Archive for the ‘Books and Movies’ Category

This Week I Have Been Mostly Reading …   Leave a comment

 

I don’t have many people at work I consider friends and one of them left the labs for good, yesterday, frustrated by the nonsense in the University, the Department, the lab and his research group.  He lasted nearly 2 years before The Great Funk (not the good kind, either) set in.  The brightest burn out the quickest (while a dim bulb like meself carries on toward the 10 year mark).  We didn’t have many conversations but every one of them was engrossing, intense, and completely free range (not free ranging, but free range, like chickens pecking at the soil).  During one of these, an offhand comment about acid during a longer discussion of one of my frequent head injuries (the one where I was struck by a falling tree whilst running in a snowstorm near Athens, Georgia) stuck with him; not a tripper himself but open to it, he applied his freakish eidetic memory to a choice of parting gifts and presented me with Michael Pollan’s How To Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics.  I am touched by this unusually thoughtful gift and I hope he knows how much I will cherish it (not least because I was going to buy it for myself when it comes out in a trades/paper edition).

I have also been reading my twit feed fairly regularly and recently added Existential Comics to list of followed accounts.  This is a recent one, typical of the genre:

 

 

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Second Best Date Ever   2 comments

The blog title for this entry alludes to what still is, far and away, the ideal date mentioned a few years ago.  Still, get yourself one of these and fit a strobe light in your bedroom.

Expect more of my “woke” credentials as the blog progresses.

Karnac   Leave a comment

At the start of the Z for Zoo Run, I spotted the Karnac Bookstore which specialises in psychoanalysis related publications.

My predicted answer is:

“How may I help you?”
“No, there isn’t a ‘Karnac The Magnificent’ here.”
“I would like you to leave, now.”

The question?

“What are the first three things that would be said to me if I went into the Karnac Bookstore?”

For those that don’t know who Johnny Carson was, here’s a YouTube clip:

 

Posted September 2, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Books and Movies, Made Me Laugh

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Bob Dylan Nobel Prize in Literature Pub Crawl, preview   7 comments

bob-and-beer

I have started — but, never finished — The Magic Mountain annually for over 30 years. I did lighting once for a student production of Strange Interlude but whenever I hear the title I think of Groucho Marx. But, as Nobel Prize Winners in Literature go, Bob Dylan holds a place in my heart that the others can never approach. I have attended literally dozens of his shows, some of them actually good and two or three of them among the best experiences of my life.

So there I was, no shit, when an email arrives from Jackie with the subject, “this is not a joke.” Inside, it had two lines which read

“Bob just won the Lit Nobel,” and
“Sooo boring at work today.”

Assuming she’d been reading some parody website, I replied,

Ain’t it just like the web
To play tricks
When the library’s
So quiet.”

She shot back,

No, no, no,
It ain’t fake, babe.”

I checked it out and the ridiculous and sublime Bob-head had actually been elevated to Nobel Laureate. I came into work an hour and a half early and had toiled through lunch so I didn’t think twice (it’s alright) to leave a half hour early to find a bar with either an appropriate soundtrack or some other Dylanesque trait.

My train arrived in Hammersmith at sunset. It was time for my boot heels to be wandering. The first stop would be the Queen’s Head (approximately).  The quest continued at the Jameson and the Bird in Hand before a most remarkable success at the Havelock Tavern.

****************

Sort of related, I seem to reference Bob in these pages more than any other writer or musician:

A photo that looks like the cover of “Bringin’ It All Back Home”


Quoting “On the Road Again” in re: a trip to the States
Quoting “Outlaw Blues” for a Toronto Mayor’s obituary
Quoting “Like A Rolling Stone” in my Citizenship announcement
A tourist trip past the site where the film version of Subterranean Homesick Blues was shot

Subterranean Homesick Blues 2
A plethora of Dylan lyrics for a house move post
A weird one about the move from Cambridge Uni to the U of Oxford
Nudity, beer, and a tiger refuge in Tennessee


Mis-heard lyrics from “On the Road Again”

And, “Bringin’ it All Back Home,” again, on a birthday run write-up

Posted October 14, 2016 by Drunken Bunny in art, Books and Movies, Drugs, music

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Jimi at the Atlanta Pop Fest, Byron, GA, July 1970   Leave a comment

Edie likes Jimi

I was eight years old and my family had just moved to a former fishing camp my dad bought about 6 miles outside Griffin Georgia (which is to say 10 miles from the middle of nowhere and quite the asshole of the Universe).  My sister was ferrile, but as my folks were going back to Atlanta to clear out an apartment (we had moved from Hawaii in the spring) they entrusted her with my care for the day.  She then stole their other car and loaded me up to go camping with some of her friends.

300,000 of her friends, as it turned out.  We went to the misnamed Atlanta International Pop Festival at the Byron Raceway another 60 miles south from our new house.

 

atlanta intl pop

 

She also loaded up some records hoping to get some autographed.  One, in particular, was Are You Experienced which she left on some grass outside our tent.  Dew covered, some microdots melted on it resulting in the stains.  She considered the album ruined and gave it to me; I still love the record and have laughed my ass off watching every friend to whom I have related this history over the last 45 years lick the cover.

 

This record has been experienced

Sadly, that’s what I remember of the show — I was only eight years old and overwhelmed by the crowd and excited to be camping in south Georgia nearly where I was born but also exotic to me as I hadn’t been ‘home’ since I was in swaddling clothes.  I knew it was noisy and there were a bunch of stinky hippies everywhere, but nothing about the musical line up registered at all nor would it have made any difference to me had it done.

So, this past weekend I put on what I thought was a straightforward Hendrix documentary called Electric Church (my cat loves Jimi) only to find that it was a concert film of his performance in Byron.  Jackie thought she’d be able to follow it by sound so I started while she mixed drinks in the other room.  The film opened with white text on a black screen describing the date and location and I stopped breathing.  Shit: I’ve been to a Hendrix concert.  Most of the other acts I would want to see (the Allman’s, BB King, Johnny Winter, Richie Havens) I eventually did, years later; others, I let slip by (including Grand Funk Railroad, Mott the Hoople, Procol Harum, Rare Earth, and Ten Years After).  I even worked with Colonel Bruce Hampton (Hampton Grease Band) in Atlanta briefly in the 80s.

I guess it means nothing, even less to non-fans.  To me — and, I’m sure, to those few of you out there who have left spittle on my Jimi record — it puts another piece in the puzzle.  Or something.

Chicken Llewyn   1 comment

ILD car trip

“You don’t look Welsh.”  “My mother’s Italian…”
–lines from the road trip to Chicago in Inside Llewyn Davis

We continued the Winter Movie Weekend Film Fest with 2014’s Inside Llewyn Davis which had a lot in common with the Coen Brothers’ earlier Barton Fink (not least of which was John Goodman all but taunting the lead character with “I’ll show you a life of the mind!” just not in so many words).

It’s nice when time gets away from you like that and, when we came up for air during the end credits, we both realised we were starving and disinterested in going out for groceries. I scanned the larder and came up with these ingredients (mostly Welsh beneath but on the surface Italian):

Chicken Llewyn

 

1/2 pound of potatoes

an onion

a bulb of garlic

some dark, mature stem spinach

a block each of brie and feta

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

olives

olive oil

nutmeg

cherry tomatoes

I had a recipe in mind from ages ago and started by slicing the onion thin and putting it in a bowl to steep under boiling water while I used a cheese slicer to cut the potatoes wafer thin. To these, I added 4 minced cloves of garlic, a handful of chopped olives, a glug of olive oil, some salt and black pepper, and mixed it all together before stirring in the drained, softened onions at the end. This mix was divided into two piles and baked at 220° C for twenty minutes while the rest was prepped.

The spinach was chopped then barely wilted and squeezed to remove the bitter juices (mature spinach has all the mineral content of the soil from which it is raised and can be less than subtle). This was mixed with a sprinkling of nutmeg and an ounce, each, of gooey, pungent brie and metallic, brittle feta. Split to cover the two chicken breasts, the creation was placed atop the just-starting-to-brown potato mix, topped with some cherry tomatoes, and returned to bake another 25 minutes at 200° C.

It’s surprisingly good and leaves you wishing you had more.

 

 

Posted March 6, 2016 by Drunken Bunny in Books and Movies, Food, Recipes

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Feb (2016) Movies   1 comment

February saw the first really winter-like weather around here and that’s usually good for movie viewing. But, between busy times at work and starting to build up the running mileage there just wasn’t a lot of time to veg in front of the telly. When we did, it was mostly the news, Prime Minister’s Questions, fake news (John Oliver is back and Samantha Bee has a fantastic programme), or documentaries. Here are the documentaries:

dublin bottling

Bottled Up: The Battle Over Dublin Dr Pepper (2014) Fuck corporate Dr Pepper (Snapple).

One of the few joys of life in Tucson was access to Coca Cola made with sugar instead of HFCS (since Mexican bottlers were not beholden to Archer Daniels Midland Corporation).  Once I discovered that the cane sugar variety was more satisfying and tasted less syrupy — and more like the original formulation — I never again drank the corn syrup format (note: in the UK they don’t use corn syrup but despite that I have only had four or five bottles of cola in the last 7+ years).

This documentary is about the original Dr Pepper bottling plant in Dublin, Texas and how they were crushed by the Corporation started there because they stuck to the original — and, widely agreed, better — formulation.  I’m a Pepper (Boycotter), Wouldn’t you like to Boycott Pepper, too?

Palio

Love Italy?  Horseracing? Corruption?  Then find a showing of Palio (2015), a documentary about the world’s oldest horse race which takes place twice each year in Siena.  Lasting about 90 seconds, the race is the sideshow in this battle between the various Contrade (essentially, districts), to which the residents of each hold fierce allegiance.

The year is spent in preparation by collecting money and currying favour amongst officials and the jockeys who are essentially mercenaries that train horses nearby (but come from across the country and beyond).  There is a Byzantine lottery to choose which horse will run for each Contrada after which the jockeys make their preference known for whom they would like to ride.  If chosen, they are squirreled away under guard for the following four days leading up to the Palio so that they can’t seek (or make) bribes; even so, at the starting lineup (also chosen by an elaborate, ornate and ancient randomisation machine) the jockeys make deals amongst themselves or, if they bear a grudge, might start flailing one another with the long whips they carry.

A winning jockey is met with the adoration of his sponsors and carried through the city and into the Duomo while losing jockeys might take the sort of ass kicking usually reserved for those that betray their comrades in battle.  Moreover, the race is run bareback at an incredible pace such that horses might slam into the walls of the Piazza and send their rider to the ground or into the crowd; a riderless horse can win this race, so those that continue on become one more strategic problem for the lead riders.  This was all gripping stuff and recommended viewing for anyone who has spent time in Siena (or plans to).

catch22 orson welles and staff award a medal

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles  (2015) was a surprising (to me) portrait of the great director or some of my favourite films (notably, The Third Man and Chimes at Midnight) largely because he always seemed to be an Establishment figure throughout my youth.  As it turns out, he was even more weird and uncompromising than you might have thought possible, an avant-garde artiste shunned by the business end of the movie business and toiling away at projects he found beautiful and interesting. And, of course, drinking, eating and whoring around too much.

Talking heads throughout include Julie Taymoor, Steven Spielberg, Peter Bogdonovich, Elvis Mitchell, Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, Sydney Pollack, Buck Henry, Paul Mazursky, and Richard Benjamin. Look for the comparison of a long tracking shot in Touch of Evil to a similar one in American Graffiti (both of which we recently have been talking about re-watching, coincidentally). There’s also an adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial starring Anthony Perkins which is on our to view list while the film teases with dozens of others…a trip to the British Film Institute looms.

fat guy with a gun

“The Only Thing That Will Stop A Bad Guy With A Gun Is A Fat Guy With A Gun (and a counterfeit Fender)” — Wayne LaPierre

Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA (2015), an offering from PBS Frontline , is what you might expect, but well done. My country (soon to be my former country) is mentally ill.

Then you ask why I don’t live here
Honey, how come you don’t move?

 

mowgli

 

Kipling’s Indian Adventure (2016) covers young Rudyard’s short but formative stint as a newspaper editor in Lahore (now part of Pakistan) from the age of 16 to 24 years old.  Beautifully shot on location such that you can almost smell the squalor (and danger) he put himself in wandering the inner city streets unescorted (something the heavily armed police shadowing the film maker would not allow in the relatively modern-ish streets, today).  From journeyman journalist to biting social commentator and novelist in 7 years, he was eventually advised to leave.

panthers

When I was a kid, the Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015) were the coolest thing, ever, not least because they scared the shit out of my gun-crazed parents.  Obviously, this wasn’t due to coloured folk carrying weapons (I come from 2nd Amendment fetishist stock), but had more to do with them uniting with other poor and downtrodden folk, feeding kids, and dressing sharp.  Put your fist in the air and repeat after me, “I am…a revolutionary…I am…a revolutionary…I am…a revolutionary.”  Now, be patient…the FBI will be with you shortly.

Non-documentary films:

Buffalo Soldiers (2001), although it purports to be based on actual events, was one of the few fiction films we tried this month.  In fact, as spectacular as it seems that stoned and drunken soldiers might accidentally wreak havoc on a host country in peacetime or that corruption and vice of such scale as portrayed herein might take place in the total-control environment of the US military, your humble reporter is one veteran who felt that most of this material seemed at least plausible (my job during my short service in the Army was then known as 71-Q, Journalist, with the primary responsibility to make stories like the ones portrayed here go away or at least get lost under reams of ‘feel-good’ press releases).

credit-default-swap

The Big Short (2015) should have taken the Oscar.  They were, ironically, robbed.

Horse_Feathers-lobby card

The only non-documentary NOT based on actual events that we saw this month was Horsefeathers (1932) starring the always sublime Marx Brothers.  Two years after the Hays Code was enacted, this was racy and rude and funny as hell (and, to paraphrase Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers, another Marx Bros great, “that’s just the kind of film I crave”).  Briefly, Groucho is the new college president at his son’s (Zeppo’s) school and Chico and Harpo get recruited from a speakeasy (Prohibition was still in place) to play football for the school.  There’s a side bit about the “College Widow,” a contemporary term for “Cougar,” a woman who would teach the boys anatomy.  Now that I think about it, this was kind of a docu-drama, too.

Till next month, here are links to Jan 2016 Part A and Jan 2016 Part 2.