Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Le Loup and the Monkey Boombox

Perhaps it's the relative amount of time spent on each, but there is a huge difference between my retention of film and books. Walking through a bookstore, at brief glances I know what I've read and what I haven't. At the mention of an author's name I can usually name all (or many) of his or her books. Similarly, at the mention of a title I can come up with the author. In the video store I have an awful habit of picking up (and too often even checking out) films I've already seen. Maybe it is that I only spent two hours with these objects and while experiencing there is nothing tactile, I'm not looking at the cover--with title and maker--every time I stop and start. When a film is paused I'm left with only an often blurred moment of the movie in front of me.

Yesterday while in the video store I wanted desperately to remember the title of the film we had rented last week (Auf der anderen Seite or in English, The Edge of Heaven). I knew it was done by Fatih somebody and wanted to pick up one of the other films he had done, but I refused to approach the counter and ask the cute boy who works there about a director named Fatih somebody (the director's name is Fatih Akin, and while I highly recommend the film I did have some problems with it. While I liked how it dealt with chance and circumstance and how we are positioned in the final frame of the picture so closely with the character we do not get a chance to really get to know (in context of the film, this worked for me), I felt some things were a bit much to be believed). In retrospect, I could have asked the boy behind the counter what it was that I rented last week. Somehow this didn't occur to me. Instead I ended up getting Michael Haneke's 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, which we have now watched half of. We are getting better at getting to bed at a reasonable hour. The evening is just not long enough for all the talking, eating, and entertaining ourselves we need to do after long days of working/avoiding work.

If you aren't familiar with Michael Haneke's work, you should familiarize yourself. He is one of those directors I like so much that I always save him for later. Like writers I love (Stein, Ondaajte, Haruki Murakami), while I could consume everything at once, I choose to hold off until I need something I can trust.

Haneke is probably best known for 2005's Cache, a film in which "a married couple is terrorized by a series of videotapes planted on its front porch." That's all I'll say because that could mean anything and suddenly even I'm interested all over again. And I know what happens (sort of). While certainly a thriller, there is much stillness in that film as well, something I need to consider something a favorite, in film and in literature.

I have not yet seen either of his Funny Games, though I am intrigued by the idea that a director or any artist would do the same material twice. For seeing the trailer for the more recent of the Funny Games (starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt), I have some reservations that it may be more violent than I'm willing to stand, though I'll probably see it eventually regardless and just close my eyes every time Pitt swings a golf club.

While I am shaping up to love 71 Fragments on the same level, the Haneke film that propels him into my favorite category is Le Temps du Loup (The TIme of the Wolf), which stars one of the greatest actors in contemporary times, Isabelle Huppert. Huppert also stars in Haneke's The Piano Teacher, a beautiful, inherently hard to take film adaptation of the Elfriede Jelinek novel of the same name. One thing to note, which I feel embarrassed to even discuss: don't rent The Piano Teacher (or anything really, if you can help it) from Blockbuster. I had already seen it several times when C and I picked it up there on a whim while passing by the local Blockbuster on the way back to my apartment one evening a few years ago. While we were watching it I kept getting confused. I kept wondering if I had gotten the chronology of events wrong as I waited and waited for a particular scene to show up. The scene is integral to understanding the narrative, integral to understanding anything at all about the main character. As we got closer to the end I realized that IT WASN'T IN THERE AT ALL. Not only that, but the last twenty minutes was butchered as well, probably three to five minutes crudely edited out of the final scene. When I returned it to Blockbuster I looked at the box, which said nothing about editing the material. I asked the boy behind the counter, who could tell me nothing about BBV's policy. I called the corporate office and they said that they do edit some films to keep the family image. I told him this was fine (although, no, it isn't), but that they should say so on which films. I mean, what about students who are doing academic research, writing papers on film. If someone were to write a paper on Haneke's films or on French film or whatever and use this chopped-up version their analysis would be at best incomplete, but likely completely inaccurate.

Anyway, Le Temps du Loup, which I will likely never see again because it is my absolute nightmare seems to me a realistic portrayal of what I imagine a post-peakoil-apocalyptic world would look like. I do not want to live there, though I understand that it could happen in my lifetime.

Yesterday also found me at the library returning overdue books. It was here that I was called a monkey by a large and very drunk stranger with a boom box. I've seen him before, walking around downtown, harkening back to the eighties, carrying his music around with him like this, you know, sharing the love. I had never had the pleasure of interacting with him though. I was on the lower level, looking at the stacks of free books the library had set out. There were several hundred volumes and I have to say, I don't blame them for removing any of them from circulation. I like to pride myself on not only being a proficient reader, but also a widely read person. By this I mean I'll read almost anything. I did not, however, take any of these books home with me. And it's not because my perusing got interrupted by name-calling, it's because none of the books were worth taking home.

After I'd been there a few minutes, casually listening to the sound of the man snoring in the chair by the public phone and the sound of the three chattering pre-teen girls whooping it up on the stairs, boombox man stumbled down the stairs and asked the young girls to watch his boombox while he "took a piss." My heart was warmed. I thought, I DO live in a city. This isn't a small town at all. The girls giggled and threatened to steal it. The man's response was to go around the corner, turn around, peek around the corner at his boombox, the girls would giggle, rinse and repeat. Eventually he went to take his piss. When he came back he spent a lot of time trying to get the girls to laugh, which they did at everything, including making fun of a library patron - me. I mean, it was hard to take offense, really. I was crouched down looking at the lower shelves when I heard him start talking about monkeys. It was fairly nonsensical at first. Then I heard something about hunkering down, stooping, etc, etc. When I turned around the man was laying on his back next to the girls, half on and half off the stairs. "Yeah, I'm talking about you, girl. I'm a big man talking about you, monkey girl." I'm not easily frightened, but there was nothing nice about the way he called me a monkey. Regardless, I went back to my futile browsing. By this point most of the other browsers had taken off because of how loud he had gotten. Soon, he turned on the boombox, got yelled at by library staff, and left.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Go hear.

October 23, 2008 at Richard Hugo House ~ 7PM

The Filter Release Party is a night of readings and music celebrating the release of the second volume of Filter, a limited edition hand bound hardback literary journal that features poetry, prose, erasures, and art.


Jennifer Borges Foster, editor and creator of Filter, seeks to revive the craft and artistry of book making and book binding that has been nearly driven extinct. Each copy of Filter is made by hand, sewn together using various colors of waxed Irish Linen thread and an exposed spine binding with a modified button-hole binding technique. End papers are hand torn and come from various sources, including Japanese Washi paper, pages from Apgar’s Plant Analysis Adapted to All Botanies (1892) (some of which include the notes, illustrations and actual flower pressings of a Mr. D.A. Powell made in the Spring of 1904), and color plates from Travelling With The Birds (1933). Books feature an accordion-fold erasure booklet made from hand torn Rives Heavyweight paper, each hand printed using 10 separate ink screens and slipped into hand made envelopes created from pages of old books about magic and maps featuring nations that no longer exist. All of the color artwork is tipped in by hand. There are two different cover designs (Aardvark & Aardwolf) by Amy Jean Porter (Jubilat, McSweeny’s). The covers are each screen printed by hand, using 3-4 screens and 7 colors.

All of this means that each copy of Filter is unique. And although the books are worth hundreds of dollars each in materials and labor, this is not a money-making endeavor. We want people who appreciate artistry and literature to buy this book, regardless of their income. The books are sold on a sliding scale, with the median price of $35.
There are only 200 copies (each signed and numbered) of Filter vol. II. (The first edition sold out entirely.)

In addition to being a beautiful work of art, Filter features an astounding array of talent, with 41 contributors, including:
• Poetry from Mary Jo Bang, John Olson, Kary Wayson, Elizabeth J. Colen, Carol Guess, and Erin Malone
• An essay on cancer, music, and polar shifts by Tricia Ready
• Erasures by Rebecca Brown, Matthea Harvey & Amy Jean Porter, Jennifer Borges Foster, and Brangien Davis
• Fiction from Matt Briggs, Corrina Wycoff, Claudia Smith, and Norman Lock
• And many others!


Have a drink and help celebrate release of this beautiful book. 18 short readings, 2 musical interludes. Admission is free.
Richard Hugo House -- Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 -- 7pm - 9pm
1634 11th Avenue -- Seattle, WA 98122

Readers: John Olson, Trisha Ready, John Osebold, Kary Wayson, Deborah Woodard, Corrina Wycoff, Brangien Davis, Erin Malone, Elizabeth Colen, Carol Guess, Brian McGuigan, David Mitsuo Nixon, Kate Lebo, Emily Kendal Frey, Adriana Grant, Tatyana Mishel, Roberta Olson, Bob Redmond

Music: David Mitsuo Nixon, Jose Bold (John Osebold and Kirk Anderson)

Original Erasures on display by: Rebecca Brown, Brangien Davis, Ariana Kelly, Jennifer Borges Foster.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Readings on the horizon...

Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 7pm
Filter magazine release party
Richard Hugo House
Seattle, WA

Friday, November 14, 2008 at 7pm
w/Carol Guess & Kelly Magee
Orca Books
Olympia, WA