded in the spring of 2009 for a Maybe Logic Academy course called Gnosis Now! DavisGnosis7.4.2.09 READINGS FOR WEEK SEVEN: PKD’s PINK LIGHT: &bull…
But I am too impatient to think back about the last ten years because it wasn't until a few days ago that I suddenly actually realized it was the end of a decade (again? already?) and the thought overwhelms me. What I really want to think about right now are two forthcoming albums I am really excited about:
1. The Magnetic Fields' Realism arrives in January. I anticipate a perfect January album. (Every year I end up listening to some album on constant repeat in January; always a month of writing, solitude, solace. Then that album becomes forever a January album, evoking snow and woodsmoke, long drives, long nights, lamplight. Distortion shared it with Trees Outside the Academy in '08. Last year was the Blood Bank EP. ) This one: in the style of orchestrated '60s Brit-folk. "I can't stand the sound of an acoustic guitar for more than three minutes at a time," says Stephin. Well, bring it.
2. Quasi's new one comes in February on Kill Rock Stars. I've heard these songs live a few times now and they are the kind of songs that sound like classics on the first listen. A gentleman called Brewcaster put up several videos from their excellent June show at Disjecta in Portland. Check out "Little White Horse" and "Never Coming Back Again" and "Bye Bye Blackbird." Agh! I love them! To the point of teenaged hand-waving incoherence.
For the neoennial occasion: "Merry X-mas" by Quasi (from the unjustly overlooked When the Going Gets Dark.) Oh how do you do?
Tony Judt, the prolific historian, writes unsparingly, in the New York Review of Books, about the end stage of his own life. With brutal candor, he sketches what it is like to live with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often called Lou Gehrig’s disease. (The disease is at a sufficiently advanced stage that Judt had to dictate the text.) He writes:
The pleasures of mental agility are much overstated, inevitably–as it now appears to me–by those not exclusively dependent upon them.
The ability to fall asleep and stay asleep is, surprisingly and deeply disturbingly, among the casualties of physical paralysis.
(Here's where you can get a DVD that includes many of Helen's films, including two of my personal favorites: "Madam Winger Makes a Film"  and "Mouseholes" .)
Kudos to Dan Streible and many others for making this happen.
Now this is Rush Limbaugh. He’s got chest pains. And in the news reports, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking as the paramedics take him in. And it’s purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Rush Limbaugh portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has. I know he’s got it and he’s raising awareness for it, but when I’ve seen him in public, I’ve never seen him betray any of the symptoms. But these news reports, he — he’s just all over the place. He can barely control himself. He can control himself enough to stay within the frame of the ambulance, and he can control himself enough to keep his fat ass right on the gurney. But his head and shoulders are moving all around the place, and he is acting like his disease is deteriorating because some liberal news organization claims that he is suffering chest pains. Rush Limbaugh, get cured. The liberals do not oppose research into heart disease, they oppose heartless reactionary yahoos who will be angling for Rush to get well. And this is really shameless of Rush Limbaugh. Either he didn’t keep his heart in decent condition or he’s acting, one of the two.
All right. Now people are telling me that they have seen Rush Limbaugh in interviews and he does not appear the same way in the interviews as he does in the ambulance in Hawaii. All right, then. I stand corrected. I have never seen — I’ve seen him on those Pizza Hut commercials and he was scarfing down slices of that crappy cholesterol-inducing pizza like they were crackers or something. I’ve seen him on a number of television appearances. I’ve never seen the evidence he’s got — I know he’s got it. It’s pitiable that he has the disease. It’s a debilitating disease, and I understand that fully. Now just stick with me on this.
All I’m saying is that I’ve never seen him this way he appears in this ambulance heading away from the Kahala Hotel and Resort. So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Rush Limbaugh if I am wrong for characterizing his behavior in the ambulance as an act, especially since people are telling me that they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances.
But let me just say this about it. Mr. Limbaugh is using his illness as another tactic to try to secure the rise of Republican zealots by implying that with his fake illness and possible death, he will be some martyr for the right. But he’s faking it. All I’m saying is that I’ve never seen Rush Limbaugh have chest pains before. There is something fishy here.
Rebecca Mead doesn’t like what we’re calling the last decade. “Arguably, a grudging agreement has been reached on calling the decade ‘the aughts,’ but that unfortunate term is rooted in a linguistic error. The use of ‘aught’ to mean ‘nothing,’ ‘zero,’ or ‘cipher’ is a nineteenth-century corruption of the word ‘naught,’ which actually does mean nothing, and which, as in the phrase ‘all for naught,’ is still in current usage. Meanwhile, the adoption of ‘the aughts’ as the decade’s name only accelerates the almost complete obsolescence of the actual English word “aught,” a concise and poetic near-synonym for ‘anything’ … To call the decade ‘the aughts’ is a compromise that pleases no one, and that has more than a whiff of resigned settling about it.” While I’ll agree there’s something significant in how it takes until the last few months of the decade to decide on a name for itself, “aught” is far less obscure that Mead suggests. Wolfram Alpha is useless for finding out how many high schools perform the Music Man each year, but I’d wager it’s quite a lot… meaning there are thousands and thousands of people out there familiar with its frequent references to building a church in “aught six” or graduating in “aught seven.” It may not be a frequently discussed common cultural reference like Citizen Kane or The Catcher in the Rye, but because The Music Man is so frequently performed, lots of people actually know the script. Maybe you played a townsperson once or your neighbor’s daughter did. (is there’s a theater term for this?) Anyway, I think the “aughts” can be contributed to Prof. Harold Hill, and I wouldn’t be surprised if “oh four” and “oh five” become “aught–” looking back.
Playdar isn’t really a browser. It’s more of a search engine. But can you imagine using a web browser today that didn’t have Google built in? The idea of a browser goes hand in hand with that of a search engine; in my efforts to relate the two I may have blurred the waters.
I’d like to talk a bit more about what the web looks like today, and how we can make it friendlier to the idea of a music browser.
So far, this has led to a web of control, with content centralised in the hands of publishers. The distribution of creative works is stifled, not to ensure the protection of rights, but due to a careless muddling of formats. And this sloppy integration of multimedia into the browser ensures we’ll be mired in codec hell for years to come.
Can we do better? Can we create an ecosystem for browsing, subscribing, sharing, discussing, listing and rating the stuff of the web that’s separate from HTML? Music is an obvious area of opportunity, and we’ve already got music browsers that have escaped the gravitational pull of the browser. The problem is, they’re still locked into the publisher’s web of control. The iTunes Store and Spotify represent bold new ways to access a wealth of music, but they’re essentially blind to a world of sound outside their borders.
Audio itself isn’t hypertext. I wonder what it would be like to have music audio be hypertext. Would you click on a Led Zeppelin lyric to go to the blues tune that it came from? Maybe you could navigate from a chord progression in one song to the same chord progression in other songs.
When you share a set of songs by putting them all in the same MP3, you can’t address them individually. When you use a playlist, the playlist is a hypertext container for each song.
And then there’s Media Fragments URI 1.0, which is a specification for pointing inside of multimedia files. That’s full-fledge music hypertext, even though it is used for audio bytes rather than musical songs.
Which makes me speculate about metafiles that attach semantics to audio files. The metafile would link to a range within an audio file in such a way that high level concepts were communicated. Like:
<a href="example.mp3#t=0s,15s" class="intro">intro</a>
<a href="example.mp3#t=16s,45s" class="verse">first verse</a>
<a href="example.mp3#t=46s,75s" class="verse">second verse</a>
<a href="example.mp3#t=76s,106s" class="chorus">chorus</a>
<a href="example.mp3#t=107s,137s" class="solo guitar">guitar solo</a>
<a href="example.mp3#t=138s,178s" class="chorus">chorus</a>
<a href="example.mp3#t=179s,210s" class="outro">outro</a>
My Web of Songs deck is different that jwheare’s concept in that it doesn’t conceive of audio-specific forms of hypertext, but thinks about general systemic issues preventing music from being a first-class citizen of the web.
It’s really, really hard to write about yourself, photograph yourself, or film yourself without annoying people, but Ross McElwee somehow has a knack for it. Sherman’s March is a must-Netflix, if you haven’t already. Now Steve Carr (Daddy Day Care, Next Friday, Paul Blart: Mall Cop) wants to turn it into a film. Now, when McElwee was shooting every minute of his life in the last 70s and early 80s, it was extremely bizarre, today, it wouldn’t alarm anyone. Given this, I really hope Carr uses the opportunity to reflect on our over-cameraed era.
Unica Zurn’s writing and art is what I turn to when I’m looking for inspiration, so it’s no surprise “Unica Zürn: Dark Spring,” at the Drawing Center, was one of my favorite gallery shows this year. It left me with a greater appreciation of her genius, and also with a longing for the days when art and literature (and film and music) were not compartmentalized. Curator João Ribas won the International Association of Art Critics’ (AICA) annual award for Best Show By A Non-Profit Gallery or Space. Ribas is now the curator at MIT’s exceptional List Galley.
I leave bedtime until the last possible moment compatible with my nurse's need for sleep. Once I have been "prepared" for bed I am rolled into the bedroom in the wheelchair where I have spent the past eighteen hours. With some difficulty (despite my reduced height, mass, and bulk I am still a substantial dead weight for even a strong man to shift) I am maneuvered onto my cot. I am sat upright at an angle of some 110° and wedged into place with folded towels and pillows, my left leg in particular turned out ballet-like to compensate for its propensity to collapse inward. This process requires considerable concentration. If I allow a stray limb to be mis-placed, or fail to insist on having my midriff carefully aligned with legs and head, I shall suffer the agonies of the damned later in the night.
I am then covered, my hands placed outside the blanket to afford me the illusion of mobility but wrapped nonetheless since—like the rest of me—they now suffer from a permanent sensation of cold. I am offered a final scratch on any of a dozen itchy spots from hairline to toe; the Bi-Pap breathing device in my nose is adjusted to a necessarily uncomfortable level of tightness to ensure that it does not slip in the night; my glasses are removed...and there I lie: trussed, myopic, and motionless like a modern-day mummy, alone in my corporeal prison, accompanied for the rest of the night only by my thoughts.
Tomorrow, Thursday 12/31, mnftiu.cc will feature the final Friday Face-Off of the decade!!!
Spread the word, it’s gonna be incredible!
[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Gabe Levinson, has ended. Original price: $2.00. Final price: $7.00. Significant Objects will donate the proceeds of this auction to 826 National.]
Mom was thrashing so violently the night she died that she broke through her straps; her head repeatedly smacked the table while her muscles went renegade. By the time I saw how messed up this situation was, it was too late. I was in a fit of hysterics, the laughing kind, and I was helpless to save her.
Just a few seconds before, I was pouring a cup of tea and everything was fine… as fine as it could be when you’re spoon-feeding tea to your mom. One day her muscles started giving out. It’s been a year since I moved back home and the most dignified moment of her day is when she’s strapped upright at the dining room table for tea.
I don’t know what compelled me to look at the trivet before I set the teapot down just then, I really don’t. You know how it is when things have always been there. I grew up in this house, but for the first time in my life, for no good reason, I took notice: it’s a cartoon of a guy and girl pointing to a clock, looking at you with worry on their faces, pleading in their eyes, above and below this image it reads Now is the Time To Live Tomorrow’s Memories. I imagined someone picking up a hot plate and learning a valuable life lesson: Hey man, take it easy, cool it bro, now is the time to live tomorrow’s memories. And that’s what set me off: a hot plate telling me to cool it. I fell to the floor, teapot in hand, laughing so hard. I know how dumb it was, I know, but at the time it struck me as the funniest thing in the world.
Getting splashed with boiling water when I landed brought me to, but only for a second. Because then I picked up on the sound Mom’s head was making every time she struck the table: THOOMP followed by TA-GLONK (that being the trivet, which would jump in the air with each THOOMP and clatter down with its own TA-GLONK). The rhythm of it all just about did me in; the whole scene playing out like a Don Martin symphony: THOOMP TA-GLONK THOOMP TA-GLONK THOOMP TA-GLONK SKLORTCH.
It was the SKLORTCH that sobered me up; after that there was no THOOMP, no TA-GLONK, nothing. I picked myself up off the floor. Mom was facedown, immobile, on the table. I pulled her head up as gently as possible but something tugged back. I pulled a little harder and cried out when I saw it: a screw embedded so deep into the middle of her forehead that it yanked clean from the table. My mother the unicorn. HA!
Maybe you had to be there.
Michael Haneke appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #316. Mr. Haneke is most recently the director of The White Ribbon, which opens in theaters on December 30th.
The Bat Segundo Show expresses profuse gratitude and thanks to translator Robert Gray for assisting in this conversation, which is presented here in German and English.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Tying a white ribbon ’round the old oak tree.
Guest: Michael Haneke
Subjects Discussed: The roots of human behavior within Haneke’s films, the film as a ski jump, the relationship between the cinematic spectator and semiotics, the spectator’s lack of freedom, the director as god and Martin’s spared death on the bridge, the baroness’s moral choice, truth and the denial of inherent human nature, Anna Karenina, social status and imprisonment, terrorist acts that are tied to specific occupations, the mistreatment of young children, planning a film for open-ended interpretation, whether or not a film can be entirely calculated for the spectator, the use of the Z-axis to accentuate a prewar setting, the perception of daily life, the role of the police in Haneke’s films, the trouble with dramaturgical constructs, and the impracticalities of theory in everyday situations.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: In Funny Games, you have a scenario in which we don’t actually understand the motivations of the two killers. Cache, same thing. The actual motivation behind the videotapes is not entirely spelled out. And, of course, in The White Ribbon, we have a similar situation in which its more about the consequences than it is about the origins. And I’m curious why your films tend to not dwell upon the origins of terrible acts, as opposed to the consequences. Do you think that looking for the root cause of human behavior is a folly? At least with these particular characters in your film?
Haneke: (through translator) Mainstream cinema raises questions, only then to provide immediate answers so that the spectator can go home feeling reassured. But I think if film is to take itself seriously as an art form, then, like every other art form, it has to allow the spectators a certain freedom of possibility — of investing themselves, of grappling with the issues that are involved, of bringing their own feelings and explanations to the work that they are receiving. I always say that not only film, but every art form should provoke the spectator so that they feel motivated. The work has to be constructed in such a way that the spectator is led to investing himself in search for his own answers. I always say that not only film, but books too, are like ski jumps. They have to be built in such a way that people can jump properly. But the film is the ski jump and it’s up to the spectator to jump.
Explaining their approach, the architects write that “the Guggenheim has become, in a sense, a victim of its own success due to an over-saturation of human movement in a singular space. Our proposal aims to accomplish the seemingly incompatible: to restore a museum environment conducive to experiencing art and to maximize and heighten other experiences brought about by the iconic status of the museum itself.”
The specific strategy here is “to trap, i.e., to force a pause. This programmatic component was not considered by Wright, who envisioned a space defined by tireless motion.”
The resulting project is a gigantic membrane stretched throughout the interior, supplying “180 saddle-like seats along the entire ramp for pausing and viewing the rotunda.”
- These seats protrude into the void with access ladders arranged in between the floor and the ceiling over the guardrails. Each of the 90 access ladders holds two cantilevering seats, which are angled gradually as they ascend to allow a view of the central area at ground level that functions almost like a stage—as though the rotunda were a new hybrid of opera house and arena. The 180 protrusions over the void are draped with a single, soft and translucent membrane that functions as a safety net.
There is no mention of a user weight-limit.
The architects continue, writing that “the pop-out pods, each approximately 60 cm deep, contain seats,” and “each pod has five openings for the head and limbs, which make the membrane”—and I love this metaphor—”much like a garment that can be worn collectively by 180 people.”
Imagining a piece of clothing so huge you mistake for a building is an awesome change in both scale and context; you would go inside by putting the building on, slipping in one arm at a time.
Of course, this also raises the possibility of tailoring clothing specifically to function only within certain very specific architectural structures: nylon tights that only make sense to wear when seated in one of Cho’s “pop-out pods,” or sweaters that allow you to experience the spatial extravagance of luxury elevators at a new W Hotel in London. You and some friends zip yourselves up into the wall, forming a new private room that would otherwise not be there.
But Cho saves the best analogy for last: once the overflowing crowds of art-drunk tourists come to fill the “pop-out pods,” it “as if they were performing as a part of a living Baroque ceiling sculpture.”
I had the pleasure of seeing Cho present this project in person at a lecture he gave back in October at Columbia University; this was the project with which he kicked-off the evening, and it set a fantastically giddy tone for the rest of Mass Studies’ work.
[Image: Flow Show by WORKac (2009)].
For a forthcoming exhibition called Contemplating the Void, New York’s Guggenheim Museum “invited more than two hundred artists, architects, and designers to imagine their dream interventions in the space.”
- In this exhibition of ideal projects, certain themes emerge, including the return to nature in its primordial state, the desire to climb the building, the interplay of light and space, the interest in diaphanous effects as a counterpoint to the concrete structure, and the impact of sound on the environment.
Many of the images provide great eye-candy, as you’ll see, and I’ve included the best of those here (with my personal favorite coming up in the next post).
[Image: Untitled by N55 (2009)].
The interior is taken over by coastal rain forests; there are mystical arabesques of colored music wrapping upward in spatially impossible curls through the museum’s disappeared roof; there are trampolines and climbing nets strung from wall to wall above the lobby.
The Museum of Simulated Suicides, you could call it, where go to experience what it might be like to throw themselves into the void. You get a certificate of survival at the end.
There are photo-collages and sectional diagrams of internally returning ecosystems.
There are vast white balloons with visible structures trapped inside them rising out into New York’s winter skies—
[Image: State Fair Guggenheim by MAD Architects (2009)].
—as well as storms of red dust falling downward in a kind of gravitational pollution of the lobby.
[Image: Untitled by Anish Kapoor (2009)].
Perhaps predictably, though, I might say an even better intervention into the Guggenheim’s space is not a series of objects or architectural alterations at all, but an event—by which I’m specifically referring to one of 2009′s most talked-about spatial moments, at least in architectural circles, when we see that very same museum annihilated in a hail of bullets in the film The International.
[Image: A poster for The International featuring the Guggenheim Museum (2009)].
For all these calls for ideas and architectural design competitions, what if Hollywood set designers and location scouts are doing a more provocative job in non-preciously reimagining the inherited icons of the global built environment than 21st century architects?
These and many other images will be on display when the exhibition, Contemplating the Void, opens February 12, 2010.
– The comfortable and familiar with the unknown and surprising
– Deliberate plans with serendipitous spontaneity
– Solitude with company
– Travel with home
– Online with offline
– and of course the usual: day job with writing, sleep with writing, exercise with writing, etc.
At this time when a certain amount of reflection seems obligatory, what’s on y’all’s minds?
This is the list you’ve been waiting for! Below are the TOP EIGHT YEARS OF THE 2000s:
6. TIE: 2000/2004
2. TIE: 2007/2008
MNFTIU.CC EXCLUSIVE! Nobody else has this list. The 2000s were a decade of dreams. Scientists who study dreams, known as dreamologists, say that this decade saw more dreams than any other decade in human history.
Here is the definitive list of the TOP TEN DREAMS OF THE DECADE ACCORDING TO SCIENTISTS:
9. In school with no pants
8. Car won’t start/stop
7. Yelling at Mom but she’s also somebody else
6. TIE: Osama bin Laden laughing / Everyone has the same color hair
5. Misc. cute animals
4. Teeth falling out
3. Toilet exploding
2. TIE: Trying to read weird magazine / Shirt too tight
1. Current events
I am here to grade portfolios, but first I had to pick up the new Park Rapids Enterprise and turn to the Incidents report. Here is today's selection.
[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Greg Rowland, has ended. Original price: $3.00. Final price: $32.00. Significant Objects will donate the proceeds of this auction to 826 National.]
I am a mycologist. I study fungi. (I do not study “toadstools” or “fairy rings.” These are objects of fantasy, not science. Ask me about “toadstools” or “fairy rings” and I will most surely spit in your eye.)
It is my great misfortune to encounter non-mycologists from time to time. It may seem astonishing, but there are people who cannot separate agaricaceae from coprinaceae, much less entolomataceae from strophariaceae. But I can, because I am a mycologist.
I have mixed emotions when I meet people who cannot distinguish between entolomataceae and strophariaceae. Mostly I feel pity, mixed with a burning feeling of nausea that settles around my upper trachea. Sometimes I feel pure hatred. I reserve the stronger emotions for those who deliberately flaunt a lack of mycological knowledge as some kind of “badge of honour.” Please be assured that, if I were to meet you, and you deliberately flaunted your lack of mycological knowledge in my presence, then I would most definitely spit in your eye.
Beyond that, here are the two worst things you can say to a mycologist:
“Is there ‘mush-room’ in your field for advancement?”
“You must be a real ‘fun-gi’ to be with.”
It is the fun-gi “joke” that fills the mycology community with dread and foreboding. It is repeated to us every time we venture outside of the mycology community. (Sometimes up to twice a month.) It is enough to make a mycologist spit. It is certainly enough to make a mycologist produce a unique form of body-anger-fungus — which has, ironically, provided a research paper dividend for two less than honorable members of our field. (You know who you are.)
A human female, who carried no malign fungal infections, gave me this Mushroom Shaker. She was attracted to mycologists, and had never knowingly uttered The Joke (op cit.). She was a dilettante mycologist at best, yet I was blinded by her shiny shoes and gadfly, fungal-free demeanor.
Some might see this as a thoughtful gift for a mycologist. They would be wrong. This “gift” is merely an extension of the ritual degradation of our science by the non-mycology community (see above, passim.) This is why its companion piece is now in several pieces in a landfill, having been battered into fragments by a specialized hard-fungal chipping utensil.
This object is a non-mycologically accurate three-dimensional evocation of a non-existent mushroom. Do not use it as a reference device. Or for any purpose whatsoever. Don’t even look at it for more than 0.75 seconds.
In closing, I contend that this Mushroom Shaker embodies a strong risk of mycological disinformation. Just like the woman who gave it to me.
Someday, when people talk about the 2000s, they’ll talk about all the great food we ate.
From ice cream to chicken fingers, we ate it all.
Here is the definitive list of the TOP TEN FOODS OF THE DECADE:
10. Ice cream
8. Ethnic food
6. Freedom fries
1. Chicken fingers