Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Audio Anthology: Two Poems by Michael Meyerhofer

DOWNLOAD MP3 of Keith reading a poem

DOWNLOAD MP3 of Keith reading a poem

If you have Quick Time, the track will automatically play in it's entirety when you click on it.You can get Quick Time here.

Your other option is to right click on the link, select "Save Target As", and Browse to the location on your hard drive where you want to save the MP3 file.

In that case, you'll need to open the file in Windows Media Player or some other media program that handles MP3s.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Video Anthology: Ken Babstock Poem Read by Keith Badowski

Here's my first poetry video. It's also the first video I've ever posted on YouTube. Take a look, and let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Audio Anthology: A Poem by Ken Babstock

DOWNLOAD MP3 of Keith reading a poem

If you have Quick Time, the track will automatically play in it's entirety when you click on it.You can get Quick Time here.

Your other option is to right click on the link, select "Save Target As", and Browse to the location on your hard drive where you want to save the MP3 file.

In that case, you'll need to open the file in Windows Media Player or some other media program that handles MP3s.


For a quick 30 sec sample of the poem, click the player below.

Friday, April 25, 2008

In Progress: Most Interesting Movies of the 1990s

This is a list that will be refined, edited, expanded, and elaborated later. But so far, here's my starting point. In other words, this is a work in progress:

Goodfellas (1990) Directed by Martin Scorsese. With Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci

Wild at Heart (1990) Directed by David Lynch With Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Marietta Fortune, Willem Dafoe

The Fisher King - (1991) Directed by Terry Gilliam With Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams

Gattaca (1997) Directed by Andrew Niccol With Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law

Shadowlands (1993) Directed by Richard Attenborough With Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger, Edward Hardwicke

Pulp Fiction - (1994) Directed by Quentin Tarantino With John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson

Forrest Gump - (1994) Directed by Robert Zemmeckis With Tom Hanks, Gary Sinese

Sling Blade - (1996) Directed by Billy Bob Thornton With Billy Bob Thornton, J.T. Walsh, John Ritter

The Sixth Sense - (1999) Directed by M. Night Shyamalan With Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment

The Matrix - (1999) Andy & Larry Wachowski With Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne

Stay tuned for the next iteration.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Retro Movie Review: Stage Door Canteen (1943)

Stage Door Canteen (1943) is patriotic propaganda from an age when that was the glorious norm. Watching this today makes one long for days of innocence, when even warfare could seem noble and positive. Since I hate warfare and the fact that our country seems so good at getting embroiled in so many wars, it’s an odd feeling to long for such a thing—but there it is. The entertainment is a who’s who of the WW II era. I wished Harpo's appearance included some harp playing--he was run off too soon. Loved seeing an extended segment with Edgar Bergen / Charlie McCarthy / Mortimer Snerd! Edgar Bergen was soooo young and quite the brilliant comedian/ performer. Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, also provides a wonderful moment of tap dancing and army-themed comedy. The music is amazing, and the romance stories are engaging and at times bittersweet. Really what you get here is an entertainment variety show with a loose framing narrative, giving you the feel of a few evenings in a USO canteen. The movie also reminds us of our positive attitudes toward Russians and Chinese allies at this point in our history.

For more on Stage Door Canteen, I have stolen the following text for your reading pleasure:

Stage Door Canteen (1943), directed by Frank Borzage (A Farewell to Arms) in support of the war effort, prefigures Anchors Aweigh and On the Town in depicting the lives of servicemen on leave in the big city. Countless British and American celebrities put in an appearance--everyone from Dame Judith Anderson to Katharine Hepburn, Count Basie to Benny Goodman. The story concerns three soldiers and the female volunteers they fall for at the canteen of the title--a real-life Manhattan nightspot--before shipping out for points unknown. While the largely unknown principals (Cheryl Walker, William Terry, etc.) handle the drama and romance, bigger stars like Harpo Marx and Tallulah Bankhead take care of the comedy and scene-stealing supporting bits. This historical document was most commonly shown in an edited-for-TV 93-minute version but is now available again in its original--more entertaining--132-minute length. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Director: Frank Borzage
MPAA: Unrated
Running Time: 135 min.
Release Date: Jan 01, 1943

Cast: Edgar Bergen, Ethel Edgar Bergen, Ethel Merman, George Jessel, Gracie Fields, Gypsy Rose Lee, Harpo Marx, Helen Hayes, Hugh Herbert, Ina Claire, Jean Hersholt, Judith Anderson, Katharine Hepburn, Kenny Baker, Lynn Fontanne, Ralph Bellamy, Ray Bolger, Tallulah Bankhead

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Retro Review: Farewell My Lovely (1940) by Raymond Chandler

Finished reading Farewell, My Lovely aloud to Christi. Overall, we enjoyed it. However, there were some aspects we were disappointed by. Of course, with Chandler you never expect a logical plot. In the case here, it seemed as if Marlowe was jumping from one thing to the next without any logic. However, Chandler is quite talented at vividly creating a scene--even if how we got to the scene makes no sense. As I understand it, Chandler improvised his stories and did not plot them out in advance. It shows here. The sentences are wonderful to marvel at and wonderful to read aloud.

"She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket"--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 18)

"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun." Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 34)

""She's a charming middle age lady with a face like a bucket of mud and if she's washed her hair since Coolidge's second term, I'll eat my spare tire, rim and all." " -- Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 6)

"Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 1)

"I walked back through the arch and started up the steps. It was a nice walk if you liked grunting. There were two hundred and eighty steps up to Cabrillo Street. They were drifted over with windblown sand and the handrail was as cold and wet as a toad's belly."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 8)

"The voice got as cool as a cafeteria dinner."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 15)

"She was as cute as a washtub." -- Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 5)

"The house itself was not so much. It was smaller than Buckingham Palace, rather gray for California, and probably had fewer windows than the Chrysler Building. I sneaked over to the side entrance and pressed a bell and somewhere a set of chimes made a deep mellow sound like church bells. A man in a striped vest and gilt buttons opened the door, bowed, took my hat and was through for the day."-- Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 18)

"I sat beside her on the yellow leather chesterfield. 'Aren't you a pretty fast worker?' she asked quietly. I didn't answer her.

'Do you do much of this sort of thing?' she asked with a sidelong look.

'Practically none. I'm a Tibetan monk, in my spare time.'

'Only you don't have any spare time.'""--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 18)

"It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 13)

Yet if you easily get bored with excessive description, you might want to take a pass on this one. It seemed at times as if I was reading for hours before I got to any dialogue. All in all, the book was enjoyable but not my favorite Chandler. I'd have to say The Big Sleep remains my personal favorite, with The Long Goodbye being second--mainly for its poetic prose.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Review: Papa Hemingway by A.E. Hotchner

In Papa Hemingway (1966), Hotchner emulates Hemingway's clear reportage as he covers his years (1948-61) as Hemingway's buddy. He reveals all of Hemingway's quirks and thus gives us a taste of what it might have been like to know the guy if you hung out with in him in cars, bars, restaurants, and at bullfights. Seems Hemingway could hold crowds spellbound with his stories, both oral and written. Until his health went south, the man could hold his liquor too. I particularly loved the stories of Hemingway communicating with bears, and the story of how Hemingway became a Catholic—after answered prayer for a sexual dysfunction. Also I found it interesting to learn about Hemingway’s close friendship with Gary Cooper. He did everything with gusto until he couldn’t anymore. This book shows that Hemingway might have written more (and even better) had he not become a celebrity. Much of the later half of his life was spent fending off reporters and guests. Not many had the sense of courtesy to stay away when asked to do so. Hotchner reveals to us the painful last days as well. Hemingway, being as resourceful and forceful as he was by nature, was extra tough to handle with his paranoia and suicidal tendencies. The man tried to off himself by jumping out of an airplane in mid-flight. All in all, I was fascinated by this insider's view on the writer's life. Made me feel like I knew Papa Hemingway in the flesh.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where’s The Spinach?!

My favorite childhood cartoon was Popeye the Sailor. Part superhero, part crusty old sailor, part leading man, Popeye had it all. I loved his muttering voice, choc-full of hilarious comments of genuine surprise at the world around him and how other people behaved: “Blow me down!” It was awesome to see him suck down that spinach and instantly embody the power of a torpedo, a hammer, a generator, a tank. Loved the songs he would sing, “I Yam What I Yam and that’s all that I Yam, I’m Popeye the Sailor man! Toot! Toot!” (Technically the “Toot! Toot!” is the sound of him blowing his pipe, but oh, well.) Sure there were moments when I wondered what ol Popeye saw in that shrill-voiced, skinny minnie Olive Oyle. It could be grating to listen to her screaming for rescue from Bluto or the Sea Hag or whatever else. But she usually ended up being sweetly affectionate to Popeye in the end. He deserved some TLC after all those mighty Labors. The world of Popeye was filled with danger, excitement, romance, comedy, and thrills, and I for one loved tagging along with that squint eyed, distorted mouth, baldy of a sailor with the balloon forearms. What a mutant! What a hero! Where’s the spinach?!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Review: Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice

This novel opens on the life of Jesus at seven years old. Perhaps because the story deals the most uneventful part of Jesus’ life, it drags a bit. However, Rice expertly develops Jesus’ immediate and extended family. His uncle Cleopas stands out as an important mentor for Jesus. In fact, Rice puts several of Jesus’ later lessons in the mouth of Cleopas first. Cleopas comments on the greed of money changers and he also expresses indifference toward Caesar’s rule (not threatened by nor devoted towards Roman rule). Jesus’ brother James is also nicely developed in his envy toward his brother being the Savior. James’ repentance and sacrifice for forgiveness provides a powerful window on the Jewish traditions of the temple. Rice attempts to generate suspense through the novel by having Jesus seek after the details of his birth. His family, in their attempts to protect him, does not want to discuss supernatural aspects of his birth, nor the tragic massacre that followed. Since most Christian readers will already know the Christmas story, the slow reveal doesn’t create the kind of tension it might for those who have previously avoided the Christian faith. Overall, I found the book quite interesting to skim quickly, but wasn’t as sucked into each passage as I would have liked. The last 25 -30 pages were emotionally riveting, so I do recommend slowing down and savoring at that point.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bob Dylan on "Melting Metal"

Bob Dylan (commenting on working with producer Daniel Lanois on Oh Mercy): "I know that he wanted to understand me more as we went along, but you can’t do that, not unless you like to do puzzles. I think in the end, he gave up on that. A lot of the songs held up in a grand way and more than a few of them I’ve played plenty of times. I would have liked to been able to give him the kinds of songs that he wanted, like 'Masters of War,' 'Hard Rain,' 'Gates of Eden,' but those kinds of songs were written under different circumstances, and circumstances never repeat themselves. Not exactly. I couldn’t get to those kinds of songs for him or anyone else. To do it, you’ve got to have power and dominion over the spirits. I had done it once, and once was enough. Someone would come along eventually who would have it again—someone who could see into things, the truth of things—not metaphorically, either—but really see, like seeing into metal and making it melt, see it for what it was and reveal it for what it was with hard words and vicious insight.” (Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One, p. 218-219)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Review: Measle and the Wrathmonk by Ian Ogilvy

What more could you want from a children's adventure story? This one has got a creepy villain, a lurking creature, another disgusting creature (giant cockroach), magic that shrinks the main hero down to the size of an action figure, and the well orchestrated setting of a toy train display. The supporting characters are clearly designed to play their role in the plot, assisting Measle with each of the tasks to defeat the villain. And the happy ending is about a calculated as could be. However, the overall read is tense and action filled with light humor thrown in along the way to keep it fun. This is not one of those children’s books that I would recommend to adults too, because it is a bit spare and really only trying to present an adventure for kids. Still I enjoyed it for what it is. No complaints.