Sunday, November 28, 2021

Taking a break from 111 words a day

With a busy semester and a move from Kleinbasel to Grossbasel two weeks from tomorrow, I've slowly been dropping my daily habits over the past two months: my daily reading and posting of poems has been on hold, including my daily reading of a poem by Denise Levertov, as has my daily work Spanish practice (vocabulary, verb conjugations, reading Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez). I've also stopped submitting poems regularly, whenever I have some that are not under consideration somewhere (not to mention not having time to write poems and play guitar). And now I'm putting my daily prose on hold until at least the day after our move. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 November 2021)


The dysfunctional Tyrone, Keller, and Loman families in Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller

Along with her list of novels from the 1920s for her Master's exam, a student of mine also put together a list of plays from the 1950s, including Eugene O'Neill's "A Long Day's Journey Into Night", and Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" and "Death of Salesman." They share the theme of dysfunctional families: O'Neill's Tyrone family struggles with Mary Tyrone's morphine addiction; the Keller family in "All My Sons" lives in denial about the crime Joe Keller committed but was found not guilty of; the men in the Loman family in "Death of a Salesman" have been lying to each other and to themselves for so long that they cannot stop. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 27 November 2021)

Friday, November 26, 2021

"Try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose": Wes Anderson's "The French Dispatch"

In Wes Anderson's new movie "The French Dispatch", Bill Murray plays Arthur Howitzer Jr., the editor of a magazine, "The French Dispatch", that is published in the town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, France; his writers are played by Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Francis McDormand, and Jeffrey Wright; and his motto comes up several times in the course of the film: "Try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose." That also applies to Anderson's filmmaking, with the geometric sets, the singular camera movement, and a use of voiceover narration that makes it sound like he wrote it that way on purpose, not out of a failure of cinematic vision. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 26 November 2021)

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Andreas Schärer's solo performance in Dornach

At his solo concert this evening at the Kloster in Dornach (in their Jazz & Soul series), Andreas Schärer did lots of free improvisation as usual, but he also sang compositions by others for the first time in any of his concerts that I have attended. The first was a 400-year-old work by Claudio Monteverdi; the second was Charlie Parker's "Scrapple from the Apple", with scatting mixed with bass lines and mouth trumpet. For Skip James's "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues", Schärer got the crowd humming along in call-and-response three-part harmony. He also told a long story in nonsense language with the intonation and gestures of someone relating an exciting anecdote. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 25 November 2021)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A keyboard with a broken power adapter

For Miles's fourth birthday in 2003, we gave him a Yamaha keyboard that he enjoyed fiddling around with, but after a while, it gathered dust until Sara began piano lessons about ten years later. Although we have a piano in the living room, she had the keyboard in her room and used it regularly. But then the power adapter broke, and she didn't mention it, so the keyboard gathered dust again. Although I wasn't optimistic about getting a replacement, today I took the broken adapter to the store where I bought the keyboard – and not only could they replace it, they even still had my eighteen-year-old purchase in their computer records. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 24 November 2021)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Recent Research on Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke Island Colony

A rambling pre-Thanksgiving conversation with my mother this evening led us to the story of the settlement on Roanoke Island sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh in the 1580s. As I had last read about the "Lost Colony" sometime in the 1990s, I was curious about current interpretations of the mystery of the disappearance of the English settlers. A 2020 New York Times article about the publication of Scott Dawson's "The Lost Colony and Hatteras Island" reveals that, while there is no "smoking gun" (as one scholar puts it), there is increasing evidence that the English were taken in by the Croatoan people on Hatteras Island, 65 miles south of Roanoke Island. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 23 November 2021)


Monday, November 22, 2021

"A difference in the eyes which watched them": Historical and experiential interpretations of the racist gaze in James Baldwin's "Another Country"

In James Baldwin's "Another Country", when Rufus Scott walks through Greenwich Village with Leona, his new white girlfriend from the South, he notices "a difference in the eyes which watched them" after his white friend Vivaldo leaves them: people now look at them "as though where they stood were an auction block or a stud farm." With the auction block as an echo of America enslavement, Rufus reads racism historically. After "an Italian adolescent" looks at him "with hatred," though, Leona tells Rufus the boy probably "don't know no better": "You could probably make friends him real easy if you tried." Leona's experiential interpretation of racism risks erasing Rufus's historical interpretation. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 22 November 2021)

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Hearing Alan Rickman but seeing Kate Winslet

Luisa is reading Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" for school, so she and Andrea are watching Ang Lee's adaptation. One evening while folding laundry many years ago, I stumbled into the middle of the film on television, which I hadn't seen since its 1995 release. I remembered only that it featured Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant. A few minutes after I started watching it, as I looked down to fold something, I heard the voice of Alan Rickman and thought, "That's Snape!" But as I glanced up, the film cut to a shot of Winslet, so I was momentarily confused about the disconnect between the voice and the face. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 November 2021)