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Showing posts from July, 2007

"The Most Ruined City in America"

I'm reading Bill McKibben's Deep Economy, a popularist approach to populism and its cultural accoutrement, localism. Anyway, here's McKibben's take on one way Detroit may be saved:

Say you're a dreamer. Imagine the most ruined city in America.
That would be Detroit, which has lost half its population in the last few
decades. A million people have moved away; as much as a third of the city's 139
square miles consists of empty lots and dilapidated buildings, "an urban core
giving way to an urban prairie," in the words of the New York Times.
But slowly, some of that land is coming under cultivation: forty community
gardens and microfarms, some covering entire city blocks, have sprung up in
recent years. A farmer named Paul Weertz farms ten acres spread over seven lots,
prducing hay, alfalfa, honey, eggs, goats' milk, even beef cattle. His tractor
barn is an old garage. In 2000, a group of architects, urban planners, and local
activists convened by the Universit…

Nerds, Part II

The wife and I saw the premiere of The Simpsons Movie last night. It was genuinely funny--like a long episode. What I found the most fascinating though, was the audience demographics: overwhelmingly White males. In fact, they were quite like the crowd last Saturday at the DFT. To paraphrase Hamlet: "What did you see my Lord?"
"Nerds, nerds, nerds."
Again, where does that leave me? I suspect at the regularly timed premiere today a slightly wider audience diversity can be expected. But man, last night, we were awash in a sea of Jeff Albertsons.

Simon Birch rot in Hell

Why do some great books wind up as celluloid drek? I realize they are different medium and ask different things of their viewers/readers, but c'mon, why eviscerate a story and then place it on the screen? Maybe that's why John Irving's hilarious and compelling novel was called A Prayer for Owen Meany and that treacly, aspartame-filled film it was based upon ended up titled Simon Birch.

The two bear some resemblance but not much: both take place in New Hampshire, both concern a diminutive title character, and both narrator's mothers have died in a baseball accident leaving the identity of the father a mystery.
All I remember from the movie was a treacly, feel-good message about believing in yourself or some such pop-pshych mush. The book, obviously, dwells much more deeply on themes of identity, destiny and providence, and friendship.
A book about a boy and his abnormally small friend who sees his own tombstone in a vision doesn't sound all that funny. To top it off Ow…

Fish in the Rouge

On the way to picking up our van from the mechanic's shop, my son and I took a detour along the bank of the Upper Rouge River (about a minute walk from my house). Looking in the water in a shallow pool I noticed fish! Baby fish--minnows or some species I couldn't tell, but still, there were living fish there. That might sound very mundane, but you have to realize that until only recently the Rouge River was one of the most polluted in the US. The fact that there are environmentally sensitive species living in an urban stretch of this river is testimony to the fact that people can get their act together when it comes to environmental devastation.

Can you say "nerd"?

I took my three-and-a-half-year-old son to the "Creature Double Feature" at the Detroit Film Theatre this afternoon. We watched The 7thVoyage of Sinbad and Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster (though the literal translation of the title seemed much longer). I thought I'd introduce him to something from my childhood (they were old when I saw them for the first time in the late 70s). While he did enjoy them and was very well-behaved for his age I hope he doesn't get the idea that this was fine cinema. Camp, camp, camp! Was that dialogue the best they could do for Sinbad? I don't know what cultural conditions were like in Japan in the 60s but the American filmmaker's attitude seemed to be "This stuff is just comic-book crap. It's just for the kiddies. It doesn't need to be well written." That was unfortunate, because the fx director, the great Ray Harryhausen, took his craft seriously. The stop-motion work in that 1958 piece was astounding. Sure, i…

Long Live the White Rose!

I watched Sophie Scholl: The Last Days last night. Yet another movie about the Nazis, though this one was somewhat different than many in that it relayed a short episode (about a week) of a small group of student resisters to National Socialism (no, it isn't that wretched film Swing Kids). Sophie Scholl and her brother were caught after distributing leaflets critical of the Nazi prosecution of the war. Of course, in a totalitarian society, political critiques are not welcome, in fact, they were labeled high treason. Sophie and the group are motivated not only by political opposition but a grounding in a principle that is higher than the state; though it is presented a bit fuzzy, Christianity seems to be the principle. The interrogaters have made a god of the state, and so are a bit befuddled to see an intelligent, non-violent, and principled stand against such idolatry.
Another point appreciated in this film was that the Nazis (and their minions) were presented as humans. Police …

Introduction

This will be an occasional blog for a couple of reasons--I don't want to be tied down to writing something here daily (and do you want to have to check my blather daily?) and I honestly don't think I can sustain daily scribblings anyway. So, check back maybe weekly or less, I'll have to see how well this will work for me.

Why is this blog titled as such? Well. . .
I adore Shakespeare and find Hamlet to be my favorite play that I've read or seen of his (so far). OK, so why the negative title?

I'm not a person of high-born lineage-thus negating a tragedy based on my life following Aristotelian standards (see his Poetics, especially 8.1)

I'm not pestered by demons. Some view the ghost of Old Hamlet as a demon tempting Hamlet to murder and damnation. While there are persons I don't particularly like, I don't wish them dead. Maybe just maimed.

I'm not dead.

I am not involved in some familial-political intrigue (though my family is certainly interesting).

I don&…