The Super Bowl is in New York with the cold hype of hyping hype.Broadway is closed from 47th down to 34th with kiosks and sad fanfare. They recommend pre-registration, but it doesn’t even work, not the badges, neither the machines.There is a promise of giveaways, kicking field goals, seeing the Vince Lombardi trophy, playing trivia contests. But the process is slow, often broken, with the long lines stuck in the dark, cold and endless.
Inside Llewyn Davis starts where it ends, in desperation and isolation. Moments recur, varied but not; characters change and don’t. Llewyn Davis sees himself in his incontinent father, his wide-eyed nephew, his various hosts and the cat. Ulysses is an interesting creature, always escaping, down the fire escape, on the road, on a movie poster, there and not there, almost like Schrodinger says, but more like an animal of eternal recurrence, life in a loop. The Coen brothers’ latest film is remarkable simply because it pretends to be simple, reiterating the basic truth that everything has already been done.
Apparently animals need to be tricked into the slaughterhouse. An animal is trained to lead them inside.This is known as the Judas Goat (or Cow, Pig etc.). In exchange for its betrayal, the animal gets a lazy, longer life. But it leads me to wonder if the animal knows what it has done. If it realizes that it was the only animal to survive the trip? Does it remember? Have a conscience? Does it think of suicide?
Like many, I am curious about the enigma of J.D. Salinger. I would like to know why, after writing The Catcher in the Rye, he vanished from the public eye so long ago. The film Salinger doesn’t answer any questions but rather is an an indicator for why Salinger never emerged.
There are a few interesting interviews: Jean Miller, the muse for For Esme – with Love and Squalor, is interviewed extensively about her relationship as a teenager with Salinger.An old friend A.E. Hotchner, tells how his relationship with Salinger ended suddenly when, unbeknownst to him, his magazine, Cosmopolitan, published a Salinger short story, Scratchy Needles on a Phonograph Record, but changed the title to Blue Melody.There is some thought-provoking conjecture regarding his wartime experiences, his fixation on young women and his dedication to his writing, as well as his secluded life in Cornish, New Hampshire.
But it amounts to little more than sensational hyperbole; either the people don’t know him, or did briefly long ago, or they have an ax to grind. It’s an attention-seeking movie in the end, re-affirming Salinger’s point of staying away.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said that the biggest challenge of a trip to Mars would be coping with the isolation. “Within a month or so you won’t be able to have a real-time conversation ever again with Earth, the delay will be so long…So that crew within weeks will become Martians psychologically. They will no longer be of Earth.”
“How do you keep your crew from going crazy?”
We define our sense of self through a context. What is the context of no longer being here?
Janus was cold and snowy, briefly grounding transportation. But what does Janus, the Roman God of Beginnings & Endings, have to do with our winter weather? Is it to be released as part of a film collection?Was it inspired by a disprosopus creature?
A marketing ploy by Jill Janus of Huntress? Or was it just a random moniker from the weather office?
I gots to know.
Sometimes I think about what might have been if Martin Luther Ling Jr. had not been assassinated in 1968. He might have led the Poor People’s March on Washington that summer and advanced the cause against economic discrimination. He might have advanced the cause for ending the war in Vietnam earlier; indeed he might have become a senator, even president. He might have established a very different course on foreign policy – no wars in Kuwait, Afghanistan or Iraq, genuine aid offered in the Balkans, Rwanda, Syria…
Yeah, I had a dream.
As I am wont to do, I can spend an entire day – such as yesterday – watching movies, the worse the better.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is pure caricature but offers a visually poetic penultimate moment where massive bullet shells pummel a forest in 180-degree, slow-motion, sepia-matrix technology.Re-cut and re-imagined, it could be installed in a gallery.
Oliver Stone’s Savages is an aimless train wreck of drugs, violence and sex narrated by a omnipotent dumb blond. “Just ’cause I’m telling you this story doesn’t mean I’m alive at the end of it. It’s that kind of a story.” Yeah, it is.
I wasn’t going to make it. I knew that. I had only been in the water for ten minutes. Not even that. Five. And I was tired. We were still in the bay. Hammer’s Island was still there. I banged my hand against the canoe. My fingernail was broken. I was just going to stop.“You okay, Dee?” Reilly looked down at me, her paddle across her legs. She was a three-time Bawigian; she had a tattoo of a fish on her wrist.
“Yeah.” I didn’t know why but I started again. I would make it out past Hammer’s, and that would be it.
“You’re doing great.”
I hated how dark the water was, how my arms went out in front of me and became brown and gross. The sunlight went down in long sharp lines and then got lost, like there was something there, branches, something reaching up, fish in the gloom. I closed my eyes and counted my strokes. I made it to ten before hitting the canoe again. “You want to take a break?”
“It’s not a big deal. We’ve got all day.”
I could see the other canoes getting further ahead. There were twelve of them, painted green and red. 22 swimmers, everyone ahead. I kicked and counted, my eyes open, my arms coming across my face, digging out, pulling back. I had to remember to kick. I got to 20 this time. I was going to stop and then started again and got higher. I looked up at 50. The canoe was still there, Reilly looking at me over her paddle. I really liked her. I counted and kicked again. We were down from Hammer’s, out in the open lake, the deepest part, a hundred feet down, more. I thought about something coming out from that, that long prehistoric body, its row of teeth, swimming faster and faster, coming at me, coming after my arm as it came back, my toes dragging behind. I had to remember to kick. I did it twice and dragged again. I had water in my ears; it was humming and starting to hurt. I banged my head against the surface. “You’re almost a third of the way.”
I floated there, almost treading backwards, thinking I would just get her to pull me up, and kicked and reached again. I counted to 50. My arms were heavy. I couldn’t kick. I was gasping for breath. I counted again. I made it to 40 this time. I stopped. There was a canoe just ahead.
“Jasmine’s getting out.”
She was the only other Frog in the Bawigi.
“You’re doing great.”
I kicked and counted again. I made it to 50 and kept going. I was at 100, but I wasn’t swimming right. My arms were flopping down and I wasn’t kicking at all. I wasn’t going anywhere. I flipped onto my back and let my legs flutter. The sun was over the front of the canoe. I was cold. I wanted to get out.
“You’re halfway, Dee. Suze and Lizzie just got out.”I wasn’t going to make it. I knew that. I had nothing left, but I would go as long as I could. I flipped over and counted again. I got to 80, and I was going to stop. My hands were pruned. I couldn’t feel anything, like I had something around me, like my skin had a skin on top of that. My legs felt like that too. It wasn’t in me. I was going to drown, something like that, and then I had Jabberjaw in my head. Jabberjaw was a cartoon shark in a cartoon band with cartoon teen-aged kids. He played drums. And he was a giant shark, a Great White. He must have been 20 feet tall, towering over everyone in the band. Jabberjaw was always getting into trouble because of his lamebrain ideas and bumbling antics.He had a crazy laugh, “Knuck-knuck-knuck!” He laughed like that whenever he got into trouble. “Knuck-knuck-knuck!” He was always in trouble. That’s what drove the show. “Knuck-knuck-knuck!” It wasn’t just Jabberjaw laughing in my head; it was Marlin Perkins too, the old man from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Jabberjaw was the subject of today’s show. Marlin Perkins was on the edge of his desk with a picture of Jabberjaw over his shoulder, Jabberjaw, the crazy cartoon shark, dancing on the water. “We seek the mysterious Jabberjaw in the clear waters off Cozumel,” Marlin Perkins announced. He said ‘Jabberjaw’ like he had practiced it too much or knew him like a brother. “The mysterious Jabberjaw in the clear waters of Cozumel.”He repeated, intoning each syllable, Jab-ber-jaw and Co-zu-mel like lyrics, words he was teaching. Jabberjaw! I stopped and looked up. We were in the channel, turning through the islands. The harbor, the end of the Bawigi, was over a mile away.
Reilly’s head bobbed above the water. She looked very cool. I was happy about that. I was happy that I was going through the islands. I was happy that I had made it to here. I was happy that I was still in the water. I didn’t care that I wasn’t going to make it. “The mysterious Jabberjaw in the clear waters of Cozumel.” Marlin Perkins’ face was big, like Jabberjaw’s, bright blue and white. And then Jabberjaw was saying Marlin Perkins’ lines: “The mysterious Jabberjaw in the clear waters of Cozumel.” He was laughing at that. “Knuck-knuck-knuck.” He was laughing like he was teaching it to Marlin. “Knuck-knuck-knuck!” Marlin Perkins tried it, but he didn’t have the ending right. It was too hard, too enunciated. “Knuck-knuck-knuck!”Jabberjaw laughed it slowly, like a baby. And then he explained it like Marlin would understand: “The mysterious Jabberjaw in the clear waters of Cozumel. Knuck-knuck-knuck!” Marlin Perkins tried it again. “Knuck-knuck-knuck!” Jabberjaw replied, “Jabberjaw in the clear waters of Cozumel.” And then Marlin Perkins had it. “In the clear waters of Cozumel, the laugh of the Jabberjaw his hallmark, professing his lamebrain ideas and bumbling antics. Knuck-knuck-knuck!” Jabberjaw was on the edge of the desk with him now, listening, his front fins crossed in his knees. “Knuck-knuck-knuck!” They did it together. “Knuck-knuck-knuck! The mysterious Jabberjaw in the clear waters of Cozumel.” Their voices were combined, Marlin Perkins’ professorial tone, Jabberjaw’s high-pitched chuckle. “The mysterious Jabberjaw!” Marlin Perkins patted Jabberjaw on the back. “Knuck-knuck-knuck!” I was doing frogs kicks now, my face just above the surface. The bay had narrowed to a line of cottages on each side. I focused on Reilly’s paddle, in and out of the water, the curl of the far side of the blade, the line of bubbles, out and just ahead, cutting through the brown water, the light off that, flat and the bubbles and out again. “The mysterious Jabberjaw! The clear waters of Cozumel. Jabberjaw! Knuck-knuck-knuck! Jabberjaw!” Marlin Perkins was tired, waiting for commercial, sitting behind the desk. Jabberjaw wasn’t a cartoon anymore. He was just lines, smudged, not even talking. “Knuck-knuck.” Marlin Perkins tried to get him going but that was it. I could see the bottom. Swirls of light slid up and down off the green rocks, and then there was sand and the dock. I was there.
“Knuck-knuck.” I loved that shark.