Thursday 30 September 2010

Ernest Borgnine is still alive, and active.

Fortunately, Da's stay in hospital was a short one...

Obama on Bob: "No cheesin' and grinnin' "

Obama Talks Bob Dylan White House Performance

Here’s what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you’d expect he would be. He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn’t want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn’t show up to that. He came in and played “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” A beautiful rendition. The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage… comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves… That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise.

Tony Curtis RIP

Tony Curtis obituary
Actor whose good looks and charm took him to the heights of Hollywood with films such as Some Like It Hot and The Defiant Ones

Brian Baxter
Thursday 30 September 2010

Born into a family of Hungarian Jews who had emigrated to the US, Bernard Schwartz – the boy who became the actor Tony Curtis – could scarcely have dreamed of the wealth, fame and rollercoaster life that awaited him. Curtis, who has died aged 85, starred in several of the best films of the 1950s, including Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The Defiant Ones (1958) and Some Like It Hot (1959). He enjoyed a long career thanks to his toughness and resilience (despite insecurities that demanded years of therapy).

He grew up in the Bronx, New York, the eldest of three sons. As a child, he was ill-treated by his mother, Helen, and spent time in an orphanage. One of his brothers, Robert, was a schizophrenic and the other, Julius, was killed in a traffic accident when Tony was 12. At school he became a member of a gang involved in petty crime, but he escaped into the Scouts. He endured poverty and the Depression and, in 1943, joined the US navy, serving as a signalman in the second world war.

He emerged, aged 20, into a world of opportunities – the first being postwar government funding for GIs to train for a career. He decided on acting (his father, Emanuel, had been an actor before becoming a tailor) and entered the Dramatic Workshop in New York. He took the lead in a Greenwich Village revival of Golden Boy, written by Clifford Odets, and was spotted by a studio talent scout and offered a contract by Universal. He first chose Anthony Adverse as his professional name, inspired by the eponymous hero of a novel by Hervey Allen. A casting director persuaded him otherwise, so he kept "Anthony" and added "Curtis", anglicising a common Hungarian surname.

Like the far grander MGM, or the Rank Organisation's "charm school" in the UK, Universal had a policy of training promising talent. The prerequisites were good looks and ambition. Curtis had both in abundance. He made his uncredited film debut in Robert Siodmak's Criss Cross (1949), as a gigolo who dances with Yvonne de Carlo, watched by the male lead, Burt Lancaster, who later played a significant part in Curtis's career.

After this 30-second screen exposure, he notched up 10 appearances in two years, including the westerns Sierra and Winchester 73 (both 1950). He later said that the performances were "guided by testosterone, not talent". He and the other Universal proteges, including Rock Hudson, were trained in acting, fencing, riding and dancing. By 1951 he was considered ready for the lead in a swashbuckler, The Prince Who Was a Thief, and was married to the starlet Janet Leigh, who later appeared alongside him in films including The Vikings (1958).

Curtis went on to star in a slew of second-grade movies, such as Son of Ali Baba (1952) and Houdini (1953). His big break into A-features came when Lancaster chose him as his co-star in Trapeze (1956). They made a convincing pair of high flyers, and the glossy movie, directed by Carol Reed, was an international hit.

After playing the lead in Blake Edwards's Mister Cory (1957), Curtis joined Lancaster again in Sweet Smell of Success, produced by Lancaster's company. A superb screenplay, co-written by Odets, was the launchpad for Alexander Mackendrick's vividly achieved portrait of obsession and betrayal. Lancaster played the reptilian, all-powerful, New York columnist besotted with his sister. Curtis was Sidney Falco, an unprincipled press agent in thrall to (and fear of) the man who could make him king of the jungle, and willing to sell his pride and soul for the title. It gave Curtis the reviews and credibility for which he had yearned.

Routine movies followed until The Defiant Ones gave him his first and only Oscar nomination, for best actor. This modestly liberal story – an archetypal Stanley Kramer film – proved important for Curtis, who insisted that his black co-star Sidney Poitier share top billing. It was significant as a commercially successful film, making a plea for racial tolerance, directed and acted with force and integrity. Although he did not get the Oscar (which went to David Niven for Separate Tables), Curtis was soon to receive a greater prize – the second great movie of his career, Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot.

Appearing alongside Jack Lemmon and – less happily – a difficult Marilyn Monroe, Curtis enjoyed three sublime manifestations in the film. First, as one of two jazz musicians who flee from gangsters after witnessing the St Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago in 1929. Second, in drag as a member of the all-girl band which provides his camouflage. And last as a fake oil millionaire – out to seduce Marilyn – played as a wonderful homage to Cary Grant. "Marilyn was an enigma," he later said. "She was very difficult to read. Marilyn and I were lovers in 1949, 1950, 1951 ... It was an important relationship for me."

After this movie, Curtis's career declined in quality, if not quantity. Edwards capitalised on his two best roles and cast him opposite his hero Grant in the bright and funny Operation Petticoat (1959), where he played a jokey variation of Sidney Falco. The following year he was in heady if duller company in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus, playing Antoninus, the handsome slave who flees from the overtures of his master, Laurence Olivier.

He then made two films with the director Robert Mulligan – The Rat Race (1960) and The Great Impostor (1961) – and starred in The Outsider (1961) as Ira Hayes, the Native American hero of the battle of Iwo Jima during the second world war. As Curtis's career progressed, his marriage to Leigh – who had sacrificed her work for him and their children, Jamie Lee and Kelly – began to disintegrate. They divorced in 1962, and the following year he married the actor Christine Kaufmann, with whom he had two daughters, Alexandra and Allegra. He had some success with Jerry Lewis in the comedy Boeing Boeing (1965) and rejoined Edwards on The Great Race (1965), parodying his charismatic persona with a cocky grin and effortless charm.

He had less success with Mackendrick's Don't Make Waves (1967), a slow-burn comedy which suffered from studio interference. He then made a strenuous effort for critical acclaim with his role as the serial killer Albert DeSalvo in The Boston Strangler (1968), flashily directed with use of a split screen. More routine films, and a lucrative two-year stint in the television series The Persuaders (1971-72), kept him busy, as did his increased interest in his painting, art collecting and writing. He married the model Leslie Allen in 1968 (having divorced Kaufmann the year before) and dedicated his frantic, exhausting novel, Kid Andrew Cody and Julie Sparrow (1977), to her. He had two sons with Allen, Nicholas and Benjamin.

Occasional meaty parts continued to come his way, including the eponymous gangster in Lepke (1975) and the fading, impotent movie star in the lugubrious The Last Tycoon (1976). He returned to the stage in the 1979 Los Angeles run of Neil Simon's play I Ought to Be in Pictures. His best work on television was in The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980), as the producer David O Selznick, and the series Vega$ (1978-81). But he had lost his comic lightness of touch and decent parts were rare, although he relished his role as the Senator in Nicolas Roeg's Insignificance (1985). He was admitted to the Betty Ford clinic for treatment for his alcohol and drug abuse, and his other 80s credits, such as Lobster Man from Mars (1989), revealed his diminishing standing.

Curtis and Allen had divorced in 1982, and he married the lawyer Lisa Deutsch in 1993. They divorced the following year. Curtis talked of quitting show business to open an art gallery in Europe. There were also rumours of a return to the stage opposite Lemmon and of a second novel. In the event, he returned to big and small screens in a desire not to earn money but to keep working. His autobiography was published in 1993, and in the mid-90s he suffered personal trauma as he underwent heart surgery and his son Nicholas died of a heroin overdose.

He married Jill VandenBerg, more than 40 years his junior, in 1998, and said he had never been happier. Curtis relished being remembered for the Mackendrick movies above all, and for his quirky cameos (often uncredited) in numerous films – not least as the "voice" in Rosemary's Baby (1968). But he remained bitter about the lack of official recognition for his best work, convinced that he lost out on an Oscar for The Defiant Ones because of his "pretty boy" image. On the occasions I met him at his London home in Chester Square, Belgravia, he was always interested in showing his work as an artist. His paintings have been exhibited in Europe and the US, at galleries including the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Curtis is survived by Jill, his daughters Jamie Lee, Kelly and Allegra (who all became actors), another daughter, Alexandra, and his son Benjamin.

• Tony Curtis (Bernard Schwartz), actor, born 3 June 1925; died 29 September 2010

Bob Dylan on Tony Curtis

"The actor Tony Curtis once told me that fame is an occupation in itself, that it is a separate thing. And Tony couldn't be more right. The old image slowly faded and in time I found myself no longer underthe canopy of some malignant influence. Eventually different anachronisms were thrust upon me - anachronisms of lesser dilemma - though they might seem bigger. Legend, Icon, Enigma (Buddha in European Clothes was my favorite) - stuff like that, but that was all right. These titles were placid and harmless, threadbare, easy to get around with them. Prophet, Messiah, Savior - those are tough ones.

"From "Chronicles, Volume One" by Bob Dylan.

Da's doings

It was a case of Ambulence Blues on Monday night following a call from a certain well known nonagenarian from Blakelaw. My Heart was a pumpin' an' a thumpin' fit to bust so it was off to casualty for observation. Was I Too Far Gone and would the Old Man get me? Was it to be Sleeps With Angels or would I have the Will To Love? After 3 hours on the monitor the verdict was that I would live - to which the only answer was Pardon My Heart. On The Way Home I tried not to go Out Of My Mind and have been trying ever since.
For those of an inquisitive nature, the offer of some free beer on Friday night still stands, but I'll see how I'm feeling before deciding whether to Bite The Bullet.
Don't Be Denied.

Tony Curtis RIP

Tony Curtis, who died on September 29 aged 85, was one of Hollywood's last matinee idols; the product of a classic success story, he rose from a New York ghetto to enjoy fame and stardom that was largely unparalleled for much of the 1950s and 1960s. At the height of that fame Billy Wilder, who directed Curtis in his greatest hit, Some Like it Hot, noted that the actor's "only interests were the size of his billing and the tightness of his trousers".

Winsor McCay

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Arthur Penn RIP

Image result for arthur penn little big man set
Arthur Penn obituary
American director best known for Bonnie and Clyde, he focused on disillusioned outsiders

Sheila Whitaker
Wednesday 29 September 2010

Arthur Penn, who has died aged 88, was one of the major figures of US television, stage and film in the 1960s and 70s when the three disciplines actively encouraged experimentation, innovation and challenging subject matter. "I think the 1960s generation was a state of mind," he said, "and it's really the one I've been in since I was born." He will be best remembered for Bonnie and Clyde (1967), a complex and lyrical study of violent outsiders whose lives became the stuff of myth.

The film, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and based on the exploits of the bank-robbing Barrow Gang in the 1930s, became a cause celebre. It was praised and attacked for its distortion, bad taste and glorification of violence in equal measure. Newsweek's critic, Joseph Morgenstern, retracted his initial view of the film's violence, admitting that he had misread explicitness for exploitiveness. The film won two Oscars (best cinematography and best supporting actress) from a total of 10 nominations (including best picture and best director).

Penn was born in Philadelphia into a Russian-Jewish family, the younger of two sons. His brother, Irving, became a noted fashion photographer. His father was a watch repairer and engraver. By the time he was four, Penn's parents had divorced. The boys went first to New York with their mother, a nurse. When he was 14 Arthur went to live with his father in Philadelphia. It was at this time that he became fascinated by the theatre, acting in school productions and on local radio.

During the second world war, he was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, to train as a rifleman, and in his spare time he set up a theatre group. It was there that Penn met Fred Coe, who was to play an important role in his professional life. Towards the end of the war, Penn spent time acting in Paris, then returned to the US to study at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. He continued to stage theatre productions before heading back to Europe to study literature in Italy.

On his return to the US, he joined the Los Angeles branch of the Actors Studio. His first professional work, in 1951, was with NBC TV in New York as a floor manager working on The Colgate Comedy Hour. He began to write plays for television, and in 1953 Coe, who was also with NBC in New York, asked him to direct a live experimental drama series called First Person.

During the 1950s Penn also became active in the theatre. His not terribly inspired Broadway debut, The Lovers (1956), ran for only four performances. His next production, however, was a success. Two for the Seesaw (1958), starring Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft, ran for more than 700 performances. He had a Tony award-winning hit with William Gibson's The Miracle Worker (1959), the story of Helen Keller, which he had previously directed for TV. He also found success with Toys in the Attic and All the Way Home (both in 1960).

Coe produced some of Penn's stage work, and it was he who asked him to direct The Left Handed Gun (1958). This was based on Gore Vidal's television play which, rather than dealing with the outlaw Billy the Kid's notorious exploits, centred on him as a confused young man, desperately seeking love and recognition, who wreaks revenge on those who killed his boss, a kind rancher whom Billy has taken as a father figure. The film starred Paul Newman as Billy and was shot in only 23 days on an abandoned set. Warner Bros insisted on editing the film against his wishes and Penn always maintained that the treatment destroyed the rhythms of some of the scenes. Despite his reservations, it was an extraordinary debut by any standards and still resonates today, thanks to Newman's powerfully complex and touching performance.

The Left Handed Gun clearly signposted Penn's continuing preoccupations – family, father figures, the myths of American history and the contradictions they set up with reality. He was particularly interested in disillusioned outsiders in conflict with society and the law (albeit motivated more by emotion than logic), and their ensuing violence and pain, both of which were conveyed in a deeply sensuous way through the powerful performances Penn consistently drew from his actors.

His films can be seen as vividly allegorical, highlighting the traumas and conflicts of the times through which he and the nation were living. Penn openly admired the French new wave (the influence of directors such as Fran├žois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard can be seen in his use of elliptical narratives and episodic structures) and Elia Kazan.

It was not until 1962 that he made another film, with his third interpretation of The Miracle Worker. Bancroft and Patty Duke won Oscars for their performances and Penn received a nomination for best director. This success was short-lived, however. His Broadway productions of 1962 and 1963 flopped, and only a week or two into shooting The Train, Burt Lancaster, for undisclosed reasons, insisted that he be taken off the film. Penn was always philosophical about this: "From that point they took this $2m film and proceeded to turn it into a $7m fiasco."

In 1965 he made Mickey One, a deeply paranoid noir thriller about a nightclub comedian (Beatty) on the run from mobsters who seems to be seeking punishment for an undefined sin. This was the first film on which Penn had full creative control and, to some extent, this may have proven his downfall. The film, shot in grainy black and white, was a strange mixture of naturalism and existentialism. Penn, who described it as "an allegory of a man's trip through purgatory", also said: "I was really operating on the symbolic and metaphorical level without engagement between audience and screen." The critic Robin Wood observed that the film "gives the impression of reversing Penn's usual method of working. In the other films he starts from the particular and the concrete ... and discovers the universal by a process of exploration. In Mickey One he appears to have started from an abstract conception and tried to impose the concrete on it."

The Chase (1966) was his first film in colour and, despite its problems, was rightly regarded by many as a (near) masterpiece. It perhaps most clearly enunciates Penn's stance on violence: "America is a country where people realise their views in violent ways – we have no tradition of persuasion, idealism or legality." In the film, Sheriff Calder (Marlon Brando) tries to protect an escaped convict, Bubber (Robert Redford), from the mob violence he has stirred up on his return to his home town.

The Chase's portrayal of small-town boredom fostering sexual philandering, racial and class hypocrisy and prejudice and random violence is deeply disturbing and often visually stunning. Penn's ability to give the feel of a wild west town, where the sheriff stands alone against lawlessness (albeit from within the town rather from outside), was impressive. Again, however, the editing was taken out of his control, which resulted in the loss of scenes in which Brando improvised his own dialogue. It has perhaps the most desolate ending of all of his films, none of which end on an optimistic note.

After two films which had been anything but commercially successful, Penn's film career looked bleak, but Beatty rescued it when he persuaded him to direct Bonnie and Clyde. Penn followed that film with Alice's Restaurant (1969), which he also co-wrote, a drama prompted by an Arlo Guthrie song. It was a highly episodic film which, for all its celebration of the protest movement and its rejection of Vietnam, racism and authoritarianism, remained pessimistic.

The Vietnam war clearly informed Penn's next – and greatest – film, Little Big Man (1970). Adapted from Thomas Berger's novel, this wildly comic, profoundly ironic and epic film recounts the memoirs of the 121-year old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman) who survived the massace of his family and was brought up by a Cheyenne tribe. His story is the vehicle by which the traditional history and myths of white men and Native Americans are completly subverted, along with the conventions of the western genre.

Aside from contributing a section (on pole vaulting) to Visions of Eight, a documentary about the 1972 Munich Olympics, Penn took time out until he returned to cinema in 1975 with Night Moves, taking a straight genre script and rewriting it to embody the alienation of contemporary America. This deeply pessimistic film, in which one can almost touch the sense of malaise generated during the Watergate era, is as narratively elusive as any he made.

He had hardly finished Night Moves when he made another film with Brando, The Missouri Breaks (1976), which centres on the violent clashes between ranchers and rustlers in Montana in the 1880s. Brando plays the cold, hired gunman brought in to kill the rustlers; Jack Nicholson is the genial leader of one of the gangs. The film had some wonderful and eccentric moments, but opinion was divided. Penn himself was disappointed with both Night Moves and The Missouri Breaks and he returned to the theatre, directing Sly Fox (1976) and Golda (1977) on Broadway.

From his 1981 movie Four Friends onwards, his film career began to falter. Target (1985), Dead of Winter (1987), and Penn and Teller Get Killed (1989), starring the successful American magicians, suffered from mediocre scripts which clearly failed to ignite Penn's talents. He directed the television film Inside (1998), which dealt with the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and in 2000 became an executive producer on Law and Order, some episodes of which his son Matthew directed. In 2002, after a break of some 20 years, he returned to the New York stage to direct Alan Bates in Fortune's Fool, an adaptation of Ivan Turgenev's A Poor Gentleman, for which Bates won a Tony.

Penn's unrealised projects included an adaptation of George Orwell's Burmese Days; a film on the Attica prison riot in New York; and The Last Cowboy, dealing with the takeover of the ranges by big business agriculture. In his latter years he maintained relationships with the Actors Studio and the Berkshire theatre in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In 2007 he attended the Berlin film festival, which programmed a special tribute to his work.

In 1955 he married the actor Peggy Maurer. She survives him, along with Matthew, a daughter, Molly, and four grandchildren. Irving Penn died in 2009.

• Arthur Hiller Penn, film, theatre and television director, born 27 September 1922; died 28 September 2010

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Monday 27 September 2010

Strange Headlines

Mayonnaise spill causes highway pile-up in Japan

Segway scooter firm owner dies after riding off cliff
The British owner of the firm that makes the Segway scooter died after riding one of the futuristic two-wheeled machines over a cliff and into a river, police said Monday.

But strangest of all: Gazza to manage Garforth Town - which is a real place, not some made-up Billy the Fish team. I wonder if he can persuade Alan Smith and Kevin Nolan to sign...

Another ten great Pre-Raphaelite paintings

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones - The Baleful Head (1886-7). Number eight in the Perseus Cycle inspired by William Morris' The Doom of King Acrisius from The Earthly Paradise where Perseus shows Andromeda the head of the Medusa in the reflection of a well in order to convince her of his divine origins and win her hand in marriage:
"Look down", he said,
"And take good heed thou turnest not thine head."
Then gazing down with shuddering dread and awe,
Over her imaged shoulder, soon she saw
The head rise up, so beautiful and dread,
That, white and ghastly, yet seemed scarcely dead
Beside the image of her own fair face..."

Ford Maddox Brown - Work (1852-65). On the fringes of the Pre-Raphaelite movement rather than a member, Brown was an influence on Rossetti, who he was close to. Work can be seen as a social realist painting centring on figures that represent the different classes of workers in Victorian society in different acts of labour, who are contrasted with middle class idlers, who stand away from the light in the composition.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones - Love Among The Ruins (1894). Its source was Robert Barrett Browning's narrative poem, Love Among the Ruins: "a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair/Waits me there..." Originally painted in as a watercolour in 1873, it was unwittingly destroyed in 1893 by a cleaner, who thought it was an oil painting; Burne-Jones recreated it in oils in 1894. Note the typically highly detailed costumes, especially the folds of the characters' robes, and the depiction of the relief and other stonework.

William Holman Hunt - The Scapegoat (1854-6) Portraying the 'scapegoat' in the Book of Leviticus, this painting was started on the Dead Sea during Hunt's first trip to the Holy Land. While studying the almud, he learned that "on the Festival of the Day of Atonement, a goat was ejected from the temple with a scarlet piece of woolen cloth on its head. It was goaded and driven, either to death or into the wilderness, carrying with it the sins of the congregation. It was believed that if these sins were forgiven the scarlet cloth would turn white. Hunt regarded the Old Testament scapegoat as a prefigurement of the New Testament Christ whose suffering and death similarly expunged man's sins."

In Leviticus the goat is said to "bear the iniquities into a land that was not inhabited. Hunt chose to set his goat in a landscape of quite hideous desolation - it is the shore of the Dead Sea at Oosdoom with the mountains of Edom in the distance." (

On the desolate yet strangely luminous landscape, Hunt commented: "Never was so extraordinary a scene of beautifully arranged horrible wilderness. It is black, full of asphalte scum and in the hand slimy, and smarting as a sting — No one can stand and say that it is not accursed of God."

Two versions exist; this is the one in Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight; the other, darker painting, is in the collection of Manchester City Art Gallery.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - The Day Dream (1880). The artist shows a "beautiful woman as sex object, blurring distinctions between the aesthetic and erotic. The model was William Morris' wife, Jane, described by Henry James as 'guiltless of hoops' (meaning she daringly used neither supports nor stays leaving her voluptuous curves explicit). The imagery is as explicit as her body: in an unambiguously erotic gesture with the honeysuckle, she encourages sap to rise. Inspired by a Tennyson poem - "Her full black ringlets downward roll'd" - Rossetti wrote a sonnet of his own on the frame. His vocabulary suggests a ripe sexuality: "nursed in mellow intercourse", "sheathed", "tongues", "buds". Tennyson had written, "Beyond the night, across the day/Thro' all the world she followed him"."

William Bell Scott - Iron and Coal (1855-60) In 1844, Scott was appointed master of the government school of design at Newcastle-on-Tyne and he held the post for twenty years. This, a rare Pre-Raphaelite painting to wholeheartedly celebrate industry and look to the future (perhaps represented by the little girl looking out of the painting), is one of eight paintings depicting the history of Northumbria completed as part of a frieze at Wallington Hall in Northumberland. If you look none too carefully at the actual painting, you can see where he's altered the angle of the worker's arm.

William Holman Hunt - The Awakening Conscience (1853): the mistress, surrounded by signs of her wasted life and 'kept' woman status, rises from the man's lap and suddenly sees the light. Of more relevance to the FNB, it's also the cover art of Loudon Wainwright's rather good album More Love Songs (avoid the CD version that contains The Acid Song) and on my copy, I have the Great Man's autograph.

John Everett Millais - Mariana in the Moated Grange (1851).
"She only said, 'My life is dreary,
He cometh not,' she said;
She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!'

Tennyson's Mariana (1830)

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones - The Golden Stairs (worked on from 1876 and finished in1880). The first of Burne-Jones' large scale works. Is it purely decorative with the emphasis on composition and design or does it have some deep meaning? It's your call. I like it.

William Holman Hunt - Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1868). Note the way she drapes herself over the pot, reflecting Keats' lines that she "hung over her sweet Basil evermore,/And moistened it with tears unto the core." On display at Newcastle's Laing Art Gallery, of course, where you can marvel in peace (because it's usually empty) at the detail on the embroidered cloth, the way Hunt has portrayed the different textures and the fluidity with which he painted her toes!

Sunday 26 September 2010

Letters to Monica

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
by Anthony Thwaite, Philip Larkin

Hardback: 496 pages

Philip Larkin met Monica Jones at University College Leicester in autumn 1946, when they were both twenty-four; he was the newly-appointed assistant librarian and she was an English lecturer. In 1950 Larkin moved to Belfast, and thence to Hull, while Monica remained in Leicester, becoming by turns his correspondent, lover and closest confidante, in a relationship which lasted over forty years until the poet's death in 1985. This remarkable unpublished correspondence only came to light after Monica Jones' death in 2001, and consists of nearly two thousand letters, postcards and telegrams, which chronicle - day by day, sometimes hour by hour - every aspect of Larkin's life and the convolutions of their relationship.

Published: 21/10/2010

Publisher: Faber and Faber

ISBN: 9780571239092

Saturday 25 September 2010

Salinger in the Saturday Evening Post

Short Stories by J. D. Salinger

By Jeff Nilsson

Five of J. D. Salinger’s short stories appeared the Post in 1944 and ’45: “The Varoni Brothers”, “Both Parties Concerned”, “Last Day of the Last Furlough”, a “Soft-Boiled Sergeant,” and “A Boy in France,” which will appear in the July/August 2010 edition of The Saturday Evening Post.

In the April, 1944, issue in which “Soft-Boiled Sargeant” appeared, the Post included this small vignette about the early life of the famous, highly talented, and reclusive writer.

A Thin Slice of College

J D. Salinger at the ripe-on-the-bough old age of twenty-five regards himself as the dean of college failures, having been in the freshman class of three colleges but never having quite got into a sophomore class. The apparent reason for this was an allergy to elm trees and ivy.

Mr. Salinger finally overcame his aversion to academy life long enough to take a short-story course at Columbia under Whit Burnett, editor of Story, who published a story of Mr. Salinger’s in his magazine four years ago.

Previous to that successful foray into education, Mr. Salinger had breezed through the grammar schools of his native Manhattan and the Valley Forge Military Academy. He went to Europe at the age of eighteen to learn the Polish ham business from the sty up, and actually spent two months at Bydgoszcz (Polish pigs are fed a daily ration of szcz mixed with a little wcyz), where he helped slaughter pigs and drove by wagon through the snow with a big slaughter master who amused himself between slaughters by popping with his shotgun at sparrows, light bulbs and fellow employees. Both before and after this tenuous apprenticeship, young Mr. Salinger spent his time in Vienna. All of this was, of course, prewar.

Mr. Salinger now has the same number of stripes on his sleeve as his soft-boiled sergeant.

Soft-Boiled Sergeant by J. D. Salinger:

Blast from the Past


A couple of years ago. I saw them on ths tour and they put on a great show - against all my expecations. The other hats at the front are the 'lost' Beach Boy David Marks, Bruce Johnston and, at the right, Mike's son, Christian.

Mike unplugged and Bruce sporting a great 'do (1970/71?).

Thursday 23 September 2010

Friday Night

I'd be all for going back to the Central, Duke etc. Give Ian and Dave a chance to try it out. Might even get there earlier! Alternatively, there's always Fitzgeralds...


...drawing a centaur with a torch