From the Art House

I hope Criterion releases Stalker on Blu-ray and DVD. (If not them, perhaps Kino Video?)


The task that never ends…

I finished the rewrite–or so I thought, until I went over it with the playwright. Oh, he liked it, but it needed further refinement. (Word to the wise: when you think you’ve completed revisions, think again.)

One thing I do know for sure: I don’t do too well with drawn-out deadlines. It doesn’t feel like a challenge without the element of crunch time, somehow. Very mystifying. Still, it helps to know how to work on long-term projects, so…

Writer’s hazards

I’ve finished the first monologue. A long night of it, too: if not for cutting it by nearly half, I would have gone mad. Now I have to reintroduce what the playwright considers 16 points of denunciation of the evils of life under Castro. Urgh. Just when I think it’s safe…
I’m having a particularly rough time with the assertions that Fidel Castro provided surgery for Saddam Hussein, that Hussein also gave monies to exiled radicals, and that Castro had cut a deal with Pablo Escobar to get Cuban-American youth hooked on drugs. I mean, wouldn’t the CIA have something to say if these things really did take place? At best, it’s speculation. At worst, it’s as skeevy as any urban legend.
Still, the body of that particular monologue is done, and the addenda, whether true or not, is fixable.

Now I have the second monologue. Oh joy. A treatise on the nature of marriage. I have no words…but I have to decipher 15-20 pages and give it a flow in English. And it is a paying gig, which helps a little. So, forward and onward. I hope.

Singalong song time

Here’s to one of the most undersung bands on the planet…


From the Silver Age: Boris Pasternak

My Sister Life

My sister, life, today is overflowing
And smashing herself in spring rain on our coats,
But people with monocles are not amused
And bite, quite politely, like snakes in the oats.

The older ones have their own reasons for this.
But yours is a comical reason, no doubt:
That under the storm, eyes and lawns appear lilac
And mignonette sweetens the wind from the south.

That when, on your journey in May, you’re consulting
The timetable on the Kamyshin line,
The Bible itself is not more exalting.
Your eyes, mesmerized, are to all else blind.

That, setting, the sun has only to highlight
Girls crowding the railway track, as the train slows,
For me to discover it is not my station,
The sun to extend its regrets as it goes.

And splashing a third time, the bell swims behind,
Its sorry ‘not here’ sounding near, farther, far.
The burning night filters in under the blind
And the steppe plunges on from the steps to the star;

Winking out, blinking, but sweetly somewhere
My love, like a mirage, and others all sleep
While, splashing along carriage footboards, the heart
Scatters bright windows across the dark steppe.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), tr. by Andrei Navrozov.

Kamyshin: a town in Southern Russia near the Volga River.

My first encounter with Pasternak’s poetry was courtesy ofDoctor Zhivago. The novel was good, but the cycle of poems really had me gobsmacked. (Professor Shimon Markish–thank you!) In reading further, I understood why he won the Nobel in 1958. And was saddened more deeply that he could not enjoy it.

Memory eternal!

Tonight’s singalong song

If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Temple of Low Men by Crowded House–get a copy and listen till the music and lyrics infuse the very marrow.

Granted, they’ve never made a bad album, but this one is, for me, their finest. And when they come to a city near you–get tickets.

From the Silver Age: Velemir Khlebnikov

Once Again, Once Again…

Once again, once again,
I’m for you
A star.
Woe to the sailor who sets
His ship on the wrong course
By a star:
He will break up on the rocks.

On an underwater sandbar.
Woe then to you when you set
Your heart on a wrong course by me:
You will break up on the rocks,
And the rocks will laugh long
At you,
As you laughed long
At me.

Velemir Khlebnikov (1885-1922), tr. by Gary Kern.

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