October 10th, 2007

The press



This is so reminiscent of the shit in Vietnam, the USAID (read CIA) briefings they'd give at the Rex Hotel in Saigon. Most attended them just for the ham sandwiches they passed out--the only reason to take a note was if you intended to poke fun at something, because the information you got was all shaped, politcal, if not outright fiction. It's also reminiscent of the unpleasantness in El Salvador. Most of the mainstream journalists I was familiar there with practiced "hotel journalism," as described in the New York Review of Books article found here:

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/68077/orville_schell_on_journalism_under_siege_in_baghdad

I urge you to take a few minutes to read it--it's absolutely the best piece I've read on the subject. Very atmospheric, very affecting.

It seems little has changed--the only difference is that now, due to "embedding" and all else, a journalist is less able to get at the truth and in much more peril.
  • pgdf

Four Populaires: surprisingly listenable!



I promised to listen to this album and report, and an Inferior 4 never goes back on his (or her) word!

The album is recorded live, with flawless technical expertise. The applause sounds sincere, albeit decorous.

The track lineup:

SIDE 1
BUT NOT FOR ME
DON'T GO TO STRANGERS
WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA
FASCINATION
CHICAGO
MA, HE'S MAKING EYES AT ME
IF YOU KNEW SUSIE
THAT'S ALL

SIDE 2
ESO BESO
YELLOW BIRD
JOSEPHINE
STELLA BY STARLIGHT
AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER
ME AND MY SHADOW
SERENATA
YA NO TE QUIERO MAS
MARINA

The instruments are horns, guitar, drums and accordian, uncredited as to which band member plays which: Bill Sloane, Kenny Martin, Bill Walz, or Chuck Bills. Some songs feature solo voice, others harmony.

What we have here are some consumate professionals doing classy arrangements to provide mild entertainment. Nothing is overblown or campy or schmaltzy. Even the dreaded accordian remains subdued and engaging. The singer's voice is a pleasant tenor, a bit Mel Torme, a bit Tony Bennett. The harmonizing is well-done. While no great emotions are invested in the songs--this was dinner-club music, remember, meant to be half-listened to by boozing vacationers--a selection like "Yellow Bird" is freighted with appropriate melancholy. For changeup purposes, instrumentals are scattered amongst the vocal numbers. There's no stage banter or chatter.

A night's work for a night's pay, a chance to show off one's honed chops, a spot of good-natured brightness in the lives of some people looking to forget the humdrum.

A not unhonorable accomplishment.

Posted by Paul DiFi.

Movies, etc.

For a change, there are a few American movies I'm looking forward to seeing this year. There'sSouthland Tales and the troubled production of the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, directed by New Zealand's Andrew Dominick...Brad Pitt's recut notwithstanding, I'll risk it. No Country For Old Men was, IMO, second-rate Cormac McCarthy, self-parody, but it just might make a great movie amd haul back the Coen brothers from the verge of hackdom. Then there's Paul Anderson's new film, There Will Be Blood, with Daniel Day Lewis playing a misanthrope in the old West. Here's the trailer:

F

I haven't liked anything Anderson has done since Hard 8, his debut noir (not coincidentally, the last film on which he worked with an editor), and his last two pictures, Magnoiia and Punchdrunk Love, were especially awul; but this one looks intriguing. I'll give it a shot, but if a single frog falls from the heavens, I'm walking.

A discussion on short fiction on Ellen Datlow's blog

http://ellen-datlow.livejournal.com/12643.html?thread=232803#t232803

has thusfar been dominated by the ebullient Nick Mamatas, who doesn't like much, he says, a viewpoint that's tough to argue with. If you have anything to add, drop over. I didn't--they're not talking about stuff I know anything about. I was startled to learn that Clarkesword had a magazine, edited by NM, which goes to show just how far down in the sand my head is buried. What I'm interested in, which so far hasn't been brought up, is why so much new fiction seems to avoid dealing with social and political issues. Admittedly, I don't read much, but Paolo Bacigalupi (sp?) and a few others are the only ones I'm aware of--probably it's going on without my notice, but there wasn't much when I started and I presume that nothing much has changed, though the world's problems have grown more severe and pressing. Anyway...