Match Point (2005) – Woody Allen (Friday’s Finest)

Match Point

Match Point is a Woody Allen film which hardly gets a mention when people recite Woody films off the top of their heads. It’s no wonder since Match Point is a major departure from Woody’s accustomed routes and ‘brand’ such as the romantic comedy genre. Instead Match Point is a slick psychological (Hithcockesque) thriller. It contains many subtle references to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and for anyone who has been following this blog will know I’m in awe of that book. So naturally a movie which does that has already got me by the short and curlies.

IMDB storyline: From a humble background and with traditional values, Irish Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is still struggling financially despite being a recently retired high ranked tennis pro. He has taken a job as a tennis instructor at an upscale London tennis club, although he knows there is a better life for him somewhere down the road. He is befriended by one of his students, wealthy Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode). Chris starts to date Tom’s sister, Chloe Hewett (Emily Mortimer), a girl-next-door type who is immediately attracted to Chris. Chloe quickly knows she wants to marry Chris, and through her businessman father, Alec Hewett (Brian Cox), tries to help Chris and their future by getting him an executive job in Alec’s company. In his life with the Hewetts, Chris begins to enjoy the finer things in life.

Where I think Woody Allen is at his finest in the dramatic realm is when he explores conflicts and tension between social classes. His most intriguing film dealing with ‘classes’ is Blue Jasmine for mine, but Match Point is also highly engaging with respect to the interplay between characters of different classes. Match Point is geared towards  someone trying to conform to a social class that will secure him a better life, where as Blue Jasmine is about the complete opposite; a high society woman who is unwilling to enjoy positive,and meaningful social interactions with people she considers lower down on the social ladder.

Like the protagonist Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, Irishman Chris Wilton in Match Point is a very clever and manipulative rationalist. He says in one scene: ‘I think Faith is the path of least resistance.’ He also draws analogies of life being like a game of tennis. When the ball hits the net, it’s only a matter of luck whether it drops on the far side or lands back on your own. As an audience member when I was perplexing over the macabre ending, these words I found came back to haunt me as it might do you.

My own thoughts about Match Point aligns with mstomaso: (It) draws its audience in quietly and slowly at first, defining its territory as a smart, hip, and sophisticated character study early on (in no way unexpected for Mr. Allen), but then it takes an irreversibly sinister turn…. The story line of Match Point is powerful, disturbing, and exceedingly clever. Philosophical folks will likely want to talk about it afterward. Some will find it frustrating and others will find it pretentious. Well, from my perspective, it is simply damn good story-telling.

IMDB Trivia:

  • This is Writer and Director Woody Allen’s favorite movie of his own.
  • Because it was filmed in Britain, Writer and Director Woody Allen had to have a certain percentage of British cast and crew. Apparently, he made his quota before casting Kate Winslet. After she backed out to spend more time with her family, Allen cast American Scarlett Johansson.
  • In a nod to Sir Alfred Hitchcock, a playbill showing Woody Allen’s face in deadpan is briefly seen as Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) arrives at the Tate museum to meet Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson).
  • This was Woody Allen’s first movie since Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) to make a profit in the United States.
  • The “Crime and Punishment” elements were also used in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), which was heavily compared by movie critics with this project at the time of its release.
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Born in Time (1990) – Bob Dylan

Born in Time 1990

Bob Dylan 1990 Hamburg

Born in Time is the second song  to appear here off Dylan’s widely scorned 1990 album Under The Red Sky. If you would like more information about this album you can visit the 2 x 2 song post. Born in Time is by far and away my favourite song from the record. Rarely a week goes by I don’t hear this song. It’s another one of those countless songs by Dylan I never grow tired of. I mentioned in the comments of another Dylan post how often upon hearing his music I feel like I have been dropped into another time and place where the images are so thick I almost have to brush them away from my face. Born in Time is one such song where I feel like I’ve been dipped in magic waters.

In the lonely night
In the blinking stardust of a pale blue light
You’re comin’ through to me in black and white
When we were made of dreams.

You’re blowing down the shaky street,
You’re hearing my heart beat
In the record breaking heat
Where we were born in time….

Born in Time is a reworking of the original material recorded at the previous year’s Oh Mercy sessions. Two versions of this outtake can be heard on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs. Clinton Heylin points out there are at least 6 versions around and they were mostly rewritten. Other outtakes from the Oh Mercy sessions, included the sublime Series of Dreams and Dignity, which were eventually left out since Dylan was satisfied with the recorded results.  The producer of Oh Mercy – Daniel Lanois told Chicago Tribune that Series of Dreams was his pick for the opening track, but ultimately, the final decision was Dylan’s.

Eric Clapton covered Born in Time and released it as a single in 1998. Since the original release is unavailable online I have added below a Bob And Eric duet. And note Dylan’s guitar playing holds up pretty damn well compared to Eric’s. It’s of course nice to see such an event as a Dylan aficionado, but this will be another one of many occasions where I wished the original was available especially for those unaccustomed to Dylan.

Additional Reference:

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Bolero Falaz (1995) – Aterciopelados

AterciopeladosThis song by Aterciopelados (The Velvet Ones) topped the 1000 most important songs of Colombian rock, but I would class Bolero Falaz more as alternative rock. It’s extremely groovy and bohemian in character a beholds a catchy melody that should titillate the ears of most music enthusiasts. It is said, Bolero Falaz has since the 1990’s represented Colombia in the history of Latin rock. It was the band’s first big hit and soaked the radio waves in México, España, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile. What even makes it more special to me is the band are from my adopted home city – Bogotá.

Wikipedia: Their music fuses rock with a variety of Colombian and Latin American musical traditions. Time magazine wrote that “Aterciopelados’s true skill lies in its ability to take north-of-the-border musical styles…and breathe new life into them, all while giving them a distinctly Colombian sheen.” 

Bolero Falaz is a story of disappointment, but with touches of humor that comes the band’s second studio album, El Dorado, which consecrated the sound of the Bogota people with their mixture of traditional rhythms, national folklore and 90’s rock. This album earned them their first gold record, in 1996. Andrea Echeverri and Héctor Buitrago, the duet who formed Aterciopelados, opened one of Bogotá’s only rock clubs, and their relationship is one of Latin rock’s most successful artistic partnerships. They said that nothing was planned when Bolera Falaz was released. There were no communication or marketing strategies; things were just done in the moment.

Below is a loose English translation of the first segment of the song:

Bolero Falaz (Bolero Fallacious)

And it goes…

You search in my pocket proof of another love
Hairs on the lapel, this smile gives me away
Lipstick on the shirt, my alibi is thrashed
I’m in evidence, cheating has its science

I have it up to here
You’re not my other rib
Nor the eight wonder

Damned if I do, Damned if I don’t, don’t even ask
I’m not me anymore, you’ve got me outside of character

The video below is shot on one of the most emblematic routes of Bogotá, ‘the Caracas’ and is a faithful portrait of Bogota in the 90s.

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Boléro (1928) – Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel

Boléro is a very famous musical composition composed by Maurice Ravel which premiered in 1928. It was composed as a ballet commissioned by Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein. It is said the Boléro epitimizes Ravel’s preocupation with restyling and reinventing dance movements. It was also one of the last pieces he composed before illness compelled him to retire.

Ida Rubinstein wanted Ravel to write an orchestral transcription from Isaac Albéniz‘s set of piano pieces, Iberia. However Ravel ended up creating an entirely new piece on the musical form and Spanish dance Bolero. He went to the piano and played a melody with one hand and said to his friend, ‘Don’t you think this theme has an insistent quality? I’m going to try and repeat it a number of times without any development, gradually increasing the orchestra as best I can.” 

The composition was a sensational success when it was premiered at the Paris Opéra. Ravel preferred the stage design of an open-air setting with a factory in the background, reflecting the mechanical nature of the music. Ravel presumed that most orchestras would refuse to play it, but much to his surprise it became his most famous composition. It is said that during the premiere performance a woman screamed that Ravel was ‘mad’. When he was told about this he replied that she had understood the performance.

References: Bolero – Wikipedia

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The Story of an Impertinent Curiosity (Part 3 Final) – Don Quixote

The nosy and impertinent Husband

This week in Wednesday’s literature piece we conclude ‘The Story of an Impertinent Curiosity‘ with Part 3 (Chapter XXXV). In Chapter 34 we read how Anselmo received letters from his wife Camilla pleading for him to return. Despite her anguish Anselmo thought it was marvelous news that apparently his plan was working and the seduction of his wife by his best friend Lothario was well underway. He answered his wife that he would return ‘with all speed’. Meanwhile Camilla put her faith in God and through good thoughts would resist all Lothario’s words. Lothario assaulted her with praises of beauty. It is said that ‘he wept, entreated, promised, flattered, persisted and feigned so feelingly’ that he eventually triumphed and Camilla eventually rendered herself.

After Anselmo returned and confronts Lothario and just as before Lothario purports that the words he spoke ‘were spent on the air’ and that Camilla is ‘garland of all good women’. Lothario offers all of Anselmo’s money back since he never had occasion to employ it. Anselmo was more than satisfied with Lothario’s discourse although Lothario and Camilla had continued their affair since his return. Anselmo wants to end the game and asks that Lothario pretend to be in love with a young Florentine woman and to write her sonnets. Lotario tells Camilla in private his verses are meant to praise Camilla alone because ‘she would have fallen into a desperate web of jealousy’ if he had read them meant for another woman.

At this point in the plot we meet Leonela the maid to whom Camilla confesses everything. Camilla admits to Leonela – ‘at having lowered my self-esteem, because I didn’t even make Lothario suffer time before taking complete possession of my will which I so quickly surrendered.’ Leonela supports her mistress telling her that love is mutable and impossible to control adding that ‘someday I’ll tell you everything my lady, for I too am made of the flesh and blood of a girl’. She then lists ‘a complete and entire alphabet’ of praise for Lothario. Leonela informs her that she too is involved in a love affair’ with a well-born young man of the same city. With these mutual confessions the main crises arises. Leonela lets her lover visit her in a room of Anselmo’s house and Camilla feels compelled to facilitate these unions. Lothario sees Leonela’s young lover leaving at the break of dawn not knowing who he was, at first he thought he was a ghost, but when he saw him walk he realised it was a young man. He hit on an impression that the young man must have been another lover of Camilla’s. If that impression had lingered it would have been the end of them all, if Camilla had not remedied the situation. Lothario becomes blind with jealous rage and prepares his revenge, informing Anselmo that Camilla had finally succumbed to his advances and that they had arranged to meet the next time Anselmo was absent. Lothario tells Anselmo to pretend to leave for a few days but to hide behind some tapestries in the room where the lovers meet. Soon thereafter Camila confesses to Lothario the troubles she is having with Leonela. So in turn Lothario confesses that instigated by the furious rages of jealousy he has told Anselmo about them and he begs her for advice on how to ‘safely escape from a twisted labyrinth’.

Camilla and Lothario then create a plan to be rid of Anselmo, once and for all. When Camilla and Lothario meet, Camilla pretends that she does not know that Anselmo is watching. When the time comes for her to kiss Lothario, Camilla states that she would rather die than commit infidelity. Camilla eloquently states “since fortune denies a complete satisfaction to my just desires, it shall not, however, be in its power to defeat that satisfaction entirely.” No one, not a character in the story, not the narrator and not even the reader knows Camilla’s true intentions when she attacks: ‘with incredible strength and agility she lunged at Lothario with the unsheathed dagger, giving such signs of wanting to drive it into his chest that even Lothario was almost in doubt regarding whether these maneuvers were true or false.  Camilla struggles to keep her dagger away from Lothario and ultimately, she stabs herself in the chest and falls to the ground.

Lothario is immediately shocked because Camilla was only to pretend to stab herself, but when he looks closely he sees that Camilla has only wounded herself slightly. Lothario then begins to grieve loudly and with Leonela’s help, he carries Camilla’s body away. Anselmo is now convinced of Camilla’s honesty. He believes that his wife is a veritable ‘simulacrum of chastity’.  Chapter 34 ends ominously.

The relatively short Chapter 35 below concludes this remarkable novel within a novel. Ultimately, the narrative structure combines Don Quixote’s story with Anselmo’s. The “Conclusion of the Novel of the Curious Impertinent” is integrated with Don Quixote’s “battle.” Don Quixote and Anselmo are both tempting fate and looking for trouble. Often, the distance between the story and the story-within is used to create a foil, a character whose contrasts to the main character offer more clarity and distinction to the main character. Here, Anselmo is not a foil for Quixote; he is a parallel, a co-definer. We realize that Quixote is also a “curious impertinent.” Both men become rejected outsiders; Quixote will suffer sadness and confusion just as Anselmo has. Both men adhere to a strict and private ideology. Their ideas are different from the ideas held by their friends. As ideological purists, these men are too stubborn to enjoy positive, meaningful social interactions.

For those who had the patience and nerve to read along, I hope you found ‘The Story of an Impertinent Curiosity’ as compelling and entertaining as I did.

CHAPTER XXXV: Wherein is ended the History of the Curious-Impertinent: And likewise recounted the Rough Encounter and Conflict passed between Don Quixote and certain Bags of Red Wine
A little more of the novel did rest unread, when Sancho Panza, all perplexed, ran out of the chamber where his lord reposed, crying as loud as he could, ‘Come, good sirs, speedily, and assist my lord, who is engaged in one of the most terrible battles that ever mine eyes have seen. I swear that he hath given such a blow to the giant, my lady the Princess Micomicona her enemy, as he hath cut his head quite off as round as a turnip.’

‘What sayst thou, friend?’ quoth the curate (leaving off at that word to prosecute the reading of his novel). ‘Art thou in thy wits, Sancho? What a devil, man, how can that be, seeing the giant dwells at least two thousand leagues from hence?’ By this they heard a marvellous great noise within the chamber, and that Don Quixote cried out aloud, ‘Stay, false thief! robber, stay! for since thou art here, thy scimitar shall but little avail thee.’ And therewithal it seemed that he struck a number of mighty blows on the walls. And Sancho said, ‘There is no need to stand thus listening abroad, but rather that you go in and part the fray, or else assist my lord; although I think it be not very necessary, for the giant is questionless dead by this, and giving account for the ill life he led; for I saw his blood run all about the house, and his head cut off, which is as great as a great wine bag.’ ‘I am content to be hewn in pieces,’ quoth the innkeeper, hearing of this, ‘if Don Quixote or Don devil have not given some blow to one of the wine-bags that stood filled at his bed’s  head, and the shed wine must needs be that which seems blood to this good man.’ And saying so, he entered into the room, and all the rest followed him, where they found Don Quixote in the strangest guise that may be imagined. He was in his shirt, the which was not long enough before to cover his thighs, and it was six fingers shorter behind. His legs were very long and lean, full of hair, and horribly dirty. He wore on his head a little red but very greasy nightcap, which belonged to the innkeeper. He had wreathed on his left arm the coverlet of his bed; on which Sancho looked very often and angrily, as one that knew well the cause of his own malice to it: and in his right hand he gripped his naked sword, wherewithal he laid round about him many a thwack; and withal spake as if he were in battle with some giant. And the best of all was, that he held not his eyes open; for he was indeed asleep, and dreaming that he was in fight with the giant. For the imagination of the adventure which he had undertaken to finish, was so bent upon it, as it made him to dream that he was already arrived at the kingdom of Micomicon, and that he was then in combat with his enemy, and he had given so many blows on the wine-bags, supposing them to be giants, as all the whole chamber flowed with wine. Which being perceived by the host, all inflamed with rage, he set upon Don Quixote with dry fists, and gave unto him so many blows that if Cardenio and the curate had not taken him away, he would doubtlessly have finished the war of the giant; and yet with all this did not the poor knight awake, until the barber brought in a great kettle full of cold water from the well, and threw it all at a clap upon him, and therewithal Don Quixote awaked, but not in such sort as he perceived the manner wherein he was. Dorothea, seeing how short and how thin her champion was arrayed, would not go in to see the conflict of her combatant and his adversary.

Sancho went up and down the floor searching for the giant’s  head, and seeing that he could not find it he said, ‘Now I do see very well that all the things of this house are enchantments, for the last time that I was here, in this very same room, I got many blows and buffets, and knew not who did strike me, nor could I see any body; and now the head appears not, which I saw cut off with mine own eyes, and yet the blood ran as swiftly from the body as water would from a fountain.’ ‘What blood, or what fountain dost thou tattle of here, thou enemy of God and His saints?’ quoth the innkeeper. ‘Thou thief, dost thou not see that the blood and the fountain is no other thing than these wine-bags which are slashed here, and the wine red that swims up and down this chamber? And I wish that I may see his soul swimming in hell which did bore them!’ ‘I know nothing,’ replied Sancho, ‘but this, that if I cannot find the giant’s  head, I shall become so unfortunate, as mine earldom will dissolve like salt cast into water.’ And certes, Sancho awake was in worse case than his master sleeping, so much had his lord’s  promises distracted him. The innkeeper, on the other side, was at his wits’ end, to see the humour of the squire and unhappiness of his lord, and swore that it should not succeed with them now as it had done the other time, when they went away without payment; and that now the privileges of chivalry should not any whit avail him, but he should surely pay both the one and the other— yea, even for the very patches that were to be set on the bored wine-bags.

The curate held fast Don Quixote by the hands, who believing that he had achieved the adventure, and was after it come into the Princess Micomicona her presence, he laid himself on his knees before the curate, saying, ‘Well may your greatness, high and famous lady, live from henceforth secure from any danger that this unfortunate wretch may do unto you; and I am also freed from this day forward from the promise that I made unto you, seeing I have, by the assistance of the heavens, and through her favour by whom I live and breathe, so happily accomplished it.’ ‘Did not I say so?’ quoth Sancho, hearing of his master. ‘Yea, I was not drunk. See if my master hath not powdered the giant by this? The matter is questionless, and the earldom is mine own.’ Who would not laugh at these raving fits of the master and man? All of them laughed save the innkeeper, who gave himself for anger to the devil more than a hundred times. And the barber, Cardenio, and the curate, got Don Quixote to bed again, not without much ado, who presently fell asleep with tokens of marvellous weariness. They left him sleeping, and went out to comfort Sancho Panza for the grief he had, because he could not find the giant’s  head; but yet had more ado to pacify the innkeeper, who was almost out of his wits for the unexpected and sudden death of his wine-bags.

The hostess, on the other side, went up and down whining and saying, ‘In an ill season and an unlucky hour did this knight-errant enter into my house, alas! and I would that mine eyes had never seen him, seeing he costs me so dear. The last time that he was here, he went away scot-free for his supper, bed, straw, and barley, both for himself and his man, his horse and his ass, saying that he was a knight-adventurer (and God give to him ill venture, and to all the other adventurers of the world!) and was not therefore bound to pay anything, for so it was written in the statutes of chivalry. And now for his cause came the other gentleman, and took away my good tail, and hath returned it me back with two quarters of damage; for all the hair is fallen off, and it cannot stand my husband any more in stead for the purpose he had it; and for an end and conclusion of all, to break my wine-bags and shed my wine: I wish I may see as much of his blood shed. And do not think otherwise; for, by my father’s  old bones and the life of my mother, they shall pay me every doit, one quart upon another, or else I will never be called as I am, nor be mine own father’s  daughter.’

These and such like words spake the innkeeper’s  wife with very great fury, and was seconded by her good servant Maritornes. The daughter held her peace, and would now and then smile a little. But master parson did quiet and pacify all, by promising to satisfy them for the damages as well as he might, as well for the wine as for the bags, but chiefly for her tail, the which was so much accounted of and valued so highly. Dorothea did comfort Sancho, saying to him, that whensoever it should be verified that his lord had slain the giant, and established her quietly in her kingdom, she would bestow upon him the best earldom thereof. With this he took courage, and assured the princess that he himself had seen the giant’s  head cut off; and for a more certain token thereof, he said that he had a beard that reached him down to his girdle; and that if the head could not now be found, it was by reason that all the affairs of that house were guided by enchantment, as he had made experience to his cost the last time that he was lodged therein. Dorothea replied that she was of the same opinion, and bade him to be of good cheer, for all would be well ended to his heart’s  desire. All parties being quiet, the curate resolved to finish the end of his novel, because he perceived that there rested but a little unread thereof. Cardenio, Dorothea, and all the rest entreated him earnestly to finish it. And he desiring to delight them all herein and recreate himself, did prosecute the tale in this manner:

‘It after befel that Anselmo grew so satisfied of his wife’s  honesty as he led a most contented and secure life. And Camilla did for the nonce look sourly upon Lothario, to the end Anselmo might construe her mind amiss. And for a greater confirmation thereof, Lothario requested Anselmo to excuse his coming any more to his house, seeing that he clearly perceived how Camilla could neither brook his company nor presence. But the hoodwinked Anselmo answered him that he would in no wise consent thereunto; and in this manner did weave his own dishonour a thousand ways, thinking to work his contentment. In this season, such was the delight that Leonela took also in her affections, as she suffered herself to be borne away by them headlongly, without any care or regard, confident because her lady did cover it, yea, and sometimes instructed her how she might put her desires in practice, without any fear or danger. But finally, Anselmo heard on a night somebody walk in Leonela’s  chamber, and, being desirous to know who it was, as he thought to enter, he felt the door to be held fast against him, which gave him a greater desire to open it; and therefore he struggled so long and used such violence, as he threw open the door, and entered just at the time that another leaped out at the window; and therefore he ran out to overtake him, or see wherein he might know him, but could neither compass the one nor the other, by reason that Leonela, embracing him hardly, withheld him and said, “Pacify yourself, good sir, and be not troubled, nor follow him that was here; for he is one that belongs to me, and that so much, as he is my spouse.” Anselmo would not believe her, but rather, blind with rage, he drew out his poniard and would have wounded her, saying, that she should presently tell him the truth, or else he would kill her. She, distracted with fear, said, without noting her own words, “Kill me not, sir, and I will acquaint you with things which concern you more than you can imagine.” “Say quickly, then,” quoth Anselmo, “or else thou shalt die.” “It will be impossible,” replied Leonela, “for me to speak anything now, I am so affrighted; but give respite till morning, and I will recount unto you things that will marvellously astonish you; and in the meantime rest secure, that he which leaped out of the window is a young man of this city betwixt whom and me hath passed a promise of marriage.” Anselmo was somewhat satisfied by these words, and therefore resolved to expect the term which she had demanded to open her mind; for he did not suspect that he should hear anything of Camilla, by reason he was already so assured of her virtue. And so, departing out of the chamber, and shutting up Leonela therein, threatening her withal that she should never depart thence until she had said all that she promised to reveal unto him, he went presently to Camilla, to tell unto her all that which his maiden had said, and the promise she had passed, to disclose greater and more important things. Whether Camilla, hearing this, were perplexed or no, I leave to the discreet reader’s  judgment; for such was the fear which she conceived, believing certainly (as it was to be doubted) that Leonela would tell to Anselmo all that she knew of her disloyalty, as she had not the courage to expect and see whether her surmise would become false or no. But the very same night, as soon as she perceived Anselmo to be asleep, gathering together her best jewels and some money, she departed out of her house unperceived of any, and went to Lothario’s  lodging, to whom she recounted all that had passed, and requested him either to leave her in some safe place, or both of them to depart to some place where they might live secure out of Anselmo’s  reach. The confusion that Camilla struck into Lothario was such as he knew not what to say, and much less how to resolve himself what he might do. But at last he determined to carry Camilla to a monastery wherein his sister was prioress; to which she easily condescended: and therefore Lothario departed, and left her there with all the speed that the case required, and did also absent himself presently from the city, without acquainting anybody with his departure.

‘Anselmo, as soon as it was day, without heeding the absence of his wife, arose and went to the place where he had shut up Leonela, with desire to know of her what she had promised to acquaint him withal. He opened the chamber door, and entered, but could find nobody therein, but some certain sheets knit together and tied to the window, as a certain sign how Leonela had made an escape by that way. Wherefore he returned very sad to tell to Camilla the adventure; but when he could neither find her at bed nor in the whole house, he remained astonied, and demanded for her of his servants, but none of them could tell him anything. And as he searched for her, he happened to see her coffers lie open and most of her jewels wanting; and herewithal fell into the true account of his disgrace, and that Leonela was not the cause of his misfortune, and so departed out of his house sad and pensive, even as he was, half ready and unapparelled, to his friend Lothario, to recount unto him his disaster: but when he found him to be likewise absented, and that the servants told him how their master was departed the very same night, and had borne away with him all his money, he was ready to run out of his wits. And to conclude, he returned to his own house again, wherein he found no creature, man or woman, for all his folk were departed, and had left the house alone and desert. He knew not what he might think, say, or do; and then his judgment began to fail him. There he did contemplate and behold himself in an instant, without a wife, a friend, and servants; abandoned (to his seeming) of Heaven that covered him, and chiefly without honour; for he clearly noted his own perdition in Camilla’s  crime. In the end he resolved, after he had bethought himself a great while, to go to his friend’s  village, wherein he had been all the while that he afforded the leisure to contrive that disaster. And so, shutting up his house, he mounted a-horseback, and rode away in languishing and doleful wise. And scarce had he ridden the halfway, when he was so fiercely assaulted by his thoughts, as he was constrained to alight, and, tying his horse to a tree, he leaned himself to the trunk thereof, and breathed out a thousand pitiful and dolorous sighs; and there he abode until it was almost night, about which hour he espied a man to come from the city a-horseback by the same way, and, having saluted him, he demanded of him what news he brought from Florence. The citizen replied, “The strangest that had happened there many a day; for it is there reported publicly that Lothario, the great friend of the rich man, hath carried away the said Anselmo’s  wife Camilla this night, for she is also missing: all which a waiting-maid of Camilla’s  hath confessed, whom the governor apprehended yesternight as she slipped down at a window by a pair of sheets out of the said Anselmo’s  house. I know not particularly the truth of the affair, but well I wot that all the city is amazed at the accident; for such a fact would not be as much as surmised from the great and familiar amity of them two, which was so much as they were called, ‘The Two Friends.’” “Is it perhaps yet known,” replied Anselmo, “which way Lothario and Camilla have taken?” “In no wise!” quoth the citizen, “although the governor hath used all possible diligence to find them out.” “Farewell, then, good sir,” said Anselmo. “And with you, sir,” said the traveller. And so departed.

‘With these so unfortunate news poor Anselmo arrived, not only to terms of losing his wits, but also well-nigh of losing his life; and therefore, arising as well as he might, he came to his friend’s  house, who had heard nothing yet of his disgrace; but perceiving him to arrive so wan, pined, and dried up, he presently conjectured that some grievous evil afflicted him. Anselmo requested him presently that he might be carried to his chamber, and provided of paper and ink to write withal. All was done, and he left in bed, and alone, for so he desired them; and also that the door should be fast locked. And being alone, the imagination of his misfortune gave him such a terrible charge, as he clearly perceived that his life would shortly fail him, and therefore resolved to leave notice of the cause of his sudden and unexpected death; and therefore he began to write it; but before he could set an end to his discourse, his breath failed, and he yielded up his life into the hands of sorrow, which his impertinent curiosity had stirred up in him. The gentleman of the house, seeing that it grew late, and that Anselmo had not called, determined to enter, and know whether his indisposition passed forward, and he found him lying on his face, with half of his body in the bed, and the other half leaning on the table whereon he lay, with a written paper unfolded, and held the pen also yet in his hand. His host drew near unto him and, first of all, having called him, he took him by the hand; and seeing that he answered not, and that it was cold, he knew that he was dead; and greatly perplexed and grieved thereat, he called in his people, that they might also be witnesses of the disastrous success of Anselmo; and after all, he took the paper and read it, which he knew to be written with his own hand, the substance whereof was this:

‘“A foolish and impertinent desire hath despoiled me of life. If the news of my death shall arrive to Camilla, let her also know that I do pardon her, for she was not bound to work miracles; nor had I any need to desire that she should work them. And seeing I was the builder and contriver of mine own dishonour, there is no reason”—

‘Hitherunto did Anselmo write, by which it appeared that his life ended in that point, ere he could set an end to the reason he was to give. The next day ensuing, the gentleman his friend acquainted Anselmo’s  kinsfolk with his death; the which had already knowledge of his misfortune, and also of the monastery wherein Camilla had retired herself, being almost in terms to accompany her husband in that forcible voyage; nor for the news of his death, but for grief of others which she had received of her absent friend. It is said that although she was a widow, yet would she neither depart out of the monastery, nor become a religious woman, until she had received within a few days after news how Lothario was slain in a battle given by Monsieur de Lautrec, to the great Captain Gonzalo Fernandez of Cordova, in the kingdom of Naples; and that was the end of the late repentant friend, the which being known to Camilla, she made a profession, and shortly after deceased between the rigorous hands of sorrow and melancholy: and this was the end of them all, sprung from a rash and inconsiderate beginning.’

‘This novel,’ quoth the curate, having read it, ‘is a pretty one; but yet I cannot persuade myself that it is true, and if it be a fiction, the author erred therein; for it cannot be imagined that any husband would be so foolish as to make so costly an experience as did Anselmo; but if this accident had been devised betwixt a gentleman and his love, then were it possible; but being between man and wife, it contains somewhat that is impossible and unlikely, but yet I can take no exception against the manner of recounting thereof.’

 

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Blue Eyes (1982) – Elton John

Elton John 1982

It’s strange this is the first song to appear in the music library project by Elton John considering how many of his songs will feature here. I listened to Elton more than any other music artist before I reached the age around 13. To say his early records did the rounds on our family turntable would be an understatement. All of my family adored his music.

Come to think of it he seemed the biggest superstar I can remember when I was growing up. One of my biggest regrets as far as my musical longings go is not seeing him in concert. I’m sad to read about him recently  cutting short a New Zealand concert after falling ill with walking pneumonia. I have a lot more to say about Elton from a personal perspective, but I’ll leave that for other Elton music posts. I did write a review here of the recent bio-pic film Rocketman which I was pleasantly surprised by.

Now onto today’s track Blue Eyes. I doubt most of my readers will not be familiar with this tune. Elton John has always had a strong affiliation with Australia and that will be the subject for another time, but it’s interesting to note here that the video below for the song was filmed in Australia, on Sydney’s famous Bondi to Bronte walk. You know you have made it when you can put your white grand piano right in the middle of a turret overlooking the Tasman Sea!

It was a huge hit and spent 2 weeks at Number 1. According to wikipedia the song and video was in dedication to Elizabeth Taylor. When it pops onto my player I always love hearing it. It’s just a simple beautiful song although wiki claims harmonically, the song is complex, with the verses in the key of B flat, and the chorus in the key of D minor.

Not only have I included the original video below but also the sublime solo performance on Michael Parkinson’s show.

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Posted in Music

18/02 – 24/02 incl. Intermittent Fasting, Bret Easton Ellis, The Go-Betweens and Cucumbers

news on the march

Welcome to Monday’s News on the March – The week that was in my digital world.

 Article by Jane E Brody at the New York Times:

I’ve long thought the human body was not meant to run on empty, that fasting was done primarily for religious reasons or political protest. Otherwise we needed a reliably renewed source of fuel to function optimally, mentally and emotionally as well as physically.

Personal experience reinforced that concept; I’m not pleasant to be around when I’m hungry. There’s even an official name for that state of mind, confirmed by research: Hangry!....….… (Read  entire article).

Video podcast at Eric Weinstein:

Eric sits down with Bret Easton Ellis; the two Gen X’ers graduated from rival high schools in a disaffected 1982 Los Angeles that inspired Ellis’ first novel “Less Than Zero”. In this conversation, they reflect on LA, Generation X, and the different notions of childhood held by Gen x and Millennials. They then discuss Bret’s anti-anti-Trump position and Eric’s anti-anti-anti-Trump position having both lost patience with the pro and anti-Trump views found in the Republican and Democratic party positions...….(Watch entire podcast interview)

Short Story by Bruce Goodman at Weave a Web:

Natalia kept her finances well-hidden. In fact, Natalie’s finances were so well-hidden that everyone presumed she was skint.

It wasn’t until she died that rumours started that possibly she had more than she led people to believe. She lived in a small fairly run-down house which she said in her will was to be sold, and what was left after funeral expenses should go to the Prevention of Cruelty to Cats Society. For the rest, it wasn’t much – not that she had much of a family anyway; just four or five grown-up nieces and nephews. Most each got what amounted to little more than an old piece of furniture or a domestic knick-knack….. (Read entire short story)

Music Documentary at Sinisa Lemica:

”The Go-Betweens were arguably Australia’s finest rock/pop band – a band that never really had mainstream success. Their heyday was in the 80’s and, line-up changes included, they have released some 9 albums. This part of the Great Australian Albums series focuses on their 1987 album 16 Lovers Lane. It was an important release for many reasons. It was the album that finally promised to lead them into the big-time with the pop confection that was Streets of Your Town. That never happened and the band toured then crashed and burned soon after, no releasing another record for 12 years….. (Watch Music Documentary)

Article by the Intellectual Shaman:

I was living with my parents and finishing my education. No matter what I did, it always seemed like gravity was pulling me backwards. I needed a better job, I needed to lose weight, I needed my own place, but time, money, and energy got sucked into a black hole I couldn’t understand. Women were running my life and I needed to escape into a den of masculinity, so I looked at the real estate adds. I found a house with some acreage and called on the place...….(Read entire short story)

news on the march the end

Posted in Health, News, politics, Reading

Blue Black Sky (2003) – David Bridie

David bridie hotel radio

Blue Back Sky comes from Australian singer-songwriter David Bridie’s record Hotel Radio. It’s almost certain you haven’t heard of this 2003 record. There isn’t even a wikipage about it, but most of the songs from this record will feature in this music library project. I watched him perform live many of these songs and I listen to them regularly.

David is someone I’d class as a songwriting puritan. He doesn’t try to appease the masses by making formulaic commercial music, instead he does what appeals to his senses. You could say his music is very atmospheric and experimental. So it comes as no surprise he’s a composer of soundtrack music, with credits for over 100 feature films.

Like the majority of songs on this album, today’s song Blue Back Sky is very introspective and dreamlike. As a listener I just enjoy letting the images and music wash over me and see where it takes me. If you would like a more comprehensive description of my penchant for the music of David Bridie and his bio you can visit this post: A Midlife’s Tale – My Friend the Chocolate Cake (David Bridie)

Stay at home
Alone with your family and all that you own
Watch her play
She’s making the world up the best part of the day

The piano boy slumped forward head looking low
The bottom notes they ring out still nobody knows
He loses himself in his crouching pose till they’re gone
And nobody is listening, nobody’s listening.

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American Movie (1999) – Chris Smith (Friday’s Finest)

American movie

Hmm, well… technically American Movie isn’t a movie, rather it’s a documentary about a movie that was made. Audiences could be forgiven thinking it’s a ‘mockumentary’ in the style of ‘Spinal Tap‘, but no folks I’m afraid this story is actually real. Perhaps you can remember one time when you were young and held your Dad’s JVC video camera and went about trying to make an actual short film encasing all the cool things you’d seen in cinema. My brother and I did that replicating the Mr Miyagi training scenes in the original Karate Kid film. Well now picture yourself, 15 (or so) years older trying to do the same thing, but this time to ‘wow’ actual audiences in a real cinema by making a real film. Voila – you have American Movie.

IMDB Storyline: On the northwest side of Milwaukee, Mark Borchardt dreams the American dream: for him, it’s making movies. Using relatives, local theater talent, slacker friends, his Mastercard, and $3,000 from his Uncle Bill, Mark strives over three years to finish “Coven,” a short horror film. His own personal demons (alcohol, gambling, a dysfunctional family) plague him, but he desperately wants to overcome self-doubt and avoid failure. In moments of reflection, Mark sees his story as quintessentially American, and its the nature and nuance of his dream that this film explores.

Any movie aficionado should see this film just to grasp the lengths an amateur film buff goes to, to realise his dreams of being a fully fledged filmmaker. Allow me to digress – referring to his film Inside Llewyn Davis, Ethan Coen once said: “It’s more interesting for me as an audience member to see a movie about a loser“.  So if you find that the case, then you will salivate when you see American Movie. Although looking on the positive side Mark Borchardt who is the aficionado filmmaker in American Movie is not entirely distasteful because at least he’s chasing the American Dream. His passion for the industry despite whatever personal impediments or suspect lifestyle choices he makes; he remains an interesting subject to observe – to say the least.

It’s a no-brainer documentary, but an entertaining one. I’ve watched it multiple times and never get bored. Underneath I admire the guy and his dogged tenacity. He’s the least greatest specimen (if I can say that) which makes him so interesting. Its duplicity is jarring because its simultaneously a very funny and sad film.  Like Don Quixote, American Movie presents an often-ignored inefficient aspect of freedom — that people will be drawn toward professions to which they are not particularly well-suited, irrespective of repeated failure.

I don’t normally do this, but below is the trailer of the film which I don’t think detracts from anyone’s enjoyment of wanting to see it because the documentary contains so much more nuance.

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Posted in Movies and TV

Blow Up The Pokies (2000)- The Whitlams

the whitlams

Blow Up the Pokies is a protest song about the misery and destruction of Australia’s poker machines. In the US, they’re called slot machines, in the UK; fruit machines. Back in the 1990’s Tim Freedman – the lead singer of The Whitlams performed most of his music in pubs before he was famous. He wasn’t even familiar with poker machines before they were allowed into pubs in New South Wales in 1997. Soon stages, bars and dining areas were removed to make space for more poker machines. Essentially the golden goose had arrived and the musicians were thrown out.

What really upset Freedman was seeing two close friends whose lives were unravelling because of poker machine gambling. One of whom was former band member Andy Lewis who was having plenty of trouble financially because of the pokies and eventually took his own life. Freedman says. “It was aggravating me. So I wrote a song about it – a little story about sitting [at a pub] down the road and seeing my friend play the pokies where we used to play music.” So he released Blow Up the Pokies in 2000. The song tells the story of a failing father locked in a “secret battle” with poker machines that were allowed in the first place so the government could say “the trains run on time”.

It’s a really catchy melody and has hard hitting lyrics. I loved it from the very first moment I heard it. Blow Up the Pokies peaked at #21 on the charts, and propelled the Whitlams on to a national tour. Ironically, many of the packed-out halls they were booked to play were in large clubs housing hundreds of poker machines. “I felt like a Trojan horse,” Freedman says. In January 2018, as part of Triple M‘s “Ozzest 100”, the ‘most Australian’ songs of all time, “Blow Up The Pokies” was ranked number 84.

” And I wish, I wish I knew the right words
To make you feel better
Walk out of this place
Defeat them in your secret battle
Show them you can be your own man again ”

“And I wish, I wish I knew the right words
To blow up the Pokies and
Drag them away
‘Cause they’re taking the food off your table
So they can say that the trains run on time “

References:
1. The Guardian – Blow up the pokies: the misery and destruction of Australia’s poker machines
2. Blow up the Pokies – Wikipedia

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