|. . . 2000-08-06 . . .||
David Auerbach writes:
Regarding "Scrooge McClock," I can't resist bringing up Barks' "Heirloom Watch" story, where the gears of time dictate nature; if a 200-year-old watch says that the next solar eclipse will be in two minutes, despite all scientific predictions to the contrary, the eclipse will still happen, courtesy of a previously unknown planet. Scrooge to Gyro: "Be sure to tune up the part that predicts the eclipses of the sun!"And old-timey readers might like to know that our Boy! What a Girl text has been spiced up with a shot of "Slam" Stewart bowing the bass and a page of jitterbugging stills (oxymoron intended).
|. . . 2000-08-07|
So I was collecting the empties from under my desk yesterday when what should I find but a previously unpublished installment of Constance Kandle's Nonprofit Chronicles featuring Bossy the Clown! It may not be so timely anymore but Kandle sacrificed her life to capture this story and the least you can do is read it.
Bossy the Optimist
- From Bossy's recent report to the agency that funds The Big Project:
- "Also in this grant period, Constance Kandle attended a professional conference. This was a valuable experience, as it confirmed that all of the methodologies used in The Big Project are correct and in conformance with national standards.
"We have also been involved in discussions with authorities on the evolving legal issues that impact our Project, and we are confident that everything will turn out in our favor."
(Constance would have suggested some revisions to these paragraphs, but Bossy asked for comments on this draft of the report five minutes before it was due to be picked up by Federal Express. )
|. . . 2000-08-08|
Stewart forwards another or two Word of the Days:
Ray, did you already know "sprezzatura"? Wonderful word. Hypothecations is also good.For the benefit of the incognoscenti, "Sprezzatura" is a curiously refreshing artichoke-flavored carbonated beverage; I credit a chilled bottle with literally saving my life during one hot afternoon walk down from the Fiesole hills. Sprezzatura is sold in crude glass replicas of architectural and sculptural masterpieces which are almost as collectible in Italy as beer cans are in the USA!
Hypothecations derives from hypo ("below") plus thecate ("cover"); thus, "underwear." For example, technically speaking, the Venus de Milo wears hypothecations -- but not much else! Ha ha ha ha! As another example, the OED cites "the hypothecated jewels had been rifled." Ouch! Ha ha ha ha! -- excuse me, please, I'll be right back....
|. . . 2000-08-18|
|Cholly on Software|
On Managing Software
|Goddamned kindergarten world|
My geekiest college friends lived together one year off-campus, in a condo-like complex rented out both to students and to real people with families and jobs. Which could be rough on the real people, families, and jobs. Once when my geeky friends were coming home, probably while working out all possible variants of a Monty Python sketch, they met one of their neighbors leaving for work; as respective doors closed, they heard him mutter "Goddamned kindergarten world."
I used to think that I'd wind up as one of those sweaty guys you see pushing their way around the city muttering nonsensical obscenities nonstop under and occasionally way over their breath. But now I'm starting to think maybe I'll wind up just muttering "Goddamned kindergarten world" nonstop instead.
Or, what do you think, maybe I could do both? Like, one mutter for interiors and the other for commuting?
|. . . 2000-08-19|
A Long Happy Life in Literature,
as Told by a Slip of Paper Tucked into My Copy of
Lewis Warsh's Information from the Surface of Venus
A reader writes:
sprezzatura -- reminds one of Cel-Ray...Although Cel-Ray provides a perfect name for my consulting business, Cynar-and-seltzer more closely approximates the taste of Sprezzatura, much like dark rum and Calistoga Black Cherry Flavor Sparkling Mineral Water approximates (from above) the taste of Coca-Cola.
|. . . 2000-08-20|
There's no denying the mythic catchiness of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. And there's no admitting his possibility. Just where would a glib dumb prissy pushy tall dark handsome breast-beating alcoholic intellectual low-brow heterosexual urban nostalgic two-fisted prose stylist idealist spring from? Los Angeles? Regretfully, no. And how would he make a living? As a private detective? I think not. Marlowe can only be explained as a self-loathing writer's pastless futureless power fantasy, who springs only from a book and makes a living only in books.
Which entices moviemakers into a dried river bank surrounded by giant ants, n'est-ce pas, cherie? Movies are supposed to be able to handle detectives; it says so right here in my Popular Culture Handbook. But how can the movies straightfacedly present such an unjustifiable character? ("With Cary Grant" is the best answer, but Chandler didn't manage to talk the studio into it.)
The first successful Chandler adaptations saved themselves by keeping some snappy lines and imagery and ditching the leading man: Edward Dmytryk's "Marlowe" reverts to sleazy Hammett-style professionalism and Howard Hawks's "Marlowe" anticipates James Bond's irresistable aplomb.
Less successful as film but more interesting as critique, two later adaptations tossed out the easy stuff like Chandler's dialog in favor of Chandler's essential oddity. Proving again that hostility towards one's source material is the healthiest stance for a director, Robert Altman's attempt to destroy Marlowe is cinema's first real tribute to the character. The Elliott Gould "Marlowe" could be an aging trust-fund kid who's retreated into fantasy, but there's no way of knowing for sure; the movie preserves his inexplicability while giving it a believable presentation (this Marlowe is as passive, inarticulate, threadbare, and isolated as most self-deluded personalities) and environment (this Los Angeles is too universally self-absorbed to take notice of any particular citizen's delusions). And Sterling Hayden's towering and toppling "Roger Wade" is just the self-loathing powerful writer to shove the Chandler subtext explicitly into our face and down our throats where it belongs.
The only movie ever influenced by The Long Goodbye was The Big Lebowski, a hoot-and-a-half in which Altman's ego-gored hostility is replaced by the Coen Bros.' aimless playing around. Since Jeff Bridges' character pretty much shares their attitude, the result is the most warm-heartedly engaged take on "Philip Marlowe" yet, even if there's not much Brotherly affection left over for any of the other characters....
For a long time -- like, a really long time, let's not even go there -- I've dreamt about my own fully explicated version of a Chandler detective: he's a paranoid schizophrenic who's assigned cases by the voices in his head and whose secretary / leg-man is his pet parakeet. But I have a hard time writing fiction so I've never committed this dream to print. Probably just as well.
Perhaps a similar dream prodded at young Jonathan Lethem, who came up with an admirably tailored science-fiction-y explanation for the Chandleresque narrator of Motherless Brooklyn: Tourette's syndrome. The gap between the narrator's careful prose style and his hit-me-harder banter? Tourette's syndrome affects speech and not writing. The narrator's weirdly monastic dedication to the case? Tourette's syndrome is associated with obsessive-compulsive behavior. His inability to sustain a sexual relationship? Say no more. If anything, it's too well-tailored: even the narrator eventually notices the snug fit, but, of course, is able to explain that explaining his every trait as a symptom of Tourette's syndrome is actually just another symptom of Tourette's syndrome. Clothes make the man if you're selling clothes, syndromes make the character if you're selling pop psychology, but a novel's air gets kind of stuffy by the end....
Which also counts as a Chandleresque effect: Chandler's The Long Goodbye was more like The Long Squirm in a Pinching Suit (but in an interesting way, if you know what I mean), and I could never spend more than a couple of minutes in Playback without rushing back outside for a breather....
|. . . 2000-08-21|
|. . . 2000-08-22|
The Media Question of the Month (and potential Word of the Day) was raised by Joseph Gallivan in the New York Post:
On hearing last week that Freenet was on hit list of Hilary Rosen and the RIAA to be shut down, Clarke laughed. ".... any legal action against me would be just as ridiculous as taking legal action against the manufacturer of women's [pantyhose] that were used in a bank robbery. Both Freenet and women's [pantyhose] provide anonymity to those who use them."So what word or phrase do you reckon is hiding behind the "[pantyhose]" brackets? I hope it's a dirty word for pantyhose, 'cause I've been wanting one bad!
|. . . 2000-08-23|
Today we're proud and kinda sad to present the final episode of Juliet Clark's "The Dream Factory". Let's hope that her subject has infected Clark with a touch of sequelitis....
THE DREAM FACTORY
Hold Your Man (1933)
|... an' anotha thing ...||... then again ...|