November 28, 2009

a story, and I figured out how to add jumps to the end of my posts. by the way, is this new format weird?


The Enormous Radio

Jim and Irene Wescott were the kind of people who seem to strike that satisfactory average of income, endeavor, and respectability that is reached by the statistical reports in college alumni bulletins. They were the parents of two young children, they had been married nine years, they lived on the twelfth floor of an apartment house near Sutton Place, they went to the theater on an average of 10.3 times a year, and they hoped someday to live in Westchester. Irene Wescott was pleasant, rather plain girl with soft brown hair, and a wide, fine forehead upon which nothing at all had been written, and in the cold weather she wore a coat of fitch skins dyed to resemble mink. You could not say that Jim Westcott looked younger than he was, but you could at least say of him that he seemed to feel younger. He wore his graying hair cut very short, he dressed in the kind of clothes his class had worn at Andover, and his manner was earnest, vehement, and intentionally naïve. The Westcotts differed from their friends, their classmates, and their neighbors, only in an interest they shared in serious music. They went to a great many concerts - although they seldom mentioned this to anyone - and they spent a good deal of time listening to music on the radio.

Their radio was an old instrument, sensitive, unpredictable, and beyond repair.

November 27, 2009

A thing that I like about West Side Story

I've heard (on more than one occasion) people say that this is one of the weakest songs from the whole production. I'm not sure why... there's probably some musical theory about how the harmonies don't change from minor to major fast enough or something.

I don't know.

But, to me, that's why it's music and not science. It helps me to not be able to figure these things out - that way something in my life can have a little magic.

November 23, 2009

“I was all smooth surface with nothing inside except emptiness.”

Ray Carver captivated me the very first time I read this story. He seemed both broken and whole, knowing and confused, and it's only recently that I'm coming to realize the extent of power that was wielded over him by an editor. Gordon Lish was a great discoverer, but not a great writer. But for all of his meddling, and the extent to which he altered truths and minimized character, Carver's stories were not destroyed. It's kind of amazing when you start to read through the rough drafts, startling to see the broad-handed strokes of difference.

Carver's anthology came out recently and I'm interested to read it. I might go to the library some time this week to see if they have it. Until then, I'll have to make do with one of my favorite collections of his:

A look at Ray Version vs. Lish's:

My friend Mel
, a cardiologist,
was talking. Mel McGinnis is a cardiologist, and sometimes that gives him the right. The four of us were sitting around his kitchen table drinking gin. It was Saturday afternoon.
Sunlight filled the kitchen from the big window behind the sink. There were Mel Herb
and me I
and his second wife, Teresa—Terri, we called her—and my wife, Laura. We lived in Albuquerque,
then. But but
we were all from somewhere else. There was an ice bucket on the table. The gin and the tonic water kept going around, and we somehow got on the subject of love. Mel Herb
thought real love was nothing less than spiritual love. He said When he was young
he’d spent five years in a seminary before quitting to go to medical school. He He’d left the Church at the same time, but he
said he still looked back on to
those years in the seminary as the most important in his life.
Terri said the man she lived with before she lived with Mel
loved her so much he tried to kill her.
Herb laughed after she said this. He made a face. Terri looked at him.
Then Terri she
said, “He beat me up one night, the last night we lived together
. He dragged me around the living room by my ankles. He kept saying, , all the while saying,
‘I love you, don’t you see?
I love you, you bitch.’ He went on dragging me around the living room. My , my
head kept knocking on things.” TerriShe
looked around the table at us and then looked at her hands on her glass
. “What do you do with love like that?” she said.
She was a bone-thin woman with a pretty face, dark eyes, and brown hair that hung down her back. She liked necklaces made of turquoise, and long pendant earrings. She was fifteen years younger than Herb, had suffered periods of anorexia, and during the late sixties, before she’d gone to nursing school, had been a dropout, a “street person” as she put it. Herb sometimes called her, affectionately, his hippie.

“My God, don’t be silly. That’s not love, and you know it,” Mel
said. “I don’t know what you’d call it,
—madness is what I’d call it—
but I sure know you wouldn’t call it it’s sure as hell not
“Say what you want to, but I know it was
he loved me
,” Terri said. “
I know he did.
It may sound crazy to you, but it’s true just the same. People are different, Mel Herb
. Sure, sometimes he may have acted crazy. Okay. But he loved me. In his own way, maybe, but he loved me. There was was
love there, Mel Herb
. Don’t say there wasn’t deny me that
let out his breath. He held his glass and turned to Laura and me. “The man
threatened to kill me, me
Mel said. He finished his drink and reached for the gin bottle. “Terri’s a romantic. Terri’s of the ‘Kick-me-so-I’ll-know-you-love-me’ school. Terri, hon, don’t look that way.” MelHe
reached across the table and touched Terri’s her
cheek with his fingers. He grinned at her.
“Now he wants to make up,” Terri said.
“After he tries to dump on me.” She wasn’t smiling.

“Make up what?” Mel
said. “What is there to make up? I know what I know. That’s
, and that’s

“What would you call it then?” Terri said.
“How’d we get started on this subject anyway?” Terri said. She raised her glass and drank from it. “Herb always has love on his mind,” she said. “Don’t you, honey?” She smiled
, and I thought that was the last of it.
“I just wouldn’t call Ed
’s behavior love. That’s
, that’s
all I’m saying, honey,” Mel Herb
said. “What about you guys?” Mel he
said to Laura and me. “Does that sound like love to you?”

I shrugged.
“I’m the wrong person to ask
,” I said. I didn’t even know the man. I’ve only heard his name mentioned in passing. Carl.
I wouldn’t know. You’d have to know all the particulars. Not in my book it isn’t, but who’s to say? There’re lots of different ways of behaving and showing affection. That way doesn’t happen to be mine.
But I think what you’re saying, Herb,
is that love is an absolute. ?

Mel said, “The kind of love I’m talking about is
,” Herb said

The kind of love I’m talking about, you don’t try to kill people.”

How do you learn your lines?

"Well, you don't learn your lines, you live in the imaginative moment and the line is inevitable in that situation." - Fiona Shaw

Something that's always fascinated me about acting.

November 18, 2009


Irene Dunne is an almost forgotten name to
today's movie audiences. Indeed, if she is
remembered at all it is through the Cary Grant
connection. For her contribution to Hollywood's
history is but a rumour, a whisper lost in the
winds of time. Is that fair?

"If one is not willing to yield to Irene Dunne's temperament, her talents, her reactions, following their detail almost to the loss of one's own identity, one will not know, and will not care, what the film is about." - Stanley Cavell

"She always knew how to put a man in her place, but at the same time leave him room to maneuver out of it." - Richard Schickel

I netflixed this, only to realize about 2 minutes in that I'd already seen it. But not for years, so I watched it. As it turns out, it really was the first Irene Dunne film that I'd seen! I didn't even remember her from the last time!

As much as I love Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rodgers, I have to say... I'm not really a huge fan of Randolph Scott. He's too... overbearing? It's hard to describe the feeling that I get from him.

For instance, there's a plot point where he and Irene are running Roberta's (dress shop) together and they're viewing all of the dresses in their Fall line. She says to him, "If there's anything that you don't like, just tell me." He responds with, "Oh, gee. I'm sure I'll like everything!" As the girls come out and model the dresses, they progressively become more and more horrific (in my eye). They are dripping with gaudy gold sequins and lace, with yards and yards of fabric layered one upon another. It's really quite terrifying. And then a girl comes out wearing something which (at the time) must have been quite revealing, just a simple sleeveless halter, floor-length dress. Something that you'd probably see at the Oscars nowadays. And he is shocked. No, not just shocked -
horrified. It was vulgar and tasteless - she would have been more appropriately dressed had she been naked! Irene then tries to alter the dress, raising the back, etc, but he just says, "No! Throw it out! I want it out!" So much for liking everything.

I think this old fashioned style of singing is an acquired taste for many, but Irene's voice is lovely.

If you've never seen Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance together, you must watch this.

November 17, 2009

Alone in Kyoto

This has been one of my favorite songs for years. I feel almost haunted every time I hear it. This is a live version just cause.

November 12, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

So I have to go present a poster at the Sigma Xi conference this weekend. And as it turns out my parents are leaving as well - they're going camping with some friends. I probably could have had a party. Or at the very least, not had anyone make fun of me for sleeping until 11:30am. Back on sunday.

November 10, 2009

Is it strange how utterly fascinating I find craigslist?

In fact, I think I'm going to have to start a new category in my sidebar that's dedicated solely to the strange stuff I find on there.

Young pet needed by mature couple - mw4w - 56 (East and South Bay)

Date: 2009-11-08, 1:31PM PST

Do you enjoy the idea of going on fun outings? Do you enjoy not having to decide and prefer being instructed as to what will happen?

I am 56 and my partner is mid 40s. Both of us are tall, slender and relatively good looking. But most importantly, we both know how to communicate our wishes and will never accept less than what we desire.

The pet we are seeking would be pampered as any well behaved pet would be, but you will be punished as any misbehaved pet would be if you fail to follow instruction.

Whether the outing is for a simple dinner out, a weekend wine tasting in Napa, or an evening in - you will always know what to do since you will be instructed. And of course you know that being a well behaved pet, you will be rewarded with treats.

November 8, 2009

If it looks like addiction and feels like addiction, isn't it addiction?

I think I've probably seen this video about 100 times over the past couple of months. So I thought I'd draw everyone else into my madness.

In the Pocket (Rhodes and Moog Light Paint) from Ethan Goldhammer on Vimeo.

November 5, 2009

eff baseball. now MY season's started.

can someone buy this for me, please?
okay, fine. I'll have to save that for my next next paycheck.

November 1, 2009

Point me to the mic

So "The Wild Party" is one of my favorite musicals of all time. I mean, if someone asked me I'd probably have to say that "Les Mis" is my *favorite*, but there's just something about this one that I adore. So much of it is exactly what musical theater is supposed to be - people with huge voices and characters with huge personalities who can just belt it out for a whole show. I would've loved to be able to play in the pit for this musical. Hell, I'd just love to see it somewhere.