Words In Your Face

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Thursday, November 29th, 2007

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With immense pride do I salute the good work of Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz and the publication of her massive, canonical text Words in Your Face an essential oral history of the oftentimes misunderstood world of performance poetry. And while I’ve only had the introduction read to me, I greatly enjoyed hearing it, the work of some of the performers detailed and the following discussion at last night’s book party in Nolita. CoKA has been working on this for nine gazillion years and it is a major accomplishment. If you haven’t bought your copy yet, you should do so now.

Kerouac at the NYPL

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, November 25th, 2007

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I’ve never been enough of a fan that I felt the need to genuflect, but I did feel something seeing the original On The Road scroll laid out like a giant Beat Torah at the New York Public Library. Their Kerouac show manages not to beat the dead horse of hero worship – it present Kerouac not as saint or divinator or anything else other than a writer. That was my biggest takeaway: yes, the first full draft of On The Road was written on a huge roll of taped-up typewriter paper in a compressed amount of inspired time — but prior to that, Kerouac did his homework. He took notes, sketched out characters, figured out plot points. Dude was not receiving radio signals from Shiva, he worked at his craft.

On The Road, if I dare say it, is one of those texts that is far cooler as a milestone in culture than the thing itself. Like Duchamp’s urinal, like Easy Rider, like, God help us, Slap Shot (yes, I’m being serious.) But seeing it laid out there — pretty frickin’ cool, I gotta say.

Rescue Dawn (2007), Werner Herzog, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, November 25th, 2007

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I feel the same about Rescue Dawn as I did when I first saw it four months back. It is a very engrossing, involving film – but it lacks the artistry I expect from Werner Herzog – especially considering the subject matter. It’s not like Herzog is selling out – I mean his last movie before Rescue Dawn to hit the theaters was The Wild Blue Yonder — hardly an easily accessible picture. Still, I dunno. . .the fact remains this: Rescue Dawn was one of the handful of good, original movies to come out in mainstream cinemas this year — and one of Hezog’s least memorable films.

The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963), Cliff Owen, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, November 25th, 2007

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Absolutely fantastic. The only thing negative I can think to say about this movie is that it kinda outs Johnny Dangerously as not being quite as original as I thought it was. Peter Sellers is hysterical as a the cockney mob boss/french dressmaker but he is consistantly upstaged by Lionel Jeffries as the idiotic Inspector “Nosy” Parker. This flick isn’t just performances, though – the script is air tight. Haven’t discovered a new comedy like this in a long time.

Relics, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, November 25th, 2007

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Next time you approach a Dyson Sphere be aware that you could be returning an old warhorse from transporter stasis to guest star status! Yes, Jimmy Doohan had some bills to pay so agreed to boldly go where Spock and Bones had gone before – to do a guest shot on TNG. He buts heads with LaForge, drinks, visits the NCC-1701 on the holodeck and allows for MANY subtle (and some not so subtle) references to the old show. It’s actually quite amazing how infrequently the TNG writers went to this well – so when they do do it is quite fun. Best is Scotty admitting to “The Scotty Method” ie saying something will take three hours when it only takes one. It’s great to watch him save the day one more time.

Man of the People, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, November 25th, 2007

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Another story about a crack diplomatic negotiator who’s got something to hide. This time it is a Dorian Gray thing, but the picture winds up being Counselor Troi! But before she turns old, she turns into a sex monster! Oh no!

Backgammon

Jordan | E-motions | Saturday, November 24th, 2007

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Yesterday Ann & I went out for tea and/or coffee on Steinway St. We went to the fun Egyptian place Eastern Nights that looks nothing like it did a few years back when the Village Voice or Queens Gazette reviewed it. I’m guessing ownership changed hands beacause the decor is straight up EPCOT Center (by which I mean, totally fantastic) in its faux Egyptology. There were a pack of English speaking local “of the Orient” kids and a quartet of fellow tourists in there ahead of us, all enjoying huffs on their hookahs. I passed (although I asked Ann if she thought they had an Albuterol blend) and drank, instead, the horrible clove-ridden mud that is Turkish Coffee. This is not my first time drinking it, nor is it my first time enjoying it. Indedd, of the latter, I am still waiting for that to happen.

Anyway, we noticed that the gang of four to our right were playing what looked like an old tyme Backgammon set. Oddly enough, just today Ann was cleaning out a closet and game upon many games of skill and chance that we’ve collected over the years. Including a Backgammon board. Neither of us know how to play.

“But it is a 2000 year old game! And it says Ages 7 & Up! How difficult could it be?”

Well, after reading the instructions three times I feel like the biggest idiot on the face of the Earth. I just – I just can’t make heads or tails of what the hell they are talking about. But children play this game! Not just children, but ANCIENT children? As they were dying of the Black Death they played this? Why can’t I make sense of the rules?

So, someone, please read this and get back to me.

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Tim Burton, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, November 24th, 2007

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[after Pee Wee passes out]
Texan: What’s your name?
Pee-wee: I don’t remember.
Texan: Where are you from?
Pee-wee: I don’t remember.
Texan: Do you remember anything?
Pee-wee: I remember… the Alamo.
[Texans cheer]

Neil Young: Chrome Dreams II

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Friday, November 23rd, 2007

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It’s so rare I have a new CD in my life – what with this the age of the MP3, that horrible technology that is ruining everything – but Neil’s new one is pretty terrific. Usually a Neil album is one thing or the other: pretty and accoustic or dirty and electric. Some of the better ones (After the Gold Rush, Freedom even Harvest to a certain extent) were both. As is this. There’s some Nashville-ish country tunes like on Prairie Wind and tunes like “Dirty Old Man” as rough edged and idiotic as any past Crazy Horse gem. There are also two tracks clocking in over 10 minutes. Neil fans really owe it to themselves to pick this up – there’s a lot of good stuff here.

Y The Last Man, Books 1-9

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Friday, November 23rd, 2007

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I can not deny that I have become, almost overnight, a Y The Last Man fanboy.

If Y The Last Man has any fault it is that there is too much action. Lots of crosses and double crosses and people sneaking up behind other people with swords. But this is obviously all secondary to the world – the believable world – that is created in the aftermath of a gendercide. Y The Last Man and Battlestar Galactica are certainly the two best works I’ve come across that were created as a direct response to the World Trade Center destruction. Much like life, both of these works are complex and, to put an old wonky term back out there, nuanced. Highly recommended.

Realm of Fear, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Friday, November 23rd, 2007

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I suppose Reg Barclay does fill a need. He does help real-world storylines creep into TNG, even though it makes no sense for him to be there. Mission of discovery, yes, but the Enterprise is still a crypto-military operation and, as such, Barclay has no business being there. But neither do all those kids, so this is something of a moot argument.

Anyway, yeah, the Transporter. It’s cool to really have-at-it. Of course there would be people frightened to death of it. And it makes sense that the ones who are are the ones who have problems. I didn’t quite follow how the giant nibble-worms were actually trapped Federation scientists, but sometimes I can be slow.

Time’s Arrow, Pt 2, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Friday, November 23rd, 2007

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Good lord – what a way to start a new season. It’s not like part one set them up well, but there is a descent into awfulness not seen since Season 1 or, dare I say, from the And the Children Shall Lead/Spock’s Brain vortex of TOS’ Season 3.

If you wanna see Mark Twain running around a starship, be my guest. The bigger problem is all the paradoxes. Here goes:

Dr. Noonien Soong created Data, say, in spot 5 on the timeline.
Data’s Head is found on earth in spot 10 on the timeline.
Data goes back to spot 1 on the timeline, loses his head.
Geordi & co go back to spot 1, witness his head removal, retrieve it, and go back to time 11 to put it back on.
Data’s head is now 500 years old, but working fine.
But in this timeline, there is now a paradox about Dr. Soong! Didn’t anyone think of this?? All it would take would be one line of nonsense technobabble from Geordi to say, “The phase inversion set up a subspace conversion bubble, neutrilizing the time-space paradox!” There – done! But we don’t get that. Bah! I say.

Also – if Picard wanted to nail Guinan he doesn’t have to go back in time to do it – he can do it any day aboard the ship. Double bah!

Vacancy (2007), Nimród Antal, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

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Entertaining. Ann yelled at least 4 times and said “I’m scared!” at least twice. I’m hardly the biggest fan of Luke Wilson but he’s secondary to the script here. And not as much of a rip off of Psycho as you might think. Worth a rental.

Slap Shot (1977), George Roy Hill, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

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Many people wax philosophic about cinema of the 70s: Casavettes, Scorsese, Coppola, Ashby, etc. But for me – the movie that sums up the 70s better than any is Slap Shot. I can’t think of anything that captures the era better: the disillusionment, the styles, the music, the dare-I-say gestalt. The fact of the matter is that Slap Shot is not a very good or clever movie. But I think it is as important a cultural touchstone as Easy Rider (another one that isn’t all that good when you really watch it.) There aren’t any jokes in Slap Shot, yet somehow it is funny. The characters are either selfish jerks, maniacs or (Michael Ontkean, I’m looking at you) big fat wusses. Somehow, you root for these guys. I get the impression that everyone involved in the making of this film was drunk by 11 AM and stayed that way until wrap was called. There is a nasty edge here – a mean, violent streak – and I don’t just mean the Hanson Brothers. There is a boorish humor in the devestation to the community, a death throe of the small mid-atlantic industrial town that is going down in a blaze of idiotic, vulgar, misogynistic glory. I think. I can’t tell. Because I am half on this movie’s wavelength and half bored by its TV Movie of the Week production values and random dirty (alleged) punchlines. All I’m saying is, there has to be a reason this movie has connected with people and remained such a classic. This isn’t just a hockey movie – there’s something going on here and I don’t know what it is, do I, Mr. Jones?

No Country For Old Men (2007), Coen Bros., A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

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Here comes my controversial statement. This movie, a terrific movie, one of the better works by the Coen Brothers, is a movie I’d like to see one more time. The Coens’ have made “worse” films – The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty for example – that I can still watch over and over again. Does that make sense? If you are a Coens fan it might.

This is a splendid movie with some wonderful sequences, but it is very normal. There is none of the verbal play that comes with a Coens film – or only trace elements of it. There is hardly any humor at all. The most serious of their films, the grossly overlooked The Man Who Wasn’t There, still has all that weird spaceship shit in it.

Am I panning this movie in any way? No. It is fantastic, and will probably land on my top ten list of the year. All of those dialogue-free sequences at the motel(s) are just to die for. All of the listening through walls, light creeping in from under the door. Plus, they take a beat straight out of Body/Antibody! (scroll to the bottom of this to figure out what I mean.) Anyway, fun stuff – and the cattle gun (or captive bolt stunner) has inspired the geniuses at UGO to think about great movie weapons. So that’s a reason to like the movie right there.

Ratatouille (2007), Brad Bird, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, November 19th, 2007

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Pretty dang cute.

Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who (2007), Paul Crowder & Murray Lerner, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, November 18th, 2007

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And while my official stance continues that I am sick to death of documentaries about musicians just ’cause they have a lot of fans, I can’t deny that I enjoyed this. The second disc includes a little section about The Who as Performance Art that is a little hard to swallow, but still interesting. Anyway, Long Live Rock and all that. And Remember the Cincinnatti Eleven! Has anyone heard the new Who album? It would be nice if it were good. . .but I’d understand if it weren’t.

Monika a/k/a Summer With Monika (1953), Ingmar Bergman, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, November 18th, 2007

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Youth rebellion in three acts: courtship, ecstacy, consequences. One or two hokey moments at first, but in retrospect I think this is to mirror the characters’ innocence? Maybe? But to think this was made in 1953! Terrific stuff. Ann enjoyed it, too, but was right to point out the one or two contradictions in the storytelling. Still – visually stunning, heartbreaking, glorious, sexy and even funny.

Incidentally, this is the one that famously and inadvertently turned Woody Allen into a Bergman fan when the young Woodman heard there was nudity in the film.

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