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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Reading E.B. White

Reading E.B White, it's hard to believe that at one time the world used to consume the written word in more than just the massive novel, the thin People article, and the tweet.  There was once a time when insight could come in bites--a paragraph or two.  And at one time we had a host of writers who could write insight with just 150 words or less, just as they could write with 150,000.
White wrote for the New Yorker for years, and only the other day did I discover that his works from the New Yorker had been compiled into a book.  All those little insights add up to something to marvel at, even if they aren't as respected or read as his novels, Charlotte's Web and Trumpet of the Swan--a book I loved more than any other growing up.

He was a lot like Hemingway in his love for nature, though White seemed to have lived a far healthier life.  He lived into his eighties, and I saw nothing in his biographies regarding mental illness like Hemingway's.  White has the look, too:  the twentieth century manly man look. Like Steinbeck.

It sometimes bothers me that I read so many male authors whereas there are less female authors.  Then I think of the book series that got me into reading--Harry Potter--and become less concerned.  My obsessions change from year to year.  One day my to reading list will be filled with the names of women.  Literature is sexless when you get down to it.  So many authors don't even offer their names.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Forgotten Cutter

I have been plying my memory the past few days and it is so strange the things that come to the surface.  Things that I thought I had forgotten completely.

There are the memories of sleep overs gone horribly wrong, where you sit in terror as your friends watch The Faces of Death:  a kind of death and pornography film, showing the mutilation of the human condition is so many ways.

Then there are the girlfriends gone wrong.  It's funny how many of those I could not remember for the life of me.  I needed other memories to jog the primary one into action, bring my past into view again.

It's a nice exercise. Stories of your childhood, when framed right, can be very entertaining.  David Sedaris has taught me that.  I only hope that I can learn something from that brand of storytelling.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, spinning his wheels a little bit.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Movies for Black People v. Movies with Black People

I was walking my son out of the movie theatre.  We had just seen Planes or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.  I cannot remember which.  As we neared the doors, I noticed an advert that made one eyebrow go up, and my mind wonder what Hollywood was thinking when they green lit this forthcoming production: I'm in Love with a Church Girl.

I guess what bothered me the most was how painfully saccharine the whole affair looked on the ad, with its glossy looking cast, standing on what looked like a time share for a Rap video production company.  What underlay that was the fact that clearly Hollywood still believes that the only movies with black people worth making are ones that look as though Tyler Perry had a hand in them, or involve gang banging.

A drug dealer falls in love with a nice Christian girl.  Oh the dilemmas that must follow!

Reading the review of the movie, I am led to believe that it is based on the life of the screenplay writer, who did the whole "street life" thing. But how many of these films about street life have to come out before we ask for something more?  Are we so culturally entrenched that, if it isn't a screwball comedy with Chris Tucker or Ice Cube, or a melodrama possibly starring Medea, we don't want to see it.  

I understand that Butler movie was pretty good.  Great even, if one is to believe those around him.  I just wish that there could be more like it.  Not cookie cut either.  Just in that spirit.  Capture an experience without reverting to what the marketing metric says will or won't sell.  If everyone listened to their marketing metric, we might never have gotten To Kill a Mockingbird or Cast Away.  But listening to marketing got us four bad Star Wars films, The Godfather 3, and too many Jason and Freddy movies to bother naming.  

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table