Friday, May 22, 2009

A Scan a Day

About the Vignettes

According to Wikipedia vignettes (in literature) are "short, impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a particular insight into a character, idea, or setting".

I've always loved this very short form, which is not to be mistaken with the short story (which is generally much longer!). You can find vignettes with not too many authors, but Franz Kafka, Daniel Charms, Ernst Bloch ("Traces") and Theodor W. Adorno ("Minima Moralia") come to my mind.

I was basically inspired by John Cage's own Indeterminacy stories (also serialized on my blog) to write my very own.

John Cage's concept was to tell short stories or impressions that could be read within a single minute. He performed the stories with musical accompaniment and would read slower or faster depending on the length of the story to fit into the 1-minute-limit.

The stories were to be artless omitting any embellishment, but they often have punch lines of a sort.

I've been trying something similar: tell it without any fancy phrasing, omit details that are not necessary for the point of the story and make the point easily understandable.

I've noticed that keeping to these rules my vignettes only express the mere skull of a story, not the actual experience itself. In every case I could have extended and explained many details, but suppressed my urge to do so. My main thought was to tell an anecdote as if I were telling it to my friends at a dinner party or at the pub. In such cases you usually stick to the basics of a story, and then others drop in to comment or to tell their own version of the same incident. Sometimes even one of the participants of a story might be present.

This way I have an enormous pool of things to tell. An idea of mine was that by the end of each day there'd be at least one story to tell. Due to lack of time I'm not able to produce the stories so often, but I'll try to write as many as I can...

Ryoko Mitake

(click to enlarge)

Pet Sematary II (1992)

Two kids discover that they can resurrect dead animals and people at the pet cemetery

Not really good, partially silly and quite predictable.

Polina Kouklina

Indeterminacy 53

One day while I was composing, the telephone
rang. A lady’s voice said,
“Is this John Cage, the percussion
composer?” I said, “Yes.” She said,
“This is the J. Walter Thompson
Company.” I didn’t know what that was,
but she explained that their business
was advertising. She said,
“Hold on. One of our directors
wants to speak to you.” During a pause
my mind went back to my composition.
Then suddenly a man’s voice said,
“Mr. Cage, are you willing to
prostitute your art?” I said, “Yes.” He
said, “Well, bring us some samples
Friday at two.” I did. After
hearing a few recordings, one of the
directors said to me, “Wait a minute.”
Then seven directors formed what looked
like a football huddle. From this
one of them finally emerged, came
over to me, and said,
“You’re too good for us. We’re
going to save you for Robinson Crusoe.”

- John Cage

Who's That Girl?

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Rumi Mochizuki

El Cid (1961)

Epic film of the legendary Spanish hero, Rodrigo Diaz ("El Cid" to his followers), who, without compromising his strict sense of honour, still succeeds in taking the initiative and driving the Moors from Spain.

Clocking in at more than 3 hours to say this epic outstays its welcome would be an understatement. Production value s OK, but otherwise it's wooden, pedestrian and basically just uninteresting.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Scan a Day

Vignettes #16

In the mid 80s I was good friends with a couple. Eva was the daughter of the richest family in town and had recently joined our film club, her boyfriend Wolfgang was not rich, but a descaendant of an old German noble family. They were a very nice and normal pair, we got along well and met very often. But they did have some upper class friends which I didn't always feel comfortable with.

On one occasion the three of us visited another couple, he was a middle-aged well-dressed guy, she was a bit younger, more our age, and quite pretty. We sat together having drinks, and I soon noticed that each of this couple was bitching about the other, especially when one of them wasn't in the room. Later they explained that they had arranged a temporary separation in their relationship so that each of them 'could develop themselves'. Of course, they were still and all 'good friends'.

After we left I asked my friends how they had come to know these people, and Wolfgang told me that the guy was the psychotherapist who leads the men's group he was going to. A bit dumbfounded I said: "What do you need to go to a men's group for?"

Wolfgang's explanation was: "Well, in this age with women demanding and receiving more rights, we men need to re-evaluate our own status and communicate with each other so that we can emancipate ourselves, too."

And then he told me: "William, you're still single at the moment, but as soon as you find a girl for yourself, you'll need to go to a men's group, too."

Who's That Girl?

Indeterminacy 142

When I was growing up in California there were
two things that everyone assumed were good for you.
There were, of course, others
— spinach and oatmeal, for instance —
but right now I’m thinking of
sunshine and orange juice. When we
lived at Ocean Park, I was sent out every
morning to the beach where I spent the day
building rolly-coasters in the sand,
complicated downhill tracks with tunnels and
inclines upon which I rolled a small hard
rubber ball. Every day toward noon
I fainted because the sun was too much
for me. When I fainted I didn’t
fall down, but I couldn’t see;
there were flocks of black spots
wherever I looked. I soon learned
to find my way in that blindness to a
hamburger stand where I’d ask for something
to eat. Sitting in the shade,
I’d come to. It took me
much longer, about thirty-five years
in fact, to learn that orange
juice was not good for me either.

- John Cage

Kate Moss irrégulière

A Song a Day

Tori Amos - Give

This is a beautiful song from Tori Amos' new album Abnormally Attracted to Sin. I've been a fan of hers from her very first solo album on and never missed an album. This new one is not really a masterpiece, but does have some great songs.

So you heard I crossed over the line
Do I have regrets?
Well, not yet

There are some, some who give blood
I give love
I give

Soon, before the sun
Before the sun begins to rise
I know that I, I must give
So that I, I can live

There are some, some whose "give"
twists itself to take their mistake
who, what? what made up the line?
some say it was pain
or was it shame?

Soon, before the sun
Before the sun begins to rise
I know that I, I must give
So that I I, I can live

Some, some who give blood
I give love, I give

Soon before the sun
Before the sun begins to rise
I know that I, I must give
So that I, I can live

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Karlie Kloss

ph: Horst Diekgerdes

La tourneuse de pages (2006)

The Page Turner USA (festival title)
Das Mädchen, das die Seiten umblättert Germany

A ten-year-old butcher's daughter, is a gifted piano player, but is insulted and ultimately ousted by one of the jurors at the academy where she plays for a scholarship. As a grown woman she receives employment at the juror's family house and seeks revenge.

A very subtly told story with some lesbian content and a very pretty bad girl. It's been said it has a touch of Hitchcock, but only via Chabrol. Recommendable.

Marie Eve Nadeau

ph: Serge Barbeau

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006)

Jon Arbuckle travels to the United Kingdom, and he brings his cat, Garfield, along for the trip. A case of mistaken cat identity finds Garfield ruling over a castle, but his reign is soon jeopardized by the nefarious Lord Dargis , who has designs on the estate.

Yeah, sometimes I watch movies like this one. It is fairly entertaining, though, and besides: it's got cats in it.

Jourdan Dunn & Olga Sherer

Indeterminacy 132

Doris Dennison
had been
born Doris Suckling.

That was
why she changed her name.

step-brother, Peter, on the
other hand,

took the name she

Peter Suckling
been born Peter Perfect.

Déborah François

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Scan a Day

Martyrs (2008)

A young woman's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity.

This movie is quite amazing since its violence does break some boundaries - and I know many will not be able to bear what is shown here -, but it still has style, a very surprising and intelligent plot, and an semi-metaphysical open ending that is good cause for discussions. Unfortunately, I'd have a lot to say about this movie, but can't without giving away much of the content. And you need to see this one with as little knowledge as possible.

Jacqueline Lovell

Zemlya (1930)

In the peaceful countryside, Vassily opposes the rich kulaks over the coming of collective farming.

This is the first time I've seen this classic by Aleksandr Dovzhenko, and I was fairly disappointed, since this is basically a typical product of Socialist Realism with a lot of propaganda. In its way it may be a groundbreaking work, but seems very dated by today's standards.

Linda Christian

ph: Bob Landry

Indeterminacy 168

Tucker Madawick is seventeen years old.
He is Lois
Long’s son by her first husband.
It was dinnertime.
He came home
from his job in the Good Samaritan
Hospital in Suffern and said
to his mother, “Well,
dear, I won’t be
seeing you for a couple of days.”
Lois Long said,
“What’s up?” Tucker said,
“Tomorrow night after
work, I’m driving to
Albany with Danny Sherwood for a
cup of coffee, and
I’ll be back for work the following
day.” Lois Long said,
“For heaven’s sake,
you can have a
cup of coffee here at home.”
Tucker Madawick replied,
“Don’t be a square.
Read Kerouac.”

- John Cage

Who's That Girl?

ph: Jan Durina

Star Trek: Generations (1994)

Capt. Picard, with the help of supposedly dead Capt. Kirk, must stop a madman willing to murder on a planetary scale in order to enter a space matrix.

This one is unfortunately a bit of a bore and outstays its welcome.

Marisa Berenson

ph: Arnaud de Rosnay

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

The crews of the Enterprise and the Excelsior must stop a plot to prevent a peace treaty between the Klingon Empire and the Federation.

This time around lots of fun, especially the jokes about the Klingons.

Captain Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott: [referring to Gorkon's daughter, whom he believes killed Gorkon] Mark my word, she did not shed one bloody tear.
Captain Spock: Hardly conclusive, Mr. Scott, since Klingons have no tear ducts.

Silvana Mangano

ph: Gjon Mili

A Song a Day

Siouxsie & the Banshees - Hong Kong Garden

Were you there at the time? This song comes back to me every few days, one of the all-time greats. Look at her dance (isn't she beautiful?), AND listen to that guitar! PLAY IT LOUD.

Harmful elements in the air
Symbols clashing everywhere
Reaps the fields of rice and reeds
While the population feeds
Junk floats on polluted water
An old custom to sell your daughter
Would you like number 23?
Leave your yens on the counter please
Hong kong garden

Tourists swarm to see your face
Confuscius has a puzzling grace
Disoriented you enter in
Unleashing scent of wild jasmine

Slanted eyes meet a new sunrise
A race of bodies small in size
Chicken chow mein and chop suey
Hong kong garden takeaway
Hong kong garden

A Scan a Day

Monday, May 18, 2009

Indeterminacy 133

A mother and son visited the
Seattle Art Museum.

Several rooms were devoted
the work of Morris Graves.

they came to one
in which
all of the paintings were
the mother,

a hand across her son’s


“Come, dear,
mother doesn’t want
you to see these things.”

- John Cage

Manami Honjo

Vignettes #15

While in Malta our friend Michael told us about a shop owner he had met. This pot-bellied man could be seen day in and day out sitting on his swivel chair behind the horseshoe shaped counter of his optician's store. Beyond the counter there were endless shelves with his merchandise, and if anyone asked him for a particular item he'd just swing around in the direction where the piece would be and tell one of his assistants to get it. He always knew where something was, and he'd never leave his chair.

Michael got to talk to him one day buying some goggles and introduced himself as a vacationer spending his time there on Gozo. He asked the shop owner, whether he ever went on vacation. "Yes, in fact I will go on vacation in 2 weeks", the man replied with his heavy Maltese accent. "I'm going on a cruise, because: I love to eat, but I don't like to move!"

Elsa Sylvan

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