June 9th, 2005

caillebotte_the balcony

Rain and Media

This rain persists. All the gray day it fell, pausing only for a brief time at evening when the clouds settled and shrouded the dripping woodlands. It returned with nightfall and has since filled the darkness with steady drumming. Even the cricket that is sheltered from the rain by the eaves of the house has been silent tonight. Standing on the porch, I sometimes hear a louder shower beating the nearby trees and passing gradually like a slow train. Now and then, such an intensified shower falls here, but the rain never ceases altogether. I find it restful.

Despite the temptation to do nothing but drift on these relaxing waves of sound, I did manage to accomplish something last night. I created an LJ feed for Darknet, a weblog mostly about new media and copyright issues, maintained by JD Lasica, author of the recently released book "Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation" (two early capsule reviews here at Amazon.) Lasica was for many years an editor at The Sacramento Bee, and I recall reading a few of his columns in that paper. He is also one of the co-founders of Ourmedia, the web site which, with space provided by The Internet Archive, is providing unlimited free storage and bandwidth for the distribution of videos, audio files, photos, text and software. In fact, you can pick up a free PDF of an extended excerpt from J.D.'s book at Ourmedia.

I was a bit surprised that an LJ feed of the site didn't already exist, since J.D. Lasica is pretty well known in the geek world. Also, I was unable to name the new feed simply "Darknet" because that name was already in use at LJ, so I titled it jdlasicadarknet. So far, I'm the only subscriber, but anybody who is interested in the ongoing conflicts between established corporate media and the emerging world of decentralized digital distribution might find this an interesting source of information.
caillebotte_man at his window

Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson

Looking through Anne Bancroft's filmography, I was a bit surprised at how few of her movies I've seen. She has loomed larger in my thoughts than my limited exposure to her work might suggest. This may be the result of the fact that the first movie in which I remember seeing her was The Miracle Worker. Her turn as Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher, was one of the classic performances of the era, and the impression it left on me has endured. I saw the movie at a time when I had only recently begun to go to movies on my own, wandering far from the confines of my suburban neighborhood, and The Miracle Worker's portrayal of perseverance and determination in pursuit of liberation, despite both opposition from others and one's own very real limitations, was, though I wasn't conscious of it at the time, a particularly apt parallel to my own situation, however much my situation differed in degree from that of the tale's protagonists. As I sat in the fading grandeur of the Palace Theater in downtown Los Angeles, watching the austere, black and white scenes flicker on the screen, I must have absorbed some part of that determination which Anne Bancroft's performance so splendidly conveyed. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Since then, I've seen a handful of the movies in which she had supporting roles, and a few in which she played a lead character, including The Prisoner of Second Avenue, To Be or Not to Be, and, of course, The Graduate. I have to admit to not being a fan of this last movie, despite its iconic status with most members of my generation. Personally, I'd have much preferred to see a movie entirely about Mrs. Robinson. I've always considered Bancroft's performance to be the best in the movie.

Anne Bancroft also played a lead role in 84 Charing Cross Road, a movie which was released in 1987, but wasn't a big success at the time. Long neglected, this tale based on Helene Hanff's memoir of her long relationship (through correspondence) with a London bookshop clerk, now appears frequently on cable television, and gave Bancroft one of her most engaging roles. It's very sweet, and sad, and amusing. Don't miss it. There are also a few of Bancroft's earlier movies, in which she has supporting roles, which are worth seeing, and I would especially recommend the noirish New York Confidential, from 1955. Looking at her filmography, I see that there are quite a few of her films that I've never seen but would like to see. I know that, even when I haven't much liked a particular movie in which she has appeared, I have always been able to count on her performance to bring some interest to it. I think I'll be watching more of her work in the future and, again, I'm sure I won't be the only one.

Anne Bancroft

1931 - 2005
caillebotte_the orangerie


The rain finally ended this morning, and the remainder of the day was a long, splendid display of fluffy clouds. The clouds were low over the valley, so we got to see them from the side. I always enjoy seeing them frothing up over the rims of the canyons. The air remained cool, too, so I spent as much time as I could outdoors. We may not have any more cool days for several months, so I wanted to store up enough of it to last me until autumn.

I keep getting tagged for that 6 song meme, and keep putting it off. I think it's supposed to be 6 songs that you've been listening to a lot recently. I usually have a couple of dozen in rotation at any given time, so I have to narrow it down. I'm only going to narrow it down to 7 though, because I don't like the number 6. It looks like a slacker sitting on his ass. If you turn it on its side, it looks like somebody whose just done something stupid and has suffered brain injury, causing them to curl into a foetal position. Either way, I don't like 6. I'm going to choose 7 songs. 7, the tall, rakish number that wears a big hat (and sometimes is tipping the brim politely) and leans against the bar like George Raft. That's a good number.

Also, most of the stuff I listen to is old. This is partly because I almost never buy CDs anymore, which is in turn partly because I've come to dislike the record industry and don't want to give them any money. Also, I don't have that much money to spend, or very much room to keep the stuff I buy. I'm sure I could find a lot of interesting stuff to download, but I don't do that, even though I've got goatloads of space on the new hard drive. Dial-up, you know. I'm too impatient to download big files.

Here are seven songs I've been listening to:

1. Badi Assad - Una Valse e Dois Amores (If you're not familiar with Badi Assad, she's a Brazilian guitarist.)

2. Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five - West End Blues (The epitome of 1920s jazz.)

3. Chris Whitley - Poison Girl (Nostalgie de la bouie!)

4. Mirella Freni - O Mio Babbino Caro (from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.)

5.The Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble - The Songlines (This is the only thing I have by Hohner. It was part of a sampler disk I got from the DMP label when I first bought a CD player. I've always intended to get more of his stuff, but I've never gotten around to it.)

6. Ethel Smith - Tico Tico - (an exception to my rule of not buying more CDs was one of those $9.99 triple sets I came across at K-Mart a few weeks ago. It has about 70 reissues of very old records, including this performance by organist Ethel Smith of her biggest hit. My dad had a couple of Ethel Smith 78s in his collection when I was a kid, and Tico Tico was also one of the songs my aunt and my Cuban uncle used to sing, accompanying themselves on guitars. Nostlagie again, though sans bouie.

7. Jonathan and Darlene Edwards - The Carioca (I have this only on a cassette tape. How backward. I need to get something that will allow me to make a digital version of it. Jonathan and Darlene are actually the comic personae of big band arranger Paul Weston and his wife, singer Jo Stafford. If you've listened to the Dr. Demento Show very much, you've probably heard this. It also appears under the (closing?) credits of The Kentucky Fried Movie.)

Let's see... I'm also supposed to tag 6 (in my case 7, I guess) other LJ users to do the meme. Well, I can't be conventional when it comes to memes, so I'm going to tag people who don't even read my journal.

1. Our step mom, menatrott. Her LJ is bare! Sure, she has plenty of time to post to her real kids in her typepad weblog, but no time for us. Here's her chance to redeem herself. Stop ignoring your step kids, mom!

2. The Hideous penguinboy. The archetypal LJ serial adder has not updated in 37 weeks. Come back, Hideous!

3. So he won't feel left out, the recently active penguin_boy. I don't know if he even knows the other guy exists. I'm sure they aren't the same person, unless it's a case of Multiple Personality Disorder.

4. And while we're on similar names, I'm going to tag flyingblind, who hasn't updated in 68 weeks, and has no public entries. Dude! Get off your ass (you big 6) and post something, or delete your journal so it won't be around for people to mistake for mine!

5. Someone who used to read my journal, but hasn't been around for ages, cerealxadder, the Breakfassst Sssnake. I miss the snake. He appears to have shed his LJ skin, though, so I don't expect him to turn up.

6. There must be at least one representative of the fake celebrity journal contingent on this list, so I tag leejason, the fake Jason Lee.

7 In fact, while I'm at it, I tag the whole must_be_pop community. I've never seen a meme poster tag an entire community before, and if I'm to do something so bold, why not tag the 700-odd (some very odd indeed) members of LJ's largest fake celebrity journal community?

Phew! That should do it for a while. There's so much more I could have said about this stuff, but I've got stuff to do. Stuff, I tell you!