Black Ice: Channel-Surf Proscrastination

Extract from 1997 novel, Black Ice:

Cam liked the animal shows, the cheetahs and whales, the lemurs and cougars, living in the open, in the forest, on the Savannah, in the depths of the dark sea, with nothing to hang on to but themselves, cut out raw, everything a meal or a monster around them, instinct not a word, but inside them, alive. He made a bet with himself: Six blonde women – it didn’t matter what they looked like – just six on one circuit up through the channels, and then he could delay everything, just sit there; he wouldn’t have to turn it off. Six blondes, six different channels. He had one on the first try, a sit-com, and another two channels one up – a newscaster. And then nothing. He slowed, waited for the camera to cut to her. But it was all car racing and gardening shows. Then he had another – a paramedic. And then nothing again. Too many old men, talking heads, and that was it. He had to get back to work.

Ice Friday: Curzio Malaparte’s “Kaputt”

Malaparte’s memoir details Fascist life, both German and Italian, at its height:

Then, as their mysterious fear grew, as that mysterious white stain spread over their eyes, they began killing prisoners whose feet were blistered and who could no longer walk. They began setting fire to the villages that were unable to hand over the fixed number of loads of wheat and flout, a certain amount of loads of corn and barley and of heads of horses and cattle to the requisitioning platoons. When only a few Jews remained, they began hanging the peasants. They strung them by their necks or by their feet to the branches of trees in the little village squares, around the bare pedestals where the white statues of Lenin and Stalin had stood only a few days before. They hung them side by side with the rain-washed corpses of the Jews that had been dangling for days under the black sky, side by side with the dogs of the Jews that had been strung up on the same trees with their masters. “Ah, the Jewish dogs,” said the German soldiers as they passed along.

The Precedence of Trump’s Silent Treatment

So-Called President Trump’s refusal to answer questions is nothing new. Charlton Heston nailed this role beautifully in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. As did Tom Cruise in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. Well, as have many young folks from time immemorial.

 

Bobby Nystrom Figurine Smashed in Malice

I’ve never liked Bobby Nystrom. Brash and conceited, he’s the New York Islander I remembered for almost taking out Borje Salming’s eye in 1978. And so it was with a mix of revulsion and childish glee that I received his figurine at Barclay’s Center on Bobby Nystrom Night. I knew I would destroy it as soon as I had it. But what started out as a joke – it was Lorne Henning and not Nystrom who was responsible for Salming’s injury – turned into a glimpse of a personal abyss, in the creation of seedy ISIS-ish video.In my mind, it was fine and funny, something I had to do, but as an act it wasn’t. It was awful really, just wrecking something for a reason that didn’t exist. Not that I’m sad it’s gone.

Oscars 2017: Best Live-Action Short

This year’s Oscar nominations for Best Live-Action Short are all European: The Woman and the TGV (Switzerland), Silent Nights (Denmark), Time Code (Spain), Enemies Within (France) and Sing (Hungary). And while all have obvious merits, most fail at the short format, striving instead to be an abbreviated feature. Aske Bang’s Silent Nights is the most flawed in this regard – cramming in a passionate on-again-off-again affair, a mugging, death of a parent, deportation and sudden pregnancy into 30 minutes. Timo von Guten’s The Woman and the TGV, although entertaining and meticulously shot, suffers from a kind of Amelie envy. Kristof Deak’s Sing and Selim Azzazi’s Enemies Within briefly focus on the key of the short format – that of a specific and intense relationship – but both lose focus in the end. It is only Juanjo Gimenez’s Time Code – the shortest of the entries at fifteen minutes – that understands the structure of short films. It delivers from beginning to end with humor and insight into the human condition while never overshooting its mark – people are happier when they accept themselves.

Ice Friday: Believable Characters

As advised by Darin Strauss at a writer’s conference, “Characters must be memorable, surprising and move within their essence. Most of all, they need to have their uniqueness made clear.”“When you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.” (From J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye)

Can You See Me?

The house was long and bright, a small tour being conducted as I came home.

“What longitudinal line does the house bisect?” The guide smiled briefly, waiting only a moment before conducting the group through the sculpture gallery. “Originals, everything is an original.” My clothes were missing from some shelves, moved to a downstairs room still under construction. That’s where she was, my wife, unpacking my things. I thought of just staying there, waiting for all of this to come around to a sensible point, but gathered my wits and caught up to her before her next meeting. “I need just ten minutes.”

A loose-suited man stood beside her. “I need the same.”

Her look was reserved as she glanced between us and then back at him. “Would you like to look at the garden? Why don’t I take you out to look at that?”

“We won’t have time then?” I stuttered.

She was already leaving. “We can schedule something for next week.”

I followed them down to the train, past a half naked man engaged in a complicated ritual, artistic or personal I didn’t understand. “Henry, we’ve talked about bringing your friends.” She turned to the loose-suited man. “It’s too much, isn’t it?”

I thought that it was but had been left at the top of the stairs.