Archive for March, 2014

My Coworker’s Throwback Thursday

March 4, 2014
Way, way back.

Way, way back.

True Detective Mania

March 4, 2014

From Gothamist’s montage of visual clues:

Books in Rust Cohle's storage unit.

Books in Rust Cohle’s storage unit.

It would appear that Cohle is interested in the work of one of my favorite poets, Theodore Roethke.  As nothing in this show is not connected, I’ve taken the liberty of listing a few possible reasons why his collection is included (as opposed to, say, Whitman’s.)  None of these feels like THE answer, though, so if you come up with others, please do send along!  I’ll be happy to give you credit in my book-in-progress, The Complete Annotated True Detective.

1. Roethke’s breakthrough book was called The Lost Son.  A reference to Errol Childress?

2. From perhaps his most famous poem, “My Papa’s Waltz”:

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt

Perhaps a reference to the abuse Errol Childress’ father inflicted on him?

3. The similar eeriness of Roethke’s “Elegy for Jane”:

A wren, happy, tail into the wind,
Her song trembling the twigs and small branches.
The shade sang with her;
The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing,
And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose.

… and the lyrics of The Handsome Family’s “Far From Any Road” (the theme song):

From the dusty May sun
Her looming shadow grows
Hidden in the branches of the poison creosote
She twines her spines up slowly
Towards the boiling sun
And when I touched her skin
My fingers ran with blood

4. Roethke’s major themes: the wildness of nature, and the perils of introspection

5. His obsessive work ethic resembles Cohle’s.  From the Poetry Foundation:

Along with these influences, the source of much of Roethke’s poetry was the notes he dutifully kept throughout his life. A measure of the devotion given to his craft can be found in his statement “I’m always working,” and indeed his pockets were seemingly always filled with jottings of striking thoughts and conversations. His less spontaneous reflections found a place in the workbench of his poetry—his notebooks.

6. Of Christ and crucifixion imagery, Roethke was quite familiar.  During one of his many nervous breakdowns, he “entered the first class of the 1957-58 University of Washington school year by flinging ‘himself against the blackboard in a kind of crucified pose, muttering incoherently.’

7. Uh, this:

Epidermal Macabre

Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes, —
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness:
I hate my epidermal dress,
The savage blood’s obscenity,
The rags of my anatomy,
And willingly would I dispense
With false accouterments of sense,
To sleep immodestly, a most
Incarnadine and carnal ghost.

8. And finally, everyone’s favorite color (check out that last line––oo, wee!):

From “The Far Field”

The slightly trembling water
Dropping a fine yellow silt where the sun stays;
And the crabs bask near the edge,
The weedy edge, alive with small snakes and bloodsuckers, —
I have come to a still, but not a deep center,
A point outside the glittering current;
My eyes stare at the bottom of a river,
At the irregular stones, iridescent sandgrains,
My mind moves in more than one place,
In a country half-land, half-water.

An Open Letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

March 4, 2014

Dear “Academy,”

Let me begin by saying that you are one of my most favorite academic institutions, and I’ve been a big fan of the Oscars for as long as I can remember.  As a child, I used the commercial breaks to practice my Best Actress speech in the bathroom; as a teenager, I merrily critiqued the designer gowns of each female attendee, and threw popcorn at the TV when anyone claimed to be happy “just to have been nominated.”  I’ve actually written extensively about my zealous love of the Oscars elsewhere (I cannot link to it without revealing my true identity) so I won’t babble on about this topic; suffice it to say I, and many others, wait for the Oscars with as much anticipation as people who identify as hetero-normative male basketball fans wait for March Madness.

Small bone to pick with you, though, and it rests in the Best Picture category.  Once upon a time, in an idyllic, resplendent era, there were five nominees for Best Picture.  Then, all of a sudden, some years ago, you decided to bloat the category and grant a total of nine nominations.  (I cannot bear to Google to check what year this was implemented in, so wary am I to relive that terrible time.)  Why?  I and others asked ourselves.  Five is a great number: small enough to be easily conceived of, yet large enough for a person to feel like there’s a real competition there.  Nine, on the other hand, is simply absurd.  No one, in this age of Hulu and $17 movie tickets, is likely to see that many films in a season, or even to remember the full docket of nominees come Oscar night.  The field is too crowded, and thus the battle between movies is suddenly less riveting; it’s less a boxing match and more a fight between many rodents.  (There has to be some analogy to economics here––something about market saturation?––but I think you can get the idea without me overdoing it.)  This is all not to mention that everyone’s favorite complaint about the Oscars is that they are way too long.  Did you not see that by adding nominees to a category, you ran the risk of lengthening, rather than tightening and shortening, the ceremony?

But of course, the reason you made this decision is because you believed it would end in bigger profits for––wait for it––YOU.  Believing that we idiot chattel would see “Best Picture Nominee!” and sign over the deeds to our houses, you figured you would sacrifice the air of fierce competition for a bland pretend-tournament in hopes that more people, in more places, would see more movies.  (Of course, you could try to tell me that it’s about giving recognition to as many cinematic masterpieces as possible, but I’d argue that you cheapen your “recognition” by diluting the category with movies that obviously will not win.  Case in point: Philomena, which was I’m sure moving, but never stood a chance.)  But in light of the fact that none of the nominated pictures saw a rise in profit post-announcement, or other awkwardness like this, perhaps you’ll consider changing it back to the old format.

Ever yours,