People love me. Why? Because I'm
fun. I'm the life of the party. I bring levity to any situation. Need
to soften the blow of a harsh message about restroom etiquette? SLAM.
There I am. Need to spice up the directions to your graduation party?
WHAM. There again. Need to convey your fun-loving, approachable nature
on your business' website? SMACK. Like daffodils in motherfucking
Won't find me arguing.
(Written by Mike Lacher!!! You are funny dude!! Pointed out by @eyemagazine on Twitter!!!! ;) )
via @BFI's photostream on Twitpic, with this explanation:
In 1968, an excited audience awaited the arrival of Jean-Luc Godard,
who had been invited to open a series of John Player Lectures at the
National Film Theatre. Instead, they received this telegram.
100 members of the audience accepted the offer to have their money
returned, while the remainder stayed for a screening of Godard's Vivre
At the New Republic David Thomson marks the 50th anniversary of À bout de souffle with some scepticism about Godard:
There is a temptation to see Breathless (or A Bout de Souffle)
as the epitome of the New Wave. In this reading, it was the emblematic
film for a group of young critics and cineastes who had longed to make
films themselves and who suddenly found the chance. But if you want the
right emblem, you’d be better off going to Truffaut (with Les 400 Coups or Tirez sur la Pianiste).
Truffaut loved movies, story-telling, people, and actors. What was
always special about Godard was the reticence he felt for all those
institutions, an edginess or hostility, a doubt that was always
mounting. No wonder, then, that by 1963 he had made a picture (about
moviemaking) called Contempt.
Here's an appalling confession: I've never seen Breathless. But I have seen Contempt - Le mépris - at the Rio in Dalston just a couple of weeks ago; Thomson pins down some of what I disliked about it. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I disagreed with it: it struck me as an argument as much as a story, and there were bits of it that I adored - Jack Palance's swaggering, unselfconsciously monoglot American producer; Fritz Lang playing a wise, fatherly but rather down-at-heel version of himself; the prematurely post-industrial charm of Cinecittà; Brigitte Bardot's bottom. But it struck me as morbid with cynicism.
And what are we to make of that telegram: cynicism replaced with what's naive enthusiasm for the perceptiveness and articulacy of the poor. From a man of what Thomson calls a "malign sensibility" - well, it takes my breath away.
Marc Webb's semi-comic anti-romance (500) Days of Summer recut as a stalker thriller, and quite neatly.
You can take this, if you like, as a comment on the fine line between cute romantic obsession and stalking. It's also a comment on a particular style of acting and a particular style of living - it works so well largely because Joseph Gordon-Levitt is so affectless, because the difference between the hipster too cool to show his feelings and the psychopath who doesn't have any feelings isn't always visible.
Conclusion: we should lock up all hipsters in hospitals for the criminally insane.
David Thomson reviews a new book about the Fifties Hollywood scandal sheet Confidential, Shocking True Story. As usual, Thomson's piece is a mixture of obscurity, banality and genius. I used to resent the obscurity and banality; now I see them as the things that make him a great critic - playing safe and trying to look clever are the province of mediocre critics (like me, I'm afraid).
Henry E. Scott, the book's author, retells the familiar (if you're a Robert Mitchum fan) story of how a drunk Mitchum stripped naked, squirted ketchup over himself, and insisted it was fancy-dress and he'd come as a hamburger. Thomson offers alternative versions: drunk Mitchum offered his penis to be sucked off by gay colleagues; drunk Mitchum peed on his producer's car. He adds:
You can take your pick, but the most important thing that Scott omits
is that this incident occurred towards the end of shooting on The Night of the Hunter—an
extraordinary project on which Mitchum held the highest esteem for
his director, and did the best work of his life. If you doubt that, go
see The Night of theHunter and wonder at the storm of
feelings there may have been inside Mitchum—and how far Laughton played
on that deliberately. In other words, “Shocking True Story” can be the
mere threshold to something out of the ordinary in a creative
I might add: if you don't care about Night of the Hunter, why would you care about what Mitchum got up to? If Thomson's account is correct, Scott doesn't even pass the minimum threshold of scandal-rag competence: "He has Lana Turner being socked in the jaw by one husband, but he
doesn’t think to mention the night that Lana or her teenage daughter
Cheryl put a knife in the bullying gangster Johnny Stompanato."
Thomson makes a further point: Hollywood is really about business - "A history of Hollywood scandal that employed [a] dry, businesslike tone might make a useful book." Or how about a history of Hollywood business that realised how scandalous it all is?
Boise City Council in Idaho has just passed a series of by-laws to make cycling safer, exemplary in their application of common sense:
Drivers will now be expected to yield to cyclists at intersections,
leave at least three feet of distance between bikes and cannot cut
bicycles off when turning. Cyclists are now legally required to give a
warning before passing someone on the sidewalk, dismount in crowded
pedestrian areas and cannot ride recklessly swerving on and off of
"Motorists and bicycles have to share the road," said
Michael Zuzel, member of a special city task force on cycling safety.
"They have to share the responsibility for making the roads safe.
That's why some of these ordinances would penalize motorists for their
behavior and some would penalize cyclists for their behavior."
third part to the change applies to drivers and pedestrians. It states
that harassment and intimidation of cyclists is prohibited as well as
throwing objects at bikes and attempting to disrupt their path.
Any violation of the new ordinances will be misdemeanor offenses
and carry a maximum penalty of six months jail and a $1000 fine.
Note that it's implicit here that cycling on pavements is permitted: what is penalised is stupid, rude and risky cycling on pavements. This is as it should be: it's perfectly possible for cyclists and pedestrians to share the space, so long as everybody acts with care and consideration.
I came across George Szirtes' "The Akhmatova Variations", subtitled "Sixteen variations on a couplet of Anna Akhmatova's" on his website, and liked it so much - both the sentiment and the technique - that I asked if he would mind me quoting part of it here. So, by kind permission of the author, here are the theme and the first eight variations:
For me, praise from others is like ash, from you, even abuse is praise (tr. Richard McKane)
I can dismiss the praise of all the rest But when you censure me I still feel blessed.
The praise I get from others is mere guff. For me your slightest cavil’s praise enough.
I don’t take compliments from anyone: Your mere abuse is worth a smug well done.
When others praise my poems, it makes me spit. I just adore it when you say they’re shit.
When creeps such as McGarrigle praise my books I’d give the world for one of your sour looks.
Why do those filthy bastards pat my back? I’d sooner you frowned and told me what I lack.
Am I obsessed? I want your kicks and blows Not slimy compliments in Grub Street prose.
Hit me again. Abuse me. Burn my books. I hate their wimbly praise and simpering looks.
I felt awkward about using the whole poem: he might want to make money from it some time. I hope curiosity will drive at least one reader over to his website to finish reading it and discover more of the Szirtes oeuvre (try saying "Szirtes oeuvre" on half a pint of gin).
And we had an interesting exchange about the word "wimbly" - whether its archaism gives it a useful charm, or whether it is too quaint to work, and what it means. I think in the context it's pretty clear, though the OED only notices the word as the adverbal form of "wimble", a synonym for "nimble". George coined it from "wimbly-wambly", which crops up in Lawrence's poem Pansies. Here's what the OED has to say, complete with Lawrence reference:
wimbly-wambly, a. dial.
Shaky, unsteady; feeble, effeminate.
1881Leeds Loiners' Comic Olmenac 24, I went all wimley-wamley e me head. 1882 F. W. P. JAGO Ancient Lang. & Dial. Cornwall 312 I'm all wimbly-wambly. 1929 D. H. LAWRENCE Pansies 113 Flat-chested, crop-headed, chemicalised women, of indeterminate sex, And wimbly-wambly young men, of sex still more indeterminate.
Not much difficulty about the meaning, but it is northern or is it Cornish?
George gave me the option of substitution "piddling" or possibly "piss-pot" here; but the alliteration that would give is less attractive than the assonance of "wimbly" and "simpering" (and both have that hint of effeminacy). So "wimbly" it is.
"I have not much pleasure in writing these Essays, or in reading them afterwards; though I own I now and then meet with a phrase that I like, or a thought that strikes me as a true one. But after I begin them, I am only anxious to get to the end of them, which I am not sure I shall do, for I seldom see my way a page or even a sentence beforehand; and when I have as by a miracle escaped, I trouble myself little more about them. I sometimes have to write them twice over: then it is necessary to read the proof, to prevent mistakes by the printer; so that by the time they appear in a tangible shape, and one can con them over with a conscious, sidelong glance to the public approbation, they have lost their gloss and relish, and become 'more tedious than a twice-told tale'. For a person to read his own works over with any great delight, he ought first to forget that he ever wrote them."