Year in Review

Posted in Whatever Else on December 29th, 2007 by bill

Using his mysterious meme powers, the redoubtable C.T.S. Crumlish has compelled me to publish here the first line of my first blog entry from every month in 2007. I am nothing if not compliant, so here they are, with comments. January
"I don’t necessarily want to take credit for the miraculous resurrection of Jackie Earle Haley."
(Actually, I did.) February
"After deliberating for thirty-nine days, as required by law, I am ready to name my album of the year for 2006."
(It was Game Theory by the Roots, and I have no regrets about that pick. Fucking fantastic album.) March
"So, yes, it’s been a while. I missed you too, blog."
(This was a particularly fallow blogging period. In fact this year as a whole was pretty spotty. I would feel bad about this, if it wasn't due to having somewhat more of a life lately.) April
"I feel violated."
(The reference was to a TV ad starring Sheryl Crow, but it tends to happen anytime I am forced to watch commercials. Fortunately, thanks to the magic of DVR, this rarely happens anymore.) May
"These are weird, wild times here in the city some call 'Golden State.' "
(This was written on the eve of Game 6 between the Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks, which the W's went on to win to clinch the series. Greatest sports moment of my life since the Phillies won the World Series in 1980.) June
"Since viewing last night’s penultimate episode of The Sopranos (and how often do you get to use the word “penultimate,” accurately anyway, in your daily discourse?), I have been mulling over a theory that is as yet half-formed, or maybe half-baked."
(This is technically the second entry in June. The first was a blogiversary year-in-review type thing, and to cite it here would possibly lead into an infinite loop that I would never escape from. The mention of The Sopranos reminds me that I meant to write about the final episode and never did. For the record, I was in favor.) July
"I stand here before you today to sing the praises of Television."
(That's Television the rock band, not to be confused with television the medium, the Televison Personalities, TV on the Radio, or the TV dinner.) August
"So, yeah, I haven’t been writing much lately, but there’s a good reason for it: I am terribly worried about the Forths."
(Because I am at heart a twisted bastard, I was somewhat disappointed that this Christmas didn't find Ted Forth indiscriminately mowing down one victim after another at Sally's office holiday party, then turning the gun on himself. Instead, he seems to have recovered some measure of self-esteem with a seasonal job at a toy store. Meanwhile, Brad finally kissed Toni Daytona, can you believe it? And don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.) September
“Hey blood, you can’t be callin’ my phone hella times. I got minutes.”
(No further comment necessary.) October
"All the music biz talk these days is about Radiohead, how they've broken free of the industry by selling their new album without the help (or is it, now, burden?) of a record company."
(I finally heard this album on a drive to Kona, and was underwhelmed. I wish Radiohead would do something really revolutionary and cheer the hell up.) November
"As has happened so often lately, I will not be writing today (except for this paragraph, and maybe one or two more)."
(Almost two months in, the writers' strike is really starting to hurt. No more The Office. No more 30 Rock. Oh, the humanity!) December
"In our thirteenth day on the big island of Hawai’i, we seem to have fallen into a tropical stupor."
(And let me take this opportunity to thank everybody who made this trip, this blog, and this year possible. The lovely Leila and family. Mom and Jim. Dad and Cindy. Jim and Colleen. Knox. Dan, Barbara, Susannah, and Sam. B and X. Aaron and Laura. Sergio and Tatia. Rod and Maya. Delano. Robert and Barbara. James and Dorothy. The TPA. The Warriors. And you, if I haven't mentioned you already. Wishing you peace and love and a great 2008. End transmission.)

The Victory of Light

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on December 22nd, 2007 by bill
blurry%20flowers.jpg (Transcribed from The I Ching or Book of Changes, the Richard Wilhelm translation, rendered into English by Cary F. Baynes.) Hexagram 24: Fu/Return (The Turning Point) above K'UN (The Receptive, Earth)
below CHÉN (The Arousing, Thunder) The idea of a turning point arises from the fact that after the dark lines have pushed all of the light lines upward and out of the hexagram, another light line enters the hexagram from below. The time of darkness is past. The winter solstice brings the victory of light. This hexagram is linked with the eleventh month, the month of the solstice (December-January). THE JUDGMENT:
Return. Success.
Going out and coming in without error.
Friends come and go without blame.
To and fro goes the way.
On the seventh day comes return.
It furthers one to have somewhere to go.
After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by force. The upper trigram K'un is characterized by devotion; thus the movement is natural, arising spontaneously. For this reason the transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is introduced. Both measures accord with the time; therefore no harm results. Societies of people sharing the same views are formed. But since these groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony with the time, all selfish seperatist tendencies are excluded, and no mistake is made. The idea of Return is based on the course of nature. The movement is cyclic, and the course completes itself. Therefore it is not necessary to hasten anything artificially. Everything comes of itself at the appointed time. This is the meaning of heaven and earth. All movements are accomplished in six stages, and the seventh brings return. Thus the winter solstice, with which the decline of the year begins, comes in the seventh month after summer solstice; so too sunrise comes in the seventh double hour after sunset. Therefore seven is the number of the young light, and it arises when six, the number of the great darkness, is increased by one. In this way the state of rest gives place to movement. THE IMAGE:
Thunder within the earth;
The image of the turning point.
Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes
At the time of solstice.
Merchants and strangers did not go about,
And the ruler
Did not travel through the province.
The winter solstice has always been celebrated in China as the resting time of the year — a custom that survives in the time of rest observed at the new year. In winter the life energy, symbolized by thunder, the Arousing, is still underground. Movement is just at its beginning; therefore it must be strengthened by rest, so that it will not be dissipated by being used prematurely. This principle, i.e., of allowing energy that is renewing itself to reinforced by rest, applies to all similar situations. The return of health after illness, the return of understanding after an estrangement: everything must be treated tenderly and with care at the beginning, so that the return may lead to a flowering.

Right in the lumber yard

Posted in Moving pictures on December 21st, 2007 by bill
th-FCMC0001.jpg That's Michael O'Keefe, a/k/a Danny Noonan, on the left—barely visible here as in the movie.

Actually, one more thing about Michael Clayton. This film was full of revelations, but the most shocking came during the closing credits, when I learned that the character of Barry — Clayton's in-house rival — had been played by none other than Michael O'Keefe. I never would have recognized little Danny Noonan in this smug, button-down jerkface, which means either that O'Keefe is a superb actor or that much too much time has gone by since Caddyshack. I think I'll go with the former — after all, he was nominated for an OscarRRR for The Great Santini. The latter leads down the path of the Dark Musings, which are not at all appropriate for this festive season. Although that doesn't explain why he had such a small part. Never mind — it's time for bed anyway. Noonan!

My One-Word Review of “Michael Clayton” (with apologies to Cecil Vortex)

Posted in Moving pictures on December 19th, 2007 by bill

An approximately real piece of dialogue

Posted in Moving pictures on December 18th, 2007 by bill
(A soon-to-be-released movie is under discussion.) "That actor is in it." "Which actor?" "That guy who was in Being John Malkovich." "Which one?" "You know...that guy." (Pause) "You mean John Malkovich?" "Yeah."

Yet Another Way That the Mundane World of the 21st Century Falls Short of the Fondly Remembered Days of Yore

Posted in Whatever Else on December 13th, 2007 by bill
2312089013.jpg "Dr. Mumbai" just doesn't have that same ring to it.

Half Asleep on the Big Island

Posted in Whatever Else on December 1st, 2007 by bill
In our thirteenth day on the big island of Hawai'i, we seem to have fallen into a tropical stupor. Ambitious sightseeing plans have been abandoned. Leisure activities seem less and less important. Even to stand up and go inside for a beverage has become a great effort. As I type these few words on the lanai at McLelland Estates near Kea'au, the gentle breeze wafting through is threatening to topple me back into a horizontal position. But I will resist, for the moment at least. Some readers may find this news surprising. I didn't talk much about this trip in advance, out of some superstitious fear that if I did it wouldn't happen. Now that it's almost over, I feel free to discuss it openly, but I'm not sure what to tell you. It's all a blur of hard black lava rocks and sea turtles and warm rain and pastel skies. (There was one sort of near-death experience, but the less said about that the better.) There are pictures I could show you, but that would involve downloading and uploading and all those things I just can't be bothered with right now. Instead I think I'll return to my twilight consciousness and watch the grass stalks flutter in the wind. There's plenty of time for the rest of that stuff later.