30 janeiro 2004

Troy (official and very lame website, this toon is not from there :-P)
Programmers once could sit tight in cubicles in Silicon Valley and wait for work to arrive. Now the industry has discovered India... So, meet the pissed-off programmer. If you've picked up a newspaper in the last six months, watched CNN, or even glanced at Slashdot, you've already heard his anguished cry:
The New Face of the Silicon Age
Hannah Arendt + Martin Heidegger
(and Nazism) from A gateway to Jewish literature, culture and ideas, so they say.

Speaking of -isms, postmodern literary theory is dying. Or is it? Marxism (and other), from the Christian Science Monitor, no less.

Raging Against the Machine
In its '1984' commercial [viewable here], Apple suggested that its computers would smash Big Brother. But technology gave him more control.
By Theodore Roszak, professor emeritus of history at California State University, Hayward.

Who played in the Super Bowl in 1984? Not many people can remember ? fewer, I'll bet, than remember the woman who came sprinting across the television screen at halftime to toss a great big hammer at a glowering Big Brother. Talk about coming on strong. That was how Apple Computer announced the first Macintosh: a 60-second Orwellian mini-drama directed by Ridley Scott that was destined to become perhaps the most famous commercial ever made.

It's 20 years later, and Apple has "repurposed" the ad to help sell iPods as Super Bowl XXXVIII rolls around. Once again you can see an insurgent little company advertising itself as the hope of the human race. Brash as it was, that commercial embodied the Utopian future so many people saw in the computer just two decades ago.

Of course, Apple got a lot of things wrong.

First, the casting. In 1984, the cognoscenti saw Big Brother as IBM, which dominated the PC market at the time. But the future of the computer industry didn't belong to IBM's machines, it belonged to the "disk-operating system" IBM had franchised to run its machines. That was a program called DOS, created by a little-known firm called Microsoft. Apple never saw it coming, but Bill Gates would become the Big Brother of modern computing. Before the end of the decade, he would, shall we say, "borrow" the Macintosh graphical interface, call it Windows, and capture the industry.

Nothing did more to ruin the high hopes represented by Apple's hammer-tossing woman than the dominance of Microsoft, soon to become the most ruthless monopoly since Standard Oil. The result has been inferior technology cleverly contrived to keep the public buying one mediocre and buggy program after another. But then, what would you expect from a company that seems to make as much money from litigation as invention?

Given the commercial opportunism with which Microsoft has contaminated the industry, it's difficult now to recapture the ebullience that originally greeted the personal computer. This was not simply a machine, it was a dream, a cause, an ideal. The hackers who tinkered the first computers into existence were driven by high social expectations. They were bringing humankind the great gift of information ? endless amounts of free information.

Even when the Internet was nothing more than a restricted military messaging system, enthusiasts envisioned a day when politically restive millions would network their aspirations and talents via computer. All they had were funky little CPUs that scrolled sickly green letters and numbers at a snail's pace across a 6-inch screen, but that was enough, they said, to build the New Jerusalem.

The PC was considered a people's technology, a guerrilla technology, one of the last gasps of countercultural rebellion. In a larger sense, Big Brother in Apple's "1984" TV spot was not just IBM but the elephantine military-industrial complex. It was everything big and domineering and slick, the whole corporate world of men in suits.

Apple's idealism was marvelous, but how sadly misplaced. Perhaps we can see that now in the wake of the dot-com bust. We have watched high tech become the next wave in big-bucks global industrialism, the property of the crass and the cunning, who are no more interested in empowering the people than General Motors was.

The computer has brought us convenience and amusement, but, like all technology, it's a mixed blessing. Far from smashing Big Brother, computers have given him more control over our lives. They have been a blessing for snoops, con artists and market manipulators. They have turned global communications into glitchy, virus-plagued networks. Along with some highly valuable resources, the World Wide Web has brought a time-wasting flood of trivia, trash, pornography and spam. We have burdened our children with the distractions of becoming computer literate before they are just plain old literate.

Some would say that it's the sign of a mature technology to generate as many problems as it solves. But in the case of the computer, there has been one peculiarly pernicious result. We have equated a machine with the mind. We believe computers are "smart," so smart that we cast ourselves as "dummies" in their presence. Thanks to the computer, we have begun to believe that the mind, the defining feature of human nature, is a somewhat inferior information-processing machine.

And, of course, the computer-makers agree. Microsoft is now peddling "E-house" systems that will run our homes better than we can. No doubt there will soon be books to help us out: "E-house Living for Dummies." Will we ever again be able to see information for what it really is? Minor, sometimes useful pieces of mental furniture beyond which lie the higher, never-to-be-computerized powers of the mind: imagination, revelation, insight, intuition, wisdom?

Sound judgment, good citizenship, being "smart" in the best sense of the word has never had anything to do with information. The real irony in Apple's charmingly defiant "1984" commercial is that it failed to understand that the Macintosh too represented Big Brother. Deifying the computer and downgrading the human mind are the first steps toward enslaving ourselves to our own technology.

There will never be a computer program that can effectively respond to the command, "Tell me everything I need to know that is true, wise and relevant." When we search for that, we will always have to fall back on our own hard-won ability to make graceful use of ideas we inherit from those who needed no machines to think with, but only the resources of their own naked minds, a quiet place to gather their thoughts ? and perhaps a stick with which to scratch those thoughts in the sand.

Courtesy of LATimes.com ;-)
My Friday-fav-not-gonna-work-today site is still The Encyclopedia of Arda

And The Godfather? (obvious) What other kind of movie memories would they have on the tips of their thick tongues? The Horse Whisperer? The Bridges of Madison County? And the truth is that every American, of Italian extraction or not, knows the Godfather films by heart; and most of the rest of us do, too. And I, Claudius? (dubious) The emperors were living in a blood-bath, and so are this bunch. Insightful review on the TLS

Traveling in Frodo's Footsteps
On Location: Tours of Movie Settings

Will we ever see this survive its own hype?

A Nit-Pickers Guide to Deviations Between the Books and the Films

28 janeiro 2004

One of the world's foremost historians presents a fresh look at the greatest war of ancient Greece and a pivotal moment in Western civilization that still resonates today. 24 maps. Reviewed by The New Yorker

Hilarity of the Day:

So says the author: I apologize for my lack of Spanish, but it seems odd that the bill sports two different units of currency: 100 Bolivianos, and 10 Bolivares. Your choice, apparently. (James Lileks.)

Produtor português arrecada prémio no Festival Sundance
"Dig!" é o título do mais recente filme sensação de Sundance e foi co-produzido por Vasco Lucas Nunes. A película conseguiu ganhar o prestigiado Grande Prémio do Júri de Documentário (por sinal um dos mais 'apetecidos' do certame) do Festival de Sundance, em Park City, nos Estados Unidos.
A produção partilhada por três profissionais (Ondi e David Timoner fundadores da Interloper em 1992), de entre os quais se destaca o português Vasco Lucas Nunes. O filme em causa - "Dig!" - foi um projecto pensado ao longo de sete longos anos, um traballho desenvolvido e registado em 1.500 horas de gravações. Agora, o mérito e o reconhecimento chegou de um dos mais prestigiados festivais de cinema independente de todo o mundo. O filme conta a história de duas bandas lideradas por Courtney Taylor (dos The Dandy Warhols) e Anton Newcombe (dos The Brain Jonestown Massacre).
Vasco Lucas Nunes é lisboeta e começou a trabalhar na área do cinema e da televisão em princípios da década de 90. Fez diversos documentários e trabalhou como produtor e editor na cadeia televisiva norte-americana, CNN.
New York City Signs

27 janeiro 2004

Adolf Hitler couldn't find much to like about the U.S. – except for the country’s admirable eugenics policies: Supremacist Science

Can't write? don't write
by David Sexton, Literary Editor, Evening Standard

No other book is quite so completely and utterly worthless as a mediocre novel. A mediocre guide to trees or to cheese can have its uses for those who don't have anything better on the subject to hand. A history book or biography, however dull, contains some facts that may prove handy to somebody one day. Atlases, dictionaries, anthologies and instruction manuals, however uninspired, all have some little utility. But a lifeless novel has no value whatsoever.
Worse than worthless, it's positively a menace - for any time spent in reading dim, failed novels is so much time lost, time subtracted from life. In fact, a blank book is more desirable than a book defaced with such redundant type. At least blank pages can be used for shopping lists or doodles.
Yet duff novels continue to pour from the presses. Iain Duncan Smith's novel has been much ridiculed. We have just learned that Sandra Howard, the wife of his successor, is another novelist in the bud, having composed a thriller called Love in High Profile. Much of this unwanted fiction barely makes it into the bookshops. But for every novel worth reading that appears, there are dozens, hundreds even, of others published that really are not worth anybody's time at all.
Is it too cruel to say this, even though we all know it to be true? Every novel costs its author blood, sweat and tears to write. Isn't the mere effort deserving of some respect? No. A model of a ship in a bottle may take years to make as well, but that doesn't make it any good as a work of art.
Why do these bad novelists persevere then? The one good argument that could be made on their behalf is that many who are no good have, evidently, nevertheless managed to make money. There's no arguing with profit. If Jack Higgins and Robert Ludlum, say, can make successful careers as writers, and Amy Jenkins can get a big advance, then you could say that it's worth anybody who can type chancing his luck.
The novel enticement has proved irresistible to, among others who were bruised by reviews, Naomi Campbell, Sophie Dahl and the stand-up comedians David Baddiel and Robert Newman. Latest into the listings is Jimmy Carter who, with The Hornet's Nest, has the first novel ever to come from a former US president. Perhaps he is aiming to add the Nobel Prize for Literature to his well-deserved peace prize.
Bad novelists all believe they are good novelists. In fact, almost everybody believes he or she might just be a good novelist, even if he or she hasn't got round to trying it yet. The delusion is just as common among intellectuals, successful businessmen and knowing journalists as among the more naive. It is very strange. Nobody would attempt to give a piano recital without having first learned to play the piano. People realise they cannot make a satisfactory chest of drawers, or even a serviceable cheeseboard, without having acquired some skill in carpentry. They know they are not competent as dentists or plumbers, if they have not had any experience or training. Yet they think that they can write a novel by some natural gift.
In one dreadful sense, they are right, of course. They can produce long pieces of prose that look, at a glance, quite like novels, divided as they are into chapters, spaced out into paragraphs, with dialogue indicated and sentences regularly punctuated. Characters have been devised and named and stories told, up to a point. Then, if the author has some other claim to fame, such as having been briefly a ropey leader of the Conservative Party, these productions are printed and published. But nonetheless they bear about the same resemblance to true novels as the lines of meaningless type produced by Jack Nicholson's character in The Shining.
There is a peculiar paradox at work here. The novel as a form still has an extraordinary mystique. People continue to believe that fiction as such has some transformative power. At its best, the novel does indeed have such authority. There are stories, scenes, cadences in the great novelists - Dickens, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Proust, they scarcely need naming - that become part of one's own sense of life and death. At another level, contemporaries such as Coetzee or Houellebecq reveal the world we live in to us more urgently than any factual study. Then again, good genre novelists such as Elmore Leonard or James Lee Burke offer that greatest of treats, escape from ourselves.
But these powers can't be claimed simply by calling what you write "a novel". Yet many would-be novelists seem to believe that it is all they have to do to obtain all the respect that the novel as a form commands. More than a contemporary superstition, it is a mass delusion.
Why? The answer, perhaps, is that the novel, as it has developed since Cervantes, is the literary form closest to our comprehension of our own lives. We construct our sense of ourselves in time through stories. So we all feel that we have our story to tell and are novelists already, before we have written a word. You will never hear anybody proclaim he could never write a novel. People would as soon say they have no life.
And there's a sense in which this superstitious reverence of the very form of the novel is justified, most unfortunately for the duff novelists who manage to get their productions published. Even terrible novels reveal their authors. Allowing for sheerly technical deficiencies - inept novelists can no more create convincing characters and compelling action than a person who cannot play the violin can carry a tune on it - a novel invariably allows the reader to see exactly what the novelist understands human life to be. Only novelists with a mastery of their craft can escape these elements of transferred autobiography. The amateurs cannot.
None of this has ever been better put than by Evelyn Waugh in a piece written for the Daily Mail in 1930. "One does not just sit behind a screen jotting down other people's conversation. One has for one's raw material every single thing one has ever seen or heard or felt, and one has to go over that vast, smouldering rubbish-heap of experience, half stifled by the fumes and dust, scraping and delving until one finds a few discarded valuables. Then one has to assemble these tarnished and dented fragments, polish them, set them in order, and try to make a coherent and significant arrangement of them. It is not merely a matter of filling up a dust-bin haphazard and emptying it out again in another place."
Indeed not. There's even a chance that being a really good novelist is more difficult than leading the Conservative Party, not less.

No, really, this has to be fixed for eternity (in a blog:-) -
Bill Murray about the prospective Oscar for Lost in Translation:

"I'm over the Oscar thing. I feel that if you really want an Oscar, you're in trouble. It's like wanting to be married - you'll take anybody."
Just to post another wonderful The New Yorker cover:

nice and naughty Portu site :-)
And now for something completely different:
Check Ugly Footballers, featuring a Beauty and the Beast section :-P

Andy was a Catholic, the ethic ran through his bones
He lived alone with his mother, collecting gossip and toys
Every Sunday when he went to Church
He'd kneel in his pew and say, "It's just work,
all that matters is work."

He was a lot of things, what I remember most
He'd say, "I've got to bring home the bacon, someone's got to bring home the roast."
He'd get to the factory early
If you'd ask him he'd tell you straight out
It's just work, the most important thing is work
No matter what I did it never seemed enough
He said I was lazy, I said I was young
He said, "How many songs did you write?"
I'd written zero, I'd lied and said, "Ten."
"You won't be young forever
You should have written fifteen"
It's work, the most important thing is work
It's work, the most important thing is work

"You ought to make things big
People like it that way
And the songs with the dirty words - record them that way"
Andy liked to stir up trouble, he was funny that way
He said, "It's just work, all that matters is work"
Andy sat down to talk one day
He said decide what you want
Do you want to expand your parameters
Or play museums like some dilettante
I fired him on the spot, he got red and called me a rat
It was the worst word that he could think of
And I've never seen him like that
It's just work, I thought he said it's just work
Work, he said it's just work

Words and music: Lou Reed & John Cale
Otets i sin, by Aleksandr Sokurov, shot in Lisbon

Where's Thomas Pynchon?

26 janeiro 2004

The Guardian on globalisation and Camembert

Bloom on the Quixote: Don Quixote says his quest is to destroy injustice. As the final injustice is the bondage of death, his is a way of battling death. (new American translation available)

There's a Spanish version of the American Granta magazine?
We need more info...

We like biography to conform to archetypes, and ever since Shelley drowned, aged 29,
while sailing in Italy, his dramatic end has framed our perceptions of his life and poetry.

23 janeiro 2004

Where once was light
Now darkness falls
Where once was love
Love is no more
Don't say goodbye
Don't say I didn't try

These tears we cry
Are falling rain
For all the lies you told us
The hurt, the blame!
And we will weep to be so alone
We are lost
We can never go home

So in the end
I'll be what I will be
No loyal friend
Was ever there for me

Now we say goodbye
We say you didn't try

Theodore Dalrymple on the centenary of the Entente Cordiale and actually moving to France and telling Britain to SOD OFF!!

Long Live Latin: from The Economist, no less :-)

Architect Santiago Calatrava would bring a flood of light in the form of a winged railwaystation, draped in glass, suffused with natural illumination and, on occasion, open to the clear skies above.

22 janeiro 2004

Dear Reader:It is with great pleasure that I have gained the consent of Dorothy Bryant to publish her work-in-progress, "Literary Lynching," in serial fashion at Holt uncensored. Below you'll see what is available so far. You can start with the Introduction, but feel free to read the chapters out of order as they are compiled.

Table of Contents

What is a Literary Lynching?

Ivan Turgenev and Fathers and Sons

Thomas Hardy and Jude the Obscure
Kate Chopin and The Awakening

George Orwell and Homage to Catalonia

Hannah Arendt and Eichmann in Jerusalem

William Styron and The Confessions of Nat Turner

Dorothy Bryant and A Day in San Francisco
(I'm starting by this one)
Bad Day?

1. The average cost of rehabilitating a seal, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later, in full view, a killer whale ate them both.

2. A psychology student in New York rented out her spare room to a carpenter in order to nag him constantly and study his reactions. After weeks of needling, he snapped and beat her repeatedly with an axe leaving her mentally retarded.

3. In 1992, Frank Perkins of Los Angeles made an attempt on the world flagpole sitting record. Suffering from the flu he came down eight hours short of the 400 day record, his sponsor had gone bust, his girlfriend had left him and his phone and electricity had been cut off.

4. A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen, shaking frantically with what looked like a wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current she whacked him with a handy plank of wood by the back door, breaking his arm in two places. Until that moment he had been happily listening to his Walkman.

5. Two animal rights protesters were protesting at the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn. Suddenly the pigs, all two thousand of them, escaped through a broken fence and stampeded, trampling the two hapless protesters to death.

And finally...

6. Iraqi terrorist, Khay Rahnajet, didn't pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with "return to sender" stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb; he opened it and was blown to bits.

There now! Your day's not so bad, is it?

Tis not what it seems: porn-for-women fiction, here, or how to write hot and meaningful sex scenes :-9

Daniel Pennac's

The Reader's Bill of Rights

1. The right not to read.

2. The right to skip pages.

3. The right to not finish.

4. The right to reread.

5. The right to read anything.

6.The right to escapism.

7.The right to read anywhere.

8. The right to browse.

9. The right to read out loud.

10. The right to not defend your tastes.

On Reading:The Populist Manifesto by Stephen King. Opening line:
Great literature is like pornography: You know it when you see it.
Deep Impact
Better looking in the printable certificate, and what is more, uncorrupted!! :-)

First Look Inside a Comet

Participation Certificate

Presented to

Susana Serrão

On January 22, 2004

Thank you for your participation in the Deep Impact Discovery Mission to Comet Tempel 1. A compact disc bearing your name will be mounted on the impactor spacecraft that will collide with Tempel 1 making this the first mission ever to look deep inside a comet.

You are now part of the future discovery of clues about the beginning of our solar system as your name makes a Deep Impact!

Dr. Edward J. Weiler
Associate Administrator
NASA Office of Space Science Michael F. A'Hearn
Principal Investigator
Deep Impact Mission
University of Maryland

Certificate No. 496329

21 janeiro 2004

A Woman's Sex:
It has the original mouth but remains wordless;
It is surrounded by a magnificent mound of hair.
Sentient beings can get completely lost in it
But it is also the birthplace of all the Buddhas of the ten thousand worlds.
- Ikkyu, from Wild Ways

Listen to ALL Don Quijote de la Mancha.
Voz: Camilo García Casar

Here's the first chapter...

"Que trata de la condición y ejercicio del famoso y valiente hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor. Una olla de algo más vaca que carnero, salpicón las más noches, duelos y quebrantos los sábados, lantejas los viernes, algún palomino de añadidura los domingos, consumían las tres partes de su hacienda. El resto della concluían sayo de velarte, calzas de velludo para las fiestas, con sus pantuflos de lo mesmo, y los días de entresemana se honraba con su vellorí de lo más fino. Tenía en su casa una ama que pasaba de los cuarenta y una sobrina que no llegaba a los veinte, y un mozo de campo y plaza que así ensillaba el rocín como tomaba la podadera. Frisaba la edad de nuestro hidalgo con los cincuenta años. Era de complexión recia, seco de carnes, enjuto de rostro, gran madrugador y amigo de la caza. Quieren decir que tenía el sobrenombre de «Quijada», o «Quesada», que en esto hay alguna diferencia en los autores que deste caso escriben, aunque por conjeturas verisímiles se deja entender que se llamaba «Quijana». Pero esto importa poco a nuestro cuento: basta que en la narración dél no se salga un punto de la verdad."
Mi Idela

Si como yo te quiero, me quisieras,
atracción de mi espiritu, alma mía,
y aun muerto el sol de mi postrero día
fidelidad para mi amor tuvieras,

conmigo en un idilio, compartieras
mi vino, donde hierve la alegría;
mis sueños, donde flota la poesía;
mi hogar, lleno de dichas placenteras.

Dividieras la suerte que me ampara:
mi mesa, reluciente como un ara;
mi lecho, en que la gloria se divisa.

Para cantar, partiéramos el canto;
para llorar, partiéramos el llanto;
para reír, partiéramos la risa.

Salvador Rueda

16 janeiro 2004

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains
of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the
shadow'd wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.


I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived ... I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it too its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world...
(...) inside there was this perfect little bedroom. Very plush, with soft Persian rugs and comfortable chairs, paintings on the walls, incense burning on the table, and a bed with silk pillows and a red satin comforter. I called you over, and the minute you stepped inside, I threw my arms around yoou and started kissing you on the mouth. I was completely hot. All sexed up and raring to go.
And me?
You had the biggest hard-on of your life.
Keep this up and you'll give me an even bigger one now.
We took off our clothes and started rolling around on the bed, all sweaty and hungry for each other. It was delicious. We both came once, and then, without pausing for breath, we started in again, going at each other like two animals.
It sounds like a porno movie.
It was wild.

Oracle Night, Paul Auster

The cat is domestic only as far as suit its own ends

Still feeding off a Monty Python frenzy :-), reviewed on the TLS

Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailing

Somewhere beyond the sea
She's there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms
I'd go sailing

It's far beyond the stars
It's near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon

We'll meet beyond the shore
We'll kiss just as before
Happy we'll be beyond the sea
And never again I'll go sailing

I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon
We'll meet beyond the shore
We'll kiss just as before
Happy we'll be beyond the sea
And never again I'll go sailing

No more sailing
So long sailing
Bye bye sailing

15 janeiro 2004

Tis neverending :-)
floating sheep yearning
leaves reply, eagles jutting
grainofsand snapping

Try the award-winning "Genuine Haiku Generator"

"alligators howl
pitiless ingenious clowns
slumber, shackled vain"


14 janeiro 2004

Still more Noronha da Costa

Reviewed in the TLS: Weather is one of the shortest entries, yet it displays all the authors? characteristic strengths: range (from the origins of the Met Office to the significance of weather in everyday conversation), an instinct for what is significant, an interest in ?national identity? (what makes things English and/or British).

Stop the Presses!!!

The Pythons: Autobiography
by Graham Chapman and John Cleese and Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle and Michael Palin and Bob McCabe

And an interview with the prolific Michael Palin, nowadays an accomplished novelist :-)

This is a sample of what Les Luthiers do. They usually speak about a ficticious composer, Johann Sebastian Mastropiero. They explain his life and play his "works". The following one is funny. Remember that they are Argentinians so they probably use "vos" instead of "tu" (pretty much like the Brazillian)

“Il sitio di Castilla” está inspirada en un hecho histórico, recogido por leyendas populares, que luego cantaron los famosos tenori castrati, que tienen su origen en el medioevo. De allí tomaron el argumento los cómicos de la legua y fue representada en distintas versiones por los cultores de la commedia dell'arte hasta que Ferruccio Portimiglia lo convirtió en poema épico bajo el título de “Ma come, una altra volta?” Todos los ejemplares de “Ma come, una altra volta?” se perdieron en la inundación de Florencia de 1712, menos uno, que milagrosamente rescatado... se perdió en la de 1713. Afortunadamente, dicha pérdida pudo ser reparada gracias a un ex saltimbanqui de nombre Giangiuseppe Ognialtri. Ognialtri reconstruyó de memoria buena parte del poema durante su reclusión en el hospicio de Santo Toscano Pazzo.
Precisamente en la versión de Ognialtri se inspiró el dramaturgo y poeta español Ramiro Cildáñez, el duque de Oliva, para componer su tragedia “Don Cándido o la Fuerza de la Costumbre”, también llamada “¡Una vez más estamos sitiados, hostia!”.
En esta tragedia del duque de Oliva se inspiraron Camiluzzi y Caldocane, los libretistas de Mastropiero, para escribir "Il sitio di Castilla", libreto en el cual el compositor introdujo algunos cambios. Mastropiero tomó el libreto de Camuluzzi y Caldocane, hizo algunas correcciones, cambió de lugar algunas escenas, y por último encargó a Ospedalicchio y Lazzaretti la composición de un libreto nuevo.
La ópera “Il sitio di Castilla” narra las luchas del rey de Castilla Romualdo Undécimo para defender los territorios heredados de su abuelo, Romualdo Nono. El pasado de Romualdo Undécimo era muy extraño. El día de su nacimiento había sido raptado por Olegario, su hermano menor. Luego del rapto, Romualdo fue entregado a la gitana Soledad, quien lo crió como propio. Años más tarde, Romualdo se dio a conocer y ocupó el trono, aprovechando que Olegario, se había ido a Sevilla.

The Pythons': It's 8 O'Clock. Time for the Penguin to Explode.

13 janeiro 2004


Slang comes and goes, but cool has been a constant for half a century. What accounts for the term's longevity?

Now and then the words "nifty" or "groovy" might drop into a conversation, instantly identifying the speaker as an old fogy or, worse, an old hippie.

But the word cool doesn't do that. Cool is constant. As a modifier, as the modified, as a noun and as a verb, cool has withstood the fleeting nature of most slang.

What is the reason for cool's longevity? That's an easy question for Keith Covington, jazz expert and owner of the New Haven Lounge in Baltimore. As long as Miles Davis' classic 1949 work, "Birth of the Cool," remains the bestselling jazz album of all time, cool will stay cool, he says.

Cool still "carries the same weight and definition that it did 50 years ago," Covington says. "Jazz musicians and jazz aficionados still refer to great works as 'cool.' "

Cool comes in many flavors. Kirsten Dunst, for instance, isn't cool the way Miles Davis is cool. And yet in a recent Elle magazine profile, the word cool, used to describe the young actress, is a constant refrain, as in "Kirsten Dunst is inherently, organically, preternaturally cool. She's 'None of my friends are actresses' cool. Catholic schoolgirl cool.' " And on and on.

Cool has been around for quite a while. Shakespeare used a form of cool as a verb, and later the word morphed into an adjective, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. The word has been applied since 1728 to large sums of money and used to mean "calmly audacious" since 1825, the same source maintains. Cool, meaning fashionable, is "said to have been popularized in jazz circles by tenor saxophonist Lester Young," according to the etymology dictionary.

Of the word cool, "I can say one thing about it: It has not stood still," says Donna Jo Napoli, a Swarthmore College professor of linguistics.

When she was growing up, cool meant "wow!" says Napoli, also the author of young-adult novels and the mother of five. Today, cool is used more often to mean "OK, I'm fine with that," Napoli says. In other words, "I'm cool with that."

As Napoli suggests, cool gets around. There's "way cool," "cool beans," "that's cool" and "too cool."

Cool is an example of an "underspecified word," Napoli says. The less specific a word, the more meanings it can have. "Assassinate" is an example of a "highly determined" word, one that can't be used in too many contexts, she says. The more unspecified a word is, the more staying power it has, she says.

But the question remains: What makes cool so cool?

Benn Ray, manager of Atomic Books in Hampden, Md., gives the matter some thought. "Here's what I think it is," he says: "The reason the word 'cool' has remained cool is that the people who have helped to establish that word were cool. Their coolness was permanent, as opposed to people who used words like 'peachy,' 'nifty' or 'keen.' "

It's the difference between a very cool James Dean and a trendy but most uncool teeny-bopper, Ray says. "The icons who used the word, or were associated with it, have remained cool."

"It's amazing that [cool] is still around," says Robert Beard, chief executive officer of YourDictionary.com and a retired professor of linguistics at Bucknell University. "When I was in high school some 40 years ago, I was a 'cool cat' because I played with a musical organization called the Catbird Combo and we were 'cool.' "

Beard attributes cool's staying power to its connection to jazz. "Jazz won't go away," so " 'cool' won't go away," he says.

It's not clear whether cool has a place in the lexicon of contemporary popular music. Camay Murphy, director of the Eubie Blake Cultural Center in Baltimore and daughter of a consummately cool musician, the late Cab Calloway, has heard hip-hop kids use the word. "It's just a frequently used word to express something that's relatively good, or a good surprise," Murphy says.

Musicians of the atmospheric down-tempo school, an amalgam of trip-hop, ambient and other genres, "refer to their product as 'cool' quite a bit," Covington says.

For several Baltimore high school students, though, cool has been eclipsed. When a friend says she's making plans to do something fun, Alayne Francis, a 16-year-old City College High School junior, will signal her approval by saying, "That's what's up" or "That's the business."

Francis' friend Eleeshabah Yahudah, a City College senior, also 16, agrees that cool no longer serves her young friends in the black community. You don't hear it on television shows featuring blacks either, Yahudah says. Actors "don't say 'cool' on TV unless they're acting white."

Larry Jeter, 49, sees the word differently from high school kids.

Cool is a universal, evergreen word whose use transcends race and gender, says the jazz drummer and owner of Dimensions in Music in downtown Baltimore.


"Because it rolls off your tongue, baby. You can put some bass in it, some treble. Some words can't do that," Jeter says.

What's coolest of all, he says, is that cool doesn't "have any date on it at all. It's like a good piece of music. You can listen to it 10 years from now and it will still sound the same."

(from The Baltimore Sun)

Here's the link to his weekly articles
Endless Film Credits

They are known as closing credits, but the other day at a movie theater in Times Square, after three and a half epic hours of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," the credits did not seem to want to close.

It took five minutes for the names of all the actors, producers, editors, gaffers, grips, best boys, dialect coaches, wig makers and steelworkers to crawl by. Next came the less familiar show-business occupations like stable foreman, horse makeup artist, horseshoer and the two guys in charge of the chain mail.

At eight minutes, the moviegoers still in the theater were watching a scroll of completely inscrutable titles like "wrangler manager" and "compositing inferno artist." Of course, the caterer had to be immortalized, too.

Finally, 9 minutes and 33 seconds after they began, the closing credits came to a close.

John Rodriguez, a subway track worker, was the only person left in the theater. (The cleaning crew had come and gone.) He shrugged.

"I like to get my $10 worth," he said. "I didn't really notice how long they were."
Does the set masseuse really need to be credited? (One was at the end of "The Matrix.")
What about the Romanian Army liaison aide and the person described as the food stylist? (Both were named at the end of "Cold Mountain.")
In the early history of motion pictures, credits were nearly always at the beginning of movies and were handed out so sparingly that they rarely took more than two minutes of screen time.

The 1922 vampire classic "Nosferatu," a kind of special-effects vehicle of its day, credited only 11 cast members and 5 others, including the director and cinematographer, and the credits lasted 1 minute 35 seconds.
But "credit creep," as some people in Hollywood have called it, is happening even in movies without multinational teams of computer programmers. In independent film shorts, for example, where many people work without being paid and a screen credit is their only form of compensation, credits can sometimes last a fourth as long as the short itself.
Mr. Sparr, whose Pacific Title creates the credits for more than 100 movies a year, said he believed that those for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which his company produced, lasted longer than any others he has ever worked on.

"And you can only run it so fast," he said, "because if you run it too fast, it's going to start to strobe."

(abridged from The New York Times)

The Diary of Samuel Pepys








Saturday 12 January 1660/61
With Colonel Slingsby and a friend of his, Major Waters (a deaf and most amorous melancholy gentleman, who is under a despayr in love, as the Colonel told me, which makes him bad company, though a most good- natured man), by water to Redriffe, and so on foot to Deptford (our servants by water), where we fell to choosing four captains to command the guards, and choosing the places where to keep them, and other things in order thereunto. We dined at the Globe, having our messenger with us to take care for us. Never till now did I see the great authority of my place, all the captains of the fleet coming cap in hand to us. Having staid very late there talking with the Colonel, I went home with Mr. Davis, storekeeper (whose wife is ill and so I could not see her), and was there most prince-like lodged, with so much respect and honour that I was at a loss how to behave myself.

Nice website: The pre-history of Cinema
Paul Auster's Oracle Night
A Portuguese publisher has made an offer on your last two novels.
Self-Portrait was published in Spain while you were in the hospital. You know that, I told you. The reviews were very good. Now the Portuguese are interested.
That's nice. I suppose they're offering something like three hundred dollars.
Four hundred for each book. But I can easily get them up to five.
Go for it, Mary. After you deduct the agents' fees and foreign taxes, I'll wind up with about forty cents.
True. But at least you'll be published in Portugal. What's wrong with that?
Nothing. Pessoa is one of my favourite writers. They've kicked out Salazar and have a decent government now. The Lisbon earthquake inspired Voltaire to write Candide. And Portugal helped get thousands of Jews out of Europe during the war. It's a terrific country. I've never been there, of course, but that's where I live now, whether I like it or not. Portugal is perfect. The way things have been going these past few days, it had to be Portugal.
What are you talking about?
It's a long story. I'll tell you about it some other time.

12 janeiro 2004

Boy, the special treat section is thriving (or is it? :-)
Sex and the Shakespeare Reader by Theodore Dalrymple whom I've learned to worship :-P
Special Treat (you know who you are :-)
When the universe is expanding it can make you late for work
By Woody Allen

I am greatly relieved that the universe is finally explainable. I was beginning to think it was me. As it turns out, physics, like a grating relative, has all the answers. The big bang, black holes, and the primordial soup turn up every Tuesday in the Science section of The New York Times, and as a result my grasp of general relativity and quantum mechanics now equals Einstein's - Einstein Moomjy, that is, the rug seller.
How could I not have known that there are little things the size of "Planck length" in the universe, which are a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimetre? Imagine if you dropped one in a dark theatre how hard it would be to find. And how does gravity work? And if it were to cease suddenly would certain restaurants still require a jacket?
What I do know about physics is that to a man standing on the shore time passes quicker than to a man on a boat -especially if the man on the boat is with his wife. The latest miracle of physics is string theory, which has been heralded as a TOE, or "Theory of Everything". This may even include the incident of last week herewith described.
I awoke on Friday and because the universe is expanding it took me longer than usual to find my robe. This made me late leaving for work and, because the concept of up and down is relative, the elevator that I got into went to the roof, where it was very difficult to hail a taxi.
Please keep in mind that a man on a rocket ship approaching the speed of light would have seemed on time for work - or perhaps even a little early and certainly better dressed. When I finally got to the office and approached my employer, Mr Muchnick, to explain the delay, my mass increased the closer I came to him, which he took as a sign of insubordination.
There was some rather bitter talk of docking my pay, which, when measured against the speed of light, is very small anyhow. The truth is that compared to the amount of atoms in the Andromeda galaxy I actually earn quite little. I tried to tell this to Mr Muchnick, who said I was not taking into account that time and space were the same thing.
He swore that if that situation should change he would give me a raise. I pointed out that since time and space are the same thing, and it takes three hours to do something that turns out to be less than six inches long, it can't sell for more than $5. The one good thing about space being the same as time is that if you travel to the outer reaches of the universe and the voyage takes 3,000 Earth years, your friends will be dead when you come back, but you will not need Botox.
Back in my office, with the sunlight streaming through the window, I thought to myself that if our great golden star suddenly exploded this planet would fly out of orbit and hurtle through infinity forever - another good reason to always carry a cell phone. On the other hand, if I could someday go faster than 186,000 miles per second and recapture the light born centuries ago, could I then go back in time to ancient Egypt or Imperial Rome? But what would I do there: I hardly knew anybody.
It was at this moment that our new secretary, Miss Lola Kelly, walked in. Now, in the debate over whether everything is made up of particles or waves, Miss Kelly is definitely waves. You can tell she's waves every time she walks to the water cooler. Not that she doesn't have good particles but it's the waves that get her the trinkets from Tiffany's.
My wife is more waves than particles, too, it's just that her waves have begun to sag a little. Or maybe the problem is that my wife has too many quarks. The truth is, lately she looks as if she had passed too close to the event horizon of a black hole and some of her - not all of her, by any means - was sucked in. It gives her a kind of funny shape, which I'm hoping will be correctable by cold fusion.
My advice to anyone has always been to avoid black holes because, once inside, it's extremely hard to climb out and still retain one's ear for music. If, by chance, you do fall all the way through a black hole and emerge from the other side, you'll probably live your entire life over and over but will be too compressed to go out and meet girls.
And so I approached Miss Kelly's gravitational field and could feel my strings vibrating. All I knew was that I wanted to wrap my weak-gauge bosons around her gluons, slip through a wormhole, and do some quantum tunnelling.
It was at this point that I was rendered impotent by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. How could I act if I couldn't determine her exact position and velocity? And what if I should suddenly cause a singularity; that is, a devastating rupture in space-time? They're so noisy. Everyone would look up and I'd be embarrassed in front of Miss Kelly. Ah, but the woman has such good dark energy. Dark energy, though hypothetical, has always been a turn-on for me, especially in a female who has an overbite.
I fantasised that if I could only get her into a particle accelerator for five minutes with a bottle of Chateau Lafite I'd be standing next to her with our quanta approximating the speed of light and her nucleus colliding with mine. Of course, exactly at this moment I got a piece of antimatter in my eye and had to find a Q-tip to remove it. I had all but lost hope when she turned toward me and spoke.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I was about to order some coffee and Danish but now I can't seem to remember the Schrodinger equation. Isn't that silly? It's just slipped my mind."
"Evolution of probability waves," I said "And if you're ordering I'd love an English muffin with muons and tea."
"My pleasure," she said, smiling coquetishly and curling up into a Calabi-Yau shape.
I could feel my coupling constant invade her weak field as I pressed my lips to her wet neutrinos. Apparently I achieved some kind of fission, because the next thing I knew I was picking myself up off the floor with a mouse on my eye the size of a supernova.
I guess physics can explain everything except the softer sex, although I told my wife I got the shiner because the universe was contracting, not expanding, and I just wasn't paying attention.

Later than usual one summer morning in 1984, Zoyd Wheeler drifted awake in sunlight through a creeping fig that hung in the window, with a squadron of blue jays stomping around on the roof. In his dream these had been carrier pigeons from someplace far across the ocean, landing and taking off again one by one, each bearing a message for him, but none of whom, light pulsing in their wings, he could ever quite get to in time.
(Thomas Pynchon. Vineland. p.3)
Movie people can enjoy (almost, methinks) the worst stuff and Ingmar Bergman: they throw it all together.
For book people, trash and art do not ride in the same part of the bus.
From 2 Blowhards and welcoming posts :)
Michael Crichton (yet again, I know :-) in a speech before the American Association for the Advancement of Science

If I were magically put in charge of improving the status and image of science, I would take several steps. I recognize they are difficult steps, because they involve changing the prevailing culture of science. But I'll run them past you anyway.
(...) there's a problem about the number of Americans drawn to technical and scientific careers. We are a technological society that can't fulfill its own needs?Silicon Valley imports foreign nationals with software skills.