Blithely Read Ulysses, Watched et al.: Feb 2022

2/1
Pauline Kael, “Yojimbo” Kael also loved Yojimbo and I think has some genuinely interesting things to say about it. I’m surprised by how critical she was of American film in comparison … but I’m not sure why (I haven’t read that much by her).
Dawn Treader, Chs. X-XI: Sea Serpent, Death Island.
James Joyce, Ulysses, finished I. Losing oneself in the stream of consciousness poetry.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019): a documentary with interviews with everyone!

2/2
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019). An episode in PBS’s American Masters series.
As you may recall, February is Black History Month. Last year I was inspired by this opportunity, particularly in the opportunities to read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington.
— Robert J. Randisi, “A Matter of Ethics”, Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction (BLACF)
John Lutz, “Tough” (BLACF)
Ulysses, 10 pp.: Beginning following ‘Poldy

2/3
Nova, “The Ship That Changed the World,” #48.9
Dawn Treader, Chs. X-XI: The freaking Dufflepuds, the origin of whose name is almost as funny as they are. Not since reading part of Book 1 of the Narnia series do I remember how funny these books can be.
Jim Thompson, “This World, Then the Fireworks …” (BLACF). I got rid of all of my Jim Thompson novels! How could I? Assumed youthful misprisions.
This is an excellent story that possesses this prodigious power for intimation and depravity and surprise, which are all of the reasons why we read Thompson to begin with. Apparently it was made into a film of the same name, directed by Michael Oblowitz and starring Billy ZaneGina Gershon, and Sheryl Lee
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, “The Dungeon Shook …”

Jim thompson's famous story "this world, then the fireworks" included in the black lizard anthology of crime fiction
Jim Thompson’s famous story “This World, Then the Fireworks” included in the Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction

2/4
Ulysses, 15 pp.
Fire Next Time, 10 pp.
David Thomson, The Big Screen, 25 pp.
The Watermelon Man (1970). Did I ever mention that I met Melvin Van Peebles, the director of this film and directly afterwards Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)?
In the fall semester of 1993 I was a junior at the College of Wooster when I decided to spend a term in New York. I worked for a small post-production house that was editing National Geographic films on a Steenbeck. The owner of the company was good friends with Van Peebles who would stop by and dazzle us.

An analog flatbed steenbeck film editing machine, back in the days before digital.
A Steenbeck machine where I first learned about post-production (DRs Kulturarvsprojekt from Copenhagen, Danmark, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons). I spent a lot of time labelling and hanging up clips.

2/5
Annie (1982). Directed by John Huston (!!—the man I know from his role in Chinatown [1974] sits better with the films with which I identify him, like The Maltese Falcon [1941] and The Asphalt Jungle [1950]) and starring Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, Aileen Quinn (in the main role).
Dawn Treader, Ch. XII
The Big Screen, 22 pp.
Ulysses, 30 pp.
Harlan Ellison, “Soft Monkey” (BLACF)
Fire Next Time, 10 pp.

2/6
— Homer, The Odyssey, 12 pp. Have I read this since … my first year of graduate school at Villanova, when I took Professor Dennis Schmidt‘s course on “Philosophy and Tragedy”? Not sure that I read it then. So I guess I was surprised to learn that the story began with the gods, in Poseidon’s absence, conspiring to bring Odysseus home and then Athena coming to Telemachus in the guys of Mentes.
Dawn Treader, Chs. XIII-XIV

2/7
The Dark Knight (2008). Boredom. Seeking that background visual distraction while at work …

2/8
— Ulysses, “Telemachus”, the second time

2/9
Body of Lies (2008)
Dennis Lynds, “Yellow Gal” (BLACF)
Max Allan Collins, “Scrap” (BLACF)
Odyssey, Book II
Fire Next Time, 20 pp.

2/10
— Barbaras Beman, “Set ‘Em Up, Joe” (BLACF)
Joe Hensley, “Shut the Final Door” (BLACF)
Injustice: Gods Among Us, 60 pp.

2/11
— Finished Injustice. Injustice indeed. Why’d I read that shit?!
21 Jump Street (2012)
James Reasoner, “Death and the Dancing Shadows” (BLACF)
— Robert Edmond Alter, “Killer in the Dark” (BLACF)
Dawn Treader, 10 pp. of Ch.XV
Fire Next Time, 5 pp.

2/12
Dawn Treader, Ch. XV

2/13
— Michael Seidman, “Perchance to Dream” (BLACF)
— Clark Howard, “Horn Man” (BLACF)

2/14
— Wayne Dundee, “Shooting Match” (BLACF)
Joe Lansdale, “The Pit” (BLACF). This is a pretty gross story and so very much the splatterpunk with which Lansdale is associated.

2/15
Edward Gorman, “Turn Away” (BLACF). Edited the Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction, in which this is included at the penultimate.
Joe Gores, “Second Coming”. Finished BLACF.
Narrator and his friend are seeking their “kicks” and friend realizes that although he’s done so many things (mainly drugs and women of various creeds) he’s never witnessed an execution. So they do that.
Reading this made me want to read more by Gores. The language was not necessarily what impressed me, although it may have been in part. I was interested by the fact that it changed focus at the end, from Victor to the execution and then back to Victor. I’d thought the execution was the “kick,” but …
Dawn Treader, Ch. XVI. Finished.
To learn Aslan’s name. Which is … Jesus Christ? Or Friedrich Nietzsche? The latter is more the “Bridge Builder,” it strikes me. Isn’t there language as such in Also Sprach Zarathrustra?
Ulysses, 2 pp. from “Nestor”

Titles for the 1956 film "the killing", written by stanley kubrick and jim thompson

2/16
The Killing (1956). An early Stanley Kubrick film that he wrote with Jim Thompson, starring Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr., and others. It’s a heist film, but as I argue in a recent post, primarily a misanthropic storytelling.

2/18
The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (1999). Part of a series of films by documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson. Why did the black press dissolve during the Civil Rights era?
Odyssey, Bks. III-IV

2/19
Hell Or High Water (2016)
Odyssey, Bk. IV

2/20
— Finished The Fire Next Time. I wish that I had taught this book to my students, for I think it’s so well written and insightful. Especially fascinated by the entire sequence of being invited to Elijah Muhammad‘s home.
Captain Marvel (201?), 40 minutes. How disappointing. But not surprising. I mean has the Marvel Cinematic Universe gotten anything right?! The X-Men movies were all horrible. The Avengers films were passable but mostly uninteresting. Spiderman … eh? Talk about destroying a cultural legacy. That is not bombast.

2/21
Inventing Anna (2021), #1-4. A nine-part series on Netflix that is a little interesting, but the main character (Anna) is genuinely loathsome, but neither than our supposed narrater, Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky), evince likability.

2/22
Inventing Anna, #5
Ulysses, 10 pp.

2/23
Inventing Anna, #6-7. Boredom!
Ulysses, 35 pp.
— Gilbert, James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Study, 30 pp.

2/24
Inventing Anna, #8. Boredom!!!

2/25
Ulysses, 20 pp.
C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, Introductions. This is a great book. It’s been sitting on my shelf since last year when I bought it at Bookhaven.

A sort of exciting film the creation of which was undoubtedly shaped by video game culture. Lu’s pick.

2/26
Ulysses, 20 pp.
T-34 (2019). A Russian made film imagining a glorious adventure of a T-34 crew that are given a T-34 by some SS tank trainers and then all of the havoc that results. It’s not a great film. But the fingerprints of video game culture are all over it. There are shots that I suspect approach close to the experience of being in a tank. But mostly it’s written from the perspective of the video game player who gets to thrive in destroying Nazis.
My son Lucian has become deeply interested in WWII tank culture, and were it not for him I would still not know what a T-34 is.

2/27
Strange Career, 10 pp.
Odyssey, Bk. V

2/28
Inventing Anna, #9
Strange Career, 30 pp.
Odyssey, Bks. VI-VII
Ulysses, 25 pp.

Early edition of james joyce's ulysses, photographed by paul herman
Early edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, photographed by Paul Herman