Saturday, February 13, 2010

 

I love a part of
Geof Huth’s Egg
that Geof never even mentions:
the scrape in this video,
like brushes on a high-hat set,
of paper against paper

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Friday, February 12, 2010

 


Click on the image to download PDF of the catalog

Photographic portfolio
(239MB MOV file)

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

 


Esai Morales & Eric Stolz in Caprica

Something one of my sons said the other night, after having watched Caprica’s two-hour pilot, and the first two episodes of its initial season over the course of ten days, caught my attention. “A lot of Caprica depends on a view of social networking you’d expect from old people.” To which he then added, “Not old like you, Dad. Old like the writers.” By which he meant 30ish & ready for walkers, not somebody my age who gets measured in geologic time. Tonight, when I asked him about it, he added “One of the great things about Battlestar Galactica was that it didn’t depend on the technology.” Caprica, which is a prequel to Galactica (hereafter BSG), does.

This reminded me, for maybe the third time in two-plus months, of the inherent risks in any TV or cinema project that hinges or is derived from another. I’d seen Nine, which turned Fellini’s 8½, into a British musical – and then forgot to mention Fellini altogether – and the American film Brothers, based on the Danish Brødre. I’d actually preferred the American version of that, for the brilliance of Tobey Maguire’s acting, and because the culture & code of the Marines made the premise of the film infinitely more believable.

Caprica, on the other hand, has the unenviable challenge of being the prequel – set 50 years in the past – to one of the most intense & well-written shows in television history. Far from abiding by the first law of narrative TV – that all story arcs need to be resolved by the end of a single episode – BSG spun an increasingly complicated tale that was almost guaranteed to lose anyone who hadn’t seen the series from its very beginning. BSG was a show whose audience could only get smaller over time, which is inevitably fatal.

The underlying premise was this. Humans have created a culture of drones, ranging from crude robots right out of Star Wars to a set of 12 Cylons who are more or less indistinguishable from humans, except when they show up in multiple copies. The Cylons resent their servitude and, being monotheistic (unlike the humans), have an unstoppable sense of right & wrong. Right, their belief systems tell them, is a universe rid of the “vermin” that is humanity. So they nuke the planets (a.k.a. colonies) where the humans live &, when a few escape via some old decomissioned space ships, the Cylons take off after them, attempting to finish the job. The humans in turn set out to find a planet whose existence may only be a myth, called Earth. Which, when they do find it, several seasons later, is itself an uninhabitable smouldering husk of post-nuclear devastation.

But there is much more than this, including – in the final episode – an assertion that this narrative recurs over & over in the universe, humans emerging from primitive cultures only to create automated slaves that in turn rise up to devastate their “advanced civilization.” Caprica offers a critical point in one of these alternate futures, focusing at least in these early episodes, on the creation of the Cylon – cybernetic life form node – itself. The Cylon has the same basic problem as the replicants in Bladerunner, Ahnold’s Terminator, Donna Haraway’s cyborg, Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, or even Pinocchio: the instant you endow a machine with the ability to think, to become self-regulating, self-motivating, self-actualizing, all the questions concerning life & the soul soon follow.

Caprica’s viewers will inevitably fall into two categories: a hard core who have seen BSG (or at least have some semblance of its plotline), and a presumably broader base of those who have not, who may be interested in the series because they like Eric Stolz as an actor or remember Alessandra Torresani from her days hosting the WB Kids Club, that defunct network’s attempt at Mouseketeers. Or who may just have been snagged by SyFy’s marketing. Or who maybe never got into BSG because they showed up late to that party & hope to see this series from the beginning so that they might make sense of it all. Good luck with that!

What a viewer of BSG knows that non-viewers don’t is not a lot really. We know that in 50 years, Caprica & the other planets in “the colonies” will be annihilated by an attack from the Cylons, we know a little about Cylon motivation & Cylon religion, & that “frak” is the most popular of cuss words. For season after season, we have watched the nuclear blast from the original Cylon attack in BSG’s opening credits from the vantage point of a living room that we now recognize as belonging to technology magnate William Graystone. And by the end of the pilot episode we have met the first of the characters who will later populate the narrative of BSG, a ten-year-old boy named Willie Adams whose mother & sister have been killed by a terrorist explosion on board a train. By the end of the pilot, Willie’s dad, a top corporate lawyer with gangster connections played by Esai Morales, will have reverted to his Tauron name, Adama. Ten-year-old Willie is going to become Admiral William Adama, the lead figure in BSG, portrayed by Edward James Olmos.

This is one of several narrative arcs that are ongoing at the same time, not all of which necessarily lead to BSG. For one thing, the story of young Willie’s transformation into the admiral is not easily predicated on his apprenticeship here to his father’s brother, Sam Adama, who is a serious henchman in the Tauron gang. Taurons, it seems, come from another planet (Tauron) and are treated as tattoed hoodlums by the waspier denizens of Caprica. Because they come from a planet without agriculture, they’re commonly refered to as dirt eaters. Even Willie’s father, the lawyer, who serves the gang as a messenger to the upper reaches of Caprican society & politics, struggles with discrimination. When one top pol tells Joseph Adama to take a hike, it’s Adama’s brother who turns up in the middle of the night to kill the politician in a fairly ritualistic fashion. When Willie pals around with Sam, we’re watching Goodfellas Goes to Outer Space.

A second arc focuses on William & Amanda Graystone. He’s a tech guru so closely patterned on Bill Gates that it’s almost comical (the house is modeled on the Gates’ mansion on Lake Redmond). Their daughter Zoe was killed on the train in the terrorist explosion while she was running away from home. Zoe, it turns out, was much smarter than her dad & had taken his career-making invention of a holodeck – virtual reality glasses – to enter a hacker-designed world known as the V Club. The V Club has every vice & perversion imaginable, including a stage devoted to the sacrifice of virgins, but it also has rooms away from the main floor’s group sex, fight & kill venues, one of which belongs to The Soldiers of the One (STO), a monotheistic secret society planning the overthrow of the decadent Caprican way of life. Zoe’s boyfriend, Ben Starke, wired himself up with an explosive vest & it was his act that sets the entire series’ narrative in order.

Zoe’s parents didn’t even know she had a boyfriend, let alone that she had been “frakking” him for a year (plus who knows who else in the group sex rooms), or that Zoe was part of this secret society. But what really stuns her father is discovering that his daughter has created an avatar of herself in the V Club, and that this avatar has continued on after Zoe’s death. He tries to download it into the body of a military robot he’s been struggling with, and is unsuccessful until the Tauron’s steal him some special tech. However the transfer fails & the system crashes, or so dad thinks.

In reality, the avatar Zoe (think slight teenage girl) is now trapped inside the 8-foot-tall, one ton ‘bot, which Graystone takes home to work on in his personal lab there. This puts her in the position of getting to watch her parents frak since they don’t know that there’s a ghost in the toaster, so to speak. The girl-in-the-robot, it is clear, will be one of Caprica’s main themes. One minute we see the ‘bot, which BSG vets will recognize as a Centurion (the simplest of the Cylons), the next minute we see Zoe.

On top of all this is another narrative involving one of the teacher’s at Zoe’s school, “Sister Clarice, and Zoe’s best bud, Lacey – played by Magda Apanowicz, the best actor in the whole show. Clarice was the organizer of the STO at the school, their handler, though she denies it & basically comes across as your typical school nun when being interrogated. In fact, “sisters” on Caprica have more personal lattitude than they do here on earth. Clarice is part of a group marriage, and sics one of her husbands to seduce Lacey. This is just one of the other alternate realities the show likes to present, another being that Sam Adama, gangster & ritual killer, happens also to be gay & in a committed relationship. (“How come you don’t have kids?” asks Willie, noting that lots of same sex couples do.) Consider, for example, how The Sopranos handled this same issue.

There’s more going on than just this (e.g., Joseph Adama, who has generally tried to stay arm’s length from his gangster connections, has just put a contract out on Amanda Graystone, to “even things up” between him & the tech magnate; plus the robot is trying to get Lacey to take it to the planet of Gemenon, where Zoe & Ben had been planning to escape before the explosion). But essentially you can take the underlying story arc of BSG & add layers of Goodfellas, Dallas & Buffy the Cylon into the mix. And that’s just the pilot & two episodes. What Caprica, using most of the same writers & producers as BSG, may lack in its hokey variant of Second Life, it certainly is making up for in ambition.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

 

Gabrielle Bouliane

1966 2010



Robert Dana

1929 2010

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

 

Jim Carroll Memorial Reading
Wednesday @ St. Marks
2nd Ave & 10th St
NYC
8:00 PM (Free)
with
Bill Berkson, Todd Colby, Anselm Berrigan,
Richard Hell, Lenny Kaye, Thurston Moore,
Lee Ranaldo, Patti Smith, Anne Waldman & more

§

Clayton Eshleman on the disaster at Lascaux

§

This is what a feminist [poet] looks like,
forum no. 2

§

Tribute to Leland Hickman

§

The death of Bo

Not to mention “New Yawk

§

Syllable Sestina challenge

§

The “godfather of rap” is back:
Gil Scott-Heron on starting over

§

Conversations with Harryette Mullen

§

Talking with James Sherry

§

Rae Armantrout, on
“Money Talks”
on the Washington Post website

§

What is a poet / critic?

§

Wednesday, February 10, at Moe’s
in Berkeley:
ON Contemporary Practice (vol. 2)
with David Brazil
Brandon Brown
Taylor Brady
Jocelyn Saidenberg
Robin Tremblay-McGaw
Dan Thomas-Glass
Alli Warren
Suzanne Stein &
Laura Moriarty

§

Jacket moves to Philadelphia!

§

Richard Brautigan at 75

§

Dave Christy has died

§

Dorthea Lasky: “Tornado”

§

Juan Filloy’s Op Oloop

§

The Google Book Deal: an exchange

§

FrankenGoogle:
“We will bring books back to life”

§

Talking with Leevi Lehto
about translating Joyce’s Ulysses

§

The ghost of the translator

§

Kleist & the confusion of affects

§

James Wagner’s Trilce

§

Ngugi wa Thiong’o:
Decolonising the Mind:
The Politics of Language
in African Literature
(reg. req.)

§

Great poems for Black History Month

Early African American
Print Culture Conference

50 years of Marcus Books

Black Nature:
a symposium on the first anthology
of nature writing by African-American poets
at UC Berkeley on March 5
with Camille Dungy, CS Giscombe, Harryette Mullen,
Ed Roberson, Carl Phillips, Evie Shockley,
Natasha Tretheway & Al Young

§

A great podcast on translating
Ernest Farrés

Farrés’ Edward Hopper

§

Charles Bernstein at Harvard

§

February 12:
Zaum at Yale

§

Who stole our reading time?

§

Aldon Nielsen on Ken Irby’s collected

§

H.D. & the archeology of religion:
special issue of
Journal of Cultural & Religious Theory

§

The City Real & Imagined

§

What’s in your margin?

§

Wystan Curnow’s
tribute to Leigh Davis

§

I sing of food-service personnel
with arms of text

§

Coming in March in Paris,
a conference on
John Ashbery in Paris

§

Thin Air Video’s
DVD catalog of poets
(135 DVDs, 350 streaming
preview clips)

§

The Dial-a-Poem Poets

§

Talking with Michel Tremblay

§

Kerouac apartment burns

§

The lost disciples of Walt Whitman

§

Marjorie Levinson’s
“What is New Formalism?”
(hint: it’s not what you think)

§

Audre Lorde:
“Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power”
(reg. req.)

The Master’s Tools
Will Never Dismantle
the Master’s House”
(reg. req.)

§

Talking with Hoshang Merchant

§

You Suck, and So Does Your Writing

§

Roberto Bolaño’s Monsieur Pain

“A touch of evil

The Last Interview

§

Wole Soyinka’s British problem

§

Talking with Sara Larsen & David Brazil

§

Are paywalls coming back?

§

e-books mean an end to intimacy

Or if they get left out overnight

§

Poets & Writers
celebrates 40 years

§

A writing career becomes harder to scale

§

School librarians
upset at Obama budget

§

Down with K-Po!

§

Pearl Pirie:
Women & Gendered Writing

§

“When all that is solid melts into language” –
Vicky Kirby on Judith Butler
(reg. req.)

Undoing Gender
(reg. req.)

Judith Butler’s “Ethical Ambivalence”
(reg. req.)

Antigone’s Claim
(reg. req.)

§

Toril Moi on Simone de Beauvoir

§

A photo portrait of
Square Books,
an indie bookshop
in Oxford, Mississippi

§

Indie bookstores turn the page

§

Equator Books to close in Venice, CA

§

Bookselling in crisis
(part 1) (part 2)

§

Oddest book title contest
swamped with good entries

§

Orhan Pamuk’s
The Museum of Innocence

§

David Foster Wallace,
teaching assistant

§

Re-thinking synonymy

§

A workshop on constructions

§

D.A. Powell
wins $100K Tufts prize

§

In defense of the English major

§

The charm of Neil Gaiman

§

Talking with Kay Ryan

§

Brian Turner & the well-written war

§

Auggie Kleinzahler
sells his childhood home

§

Philip K. Dick & the O.C.
(part 4) (part 5) (part 6)

§

Back to the future with steampunk

§

Darwish on film

§

WCW:
Kora in Hell: Improvisations

§

Is Quietism denial
like AIDS or Holocaust denial
or the first step toward acknowledging
one’s helplessness,
& thus to getting help?

§

JMG Le Clézio’s Desert

§

Bill Griffiths on BBC Radio 3

§

Talking with William Allegrezza

§

The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry

§

Morris Dickstein’s
Dancing in the Dark

§

The social concerns of the thriller

§

10 books for your 2010 reading list

§

Whatever works

§

Publishing as heavy lifting

§

Coming late to Stanley Kunitz

§

Travis Macdonald:
Bashō’s Phonebook

§

Chelsey Minnis’ Poemland

§

A profile of Don DeLillo

Point Omega

A second NY Times review
because one per week isn’t enough

Chapter 1

§

Tina Chang
is the new laureate of Brooklyn

§

When a small press book wins the Costa…

§

The Lost Booker

§

Austen in Connecticut

§

Of all the web sites that might lead one
to the work of Louis Zukofsky,
is any more curious than
the one devoted to
Whittaker Chambers?

§

Simon Hatley,
Coleridge’s actual ancient mariner

§

Henry Gould has begun
talking to himself

§

Seattle’s micro-press scene
visible (and obtainable) at
Profanity Hill

§

Peter Dent’s Breaking Shadows

§

A new bio of Bukowski

The Pleasures of the Damned

§

¥45M awarded
for “worst case”
repression of free speech case
in Japan

§

Gary Young is Santa Cruz County’s
first poet laureate

§

Some Dickens characters
are deliberately in the closet

§

Anna Karenina:
great novel, punk ending

§

Stephen Burt on Mark Bibbins

§

John Mullarkey:
Post-Continental Philosophy
(reg. req.)

Mullarkey:
Bergson & Philosophy
(reg. req.)

Refractions of Reality:
Philosophy and the Moving Image
(reg. req.)

§

Podium as a verb

§

Midwestern Water Wars:
The Flowage Rebellions

§

Tony Hoagland’s
Unincorporated Persons
in the Late Honda Dynasty

§

Writing your dead sister
into an erotic dystopia

§

Literary stepmothers

§

Daniel Poliquin,
Canada’s perpetual literary nominee

§

Restricted Access:
a fascinating series of talks on
law & representation

§

James Reiss on a poet
willing to rhyme card with ward,
nameless with restless,
lifts
& gift

§

J.D. Salinger:
The Pre-Postmodernist

Searching for Salinger’s house

What if
celebs tweeted Salinger’s death?

The tragic life of bananafish

The last of the giants?

§

A museum of one’s own

§

Reading scene report:
Mrs. Dalloway’s Books in Berkeley

§

Blake on the human & divine

§

Inside an agent’s mailbox

§

Peyton Manning & the missing T formation

§

Snippateering

§

Impishness & labefactation

§

A new bio of Thomas De Quincey

§

Beyond Dante’s Inferno:
classic lit as video games

§

Hayden White:
“The Question of Narrative
in Contemporary Historical Theory” (1984)
(reg. req.)

§

Originary grammar
(1) (2) (3)

§

Self-publishing made easy

§

Is brown bad news
for selling books?

§

Ghosts of publishing past
& to come

§

Mondegreens & poetry

Jon Carroll’s mondegreen columns

§

Freedom of the press,
Vietnam-style

§

Censoring Anne Frank

§

Gerald Posner, plagiarist

§

Jacques Derrida’s Glas
(reg. req.)

§

Postdocs of the world, unite!

§

What would a UK GirlDrive look like?

§

Patti Smith
talking with Tavis Smiley

Nick Piombino
on Patti Smith’s Just Kids

Patti Smith
on the archivist
Harry Smith
(no relation)

§

David Kirby’s bio of Little Richard
has “just enough talent on display
to keep you from walking out”

§

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
(a steampunk big band)

§

Photos from Anthony Braxton’s
8-hour Sonic Genome Project
performance in Vancouver

§

The music of Karlheinz Essl
(check out both the performance & scores)

Drunken Boat’s
sound art feature

§

Issa’s “Lit-Rock Jukebox

§

Book Bombs

collaborative, site-based zine project
examining Philadelphia parks and benches
as social spaces, shelters, and art galleries”

§

Poetry in motion
at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas

§

It’s all in the spine
for life models

§

Michael Dell
buys Magnum archive
for the University of Texas

§

The little ol’ museum from Pasadena

§

Philagrafika 2010

§

Colm Tóibín:
My hero Jack Yeats

§

What is a Warhol?

What Andy Warhol really did

The Warhol Foundation on trial

§

Tom Clark on Jim Dine

§

William Pope. L:
Color isn’t Matter

§

Peter Schjeldahl on West Coast minimalism

§

What Deitch means for LA MoCA
can be found in the new
CoaguLA

§

Paintings to illustrate
Charlie Simic

§

The art of being Santa Fe

§

Peter Zumthor:
Thinking Architecture
(reg. req.)

§

The Tract House:
A Darwin Addition

§

Inside the Film Factory:
New Approaches to
Russian & Soviet Cinema
(reg. req.)

§

Finally,
Letterman hires a female writer

§

Here comes Alice’s merchandise

§

Laura Mulvey’s
Death 24x a Second:
Stillness and the Moving Image
(reg. req.)

§

Ishmael Reed on Precious

§

Avatarthe script
(reg. req.)

§

Visual Effects Society

§

Catherine Lupton:
Chris Marker: Memories of the Future
(reg. req.)

§

How to represent movement

§

Walter Benjamin:
The Origin of German Tragic Drama
(reg. req.)

§

Oulipo sports

§

ChatRoulette

§

Weigh your options literally

§

The limits of multitasking

§

The Age of Asymmetry

§

Ludwig Wittgenstein:
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
(reg. req.)

§

Martin Heidegger:
The End of Philosophy
(reg. req.)

§

Donna Haraway:
When Species Meet
(reg. req.)

§

A tribute to Howard Zinn

Eric Foner on Howard Zinn

Zinn’s history

§

Restoring freedom of speech
to human beings

§

Oxford Guide
to English Grammar

(reg. req.)

§

You never need to use the r-word
so why not pledge to end it?

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