Via LA Observed:
I've been in Maine only a few weeks a year since about 1980, and it seems I've missed a few things. Like the inexorable rise of Allen's Coffee Brandy, which for the past twenty years has been the best-selling alchoholic beverage in the state, and nowhere else. My cousin Jim mentioned the phenomenon in passing, and then I started noticing it everywhere, like at the convenience store attached to the local gas station in rural Poland.
Allen's turned up again in the novel I was reading on the plane home, Maine-author Elizabeth Hand's excellent "Generation Loss." To wit:
Generation Loss: A Novel (Hand, Elizabeth)
- Your Highlight on Page 96 | Location 1812-1820 | Added on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 9:27:05 PM
“What’s with all the coffee brandy?” I asked. “Looks like Suze is stockpiling the stuff.”
“That’s Allen’s Coffee Brandy, the Maine drug of choice. It’s lethal—70 proof. That’s how a lot of people up here get their Vitamin D—they mix it with milk and get an extra buzz from the caffeine. Kills more people than heroin does.”
"I’m talking about guys who live in old school buses and survive on blocks of government cheese.”
“And Allen’s Coffee Brandy.”
“And Allen’s Coffee Brandy,” Gryffin agreed. “Old Toby, now, he’s just a few steps ahead of them—he lives on rum and Moxie."
Also this, from a Maine-based food blog, uniting all the crucial DownEast food items. Key line: "I don’t think I’ve ever been to a party in a gravel pit where there hasn’t been at least one handle of Allen’s Coffee Brandy being poured into cartons of milk."
The poem below was written more than two years ago. The copy of The Aurorean in which it was published arrive in my mail Thursday, May 2nd. Vicki drew her last breath about 9 AM Monday, April 29th as I sat by her bed, holding her hand.
"In Lieu of Flowers"
I didn't read Sunday obituaries
beyond a glance for names,
avoiding the ages of demise
but the eyes stray.
The phrase "In lieu of flowers"
being frequent, pleases:
positivity facing the
Suddenly the question intrudes:
what would I say at
the loss of my partner
of sixty-six years?
In lieu of flowers — let them grow.
If you find a bug
carry it carefully outside
and let it go —
as she often did:
that's what I'd say.
Still reading my way fitfully through Ian Rankin-- one every couple of years, now on "Black and Blue" -- I came across an interesting note about the original first choice to play Rebus on telly. Vetoed by the suits because he wasn't famous enough. Anyone who's been watching "Top of the Lake" will have an inkling of what might have been.
An episode called “The Popular Age” was a welcome development in Howard Goodall’s vast yet neat Story of Music (BBC Two), but he was uncharacteristically mealy mouthed when he allowed himself to suggest that atonal music was “a jagged and discordant reflection of a changing world.”
The world was changing just as fast in Beethoven’s time but he wrote melodies. Some of them were difficult but they all appealed to the alert ear eventually, whereas the plunks and bloops of late Schoenberg still appeal to nobody except musicologists.
"To all beginners, I give credit for being writers already, since they intend, for better or worse, to risk exposing their emotions, their quirks, their attitude toward life, to public scrutiny."
"I believe in individuality, in being oneself, in using the maximum of one's talent. That is what the public finally loves -- something special and individual."
-- Patricia Highsmith, Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction, St Martin's 1983.
In her first-rate review of the just-launched second season of "Girls" the great Emily Nussbaum passes on a wonderful expression, new to me: "'concern troll'—the Internet term for one who ices her sneer with dignified worry."
Written in 2000 for FILM COMMENT.
"She was so old that she could still remember when they called that kind of work 'films.' Films--long strips of plastic printed with darkness and light. The memory of film, the sense and the substance of the medium of film, brought her a nostalgia as sharp as broken glass."--Bruce Sterling, Holy Fire (1998).
The name of this magazine will be an anachronism within a decade. Two at the most. The definitive art form of the 20th century will be lucky to survive even a few years past its widely celebrated 100th birthday. Fifty years from now there may still be public exhibition events that we will chose to call movies, but there will be no more "films" -- not outside museums, anyway, where antique persistence of vision devices, carefully preserved and maintained by university-trained specialists, will still be used to throw beams of light through perforated strips of celluloid, emitting a shadow-spectacle for dwindling crowds of cultural antiquarians.
This, at least, is what some people within the community of souls dedicated to keeping those films viable for a few more years, the archivists and preservationists, are saying.
Action cinema’s wirework puppet master
LA Weekly, December 15-21, 2000.
“Imagine you’re an actor putting on a corset,” says James Schamus, co-writer and executive producer of Ang Lee’s martial-arts fantasy "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." It’s “a heavy canvas corset with a bunch of metal cables attached to it, and you’re getting strung 75 feet up in the air while hanging from a crane. The crane is just an arm supporting wires on pulleys that are being manipulated by five guys wearing construction gloves. They have to maneuver in sync, both with the other cranes and with a team that is pulling another set of wires, attached to another actor who is whipping through the air only a few feet away. One slip-up, just two or three steps in the wrong direction, and someone could get really badly hurt.”
Film Comment, September, 1996.
"Then she got into the lift, for the good reason that the door stood open; and was shot smoothly upwards. The very fabric of life now, she thought as she rose, is magic. In the eighteenth century we knew how everything was done; but here I rise through he air; I listen to voices in America; I see men fly---but how it's done, I can't even begin to wonder. So my belief in magic returns." ---Virginia Wolf, "Orlando."
Arthur C. Clarke was the another wise person who noticed that technology, sufficiently advanced, would be indistinguishable from magic. The master Japanese manga creator Shirow Masamune shares this view: "Science," declares a character in Shirow's early cyberpunk graphic novel "Appleseed," "is the new black magic."
In "Ghost in the Shell," the animated film version of a later Shirow work, a gifted director, Oshii Mamoru, invests the author's futurism with a quality of the uncanny, as if our awe before technological advancement has gone full circle and become, instead, indistinguishable from superstition.