Friday, February 17, 2012

Poetry 179: After Twelve Days of Rain

After Twelve Days of Rain
By Dorianne Laux

“I couldn’t name it, the sweet
sadness welling up in me for weeks.
So I cleaned, found myself standing
in a room with a rag in my hand,
the birds calling time-to-go, time-to-go.
And like an old woman near the end
of her life I could hear it, the voice
of a man I never loved who pressed
my breasts to his lips and whispered
“My little doves, my white, white lilies.”
I could almost cry when I remember it.
I don’t remember when I began
to call everyone “sweetie,”
as if they were my daughters,
my darlings, my little birds.
I have always loved too much,
or not enough. Last night
I read a poem about God and almost
believed it—God sipping coffee,
smoking cherry tobacco. I’ve arrived
at a time in my life when I could believe
almost anything.
Today, pumping gas into my old car, I stood
hatless in the rain and the whole world
went silent—cars on the wet street
sliding past without sound, the attendant’s
mouth opening and closing on air
as he walked from pump to pump, his footsteps
erased in the rain—nothing
but the tiny numbers in their square windows
rolling by my shoulder, the unstoppable seconds
gliding by as I stood at the Chevron,
balanced evenly on my two feet, a gas nozzle
gripped in my hand, my hair gathering rain.
And I saw it didn’t matter
who had loved me or who I loved. I was alone.
The black oily asphalt, the slick beauty
of the Iranian attendant, the thickening
clouds—nothing was mine. And I understood
finally, after a semester of philosophy,
a thousand books of poetry, after death
and childbirth and the startled cries of men
who called out my name as they entered me,
I finally believed I was alone, felt it
in my actual, visceral heart, heard it echo
like a thin bell. And the sounds
came back, the slish of tires
and footsteps, all the delicate cargo
they carried saying thank you
and yes. So I paid and climbed into my car
as if nothing had happened—
as if everything mattered—What else could I do?
I drove to the grocery store
and bought wheat bread and milk,
a candy bar wrapped in gold foil,
smiled at the teenaged cashier
with the pimpled face and the plastic
name plate pinned above her small breast,
and knew her secret, her sweet fear,
Little bird. Little darling. She handed me
my change, my brown bag, a torn receipt,
pushed the cash drawer in with her hip
and smiled back.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Movies 176: It's almost Valentine's Day

Some may want to get to the romantic heart of the matter with THE VOW. True, it has some beautiful people involved, Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum. But not to worry, this story is neither THE NOTEBOOK nor DEAR JOHN. Its based on a true-life experience tale. The story is told mostly from the husband's point of view, Leo. Its as if Leo has vanished from Paige's mind after the car accident. She can only remember friends from high school and thinks she's engaged to someone when she was back in law school.

WOMAN IN BLACK is quite romantic. Especially, if you are in to Victorian Times. Daniel Radcliffe shines in this latest version. Those Harry Potter days are over. The movie has plenty of suspense with this old ghost tale. Even creepy old toys! This is truly a movie for a friends night out. It really gives you a historical perspective of the times.

Now for those Anti-Valentines, there is CHRONICLE to watch. It has a very indie feel to it. Yet a remarkable premise that would be every high school boy's dream. What if you had super-powers? What if you'd been bullied all your life and you have super-powers? Dane DeHaan honestly steals the movie as Andrew. This is a movie that will keep you talking afterwards.

Of course, you could always stay in and have a date with Glee.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Poetry 178: The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina

The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina
by Miller Williams
Somewhere in everyone's head something points toward home,
 a dashboard's floating compass, turning all the time
 to keep from turning. It doesn't matter how we come
 to be wherever we are, someplace where nothing goes
 the way it went once, where nothing holds fast
 to where it belongs, or what you've risen or fallen to.

 What the bubble always points to,
 whether we notice it or not, is home.
 It may be true that if you move fast
 everything fades away, that given time
 and noise enough, every memory goes
 into the blackness, and if new ones come-

 small, mole-like memories that come
 to live in the furry dark-they, too,
 curl up and die. But Carol goes
 to high school now. John works at home
 what days he can to spend some time
 with Sue and the kids. He drives too fast.

 Ellen won't eat her breakfast.
 Your sister was going to come
 but didn't have the time.
 Some mornings at one or two
 or three I want you home
 a lot, but then it goes.

 It all goes.
 Hold on fast
 to thoughts of home
 when they come.
 They're going to
 less with time.


 Forgive me that. One time it wasn't fast.
 A myth goes that when the years come
 then you will, too. Me, I'll still be home.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Poetry 176: Aubade by Philip Larkin

by Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pipes, Lung Cancer, and Obituaries

Magritte's work frequently displays a collection of ordinary objects in an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. The use of objects as other than what they seem is typified in his painting, The Treachery of Images (La trahison des images), which shows a pipe that looks as though it is a model for a tobacco store advertisement. Magritte painted below the pipe "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe"), which seems a contradiction, but is actually true: the painting is not a pipe, it is an image of a pipe. It does not "satisfy emotionally"—when Magritte once was asked about this image, he replied that of course it was not a pipe, just try to fill it with tobacco.

Magritte used the same approach in a painting of an apple: he painted the fruit and then used an internal caption or framing device to deny that the item was an apple. In these "Ceci n'est pas" works, Magritte points out that no matter how closely, we come to depicting an item accurately, we never do catch the item itself.

I just finished TFioS recently, and I thought this was one of the most under-appreciated metaphors in the novel...
(Just a hint to Natalie, who appears to be writing the review of the book)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Poetry 175: How To Fall In Love by Susan Elbe

Post Raya : The Black Coffee

How To Fall In Love 
by Susan Elbe

Start by leaving home. It’s not where the heart is,
but where the hard edge is. When ice begins
to ebb from shoreline,
freeing mangy marsh grass,
And as you pick up speed, let your life arc out
away from you.
Realize that you don’t know where you’re going
and that the weather changes often.
Steer between the stars
like songbirds coming back at night.
Listen to the whirring
of a thousand, thousand miles of dark.
Remember you are ancient,
that once you walked out of the sea
and in the trees became another thing.
Know you can again.
Become three kinds of lonely.
Light a torch.
Leave a trail of handprints on the walls.
Or start by staying put.
Be a whisper looking for a mouth: luna, luna, luna.
Sit underneath the porch light.
Eat walnuts and persimmons.
Spread your red-edged wings.
‘Calling time’ begins near midnight.
Be hungry. Want.
Women are locks. Men open them for doors.

Monday, January 23, 2012

TV 175: Royal Pains

As quite the departure from Saturday Night Live, Royal Pains is a USA original series centering on two brothers who run a concierge medical practice in the Hamptons. Don't be fooled by its labeling as a drama, though. The show does a remarkably good job of blending humor with intense scenes of heart-stopping action (literally, the patient's heart has stopped.) Imagine the earlier seasons of House, M.D. but without the sarcastic, grumpy man with a cane.

The pretty scenery aside, this show is all about the unorthodox methods Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) employs while taking house visits to various wealthy clients, young and old. His loyal, competent assistant Divya Katdare (Reshma Shetty) accompanies to most jobs, often providing an alternative diagnosis. She can be often one-note, except now in the third season a subplot focusing on her life has emerged.

The person who probably makes the show, though, is Hank's brother, Evan R. Lawson (Paulo Costanzo). He convinced Hank to start such a business in the first place, leaping in as the CFO. As you can imagine, this relationship between the two drives the show. Evan is incredibly endearing, mostly providing the -- sometimes much-needed --comic relief.

There are a few other regular characters whose lives are explored, yet any further explanation of each would make this incredibly long-winded.

I'm not sure what this show doesn't have. I mean, they've had Henry Winkler play the recurring role as Eddie R. Lawson, the brothers' deviant, dodgy father.

You can catch it on channel USA Thursdays at 10/11 est.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Visual 3: Kandinski - The Abstract Architect

Wassily Kandinski is credited as the painter who created the first purely-abstract works.
He began painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30.
In 1896 Kandinsky settled in Munich, studying first at Anton A┼żbe's private school and then at the Academy of Fine Arts. He returned to Moscow in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I. Kandinsky was unsympathetic to the official theories on art in Moscow, and returned to Germany in 1921. There, he taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933. He then moved to France where he lived the rest of his life, becoming a French citizen in 1939. He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1944.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Poetry 174: As One Listens to the Rain by Octavio Paz

As One Listens to the Rain 
by Octavio Paz

Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it’s raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me,
you are you and your body of steam,
you and your face of night,
you and your hair, unhurried lightning,
you cross the street and enter my forehead,
footsteps of water across my eyes,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the asphalt’s shining, you cross the street,
it is the mist, wandering in the night,
it is the night, asleep in your bed,
it is the surge of waves in your breath,
your fingers of water dampen my forehead,
your fingers of flame burn my eyes,
your fingers of air open eyelids of time,
a spring of visions and resurrections,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift-go in,
your shadow covers this page.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Visual 2: Edgar Degas - Eyes and The Demimonde

Perhaps more than any other artist associated with impressionism, Degas was a great chronicler of contemporary city life. What Degas wanted was artificial life, not natural life, which prompted him to step away from traditional subjects and nature. His works instead focused on a particular section of Parisian society known as the "Demimonde," or "Halfway World."

In the second half of the 19th century, Paris was the center of opulent and decadent society, from cafe life, the ballet, and even the circus. Degas was attracted to the circus and, in particular, to a Miss La La:

Miss La La stunned the members of the Demimonde when she joined Cirque Fernando and amazed Paris with her ability to hold a cannon on a chain from her teeth while hanging from a trapeze, earning her the name "La Femme Canon." (Doesn't actually have much to do with Degas, I just thought it was cool)

One of the biggest things you can notice if you look over some of Degas' Series (such as his long stretch of paintings titled "After the Bath"), is that Degas seemed to loose a large amount of detail as his oeuvre (French for "I want to sound fancy") progressed --

One of my favorite theories behind Degas' loss of detail (and, it's theorized, the loss of many impressionists' detail) was nearsightedness, and in Degas' case, cataracts. The timeline for the release of several of his works, as well as the progression from paintings similar to those above into those similar to those below, strongly suggests that Degas suffered from cataracts.

It's cool to think about what the world looked like through the eyes of such genius painters. Did Picasso really see the way he painted? Was everything lines and circles to Kandinsky? Was everything boxes and primary colors for Mondrian? Well, those are ridiculous examples, but it's interesting to think that even as Degas lost his eyesight he continued to paint the world around him...

Oh hey, speaking of Kandinsky...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Style 1: Resolutions


For Christmas this year, I recieved a couple of books about style:  Amanda Brooks' I ♥ Your Style and Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant's The Fashion File.  I've enjoyed reading them both so far, because I love learning about harnessing personal style.

However, I've found that these kinds of books (and I have a number of them) tend to repeat themselves.  In one way or another, so-called "individual" style is clumped into genres such as "Classic" or "Bohemian."  Although I do agree that from first glance it is easy to make surface assumptions about a person's style, I believe there is much more to read into about their personality and history.  (Perhaps this is just me trying to think like a costume designer though!)  Take the photo above--elements of classic and bohemian are present in this all-around retro look.

To me, style is something either meticiously formulated (which I don't do myself, but it works for many people) or innately apparent in every look you choose whether you're dressing up or down.

For the new year, I challenge you to harness your unique style.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Look into your closet and see what you have.  If you don't like what you see, do something about it!
  2. Start thinking consciously about what kind of style you want to emulate while you are shopping for new pieces.   I have lost count of the times where I've tried something on that I know looks great, but just isn't "Kaylie" enough to feel 100% right.  Let it go.  Believe me, it will save you money and regret.
  3. When shopping, look for unique pieces.  Thrifting is always the best option if you want to accomplish this.  For instance, last time I went I found a handmade suede skirt with embroidered horses on it.  I mean, COME ON.  It will also make you feel cooler just owning something like that.
  4. If you haven't worn something in the past year, good chance you will never wear it again.  Get rid of it to give you space for new pieces that you will actually wear! 
  5. Don't be afraid to take risks.  We're young.  We will get a laugh out of most of our wardrobe choices in twenty years anyway.
  6. Experiment with color blocking and prints.  Have fun and make people smile when they see you.  Unless your style is goth... Then by all means, paint it black!
  7. Most importantly:  Don't ever take yourself too seriously when it comes to style.  The best style has a good sense of humor.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Music 173: Lana Del Rey

Just listen to her voice.

1.) "Born to Die"

2.) "Video Games"

Fellow Americans can buy her EP today!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Visual 1: Monet's Japanese Footbridge

The only books I've on hand are about impressionism, so let's start there.
To begin, Monet's Japanese Footbridge:

I think one of my favorite parts about analyzing Monet is that he spent such a large amount of his life painting at his home in Giverny, France. We actually get to see him revisit many of his favorite subjects several times over, especially in his paintings of poplars, lilies, haystacks, and the Japanese Footbridge. This footbridge actually stood on his property (though until recently it had fallen to termites), and Monet painted several series of the bridge during his stay at Giverny.
One thing about I've always loved about impressionists is the way they can paint things so differently each time. The two paintings above were painted in 1899, while the bottom two were created over twenty years later, in 1923. I wish I knew Monet a bit better, but I would assume he made a return to Giverny those many years after.
There are some theories as to why Monet's work became more vague so many years later, and I'll go into the main theory when I get to Degas and his dancers. I like to think that he just got better at capturing the essence of his subject - details didn't matter as much as the feeling of the scene.
That's actually one of the points I always make for Impressionism. It's not about detail, it's about motion, essence, and feeling.

Next Week: Degas' Eyes and Dancers

Friday, January 6, 2012

Poetry 172: Fragments for the End of the Year

Fragments for the End of the Year 
by Jennifer K. Sweeney

On average, odd years have been the best for me.
I’m at a point where everyone I meet looks like a version
of someone I already know.
Without fail, fall makes me nostalgic for things I’ve never experienced.
The sky is molting. I don’t know
if this is global warming or if the atmosphere is reconfiguring
itself to accommodate all the new bright suffering.
I am struck by an overwhelming need to go to Iceland.
Despite all awful variables, we are still full of ideas
as possible as unsexed fruit.
I was terribly sorry to be the one to explain to the first graders
the connection between the sunset and pollution.
On Venus you and I are not even a year old.
Then there were two skies.
The one we fly through and the one
we bury ourselves in.
I appreciate my wide beveled spatula which fulfills
the moment I realized I would grow up and own such things.
I am glad I do not yet want sexy bathroom accessories.
Such things.
In the story we were together every time.
On his wedding day, the stone in his chest
not fully melted but enough.
Sometimes I feel like there are birds flying out of me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

TV 172: Saturday Night Live

As the new year begins, billions of people will be making changes to their lives. Changes like a new workout routine or drinking more water. The list goes on.

I urge you, however, yes YOU reading this, to put aside your list of new year's resolutions for a minute and think about what will remain the same. This exercise is not meant to bum you out, just make you think realistically: what's going to keep happening? Where's the continuity? But then you might stop to ask yourself: how will I know if you're actually doing this? Great question. Ever read George Orwell's 1984?

Okay, I know this post has a point. Oh yes, let me reference the title. Television. Okay, cool. Saturday Night Live. Wait, what? Stay with me here.

Once every blue moon when I reflect abut TV's past, it strikes me how many shows have been on the air for stretches of many, many years. Take Cheers for instance. A sitcom about an ex-Red Sox pitcher turned bartender Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and his regular friends that came to the bar lasted eleven years. There are several reasons for this show's longevity, obviously popular success the main factor. Which makes me wonder, though. How can a single show stay in the hearts of its viewers for so long?

The answer is Saturday Night Live. By brilliantly concocting a consistent format of comedy sketches with a renewable cast, they ensured it coul withstand the test of time.

With that in mind, it is hard to describe precisely what it is. It is a medley of comedians and writers addressing current issues satirically. It is always hosted by a celebrity with a featured musical guest. Most of all, it is a way to be guaranteed a laugh or a least a chuckle. So what isn't it?

Some will argue that it shouldn't be as long-running as it's been. That this show has already reached its prime, back when it featured the talents of Will Farrell and Chevy Chase. That's fine, everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I think they are losing sight of what a monumental accomplishment this show has achieved. Ratings have never been low enough to take it away from viewers and that's gotta mean something.

What it boils down to, I suppose, is how in this new year, a show from the 1970s can still have the audience it does. Of course, with the world ending this year, I suggest we enjoy it while we can. Perhaps put it on your list of New Year's Resolutions.

Probably my all-time favorite sketch:

Have you ever seen SNL?
What are some of your New Year's Resolutions?

Any improvements you think mix tape should adopt for the new year?
Interested in being a contributor?