sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
On the one hand, A Matter of Life and Death (1946) is my least favorite Powell and Pressburger. It's a superlative afterlife fantasy in the tradition of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), which is the problem: it's the Archers doing, excellently, a kind of story other people do. I don't hate it. I like the premise, which flips the opening glitch of Jordan so that instead of snatching a man untimely into the afterlife, a psychopomp lets his assigned soul slip away into the world; I love its filming of Earth in color and the "Other World" in black and white, whence Wim Wenders and his Berlin angels; I really love its double-tracking of the plot in both mystical and medical registers and the way it refuses to resolve one over the other, eventually, rightly merging the two. I have always suspected that after the credits roll, somewhere among the stars Marius Goring's Conductor 71 and Edward Everett Horton's Messenger 7013 are gloomily comparing notes on their respective balls-ups and wondering if Alan Rickman's Metatron was right that angels can't get drunk. It has one of the great escalators of cinema. It's objectively good and I know it's widely loved. But it's easily the least weird thing the Archers ever committed to celluloid. I can't tell if its otherworld is deliberately dry or if my ideas of the numinous just for once parted ways with the filmmakers', but I found more resonance in the real-world scenes with their odd touches like a naked goatherd piping on an English beach, the camera obscura through which Roger Livesey's Dr. Reeves watches the town around him, or the mechanicals within mechanicals of an amateur rehearsal of A Midsummer Night's Dream, than I did in the monumental administration of heaven and the courts of the assembled dead. I watched it in the first rush of discovery following A Canterbury Tale (1944) and as many other films by Powell and Pressburger as I could lay my hands on; I was disappointed. It didn't work for me even as well as Black Narcissus (1948), which I want to see again now that I'm not expecting real India. On the same hand, the Brattle is showing a 4K DCP rather than a print, which means that I'd be settling for an approximation of the pearly Technicolor monochrome of the Other World, which is still astonishing enough in digital transfer that I really want to know what it looked like on the original 35 mm, and the same goes for the rest of Jack Cardiff's cinematography.

On the other hand, the screening will be introduced by Thelma Schoonmaker and this is how Andrew Moor in Powell and Pressburger: A Cinema of Magic Spaces (2012) writes about David Niven as Squadron Leader Peter David Carter, the pilot hero of A Matter of Life and Death (look out, textbrick, for once it's not me):

Never an actor of great range, Niven came instead to embody and to articulate a rather out-of-date ideal: gentlemanliness – or 'noblesse oblige'. His light tenor and gamin beauty are those of the nobility: he reveals, if provoked, the upright steeliness of a man with backbone, but this grit often shades over into a likeable, smiling insolence. Though we knew he could be naughty (and the actor was a noted practical joker), it was the forgivable naughtiness of a well-liked schoolboy It is usually his graceful amusement that impresses, rather than his physicality or intellect (to talk of 'grace' might seem antiquated, but old-fashioned words like that seem to fit). He could be the younger son of a minor aristocrat, at times silly but always charming, and in the last instance gallant, gazing upwards with a sparkle in his eyes, a light comedian who, through sensing the necessity of nonsense, is perfect as Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days (Michael Anderson, 1956, US). He is fittingly dashing in The Elusive Pimpernel (Powell and Pressburger, 1950), where as Sir Percy Blakeney he embraces foppishness with gusto. His 'airy' quality is winning, and his poetic virtues shine in AMOLAD. He may be well-mannered and eloquent but, as charmers go, his 'classiness' sits easily . . . He is undoubtedly an affectionate figure. Unkindness is not in him, and he is important in our gallery of heroes. But he is never like John Mills, the democratic 1940s ' Everyman'. Mills is the boy next door to everybody and, while that is a nice neighborhood, we really aspire to live next door to Niven. Is it a question of class? We suppose Niven to be a good host of better parties. Mills is like us; Niven is exotic. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and during the war Niven stood for some of the most valued of principles, but his quality (or was it just his prettiness?) seemed the stuff of a previous, and probably mythical, time. Niven himself was a Sandhurst-trained army man, who joined the Highland Light Infantry in 1928 and served in Malta for two years before drifting towards America and into film acting. In 1939, when he left Hollywood for the army, he was a star, and managed to complete two propaganda films during the war while also serving in the Rifle Brigade . . . In the opening sequence of AMOLAD, it is hard to think of another actor who could mouth Powell and Pressburger's airborne script so convincingly. Bravely putting his house in order, saying his farewells and leaping from his burning plane, he is ridiculously, tearfully beautiful. Notably, it is his voice, travelling to Earth in radio waves, which first attracts the young American girl June, not his looks, and later it is his mind which is damaged, not his body. It is difficult, in fact, to think of the slender Niven in terms of his body at all. We remember the face, and a moustache even more precise and dapper than Anton Walbrook's (which was hiding something). Like Michael Redgrave in The Way to the Stars, he is the most celebrated man of war – the pilot who belongs in the clouds.

So I'm thinking about it.

BEANS!

Sep. 18th, 2017 05:59 pm
zesty_pinto: (Default)
[personal profile] zesty_pinto
The sky was rosy, calm, thoughtful. The colony of 8 bean plants, now almost a hedge of greenery, limped from the weight while another column rested on its side, defeated by gravity and lashings that time and erosion that deteriorated once-white cord that would have otherwise found a better home wrapped around a roast or hanging a cluster of drying foods.

I had to be quick. The mosquitoes would come when the weather was in transition. They would come with relentlessness and they had squatted all over my fields to feast on pollen and commit their orgies all over it between the raptures of japanese beetles and the daddy long-legs and the spiders that hid between it all.

Beans.

YES BEANS! )

Personal Motto

Sep. 18th, 2017 10:42 am
penlessej: (James Crest)
[personal profile] penlessej
...do you have one? What is it? What is the meaning behind it for you?

I have two:

(1) Keep Calm and Carry On: pretty much sums up my approach to life. People call me cold and calculated. But they do not know me, they just know the façade that I build up for their own safety and my own. Deep down I am a very emotional and very passionate person. I have learned to control my emotions (for the most part) and to apply reason and logic to my life. The phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On" is cliché and has earned a new sense of modern popularity after the WWII posters (that were never actually released through London) were discovered in a small bookstore a couple decades ago. For me, the phrase embodies my entire approach to controlling my passion and my emotion and apply logic. In face of being bombed, it would be a normal reaction for a passionate person to become emotional, but it is not reasonable, the reasonable person carries on and gets to safety.

(2) Per ardua - Through difficulties: this is the motto of Clan MacIntrye, the Scottish side of my family which falls along the linage of my grandmother. This is the family where the kidney disease follows, so the motto is chillingly fitting. The MacIntryres were proud people who served as hereditary pipers for the MacDonalds of Clanranald and paid regular and proper tribute to the Menzies' until rents became too unbearable in the middle of the 1800s. I have internalized this motto and I feel it is an accurate motto for the family that brings the genetic nightmare upon my family.

When the screams rage, shake it off

Sep. 18th, 2017 12:33 pm
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I have just learned that Stanislav Petrov died in May and I feel this is a bad year to lose a man who knew how not to blow up the world.

A Real Post is Coming

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:58 am
penlessej: (Greenman)
[personal profile] penlessej
...I swear. And to keep you people fed in the meantime, I will admit that I very nearly almost posted the template for the 2017revival group here as a meme post. Yep, that almost just happened. But it didn't, so how much fun can you make of me really?

In other news:

- went to a Whitecaps FC game in Vancouver on Saturday all by myself. I was suppose to go with a friend I went to school with who lives in Vancouver now (and stay at her place on her couch) but she ended up getting food poisoning on Friday night and was in no shape for a game on Saturday. At first I pouted around the house and then I decided to go alone. I ate shit though, had to take the car on the ferry (both ways $72.50 a pop) and as much as I tried on Facebook, Reddit and even walking up to people who were scooping out scalpers I could not get rid of my second ticket. Oh well, more room during the game I suppose. Actually, it worked out well from my nice guy side, two young women were only able to get seats apart in the row and my spare seat was a gap between me and one of her friends, so I offered the extra seat to them.

- Sunday was moving day. I am now all moved into what is being called the cottage between me and Meganne. It was a rough day overall. Meganne was an emotional mess and became very sentimental near the end of the day. I was sad, very sad, but I had a job to do so I focused on getting it done. I also figured that my role in this emotional nightmare is to be somewhat of the anchor, so I plugged ahead and tried to make it as painless for Meganne as possible. Sleeping in new places sucks and I am finding night lights in the oddest places. It used to be an AirBnB, so that might be part of the reason why, but still, odd.

...more to come, with details and photos. I swear.
sovay: (Otachi: Pacific Rim)
[personal profile] sovay
Plans to spend the day outside were somewhat revised on account of incoming holidays and I have the kind of headache that is barely a light sensitivity off from a migraine, but I can totally recommend the experience of baking ten honeycakes (and eighteen honeycupcakes) for Rosh Hashanah and then lying on a couch to finish reading the second half of Ruthanna Emrys' Winter Tide (2017). It's good at ocean, good at alienness, good at different ways of being human; it braids different threads of Lovecraft's universe without feeling like a monster mash, although the nature of monstrosity is one of its front-and-center concerns; it has a queer romance around the edges that I'm delighted is canonical. Technically I suppose I could have timed it to fall during the Days of Awe, but that might have been too on the nose. Also, I would have had to wait.

linux user

Sep. 17th, 2017 07:56 pm
srukle: (Default)
[personal profile] srukle
The average Linux user should just admit they're actually an x11 user in denial.

Much of the same ol' same ol'

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:14 pm
christina_maria: (Default)
[personal profile] christina_maria
 Life has been doing it’s usual puttering along at it’s zoomie speed. Daily routines and everyday usuals have been the norm for a while.

I find that when days vastly resembled each other I forget to come here and write. To be fair, during the same ol’ same ol’ weeks it probably would seem like someone just went wacky and hit the re-post button over and over if I did. No one wants that.

So I will attempt to catch you all up in my daily ho-hums in this post….

Let’s see (I’ll just skip past the usual household chore rambles for this, shall I):

  • Oh! I can’t recall if I mentioned in older posts or not, but my car is totally paid off now (as of July 14th). So no more monthly car payments for us. Aaron’s car was paid off the year prior, so…  now we just need to figure out the best way to smush the mortgage with out lots of penalties …. smush smush
  • Aaron’s mom was supposed to be over for a two week visit at the beginning of September because she had time scheduled off at work, but caught a nasty flu and couldn’t make it. And so she’ll be over mid October for a weeks visit instead.
  • So far the deer are staying out of the fenced area I made. So I actually have a few tall Canna plants growing in there right now, as well as gladiolus and mini roses!! In a last ditch effort to get ‘something’ to grow a while back (when the fence bits first went up) I had scattered some left over tomato and pepper seeds any where/every where. One pepper seed seems to have germinated next to the big Canna, and has flowers on it. I am staggered. That, to me, is amazingly cool.
  • I seem to have killed off my poor iceland poppy plant. But I think the seeds from it have sprouted in a few spots, so maybe all is not lost?
  • This year has been pretty smokey and miserable outside due to all of the fires around the US and here, and so for once I can honestly say I am looking forward to the rainy days of Fall.

 

  • Inside the house I have been continuing the downsize of useless clutter.
  • It’s going well, although I’ve pretty much given up on the donation place I used to use. They have been a no-show at least four times (Probably more than that, but I am feeling generous). And so now I just post things to the local FB group when I want to get rid of it. More of a hassle, as things take several days (or more) to be gone, and not everyone who says they will show up does. But hey, it get’s the stuff gone sooner than that donation truck, so at this point I’ll take it.
  • We upgraded the TV in the bedroom to a 55″ one.  I’m the only one that really watches TV in the house, so no beaking about how TV’s shouldn’t be in the bedroom because blah blah blah please. Aaron’s not a big TV watching person, period.  We generally don’t watch TV when we are hanging out together, unless we have decided to watch a film, and so there is no intimacy issue there. =P
  • The old TV from our bedroom has been moved to the guestroom now, and the old guestroom TV will be donated some time soon.
  • I’ve also been rearranging most of the rooms in the house. Aaron’s office and the exercise room still need a bit of a reorganize. But the rabbits live down there with him, and we don’t want to really change their space just yet. So that will be left alone for the time being.
  • I’ve been taking various barely used shelves and stands, ones where the sole use seemed to be as a clutter catcher, and tried to find them a more useful spot in the house. If I couldn’t find a spot where they were more than a clutter catcher, then I posted them on the FB group to get rid of.  I also went through the damn clutter piles and got rid of what was just a waste of space.
  • I got a few small profile comfy chairs for the downstairs front room, moved around a couple of the larger comfy chairs so that there is seating in Aaron’s office, and one more place to sit in the upstairs livingroom now. It’s funny, we had lots of shelves/bookcases scattered about the house .. but very few places to actually sit and read. I don’t know what that was about, but it’s been remedied now.
  • I downsized my nail polish collection, and made some local ladies on FB very happy in the process. My collection is now half the size, which is still quite massive. I also went through all of the makeup and passed most of those on to them as well.
  • I’m winding down a bit more on the whole go crazy and decorate everything outside on holidays thing, too. We’re at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, most of the neighbors before us don’t decorate, and so decorating to the nines is just too much for too few views. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ll still do it. The people across the street do enjoy it. But I won’t be going as crazy as I would have if we still lived on a busier road.  I will be going through the boxes of that stuff and getting rid of what ever has not been used in years of holidays (I’m looking at you ‘skinnier me’ halloween costumes.. time to go bye bye.)

 

  • Bongo kitty is still reacting well to the pills that keep him alive. One and a half pills every day. So he may see another couple years through with us. Knock wood. He’s more of a cuddle bug these days. He will play with his toys for a bit, but it wears him out pretty fast, and so he doesn’t bother most times. As the weather changes his joints get a bit more creaky, and so there are some failed jump attempts here and there. We just lift him up to whatever chair he was trying for, and he happily nestles down for a nap.
  • Our lop rabbits have become slobs of sorts. And so they keep us on their toes more than a few times daily as they potty wherever they please and proceed to lay in it if we are not quick enough to catch it. Bunny baths are becoming a regular thing. Cocoa Banana is still a sweet gentleman dwarf bunny, and we have no such troubles with him.

 

  • Since moving here we’ve gotten at least six new families moving into the neighborhood. So far we’ve been lucky and they’ve been pretty nice people (even the bear ignorant ones are nice, they just are not used to living near wildlife yet is all). Just recently a house a few doors down just sold, but we have no idea who has purchased it yet. Fingers crossed it’s more good people.
  • Oh, The people who purchased the empty lot beside us have been visiting there and spending the day there every now and again. Trying to get a feel for the space as they plan their new home setup, I assume. They recently brought their camp trailer and set it up, and so we’re getting a mini preview of what it’ll be like with neighbors there. Still have lots of deer that go through there, even when the new neighbors are hanging out, and so at least for now that isn’t changing.

I can’t think of anything else at the moment to add, and so I best post this. I can always continue on page 2, as it were, if I think of more.

sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
[personal profile] sovay
I spent most of yesterday out of the house and not at doctor's appointments, which was a much better ratio than most of the rest of this week; despite an almost total failure to sleep at night, I am about to endeavor to do the same today. Two writing things, one not.

1. Yesterday's mail brought my contributor's copy of Not One of Us #58, containing my poems "The House Always Wins" and "Dive" along with fiction by Patricia Russo, Rose Keating, and Mike Allen and poetry by Mat Joiner and Holly Day, among others. The theme of the issue is fall. Not One of Us is one of the longest-running, most stubborn black-and-white ink-and-paper 'zines in existence and I am deeply fond of it, with its inclusive themes of otherness and alienation; it is where I published my first short story sixteen years ago this month. If you have the fiver to spare, I recommend picking up a copy. The editor and his family have a cat to support.

2. I am very pleased to announce that my novelette "The Boatman's Cure," heretofore available only in my collection Ghost Signs (2015), will be reprinted in a future issue of Lightspeed. If you have not read it and want an advance idea of what it's like, it was reviewed by Amal El-Mohtar when the collection came out. It has ghosts and the sea and personal history and classical myth and periodically I wonder if it counts as a haunted house story, although it was not written as one. It carries a lot of significance for me. Rest assured that I will link when it goes live.

3. I was not so pleased to hear that Harry Dean Stanton has died. As one can do with character actors, I seem to have conceived an incredible fondness for him over the years despite never seeing him in any of his really famous roles; I have good memories of him from Dillinger (1973), Alien (1979), and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). I probably have Paris, Texas (1984) or Repo Man (1984) in my future. I had not realized he was 91. He was a sort of weatherbeaten middle age for so long, I just figured it was his natural, permanent state.

Gaming and Other Activities

Sep. 17th, 2017 10:01 pm
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
Have had a fairly busy week in my favourite pastime. Every day this week I've been working on finishing Papers & Paychecks as well as RPG Review 35-36, now a double issue of Antipodean gaming material. To have both out by the end of the month would be ideal, and I think that is certainly going to happen at current rates of work. Much of RPG Review has been helped by [personal profile] reverancepavane whose epic writing for RPGaDay has been nothing less than extraordinary. In actual play on Wednesday finished the classic introductory Stormbringer scenario The Tower of Yrkath Florn which includes nothing less than a Melnibonéan wheel (my calculations put the value at around $3m AUD). As I've wryly remarked this may very well be our Stormbringer; a theme which I don't think the game does well is the idea of tragedy from power. It was also a heavy Eclipse Phase weekend, with a game on Friday night which curiously was chasing down a antagonist whom the players in my Sunday game are close to encountering for the first time. Whilst a good scenario, once again I could not help but chuckle at the author's rather light idea of what a seedy "sex and drugs and gangs" red-light district would consist of - especially in a transhumanist environment.

On Friday finally managed to write up my review of The Residents concert from March last year. On Saturday attended Software Freedom Day and the LUV AGM, where I have found myself on the committee for yet another year. Afterwards went to [livejournal.com profile] usekh's memorial birthday at the Back Bar. Kudos are due to [personal profile] damien_wise for doing most of the organising of the event. Today visited St Michael's to hear Rev. Ric Holland's impressive service on forgiveness, also taking the opportunity to introduce Shupu, to the location. I hadn't been for several months and was never a regular attendee, so I was quite surprised to discover a few people remembered me. The Rev. offered to catch up for coffee some time and I certainly intend to take up that invitation. Afterwards made my way to university, and stumbled upon the a protest against racism and fascism which I attended; the media of course, concentrated on a very minor disruption, ignoring the important message that the Rohingyan refugee speaking was presenting at the same time.

I'm the guy you buy

Sep. 17th, 2017 03:58 am
sovay: (Claude Rains)
[personal profile] sovay
I met my father this afternoon for a matinée of Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton (2007) at the Brattle Theatre. I had not seen the film since it was released and it really holds up. It's a character study interlocked into a tight ensemble drama; it has classic bones and no guarantees. I can't say it's the best acting George Clooney has ever done only because I love so much his perfect '30's leading-man turn in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), but he's human-sized here, bruised and ambiguous, a man whose finesse with dirty deals and laundry has never made him more than a "janitor" to the swanky law firm that declines to offer his blue collar a partnership, no matter how sharp his suits or sealed his lips. Tilda Swinton almost certainly deserved her Oscar just for ruthlessly suppressing her natural air of the numinous, substituting flop sweat and a queasy determination that would be admirable if it weren't in service of corporate exploitation that can't even be written off as cartoonish, it's so routine and successful. I first noticed Tom Wilkinson in this movie, having a spectacular version of Clooney's own moral jolt: a glittering manic break in the middle of a tricky class-action suit, precipitated by an inconvenient access of conscience, also going off his meds. Other character actors have made themselves visible in the decade since, each sketching in some angle of the title character's world and the aggression, anxiety, weariness, and anger that principally define it (hello, Denis O'Hare, Sean Cullen, Sydney Pollack, Bill Raymond, oh, good God, Ken Howard, that was you). Other ways of living swing elliptically through the story. Good luck getting hold of one of them.

Looking at the film now, I am not surprised that I fell in love with it ten years ago, because it is, in addition to a kind of chamber corporate thriller, an essentially noir narrative. Its chief concerns are people's prices and limits, how far they'll go and for whose sake, whether there is such a thing as redemption or whether some stains go too deep or whether it even matters so long as just here, just now, just a little, the damage stops. It assumes institutional corruption and personal complicity without making them anyone's excuse. It asks real ethical questions and proffers no pat answers. I've never seen it counted among modern neo-noir and I'm wondering if people miss it because it eschews the style: there are no cigarette contrails or Venetian blinds, but all the philosophy is there, the starkness with which the void can suddenly open beneath you. It's never didactic; it would be dead in the water if it preached. The longest speeches belong to Wilkinson and as his character says shruggingly, "I'm crazy, right?" But it makes its audience notice the inequalities, how being useful is not the same as belonging, how suffering in aggregate can be business as usual until a face turns it into personal crisis, how the woman in the boardroom is the one out on the branch that can be sawn off at need (which does not absolve her of the actions she takes to cling there), and without playing games with audience satisfaction it ends with a move into the appropriate total unknown. It's not grimdark, because good noir isn't. It just doesn't promise anyone they'll make it out—even metaphorically—alive.

I am being evasive about the plot because it's good: it knows that a car bomb and a photocopy can be equally explosive, but the renunciation of empathy is more killing than any chemical. I didn't realize the writer-director had also written four of the Bourne movies, although I feel I should have been able to guess from the scene with Clive Owen in The Bourne Identity (2002), or that he co-wrote the script for Rogue One (2016), which is less immediately obvious to me. I can't remember if I knew that cinematographer Robert Elswit had previously worked with Clooney on Good Night and Good Luck (2005), where I discovered David Strathairn, Frank Langella, Ray Wise, and Dianne Reeves, started to notice Robert Downey, Jr., and finally differentiated Jeff Daniels from Jeff Bridges; he gets some beautiful shots out of ordinary things and some horrifying ones out of the same, like a glossily deserted, fluorescent-lit office building late at night that seems to be waiting for J.G. Ballard. I wish Clooney had won the Best Actor he was nominated for; I don't still randomly think about Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood a decade later. I think the best compliment I can pay this movie is that even if I think of it as noir, I don't think it would have been better filmed in 1949 with John Garfield or Dan Duryea. This memo brought to you by my valuable backers at Patreon.

"I'm Not Funny"

Sep. 16th, 2017 11:23 am
ebrada: (prayer)
[personal profile] ebrada
I remember help a few times on my costumes that I didn't like.




drplacebo: (Default)
[personal profile] drplacebo
It's Forgotten Masterpiece Friday!

Ma Sicong (1912-1987) was China's earliest significant composer of music for Western instruments. He was best known as a violin virtuoso during his lifetime, often referred to in China as the "King of Violinists" from the 1930s through the 1950s. Although Ma did not grow up in a particularly musical family (his father was the finance minister of the province of Guangdong in the early years of the Republic of China), he and most of his siblings eventually became professional string players; his younger sister Ma Siju was probably China's leading cellist in the 1940s and 1950s. Ma Sicong himself was introduced to the violin when his older brother, who had gone to France to study music, brought him a violin on a visit home in the summer of 1923. He fell in love with the instrument, and before the end of the year, aged just eleven, he joined his brother in France. Except for a brief return to China in 1929, he remained in France until 1932 and studied violin and composition at the Paris Conservatoire.

After returning to Asia, Ma was active as a concert violinist and composer and held a series of faculty appointments, culminating in his appointment in 1949 as the first president of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He frequently represented China in musical events throughout the Communist bloc; in 1958 he served on the jury for the first Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow, which Van Cliburn famously won. But when the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, he and other leading music teachers in China were persecuted for teaching Western music. Upon his arrival at the Central Conservatory for the beginning of the 1966-67 academic year, he was arrested by the Red Guards and confined to a classroom for 103 days, and then brutally beaten before being released. In January 1967, he defected to the United States via Hong Kong, in a dramatic escape that involved him and his family being smuggled to Hong Kong aboard a fishing boat. He was briefly a celebrity in the West -- before the Cultural Revolution he had been China's single most prominent musician, and a friend of both Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, so his defection was seen as a major coup for the US -- and his music received a number of performances in the United States and Taiwan in 1967 and 1968. Meanwhile, after Life magazine published a first-person account by Ma titled "Cruelty and Insanity Made Me a Fugitive," he was tried and convicted of treason in absentia back in China, and all his music was banned. Ma Sicong spent the rest of his life in Philadelphia, composing only sporadically but continuing to perform as a violinist in the United States and Taiwan.

Eventually Ma Sicong was rehabilitated in China: his conviction for treason was rescinded in 1984, with Wu Zuqiang (then president of the Central Conservatory of Music) and Henry Kissinger traveling to Philadelphia to deliver him the news in person. On the Chinese New Year, 1985, more than a hundred Chinese newspapers ran front-page stories declaring that Ma Sicong was again welcome in China. In 1997, the tenth anniversary of his death was commemorated in Beijing with a concert of some of his best-known pieces, and in 2002 the Guangzhou Museum of Art opened a Ma Sicong Memorial Hall. In the United States, there was some renewed interest in his music beginning in 2012, as a number of musical organizations in the Philadelphia area commemorated the centennial of a Philadelphia resident famous in China yet largely unknown in his adopted hometown.

This week's forgotten masterpiece is Ma's second symphony, one of his few major works to be recorded. Composed in 1958-59, at the height of Ma's career in China, it was ostensibly based on Mao Zedong's poem "Loushan Pass" which commemorated the Red Army's first victory during the Long March, though the music is not explicitly programmatic in the sense of having any form of descriptive subtitles, and some of it draws more from 20th century trends in Western music such as use of medieval church modes. Although there are pauses between movements, the end of each movement and the beginning of the next are ingeniously written to form somewhat of a transition from one movement to the next. The first movement is short and in traditional sonata form, featuring a vigorous opening theme in Phrygian mode and a second theme based loosely on a Shaanxi folk song. The second movement is an anguished dirge that might represent the hardships of the long retreat, or mourning for fallen comrades. The third movement brings back the opening theme of the piece before transitioning into what might be a victory celebration featuring a number of folk dances.

Movements:
I. Allegro agitato
II. Adagio maestoso (5:27)
III. Allegro (16:58)

sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
[personal profile] sovay
[personal profile] ashlyme, I have seen your Pan of the brownfields. He was in Derek Jarman's The Last of England (1987), a bare-chested, leather-jacketed heroin punk atop a mound of ruined brick, the post-synched soundtrack playing a delicate melody in the midst of burning warehouses, fascist soldiers, forty-year-old home movies, Thatcherite apocalypse. He has a round-chinned face, an Elvis-black kiss-curl, tattoos on his arms; in the credits he is named "Spring." He shoots up, smokes, smashes things, has sex with a life-sized copy of Caravaggio's Amor Vincit Omnia while the cinematographer's shadow, maybe Jarman's own shadow, lies across them both. His scenes are all filmed in the slow-blurred, smokily tinted Super 8 grain of The Angelic Conversation (1987), of which he might be the darkening reflection: the angel in the fallen world, with no last trump to liberate him into the arms of his beloved. Everything in this film is apocalyptic, but very little of it is revelation. Maybe Tilda Swinton at the very end, rending with scissors and even biting her wedding gown to pieces as a pyre streams behind her on the sunset riverbank; she whirls in bridal ruins, fire and grief, I think of Shiva Nataraja, I have no idea if Jarman did. He wrote a book of the film, which is currently available under the title Kicking the Pricks (1987). I don't have it. I have this headful of images like stained glass windows, smashed and burning. Or channel-surfing on William Blake's MTV.

I was five minutes late to the theater, which I count as an achievement since at Downtown Crossing the Red Line had decided that it would prefer not to; [personal profile] rushthatspeaks and [personal profile] nineweaving had saved me a seat and I came in just as Nigel Terry doing his best BBC switched from Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" to T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land." (My memory is that this produced the line "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed not with a bang but with a whimper," but I don't actually think that happened.) It's even more of a cut-up film than Jubilee (1977), working with many of the same furious themes but even more abstracted here. It plays aggressively with time, slowing, skipping, echoing, blackout and shell-shock and dream. (We ran out of time when we ran out of history, here at the willed, sadistically avoidable end of things. If all time is eternally present / All time is unredeemable.) It flickers between scenes until the screen becomes its own double-exposure kinematoscope. Many of Jarman's movies are painterly; this one is staticky. It's like looking at a sparkler. And indeed, different characters carry these fizzing torches, white magnesium fire burning off the screen; they ward and threaten and signify, perhaps, at the last, hope. Of Jarman's work that I've seen, which at this point includes all the feature films except Sebastiane (1976), The Garden (1990), and Blue (1993), The Last of England reminds me most of the short The Art of Mirrors (1973) and the music videos he directed for the Smiths and for Marianne Faithfull, who appears via the soundtrack, singing the beginning of the "Skye Boat Song" over and over in her cracked bell of a voice as refugees or deportees huddle on the wharves of London, patrolled by balaclava'd soldiers with black boots and black guns and the confident stride of nationalists: there were white cliffs in Ford Madox Brown's painting, but here there's not even a boat. The other thing this film reminds me of is a nightmare. It contains the most frightening cauliflower I have ever seen. It contains a moon-crowned dancing androgyne, a wedding where the bridesmaids are pantomime dames and the baby is present in a pram full of tabloids, an execution in real time. A pair of soldiers waltz in a tire-littered alley, lit by a trash fire. The globe of the world spins as if out of control, between the hands of an actress who looks like (but I don't think is) Sycorax from The Tempest (1979). Its painted countries are probably out of date anyway. "Land of Hope and Glory" sails out over shots of the Albert Memorial and home footage of Empire-shadowed Pakistan from Jarman's childhood, but the violence of soldiers who are not on parade—the grandsons of Kipling's "sons o' the Widow," with all the latest overcompensating gear—stutters like bullet-flashes throughout. New York is a frenetic hallucination, a remembrance wreath the height of hypocrisy when exchanged for a submachine gun. Hitler's on the soundtrack, too.

I don't know why this movie isn't depressing. It should leave you feeling absolutely bludgeoned; I think it's so angry it's exhilarating. It mourns the loss of England that was or should have been, but it isn't conservative. In one of two scenes I had seen excerpted in photographs from the film—the other being Swinton between fire and water—a posh boy and a soldier fuck on top of a gigantic Union Jack, the former balls naked, the latter booted-gloved-masked to anonymity, in such a welter of cigarettes and empty wine bottles that you're amazed either of them is up for it, and maybe they aren't. It's vicious, but I also think it's funny. I'm not sure either the establishment or the jackboots got what they wanted out of that one. Elsewhere Jarman himself sits at his real desk, writing in his real journals, the nuclear power station at Dungeness overlooks Prospect Cottage to this day and the industrial desolation of London is a document as well as a vision. (Eyeless tower blocks, rag-and-bone quaysides, houses behind barbed wire. Nowhere is home here. Where are they setting out, that monkish, magician's boat at the end? All that's left is away.) The filmmaker's family appear as themselves thanks to at least two generations of home movies. The whole thing feels like something you could stumble across in the middle of the night but not discover in a museum. It feels more like the inside of another person's head than some self-portraits I've seen. Afterward, in the restroom, a total stranger with a German accent turned to me at the stall door and asked, "Did you just see the film? Did you like it?" Then she asked if I was German. I have to believe M. John Harrison saw this film.

You understand that this is not a review, but I hope you understand also why I had to say something. I love several films by Derek Jarman—Wittgenstein (1993) unreasonably—and when I walked out of the Brattle Theatre tonight I did not expect The Last of England to be one of them, but it may be that I do, not even because it's so beautiful, because often and pointedly it's not, but because it is so much itself. It's fragments against the ruins. It's on fire. (I could and would screen it to follow David Rudkin's Penda's Fen (1974): Jarman himself the ungovernable, dissonant flame.) This explosion brought to you by my visionary backers at Patreon.

(no subject)

Sep. 15th, 2017 04:44 pm
zesty_pinto: (Default)
[personal profile] zesty_pinto
Punctures in my fingers from shelling the meat out of half a dozen blue crabs. I couldn't get all of it, but enough to make me satisfied with the results. TBH, I was doing it all by hand. I can do it, it's not hard, but then I forgot that soft, tan skin, no matter how leathery it may seem, can be readily defeated by hardened chitinous spikes. At least the Old Bay seasoning cauterized the wounds.

I spent the night telling Michelle to "eat my tasty blood!" and feeding her my digits as she tried to sleep. I'm a terrible fiancee.

I swear I can still smell the sea on my fingers.

I've been taking things slower now. Mostly because the allergies are still killing me.

Oh! Michelle made her LEGO set to celebrate the new glass display; it's really small but so many intricate parts.

I also heard LEGO's finally hitting a downturn in profit and I can't be surprised since their creep has been really aggressive and the idea of people buying these as an investment just struck me as fifty degrees of wrong. I wouldn't mind if they tone down on the ambitions, get a little more conservative with their set prices, etc.

Canning tomorrow! The beans out there are so nice and big. I can't emphasize how much I'm looking forward to it.

I'm also looking forward to getting some fresh apple cider. I baked a pound cake of mushy pear and peaches in the new Pyrex loaf form and it was late so I tried to see if I could get the oven's residual heat to cook it through as I turned it off. Nope, it wasn't enough; it was gummy, although at least that's better than dry imo.

A couple more minutes until Friday's done with. More work being a pain in the butt from one of the outsourcers we deal with.

Oh, and Michelle's hitting the electrolysis and we're getting an oil change. Adult stuff!

Checking In

Sep. 15th, 2017 09:00 am
penlessej: (Default)
[personal profile] penlessej
I am still here, trust me I am still here. The round of four days of 12 hour shifts on the battle watch for the BC fires over the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday really sucked the life out of me. I also hit somewhat of a brick wall mentally this week which prompted me to reach out for support from the mental health guys here at my work.

So that is where I am right now.

This weekend I'll be heading to Vancouver for a MLS soccer game and then moving day is Sunday.

I will get more out shortly. Sorry to those friends who have I have been absent with these past few days, I just need to check out for awhile (and now I am checking in, so we're good).
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
Courtesy of [personal profile] handful_ofdust: Zeal & Ardor, a Black metal band. That is, a black metal band whose major influence is Black American field hollers and spirituals. Writer-frontman Manuel Gagneux is biracial and started the band in response to racist abuse on 4chan, which may be the best outcome I have ever heard of people being racist on 4chan; the results are shredding and subversive, the perfect Kai Ashante Wilson soundtrack. That the nine songs on their debut album appear to have burst in from some fearful history where the forced Christianity of slavery engendered instead the defiant seeking out of Satan makes it all the sharper that Gagneux's vocals have been mistaken for the Alan Lomax field recordings they quite deliberately sound like. I heard "Blood in the River" first and it's hair-raising. Its author associates it with the Stono Rebellion. I could not help associating it with Orlando Jones' Mr. Nancy. "Devil Is Fine," the band's only official video so far, is a close second. The two projects are not otherwise sonically alike, but the time-rupturing, musically confrontational qualities of Devil Is Fine (2016/2017) reminded me powerfully of clipping.'s Splendor & Misery (2016), which I still wish had won the Hugo. [edit: I am not the only person who thinks so.] In short, they are well worth your listening, although not if you need to concentrate on anything else at all.

Celebrities in Sooke

Sep. 12th, 2017 01:10 pm
christina_maria: (Sofa Girl)
[personal profile] christina_maria
 Although I am through and through an introvert… but a curious one, I’ve been following the goings ons from the comfort of car windows and computer screens. Honestly, throw in a dash of being leery about actually meeting the people behind the curtain (to misquote a line from the Wizard of Oz).

Regardless, I still am quite giddy that they are filming a movie here in our little town right at this very moment.

The crews have been set up in the area for a few days now, and have just been quietly filming in various areas in the town core. We’ve even passed their set-ups a few times as we went to get groceries or pet supplies, and it’s all fairly quiet and laid back. No Parker Posey or Ken Jeong sightings for me, but that is to be expected when you prefer holing up at home. XD

I am looking forward to the photo’s others who are more outgoing may share… but Canadians are mostly a polite sort, and so there may not be a whole lot of impromptu star pics being strewn about the internets after this all has wrapped up.

There is a cute spot on the news with Parker Posey being interviewed with an adorable puppers in her arms. She is standing near the Evergreen mall, which is walking distance from our place. –

Actress Parker Posey gushes about Sooke while shooting new film

So that is pretty cool. I love that she usually has her dog with her in the photos I have seen so far. Such a cutie.

#Repost 2 @hximenez ❤️ @itsparkerposey @adenyoung @chrisacole@jtodd_branded @jackietohn @rayabruzzo #elsewherethefilmpic.twitter.com/CuutfUjkeA

I’m not sure when they will be wrapping up the filming, but it’s been pretty neat having them here, even if I am living vicariously through others experiences.

Added Thursday, Sept 14th :

Latest I've heard, now they have moved on to the 17 mile pub heading out of town, so they may be done wandering the streets of Sooke already *lol*

Bears are back in town

Sep. 13th, 2017 01:07 pm
christina_maria: (Default)
[personal profile] christina_maria
 Looks like we’ve made it to that time of year again folks. I woke this morning to garbage strewn about the side of the neighbors house, our front lawn, and the next door lot.

It looks like it was out and about raiding the neighbors can at about 3am, and went back and forth with it’s pillages.

 

At around 5am the camera’s show our raccoon babies rooting around in the messes a bit. And not long after that we were waking up for the morning. When I did my usual glance out the window I saw the mess the had left us over night.

I couldn’t stand seeing the mess all over, and so I donned some disposable gloves and grabbed a garbage bag and cleaned up the mess once I’d had a cuppa.

The neighbors, whose garbage it was, were not awake yet. And since it was garbage day, I tried to bundle up everything the best I could. Then I just propped their garbage can and kitchen scrap bucket back up. I threw what I could back into it, and then taped a note to the remaining big bag I had filled saying what had happened so they’d see it when they went outside to bring the trash can to the curb.

Hopefully they will start storing the garbage bags in their garage until garbage day (which is what we do) after this. It’s quite gross cleaning up old decaying trash. bleh

The Beans

Sep. 14th, 2017 01:51 pm
zesty_pinto: (Avant-Garde)
[personal profile] zesty_pinto
-are ungotten.

To be continued on Saturday.

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