Monday, March 26, 2012


Watched Akira Kurosawa's Dodesuka-den (1970), an interesting Japanese film about a group of dysfunctional poor families living in what appears to be a dump, or some marginal area on the edge of a city, struggling with mental problems, the ravages of alchohol, marital discord, poverty, homelessness, and machismo run amok. It is a sad movie, heartrending too, and one feels especially for a little boy trying to keep his delusional father alive by begging and picking up scraps; an abused and overburdened niece with a lazy lout of an uncle who rapes her; a young man who lives in the fantasy that he runs a communter trolley; a man with serious tourettes-like symptoms who has a rude. angry wife (though apparently loyal) that he has to defend to his office mates. The only sane fellow in the bunch appears to be an older monk-like engraver, who ventures outside of his hut every so often to steer the crazies back to reality. One storyline in this series of vignettes is about a broken man, apparently the result of an infidelity, whose wife returns but cannot shake him from his stupor and anger to achieve forgiveness. Comedy is provided by two drunk wife-swappers. A chorus of women, who meet around the public spigot to wash clothes, fills in details as they observe their surroundings. What is unclear to me is why, even in this society that appears to provide a smidgen of charity to some in this group, that no one stepped in to help the child who becomes sick with food poisoning (several residents were clearly aware that he was ill and unlikley to get help from his delusional father). I watched a lot of these movies when I was young, and I can't say if the acting was good or bad, especially with the exaggerated style often present in this generation of movies. It is a very personal film, as the viewer goes right into the huts of the downtrodden. I wondered too, if the time period was right after the war, or at some later date that reflected a reality of life few in the West are aware existed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Although initially intended only for the perusal of a friend, I allowed several colleagues to view this little ditty, and they seemed to like it, so I decided to put it here as well.

Long-time partners, yet angry still,
caught in a dance as wounded will,
can’t leave the floor, each gesture hard,
hurts inflicted by a jagged shard,
yet still they move, each step familiar
old critics each, now a heart killer,
afraid to part and friendship slay,
but for each one they cannot stay,
so now old goals must be forgot,
a new tangent for Fate to plot,
it’s time to let old music fade,
and find a new song to be played.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Almost everyone has a tale of lost opportunity---failing to buy a certain piece of property, marry a special person, choose a different career---and most people sigh over their decision, and then move on. But what if at their starts you turned down an offer to work for Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburg, play with the Beatles or Madonna, take a leading role in Star Wars or Gone With The Wind? What if while in high school, by no fault of your own but because a family member decided against telling you, the offer to play guitar for Bono and The Edge as they were starting up U2 was missed, leading to years of frustration playing dead-end gigs and missing out on record deals, again at the direction of that very same relative? Well, it happened, and the resulting story is played out in Nick Hamm’s Killing Bono (2011), a delightful and rollicking Irish film about the brothers McCormick, the older of which Neil (played by Ben Barnes) decline’s his high school pal’s offer to his younger brother to join Bono (Martin McCann). Neil is one of the unluckiest, angriest, bitter, star-crossed musicians to ever grace a stage, who because of his outsized ego and determination to best his former rival, lead him to repeatedly turn down golden opportunities, the whole time as his unsuspecting brother struggles along in support of his older sibling’s dreams. Although the film is advertised as a comedy, and indeed there are funny parts, it is mostly the tale of disappointment and poor choices, brotherhood and forgiveness, determination and defeat, and to a certain degree mental instability. One of the most enjoyable parts of the movie is the final performance on film by Pete Postlethwaite as the boy’s gay landlord. No doubt there is a lot that fans of the famous band and afficiandos of music from this era will enjoy and understand.

Monday, March 12, 2012


First time I have watched a movie from, or even about, Chad, the landlocked mostly ISlamic country in north-central Africa. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's A SCREAMING MAN (2010) is a nice, though slowly-paced, film about about a humiliated and angry older man, a former champion swimmer, who allows his son to be forcibly drafted into government forces to fight rebel incursions (probably between 2006-2008, I am guessing). He was the long-time pool caretaker at a prominent hotel, but new management relegates him to gate guard (as they pare down their staff) as they keep his son on at the pool. He has been unable to make monetary contributions to the anti-rebel effort, and a combination of resentment and impoverishment force him to make a decision he will regret (though it is uncertain what latitude he may have had in the matter). Why the movie is titled so is confusing, as he is taciturn and often silent. I doubt most people, other than those who enjoy foreign films, will be awed by it, but it is nicely done and worth checking out. Certainly you get to see an area of the world few get to glimpse in the West.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Bought this Boyd's Bear (Uncle Gus) this weekend, but I bought it mostly cause it reminded me of me and the boys, so it spoke to my heart. I really like it.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Think that of me, as you
head to the sea,
A beach upon which
a boat can be moored,
a signal lamp stored,
for safety and comfort,
or a notion of home,
Wherever you go,
whenever you roam.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Last night Columbia, South Carolina was invaded by Pirates (who knew the Congaree was deep enough!), but instead of stealing booty, they delivered a sparkling treasure to the ballet-going public. Indeed, Radenko Pavlovich's Columbia Classical Ballet gave a beautiful, exciting performance of Le Corsaire, probably one of the best ballets this reviewer has witnessed in person. With tickets graciously provided through Lucretia Mack (via Katherine Macedon), my boys and I experienced a delightful evening of dance. Although my knowledge and understanding of ballet is still in its infancy, I thought the show wonderful, especially the middle scene, with its glorious costumes and backdrops, and almost the entire cast on stage in motion.

The undisputed captain of this ship, and outright star in the eyes of Columbia, was Brooklyn Mack, whose presence on stage (as Ali) absolutely alters the atmosphere in the audience. I think he could walk out and just stand there, and Columbians would go crazy for their native son, who now dances principally with the Washington Ballet. His masculine grace, precision, and soaring leaps never fail to capture bounteous adulation, and the loudest cheers are always reserved for him. Columbians turn out for him when he comes for a visit. I have seen Mack dance this role before (often at Lifechance), but it was even better to see it with a full cast and in relation to the story. But Mack was not the only star of the evening, especially in this ballet which gives the boys plenty of opportunities to shine. Cuban-born Christopher Miro was very good as Conrad. Ivan Popov gave a solid performance as Lankendem, and he always dances well in tandem with Lauren Frere (Guinare). My friend Zolton Boros was a delightfully comic presence as Seyd. Company veteran Oleksandr Vykhrest was great as Birbanto. There were not enough roles for every guy to star, but Willie Moore and Jose Pereira stood out as well as pirates.

Let's not forget the beautiful ballerinas. Besides Lauren, who has graced our stage as a principal for a few years, was newcomer Tamako Miyazaki, who was wonderful in her role as Medora. She was especially great in her pairing with Brooklyn. Although I can't name them all here, company regulars such as Natalie Robinson, Mercedes Schindler, Saif Wilkes-Davis, Katherine Jaco, and Emma Stratton were wonderful. Along with familiar faces, both men and women, were many new dancers who I hope grace our stage for years to come.

The other star of the evening was the gorgeous set (and costumes), borrowed from the Washington Ballet. No doubt much praise has to go to the crew that transported and installed it. Pavlovich has been bringing new ballets for us to enjoy, and training new generations of dancers (as well as inspiring children through the outreach program), and I hope people continue to financially support this important resource in the Midlands.