Friday, January 25, 2008

Alex Itin

Video artist from Brooklyn who works with text in some of his pieces pretty fantastically at that. Orson Whale

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Stafford Reading

The tribute reading for William Stafford was a triumph, with around 15 people reading his word aloud, and Jim Bertolino, gracious host, playing several tracks of Stafford reading aloud. Around 50 people in attendance. According to Jim, these tribute events have been going on since Stafford's death in 1993, and this month there will be over 40 of them worldwide. Very cool. I couldn't help but notice however, the age of the crowd -- most over 40. And stopping by a "spoken word" event later, where the average age was around 20. Poetry has been re-marketed for the younger folks as "slam" or "spoken word." It's embarrassing to say that what Henry Rollins claimed some years ago might be true, that poetry is an old fashioned notion that has lost its punch, and slam and spoken word offer a recontextualized approach to, what to my mind, is the same thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Miguel mentioning T-shirts made me think of my favorite, given to me by my nephew:
"I Don't Think Much So I Might Not Be" Unfortunately I've gotten a number of "Huh? What's that mean?" and to be honest, that's all the Descartes I've read or cared to read. Bumper sticker Descartes. Sound byte Descartes.

William Stafford fest at Village Books tonight (Wednesday, at 7)

Books read:

Jean Rhys Quartet. A tragic but terrifically etched, and wryly funny novel about a woman adrift in Paris in the 20's. While the theme of this book is ultimately alienation, particularly of women, the prose avoids despair, largely due to her razor-sharp writing. She is one of the more remarkable stylists I've read lately. Her prose turns on wit, self-deprecation, reversals, pure descriptive narrative, and irony.

Djuna Barnes Smoke. Interesting to read Douglas Messerli's intro to this book, the fact that Barnes wrote copiously for several newspapers (which were a far different beast in the 19teens, collaging stories, essays, memoirs, rants, polemics, and news), and how stylistically this was a formative time for Barnes. As Messerli notes "Readers today may find it difficult to imagine how the mass audience of a newspaper (New York Morning Telegraph) that in its later years marketed itself as New York's "racing sheet," would or even could respond to fictions so peculiar as these." 'Paprika had a moribund mother under the counterpane, a chaperon who never spoke or moved, since she was paralyzed, but who was a pretty good one at that, being a white exclamation point this side of error.'

Movies seen:

The Jazz Singer -- Wildly funny, tragically sad, with incredibly disturbing elements (the blackface role in the Broadway play). Al Jolson is an absolute marveling maniac.

Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) -- At times this film seems a backdrop for Carnival and surrounding activities, but there are some fine moments, and some of them are the Carnival and surrounding activities, which is rendered with immediacy and vitality. The myth is loosely but effectively interpreted. Orpheus isn't much of a guitar player (his synching is pretty off), but he convinces the two boys he raises the sun every morning, and one of the most touching scenes is the ending, and a little girl in a white dress dancing. Great music, by Jobim, and terrific acting, particularly Lourdes de Oliveira who plays Mira. She would chew you up and not even spit out the bones.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Never Break a New Year's Resolution

It's simple. Don't make any. A quick and easy way to reduce stress.

What I learned at the Reference Desk yesterday:

w00t - Webster's 2007 word of the year, an expression of joy and triumph. W00t supposedly evolved from "Whoomp, there it is" by 95 South, but I have my doubts... Woot, though not w00t, appears in Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale. For wel I woot they patience is gon. And any married man will agree.

Backronym - A phrase constructed after the fact from a pre-existing word (such as Why Order Rich Desserts?)

Neologism - what w00t and backronym are, newly constructed words. The number of neologisms is growing exponentially. My favorite of late is Huckabounce. When I typed Huckabounce into Google it asked me if I didn't mean Huckabone, the 83572nd most popular surname in the United States. Many more neologisms appear instantly at Urban Dictionary.


DailyLit - read books in installments by e-mail or RSS feed. Over 400 public domain titles free, and many more for a cost. (via my main man miguel, frenzied scavenger of the web) (what eats Bob?)