The naming of hurricanes

Sep. 19th, 2017 08:50 pm
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[personal profile] negothick
Just wondering what genius decided it was a good idea to have Jose and Maria in the same year.
I've been told solemnly that Trump won't let them into the US mainland. . .

That talk I'm giving in Willimantic

Sep. 17th, 2017 10:32 pm
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[personal profile] negothick
The one about witches, on October 29. Just learned the time: It will be at 4 p.m.
Willimantic has an excellent brewpub, The Main Street Cafe, better known as WilliBrew. It's located in the old post office, a grand Beaux Arts structure from the little city's prosperous days. The menu has P.O. puns--the salad menu is called "Letters and Tomatoes." There is great veggie chili. The beer list also refers to the location, with "Zip" and "Rail Mail" etc.

So, gentle readers, if anyone happens to be lurking in the Quiet Corner (yes, I didn't make that up--it's the "branding" that cost the local tourist board a lot of money) on Sunday October 29, let me know and we can combine witches, old mills, textile machinery, frogs (another local legend) and WilliBrew.

Out of the whirlwind

Sep. 15th, 2017 10:23 pm
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[personal profile] nineweaving
O my!  Burdick's and Tosci's—twin gods in the Cambridge pantheon—have collaborated on an ice-cream sandwich!  You can get chocolate macarons with hazelnut ice cream; pistachio with Earl Grey; or almond with matcha.  Bliss.

I discovered this on my way to the Tilda Swinton festival at the Brattle.  So far this week, I've seen her in Sally Potter's Orlando (1993), and in two Derek Jarman films.  Orlando remains an absolute delight.   I love the wit; I love Orlando's glances through the fourth wall; I love the doubling of the scurrilous Nick Greene and the publisher, and the Sebastian and Viola casting of Sasha and Shelmerdine.  I adore Quentin Crisp's Elizabeth I.  (He was born to play that part.)  I love the Jacobean winter funeral, and the teacup topiary, and the perfectly truthful absurdity of most of the costumes.   I love the scene where (as I once wrote) Orlando "rushes in a fury into a hedge maze ... whisking round a corner, she emerges in another century, in another cage of skirt."

I confess that Tilda Swinton gave me Thea's fiery hair in Cloud & Ashes.  She's a fabulous muse—which is all I share artistically with Derek Jarman. 

Caravaggio (1986)  is imperfect and astonishing.  It was one of Sean Bean's earliest films, and Swinton's first.  The stagings of the paintings in the film are so perfectly Caravaggiesque—so blasphemous, numinous, intemperate, unmoving, shadowy, and dazzling, so cold and so  engorged with godhead.  They are clearly what the artist saw.  The canvases on screen are merely sketches:  art is what the camera sees.

Still trying to get my head around The Last of England (1987), which is incandescent.  It's so dazzling it hurts.  Literally:  I have eyestrain from the visionary flicker.  The rant is on the fall of England—all its goodness and greenness, every vestige of decency—under Thatcher, a gut-wrenchingly relevant anger.  Part of it I saw as Asmodeus' Books:  it begins with the auteur speaking as he writes a curse in a cluttered workroom, in a beautiful italic hand:  what he spells, is.  (Greenaway appears to have stolen that image, in a prettier, post-modernist take.)  Out of the whirlwind, I recall a few most vivid scenes.  There was an evocation of the Ford Madox Ford [Brown!  Ford Madox Brown!  My proofing skills have gone to hell] painting from which the film takes its name:  a huddle of despairing people at a harbor, underlaid with Marianne Faithfull singing, "Speed, Bonny Boat"—but they're prisoners.  There is no boat, and no Australia.  They've simply come to the end of ground.  There was a naked Poor Tom, gnawing on a demonic raw cauliflower.  It would terrify a vegetarian into eating sashimi—at least that doesn't writhe and flap.  No really—it looked like some sort of brain-bird with broken pinions.  And there were sequences of astounding beauty:  Pan dancing in a brickyard, and Tilda Swinton whirling in silhouette before the flames of the apocalypse.


Later: [personal profile] sovay  and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks have posted brilliant reviews of The Last of England, here and here.  I stand in awe.


Strange name-checks

Sep. 14th, 2017 05:24 pm
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[personal profile] negothick
So I'm re-reading IT, in preparation for seeing the recent movie version. I'm pretty sure I haven't re-read it cover to cover since practically memorizing it while writing my book New England's Gothic Literature: History and Folklore of the Supernatural (etc.). IT is practically a textbook on the Gothic in New England, encompassing Bangor's history and folklore together with so many other self-referential tropes of the Gothic. So that means I last read it ca. 1993-4.

And I came up against something that I remembered not at all. A tiny thing, among the 1000+ pages of this Magnum Opus, but so striking that I felt like one of the Losers Club, who were constantly having their everyday objects invaded by the Weird. Ben Hanscom as an adult returns to Derry to re-fight the Evil Incarnate of his childhood. He visits the library (of course!), takes a book at random from the shelf, and gets a library card with The Latest Technology! (Microfiche). Of course he discovers that the book is one he had taken out as a child, and it still had a card pocket with borrowers' names on a card inside. His name is there, but there are three others--and the next two are Charles N. Brown and David Hartwell!
What must have been a merry jest in 1986 is especially poignant now, with both men dead under--well, if not mysterious, then unusual and well-publicized circumstances. The third name, "Joseph Brennan," probably refers to Joseph Payne Brennan, still alive at the time of the book's publication (he died in 1990). All three men were prominent in the first World Fantasy Convention (1975) and the 1979 WFC, both held in Providence. In fact, Brennan's short novel Act of Providence was set at the 1975 con, where King was a Guest of Honor. Wikipedia reminds me that King wrote the introduction to Brennan's short story collection The Shapes of Midnight (1980).

If there's ever an "Annotated IT" (which will need to be a Talmud-sized endeavor), here's a little entry for it.


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