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Found 11 results

  1. I saw "Sling Blade" when it was released, and 23-years later, the only thing I remembered about it was that I really liked it. After having seen it a second time, I can now say that I *love* it, and that it's one of the most brilliant one-man packages I've ever experienced as a filmgoer (Thornton was the screenwriter, the director, and the lead). That said, the entire cast was nearly perfect, without a bad, or even average, performance in the film - every single actor soared in this wonderful movie. See "Sling Blade." I won't taint this film for you by summarizing the plot, or commenting on its components, but I invite anyone and everyone to watch it, and if you disagree with me, to post your viewpoints down below. I'll be very surprised if anyone writes anything, but I'll also look forward to reading your dissenting opinions. Cheers, Rocks
  2. "Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness" was written by David Foster Wallace, and published in Esquire Magazine in 1996 - it has since been republished as "The String Theory," but is the exact same thing. This is the best tennis writing I've ever read.
  3. I just finished reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I am glad I read it. It is like nothing I have read before, including other works by him. It is challenging, but worth the effort. The 1,079 page story takes place in the future, at a junior tennis academy and a nearby substance-abuse recovery facility. It is brash, brilliant, funny (most of the novel takes place in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment), thought-provoking and tragic. Ninety-six pages are devoted to footnotes, located in the back of the book. These need to be read along with the text, as much of the story is told there. (A dear friend gave me book clips to mark my place in the footnotes, and they proved to be invaluable. I recommend them to anyone who reads a printed copy of this book!) Has anyone else read this book? Did you love it? Hate it? Put it down after about 600 pages? I would love to hear your thoughts. I am sure there is much I missed. After I finished the novel, for example, I went back and read the first chapter again. There were several hints in that chapter about what happened to the main characters after the novel ended. How do you think it compares to other works by David Foster Wallace?
  4. Recently, I introduced a friend to David Foster Wallace, and he asked me what about his writing strikes me to the point where I say, without hesitation, that he was a genius. And quite frankly, I didn't know how to answer - unless you read his work, he's almost impossible to describe. One of the things I said was that reading his work is like reading a perfectly written Lisp program, his language being almost function-like and polyphonic - you're not really "finished" with one of his books until you read the final word, and only then does the entire thing mesh together. I was listening to this 1996 interview with Christopher Lydon on "The Connection": I was struck by what Wallace said about entertainment and the internet starting at around the 30:00 point - let me qualify this by saying he's *very* hard to quote, because he changes gears and shifts back-and-forth when he speaks, so this won't be perfect: "The book [infinite Jest] is strategically set in the future. It's not really supposed to be a reflection of the way things are now, but a kind of extrapolation on trends ... I remember seeing Terry Gilliam's "Brazil," where everybody sort of has TVs ... on rods coming out of their foreheads and everybody's watching TV all the time. It's not quite that ... when you think about it, first, HDTV's going to come out, and then there's going to be virtual reality, and then the prospect of things like virtual reality porn ... We're going to have to come to some sort of understanding with ourselves about how much of this we're going to allow ourselves because it's probably going to get a lot more fun than real life is." and then: "The idea that improved technology is going to solve the problems that technology has caused seems to me to be a bit Quixotic. For me, I understand there's a certain amount of hope about the internet democratizing people ... The fact of the matter is, if you've still got a nation of people sitting in front of screens pretending ... interacting with images rather than each other, feeling lonely and so needing more and more images, you're going to have the same basic problem. And the better the images get, the more tempting it's going to be to interact with images rather than other people, and I think the emptier it's going to get. That's just a suspicion and just my own opinion."
  5. First, let me say that if you've ever had difficulty understanding the dialog in a film, you'll understand when I advise you to consider using Closed Captions for "Trainspotting" - a film largely spoken in the "language" of Scottish, and if you've ever had a conversation with someone from Scotland, you'll know exactly what I'm saying here. *** WARNING - SPOILERS FOLLOW *** I *love* the stop-motion introductions of the main characters - and here they are: "The Worst Toilet in Scotland" scene was hi-*lar*ious. It was also one of the single-most disgusting things I've ever seen in my life: I thought watching "The Walking Dead" would cure me forever of any revulsion while watching anything going forward: Nope. Thank *God* there was some comic relief with Renton's Thomas Pynchon-inspired swim. The scene, as a whole, is legendary, and will be considered a classic even fifty years from now, and I suspect you'll remember it for as long as you live. I've never seen Trainspotting before - it's a culture (the heroin culture) that I just don't relate to, and in a sense, this movie is a lot like "Go Fish" for me - an arthouse favorite that I've just never bothered watching because it didn't call out to me. (You can also rest assured that I wouldn't have mentioned Go Fish if I didn't have plans, in the back of my mind, of seeing it in the near future). However, I can tell just seventeen minutes into this ninety-five minute film that I'm going to pretty much *love* it - not five seconds have passed that I haven't enjoyed, thoroughly and immensely, and I have a feeling the subject matter may well be the only thing preventing Trainspotting from being considered one of the great comedies of our generation - although, maybe I should wait until the end of the film before making such a prediction. In terms of dialog, character development, and an overall "likability" factor, I think Trainspotting is going to rate pretty highly with me; again, let me not get ahead of myself. If I say this at the end of the movie, then you'll know to make a beeline to watch it on Amazon Prime, where it's *free*! One thing I've always wondered is: What does "trainspotting" even mean? Like "A Clockwork Orange," it's explained in the book, but not in the movie. From Wikipedia: "The cryptic film title is a reference to a scene (not included in the film) in the original book, where Begbie and Renton meet 'an auld drunkard' who turns out to be Begbie's estranged father, in the disused Leith Central railway station, which they are using as a toilet. He asks them if they are "trainspottin'." After that explanation, I *still* don't know what it means, but at least I have a better idea. Oh my *goodness*, the scatological humor in Trainspotting is abundant and dis-gusting! I know it's chocolate, I *read* that it's chocolate, but it's still as cringeworthy as anything I've seen in quite awhile. And even though you know it's chocolate, you still cringe. The Baby Dawn scene was one of the most bitter pills I've swallowed in a long, long time. And the extended scene where Renton's parents lock him in his room to become clean is quite powerful - there are a *lot* of memorable visuals in this film, some of which I'll never forget. You know, I was *just* about to write that the movie hit a slow spot not long after Renton got clean - it could either be that, or the fact that I'm getting sleepy (the same thing happened to me with Divorce American Style after the couple separated). I was just about to write that when Begbie is making out in the car with a prostitute, and all of a sudden, he sits up with a start and says, "Fuck!" It seems he put his hand in a rather private place and felt something down there he wasn't expecting. Ha! Ha! Ha! Surprise! Did I say earlier that this movie was a comedy? Well, it may have started out that way, but it shifted to an intense drama, with a heavy dose of suspense and intrigue. Trainspotting is a very good movie, and unlike anything I've ever seen. Highly recommended if you're of an exploratory nature - you won't be disappointed. It's not perfect, but few things in life are.
  6. John Travolta first made his name in film in the 1970's, often as the result of dance scenes. During the 1970's Travolta was young lithe, rangy, and an excellent dancer. As he aged, gained weight, and took on dramatically different roles, some of them included memorable dance scenes, not the least of which was the one in the whimsical film "Michael," made in 1996. Travolta played an angel on his last trip to earth and was staying in a motel in Iowa. Three reporters from a Chicago rag and a pet dog are sent to the motel to uncover the Angel and then return on a road trip back to Chicago. While stopping at a roadside tavern for some nourishment the following dance scene ensues: Done to the music Chain of Fools, Travolta, as the pied piper of dance:
  7. If you savor "Shipping Out" (which is often called "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again") - which you should - this will take you a good couple of hours to read, with breaks. It is worth every single minute. Written by one of the great writers to ever live, and one of my heroes, this is David Foster Wallace at his comedic finalist, skewering the cruise-ship industry. Read it, love it, discuss it, and revel in it. I'll be here waiting for you. "Shipping Out" by David Foster Wallace" on harpers.org If you're busy which you so often are, read just 2-3 pages. It will reel you in, and you'll come back to it, I promise. Read the footnotes when they happen (you won't lose your way). Enjoy this rare display of genius cruising along at full throttle. If you haven't laughed out loud by the time you get to the first footnote, I'll give you your money back.
  8. That's the beauty of the Bald Goalkeeper...just insert the next one into the lineup. The talent is coming. You need to remember that MLS is only 20 years old. Players that are only just now entering the pro-ranks will be the first generation of player that has had a domestic pro-league during their entire lifetime. And let's face it, MLS wasn't that great in its early years. In the next 5-10 years, I think you'll see an uptick in the level of play in the U.S. player (yeah, yeah, I know that's been promised before), as kids come up through the system who have been able to attend domestic games on a regular basis, train with pro-teams, go through pro-academies. That's a big difference over pre-MLS, when basically you grew up playing for your school, a travel team, and attended soccer camp during the summer.
  9. Have you ever seen those old bumper stickers? The ones that said, "A little nukie never hurt anybody!" You haven't seen them in awhile now, have you. Yesterday, I finished "Voices from Chernobyl," one of the two masterworks by Belarussian journalist Svetlana Alexievich - winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature (her other notable work being "Zinky Boys" - a tragic nickname for Russian soldiers shipped home from the Afghanistan war in zinc coffins). The title, in Russian, is "Чернобыльская молитва," translating to "Chernobyl Prayer" (which is the British title; "Voices from Chernobyl" is the American title - both are appropriate, as the book is essentially a meditation on the aftermath). This book follows a pattern completely foreign to what I'm familiar with when it comes to Nobel Prize Winners in Literature: Not only is it non-fiction, but Alexievich didn't even write it; she instead spent several years interviewing hundreds of people affected by the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, and compiled their lightly edited anecdotes into a series of "short stories" - stories obtained, compiled, arranged, and presented by Alexievich, but not written in her own hand. Before reading this book, I had done virtually no research into Chernobyl, and that's why I chose it over Zinky Boys - all other things being equal, I viewed it as a chance to educate myself about what might become the single deadliest event in human history (up until now). The final death toll from Chernobyl will not be known for centuries, but it could conceivably be over one-million people, even though only 49 people died immediately. A United Nations study estimates 4,000 deaths as the final toll, but different reports vary wildly, as you might imagine. I will add that these aren't merely "deaths," but some of them are the worst types of deaths imaginable - I won't sicken you with pictures, but they're out there, on the internet: You'd be doing yourself an intellectual service if you searched for them, but I must warn you of their grotesque nature. "Deaths Due to the Chernobyl Disaster" on wikipedia.com "Chernobyl Death Toll: 985,000, Mostly from Cancer" by Prof. Karl Grossman on globalresearch.ca "25 Years after Chernobyl, We Don't Know How Many Died" by Roger Highfield on newscientist.com The Good If you haven't read "Voices from Chernobyl," the odds are probably pretty good that you don't know much about the Chernobyl disaster. The Soviet Union - only several years from complete collapse - did a magnificent job of covering up the meltdown, and it's only because they detected radioactivity in *Sweden* - many hundreds of miles away - that any problem manifested itself. Within days, scientists traced the problem back to the Soviet Union, based primarily upon no obvious faults in Swedish reactors, and wind patterns from earlier that week, blowing from the southeast. The Soviet Union confessed only when they were backed into a corner, and even then downplayed the magnitude of the calamity - even to its own people, some of whom suffered (and continue to suffer) the most horrific deaths and birth defects imaginable - some of these people simply do not look human, and you wonder how they could possibly be alive. To my knowledge, this is the most comprehensive work ever published about the after-effects of Chernobyl on its victims, and it was absolutely courageous, bare-knuckled journalism on the part of Alexievich that produced this incredibly important book, without which, Chernobyl might have been completely forgotten in future generations. There are dozens of anecdotes from "liquidators" (800-or-so workers who cleaned the ceiling of the core), widows, teachers, children, residents, exiles, farmers, scientists, and any other person you could imagine would be affected by proximity to "The Dead Zone." Alexievich did a masterly job of gathering and assembling anecdotes, and arranged them in a way that gave the book a steady progression - by the end, you'll have been hit with so many tales of tragedy and sorrow, that there's no way you'll emerge from this book unscathed. The gravitas of both the stories and the "positions" of people telling them seems to escalate as the book advances, lending a natural crescendo to the recollections. The final anecdote, only about ten pages long, is one of the most beautiful - and tragic - love stories I've ever read. The Bad I need to be careful how I say this because I mean absolutely no disrespect to Alexievich. The author did not ask to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, for this, or for any of her other works, so it's not her "fault" that she won. However, I feel it would be more appropriate to have awarded Alexievich the Nobel Peace Prize, rather than the Nobel Prize in Literature. The stories become bogged down towards the middle of this book - all starting to run together - and it's because of sheer quantity, even more than quality, that you come away from this tale a changed person. If enough people shoot enough paint balls at you, no matter how badly they shoot, you're eventually going to be covered in paint. Having finished Voices from Chernobyl, I could now read anything by Alexievich - anything at all - and I would have no clue that it was she who wrote it, because I have absolutely no idea what she writes like, or what her voice is. In removing herself almost entirely from this book, and allowing the words of the people to take center stage, she remains a complete unknown to me as a writer. Is that Nobel Prize-worthy - organizing the words of others, and presenting them in some semblance of order? Is what I do here Nobel Prize-worthy? The Ugly Literature or not, you really "should" read this book. It is an undeniably important presentation of information, and you will walk away enlightened and educated about the horrors of Chernobyl. And isn't that why she wrote it? You will need supplemental information, because this deals *only* with the aftermath of the meltdown, and not the actual mechanics or politics of the reactor or the government - you will almost surely have a desire to read additional material about what, exactly, happened, because this book just doesn't tell you. It is, in essence, a "tribute piece" to the victims of Chernobyl's fallout; it is not an indictment of the Soviet Union, nor is it a primer about nuclear physics. You will finish the book not having a clue what happened at the reactor, but you'll have painfully detailed memories of what happened to those who were near it. Voices from Chernobyl, despite not being enjoyable, is required reading. It's not as painful as I'm making it out to be - whatever suffering you incur will come from within yourselves, as the book merely presents memories from survivors; not cries from the dead.
  10. While I love Ella Fitzgerald, and have mentioned elsewhere the pleasure I had in hearing her in concert long ago at Symphony Hall in Boston, she has never been one of my favorite singers, and I've never been a devotee of her cult. I think my biggest problem with Ella's singing is that in so many recordings, she seems to sing songs as if the words had no particular meaning. Not always, but often. There's no denying her mostly flawless vocal technique. My favorite album of hers is "Pure Ella", which you can find on YouTube. It's just Ella's voice and Ellis Larkins's piano; it was released in 1994, but was a combination of two LPs from the early 50s. Here is Ella from that album singing "I've Got a Crush on You."
  11. "The String Theory" by David Foster Wallace on esquire.com (With thanks to blog.longreads.com for pointing me to it.) From the essay: "You are invited to try to imagine what it would be like to be among the hundred best in the world at something. At anything. I have tried to imagine; it's hard." Umm, David ... there's ... something you should probably know about yourself ....
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