Saturday, November 25, 2006
when I saw this poem by Tom Beckett I wondered who this Allen Bramhall is, I got good vibes from the name. well nemmind that, the poem speaks to my own idea of narrative. I appreciate Henny Youngman's jokes for their desperate succinctness. he removes the extraneous so that his jokes are almost entirely punchline (take my wife, please). I believe poems should propel themselves with the most eficient machinery. which isn't a call for short poems but dense, essential ones. the plots in novels most often are the fakest part. the logic of narrative shouldn't be so linear because that linear throb assumes too much by way of antecedents and motivation. thus the episodic jounce interests me more. momentary revelations. so the 14 parts of Tom's poem are expansion points. the narrative occurs within these points but also, more importantly within the realm defined by the title. where such questions as these occur: why is this called a sonnet? how are these 14 stories tied together? why do these stories seem to be answers to unasked questions? it's deftly done, because if these are boiled down from stories, what the reader gains is not a reconstitution of each story but a renewal of the terms of story. the starting point is revitalized with new possibiities. anyway, that's my riff.
watched Warlock last night, a horror movie. I'd seen it before (as it turns out, not the beginning). I might've better warned Beth and Erin of its nature. I did recall some gory parts but what I'd enjoyed were the funny parts. it begins in Boston in 1691. a rather pleasant few minutes of evoking that place and time, then some Puritan yolks are seen marching to this stone tower. inside is a fellow in chains. he's the warlock, and he's to be executed. bursting in amidst this is a fellow wearing fur who I guess captured the warlock. came in to gloat. I didn't see any of this part on my previous viewing. well, as things would have it, the warlock manages to escape into a handy vortex, and the furry guy leaps after him. cut to present day (about 10 years ago). a young woman is roused in the night by a noise. this is Lori Singer, who I've seen somewhere or other but can't recall where. her brother played Beastmaster (I think), so, um, you know. anyway it's not Lori who rushes to investigate the noise, it's her character. her male roommate comes out from another room. he has his slippers and robe on. reminds me of 50s sitcoms when anything that happened in the night perforce causes people to get robe and slippers on before doing anything else. what's the point of escaping a burning building if you're not wearing your slippers? they see the warlock unconscious on the floor, he having crashed thru the window. they strike me as rather blase about his arrival. I think Lori, or Kassandra with a K, might've said something like welcome to California. still, it was more like, oh look. K wants to call the police but the roomie opts for compassion, so the warlock is bedded down. next morning K goes to work. roomie later gets up and makes breakfast. as he does so, warlock enters. played by Julian Sand, who I've seen elsewhere, with a similar exultation of creepy evil. he has a long blond ponytail, dressed in black and oozes sexy evil. the roomie chatters happily, perhaps a tiny bit interested in this streamlined piece of evil. warlock notices the roomie's ring. quite suddenly, warlock grabs a knife and chops off the ring finger. roomie cries but doesn't bleed. warlock calmly puts ring on. he then not so explicably kisses roomie roughly. by roughly I mean he bites roomie's tongue off and spits it into the hot frying pan. in case anyone hadn't caught the evil that was warlock. I don't, btw, recall a name attached to warlock. this roomie scene didn't quite please the others and it didn't zackly work the plot. anyway, later K discovers that her roommate has died. meanwhile, the warlock visits a fortune teller. he wants to talk with his father Zamiel. the fortuneteller fakes a visit, warlock says tut tut and then the fortuneteller, with visage altered horribly, channels, um, dad. who has a rough echoey voice, as evil incarnate often does. warlock must collect the three parts of the Grand Grimoir that are scattered about. the world, all worlds, will cease to exist if he does so. but he'll get to live on with dad. to him, this is a good thing. dad offers the expedient of cutting out his (but alas her) eyes out, and they will lead warlock to the pages. that's another scene that would've been best left unseen by the others. okay so Redfern, the other guy swept into the vortex, appears. he gives K some helpful plot points. then he's hauled in by the police, who K called when she was more distrustful of weirdos from the past. then warlock returns, smashes a piece of furniture in which is hidden, it turns out, 1/3 of the Grimoir. he puts a spell on K that ages her 20 years a day. so now we have our quests. 1st she bails out Redfern. they must find the bracelet that warlock took from K so that the aging process can be reversed. additionally there's that detail about the Grimoir, end of the world, and all. here the movie actually gets pretty perky. K's Valley Girlness and anachronistic Puritan Redfern combine for some humour. Redfern has a compass that, using a stray drop of warlock's blood, can locate the malefactor. so now we needn't wonder whether ever the twain. all make their way to Colorado, where they find a Mennonite family that happens to have part of the Grimoir. oh wait, the creepy scene in which warlock talks up a child. this is a cinematic trick that's almost too much. innocent unsuspecting child and this fellow who we know can will do anything. it turns out warlock needs an unbaptised boy's rendered fat so that he (warlock) can fly. we see nothing of the murder but it hangs in our heads. and given that the murder is only to facilitate the movement of a character, the horridness is magnified and not compelling. well Redfern and warlock tussle. at one point, Redfern has his whip wrapped around warlock's ankle and is being dragged by the flying evilness. it looked like, as Erin said, Macy's parade. speaking of which, Big Bird on thursday, because of wind, was kept low to the ground and face down. rather an indignity. a weird shot of a commentator with Bird Bird being led by had a ceremonial smack, as if Big Bird were to be sacrificed. I mean, such a deed would be evil enough for warlock. anyway, Redfern almost gets warlock but warlock buzzes the Mennonite grandpa in the eyes with his X-Ray Vision, and Redfern cuts off battle to save him. K, now aged, has a weapon, at least. driving a brass nail into warlock's footprints will stab warlock. warlock, who's holed up in a boxcar, craftily puts a piece of wood on the soles of his feet to protect himself. K craftily bangs a nail into the impression of warlock's butt on the ground. that puts warlock in extremis, and K closes in for the kill, but then the train starts to move. K with her granny legs can't keep up. but she finds her bracelet, and so is youthed back to normal. okay now I think they only guess that part 3 is in Boston, so they fly back. warlock hides in the bilge or whatever the word is that I can't remember. the good guys confront the priest of the church who clues them in that the Grimoir is probably at the burial ground, it being hallowed ground. the word is hold, hold. then warlock visits the priest too. he inveigles the truth from him by threatening the child in the womb of the priest's servant. oddly, it sorta came across as if the child was the priest's. anyway, the final battle. they find the Grimoir but K realizes that the burial ground has been moved and that the ground is no longer hallowed. which means the warlock is free to come. which he does. fight fight fight. Redfern's ass is kicked and K's been thrown into the bay. warlock intones the grim words of the world's cessation, clouds develop, yikes. but K climbs from the bay with her syringes. see, it has been meetly established that she is diabetic. she stabs warlock in the neck with the syringes crying, try salt water, fuckbrain. it also having been meetly established that salt is anathema to evil incarnate. so warlock melts, clouds disappear and all's back to a proper whimper not a bang. Redfern and Kassandra with a K enjoy a chaste loving moment then Redfern is whisked back to his time. Kassandra finishes the movie by burying the Grimoir in the Bonneville salt flat. the end.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I started another blog, namely Captain Element. I would like to keep at it, thematic, but whether that's in the cards, I dunno. I am interested in narrative, just not so interested in stories. stories being the overdetermined part of narrative. the blog, if I persist, will be my adventure if not yours. my point here is the sort of flarfy goings on in these 2 pieces. I use the term flarfy carefully and warily. 1: flarf is not mine, I'm borrowing what I like. 2: I no more want to enclose my work than any others (tho I do both often enough). Kasey Mohammad writes of his interest in and preference for the unpoetic, or apathy for the poetic." that unpoetics feeds flarf, and not just flarf. the pop heroes and characters that I confiscate are these heightened, goosed, platitudes. I think flarf hovers on such like. I like the collision of the hoky, the stupid, and the intense. in a way--a screwy way, for sure--the racism in the Fu Manchu books, and Tarzan, and Robert E Howard, is a good thing. it's the serious, if warped, side of the general goofiness. so I'm reading now Corn & Smoke by Blaster Al Ackerman (Shattered Wig Press 2006). I traded my own book, Simple Theory, to Ric Royer for it, I believe they work in the same bookstore. goofy, hilarious, short prose pieces. some are narratives. I've seen Blaster Al's work in John Bennett's Lost and Found Times. the mainstream and the avant garde (I know, what the hell do those terms mean) often sound ALIKE and unimpressive and heard it before. the good energy of flarf is its grasp on the pervasive nuttiness. the bad energy, as Kasey points out is "when flarf simply becomes another item on the craft-based academic menu (this actually seems to be happening in some places), it loses a large part of its reason for existing." I guess I'm in the surprise me school of readership, or learn me something. Blaster Al--and were I to meet him, I'd sure enough say Blaster Al--is a subversive. flarf is interesting to the degree it wields subversion. the arts continually need subversion, it's the breath of change and growth for that which possesses the countering impulse to solidify (hey, let's all write Frank O'Hara New York poems!!!). so anyway, I see in my own 'tactic' with Fu Manchu et alia a comprehension of the unpoetic. at any rate, the prose style comprises squalid Victorian virtues and the avant's foot disjunctively in the next metre forever. that's what I see, anyhoo. the real tactic is impatient, and could we change the channel puh-LEASE!!!
a couple nights ago we popped over to the mall, really just for the Indian food at the food court. it being closer and cheaper than any other Indian alternative, and decent besides. and the mall is alit with seasons greetingness. the mighty food court sits beneath a glass rotunda with strings of white lights hanging down and blinking at a tastefully slow rate. on the floor under the rotunda is a mandala design. children invariably gather there and invent games that make use of the sections of the design, or they race around its perimeter. the chasing game was in full swing when a younger child happened in. she was too young to quite get the social thing and so raced about wildly, screaming and excited. a number of children were dressed in sunday best, having performed that Santa picture thing for grandma. Erin had some errand and dashed off. Beth and I strolled the fairly quiet mall. we parted when I wanted a look in the Apple store and Beth was drawn like a magnet to Crate and Barrel. those Apple toys sure are tempting, I'm embarrassed to say. embarrassed because I know I'm beguiled by the slickness. the store offers a bunch of tables on which are displayed the goods. I couldn't tell who might be store employees, a lot of people seemed wired in several senses of the word. I also don't know if I show fogy by seeing little need for a video iPod. I mean maybe seeing Kramer have a nutty on that 2 inch screen, but do I want to see Caribbean Pirates of the Penzance part 19, chapter 47, redux 99, the prequel, on it? I dunno. the new shuffle is pretty small, but you still got the wires. next stop implants, and William Gibson can rest. so then I toddle (because the crowd was small I had room to toddle) to Crate and Barrel. where Beth and I ogled the Christmas ornaments. if you like colour and glitter... tasteful in an overstated way. the colours are like magic in my eyes. Erin being in wander mode we repaired to Pottery Barn, where Erin knows he can find us. ornaments there were much subtler and refined. and heavy. give me the brighter colours. Erin didn't appear so I did reconnaissance. while walking the mall I noticed a woman sprawled on a short couch. it seemed early in the season to be wasted by shopping but I thought nothing more of it. naturally when I returned to PB Erin was there with Beth. we went down the mall again. the woman on the couch had slumped to the floor. I didn't noticed till I'd passed. several people were with her. it became obvious, once I could see (because a crowd gathered), that the woman was really unwell. she didn't appear conscious. people were saying, what should I do? a woman helping said call security. Beth more wisely advised call 911. the woman threw up, which was scary because she wasn't conscious. in situations such as this I feel, seeing things in hand, to step away discreetly and not be part of he staring. we moved on to make a quick purchase for Erin then came back, by which time EMTs were strapping her onto a gurney. hardly apropos but I'm reminded of when my mother had broken her hip. she and my father were going in for her first check up by the orthopedist since she came home. she wasn't that good using the walker then. going up the slight incline to the hospital she fell backwards. immediately doctors came out and said don't move. the ambulance had to be called, coming from the fire department 5 miles away, to move 100 yards up to the emergency ward. I get why that is, but it still doesn't impress my intuitive sense. anyway, today, Thanksgiving morning. the dog and I passed the still smouldering remnants of a bonfire, I guess to inspire the football team to take no prisoners. I don't know where they find that many witches to burn. I guess the game is in enemy territory.
Monday, November 20, 2006
at the risk of sounding all buddhisty and all, I feel I ought to point again to Access to Insight. it provides n enormous amount of texts for Buddhist study, including a great deal of the Pali Canon in translation. texts, commentaries, even help with the Pali language itself, were you so scholarly minded. this is what the perfect world vision of the Internet would provide, back when we were dreaming about what the Internet could do. sensible navigation, visually clean and clear, it's simply a great repository of works. a companion site, Sutta Readings, provides readings. this is useful as much of this work originated orally, with reinforcing repetitions that you can find yourself skimming as you read. the frame of reference for both sites is Theravada Buddhism, but not exclusively.