Haven’t posted here in a long long time. Anything else will be going up at: www.wooster301.com
Engaged. I am.
Looks like some of the Harperites get to see each other again. Wonder who will get the garter belt this time?
For photos of happy couple: http://gallery.me.com/willija
Anyone read anything interesting lately?
For a while I’ve just not managed to read much other than magazines, news bits, and random stuff on-line. Until a coworker lent me their copy of “Rant,” the latest novel from Chuck Palahniuk. As one of my favorite authors, I was pretty stoked.
I’ve enjoyed everything he’s written, though the recent string of semi-horror novels have been a bit off by comparison to his more scathing sub-culture explorations. The highlight of those horror novels had to be “Haunted” if for nothing else than the many short stories that it highlighted that were often not macabre for the sake of being macabre. Many of them were vintage Palahniuk. Great dark humor commenting on our post-modern world.
And that’s the the territory that “Rant” returned to. I think it’s his most engrossing and interesting novels that he’s written. He’s back on point using an interesting structure to tell a complex story and I think it’s a lot more successful than some of his other efforts, namely “Diary,” which never really read like a diary. “Rant’s” use of the oral biographic format feels much more authentic for lack of a better word to describe it. It also worked very well in revealing information at the right time. It made sense that the characters would just assume you were in the world they were in, and it felt very believable… and then as you got further and more details were revealed, you realize just how different things are… I didn’t really read up a lot on the novel before I started it, I just trusted that I’d enjoy a new Palahniuk novel. But it’s totally sci-fi, and in a great, interesting way that tears apart sci-fi conventions and brings something new to the table#8212;one of those traits of Palahniuk’s that I love.
Even more exciting is the idea that he’s spinning this story into a possible trilogy. In the early stages of the novel I was wondering how he could manage to mine enough material out of the premise to write two more novels, but I think it was the construction of the novel and it’s slowness in revealing information. By the end, the novel had brought in so many ideas and themes, I wonder if a trilogy will be enough room to expand on it all.
And now I’ve moved on to the latest William Gibson novel, “Spook Country.” So far so good. Gibson has a great knack for plugging into contemporary culture and it’s fragmentation and integration into technological things. At least in his last two novels that are set in contemporary times as opposed to his previous sci-fi work. I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I get finished with it.
I think it’s funny that the last two novels I’ve read are somehow sci-fi related, or in the case of “Spook Country,” tied to a sci-fi tradition. I think what I key off on these are the themes and relation to human interaction and so on. Traditional sci-fi or fantasy has never really been my thing. The few exceptions have always been character driven explorations of very contemporary themes. Or just straight up dystopian items. Warning shots over the bow of society proclaiming what we’re moving towards and how horrible and awful it will be. The near at hand form of sci-fi that skews cerebral instead of action-oriented. Guess that’s more a trait of most of my reading, and it just happens that the occasional sci-fi I pick up falls into that as well.
Speaking of sc-fi, why shift course now, I watched “Sunshine,” the latest Danny Boyle / Alex Garland collaboration. It was pretty enjoyable. Boyle is the kind of film-maker that takes on genres and avoids as many cliches as possible to make very interesting, accessible films that still give some food for thought, even if they are pretty action packed.
Not to lose sight of how well directed “Sunshine” was. Boyle managed to keep things really stylish without overdoing it. Manages to use music just as effectively as he did in “28 Days Later,” though the Godspeed You Black Emperor song in the empty streets might be one of the best uses of music in film ever. And like good sci-fi, it uses an extreme story, situation that is currently beyond the realm of human capacity to set up deeper moral, ethical, humanity based questions. Good psychological drama. Good stuff. Try to find it if you can, though you’ll have to wait for the DVD release if you aren’t willing to pirate it. I really don’t get why they didn’t try to push the theatrical release more. It never even made it to a theater in the Birmingham area. And it’s not like they haven’t given complete bullshit sci-fi and horror movies big releases, which this could have at least competed on the same level as those. Oh well. Another issue altogether.
For something that is still in theaters, go see Eastern Promises. Latest Cronenberg film… Viggo Mortensen is impressive in it. He is quickly becoming one of the most interesting “celebrities,” both for the choices he makes in the roles he takes, being such a damn fine actor, and then his non-acting pursuits. All around fascinating guy.
Back to the film though… somewhat classic Cronenberg. Playing with the themes of people with dual natures… the struggle of one versus the other. Dark, brooding stuff portrayed in an at times brutal manner. Weight of choices and consequences always in the forefront. I’m not really a mafia film buff, but this isn’t really a mafia film, so much an exploration of the aforementioned themes. And truthfully, I can’t recall meeting any more menacing characters in a film in a long time. Even in the calmest scenes where characters were being polite and nice, there was just this undercurrent of threat and menace… and by the end of the film, there is a little bit of exhaustion from constantly expecting a horrific explosion of harm.
And I’m tired of writing now. Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival is this weekend. Anyone interested in coming to Birmingham and watching a bunch of movies, let me know. It’ll be good times.
I just got home from a damn good show… The National. Probably been on the top of my playlist lately. I don’t want to say flavor of the month and I don’t want to say one of my favorite bands… but lately, yeah, I’ve been listening to them a lot. And it was a damn good show. I encourage all of you to give them a listen. Their latest album, “Boxer” will probably be making a lot of year end critics lists, and deservedly so.
On top of it, I rode my bike to the show. For the first time in a while, it’s really starting to feel nice in the evenings which means it feels that much better on a bike. For a while I was riding to work…. and then the heat wave of August hit. Hope to pick that habit back up again now that temperatures are back to normal.
Work has been rather hectic… in fact, as one curator stated in a meeting this afternoon, we are entering Pompanic in preparation of the Pompeii exhibition that opens in, oh, a month. As huge as this show is going to be, it’s hard to believe that it’s seriously just a month away. It was announced and in planning long before I started almost a year and half ago and has been on the burner ever since…. if any of you like antiquities, Roman art, archaeology, etc… it’ll be your kind of thing.
That, dating someone, and just generally trying to get out more has been responsible for my appearing to slip off the map. I’ve also been trying to interact with people more on a one on one basis lately. Email is actually kind of fun.
Anyways. I’m single again now, so maybe I won’t be so distant to so many of you…
Most people griping about non-posting would go ignored… but not Howie. Plus, there have been a number of times I’ve almost posted, but then just got tired or bored or something and didn’t get around to it….
So, it’s been kind of busy lately, and a lot has been going on… so a quick rundown. If you want more details, just ask, but I’m getting tired and fading fast.
Work has been a bit hectic. Lots of projects seeming to land at the same time. But nothing so bad as to make me want to look for anything else. I think I’ve actually done some really good work lately.
There have been gallery openings. Concerts. Drinking, of the social variety. Particularly the Brewfest, with something on the order of 42 samples consumed. Some movies here and there. Lots of new music.
I’ve been hanging out with the neighbors a lot lately as well. A few weeks ago something like 30 of us all met up and went to dinner at the Mexican restaurant that opened downtown not too long ago. It reminded me a lot of Harper evenings and dinners. Now it’s the Downtowners Social Club. They have a get together about once a month. Then, separate from that, a neighbor in my building had a happy hour Friday after work. About 20 people or so showed up… a lot of overlap of other events. Just hung out, having a few drinks chatting, etc. Tonight I went to a picnic in the park organized by a lady who is just great. She’s 76, lives downtown in a loft, and gets out and has a great time with all of the people half her age. It was her picnic to celebrate the creation of a downtown kickball league, which will begin meeting the 4th Sunday of every month. It’s great…. I live downtown, in a cool loft, have barely any commute to work, and have a real community. I interact with my neighbors and do more socially with them than anyone I know who lives in the suburbs. And it’s a wide range of people. A few as young as me, and a wide range beyond that. The only commonality is that we all choose to live downtown and are generally really open minded and wanting to hang out with other people. Really reminds me a lot of the dorm days, just grown up and spread out through a bunch of buildings downtown.
And probably the most exciting thing going on lately has been in the realm of dating. I met Camille a couple of months ago, very briefly, and then again at the aforementioned outing to the Mexican restaurant. We hit it off really well, apparently spending most of the evening at the bar (which we went to after dinner, again, as a large-ish group) in a bit of a conversation bubble with her. Since then we’ve gone out a few times, and things are going really well…. all sort of came out of the blue, which was nice. I’ve been pretty well preoccupied with all of this as of late. I’ve been in the goofy school boy head over heels mode lately, and, well, it’s great. Think that’s as much as I’m going to get into without someone prying for more details, which, if arms are twisted enough, you might get….
Lastly, I’ve finally got the press cranking again, for the first time since Christmas. Such a sad, sad thing I haven’t been printing. I finished carving a block today and got some test prints finished… it will be part of a larger series of prints I want to do all based around a theme… really looking forward to it, especially now that I’ve got it started….
img src=”http://homepage.mac.com/willija/.Pictures/sloss_face_01.jpg” alt=”latest print”
Thoughts on random stuff…
The Swedes and Norwegians are churning out some great folk / singer-songwriter / pop music right now. Ties in right nicely with my recent dive back into the genres.
After catching up on some films I should have seen long ago, I have to agree with everyone who talks about the second golden age of Hollywood in the late 60s and the 70s were right. Hollywood isn’t making films with the ideas they were back then. Sure, you can still find Indie films that have subversive ideas, bravura film-making, etc… but back in the day, it was going out from the big studios and hitting multiplexes.
And on the becoming a grown up front….
I signed on my loft Friday. It was a bit of a surreal morning to say the least. The process itself, eh, nothing all that exciting… But, there was a clerical issue with some of the paperwork that the lawyer had to work out with the mortgage company. This left me in the room with the realtor for thirty minutes or so to make small talk.
It started off small enough. Chatting about living downtown versus the suburbs. How he was worried he wouldn’t be able to rent the property I’m in because of the stairs, etc. Typical realtor/potential home buyer conversation. Talk of kids. Not so odd for small talk. Apparently one of his sons has been talking to a curator at the museum regarding some old Ethiopian Bibles. His son is a Marine stationed in Djibouti. Still, conversation isn’t so odd for small talk… but, it moves on to his other son. And when he was in Iraq driving trucks in convoys. They were told they couldn’t stop for anything. Doing so would make them a sitting target and this was bad. During a convoy, a nine-year-old boy stepped in front of his truck and raised his hand trying to get the truck to stop. My realtor’s son of course, could not stop, and the last thing he saw were the kids eyes go wide and then disappear under the hood of the truck.
Didn’t really know what to say to that. Not really a lot to respond to that with. Hell of a buzz kill for damn sure. Shortly thereafter the pen I was fidgeting with busted, I got blue ink all over my hands, and excused myself to try to clean them up. Fortunately, when I came back, still looking as though I’d strangled a smurf, the lawyer was there with a stack of papers needing my signature.
Anyways. I’m not officially a homeowner. I can now do whatever I want to my place… and my scheming has been going on for most of the last year. Kind of excited about what I can do with my space.
There have been a number of things I wanted to talk about. Yeah. Too worn out to think of it right now. Oh well. Maybe I’ll start writing shorter entries more often…
Yesterday was my first dental visit in almost five years. Amazing how time flies, eh. My teeth were in remarkable health. Couldn’t be better. No cavities, nothing. However, in scrubbing my teeth so clean, I apparently brush way too hard, and have caused a bit of gum recession. Oops. So I have to learn how to brush softer, or get an electric toothbrush. In the two times I’ve brushed since the visit, I’ve been trying to brush softer in a more circular manner… Do you realize how difficult it is to consciously change a habit like brushing? One that you do twice a day, every day of your life. It’s excruciatingly difficult.
In other news, I signed the contract on my loft when I got back. Provided the owners sign off (no reason they shouldn’t), and the mortgage stuff goes through (all pre-approved anyways), it looks like I will be a homeowner by the end of April.
What is it about gay bars that make me dance dance dance like there’s ass in my pants?
After a decent psychedelic rock show at Bottletree I met up with some friends at the Quest. I don’t quite get it, but for whatever reason, the lack of pressure at the Quest allows me to loosen up and let it hang out… to the point that a gay friend asked me upon departure if I gave dance lessons in my spare time.. Me. Dance lessons… you have seen ho w clumsy I am… my complete lack of rhythm… or maybe it’s all some farce I pull over on myself… maybe I’ve had rhythm all this time and it just took a few tasty libations to pull it out.
This makes perfect sense. I’m extremely reserved typically. Put enough alcohol in me and I’m the center of the party, bouncing off the walls and acting all manner of ape-shit-goofy. Maybe dancing is laying just below the surface and I need to let go of that control freak side of myself to let it out.
Who knows… either way, I had one hell of a time tonight. Good stuff all around. Other than the mild freak out at the show that I had when someone I wasn’t expecting to be there showed up… but that’s another story entirely.
And with that, I realize I should go to bed, as it’s almost five in the morning.
If you can find it, try some Coca-Cola imported from Mexico. Still in glass bottles and still made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Much better. Crisper, without out that syrupy film at the end of the sip. You can probably find it at your nearest ethnic grocery store (not necessarily Hispanic either #8212; I found one yesterday at one run by Kenyans).
I’ve done practically nothing this weekend. Managed to catch a couple more films. Seems to be about the only thing I manage to accomplish on weekends lately. If you’re curious, you might want to check out these that I’ve seen over the last couple weeks:
300 (a visual feast and spectacle)
the Conversation (classic Frances Ford Coppola#8212;more great mood and genuine suspense)
Stranger Than Fiction (Will Ferrel not being annoying, and a nice take on romantic comedies)
Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, but were afraid to ask (the final scene#8212;”What Happens During Ejaculation”#8212;genius)
Sleeper (more Woody Allen#8212;it looks like I’m getting addicted)
Down By Law (not sure what I think about it as a whole, Tom Waits was really good, the atmosphere of New Orleans created in the first 1/3rd was impressive, but in general just a little too slow and underwhelming… i might just not be a big Jarmusch fan, I’ve heard he’s an acquired taste anyhow).
I can’t think of any more words of wisdom for tonight, and it’s too late to actually try to go into any of the aforementioned films in any detail. I meant to a while back, just never got around to it… oh well. Maybe I’ll decide to ramble on about some of them in a future installment.