Feb 12, 2015

Dolan's Mommy Opens Screens




There is a moment in Xavier Dolan's film, Mommy (2014), where Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), a troubled teenager who has been dispatched to several group homes, and is now living with his mother after he caught fire to the cafeteria and seriously injured another boy.

Mother and son seem to have this affective bond that is both generative and at times destructive — but anyway, the point I want to make is similar to what A.O. Scott wrote in his review of the film: at the midpoint of the film, after Steve has been tutored by his shy neighbor Kyla who seems to have the ability to soften his violent outbursts. In the scene, Steve is feeling free and he actually stretches out his arms and makes the screen wider — which is really kind of neat considering the movie is mostly restrained by a tight 1:1 ratio (like a square — which some people say reminds them of a cellphone camera). The film literally opens up and it we feel the surge of trust coupled with hope that the film has promised us — as well as the feeling of a downward spiral to come when the screen closes back up again to its restrictive 1:1 aspect.

The movie is bombastic and melodramatic and I admired its intensity and the several Home Alone references that weirdly fit.

Mommy just opened in the United States a few weeks ago and it won the 2014 Jury Prize at Cannes (shared with Jean-Luc Godard's story of a dog-cum-traveller — Adieu au Langage (2014).


Image Source: Debordements

Feb 4, 2015

Jesus Did Say "This Too Shall Pass" But He Wasn't Talking about Estimated Taxes

I stop myself. Before I even begin typing. The thoughts in my head may not be appropriate even for a stream of consciousness rant.

Ranting on the Internet, even if it is a like-I-am-in-my-therapist's-office-just-free-associating kind of rant, is rarely beneficial to humanity.

Yet. Here I am. Ranting. Here's one rant I am sure you heard: estimated taxes suck. Rewrites are a pain in the ass. Staten Island needs a rail connection to Brooklyn. It's colder than a witch's tit. Oh. Here's a good one: the rent is too goddamn high. I also wanted to rant about how I worked so hard to write a blog post for one of my freelancing gigs, only for the editor to send me back to the drawing board. Well, almost to the drawing board. She accepted most of the piece but eliminated huge chunks and asked for a rewrite. It's a lesson in humility. 

So. I did rant. But I tried to save myself by saying I am humbled now. I think folks detest rants because they're jealous. They want to rant too. But they don't. So they rant that you ranted. And it sucks. But I ranted by saying that I wasn't going to rant. It's excusable. But estimated taxes really do suck. I think if I were more attentional to minor details it would not bother me as much. It does not help that I have been a slave to a grouchy academic who needs me to ferret out sources for his upcoming book.

This too shall pass. I think Jesus said that.

I guess I should warn you that here is an ulterior motive to why I am writing this blog post this today.

First, I have to get my mind set on writing. Tomorrow is Thursday. Work awaits. And it feels like I may never reach the end of my labors. I wonder how Virginia Woolf felt when she was struggling with a sentence?

Second, it really pains me that I have started to think more about estimated taxes than what novel I want to read.

Third, someone was correct when she said "no rest for the weary."

I put a period after the last sentence, looked up, and saw a cardinal perched on the window sill. A cardinal. I rarely see cardinals in my neighborhood. Also, the Staten Island Ferry chugs along on its determined route. And somewhere some bloke is estimating his quarterly taxes.

Image Source:  tomcopelandblog

  

Jan 27, 2015

Waterfall Postcard



I don't remember where I found this postcard, but I think it was in a public library book on bats.

Nov 26, 2014

Chef Boyardee: Wheat Girl


A photograph of girl getting intimate with her "amber waves of grain" is so totally interesting to me without the Chef Boyardee ad copy that would normally be pasted over this warped gesture to Norman Rockwell.

The original ad copy reads:
Oh look, a mother's daydream.
It'll never be a reality. So serve them Chef Boyardee Whole Grain
Beefaroni, now with whole grain pasta. Just don't tell them.
Obviously Delicious. Secretly Nutritious.

Image Source: Zachary Scott

Nov 23, 2014

On a Sunday Trip Over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

The Verrazano Bridge that connects Brooklyn to Staten Island celebrates fifty years this week. The bridge spans the Narrows, a strip of waterway that divides Upper and Lower New York Bay.

It is often visible when I'm out and about walking around my neighborhood. Even though I live about fifty blocks away.

It's an impressive bridge. But too bad there ain't pedestrian walkways or a bike path. Only once a year, for the NYC marathon are its gates open for peeps.

Lately, I've had to make trips across the Narrows for work. So I get to see the bridge up close.

I feel like Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.




Nov 2, 2014

All Souls Day



All Souls Day gets little attention compared with yesterday's feast of All Saints and the eve prior to All Saints popularly called Halloween.

As a secular Catholic — or whichever epithet you prefer to call me (I prefer "Cajun Queen") — there is a special place in my heart for All Souls Day.

I think All Souls Day must have a place for me.

If there is a hell, it will probably be Dante's Inferno, and I have already packed my bags for residence in the palace of the virtuous pagans.

I'd like to make a liturgical calendar for the virtuous pagans.

We'd celebrate all the souls, but just call it all the minds day.

I'd start with Gertrude Stein on January 1st, and be sure to include Amitav Ghosh and Virginia Woolf.

We'd replace the Feast of the Transfiguration with Catharsis day and Good Friday would be called Denouement. Holy Thursday will be Climax Thursday and instead of Easter we'd call it Deus Ex Machina Sunday.

Celebrate All Souls. Those pluckered souls. Those beleaguered Bartleby the Scrivener Souls and "Call me Ishmael" souls.

All Souls. All mind. All body. All heart. Strung from the lattice of time, splayed out on this terrazzo floor called life, I'd rather be a damned soul than a forgotten soul.

The soul is dead. Long live the soul.




Oct 28, 2014

The Sitting Pose

Homme noir nu assis recroquevillé

I think I fell in love with the nude sitting pose in art, when first I saw Hypolite Flandrin's version at the Louvre.

Image Courtesy: Camille

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