Grits and Tamales

Life in the Deep South, by Gabriel Aguilera

Proust on memory

“But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”

“Old Walt…” by Langston Hughes “…went seeking and finding.”

I so so loved this poem.

“OLD WALT” by Langston Hughes

Old Walt Whitman
Went finding and seeking,
Finding less than sought
Seeking more than found,
Every detail minding
Of the seeking or the finding.

Pleasured equally
In seeking as in finding,
Each detail minding,
Old Walt went seeking
And finding.

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On Movies — Update

This is an old post I update periodically. Don’t have time to maintain it, but I do use it to keep track of films I need to see at some point. Lately, my time has gone to the many great epic TV series.

Here is a list of great movie adaptations

I love films but I have not watched as many as I should have over the years.  Going forward I want to both keep up with and revisit the excellent ones.  Below is a list of films recommended to my by some friends that I mean to see.

If there is something you believe I absolutely must see let me know and I’ll add it to the list.  The films that I have seen have asterisks and are in bold.   Of course, there are many excellent films that I have seen that I have not yet listed. I’ll add these along as I go along.  There are a few classics that I have seen that are not in asterisk because I was either too young or too immature to fully appreciate them and wish to see them again.

Note, the more endorsements a movie gets the more likely I am to see it.  Also, no documentaries, anime, or TV epic dramas are listed below (i.e. The Sopranos).  Just movies.\

1920s

**SHERLOCK, JR. (Buster Keaton, 1924) [Recommended here] Seen 4/2013**  Netflix

1930s

All’s Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestown, 1930)  [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz and William Keighely, 1938) [Recommended by Megan Maxwell]

Bringing up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938) [Recommended by Megan Maxwell]

1940s

Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Bert Johnson]

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1943) [Recommended by Megan Maxwell] {Saw a long time ago}

Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Bert Johnson]

Lady from Shanhai (Orson Welles, 1947) [Recommended by Chiara]

The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) [Recommended by Christopher Carr] Nextflix

Twelve O’clock High (Henry King, 1949) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Colonel Balls] Netflix

**The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949) [Recommended by Thomas Aguilera, Bert Johnson, and Chris Brooke]** Seen 2/2013**

1950s

Sunset Blvd (Billy Wilder, 1950) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Chiara]

Orpheus (Jean Cocteau, 1950) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Ace in the Hole ( Billy Wilder, 1951) [Recommended by Vincent Aguilera]

Appointment in London (Philip Leacock, 1952) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Singing in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1952) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

High Noon (Fred Zinneman, 1952) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Kristen Fehlhaber]

Viva Zapata (Elia Kazan, 1952) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

**African Queen (John Huston, 1952) [Recommended by Megan Maxwell] Netflix** Seen Spring 2013

On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1954) [Recommended by Thomas Aguilera]

Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Glen Miller Story (Anthony Mann, 1954) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Stanley Donen,1954) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)  [Recommended by Bert Johnson and Megan Maxwell]

Love Me or Leave Me (Charles Vidor, 1955) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1955) [Recommended by Lindsay Kennedy]

Marty (Delbert Mann, 1955) [Recommended by Vincent Aguilera]

Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox, 1956)  [Recommended by Sam Williford]

Giant (George Stevens, 1956) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean, 1957) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrik, 1957) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

The Big Country (William Wyler, 1958) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Separate Tables (Delbert Mann, 1958) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)  [Recommended by Chiara and Steve Burgess]

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) [Recommended by Bert Johnson and Megan Maxwell]

**North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Megan Maxwell]** Seen on 2/2013

Our Man in Havana (Carol Read, 1959) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

1960s

Plein Soleil (Rene Clement, 1960) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Sparticus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Shoot the Piano Player (Francois Truffaut, 1960) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Blake Edwards, 1961) [Recommended by Christopher Carr] Netflix

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1961) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan, 1961) [Recommended by Lindsay Kennedy]

Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1961) {Recommended by Lindsay Kennedy]

Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 1962) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Chris Brooke]

Lonely are the Brave (David Miller, 1962) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962) [Recommended by Dolores Bozovic]

HMS Defiant (Lewis Gilbert, 1962) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

JULES AND JIM (Francois Truffaut, 1962) [Recommended here]

Charade (Stanley Donen, 1963) [Recommended by Christopher Carr] Netflix

Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)  [Recommended by Chris Brooke]

Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) [Recommended by Chelsea Scevers]

Seven Days in May (John Frankenheimer, 1964) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

The Train (John Frankenheimer, 1965) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

** Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965)**  Seen 12/13

**Dr. Zhivago (David Lean, 1965)** Seen 12/13 

Ipcress Files (Sidney J. Furie, 1965) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Darling (John Schlesinger, 1965) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

The Professionals (Richard Brooks, 1966) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Man  for all Seasons (Fred Zinneman, 1966) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Two for the Road (Stanley Donen, 1967) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Point Blank (John Boorman, 1967) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Bonnie & Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

In Cold Blood (Richard Brooks, 1967)   [Recommended by Cabron R. Mickey]

2001 A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick 1968)  [Recommended by Vincent Aguilera]

Planet of the Apes (Franklin Schaffner, 1968) [Recommended by Vincent Aguilera]

Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) [Recommended by Bert Johnson and Megan Maxwell]

**The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]** Seen 1/13.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Peter R. Hunt, 1969) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Take the Money and Run (Woody Allen, 1969) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Chris Brooke]

1970s

The Garden of the Fintzi Contini (Vittorio De Sica, 1970) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Cromwell (Ken Hughes, 1970) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER (Robert Bresson 1971) [Recommended here]

Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrik, 1971) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Klute (Alan J. Pakula, 1971) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971) [Recommended by Bert Johnson]

Duck you Sucker (Sergio Leone, 1971) [Recommended by Chiara]

Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

**The Godfather Part I (Francis Ford Copolla, 1972)**

Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Don’t Look now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

**The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Copolla, 1974)**

**Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)**

Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977) [Recommended by Christopher Carr]

Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979) [Recommended by Christopher Carr and Chiara]

1980s

FANNY AND ALEXANDER (Ingmar Bergman, 1982) [Recommended here]

Ordinary People (Robert Redford)  [Recommended by Ernesto Barron]

Salvador (Oliver Stone, 1986) [Recommended by Christopher Carr] {Saw a while back…}

**THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (Woody Allen, 1985 )** [Recommended here]

Wings of Desire (Wim Wnders, 1987)

Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou, 1988)

**Henry V (Kenneth Branagh, 1989)**

Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989) [Recommended by Chiara]

1990s

**Goodfellas (Martin Scorcese, 1990)**

**Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)** [Recommended here]

**Casino (Martin Scorcese, 1995)**

**Othello (Oliver Parker, 1996)**

**Twelfth Night (Trevor Nunn, 1996)**

**Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh, 1996)**

**American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999)**

Titus Andronicus (Julie Taymor, 1999) [Recommended by Chelsea Scevers]

**Fargo (Coen Brothers, 1996)**

2000s

Quills (Philip Kaufman 2000) [Recommended by Dolores Bozovic] Netflix

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001) [Recommended by Chelsea Scevers]

Minority Report (Stephen Spielberg, 2002)  [Recommended by Sam Williford]

Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004) [Recommended by Sam Williford]

**Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005) [Recommended by Jeff Frieden]** Seen, Spring 2013

**Little Ms. Sunshine (Valerie Faris and Jonathon Dayton, 2006)**

**No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007)**

Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2007) [Recommended by Sam Williford]

**The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)**

**The Reader (Steven Daldry, 2008)**

**The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009)**

**The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev, 2009)** Seen 4/2013 Netflix

District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009) [Recommended by Sam Williford]

2010s

**True Grit (Coen Brothers, 2007)**

Death at a Funeral (Neil LaBute, 2010) [Recommended by Chelsea Scevers]

Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)

**Lincoln (Spielberg, 2012)**

Proust Quote for Mother’s Day

And so I must set forth without viaticum; must climb each step of the staircase ‘against my heart,’ as the saying is, climbing in opposition to my heart’s desire , which was to return to my mother, since she had not, by her kiss, given my heart leave to accompany me forth. That hateful staircase, up which I always passed with such dismay, gave out a smell of varnish which had to some extent absorbed, made definite and fixed the special quality of sorrow that I felt each evening, and made it perhaps even more cruel to my sensibility because, when it assumed this olfactory guise, my intellect was powerless to resist it. When we have gone to sleep with a maddening toothache and are conscious of it only as a little girl whom we attempt, time after time, to pull out of the water, or as a line of Molière which we repeat incessantly to ourselves, it is a great relief to wake up , so that our intelligence can disentangle the idea of toothache from any artificial semblance of heroism or rhythmic cadence.

Proust, Marcel (2012-05-17). Swann’s Way (p. 22). . Kindle Edition.

On Clevinger: “Don’t be a dope…”

Joseph Heller well describes what we can call the academic’s paradox: all intelligence and no brains.

“Everyone agreed that Clevinger was certain to go far in the academic world. In short, Clevinger was one of those people with lots of intelligence and no brains and everyone knew it except those who soon found it out.

In short, he was a dope. He often looked to Yossarian like one of those people hanging around modern museums with both eyes together on one side of a face. It was an illusion, of course, generated by Clevinger’s predilection for staring fixedly at one side of a question and never seeing the other side at all…[Clevinger] was constantly defending his Communist friends to his right-wing enemies and his right-wing friends to his Communist enemies, and he was thoroughly detested by both groups…because they thought he was a dope.”

“He was a very serious, very earnest and very conscientious dope…[H]e was a militant idealist who crusaded against racial bigotry by growing faint in its presence. He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it.”

“Yossarian tried to help him. ‘Don’t be a dope,’ he had counseled….”

The Greatest Play

Shakespeare

Here is a roundup of what five scholars say about The Bard’s greatest play. Lear and Hamlet, of course, are noted by two. One says about Hamlet, “It’s the pinnacle of Shakespeare’s artistic achievement. Hands down.” Just a few years ago I would have agreed. To my mind, Lear has gained ground and surpassed it. Gospels aside, Lear, I think, might be the greatest love story I have ever read. None of it, though, is about romantic love.  The French King’s love for Cordelia is brushed aside early and we don’t see him again. There is Edgar’s lascivious love with the sisters. “Let copulation thrive…”, says Lear sardonically. Other loves abound and are explored, that of fathers and daughters, fathers and sons, and masters and servants. Lear provokes haunting horror, love, and tenderness. 

Other tidbits in the piece are a case made for Othello, which I don’t buy. I loved the case made for The Winter’s Tale that has convinced me to seek out a production ASAP. Still, I’m not buying this argument either.

A more intriguing argument made by one scholar is for Henry V. As the author notes, however, it is one piece of the Henriad and does not stand alone. To my mind, there is one great epic play within the Henriad. After trimming the fat — and there is a fair amount of it across the four plays — we could be left with an play to rival Lear and Hamlet.  Interestingly, after many years of studying these plays, I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that Hamlet and Lear are ultimately a rejection of Machiavellian politics. Lear is blatantly so whereas Hamlet is more cunning on this point. The Henriad, in contrast, is a celebration of politics and a deft rejection of monarchy that would make Machiavelli smile.

 

Magical Realism in Catch-22

There is more than a little magical realism in Catch-22. Exhibit A: Milo Minderbinder.

Swann’s Way

Sometimes, too , just as Eve was created from a rib of Adam, so a woman would come into existence while I was sleeping, conceived from some strain in the position of my limbs. Formed by the appetite that I was on the point of gratifying, she it was, I imagined, who offered me that gratification. My body, conscious that its own warmth was permeating hers, would strive to become one with her, and I would awake.

Proust, Marcel (2012-05-17). Swann’s Way (p. 5). . Kindle Edition.

 

But then, even in the most insignificant details of our daily life, none of us can be said to constitute a material whole, which is identical for everyone, and need only be turned up like a page in an account-book or the record of a will; our social personality is created by the thoughts of other people. Even the simple act which we describe as “seeing some one we know” is, to some extent, an intellectual process . We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we have already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds those ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognise and to which we listen.

Proust, Marcel (2012-05-17). Swann’s Way (p. 15). . Kindle Edition.

 

On Faiths

The answer to the question, “What does it all mean?”, does not have an answer. What is important is that we ask it every single day and wrestle with the competing and contradictory faiths that exist in our imagination. We construct faiths for everything to keep ourselves sane. Together these constitute a particular system and it is important that we understand our faiths within it; how they work together (or not); and the de facto priority that we give each rather than the hierarchy that we desire. These faiths can include, among others, work, leisure, love life (or lives), families, intellectual pursuits, health concerns, or faith in God. It’s important, I think, that we take control of these and order them lest they order us. We must be consciously aware of why we privilege one and not another. A great poet once referred to custom — habit — as a monster. It is indeed so and this is precisely why we have to wrestle with the question of what it all means every single day. Only by so doing so explicitly can we order faiths correctly, according to our priorities, and establish the habits and practices to support the particular system and outcomes we desire.Image

 

A Reflection for Easter

Sometimes, when disoriented in the wilderness, the Lord sends Angels to remind us of who we are. These creatures of unspeakable beauty hold up mirrors for us to see ourselves and then to simultaneously look out from deep within them. In this way, our existence turns into a reflection conjured by active memories of those who love us — and of ourselves. Within this confluence, by God’s grace, we exist and it is only here that it is possible to listen and obey; to act on Christ’s command to pick up our cross and to remember the providence of a falling sparrow.

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