1. A pretty good animated and modernized movie version of Dante’s Inferno has been running on the Ovation cable network. It’s based on the excellent comic book version (set in squalid Los Angeles, California) by Marcus Sanders, Doug Harvey and Sandow Birk.

2. A long forgotten film version of Yukio Mishima’s short story Patriotism has been rereleased. This is not the Paul Schrader film Mishima, which depicts this author’s death by seppuku, but rather a Japanese film based on Mishima’s intense short story about a young couple’s final night on Earth after a failed military coup.

3. This was a surprise: I’ve never been much interested in Jonathan Safran Foer, but my daughter and I caught Liev Schrieber’s film version of Everything is Illuminated on TV on a rainy weekend afternoon and liked it very much. The director’s heavy-handed style and Elijah Wood’s highly affected and artificial performance have to be forgiven before you can start to become absorbed in the plot, but the story of the lost Ukrainian village in the field of sunflowers makes up for these cinematic sins. Maybe I’ll even read the book.

4. I watched HBO’s Generation Kill, based on the book by Evan Wright. I found it difficult to follow at first — the filmmakers obviously share Robert Altman’s affection for mumbled dialogue — but in the later episodes a few strong plotlines and a few messages began to emerge. By the mini-series’ strong finale, shadows of Paths of Glory, Stanley Kubrick’s great bitter parody of World War I, can be seen. Worth catching on DVD or rerun, if you missed it the first time.

5. Okay, enough of the boob tube! What New York City really needs is a Queens Book Festival, but the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival should be pretty good too. LitKicks faves among the participants include: Arthur Nersesian, Ian MacKaye, Thurston Moore, Johnny Temple, Amy Shearn, George Pelecanos, Jacob Weisberg, Joanna Hershorn, Patricia Smith, Chuck Klosterman, Ed Park, Tao Lin, Warren Adler and (in a fitting tribute) the late Joseph Heller.

6. The Literature to Life Festival, presenting dramatic versions of controversial classic American fiction, is taking place this month at the American Place Theatre in New York.

7. Eliot Katz, Mickey Z. and others will be performing at the Waltz-Astoria Cafe in Queens, New York this Thursday, September 11.

8. A film is being made about Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl“. Looks like a good idea to me.

9. “Jazz drenched dharma boogie”! Beat poet Michael McClure’s new band Big Mix includes longtime collaborator Ray Manzarek on keyboards and adds a full ensemble, including Lou Reed/Ratdog bassist Rob Wasserman. And they’re on MySpace.

10. Kos, as in Daily Kos, at Bat Segundo.

11. Poet Jerome Rothenberg has a new blog, Poems and Poetics.

12. Zen and Now is a book by Mark Richardson about Robert Pirsig’s classic philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (via Books Inq).

13. Just heard that Gregory “Fletch” McDonald has died. I really enjoyed the Fletch books, the worst thing that ever happened to which was Chevy Chase.

9 Responses

  1. 1. I don’t know if you made a
    1. I don’t know if you made a conscious decision to avoid Jonathan Safran Foer, but if so, you are missing out. Both of his books thus far, while similar, have been impressively well thought out, and I went into them thinking they were going to be a bit hipstery for my taste. They both employ the same device and formula, but to very good effect (unlike the movie, which if I remember right left out an entire plot, ironically about the village in the sunflowers you liked, and completely changed the ending). The only aspect of the movie I enjoyed was running into Elijah Wood all the time in Prague while they were filming and seeing tall Czech girls run up to him and scream: Frodo! Frodo! So Cute! I walked away from both books thinking: I would be proud to have written that.

    2. Generation Kill could have been a legitimately good series with a little more thought. It was so close to being good, but just couldn’t quite get through to the next level. There were moments though. It is mainly interesting that we have finally arrived at the nexus of the time space continuum, where movies and shows about the present are coming out at real time. W, Generation Kill… The start of a dangerous trend.

    3. I found out that Fletch was a book after I had seen the movie, but c’mon! Chevy Chase was hilarious. I’ve always wanted to read the books, but can’t believe it could live up to the film.

  2. Zen and Now claims: “It took
    Zen and Now claims: “It took not one but two Jesuit scholars to write a guidebook to the book’s [Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance]dense passages of philosophical rumination.”
    I first read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and then again as an adult and didn’t find it that heavy nor enlightening. A recent read that I did find enlightening was Warner’s Hardcore Zen which focuses some on Dogen, the Zen sage.

  3. FYI: Green Party presidential
    FYI: Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney (a friend of mine) might make it to the event tomorrow night (see #7 above).

  4. Hey Rubaio — well, I mainly
    Hey Rubaio — well, I mainly avoided J S Foer because I read the first few pages of “Everything Is Illuminated” and found the voice hokey. The characterizations in the movie are also overcooked, though as I said the story itself is a saving grace.

    About “Fletch”, well, the Chevy Chase movies were a complete departure from the books. I don’t know why they bothered to call the character Fletch. The books were not comedies. The tone was realistic/noir, with a sardonic voice that Bill Murray could have captured, but Chevy Chase completely ignored. And all that stuff with the funny disguises? Not in the book.

  5. 84.Seppuku! thanks for the
    84.Seppuku! thanks for the link to that.

    85. As the numbers get higher the topics start to become fragment of the day to day musings.

  6. Au contrarire, Mr. Asher.
    Au contrarire, Mr. Asher. The books WERE comedies, albeit of a higher and more deadpan wit. In fact, I’d go so far to say that Mcdonald was close to Westlake. I actually thought Chevy Chase was well-cast as Fletch (and so did Mcdonald). But compared to the books, well, there’s no contest between taut dialogue and funny disguises. 🙂

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