Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Some Points Before Vacation

What follows are slightly pointless and solipsistic musings. Avast, read at your own risk!

Sports #1: Fisticuffs
I'm not a boxing fan exactly, but I found
this article interesting (I found it at some political blog I was surfing very recently, but I'm too lazy to double check which one at the moment). The media treatment of Mike Tyson finds itself echoed strongly by the underappreciated Walter Hill-directed Snipes/Rhames vehicle Undisputed ('02). Armond White wrote up the film in a positive review here. It's hard for me to deal with White's reviews these days--his weird permutation of rightist authoritarian populism is now too demoralizing--but for a while he seemed to be one of the few name reviewers engaging with ideas when he wrote on films, and at the time (2001-2002: he also seemed more aligned with the social left then, tho' I could be wrong) I was really inspired by his work. And anyway the article and the film offer another occasion to recommend Mandingo, Richard Fleischer's 1976 film maudit which is sensationalist, and far from a masterpiece, but still quite an important film. David Ehrenstein (for the record--gay and black like Mr. White, but in his case a figure on the left) has called it the "most honest film about American racism ever made."

Sports #2: Football (the English kind)
This is the first season I've had cable and channels that showed European club soccer. Before, I was the most fairweather sort of soccer fan imaginable--very occasional club matches, highlights clips, whatever friendlies I could catch on ESPN, and of course the World Cup. (I could never afford to go to bars to watch games, either--not to the extent that I could follow a team.) But after a (happy) year without cable my girlfriend and I finally got it last summer--the kicker as far as I was concerned was that it was time for the World Cup. Now I find that I'm addicted. I could give up otherwise fine/useful channels like news networks, TCM, IFC, Bravo (Project Runway), even maybe the Food Network, but to give up Fox Soccer Channel seems like the biggest loss to imagine. At any rate, being able to follow along with the English Premier League this season, I've finally decided which team I want to get behind: Arsenal. I'm not a supporter, not even really a true fan: just a guy who's chosen somebody to cheer for when watching a certain league. It's the fact that they're dedicated to a beautiful team game that seals it. Or, as my friend and occasional EL contributer Gabe reformulated it to me last time he was here in New York (Arsenal were playing Chelsea): "It's aesthetics versus consumerism." Anyway, I just thought I'd mention that.

When it comes to contemporary music I am pretty clueless. But post-breakthrough (not always sophomore) efforts from the recent folkish-indie "scene" have left me cold (e.g., the second one by Iron & Wine). I didn't know how I'd feel about Joanna Newsom's Ys. It took me a while to get into her voice but once I did I was hooked by The Milk-Eyed Mender. "Peach Plum Pear" has to be my favorite song from the (for lack of a better word) 'indie' scene in the past several years (unless Animal Collective's "Winters Love" tops it). Anyway I just picked up Ys and am listening to it now and--whew--it's awesome!

Cinema Theater as Sleeping Compartment
What is the suggested etiquette for waking up someone behind you who is snoring through a film screening? Being a nonconfrontational person I tried "excuse me, sir" a couple of times, but I failed the break the fellow's sweet slumber. Of course, he came into the screening 5-10 minutes late, soon fell asleep, and after at least a half hour of snoring, he promptly left the auditorium as soon as he finally woke up. (And that was just the most egregious example of a pile of small discourtesies at a recent screening of Vanina Vanini...) Also read
this ...


Anonymous said...

Wait until you see her play Ys live!

Mubarak Ali said...

Love Newsom - 'Peach Plum Pear' and 'Inflammatory Writ' are my favourites by her. And Ys, with Scott Walker's The Drift or Subtle's For Hero : For Fool, is among the year's great albums; they've grown on me exponentially with every listen. And I think I may have mentioned this to you already - my current favourite artist on the whole folk scene: Josephine Foster. Her last album is, again, the best thing I've heard all year.

Anonymous said...

That was YOU in the row in front of me?

Anonymous said...

why oh why did you have to choose arsenal?... ac milan is THE team... :P

Anonymous said...

can't stand joanna newsom dude. she sings like a flapper girl on quaaludes.

I think I'll appropriate that as a complimentary description of the image her singing conjures up for me...

Ryland Walker Knight said...

Ys blew my mind but "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" and "This Side of the Blue" are my tops (of the moment) from Mender. And Mr Lowry is right: seeing Ys live is really something else. She's arranged it with an accordian instead of the strings and it's frickin deadly. Plus, there's some heavy drumming (especially during "Only Skin") that made me itch and wonder if the hall would erupt into a dance party.