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Mostly Harmless

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Friday, December 31st, 2004

There is no poetry in the galaxy worse than Vogon poetry.

Laura (1944), Otto Preminger, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Fun mystery. . .kinda like watching a radio play. Not very cinematic, but great to see Vincent Price as a lazy playboy and Clifton Webb as the fey Winchell character. Some interesting themes, too. . .this is probably a great book.

No, It’s Not, But It Is

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

I’ve done a good job of not posting anti-Bush screeds since the election — but in the face of what could potentially be 100,000 dead people as a result of a natural disaster, I have to vomit up some bile. No — not even WBAI could find a way to blame the tsunamis on the USA, but the lack of response — in hard currency, military mobilization, or at least a fucking 5 minute address from the Oval Office on TV to remind people to give to the Red Cross — is so mindblowingly callous it makes me sick. Bush has all the money in the world for immoral, illegal, unnecessary wars — basically, money to kill. He has no money to help keep people in need alive. ($15 million, before the public outcry raised it another 20, is like $25 stinking bucks comparatively speaking. I just gave my $25 bucks to the red cross and if you are reading this you should do that too by clicking here. . .then you can be just as self-righteous as I am.) The hard-hat assholes you meet everyday will say “it’s not our fault, why should we pay for it? What did they ever do for us?” Starting with the most asninie, least humane reason. . .how about the world fucking hates us right now (for good reason) and if we came in like a champ and acted like we actually gave a shit (and I mean the government) it might begin to erode that. That and, like, in ancient times, or even, like, a few decades ago, when a natural disaster hit all you could say was “it’s God’s will.” Well — fuck that. With technology you actually can make a difference. But not if all your technology is tied up in stealing people’s oil.

This Woman Is A Fucking Idiot

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

Unless I am reading this story wrong, here is a woman who is complaining because she gets paid $85 grand a year to do nothing.

NEW YORK POST ONLINE

WOMAN SUES OVER ‘NOTHING’
By FREDRIC U. DICKER

December 28, 2004 — ALBANY A State Liquor Authority employee is being paid $82,789 a year to sit in an office and do nothing all day, so she passes the time by reading books and daydreaming, it was revealed yesterday.

Patricia Freund, a career state worker who says she was once one of the highest-ranking women at the SLA, also said she spends more time speaking to the janitor at her Albany office complex then she does speaking to one of her bosses.

“I don’t think I’ve done more then two days work in three years,” Freund told The Post.

The incredible no-work job, which actually costs the state more than $100,000 a year with benefits, is not what Freund, 50, a widow and college graduate who has worked for the state for 25 years, said she ever wanted.

“I had a very meritorious career and an unblemished record until three years ago,” said Freund. “Now, I have no duties and nobody here even speaks to me.”

Instead of working during her seven-hour shift, Freund said she uses the time in the office to read books such as “A Distant Mirror,” about the 14th century, and “Bury Me Standing,” about gypsies.

No one comes to her office.

Freund, who is Jewish, says she’s being punished for raising questions about the emphasis put on Christianity at a nondenominational “prayer breakfast” sponsored by Gov. Pataki in 2000.

Freund said she was “pressured” by her bosses to attend the breakfast, which the governor has sponsored annually since he took office in 1995.

Freund said she was then “offended” when, after the breakfast ended, she was given a “memento” bearing Pataki’s name that included many quotations from Jesus.

“I guess I didn’t understand what this prayer breakfast was at all,” she said.

Freund, who is officially listed as the SLA’s “director of wholesale services,” has filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against SLA Chairman Edward Kelly and other state officials, claiming she was stripped of her job responsibilities for critical statements she made about the breakfast.

Depositions in the case, which was first reported by the Albany Times-Union, were taken last week and a trial is expected in about a year, said Freund’s lawyer, Susan Adler.

SLA spokeswoman Kimberly Morrella had “absolutely no com- ment” on Freund’s allegations.

Pataki’s prayer breakfasts came under intense scrutiny earlier this year after The Post revealed that he had hiked the cost of the event to as much as $1,000 a table after announcing First Lady Laura Bush would attend. Pataki was also forced to register the breakfast event as a charity with Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office after The Post disclosed the governor failed to so during his first nine years in office.

You Are The Quarry

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

quarry.jpg


She told me she loved me, Which means, She must be insane
I’ve had my face dragged in , Fifteen miles of shit, And I do not, And I do not, And I do not like it
So how can anybody say, They know how I feel, The only one around here who is me, Is me

They said they respect me, Which means, Their judgement is crazy
I’ve had my face dragged in, Fifteen miles of shit, And I do not, And I do not, And I do not like it
So how can anybody say, They know how I feel, When they are they, And only I am I

He said he wants to befriend me, Which means, He can’t possibly know me
The voices of the real, And the imagined cry, The future is passing you by, The future is passing you by

So how can anybody possibly think they know how I feel, Everybody look, See pain, And walk away
And as for you in your uniform, Your smelly uniform, You think you can be rude to me
Because you wear a uniform, A smelly uniform, And so you think you can be rude to me

But even I, As sick as I am, I would never be you
Even I, As sick as I am, I would never be you
Even I, Sick and depraved, A traveller to the grave
I would never be you, I would never be you

My Neighbor Is Dead

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

Reuters forgets to mention that, for six months, she lived a few floors above me and Kerry Douglas Dye. I am sure it was just an oversight. (I only saw her twice.)


Susan Sontag, Writer and Critic, Dies at 71

By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Author and social critic Susan Sontag, one of the most powerful thinkers of her generation and a leading voice of intellectual opposition to U.S. policy after the Sept. 11 attacks, died on Tuesday at a New York cancer hospital. She was 71.

Sontag, who had been suffering from cancer for some time, was known for interests that ranged from French existentialist writers to ballet, photography and politics. She once said a writer should be “someone who is interested in everything.”

She was a lifelong human rights activist and the author of 17 books, including a novel, “In America,” that won a U.S. National Book award.

Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Among her best known works was a 1964 study of homosexual aesthetics called “Notes on Camp.”

Fellow author and friend Salman Rushdie described her as “a great literary artist, a fearless and original thinker, ever valiant for truth” who insisted “that with literary talent came an obligation to speak out on the great issues of the day.”

Sontag was among the first to raise a dissenting voice after Sept. 11, 2001, in a controversial New Yorker magazine essay arguing that talk of an “attack on civilization” was “drivel.”

A tall and imposing figure with white-streaked, long black hair and a severe demeanor, Sontag was a fixture on the New York intellectual scene. She played herself in Woody Allen (news)’s 1983 comedy “Zelig,” and directed four films of her own.

She ignited a firestorm of criticism when she declared that the Sept. 11 attacks were not a “cowardly attack” on civilization but “an act undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions.”

With much of America still too shocked to consider such views, she was vilified in some quarters. An op-ed piece in the Boston Globe contended the comments confirmed what many already thought about her: “high IQ, but a few quarts low on compassion and common sense.”

Sontag has since been an outspoken critic of President Bush (news – web sites) over his response to the Sept. 11 attacks and particularly the U.S. war in Iraq (news – web sites).

In May this year she wrote an essay in the New York Times about the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad, arguing that the shocking photographs of the abuse would likely becoming the defining images of the war.

The piece prompted an editorial writer at Britain’s Financial Times newspaper to describe her as “the liberal lioness … the pride of hand-wringing elitist liberalism.”

Novelist E.L. Doctorow described her as “quite fearless.”

“She was engaged as a writer. I remember she went to Sarajevo to do theater while the fighting was going on. She just marched right on in there,” he said.

Born in New York in 1933, Sontag grew up in Arizona and Los Angeles before going to the University of Chicago, and later Harvard and Oxford. She wrote novels, non-fiction books, plays and film-scripts as well as essays for The New Yorker, Granta, the New York Review of Books and other literary titles.

“She was brilliant and put her brilliance to work on behalf of human rights and creativity for everybody else,” said Victor Navasky, publisher of liberal weekly magazine The Nation.

Sontag was married at the age of 17 to Philip Rieff, an academic in Chicago, with whom she had a son in 1952.

A longtime opponent of war and a human rights activist, Sontag made several visits to Sarajevo and staged Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” there under siege in the summer of 1993.

From 1987 to 1989 she was president of the American Center of PEN, an international writers’ organization dedicated to freedom of expression, where she led a number of campaigns on behalf of persecuted and imprisoned writers.

Rushdie, current PEN president, expressed his gratitude for her support over the fatwa issued against him in 1989 for his book “The Satanic Verses.” “Her resolute support, at a time when some wavered, helped to turn the tide against what she called ‘an act of terrorism against the life of the mind.”‘ (Additional reporting by Leslie Gevirtz)

Reuters/VNU

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Alfred Hitchcock, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

I thought I had seen this. I’d only seen the original version not this, superior remake. It’s the usual Hitchcock theme — ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances, but there are some lovely moments. The whole opening, until the instigating event, is eerie in its detail and minutae. The bickering between husband and wife is just subtle enough to be awkward; if you wanted to search for Hitchcock’s alleged hatred toward women, look no further than here, where a husband would rather drug his wife to sleep rather than listen to her cry for their kidnapped son. The Royal Albert Hall sequence, 12 minutes of dialogue-free suspense, is a mini-masterpiece. I also love that Jimmy Stewart never once considers that he should save his son and the Prime Minister. He could give a shit about world affairs and has not a moment’s thought about the morality of his decision. . .probably a realistic move, but striking for a Hollywood film of the 1950s. There is, though, an anti-climactic coda I could do without. . . and the whole problem that the story itself is kinda dumb and confusing. . . but if you are looking for a fine example of excellent form over middling content, here it is.

Road To Bali (1952), Hal Walker, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

The sixth Hope and Crosby road picture was the first in color and the first that actually hired indigenous actors. The jokes tread a little too far into corny waters for my taste, relying on some sight gags and special effects. Hope’s performance here is very good, though, and there are at least five instances where you can see where Woody Allen stole gestures and lines wholesale. Also: I must add that Dorothy Lamour got much sexier as she got older. Here she is at age 38 busting out of her dishy Balinese princess outfit and looking a lot more eye popping than she did as a 25 year old girl in a sarong in the first “Road To Singapore.” Oddly, she gets treated like shit by both Hope and Crosby here. There has always been wild sexism in these films, but usually Lamour is the exception to the rule and is treated like a godess. Here she is an object to be fought over and, once won, ignored. There’s an undercurrent of meanness in all the films, but usually it is the scoundral Crosby jerking the chain of the rube Hope — but here the resentment goes all the way round, only taking a break for a musical number. To call the “road pictures” anything other than fascinating would be a mistake. One more out of seven to go.

Sunshine State (2002), John Sayles, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, December 27th, 2004

I absolutely adored this when I saw it in the theatres. Last night, though, I found myself just a little bit annoyed by the unresolved nature of so many of the storylines. Does she sell the place? What was the deal Miguel Ferrer and Mary Steenburgen’s husband were working on? Is he still going to kill himself? Anyway, no one does exhausted like Edie Falco. She is marvelous, as is Angela Bassett, who has the less sexy role but still holds her own. I still am blown away by the writing — the monologues especially. And the zingers. One day Sayles has to put his social conscious on hold and make a flat-out screwball comedy, it’d be terrific.

12 Angry Men (1957), Sidney Lumet, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, December 27th, 2004

This has the best ending in all of movies. After hours of grueling arguement and soul searching, everyone just leaves. Then on the steps: Hey, what’s your name? Davis. Mine’s McArdle. (Beat.) Well. . .so long. Some argue how brave this film is to wear its liberal heart on its sleeve. I say, this completely true to life near Warhol-esque micro-ending is what’s bravest.

How Goober Spends A Sunday

Jordan | Goober | Sunday, December 26th, 2004

goober_belly_bed.jpg

Note: Goober does not have a blanket around him. The mass of white is his enormous white belly which, being a quadraped, he does a good job of concealing when he is not laying upside down. For example:

goober_quad.jpg

goober_belly2.jpg

goober_close.jpg

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004), Wes Anderson, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, December 26th, 2004

With so many people calling for the head of Wes Anderson I sat in the theater, wondering, when am I supposed to start hating this? While the movie is nothing to change your life over, I found nothing to hate. The story, such as there is one, may meander past the point of ever caring what happens to any of the characters (did Anjelica Huston rejoin Team Zissou at the end? Does it matter?) but there’s always another deadpan Bill Murray delivery just around the corner, or insane musical montage, or a different room with fabulous wallpaper. Wes Anderson’s four features have been progressively less realistic, more focused on whatever fetishes and obsessions clouded (probably) the filmmaker’s youth. Most agree he reached his high water mark with his second film, “Rushmore.” (His last film and this both deal with not living up to past success.) I won’t disagree; “Rushmore” is a more total film, but there is something to be said about ripping idiosyncratic fascinations out of your brain and getting them on screen. Too quirky for his own good is what people will say of Anderson if he keeps this up. Not so, if he maintains this level of care and dedication. I mean, after an international cast running around in light blue spandex to a Krafwerk-like beat through a typhoon-wrecked 60s hotel trying to rescue Bud Cort — where do you go from there? When Kerry was telling me why he hated this movie he did concede that it operates on some very specific wavelength, and that there were a few people on that wavelength at the theater he saw it in that seemed to be honing in on it while everyone else was quiet. If you don’t want to see a movie about an oceanographer/filmmaker having a midlife crises as he chases down a giant Jaguar Shark that may not exist, well, then this isn’t for you. I found myself amused and Ann freaking adored it.

Road To Rio (1947), Norman Z. McLeod, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, December 25th, 2004

Bob Hope/Bing Crosby Road Picture # 5 is notable for a few reasons. For one, they actually get to the place they’re on the “road” to! Another, Dorothy Lamour upps the ante with sexy, slinky outfits. (Insert Bob Hope growl here.) Problem, though: too much plot. Like some of the later Marx Brothers movies, someone somewhere along the way thought the audience would want to follow a storyline and the one on display here is not only boring but Byzantine. One other thing: Woody Allen always claimed his early persona was half Groucho half Bob Hope. You can see the influence here more than in any of the other road pictures so far — the double takes, the moments of false bravado switching to cowardice. Woody was 11 or 12 when this movie came out. . .a very influential age.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947), George Seaton, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, December 25th, 2004

Wow — if you go into the SS Fun archives, you’ll see that I watched this very same movie on this very same day last year. Interesting. This is my favorite love poem to conformity ever penned. Young Natalie Wood, even if her lifelong dream is to leave her gorgeous rent controlled Central Park West apartment for a crappy house on Long Island, is adorable.

How To Define Masochism

Jordan | E-motions | Friday, December 24th, 2004

A.O. Scott writes thusly of “Phantom of the Opera”:

Lord Lloyd Webber’s thorough acquaintance with the canon of 18th- and 19th-century classical music is not in doubt, but his attempt to force a marriage between that tradition and modern musical theater represents a victory of pseudo-populist grandiosity over taste – an act of cultural butchery akin to turning an aviary of graceful swans and brilliant peacocks into an order of Chicken McNuggets.

I firmly believe that Joel Schumacher is the worst filmmaker working in Hollywood. And yet. . . and yet. . .I have this strange desire to see this film. Somehow, I want to sit through a 2.5 hour piece of shit.

A 7-10 Split For The Intifada

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

Bowlmore Lanes owned by Arafat? Read on. I knew I felt a solidarity with the struggling displaced masses when I was paying $8 for a Budweiser.

Look For The Union Label

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

I am now a proud member of the Freelancers Union. Health Insurance and cheap Broadway tickets!!!!

Million Dollar Baby (2004), Clint Eastwood, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

Clint Eastwood has never won the Oscar as an actor. That changes with this film. When you see Clint, the baddest of all badasses, tears in his eyes, hands trembling with indecision, snot rolling down his nose, you’ll have seen one of the iconic images of cinema. I liked, but did not love “Mystic River.” Not even the same league. You could compare this to a perfect film like “Unforgiven.” In fact, without giving too much away, this is pretty much the same exact movie as “Unforgiven” with Boxing Coach taking the place where Gunslinger should be. “Unforgiven” is a great movie to watch on repeated viewings; I don’t know if I have the strength to sit through this again. There were black guys on dates, thinking they were going to a boxing movie, who were weeping at the end of the film.

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