Sunday, April 30, 2017

the witch [2015]

it is new england in the 1630s.  william and his family are banished from their community.  what is their reason for their banishment?  we are not told.  but william et al. are hyper observant christians.  that comes into play for the run time of this movie.  william and his family make a home, a farm, deep in the woods.  they are alone.  the woods are deep.  and they are pious.

what happens next is either a fable or a mindfuck.  william, assayed by ralph ineson, with a voice as deep as darth varder's, is the father of thomasin, played by anya taylor-joy, a devout christian and a very bright young woman who is developing into her own person.  they, along with their family, are alone in the woods, and when you are deep in the woods the mind plays tricks on you.  or does it?

that's the brilliance of robert eggers, who wrote and directed this fine film.  i couldn't tell if the action is a mental hallucination of the protagonists or the facts of fate.  it is a brilliant gambit for i was sitting on the edge of my seat for the length of the movie.

eggers shot is film in natural light, and with ambient sounds, that heightened the fear. and the dialogue, we are told at the end credits are based on tales, court records and folklore of the era.  the syntax of english, and the diction has changed a bit since the 17th century so i had to pay close attention.

at any rate taylor-joy is a pleasure to watch.  she carries this film to its conclusion with such superb poise i was writhing in anticipation of her next move.  indeed, i predicted a couple of scenarios that didn't happen because eggers is such a good writer, and that heightened the tension.

so what happens?  watch the movie!  it is that good.  in fact, the natural light and the period speech reminded me of filmmaker kelly reichardt's meek's cutoff [2010], which was the last movie i watched at the crest theater, which close down and later reopened under new management.

but for this film i watched it this afternoon via amazon prime streaming service.  which is a counterpoint to the messages of the movie, that human nature will turn superstitious, paranoid and violent under certain circumstances.  the technology has advanced but our psychology has not.

at the end of this flick i wondered who was the witch and who were its victims.  a certain strain of religiosity can turn toxic.  or perhaps what happens under the purview of an omnipotent deity is part of a master plan.  that is the genius of filmmaker robert eggers, he lets us come to our own conclusions.  as for me, this film scared the crap out of me.  that is no small praise.  

Saturday, April 29, 2017

call me a nerd but i love dichotomies such as punk rocker/scientist or poet/office worker, that sort of thing

so it is with great pleasure that i read this q&a with punk rocker/evolutionary biologist greg graffin, lead singer of bad religion and professor at ucla and cornell

check it out here was darwin a punk?

otoliths is live

poet/editor/publisher and all around cool guy mark young lets loose the latest publication of the magazine of many e-things otoliths 

issue 45 is packed with the poetic good stuff inside you'll find many of my favorite poets/human beings

get to it by clicking here 

Friday, April 28, 2017

scene from a movie

it's not my imagination/i've got a gun in my back
--black flag

'after you pull the trigger and shoot me dead 
would you do me a favor and clear my browser history?' 

the great band: joy division

Thursday, April 27, 2017

a sage asks, what do i add to a packet of dried water to make water?

touched with fire [2015]

i've been feeling damn uninspired lately.  no real reason.  haven't written much.  the last poem i wrote, last month [and i'm normally writing a poem a day sort of dude], was a disappointing entry in a series of poems i started several months ago starring a character i call 'the projectionist'.  i dunno.  the legendary mimeo era poet douglas blazek said in an interview with richard robert hansen, robert roden and me many years ago, that when he was deep in poetry publishing blazek asked himself, is that all there is?

sure, that is all there is.  but poetry is not a career.  at least not in the usual way we conceive a career.  poetry is a way of life.  so but then anyway, i've been wondering, like blazek did, is if that is all there is.  i don't doubt the power of poetry as a guiding force in my life.  i don't doubt poetry as a way of life, in and of my life.  i dunno what i mean. . .

at any rate, i have not stopped reading poems.  and falling in love with poets.  i simply have not pulled out my notebook and scribbled away.

so there is this flick.  it is poetry month.  but for those of us who choose a life of poetry every month is poetry month.  every day too, as well as every hour of every day.  but in honor of april i wanted to watch at least one movie about poets/poetry and found this one on amazon streaming.

what can i say about this little indie film.  it stars katie holmes and luke kirby as two young bi-polar poets who meet in the hospital and in the midst of their mania embark on a destructive, yet poetically fruitful, love affair.  i admit that i started this flick early in the month and got about 15 minutes into it before turning it off.  i didn't want to invest my time in a romantic's notion of the crazy, genius artist which is where this movie seemed to be leading me.

and yet, i returned to this flick last weekend and stuck thru it.  this film is not an edifying cinematic experience of mental illness and creativity.  that is such a cliche.  but cliches are usually built upon some fact and/or truth.  the title of this movie is lifted from a book by kay jamison, who makes an appearance as counsel to our couple when the couple are struggling to take medication to control their illness, that examines artists and mental illness.  and as a sufferer myself i appreciate filmmaker paul dalio's unromantic portrait of illness and the triumphs and terrors of suffering.

so when we reach the end of the film we are exhausted by the journey our two young poets undertook.  it ends neither good nor bad for them but i did find holmes' character a deeper and richer person for the experience.

but as for me, i'm still listless and uninspired.  as i said earlier, no big whoop.  either i write or i don't.  and if i don't write another poem the universe won't miss it.  perhaps i can change my attitude and think of myself in a fallow period.  that too is part of poetry as a way of life.  but i've learned in my half century on this clam shell is not to rush the writing, and that the world of 10000 things is still a life in poetry.  


Sunday, April 23, 2017

what is remarkable about our species is that we can be incredibly dense, empty, self-important etc etc

& we can do things of such astonishing beauty it can take your breath away

to wit: you can watch live video feeds from the international space station as it circles our earth

click on this link & be fucking amazed

Saturday, April 22, 2017

after doing our weekly chores today i fired up the netflix and watched the documentary on the chinese dissident and artist, ai weiwei, ai weiwei: never sorry [2012]

ai defined his life and art as a person as one who is exhilarated by life

and i thought yes

but i must say that a person who exhilarated by life is not confined to the artist but for all human beings

but perhaps the artist is the one who by her love of living refreshes the ordinary and reminds those who choose to listen/look/hear that we are strange and ordinary creatures imbued with hatred/kindness/prejudices/love etc etc

that's it the artist is the one who by her creations and own life endows magic to the ordinary and refreshes us to life once again

i am reminded of paul le fleur's definition of the poet/poetry being a poet is not writing a poem but finding a new way to live

i have used the word 'ordinary' a few times in this little piece because i find the subjects of extra ordinary states of being are dull cliches because we are limited by our intelligence our strengths and weaknesses our lusts and desires our appetites and our pettiness of 10000 things

even the very best of us are quite ordinary

now what we do with our ordinariness is the mission of a lifetime

Monday, April 17, 2017

confessions of a middle-aged punk rock&roller

well, hell, the title of this little rant might make me sound like some uber-hip older dude that has his hand in the latest scenes

nothing can be further from the truth i am totally not hip and i am utterly not with the latest scene

we spent this easter weekend as hosts to relatives visiting from sweden then we tried to de-laminate the work week in anticipation of another stress-filled work week

but then the coachella music and arts festival was going on this week and thank goodness for the internet because the bands playing were broadcast over three channels via youtube

i sure as hell wouldn't want to be at the music festival in person but i am thankful that it is broadcast over the interwebs while all weekend i've been dipping in to the channels, i stayed up til 2:00 am on friday night watching an EDM dj by the name of dillon francis who i thought was very good

but were i to attend the music festival i think i'd be more interested in the peripheral art and activities rather than the musical performances

the periphery has always attracted me i know when i'm at the california state fair i am fascinated by the activities behind the scenes versus the public face of the state fair

and tho the public art of coachella is not behind the scenes art is not what gets the most, or any, press

brothers and sisters i am getting old i attended the first lollapalooza music festival in 1991 i recall wandering the grounds and seeing tattoo booths, art displays and sideshow sort of shit, that blew my mind

i confess i will be 50 this june, yes, put that in your pipe and smoke it, 50 years old, and yet i still feel like a teen or twenty-something and still think of myself as punk as fuck

i do love music but i would really, really like to see some behind the scenes sort of things about these music fests

oh, and when you think of old, all things are a matter of perspective, if your turn 25, you might think of yourself as a quarter century, because that is as old as you know, and if you turn 40, that is as old as you know too, as a poet wrote, 'i am no longer young/but someone is always older'

i might sound like i am complaining about turn a half century in age but no, i am amazed, and happy to have gotten to be this old

as for music, and art, we never do get too old, we live as well as we can, until we die 

Friday, April 14, 2017

poetry reading: bill berkson & duncan mcnaughton


Thursday, April 13, 2017

tonite i am between smokey and the bandit [1977] & the critical prose of osip mandelstam & i am astonished by the exuberance of the two

esp. mandalstam who, in his 'fourth prose' self-identifies as a raznochinets [non-gentry intellectual (in other words, a poor thinking man)] & ain't that the truth the poet is the poor man/woman whose poverty establishes a hunger to know the world and everything in it

while burt reynolds drives thru his film with the dumb determination of living life to its limit

lunch poems

this is what happened: as soon as i sat down and took my peanut-butter & jelly sandwich & bag of tortilla chips out of my backpack several brown city-bred finches surrounded me

the bolder one jumped on my lap as i reached for a chip and gave me the once-over

i swooshed the bugger off

the finch hopped on my lap again

it was a nice day the weather was warm & the sky was clear while people were doing their things going to & fro & up & down the outdoor mall

i swooshed the bugger off my lap one more time

it was at this time this finch leapt from the ground and tried to snatch my chip from my fingers

i felt the wind from its flapping wings

i jumped from my seat laughing

this finch stood its ground looking me up & down

i thought hard

then thought fuck it you deserve one & flung my chip at this finch

who thanked me by grabbing it before the chip hit the ground

Sunday, April 09, 2017

digital life

whenever i search for something on the internet i am reminded of that quote by faulkner, 'the past is never dead, it's not even past'

Saturday, April 08, 2017

two lines by joseph ceravolo

Where is that bug going?
* * *
No one should be mean.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

today is the 100 anniversary of the u.s. entering the war to end all wars, the great war, WW1

WW1 is little remembered now but that was the war that changed the world that was the war that was the beginning of the world we live in today that was the war where tens of thousands of soldiers died in a single battle that was the war that broke the monarchical order and created the states of nations we live in today that was the war that industrialized killing that was the war that so frightened the world governments created THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS so another war like it would not happen again

i just turned on the cable news and the tenor of the talking heads speaking about the u.s. missile strike against syria and they sound like we are going to war


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

quote unquote

a despot doesn't fear eloquent writers preaching freedom -- he fears a drunken poet may crack a joke that will take hold.

--e.b. white

Monday, April 03, 2017

a few lines for my friend the poet tom beckett

it is spring & my thoughts turn to




& text

& the crazy mofos who follow this creed


Sunday, April 02, 2017

sitting around doing nothing

i saw a retweet a few days ago that read, if we ain't talking sandwiches we ain't talking which cracked me up because that summed up my theories of life this weekend

i went to TOGOS, a local sandwich shop that was pretty mighty in the locality but now has a few shops here and there but for me TOGOS is the sandwich par excellence say what you want about your own local deli and sandwich makers for me this shop is the highest of the art of making sandwiches

so yesterday i went to TOGOS for dinner but i hadn't spoken very much all day, or something, because the young man making my food asked me simple questions like, would you like mustard, i was able to stutter single syllable words, like yes,

i thought perhaps i've had a stroke indeed my recall for random trivia and other shit was pretty damn good now i'm having difficulties recalling the names of favorite poets and filmmakers oh it has gotten bad, e.g. this afternoon i was watching alfred hitchcock's great movie, SHADOW OF A DOUBT [1943], starring joseph cotten and teresa wright, and hume cronyn

i've seen this flick before in fact i watched this movie in a film class way back when i was in school but apart from bits and pieces of the movie i can't recall most of it

i mentioned this to anna and she remarked, not being able to recall a movie is very unusual for you

fuck me, hard

maybe i should just stick to sandwiches

the world is more fucked than we care to admit but the show must go on poems must get written movies produced and viewed and music to move us

i didn't do very much this weekend, for me that is a sheer delight, but we did do our weekly chores, the weather is down right gorgeous, and i watched five came back [2017], a three-part documentary of five successful hollywood filmmakers, john huston, george stevens, frank capra, john ford, and william wyler, who went head-first into the fiery mouths of hell that was WWII to make make movies about the war and to document it as evidence, the episode with george stevens who was with the allied troops when they liberated the death camp of dachau is particularly harrowing

this series is a testament to the power of truth-telling and art, how cinema is perhaps one of the greatest forms of art we have thus created so far

then again, i am biased for poetry, i think poetry is music, movies and literature all in one, and it is april, poetry month

well, it is always poetry month, day, hour, minute, second for me, i don't do anything special for poetry month except to dare to eat a peach [couldn't help myself to say that, sue me!] what i think i'll do is write a few reviews about movies that have dared to take on poetry and poets as their subjects

and there are a few poetry based movies out there, also, i'll be dipping in to bill cohen's wonderful tattoo blog for his annual tattooed poets series, please click here for cool pics of tattooed poets and their poems

peace & love