Thursday, February 27, 2014

Strange things listed under "Damned by Dollars"

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I'm not observant enough for journalism.
evan(dot)bryson (at)gmail(dot)com

Herman Melville is not well—do not call him moody, he is ill.

His trouble was ‘kink in the back.’
He endured a ‘horrid week’ of pain in his eyes.
In the next two years he wrote Israel Potter.
Melville may not have put enough food on the table.
The most important thing in his life was the whole book.
One of the attacks of ‘crick in the back.’
He decided to get more money from another publisher for the tortoise story—or at least part of the tortoise material—or at least material also dealing with tortoises.
That fall Malcolm shot himself to death at the age of eighteen.
What was he to do? What was he to do?
Harpers quietly began letting literary people know that they thought Melville was crazy—”a little crazy,” to be exact—not too crazy.
'Herman Melville Crazy,' read one headline.
His daughter Frances blamed him for her sister Bessie’s arthritis, her brother’s suicide, her brother Stanwix’s wasted life and early death, innumerable acts, such as rousing her out of bed at least one night to help him proofread Clarel.
As late as the summer of 1851 he was ostentatiously climbing trees.
The constant working of the brain, & excitement of the imagination, is wearing Herman out.
Then he qualified himself, ‘or rather, chiefly, of Tortoise Hunting Adventure.’
No one had a chance to say, ‘Aren’t these Brits odd? They are saying Ishmael does not survive, but right here in my copy Ishmael is rescued by the Rachel.’
Herman Melville did not have enough money to get married.
All his books were botches.

Adapted from Hershel Parker’s “Damned by Dollars”

Maurice Sendak's Lesson to Hershel Parker in How to Give Criticism

               This is a little story about the perils of being friends with a great artist.

5 March 1992   Good rushed talk with Maurice. Read him plaudits in the capitol poem—[He] asked for a tape, which I will . . . do. Poss of going up 13th depending on my progress [on talk on HM as sex symbol] . . . . Xeroxed Oak Leafs cluster for everyone [in seminar]. Thought later, at home, of putting it (the 12 [poem sequence—“Live Oak, with Moss”]) into NAAL [The Norton Anthology of American Literature]

12 March 1992.  MS called 930 am. Told him my Live Oak wi Moss idea (NAAL)—Promised a tape. He [said he] thought he might illustrate Homer—(his slip for Whitman). So after Pierre, Whitman? Told him about [teaching] Song of Myself as a coming out poem.

23 March 1992  Bad news. Maurice called—blood clot in leg—gg to Danbury or NYC hospital

24 March 1992 Lynn called with MS’s # at Danbury Hospital. [2 chats] Watching the clot—following it. I may go up [next] Tuesday. [Michael at HarperCollins FedExing color Xeroxes of Bumbleardy to Maurice at the hospital.]

25 March 1992 Got Maurice at 6 in his new room—private. Clot still there. Friday critical. Clot should dissolve. 

27 March 1992  Dr screwed MS.  Got him set up to learn someting, took tests & went & played golf. Morose Maurice, with reason.

28 March 1992  Maurice released. Dr claims to have told floor nurse to tell Maurice yesterday

31 March 1992   RIDGEFIELD. Eager to see Bumbleardy but not handed it.

1 April 1992   RIDGEFIELD. One of the worst mornings of my life. At last got [to hold] Bumleardy blown up color Xeroxes pasted up as a book [which Michael had FedEx’d to Maurice last week so he could have it in the hospital]. Read it in Living Room. Dismay—awkward chronology. Move 2 double pages? [Would that solve it?] One with 9 pigs in masks & one wi 9 pigs doing the 9 kinds of dirty tricks, to follow the words “9 kinds of” etc. Puzzled about most economical way of fixing it. 

Walk wi [Maurice and] Runge [in property across the road which MS later bought]. Decided to be honest—broached subject. [After deciding that I would risk losing the friendship.]

MS: “Hersh, you never learned the first rule for giving criticism—first praise lavishly.” [Sendak pissed. Very pissed. Very Morose.]
Well, terrible, awkward. At studio I fumbled as I tried to tell him what was wrong. BO from anxiety. [The horrible smelling BO that comes only from sickness or extreme anxiety.]
Then he took it & cried “GOTT IN HIMMEL!” 

It was pasted up wildly out of order. Honest Hersh.
Call to HAR about Northwestern project. She said [to Maurice], “What do you expect from the King of Aesthetic Anomalies?” [Hayford also called, and was much amused.] Michael’s assistant had screwed up—Michael chagrined—[package had gone to FedEx headquarters in Memphis and stayed there somehow. Maurice had not seen it all those days in the hospital.] But I remained nervous.

3 April 1992  Buffalo, to give my “Melville as [Heterosexual] Sex Symbol” talk.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

David Brooks's Reimagining of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, After Stewing for a Week

Here is a site which gives you the KJV next to Wycliffe:
We finally sat down and put our cards on the table and decided that the story sucks in Luke's version and in David Brooks's version. We see the story from the point of view of the older son, and we are pissed.

Fiscalini bluff trail

We did not take a camera yesterday. This is from the internet. From now on, guests get to take the Fiscalini Bluff Trail. Our cat's name is Scalini so just think of Fi before it and you can spell Fiscalini.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Now, Here's Richard Roeper, Having a Blast with Costner's "3 Days to Kill." This is more like it!

Bottom of Form

They Still Like Movies in Chicago.

‘3 Days to Kill’: Wait, what just happened?
By RICHARD ROEPER Movie Columnist February 20, 2014 2:04PM

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is an absentee father to Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld), trying to make up for lost time by teaching her how to ride a bicycle, in Paris, in “3 Days to Kill.” | Relativity Media
‘3 DAYS TO KILL’ ★★★
Ethan Renner Kevin Costner
Zooey Renner Hailee Steinfeld
Vivi Delay Amber Heard
Christine Renner Connie Nielsen
Relativity Media presents a film directed by McG and written by Luc Besson and Adi Hasak. Running time: 117 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language). Opens Friday at local theaters.
Wow, that was so bad it was pretty great. The term Guilty Pleasure was invented for this kind of movie.
Nearly every other scene in “3 Days to Kill” is so audaciously terrible, you don’t know whether to cringe or chortle.
Time and again in this movie, I saw things I don’t think I’d ever seen before on the big screen. Just a few examples:
A father teaching his 16-year-old daughter to ride a purple bicycle in a Parisian plaza, as the locals look on and offer encouragement and applause.
A multi-generational family of wise and kind squatters that has taken over an empty apartment and seem to have the means to paint the place, redecorate and cook wonderful, candle-lit dinners as they wait for one of their own to give birth. I almost expected three wise men to show up when the child was born.
An assassin telling one of his marks he’s not going to kill him “because you’re the father that knows best.” That’s not a code. The mark is actually the father of twin teenage daughters that dress identically.
A brief phone call in which one spy says to another, “The Albino is staying at the Grand Hotel.” How great is that!
Oh, and there’s also a reprise of one of Kevin Costner’s most iconic film moments from 20 years ago. Let’s just say they should have cued the Whitney Houston music.
What’s that? Story? OK, let’s give it a shot.
Kevin Costner, who has a weighty, old-school, movie star presence whether he’s in a quality film or a piece of schlock, is all grizzled and gruff as Ethan Renner, the obligatory aging CIA hit man who can “clean” a room filled with henchmen half his age without working up a sweat. When Ethan learns he has just a few months to live, he bids adieu to the agency and heads to Paris to reconnect with his estranged wife, Christine (Connie Nielsen), and his 16-year-old daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld), whom he hasn’t seen in about a half-dozen years.
Ah, the old “I was never around” secret agent rescue fantasy plotline!
Sporting a number of S/M outfits more befitting a soft-core dominatrix model than a high-level CIA operative, Amber Heard’s Vivi Delay — you heard me, Vivi Delay — tells Ethan she can give him doses of a magic, experimental medication that could prolong his life. All Ethan has to do is agree to kill a couple of notorious bad guys known as The Wolf and The Albino, and Vivi Delay — you heard me, Vivi Delay — will give Ethan $50,000, a $1 million life insurance policy and regular doses of that experimental medication, which by the way creates terrible side effects that leave Ethan bleeding from the nose, hallucinating and collapsing at all the wrong times.
Given that Vivi has Grand Prix-level driving skills, is a skilled shot and seems to know every move the Wolf and the Albino make, it’s not entirely clear why she needs Ethan at all, but who cares, it’s terrific fun watching Ethan pursue his targets while trying to bond with his rebellious daughter. Hey, if you’re about to torture a Sicilian-born accountant named Guido while you’re on the phone with your kid as she’s fretting about not knowing how to cook a meal for her boyfriend, why NOT put Guido the Sicilian Accountant on the phone so he can share his mama’s secret recipe?
This is the kind of inspired lunacy that makes “3 Days to Kill” such a zany treat. Costner plays Ethan as a kind of Eastwoodian straight man who has fallen through the rabbit hole and is navigating his way through one insanely surreal adventure after another, whether he’s rescuing his daughter from three predators in the bathroom at a rave; torturing a victim by duct-taping his hairy armpits and then letting it rip; taking time out to attend a principal-parent conference at the school; engaging in broad-daylight shootouts that you’d think would attract the attention of the French authorities; or selecting Bread’s “Make It With You” as the musical choice when teaching his daughter how to dance. You’ll not likely see a film with more mind-boggling moments than this one.
Some of this lunacy no doubt comes from co-writer Luc Besson, who has been a major contributing force to “The Professional,” “The Fifth Element” and the “Taken” and “Transporter” franchises. The director known as McG (“Charlie’s Angels,” “Terminator: Salvation”) is not one for subtlety, whether he’s coming up with new ways to kill someone (this is one of the more violent PG-13 films you’ll ever see) or reaching for your heart, and he goes full-throttle here.
But without Costner’s movie star equity, this thing could have fallen apart in the first 30 minutes. He keeps us involved, even as we’re thinking: Wait, WHAT just happened?
On an analytical level, I knew this movie was nothing but snazzy trash, but I cannot deny I was thoroughly entertained.