Friday, August 31, 2012

FFB: Noam Chomsky, Bertrand Russell, Murray Bookchin, Farley Mowat, Janet Biehl, George Woodcock, Elise and Kenneth Boulding, et al.: OUR GENERATION

At left, below, the Fall/Winter 1985 issue. At right, further below, the second issue, with the original title.
Contents of the first issue I read, Spring/Summer 1986:
Volume 17, No. 2: Articles:
The Limits of the Peace Movement, Brian Martin
From Proudhon to Bakunin, Daniel Guérin
The Haymarket Affair and Lucy Parsons: 100th Anniversary, Arlene Meyers
The Soviet Union versus Socialism, Noam Chomsky
Looking Back at Spain, Murray Bookchin
On Gustav Landauer, Russell Berman and Tim Luke
Book Reviews:
The Search for Community: From Utopia to a Co-operative Society, by George Melnyk, reviewed by George Woodcock
The Making of the Second Cold War, by Fred Halliday, reviewed by E.P. Thompson
The Polish Revolution: Solidarity, 1980-82, by Timothy Garton Ash, reviewed by E.P. Thompson


Our Generation began its run of more than three decades as Our Generation Against Nuclear War, a journal closely associated with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and similar groups, some more broadly pacifist and even more willing to challenge the status quo. By the end of the 1960s, it was most of the way toward being the journal of anarchist, libertarian socialist and social-ecologist/Green thought and history that it remained through its last issue in 1993. Leftists with pacifist sympathies, such as Bertrand Russell, and Elise and Kenneth Boulding, appeared in early issues, along with the not so pacifist or at least more militant Todd Gitlin and Farley Mowat, with the likes of J. B. Priestley splitting the difference. The scope of the journal widened throughout the 1960s, with attention paid to Canadian politics and to larger critiques, often of both the corporatist "First World" and of the Marxist/Leninist (and Stalinist) tendencies most notable in the "Second" and "Third World"...the movement slightly away from the primarily pacifist, though radical, Liberation and toward the position of UK-based anarchist magazine Freedom, along with such US-based fellow travelers as the increasingly anarchist newspaper The Fifth Estate, was rather seamless. Our Generation could be a bit dry or slight at times, as can every other political journal (and, in fact, nearly every other kind of literary production), but often and proudly presented much of the best of the then-current writing in anarchist and other left-libertarian thought, much of it better-grounded in history and scientific practice (particularly in the journal's generally supportive coverage of the Green movement worldwide, and its support for the social ecologists over the "deep" ecologists. I miss it, and am glad that about half of the issues are now readable online. Dimitrios Roussopoulos, a co-editor and contributor to OG from early on and the editor for the latter decades, began publishing in 1996 through the book arm of the project, Black Rose Books, a series of anthologies drawing on the journal, including one simply titled Our Generation Against Nuclear War sampling from the early issues, and several numbered volumes of The Anarchist Papers and The Radical Papers.








In the current season of partisan politics served up in its most wasteful and shallow and distorting way, it's particularly easy to see why one might be drawn to an alternative to Politics As Usual in North America and the larger world, even without stopping to consider who benefits and how much (and how little) from the policies and structures brought about by various flavors of the Right, the Center (where the Democrats live with few exceptions, but not comfortably nor without constant tremors and second-guesses), and the supposed Left of Leninists and such, now much less in evidence on the world scene (even with such last holdouts of Stalinism as North Korea, and the token genuflection toward Lenin and Mao in that new face of fascism, The Maquiladoras' Republic of China). I'm surprised it took me till early in 1986 to find OG, not that it was too commonly carried by newsstands or public libraries in the U.S.; Chris Gunderson's review of the journal in the Utne Reader was what put me onto it, probably the greatest favor either that magazine or Gunderson are ever likely to do me (my later personal interaction with Gunderson was brief, and will remain that way, mostly related to the 1989 Anarchist Gathering in San Francisco, and the sessions leading up to that)(for its part, Utne Reader was always fitfully interesting to me at best, in rather stark distinction to the then usually-excellent, re-energized Harper's, like UR in the early '80s beginning a format of wide-ranging reprints from other magazines and print sources to augment original contributions, a policy both magazines still follow). Reading that first issue for me, with its long essay by Murray Bookchin, and shorter, deft pieces particularly by Noam Chomsky, Daniel Guérin and George Woodcock, let me know that I was hardly alone in the world in my outlook (however rare "out" libertarian socialists might be, compared to those touting various strains of Marxism and the ever-less socialist social democrats), and I was ready for more. Dimitrios Roussopoulos's Montreal-based magazine (all in English) was my gateway to journals such as Baltimore-based Social Anarchism (to which I would eventually contribute), and Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (where the general Situationist inclinations and constant carping put me off) and The Match! (where the amount of the magazine devoted to editor/publisher Fred Woodworth's personal hassles and the constant carping put me off). Such other magazines as Factsheet Five and Profane Existence, introduced to me by my increasingly punk rock-loving/anarcha-feminist womanfriend, who found them through MaximumRocknRoll and Flipside magazines, large national punk fanzines gone essentially professional, followed not long after we met...I would eventually contribute to FF, PE and MRR, as well. And, for that matter, to The Progressive. But, perhaps oddly, never to Our Generation.

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

another new link: Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: the links


As usual, a few more reviews and citations will be added over the course of the day...thanks to all the contributors and readers of these below, at the links! Please feel free to let me know in comments if I've missed yours or someone else's...thanks.

Bill Crider: Hearts of the West [trailer]

Brent McKee: Neil Armstrong's parents on I've Got a Secret

Brian Arnold: trailers

Dan Stumpf: The Captain Hates the Sea

Ed Gorman: Sports Thrillers of the '70s

Elizabeth Foxwell: Studio One: "Mr. Mummery's Suspicion" (based on Sayers's "Suspicion")

Evan Lewis: Cimarron (1931)

George Kelley: Copper

Iba Dawson: Wide Sargasso Sea (2006 BBC adaptation)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Adventures of Sir Galahad

Jack Seabrook: Ray Bradbury on TV Part Two: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "And So Died Riabouchinska"

Jackie Kashian: Kristyn Burtt on the Olympics and red-carpet interviewing

James Reasoner: G.E. College Bowl

Jerry House: The Magic Cloak of Oz

John Charles: Breeders

Juri Nummelin: Martha (1974)

Marty McKee: Ring of Fire

Patti Abbott: Therese Raquin (BBC 1980; imported for Masterpiece Theatre)

Prashant Trikannad: Twister

Randy Johnson: Jesse James (1939)

Rick: The Five Best Alfred Hitchcock Presents: episodes; the Five Coolest Cars on Classic TV

Rod Lott: Donald Glut on Shock Theater; Femme Fatale (2002)

Ron Scheer: Run for Cover

Scott Cupp: Konga;
Mars Needs Moms

Sergio Angelini: The Ward

Stacia Jones: Camp and Cult

Steve Lewis: Charter Pilot; Dark Shadows (1991); Murder on the Campus (1933)

Yvette Banek: Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apocalypse Pooh

In case you've managed never to see this early "mash-up"...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another 10 actors, a Canadian set



Molly Parker
Lexa Doig
Janet Kidder
Anne Bedian
Neve Campbell
the Tillys
the Hennessys
Ingrid Haas
Jessica Paré
Rachel McAdams






















































(...and among their predecessors:
Margot Kidder
Catherine O'Hara
Geneviève Bujold)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Music Club: Bernie Krause, from the Weavers and session work through Avant Garde/Pop Electronica & New Age Music to Natural Soundscapes...


Bernie Krause, a Detroit-based musical prodigy, apparently found that he was not allowed to attend conservatories in 1955 with a primary instrument of guitar, and so played session work for local jazz recordings and reportedly for some early Motown recordings and matriculated to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Somehow he was tapped to be the third (and final) replacement for Pete Seeger in pop-folk megastar band The Weavers (after Erik Darling and Frank Hamilton had filled the Seeger hole); his most important recording with the band was on the 1963 15th anniversary reunion concert album, which featured a seven-member Weavers, with the retiring Hamilton and incoming Krause also joined by Seeger and Darling, and the constant trio of Lee Hays, (Ms.) Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. However, the Weavers decided to call it a day in 1964, which both required and allowed Krause to begin to explore new professional pathways, including studying classical composition with avant garde composers such as Pauline Oliveros and Karlheinz Stockhausen at Mills College. Robert Moog and his new instrument were also in evidence...as was Krause's soon to be longterm bandmate Paul Beaver...

The Weavers (including new recruit Bernie Krause): Sinner Man


Bernie Krause on how he learned to use a Moog synthesizer:


The Monkees (with Bernie Krause and Paul Beaver performing on Moog synthesizer): Star Collector:



--Beaver solo apparently played on this track for the Byrds, "Space Oddyssey":


Paul Beaver and Bernard Krause: Sequential Voltage Sources, Composition


Beaver & Krause: Short Film for David


Beaver & Krause: Fountains of the Department of Water and Power


George Harrison and Bernie Krause: No Time or Space (at 18:42)


Beaver & Krause, with Gerry Mulligan: By Your Grace


Beaver & Krause, soundtrack music (in part) for My World, and Welcome to It

(for the first part of a complete episode:)


Beaver & Krause, soundtrack music for The Final Programme (aka The Last Days of Man on Earth), based on a Jerry Cornelius novel by Michael Moorcock


Beaver & Krause: Walking Green Algae Blues


Bernie Krause & Andy Nerell: Flight To Urubamba



George Martin interviews Bernie Krause for Martin's BBC documentary Rhythms of Life


Bernie Krause: Do Animals Grieve for the Dead?


Dr. Bernie Krause: The Great Animal Orchestra

Dr. Bernie Krause: The Great Animal Orchestra from California Academy of Sciences and California Academy of Sciences on FORA.tv

Friday, August 24, 2012

FFB: THE STUFFED OWL, edited by D. B. Wyndham Lewis and Charles Lee (1930); PARODIES edited by Dwight Macdonald (1960)


Two volumes which I enjoyed in part in my earlier years, and which somewhat disappointed, (again) in part because I, unlike many for whom these books were uniformly delightful, had not always been willing (nor forced) to endure some of the targets of the parody, intentional and unintentional, of the work collected in them. Of course, none of the work collected in The Stuffed Owl was meant to be parody; Lewis and Lee simply ranged across the canon of major and near-major poets in English as it was widely understood in 1930 and chose the most purple and self-sabotaging examples they could find from the likes of Wordsworth and Poe, never afraid to go to ridiculous extremes, and others more tone-deaf, while avoiding, for the most part, the more minor and unheralded poets of the previous centuries. While it's difficult to defend much collected here, in what might well be a pioneering volume of its sort, the book taken in large doses at once is more than a little deadening; the worst examples of fustian from experts in fustian are simply well-refined fustian...but taken a bit at a time, the desired effect, of giving perspective to the enshrinement of these artists as unimpeachable (a ridiculous insistence felt much more sharply in 1930 than now, I suspect) is more thoroughly demonstrated.

Likewise, Dwight Macdonald's compilation was brighter for me in many spots than in others, not least the presumption that he should include untranslated material in French (at least untranslated Cervantes I could make a stab at, but surely few cultured Anglophones could be expected to know Spanish, much less the Castilian of his time, and all such people have a working reading knowledge of French!). But it did send me out after the balance of Max Beerbohm's A Christmas Garland, and was my first encounter with the entirety of Wolcott Gibbs's "TIME . . . FORTUNE . . . LIFE . . . LUCE" as opposed to a few choice lines ("Backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind" mostly). And it's a bug crusher, if not quite to the same extent of the more-eclectic if similarly hit-and-miss The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose edited by Frank Muir, so some material is simply more likely to be effective than other inclusions for almost any reader. It probably helped, in comparison, that Bennett Cerf "crowd-sourced" his choices for his YA anthology I recalled the other week, quizzing his kids and their friends and others for suggestions, at least in terms of making for a more satisfying reading experience, as well as perhaps oddly a more consistently interesting one, for the much younger me (and, I suspect, for many other readers) than either of these two more ambitious and many ways pioneering anthologies did for me as an adult. These books are rewarding, as well as monuments in their fields, but simply not as thoroughly delightful as one could hope...and while that's probably not why both are in a sort of shadowy in-print status (since this weekly exercise is all about books of some interest to utter brilliance that face such fates--the Cerf is utterly out of print, the Muir is similarly barely in print after initial publication in 1990...clearly, round number years are ripe for such volumes), it does help them both be more admired than loved.

For more of today's selections, please see Patti Abbott's blog. Barring a pre-emptive hurricane or somesuch, I will be the likely gatherer of links to others' reviews and citations next Friday. ("Be there. Aloha." as Jack Lord would peremptorily intone at the end of the teasers for the next week's episode of the original Hawaii Five-0.)



Table of Contents (courtesy of Modern Library.com)

Parodies: An Anthology From Chaucer to Beerbohm—-and After

Table of Contents

Edited by Dwight MacDonald
Preface by Dwight MacDonald

PART ONE: THE BEGINNINGS
After by
MEDIEVAL ROMANCES Geoffrey Chaucer
GEOFFREY CHAUCER Alexander Pope
GEOFFREY CHAUCER W. W. Skeat
JOHN LYLY William Shakespeare
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE William Shakespeare
THOMAS NASHE William Shakespeare
JOHN DONNE Sir John Suckling
GEORGE HERBERT Christopher Hervey
JOHN DRYDEN George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham
ROBERT BOYLE Jonathan Swift
AMBROSE PHILIPS Henry Carey
JOHN MILTON John Philips
ALEXANDER POPE Isaac Hawkins Browne
JONATHAN SWIFT Isaac Hawkins Browne
ROBERT SOUTHEY G. Canning and J. H. Frere
THE SENTIMENTAL NOVEL Jane Austen

PART TWO: THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
After by
GEORGE CRABBE James Smith
WILLIAM COBBETT James Smith
ROBERT BURNS Shirley Brooks
ROBERT BURNS James Clerk-Maxwell
LORD BYRON Thomas Love Peacock
LORD BYRON J. K. Stephen
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE James Hogg
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH J. K. Stephen
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH James Smith
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH John Keats
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH Catherine Fanshawe
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH James Hogg
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH James Hogg
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH John Hamilton Reynolds
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH Lord Byron
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH Walter Savage Landor
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH Hartley Coleridge
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER Bret Harte
EDGAR ALLAN POE Anonymous
EDGAR ALLAN POE Bayard Taylor
EDGAR ALLAN POE Thomas Hood, the Younger
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW Anonymous
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW J. W. Morris
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW George A. Strong
FREDERICK LOCKER-LAMPSON H. D. Traill
EDWARD LEAR Samuel Foote
CHARLES DICKENS Robert Benchley
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON William Aytoun
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON Algernon Charles Swinburne
ROBERT BROWNING J. K. Stephen
ROBERT BROWNING Bayard Taylor
ROBERT BROWNING Anonymous
ROBERT BROWNING H. D. Traill
ROBERT BROWNING C. S. Calverley
ROBERT BROWNING J. K. Stephen
EMILY DICKINSON Firman Houghton
WILLIAM MORRIS C. S. Calverley
WILLIAM MORRIS Anonymous
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI A. C. Hilton
DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI H. D. Traill
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE Mortimer Collins
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE A. C. Hilton
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE Richard Le Gallienne
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE Lewis Carroll
WALT WHITMAN J. K. Stephen
WALT WHITMAN Bayard Taylor
WALT WHITMAN E. B. White
HENRY JAMES Max Beerbohm
GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS Anthony Brode
RUDYARD KIPLING Guy Wetmore Carryl
RUDYARD KIPLING J. K. Stephen

PART THREE: BEERBOHM--AND AFTER

SOME LEAVES FROM MAX BEERBOHM'S A Christmas Garland
P.C., X, 36 ….............………... R*DY*RD K*PL*NG
Endeavour ..............…………. .JOHN G*LSW*RTHY
A Sequelula to The Dynasts…..TH*M*'S H*RDY
Scruts …………...................... ARN*LD B*NN*TT
Perkins and Mankind ....……...H. G. W*LLS
A Recollection ....………........ EDM*ND G*SSE
PLUS THREE TWIGS:
The Sorrows of Millicent …………….. M*R*E C*R*LLI
The Blessedness of Apple-Pie Beds ..... R*CH*RD L* G*LL*"NNE
The Defossilized Plum-Pudding ........... H. G.W*LLS

Post-Beerbohm:
after by
A. E. HOUSMAN Humbert Wolfe
WALTER DE LA MARE Samuel Hofjenstein
GERTRUDE STEIN Arthur Flegenheimer
THEODORE DREISER Robert Benchley
MENCKEN and NATHAN Robert Benchley
T. S. ELIOT Henry Reed
T. S. ELIOT "Myra Buttle"
ARCHIBALD MACLEISH Edmund Wilson
EZRA POUND Gilbert Highet
ROBERT FROST Firman Houghton
ALDOUS HUXLEY Cyril Connolly
J. P. MARQUAND Wolcott Gibbs
WILLIAM FAULKNER Peter De Vries
ERNEST HEMINGWAY Wolcott Gibbs
ERNEST HEMINGWAY E. B. White
THORNTON WILDER Kenneth Tynan
JAMES GOULD COZZENS Nathaniel Benchley
JAMES GOULD COZZENS Felicia Lamport
JAMES JONES Peter De Vries
JACK KEROUAC John Updike
ALLEN GINSBERG Louis Simpson

PART FOUR: SPECIALTIES
The NONSENSE POEMS IN THE Alice BOOKS, by Lewis Carroll;
with the Originals by Dr. Watts and Other Hands
SOME UNRELIABLE HISTORY, by Maurice Baring
THE REHEARSAL
JASON AND MEDEA
KING LEAR'S DAUGHTER
FROM THE DIARY OF MRS. JOHN MILTON
FRAGMENT OF A GREEK TRAGEDY, by A. E. HOUSEMAN
VARIATIONS ON A THEME
SALAD, by Mortimer Collins
THE POETS AT TEA, by Barry Pain
VARIATIONS OF AN AIR, by G. K. Chesterton
THAT ENGLISH WEATHER, by Ezra Pound and Anon
REVIEWS OF UNWRITTEN BOOKS, by "Baron Corvo" and/or Sholto Douglas
MACHIAVELLI'S DESPATCHES FROM THE BOER WAR
TACITUS'S Scripturae de Populis Consociatis Americae Septentrionalis
TIME . . . FORTUNE . . . LIFE . . . LUCE, by Wolcott Gibbs
The Literary Life on the TIMES
LITERARY LOST & FOUND DEPT., by Robert Benchley
SPEAKING OF BOOKS, by Donald Malcolm
ALF STRINGERSOLL'S REPORT ON BROOKLYN, by William Atwood
W. B. Scott:
CHICAGO LETTER: Agony, a Sense of Plight
GAETAN FIGNOLE: Pages de Journal
Cyril Connolly:
WHAT WILL HE DO NEXT?
YEAR NINE
Paul Jennings:
THE BOY'S GOT TALENT
RESISTENTIALISM
PRIMITIVISM—ENGLISH: from Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons
PRIMITIVISM—AMERICAN: from Torrents of Spring, by Ernest Hemingway
SOME EXCURSIONS INTO THE VERNACULAR
A BALLAD UPON A WEDDING, by Sir John Suckling
THE HUMBLE PETITION OF FRANCES HARRIS, by Jonathan Swift
GRANDFATHER'S OLD RAM, by Mark Twain
MUSEUM TOUR, by James Joyce
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE IN AMERICAN, by H. L. Mencken
THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS IN EISENHOWESE, by Oliver Jensen
THE WEST POINT ADDRESS, by Dwight David Eisenhower
INAUGURAL ADDRESS, by Warren G. Harding
THE AVANTGARDE VERNACULAR: by S. J. Perelman

SELF-PARODIES: Conscious
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Max Beerhohm
William Faulkner

SELF-PARODIES: Unconscious
Richard Crashaw
Abraham Cowley
Samuel Johnson
Edward Gibbon
George Crabbe
Lord Byron
Edgar Allan Poe
Percy Bysshe Shelley
William Wordsworth
Robert Browning
Thomas Babington Macaulay
Charles Dickens
Walt Whitman
Rudyard Kipling

SCIENTIFICATION (i): The Parameters of Social Movement, a Formal Paradigm,
by Daniel Bell
SCIENTIFICATION (ii): Struwwelpeter, a psychoanalytical interpretation
by Dr. Rudolph Friedmann

UN PEU DE FRANCAIS:
L'AFFAIRE LEMOINE, par Marcel Proust
Apres Balzac
Apres Flaubert
Apres Michelet
EXERCICES DE STYLE, par Raymond Queneau

THE OXEN OF THE SUN PARODIES, by James Joyce
THREE NONSENSE PLAYS, by Ring Lardner
Dinner Bridge
Clemo Uti (The Water Lilies)
I Gaspiri {The Upholsterers)

APPENDIX: SOME NOTES ON PARODY, by Dwight Macdonald
INDEX


Related link: Seriously Funny edited by Gerald Nachman

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another 10 actors.

Rashida Jones
Lucy Liu
Rosario Dawson
Janina Gavankar
Marie-Josée Croze
Diane Lane
Amanda Donohoe
Maria Bello
Shu Qi
Gabrielle Union








Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: the links

As always, thanks to all the contributors to this week's selection of reviews and citations, and to you readers...while a number of contributors are either being repaired themselves or having equipment repairs done, there are likely to be at least a few additional items appearing over the course of the day.

Bill Crider: Serial Mom [trailer]

Ed Gorman: Detour; Edward G. Robinson

Elizabeth Foxwell: "The 5:48" (Alfred Hitchcock Presents:)

Evan Lewis: The Black Rose

George Kelley: Aliens v. Predators; Aliens v. Predators Requiem

Iba Dawson: The Truth About Cats & Dogs

Ivan G. Shreve: The High Chapparal (on Inspiration Channel); MeTV

James Reasoner: Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion

Jerry House: Theodore Sturgeon's "The Sky Was Full of Ships" as adapted for Tales of Tomorrow ("Verdict from Space") and Beyond Tomorrow ("Incident at Switchpath")...and in the original text (from Thrilling Wonder Stories sf magazine)

John Charles: Wham, Bam, Thank You, Spaceman

John F. Norris: Tiger Bay

Juri Nummelin: The Way You Wanted Me (aka Sellaisena kuin sinä minut halusit)

Kate Laity: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

Mark Hand: Code Green

Max Allan Collins: Biff Elliot, the first Mike Hammer on screen

Michael Shonk: Star Trek (TOS) as crime drama

Patti Abbott: The Hedgehog

Randy Johnson: The Gorgeous Hussy

Ranylt Richildis: Ten (more or less) overlooked Canadian films

Robert Greenberger: The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan

Rod Lott: The Invisible Boy (1957)

Ron Scheer: Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here

Scott Cupp: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959); Mars Needs Moms

Sergio Angelini: Running on Empty (1988)

Stacia Jones: Dreams of a Life and Inside Man


Todd Mason: Borgen and more of the political drama stripe

Monday, August 20, 2012

New relevance: The best television political drama series I've seen...Tony Scott, RIP and the BORGEN series marathon.

With the suicide of The Good Wife co-executive producer Tony Scott yesterday (with apparently incorrect or at least disputed reports of inoperable cancer driving the action, and the added frisson of Scott's widow being a blonde named Donna Wilson), and the advent at this hour of the Borgen marathon on Link TV and Link's online pages, here's a reprint here of a post I'm reasonably happy with (still Homeland-, Boss-, Magic City- and Strike Back-free, despite enjoying what I've seen of each series, and definitely excluding the Sorkin series The Newsroom, while mildly enjoying that one when the childishness or sanctimony...or childish sanctimony...of the characters isn't at its frequent thickest):


The Good Wife
Well, this one is probably my default choice for the best serial drama on US television, and its clear-eyed accounts of the best, worst and middling impulses of politically ambitious folks, among its many other concerns, doesn't hurt a bit.





Borgen ***Do hit this link, and consider watching Borgen, which is repeating from episode 1 online and on the cable/satellite/KRCB (SF Bay Area, CA, broadcast) Link TV in the US... I've been pushing this one since catching the pilot a few months back, with its clever and well-worked-out and rarely melodramatic account of the changed lives of its cast of characters when the leader of the small Radical Party (in the series redubbed the Moderate Party so as to step on no toes legally) becomes the new Prime Minister of Denmark, its first female PM and one who is trying to cope with coalition maintenance, home life as a wife, and mother of two, and with her closest associates facing their own repercussions in the new reality. We in the US got to see this Next Project from the originators of The Killing before even the Brits did, and there's a second season due soon. "Borgen" is apparently Danish for "castle," the nickname for their Parliament building.

Yes Minister & Yes Prime Minister

The first great UK sitcom, and its sequel series, about governance, that I had the privilege to catch.

Absolute Power

The second, albeit with focus more on the spinners.

The Thick of It

The third, bringing it all back home, and spinning off a feature film, In the Loop.

The Wire

While all the seasons of this attempt to sum life in Baltimore at least touched on governance, one season took state politics as its focus...and it didn't hurt that that was one of the most sharply-written seasons.

Tanner '88

Funny, insightful, and with a much-later sequel series of its own. Probably set the tone for at least some of the later British as well as US productions.

The Prisoner

McGoohan and company's surreal and frequently deft critique of modern society, going a bit further than even Danger Man/Secret Agent had previously, did not spare either the ruling classes (of all stripes) nor the ease with which democratic efforts can be flummoxed and subverted.

The Gordimer Stories

A selection of eight short films, including an interview with Nadine Gordimer herself, which was shown on at least some PBS stations as a series, all the drama set in South Africa in depths of apartheid and the small and large tragedies those laws force upon the characters, and the attempts to subvert and overcome the noxious racist regime.

Parks and Recreation

A clever, intentionally goofy series, which nonetheless does manage to capture (in caricature) the range of governmental bureaucracy at least at the local levels in the US, from the almost insanely dedicated to the utter clockwatchers, the cranks who managed to land in a position and somehow keep it and the crusaders who know just what will save their villages even if...


honorable mentions:
Lou Grant
The Agency
Da Vinci City Hall
The Politician's Wife

All solid. If I'd seen more of the latter two, I'd perhaps move them into the first category...The Agency was CBS's one-season CIA drama, vastly better than its contemporaries 24 and Alias...but, then, Once A Thief the series, in syndication for its brief run in the US at that time, was better than they were, too, by being simply pleasant.

"the opposition" (not so great, in fact scoundrels, though often dearly loved by others):
The West Wing
--cute wish-fulfillment fantasy for centrist Democrats. Aaron Sorkin can write, but in the excellent Sports Night and the pleasant-enough Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip he was writing about life in television, which he actually knew something about.
Commander-in-Chief
--Rod Lurie, whom I knew in high school, loves to pick rather melodramatic subjects for his scripts, and load them with ringing speeches for his characters to deliver, thus making them catnip for the inner ham looking for gravitas. Sadly, Lurie almost never can make any of that sound like actual conversation nor come up with a believable character...firing Lurie off the series, as ABC did, and replacing him with Steven Bochco, who has his own tic-laden stylization, didn't help much. Geena Davis had fun with it.
Spin City and Benson and Murphy Brown
--Just shallow sitcoms, where it was assumed that making a topical reference or getting a cameo from someone actually working in politics or news reporting was the soul of wit. Actually, Benson didn't even try that hard. Pity...nearly everyone involved with these did better work elsewhere. (Late addition: And despite Julia Louis-Dreyfus's fine performance, much the same could be said of her recent sitcom, Veep.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Music Club: 10 rock albums

"Shake, Rattle and Roll"



"Big River"



"Soulville"



"Here Without You"



"Got My Feet on the Ground"


"We Almost Lost Detroit"



"Kizza Me" and "For You"





"He's Got a Secret" and "Restless"





"Twister"



"I Had A Dream I Was Falling Through A Hole In The Ozone Layer"