Category: Arts


Alan Rickman has long been one of my favorite actors, so imagine my dismay when I read that he plans to direct a play based on the life of Rachel Corrie:
The play will include excerpts from her e-mail correspondence. A sampling of her venom: “…am being doted on all the time…by people who are facing dg doom…the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the over whelming evidence of the willful destruction of their lives…so I think when all means of survival is cut off in a pen (Gaza) which people can’t get out of, I think that qualifies as genocide.”
Oy vey. This might be even worse than that Tim Robbins play, or Tony Kushner’s Laura Bush thing. For shame, Alan. For shame.


From Travis Bickle to a walking corpse

One of the tasks for future film historians will be trying to work out exactly when Robert De Niro started to suck.
Once an actor of unrivalled intensity, De Niro today seems barely capable of staying awake during a performance, much less mould anything decent out of the character. Since his brutal turn as mobster Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, not only has De Niro’s oeuvre consisted mostly of uninspired sludge, the man’s acting became puppet-like.

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Cultural choices, or How Cool Am I?

Terry Teachout’s cultural quiz, via Sheila O’Malley:
1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? Gene Kelly
2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises? The Great Gatsby
3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington? Duke
4. Cats or dogs? Dogs
5. Matisse or Picasso? Matisse
6. Yeats or Eliot? Yeats
7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? Chaplin
8. Flannery O’Connor or John Updike?. Can’t really make an educated judgment on either.
9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? Casablanca!
10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning? Pollock

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Chaucer & Spring

First off, it was a beautiful day in D.C. today. It seemed like the first real Spring day we have had in the Washington area. It was 70 degrees (F, not C), the first wildflowers bloomed, and I went for a long walk with my evil spawn. On a day like this, there is only one way I can sum up my feelings. And that way, is to whip out the prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Aside from being a great collection of stories and allegories, the Tales have the best summary of what Spring really means – and best of all, it’s really bawdy, once you know your literary history. Matter of fact, the Canterbury tales are pretty much one long dirty joke, in a lot of ways.

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What passes for an author these days…

Well, here’s an article about Alice “The Color Purple” Walker that pretty much demonstrates why I recoil whenever I see condescending, racial-ghetto-izing descriptions of someone as the “first African-American author to… “‘; or the “top Hispanic physician.” It implies a tokenism, that suggests that the object isn’t quite deserving of the honors they have received. They aren’t the top doctor, or author, or busineswoman, merely the best Black author, Hispanic doctor, or Asian American businesswoman who could be located on such short notice.
According to the Durham NC Herald Sun, the best African American Female writer now living, Alice Walker,

punctuated her talk of peace making with a little-known anecdote about Martin Luther King Jr.
The night before he was assassinated, Walker said, King had a bad cold and asked his right-hand man Ralph Abernathy to handle that night’s speaking engagement. But the people were not interested in hearing Abernathy speak, so King rose from his bed and delivered a rousing speech. When the civil rights leaders got back to the hotel, they had a pillow fight.
“The reason I want you to have this story is because it’s such a loving one, rather than the gruesome one,” Walker said. “If we want to fight people in the world, we should fight them with pillows — pillows stuffed with food, medicine, music. … That would be so much cheaper than bombs.”

Um, yeah, it would be much cheaper.
While we’re at it, why don’t we just make their minds explode with jarring mixed metaphors?
Seriously, can you imagine fighting with a pillow stuffed with food, medicine, and music?
“Ow, shit, why’d you hit me with that, you asshole… What the hell do you have in that pillow? It feels like bottles. And an enema bag. And some vitamin B-12. And what’s this crap dripping on me? Is this egg? And confectioner’s sugar? Ohhh, jeeeezus. What the f… And why’s that thing play Claire de Lune every time you bash me in the face with it?”
With that mixed metaphor from hell, Walker deserves to be driven from the public square like other literary disaster areas marked with similar “token ethnic author” signs, such as Amiri Baraka. Maybe she’s worse, I don’t know. At least Amiri Baraka, the first African-American poet-laureate of New Jersey, didn’t mix his metaphors.
(Oh, jeebus, a poet laureate of New Jersey? Did I actually just write that? “Poet Laureate” and “New Jersey” is about as easy to swallow as an anchovies and broken glass sandwich. It makes my eyes bleed just to read the phrase.)

Auckland Art Gallery

On Tuesday I visited the AAG, and a world-class little museum it is. I saw many familiar artists, and a whole bunch of new ones, not least of all New Zealander Philip Clairmont.

Philip Clairmont, Study of a Head, 1970

Clairmont’s works are surreal without being Surrealist, with none of the archness of that school. Images straight out of a nightmare, those terrifyingly vivid nightmares you get when you’re heavily medicated. His “Fireplace” makes use of deep jewel tones and random yet somehow familiar shapes. His “Staircase Triptych” is more vibrant, with comic-book-like colors and bold lines. I definitely want to see more of his work.

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