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Saturday, April 16, 2011


both ends burning

This picture came to me through one of those emails that goes around. Upon seeing it, my first association came to mind: Edna StVincent Millay. A man I knew during college years had known her when they were younger, when she was living. He said she burned her candle at both ends. I may as well have seen her name. She wouldn't have come to mind any quicker. Odd to carry such an association over 45 years. I've never paid much attention to her poetry. I have a biography of her I've never read. She did some pretty fair translations of Baudelaire, too. I think of Millay and the French writer Anais Nin as similar sorts of characters. I've not read much of Nin either, so what I'm going by is image. I take Anais Nin for another woman of the time who burned her candle at both ends. Some people have it in them. Like John Lee Hooker said in Boogie Chillun, "it's got to come out." I don't know if anybody still uses that metaphor, burning the candle at both ends. It makes a picture.

Found a wonderful cartoon today I have to share by Benita Epstein. Image is a mother speaking to daughter who looks like maybe a teen, in front of mother on a table a birthday cake with candles not burning and 3 balloons in the air. Mom says to daughter, "As your mother, I took the liberty of making your wishes and blowing out your candles." Daughter has arms crossed in front and big round eyes. I've been wondering about seeing roller derby videos on YouTube and finally brought some up today and watched a few rounds, went to netflix and ordered a couple of roller derby documentaries. In the 50s I would watch Roller Derby every chance. I wanted to skate that banked track fast as I could go. It looks like the way they do it now is on a flat floor, like a gym, tape off the track and go. They can't go quite as fast, but they still get the job done.

Saw some bizarre movies this week. Two by a Japanese director, Takashi Miike. One was Shinjuku Triad Society and the other was Graveyard of Honor. Very strange films. They were something on the order of art action films. Both involved Yakuza, the Japanese mob. The people in them were so self-centered they never took anybody else into account for anything but a target. Really mean people. Miike gives the impression that the world of urban vice is where the really mean people can be found. The characters were so cold hearted toward one another I sat asking myself how people like this can live. It wasn't much of a wait before I saw they don't live long. Both films were beautiful visually, photographer using urban compositions of horizontal and vertical lines, colors galore, the people the movement in the various compositions. They were brilliantly made films. I'm glad I don't live in that world.

It's funny how attractive the world of the mob, wherever it is, can be to the rest of us who don't have what it takes to live like that, the pole dance clubs where cops go to find the guys they're looking for. What the French call l'enfer, the dark side, where everybody has a price tag and is advertising self for whatever the specialty. Lots of money changing hands. When I go into those places in movies, I marvel at how much money it costs to spend say one whole evening in such a place. Drinks would have some outrageous prices on them. So would the girls and the contract killers. I can't imagine how chilling it must be inside one of those places. Steven Seagal goes about in them like he knows his way around and is comfortable. Then he pulls out a gun and commences firing. Why do I watch things like this? It's a way of seeing into that world, knowing it's fiction, knowing the real such world is nothing like depicted in the action film, but there are aspects the production catches well, the visual part. Video comic books. 

Movies take me to wherever they are filmed. Sometimes cities in the world I'll never go to, like Bucharest, Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, Rio, China, the Himalayas, the various landscapes in Africa, everyplace in the world. I see into cultures, especially our own, see patterns that run through all cultures, like all people. I see architecture everywhere in the world, what people look like in various places, how people live in the different parts of the world. Film making gets better all the time as a result of all the schools teaching the aspects of making a film. I've come to appreciate several genres of film such that they all run together in this time of artistic fusion. In movies I can safely go into places and situations I'd never see in this lifetime. The physical activity of traveling and the expense, etc, keeps me at home having a travelogue I'm watching in story form, landscapes all over the world. I feel gratitude that I'm able to see so many of the best movies made and documentaries, every kind of thing, from the beginning of film making to present. I'm grateful indeed for that.  


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