Tuesday, December 17, 2013

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWEIRD I must be able to see into the future. There's no other explanation for it. A few days ago I made a comment about Mr. Peabody and His Wayback Machine and it turns out there's an animated coming out. Now I see a remake of "Walter Mitty" out in a couple of months. Everything old is new again is turning out to be true, When I was about eight I was on Cape Cod. I remember my parents taking me to a drive in to see "South Pacific". I cannot think of how many times that has been revived, or "Oklahoma", or "Showboat" or...well, you get the idea. Shows such as "Lion King" go on endlessly, as nothing sells like familiarity. Edgy plays such as "Urinetown" play for a couple of weeks at their off-off-Broadway location and then fade into obscurity because the kingpins of Broadway decide what sells. Hundreds of column inches have been expended on the question "where are the new writers of the Broadway play?". If Broadway won't give them a chance how will they find them?
WHAT'S OUT THERE? While we don't have time travel per se, those of you of a certain age that would like to go back to college age should try and find themselves a cosmologist and discuss what was there before the Big Bang. You'll instantly find yourself back in a college dorm, beer can or joint in hand, stonily arguing the same thing time and again. There will be slight differences this time around. You won't be in your dorm, you (probably) won't have the artificial stimulants and you'll be fully awake. But you'll wish you weren't and you'll wish you were. Asleep and stoned, that is. The discovery of the Higgs-Beson Particle has re-ignited interest in the origins of the universe. There are those who believe in the Steady State Universe, which states that the Universe is, was and always will be here. There are those that believe God created it. Most cosmologists these days tend to go along with the Big Bang Theory, which states that something ignited an infinitely tiny speck and the whole thing started. As things stand that's okay, but try and find out what was there before and its doobie time. Nothing. There was nothing there, the Big Bang theorists earnestly say. What did it look like, you ask. Nothing, it was nothing. It was dark and...their voices fade into obscurity. Nothing as in seeable nothing? I'm reminded of a poem I wrote-"close your eyes and you still can think." "Hard to imagine nothingness forever. I don't think it can be done." What does it look like? Uh, nothing. It's got to look like something. This conversation goes round and round until you think you're stoned. Or wish you were. It's just like those old college bullshit sessions when everybody was drunk or stoned. Except now they're getting paid for it. Me,I prefer Robert Silverberg's "When We Went To See The End Of The World". Turned out there was a big rock, a lot of scaffolding and a sign saying "Closed.Under Construction. Come Back Later." So we went home. THAT I can understand.

Monday, December 16, 2013

ELIZABETH ROSE-"I'm Too Beau'ful"-- I listen to a lot of music, It's a safe bet I hear more in a week than you do in a month, In othere words it takes a lot to get me excited. When I first saw the cover of this disc I though-Here's another ditzy folkie. I couldn't have been more wrong. Elizabeth's a Bonnie Raitt styled bluser with a crystalline voice and excellent material from the title tune and "Blues In The Night" to a bluesy and jazzy version of Willie Dixon's "I Wanna Be Loved". She's also got another disc out, and, as I found out, an entertaining website. Give her a listen and pick up on some great music.
SUBWAY I'd like to preface this with a little autobiography. From 1972-1974 I was a columnist with Circus magazine. It wasn't until I worked in Village Oldies with Eileen Myles and Rose Lesniak that I really started working on my poetry. Under the creed "write about what you know, most of my poetry has a dark bent. My motto has become "I read poetry at people". Blame them! Depression's heavy-adds weight Head full Heart swelling Eyes moist What I had Friday The 13th I lost the 16th A city excludes me -Everybody hates me -You know that's not true -Why, thank you -Not everybody knows you yet What's wrong with me Is what's wrong with everybody sometime or other It's worse now Because it's me
ART LINKLETTER'S SPAWN For those of my readers too young to know, Art Linkletter was an amiable TV personality who published a string of books based on kids' sayings and entitled "Kids Say The Darndest Things". He should have listened more to his daughter, who committed suicide while high, claiming that her father neglected her. These kids are Columbia University area, so their wisecracks are of a higher quality than most. One is the son of a Shakespearean scholar. The other's just a brat. On hearing that Hester Pryne of "A Scarlet Letter" received an A in adultery, one kid said-Did that mean she was good at it? Truer than you know, child. Another opined that "Hamlet" was the story of a little pig from a small town, and that one of his classmates had a family tree "as steady as Birnham Wood". My favorite has to be the little boy who saw a picture of the Venus De Milo, saw a book on his father's desk, and asked if "A Farewell To Arms" was her (ghost written) autobiography.
ON TRANSLATION AND OTHER THOUGHT I'd like to thank Jane Zhao for her input as to what was wrong with the original column. Her work is of a quality this author can only dream of. If this machine does what I want it to, we'll see the changes. Recently I finished a book by the noted Russian author Lemetov. At least I think it was Lemetov. In style and substance it could have been Bret Harte or Mark Twain. Which brings up the point, what constitutes a perfect translation? For years the gold standard of Greek classic translation for high schools and colleges was Richard Latimore. Of late the Fleagles translation of Homer has been seeing usage. For those of you who want to hear it, a boxed edition comes with either CDs or tapes. There are those who prefer the mystery writer Dorothy Sayers' translations. But again, what's closest? For all practical reasons the best translations are closest in space and time to the originals. One elegant, if unworkable, solution, would be to get Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine and translator not only fluent in the language as it was spoken then, but also in the folkways and mores that were then current. Perhaps the February 2014 "Mr. Peabody" movie will address this. But I doubt it.
ADDENDUM TO YESTERDAY'S COLUMN In discussing clear translations I made passing mention to Mr. Peabody and his Wayback Machine. I must be a mind reader, for February sees the release of a "Mr. Peabody" movie, No mention was made of his boy Sherman or the Wayback Machine, but I can only presume they're in there. Looks like it'll be an animated. Don't know about you, but I can't wait.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'M BACK! In preparing "Electronic Etiqutte 2" I resolved to be more pholosophical than with its predecessor.Recently I got into a discussion as to why today's kids are more at home with electronic gadgetry than pen, paper and book. We decided it was largely the fault of the rascal television, which dispenses shows in eight-ten minute segments withcommercials for food, bathroom breaks, stretching of legs and subsquent closing of minds. Studies in movie theatres show that these selfsame eight-ten minute breaks operates much the same there, with people getting edgy, looking around and going for food and bathroom breaks.Maybe books should somehow adapt these-nah, couldn't work. Apropos to that, Your Narrator is ready for his one movie experience of the year, the Hobbit movie that has become a Christmas event. You coyld say I have a Hobbit Habit. At one point I toyed with the idea of putting on-off buttons on books to make kids think they were electronic. On the other hand, we could place this before each book. This is a book. You open it to turn it on, close it to turn it off. It's only limited by your imagination, and I'm certain you've got more imagaination than anybody in Hollyweird. Movies are written by people who can't write for those who can't read. As an added bonus, you can put the book in your pocket and sit down on it. Try THAT with a Kindle! My friend Kate from Sydney sent me a group of photos of her with a kangaroo joey abandoned by its pod. For a while I was toying with putting words to the photos. Here for your enjoyment (!) is the first of the poems. Katie's got a hoppy friend A 2 foor tall Grey joey One point of which I'm unsure Is it Claude or Chloe? Not bad for a first shot, huh? I'll post the rest as I do them.


For those of you who've only read my blogs, I will be reading selections from my upcoming children's book and some of my newer poetry, plus some popular pieces on Sunday, July 10 at Word-Up Books on 178 and Broadway across from Reverend Ike's Palace. Speaking of which, the Uptown Arts Stroll is honoring Word-Up at that very Palace between 6-8 on May 31 for "contributions to the community". We've got a proposal in for a part of the Palace so we can make it into a real community center. I'd love to see some of you there to give your support to this most worthy cause. Thanks.