Adam Ash

Your daily entertainment scout. Whatever is happening out there, you'll find the best writing about it in here.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Is surfing the Net better than sex?

I woke up alone this morning, so I click onto a favorite litblog Maudnewton, and read about the Bulwer-Lytton winner of the worst first sentence of an imagined novel. Which sends me hurtling to google the site itself, where I read the winning entries, as well as past winners.

Two samples:
"The countdown had stalled at T minus 69 seconds when Desiree, the first female ape to go up in space, winked at me slyly and pouted her thick, rubbery lips unmistakably--the first of many such advances during what would prove to be the longest, and most memorable, space voyage of my career." (1985 Winner)

"The lovely woman-child Kaa was mercilessly chained to the cruel post of the warrior-chief Beast, with his barbarous tribe now stacking wood at her nubile feet, when the strong, clear voice of the poetic and heroic Handsomas roared, "Flick your Bic, crisp that chick, and you'll feel my steel through your last meal." (1984 Winner)

Then I click on NY Times, where an article about film director Sergio Leone gets me to thinking that his films are some of my all-time favorites, although I'd never have thought of putting him on any Great Directors List (my usual suspects are Bergman, Godard, Truffaut, Fellini, Welles, Bunuel). So I wonder why not, and I think about old Sergio's particular greatnesses -- those grungy face closeups half-blotting out vast sun-drenched landscapes, the slowing-down of climactic time in the final shootouts, the brilliance of casting the most original film composer, Morricone, and the most charismatic leading man, laconic Clint Eastwood, with the amazing Lee Van Cleef -- and I google old Sergio, and now I'm inspired to write an article about him, and then I think of my favorite director, Ingmar Bergman, and his favorite film of mine, Persona, and then I think, hey, what are the absolute touchstones of art in my life? and now I'm about to list them right here, because I'm thinking of them now: Matisse (about 6 or 7 paintings), Bergman (Persona, Cries and Whispers, The Silence, The Shame, Seventh Seal, Scenes from a Marriage), George Elliot's Middlemarch, Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Pink Floyd's early instrumental albums, Klaus Schultze ...

It occurs to me that being on line, and being able to google, is like having a right arm for your brain, or the wind under it, or wings to fly thought on, or having your most useless, vacuous daydreaming suddenly hyperpowered.

Look what can happen to you one morning in your apartment: you end up in front of your screen contemplating your favorite works of art, and see where I've beached: I get hit as I'm writing, in real time, by this final stillpoint of a morning's webmusing: a meme for you guys, the My-Twelve-Favorite-Works-of-Art meme, that you can email to friends, with my own answers to set you thinking about your answers:

What is your favorite ...
1. film?
Bergman's Persona (runners-up: Spinal Tap, Some Like It Hot, The Mummy and the Whore, four other Bergmans, Andrei Rublev, Jules et Jim, Bertolucci's 1900, A Woman under the Influence, Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Chimes at Midnight)
2. novel?
George Elliot's Middlemarch (runners-up: One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Red and the Black, Cousin Bette, The Great Gatsby, Par Lagerkwist's The Dwarf, Lolita, Nostromo, The Golden Notebook, House of Mirth, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Love in the Time of Cholera, Midnight’s Children, Vanity Fair, Sons and Lovers, J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, Lucky Jim, Waugh's A Handful of Dust, any P.G. Wodehouse)
3. play?
Hamlet (runners-up: A Streetcar Named Desire, King Lear, Long Day's Journey into Night, A Delicate Balance, Buried Child, Waiting for Godot, The Odd Couple, The Bald Primadonna)
4. painting?
Matisse's Red Studio (runners-up: at least seven others of Matisse, and maybe five Rothkos)
5. poem?
The Wasteland (runners-up: Ode to Autumn/Grecian Urn, Duino Elegies, Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens, Lowell's To The Confederate Dead, at least four by Yeats, especially Sailing to Byzantium)
5. song?
Phil's Spector's Righteous Brothers' Alex North's Unchained Melody (runners-up: Beatles' A Day in the Life, Julie London's Cry me a River, Mahalia Jackson's He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, Willie Nelson's Always On My Mind and his Stardust, Bridge over Troubled Water, Gimme Shelter, Hotel California, George Michaels' Careless Whisper/Never Gonna Dance Again, Elvis' One Night With You, Whiter Shade of Pale, I'll Be There, Dylan's Lay Lady Lay and I Shall Be Released, sorry, they beat his Like a Rolling Stone hands down)
6. album?
Van Morrison's Astral Weeks (runners-up: Blood on the Tracks, Sgt Peppers, Pet Sounds, Dark Side of the Moon)
7. musical?
Sweeney Todd (runner-up: My Fair Lady)
8. symphony?
don't know (Beethoven's 5th? Finlandia? something by Arvo Pert? John Corigliano's Of Rage and Remembrance?)
9. piano concert?
Tchaikovsky Piano Concert 1, 2 or 3, I forget which one (runners-up: Grieg, Rachmaninov)
10. sculpture?
don't know, maybe any big Henry Moore
11. building?
Frank Gehry's Bilbao Museum
12. book of criticism?
Susan Sontag's Against Interpretation (runnners-up: Pauline Kael's I Lost It at the Movies, Inga Clendinnen's Reading the Holocaust, Edmund Wilson's Axel's Castle)

I've actually listed them in descending order of favorites (i.e. I think Persona is heavier than Middlemarch, which is a greater favorite than Hamlet, if you can believe it. Does that mean I prefer films to novels? No, novels are my favorite art, and I prefer plays and poems to movies.) This listing of favorites into a favorite order was maybe what I thought would be very hard, too many apples and oranges, but it turned out to be incredibly easy -- took only seconds.

Over to you. What is your favorite film, song, album, novel, etc? (You can leave out those that don't interest you.)

Anyone's meme list that's riveting/stimulating/controversial, I'll pull out of comments and blog for all to see, with a link to your blog if you have one.


At 8/02/2005 11:44 AM, Anonymous Maven said...

Hmmm, I don't know many other people in this world who cite Middlemarch as a favorite book (Lucky Jim is also on my short list) and Careless Whisper as a favorite song. I breezed over here from Tiny Cat Pants and will be back, based solely on the aforementioned details, because, you know, it's what you like that's important.

At 8/03/2005 1:40 PM, Blogger Adam said...

Welcome, Maven. See you around.


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