Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So How You Been?

Well, we ended up not going to the Prop 8 protest, because other things came up. Specifically, we got a phone call from Stephen around 2 am the morning before telling us he was being evacuated. Seems he was woken up by sirens in the middle of the night, and after a few minutes he got up to look out the window and saw a giant wall of flame coming down the hills across the street. So he and his roommate had to grab their valuables (computers and V.A. paperwork) and come crash on our couch. They let them back in by Saturday afternoon, and their apartment was OK (other than being covered in ash). Another apartment in the same complex burnt down.

Locust St. (the best mp3 blog on the web) has been posting a series on recordings from the earliest years of the 20th Century. A lot of these are minstrel songs, some of which (obviously) are pretty horrifying by today's standards. Go here to get Mary Irwin performing "Bully of the Town" from 1907 (you'll have to scroll down a bit), which...well, I can't really top this description:

May Irwin's 1907 record "Bully of the Town" is minstrelsy at its most surreal. A century on, the track (an enormous hit for Victor Records at the time) seems an obscene absurdity--a middle-aged white woman singing, in a genteel soprano, "I'm a Tennessee nigger" and going on about fetching her razor and cutting down her rival. It would be as if Bette Midler had covered the Geto Boys' "Mind Playin' Tricks On Me."

Check out the rest of the series. Great writing, very rarely-heard music.

Moriarty has a very long interview (more like a conversation, really) with Spike Jonze about his adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, which is apparently still on track and scheduled for next October. This line just killed me:

Spike Jonze: At that screening you went to, there was something that was really interesting. This lady was our age and she brought a kid, or a couple kids, I don’t know, but she said that the book was something her parents got for her. She was like “When our parents got it for us, they didn’t really know what it meant. But we knew what it meant.” And I think somehow that book, and also Maurice’s work just taps into feelings kids have.

That's so right-on, isn't it? I mean, I think about all the similar storybooks that I read as a child, that everyone read. Why does this one book (aside from Dr. Seuss) stand out, FOR EVERYONE. Everyone feels this way about that book, that's only a few pages long and doesn't really have much of a story. Why? I think this cover art suggests why:

There are different printings with slightly different covers, but I'm pretty sure that's the one I remember from my childhood. It's not an action picture of the wild rumpus. It's not a picture of Max. It's just this one monster sleeping as a boat goes by. And it just makes you want to know more. It sticks in your mind in the way that only an unanswered question can. The book is very simple, but it's almost too simple. Even as a kid, you have to wonder what it means, because why would it exist if it didn't mean something? Why do I keep looking at it? Why do I keep reading it every night?


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