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just some thoughts

14th June, 2007. 12:33 pm. Curious, isn't it? How something sad can make you feel so good

Everytime I hear certain songs from Van's Astral Weeks, like "Cypress Avenue," which I am currently enjoying, I cannot help but smile inside and out.  (See more info here/Wikipedia entry  and see the Lester Bangs review of Astral Weeks here).

I cannot help just allowing myself to get lost in the dream-like world of unfulfilled longing and ever-present melancholy that seems such an accurate emotional map of so much of my own life.

I find it so strange, though, that it makes me so happy to lose myself in all of that sweet, intensely passionate desire and the sadness of his love.  Strange.  Odd.

But, G_d, if it isn't just incredibly beautiful, isn't it?

Read 1 Note -Make Notes

14th June, 2007. 9:28 am. Poetry Reading - huh?

I went to Mac's Books in Coventry/Cleve Heights last night to a poetry reading thing.  I heard/saw this local writer, reading her stuff (See yuki_onna).

And, I must report that I did not understand a decent portion of that poetry reading.  And then I was checking out her sample books in the back of the basement reading room room, at Mac's Books, and I got more confused as I read more.  Some of the poems or sections of poems were pretty clear and accessible for me.  I could understand them.  And, they are lyrical and quite beautiful.  Truly, the woman is a gifted, extremely intelligent writer, with a penchant for lyrical language and evocative imagery.   Still, I felt intellectually over my head. and I simply could not "grasp" decent chunks of the works.

This is a feeling I am not used to experiencing.  In the classroom or academic environment, where I have often experienced this confusion or lack of understanding, it is not so bad.  It gives me the chance to ask lots o' questions and learn more.  But, last night I felt like an idiot at that reading, wanting to ask for the "annotated version" of the text (which, of course, does not exist). 

I felt I needed a list of Classical Lit. and other references in the (non-existent) footnotes. I just wanted to ask questions.  Lots of questions.  If I had had the chance to ask lots of questions, I think I might have been rather fascinated with her work.  But, I think I simply could not undersand at least 50% of her poetry, simply by reading it on the page, without understanding more about the references and context.

It was like I was back in The Age Of Dante at Geneseo, except without (Drs.) Bill Cook & Ron Herzman to answer my questions and guide me to the original literary and historical sources (from Classical Antiquity) for the references.  Or, even worse, it was like trying to read Milton, on my own, without reading from the Annotated version.  As in, "I have no idea what that really means."  Or like trying to read Chaucer in Middle English (uye).  Over My Head.  I am not an academic. 

I am something of an intellectual elitist.  No, really, I admit it.  So, I do not one claim that any literature should aim for the lowest common denominator audience.  But, I guess I am also not that intellectual and academically-oriented, either, that I can always understand what a highly intellectual, poet/classicist is getting at.  I mean it is one thing to read The Crossing, and I believe that I did understand most of that (at times, very challenging) novel.  But, this was something entirely different: it was just a humbling experience. 

And then there is this: On first blush, I got the vague (emotional) feeling of coldness, distance and "disconnection" from her poems, like she was afraid of revealing to much of her very self in her writing.  Again, I don't know if that is just me.  And, it may be that I just need to read further.  Maybe.

Anyway, she read from 2 books of poetry last evening:
Oracles: A Pilgrimage
Apocrypha

I am thinking about picking up at least one of these books, and at least trying to slowly see if I can understand more of her words and ideas.  Never hurts to have more books (one of my rules).

I still plan on picking up & reading this novel (The Orphan's Tale) by Valente, although I have not yet done so.  It is on the ToDO list, though.

Current mood: confused.

Make Notes

23rd May, 2007. 2:07 pm. Film - After The Wedding

(05/23/2007)
Last night I went to the Cedar-Lee theatre and saw After The Wedding

Intense.  Beautiful.  Moving.  My three word to describe the experience of this film.  I loved this picture.  Go See it...Right Now (or as soon as possible).

I have been quite lonely, for some time.  Outside of my wife, step-son, and one (relatively) close friend, I have very, very little meaningful human contact.  It's my fault.  I have allowed this to happen. 

So, I would have loved to have seen After The Wedding with a good, close friend.  Someone with whom I could have a thoughtful discussion of it's what we thought and how we felt about it over coffee or a nice glass of wine.  But, I was not able to do that.

So, I went alone last night to the Cedar-Lee theatre.  I am glad that I did.  I hate allowing the expression of my emotions in any public setting, especially in front of anyone I know.  I could not help being deeply moved by this incredibly beautiful and extremely well-acted film.  I have very rarely seen any (mainly) foreign-language, subtitled film where the acting and direction were so incredible that one barely notices that the dialogue is in another language.  After The Wedding is that film.

The initial basic plot-line seems reasonable enough: Some, really good-looking Danish guy named Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen) runs an orphanage in a very, very poor, looking area of India.  Turns out, Jacob is a very well-meaning, naive kind of guy, who does a great job taking care of the kids, but it is really bad about the whole business/financing end of the orphanage.  It also turns out that Jacob has got some serious demons he's been running from, and hiding away from, down in the impoverished orphanages of India. 

Well, Jacob needs to secure some more financing for his orphanage or ir closes and the kids are going to be turned out onto the street.  And, he gets an offer from a (new, mysterious?) philanthropist back home in Denmark.  That catch is that Jacob has to return home to Denmark to meet with the new philanthropist-guy.  It is after he meets Jorgen (Rofl Lassgard), the philanthropist, that some really weird stuff starts to happen.  And, that weird, seemingly coincidental stuff, means that Jacob cannot simply return to his beloved orphanage work and children in India, in a weeks time, as he had planned.

What's So Amazing about this movie?  It seemed as if almost every single, blessed shot was brilliant.  Some of the close-ups on Jacob, Helena, and Jorgen, and even Anna, were really painful to watch because there was so much raw emotion in their faces, displayed so nakedly.  I felt almost guilty at times watching this film, as if we, the viewers, were seeing something too private in the lives of these characters. 

It was all just so damned "real."  From the jagged way, scattered way the camera picked up the horrible poverty and misery in India, to the way the camera caught the visible emotions on the faces of Jacob, Helana, Jorgen and Anna.  This stuff is great.  And not since, Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby have I seen a film I so passionately thought was brilliant, a film that is exactly what this form of storytelling should be.  

So much of what we see in a movie theatre these days is (mediocre) escapist entertainment, intended to take one away from the reality of our lives.  This film reveled in the pain, discomfort, guilt, denials and hurts of the past, bringing them up-to-date.  It didn't pull any punches and it refused to go for the easy melodramatic out.   I felt an intense cathartic release as I drove home last night.  It was strangely wonderful.

Some believe that art, literature, film, theatre, food & wine, etc., these beautiful creations, help breathe life into our banal and pain-riddled, sometimes-horrifying existence on Earth.  They hold that we can find some sense of peace and redemption, and take refuge in, these works of art.  *I* believe this.  After The Wedding is just the sort of motion picture that confirms and reinforces this belief.   I thank the gods for film (and art and literature and theatre and music) like this.

Oh, and it didn't hurt that Sidse Babett Knudsen (Helena) is incredibly beautiful.  I mean she is incredibly striking, and clearly a very gifted actress. 

Current mood: satisfied.

Make Notes

22nd May, 2007. 11:51 am. This evening - Indie film

Going to check out new indie/artsy film at the Cedar-Lee Theatre. Going to see either:
  • After The Wedding        OR
  • Away From Her

I read the Times review of Away From Her and the Plain Dealer review of After The Wedding. Both should be interesting.

I think I will write up my own thoughts.

Read 4 Notes -Make Notes

18th May, 2007. 4:08 pm. Latest Fiction Reading

Just finished The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.  I was very disappointed.  Didn't like his style.  Didn't think he had anything interesting to "say."  What a waste.  I wish I could say that his novel really made me think, but, instead, it just annoyed me.


New Stuff:


I am borrowing wife's novel: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova; I am totally getting wrapped up in it.  I love the voice of the protagonist, and I really like her Kostova's story-telling style.  I think she really balances exposition and a somewhat spare, but eloquent descriptive voice.   And she keeps up with a fast story-telling pace, which I really am enjoying. 

This makes me giddy like a 12-year old girl with a crush.  I might be in love with this new book.  And, in general I am not at all interested in this Gothic, Faux-horror stuff.  But, Kostova is doing a great job at reeling me in, like some sort of Giant Marlin.  I have not read a new author, who is simply a very good story-teller, since I picked up Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey several years ago.

Just bought:
1. The final novel in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy: Cities Of the Plain 
2. Annie Proulx's short story collection Close Range, from which, the story for the film Brokeback Mountain, was taken as the basis of the screenplay (which she collaborated on).

They are queued up to read.

I just added to my ToBuy List  a new novel I came across by a local Fantasy writer, named Catherynne Valente.  Her recent novel is The Orphan's Tale.  I am a little wary about this book, because as I read the excerpt, from the Prelude, though I found it to be punctuated with moments of clear brilliance, several sentences made me want to (almost literally) gag. 

I am totally obsessive with "my writers" having a clear, fairly clean style (i.e. it shall not be overembellished, pretentious crap).  But I read the Amazon reviews and a few people said that if I just keep reading past the first 50 pages, I shall be richly rewarded.  And, I remember having the same feeling when I first picked up Kushiel's Dart by J. Carey.  But I found, after a while, that Carey's vaguely psuedo-Medieval writing style/voice, which at first struck me as rediculous, in those novels actually did come to enhance the story she was telling.

So, I shall pick up Valente's novel, The Orphan's Tale, and try her out.  I have high hopes.  Discovering a new writer you like/love is like "falling in love all over again with someone new."  It's a wonderful experience.  And, I have found, moments like that are actually, significant highlights and turning points in my life (e.g. Tolkien, Carey, Irving, McCarthy, Tom Robbins, Jeanette Winterson, Hemingway, and a few others). 

So, reader of my LJ, Tell me something interesting about what you have just read or are reading.  Please, tell me. 

Current mood: bored.

Make Notes

17th May, 2007. 9:00 am. New Leisure Activities List

A List of New, specific Activities:

I. Wine School Classes:
  • "A Glance at the Wines From France" - 06/28/2007 @???  ($45)
  • "Hot Regions and Cool Trends" - 7/25/2007

(URL: http://clevelandwineschool.com/_wsn/page7.html)

II. Cooking School/Classes

   A. Classes Coming up at  Western Reserve School of Cooking
Seafood Workshop ( Mon. May 21 or Wed. May 23)
Grilling Basics (05/24/07)
Contact Info: (330) 650-1665, 140 Maint st. Hudson

   B. Loretta Paganini School of Cooking
( 8613 Mayfield Road, Chesterland, OH - (440) 729-1110 or 1-888-748-4063)
   C. Viking Cooking School - Legacy Village (click link for Calendar)
For More Info, Click here
III. Literary Stuff, etc.


IV. Tremont Art Walk: 06/08/2007 @ 7pm (With KB-1)
V. Trip to West Side Market (open M, W, F, Sat)
VI. Cleveland 20/30 Club - Young Professionals Events
Networking Event: 5/31/2007 @ 6pm

VII. New Theatre Events:
a. The Unexpected Man, at Kennedy's Down Under (basement of Ohio Theatre), Playhouse Square (8pm Friday/Sat, 3pm Sunday thru Sun., 6/10; $15)
b. Lunacy, Dobama production [7:30pm Thursday, 8pm Friday/Saturday, 2:30pm Sun. thru Sun 5/27]; $15 - 22; At Brooks Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse; part of Cleveland Playhouse FusionFest; Phone: 216-795-7000; 8500 Euclid Ave.
c. References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, Convergence-Continuum; The Liminis, 2438 Scranton Rd., Cleveland (216-687-0074); thru 05/26; 8pm. Thursday, Friday, Sat,
VIII. Film
After The Wedding (Cedar-Lee Theatre: 2, 4:30, 7:05, 9:40)
 IX. Gallery Shows
a. Shrinking Cities exhibition at Spaces Gallery, 2220 Superior Viaduct/820 Prospect Ave. (216-357-3434 | kmcnulty_gst@kent.edu)
b. Museum of Contemporary Art - Cleveland (8501 Carnegie Eve. 216-421-8671)
c. Front Room Gallery "Lip Service" thru 6/23/07 (3615 Superior Ave. #4203-A; 216-534-6059)'

ETC:
 - Coventry Street Fair: Thursday, 6/14/2007 6 -9pm.

7th May, 2007. 8:46 pm. Waiting For Godot

I am staring up at the mini-TV-dish of the townhouse condo right next to mine.

I have come to the conclusion recently that living in suburban Northeast Ohio is to me what Waiting For Godot was for Beckett. I think that the part of my journey, which did lead me to this bucolic setting, has ended. But, now that I am here, and I have someone important rooting me here, I cannot extract myself from this environment.

I am incredibly bored with my very comfortable life. I adore my wife and I would sooner cut off my testicles as not be with her. But, I do not know what to do with myself. Other than work, and doing family/marriage things, I am at a loss as to what to do with myself.

The town that I live in is really a very nice bedroom community, outside Cleveland. It is the kind of place many people would love to raise their children. But, the thing is, I have an 18-year old step-son, graduating from high school next month, starting at college in the fall (living at home) and we are not having any more children. I think I have the problem that 95% of Americans long for: we are modertely well-off, we live relatively modestly, and since myery work is really not all that challenging (or interesting, for that matter), I don't know what to do with myself. We don't have to worrry so much about survival stuff. And, we now have a pretty damned good marriage and family life. And, without these challanges before me, I find myself coming home in the evening, and getting very, very antsy, not knowing what to do with myself, not knowing where to direct my "creative juices" or my energy.

I know that this is all a hell of my own making. We have moderate financial sucess, and a small family, and that is cool: I like it that way. I am (rather surprisingly) quite OK with not having any children of my own. But, (and s is a big BUT), I have not pursued any of my real passions as part of my career. And, that is OK. I made that trade-off. But, I don't know what to do about this vague sense of dissatisfaction, lack of direction and general angst I feel. I feel stiffled and lost, and i have no idea what to do about it.

If I wasn't attached, I would so be out of Ohio, off to Brooklyn or Chicago or even Seattle, or San Fran. Honestly, I would probably move back to NY. In the past year, for the first time, since i have left, I feel a calling back home. When I was a kid, NY pretty much sucked ass: crime-ridden, racial tensions and no one lived anywhere but a couple of neighborhoods in the city and Long Island, Jersey, Westchester (mainly because you would probably get a cap in your ass, if you lived anywhere else). But, now, NY has completely changed. And, I am fucking shocked. And, now that NY is a great place to live again, I have absolutely no chance of being here, if I want to continue to be married to the woman I adore. Fucking irony: kicks my ass.


I watch too much television. And, I must tell you: even despite a few rather interesting and innovative television series on in recent years (Lost, House), television is 98% shit.

Here is the biggest problem for me. I really don't know what I want. I read a book review today (at Times online) of Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.  Very intersting research and thesis.  Gilbert apparently came to some interesting conclusions: apparently human beings generally have no idea what will make them "happy."  And what think will make them happy, usually has nothing to do with what actually will do so.

This counter-intuitive conclusion actually makes a hell of a lot of sense.  Gilbert's argument in the book is that we often delude ourselves as to what we really want.  We misperceive reality, and "then use those misperceptions to build a mistaken view of the future."

This is the situation I find myself in now.  And, I am not exactly sure about how to find the fulfillment I seek.  Or even where to begin that search.

Current mood: bored.

Read 2 Notes -Make Notes

27th February, 2007. 11:27 am. Theatre: Red Light Winter - Bang and Clatter Theater Company Production

So, Craving a bit of interesting, creative distraction, and an intellectually, stimulating, fun night out, I planned a night out with something new, something slightly different.  Time for some culture/theatre stuff.

There is a new theatre company in NE Ohio named The Bang and Clatter Theatre Company, founded by Sean Derry and Sean McConaha.  I believe that they are both local boys who studied and worked elsewhere and have come back to the area.  They bill themselves as presenting cutting edge, modern, American (read off-Broadway style) drama/theatre.  And, from our first encounter with a Bang & Clatter production, they can definitely back up that claim.  They say that they are actually trying to make live theatre fun again.  And also make it more "accessible" and affordable.  I am very cool with all of that: $15 tickets, passing out free wine/beer at the shows, and producing "challenging", sometimes "hard-to-watch" productions.   Yeah, right on, brother.  Now, how about producing something really interesting and worth seeing.

The particular show we checked out was their production of Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter (see an interesting review of the NY production here).  I do have to admit that like Mr. Denton from the NY Theatre review, I also found that I did not really like the play, but I must admit that It has really "stuck with me" for several days, just not necessarily in a good way.   And like Denton, I found it to be raw, potent and, as Sean McConaha mentioned in his introductory remarks, "rather difficult to watch at times." 

Now, here's the thing: I am NOT at all interested in seeing theatre that mainly seemed to me to shock and challenge one emotionally simply for the effect or to "shake one out of one's complacency."  I think these are valid reasons for having graphic, shocking, edgy depictions on the stage (e.g. the nudity, sexual depictions, sexual violence and very course language). But, I also feel that such material should be presented in a way that serves the greater theme/message that the playwright is communicating to me.  And, actually, come to think of it I think that the Bang and Clatter production of Rapp's Red Light Winter perhaps did that.  But, and here is my real problem with the play, it just wasn't a very interesting or truly moving or worthwhile message/dramatic experience that Rapp's play conveyed.   It just made me think, "Yeah, so what?"

I could fucking care less about 3 incredibly juvenile, fucked-up, 30-year olds caught up in come messed-up love triangle, barely on the edge of surviving.  OK, yeah, that sucks, but seriously I have little compassion and pathos for anyone who acts really, really immature, makes bad choices (which, granted, they cannot see), and then treats everyone else around them (and/or themselves) like shit.  Come on. A tale about three really dysfunctional 30-something people that is mainly about pointing out how fragile, insecure, and imperfect we are as human beings, AND how cruel and awful we can be to each other, is truly NOT that interesting to me.   

Yes, Mr. Rapp (and Sean Derry and Sean McConaha): life is very hard, and we are often really scared, and insecure and act like children.  And yes, we can be horribly cruel and cruelty IS in many, many ways the worst of all sins.  And, that is something important that we need to be aware of.  But, so (the fuck) what?!?!  I mean seriously.  I could have told you this shit too and put it a hell of a lot more succinctly:

Really, kids, be kind to one another, especially those who are or were your friends.  And, even be kind to someone you spend just one night with (fucking, making love, taking or whatever).  Because, it is incredibly important to be kind and gentle with each other because the others in our life, friends, lovers, acquaintances are really all we might have in this world.  So, let's truly try really fucking hard to find kindness and compassion for the others around us.

[...Actually, this was something that a one-time friend from this LJ of mine tried to impart to me and claimed that it was something that I failed to do much of the time...perhaps that used to be somewhat true...not sure, but I don't think it continues to be true...] 

Perhaps this is a message that people need to hear/see more.  I don't know.  I just did not find it a very interesting one.  Perhaps it is because I have already been doing my best to incorporate this very theme into my own life more actively for quite some time now (years actually).   Perhaps it is because the former LJ-friend just mentioned did a lot to open my eyes to how careful one needs to be with this very issue.  And, perhaps it is just because my amazing, beautiful, incredible, loving wife has taught me so much about compassion for others and being very careful about how we affect others.  But, I just don't find this an interesting subject for a playwright to discuss: avec nudity or sans nudity, with or without the anal-rape scene (which really was pretty fucked up and indeed was difficult to watch). 

My comments for Rapp and "the Seans": Give me something really interesting, like, some man, woman, whatever, really struggling with something like GIVING love, finding hope, changing him/herself, creating something new and beautiful in a horrible world torn to shit with war and evil and cruelty.  And, don't give me people that weakly or half-assed struggle for some kind of "deliverance/redemption" without confronting their own demons in any way.  Please.  I have been there.  I am not interested in characters who cower in their own fear and cowardice.  Showing people that are simply acting like fearful animals does NOT enlighten me at all.  Most of the fucking world is that way.  I know.  I came from a world like that.  But, I gotta tell 'ya: I am not there anymore and this production is NOT going to get anyone to really see how to leave that world.

Show me something more, man.  We deserve it.  We deserve to see some truly brave souls on our stage, who don't just fuck and get naked and act like assholes, but who show us some small, tiny piece more of what it means to be human, and what it can mean to be human.

Still, I have high hopes for our newest theatre company in town.  At least, they are trying something different.  And, I am hoping that the Sean's stumble upon something a little less "Mamet-ish" in it's need to shock in order to shock and present the very darkest side of human existence. 

I feel the same way about Cormac McCarthy's novel: No Country For Old Men.  I just felt like saying to Rapp and Cormac,

Life is NOT entirely about a people lost and ultra-destructive, to ourselves, each other (for McCarthy, we are this way because we have abandoned Christ/G_d).  There is yet hope.   Please try and find some your own-damned self and write about it a little.  It will make more for a much more interesting work that will communicate something that can actually change people's lives.

And that is what our art/literature/theatre should be, after all, isn't it?  Something that can actually make small, sublte shifts in our psyche and change individual lives.  Something that enriches, broadens and actually makes us become more human.

-Aram

Current mood: bored.

Make Notes

4th January, 2007. 11:00 am. The "Env"

Has anybody seen these new "EnV" commercials from Verizon wireless, with the "Seven Deadly Sins" theme? They are apparently meant to be "consumed" as a pair. Still, they annoy me.

Voice Over: "Beware the Seven Deadly Sins: "Vanity...Lust...Wrath...Envy..." and then blah, blah, blah about new mobile (all-in-one) EnV device features.

Here's the thing, commercial copy-writer-person: you ONLY just mentioned FOUR of the SEVEN deadly sins. So, where are the rest of my sins, man. Don't leave me hangin. I want the rest of my Hot-Azz Sins.

Or, rather, at least to maintain a semblance of accuracy say something like: "BEWARE FOUR of the SEVEN Deadly Sins:...."

Ok. That probably wouldn't sounds as good for advertising copy, but still. You are teasing me, but warning me about the Seven Deadly Sins, without even demonstrating all Seven. For some reason, this Irks me.

Non-Sequiter spewing bastards! Fucking hate stupid advertisements on the Tele.

Just Sayin'

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3rd January, 2007. 12:26 pm. Some sweet soul music

I am All about the latest 2006 John Legend recording Once Again, which I received for Christmas/Holiday 2006.

Very neo-classic, new-motown soul. Love that Old School meets new school sound.

Good stuff, if you like old-school type soul. I recommend.


Happy Birthday to the_hedonist

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