Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Greenberg



影界神童兼名门之后 Noah Baumbach 前两年的作品。之前的 The Squid and The Whale 我也没看过,这部看看介绍还算稍微吸引我一点。

呃,前半小时之内就让我觉得似曾相识,很快就联想到 Steve Martin 的小说和改编电影 Shopgirl。 充满了 self-conscious 的美国学院派文学作品的腔调: a self-absorbed, neurotic, middle-class, middle-aged male intellectual 闹中年危机且发现自己内心新生命的过程。好新奇么? Baumbach 自己还郑重地在 DVD 里承认,要拍的就是一部 American novel 这样的小说,象 Philip Roth。上帝啊,还 Philip Roth 呢,拜托哦,随手往某个大学文学系里扔块石头就能砸到半打这样的中年男人写这样的严肃文学,并且每周在大学写作课上教 Jame Franco 这种学生写这种 character-driven 现代小说。

Ben Stiller 演的男主角刚过四十岁,跟 Baumbach 一样年纪(拍这片儿的时候他39岁,大约跟女人29时一样有例行的危机感),而且满口吐出的都是 intellectuals 喜欢说的词儿,动不动就引用一句 Gatsby 什么的。搞笑的是男主的职业设定是失败的摇滚乐手改行做木匠,我噗哧一声就笑了出来: 摇滚歌星泡妞最拿手,是纳德男生集体嫉妒对象,而念书过度的学院派最喜欢想象自己其实有动手天赋,越是职业站在一边儿评论别人的评论家,内心越是对真正创造出东西的类型嫉妒得死脱。这一切都太合乎逻辑了,太合乎白日梦的逻辑了,真是毫无悬念。

(Baumbach 的爹是文学家,写小说和评论的,Noah 自己也写影评来着。)

跟 Shopgirl 的另一类似之处是,给自恋自怜的男主角提供人性的温暖,令他冰冷的心解冻的女主角又年轻又弱智,经常乐呵呵地被无良男人使用欺骗。虽然别人都嫌弃男主(这人的确挺讨嫌),她却一眼看出他的柔弱和需要,并且敬佩他的智慧,爱上了他,勇往直前地追求他,被伤害也不记恨。又要年轻好看,又不能太出众(太美了会威胁到纳德男的自信),又要有大地母亲的气质,啊,Greta Gerwig 正合适,连说话都要大着舌头,吐字不清。最关键的特质是要善良和傻(也许二者根本是一回事),必须笨笨的才能用爱慕的眼光仰视男主,永远不会威胁到他的脆弱的自尊。

一个有趣的现象是,要写善良愚蠢的女主,这个故事得放到洛杉矶来讲,不能放在纽约市,因为人人都知道洛杉矶充满了胸大无脑的金发美女,而纽约女郎个个见多识广强悍赛过母老虎,能把脆弱的知识分子中年男给一口吞了,太可怕,决不能碰。

所以,如果想套到大学文学教授、知识分子型的中年男,或者文艺评论男,女生一定要趁年轻,而且一定要凸显自己的愚蠢,强烈夸大自己的温顺性格,还要时刻准备着扮他的妈咪,无限耐心呵护,就一定可以百发百中。

Shopgirl 比 Greenberg 还强一些,也许因为 Steve Martin 比 Baumbach 年纪大些,见识多些,自我认识清醒些。

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pure



这片儿一开头就直接告诉观众,女主角是个不良少女,家贫而气盛,经常跟人打架,也没有什么文化,但是,在 YouTube 上,她发现了莫扎特,惊为天籁,对音乐的直觉热爱改变了她的人生轨迹。

一定是个音乐励志片喽,我坐等电影往这个方向发展。开头还挺符合励志片的套路,Katarina 殴打顾客而被解雇,跟吸毒的妈妈吵翻,但是在城里的音乐厅连蒙带骗地找到接待员工作,开始在“体面人”之间做事,而且常常能免费听热爱的古典音乐,人生似乎走上了轨道。

一个毫无音乐背景或教育的女生,突然狂热地爱上了音乐,并且接触到专业人士。Katarina 努力干活,博得了大家的尊重,而她的狂野气质和对音乐的天然领悟吸引了乐团的一把手,名指挥,一个文艺而高等的中年男人的注意。他跟她调情,逗她开心;而她对他充满仰慕崇拜,明知他有老婆也无所谓,因为他是音乐的化身,如此成熟、神秘、完美。嗯哼哼,我越看越咧大了嘴,不知该吃惊还是该大笑 --- 为啥这情节如此眼熟涅? 哈哈。

然后,指挥家开始给女孩子看高深的哲学励志书,引用一些文艺兮兮的警句,拿出勾引大学女生的那一套,我就知道前景不妙。果然,没多久指挥家就把无知女生给甩了,象丢弃一团废纸般。Katarina 低声下气地哀求有文化有地位的中发白不要抛弃自己。当然事情越来越糟,名指挥大笔一挥把小小的接待员给开除了,这时候女孩子的男友发现了他们的奸情,把她踢出门。没工作没钱每人收留,观众都知道 Katarina 是将爆的锅炉 ...

影片中大部分情节其实十分老旧,社会地位和人生经验和经济条件都高人一等的中年男勾引一无所有的的纯洁穷女孩,然后始乱终弃,让穷女孩有冤无处诉。Blah, blah, blah. 哼,我觉得我编的情节虽然也很弱智,比编导 Lisa Langseth 倒还强一点点,至少,我写的音乐家老男人无需引用现代朦胧诗引诱无知少女。影片的结尾尤其,呃,不敢恭维,留下了一卡车没解决的 ethical problems。

Alicia Vikander 演倔强暴烈的不良少女,眼神十分intense,一看就是个定时炸弹,因而获得了瑞典的学院奖(最佳女主角)。这个角色跟龙纹身女孩 Lisbeth Salander 颇有相似之处,让人产生“怎么瑞典的女孩子都这么野蛮啊?”的疑问。

一个很有趣的细节,剧中社工对不良少女说:你们郊区孩子如何如何。言下之意,住在城里的都是有钱有势的上等人,住在郊区的是蓝领家庭、出路有限的底层劳动人民。跟美国正相反。

Monday, April 25, 2011

Live Broadcast

早睡早起身体好!

Wednesday, April 27
5:30 a.m.: Men's short program
11:30 a.m.: Pairs short program

Thursday, April 28
5:00 a.m.: Men's free skate
10:00 a.m.: Pairs free skate

Friday, April 29
5:30 a.m.: Ladies short program
10:30 a.m.: Short dance

Saturday, April 30
5:30 a.m.: Ladies free skate
10:30 a.m.: Free dance

Sunday, April 24, 2011

After the Game

It was six o'clock on a Saturday afternoon. I came out of the Starbucks at the corner of I and 7th to meet a friend outside of the Chinatown Metro station. The streets were flooded with hockey fans in red shirts, who were just getting out of the Verizon Center in which the local team, the Capitals, had played and apparently won.

A group of five or six young men walking in front of me were laughing and shoving each other. One of them turned around and began yelling into the street, "C-A-P-I," something of a chant. A few young men joined the chanting from across the street. A car blared its horn in response. Then a couple more horns blared in agreement from the street. Within seconds, the entire block was chanting rhythmically, which sent a chill down my spine. I kept my eyes on the ground as I passed the cluster of young men on the sidewalk, faces red, drunk with a collectively high.

I quickened my steps while hunching my shoulders, unconsciously trying to make myself smaller and preferably invisible. Suddenly, a bottle shattered somewhere, the splattering shards of noise caught people by surprise; for a second or two a disoriented silence hung in the air. A hoarse scream close behind me made me jump; it was echoed by someone yelling, which was far away and confused. I quickly scurried off H Street into a quieter side alley. A couple of short but piercing sirens seemed to douse any brewing trouble.

Now surrounded by shabby fronts of Chinese restaurants and shops and few people, I slowed my feet and my heart rate. My cheeks felt numb, as they always do whenever I get swept up, always by accident, in a crowd. Crowds are somewhat difficult to avoid in the city, as people from around the country often rush to the capital, especially the National Mall, to demonstrate for their various grievances against the government or against their fellow humans.

Although I was born after the national craze of the Red Guards, engineered by Mao, and never actually witnessed their destructive force, the fear had been instilled in me --- the fear of being trampled by a large number of people gathered together, their mood and emotions rapidly synchronized into a high pitch of hysteria, trembling with a blind and all-consuming passion to become one with a thousand others, to disappear into the raging mass.

Death Without Company



彻底粉上了 Craig Johnson。无论怎么细细慢慢地读,第二本 Walt Longmire 小说又没拖完一星期就读完了。

There is something Raymond Chandler in Johnson's prose. Smooth as fresh country butter, and just as delicious.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Frankenstein (NT Live)



The live broadcast from the British National Theatre of Frankenstein (directed by Danny Boyle, starring Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch) confirmed two things I had always suspected.

The first, watching theater performance on screen, even if it has been recorded live, can never feel the same as watching real people acting on stage. There is something irreplaceably intimate about watching actors breathing in your face, spittle flying. The brain can be fooled to shorten the distance between the audience and the onscreen actors, but not completely.

On the other hand, it was certainly cheaper and easier than flying to London to watch the play at the NT.

The novel Frankenstein I read (attempted to read?) years ago and have always thought overrated. I suspect my lack of appreciation for its significance is rooted in my non-Judeo-Christian upbringing. Someone creates a living being out of dead components. So? The premise fails to arouse the instinctive and deep horror that stirs in the hearts of people with a proper Christian teaching from infancy.

The sacrilegious abomination committed by Victor Frankenstein is "to play God." Ever since Mary's little story captivated the imagination and righteous horror of the western world, every time a biologist or medical researcher has the good fortune of getting his name in the news, he runs the risk of being accused of this horror. Practical and complicated ethical debates about reproductive science and genetics are often dismissed with a simple "don't play God." Is that reason enough to cut off any further thinking or discussion about life science?

But I must admit one of the lessons of Frankenstein is still valid --- One is responsible for his creation. In other words, clean up your own crap. You can't just create a pile of garbage and leave it to stink up the whole neighborhood. If you break it, you've bought it. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have taken this message to heart.

In the play, as the novel, the Creature provokes the most sympathy, for he did not ask to be born or to be abandoned into the cruelty of humanity. His revenge on his creator and humanity is justified. Frankenstein, although labeled sympathetically by Mary Shelly as the "modern Prometheus," comes out as a jerk and a dork. He is grandiose and ineffective, with an IQ of a genius and the emotional intelligence of a door knob. He is the original socially crippled geek --- and not the harmless, lovable kind.

Putting aside the issue of when it's OK to play God and when it's not, the tragedy of Frankenstein's Creature is really caused by the unfortunate fact that he is ugly. If only Mr. Frankenstein has had even a rudimentary sense of aesthetics, the story would have come out totally different. Alas, like the stereotypical geek and male scientist, Frankenstein is blind to the importance of beauty. If only his Creature was pretty, he would have been adored and worshiped and assumed to be morally perfect by every human he encounters, rather than being persecuted and shunned and feared.

Therefore, in the end, the play confirms my second suspicion --- The central theme of Frankenstein, which is also the real reason that it resonates with our perception of the world, is that the fundamental difference between comedy and tragedy is merely cosmetic.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gaugin Exhibition @ NGA






I've got to get my butt over to the National Gallery of Art before June 5! No excuses.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Currently Reading

Daniel Deronda (78%). Still slugging away at this one. Actually it is quite riveting, especially the mother-son face-off scenes; they give me the chills. Once finished with this novel, I want to start on either Middlemarch or Mills on the Floss.

Just started on Death Without Company by Craig Johnson, the second book in the Walt Longmire series, from the library, of course.

FilmFest DC: Home for Christmas

哇哇哇,看到最后就哭了。讨厌。这个 Bent Hamer 总是拍这种 eccentric tragi-comedy。 昨晚还拖了S同学一起去看,结果就碰上这种感伤主义的片子。

基本上跟Love, Actually这种圣诞贺岁片(香港贺岁片也差不多)属于同一类型,很多个小故事和人物混合穿插起来,最后大家热热闹闹欢欢喜喜地结束一年的恩怨。不过Home for Christmas是典型的北欧片儿,所以里面不少幽默是墨墨黑的,荒谬无奈的,而不是让人放心和安全和甜蜜蜜的那种 --- 不过前者的变调正是我偏爱的类型。

之前看过 Hamer 的作品 O'Horten 和 Kitchen Stories。除了悲喜交集的温情故事之外,他的一大特长是运用动作表演和镜头技巧讲故事。在 Home for Christmas 里,对话被精简到最少,惜墨如金,能不开口的地方绝不开口!在观众身上起到的效果作用几乎全部依赖场景段落的剪辑组织,有默片的遗风。

在西班牙和意大利电影里大多是从头到尾呱啦呱啦的对话,跟北欧片的沉默寡言风格正相反。并不是说默片型比较高明,拍得好,两种类型的极端都能很好,而是说南北人民的性格差别在电影风格里得到反映。

Friday, April 15, 2011

Whim



最近忽然很喜欢玫瑰香气的日常用品。以前也很喜欢,但是不容易找到玫瑰香气的东西,也没特别去找。这个星期心血来潮去 Crabtree & Evelyn 买了玫瑰味儿的 shower gel 和 body lotion。今天在 Bed Bath & Beyond 买被套的时候又闻到玫瑰气味,发现在卖各种花香包,买了一袋 Rose Garden 放在卧室里。

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Engineer

给S同学看完了Kindle上的Neal Asher小说之后,我说有空我也看一眼,他说那篇不是特别好看,然后塞给我一本“好看”的故事。这是 Asher 早期的中篇小说 "The Engineer"。讲未来地球宇航员在太空“捡起”了一个冷冻五百年的古代先进生物 Jain,现在 Jain 类生物早已灭绝,只剩下这个活化石。活化石复苏之后,立刻表现出比未来人类还要高明很多倍的先进技术: nano-engineering。这个章鱼样的动物可以用原子作为材料,制造出任何东西,所以叫做 engineer。昨晚看完了。

本来这么神秘的生物,硕果仅存,我把它想象得很神奇,结果小说后半部分迅速蜕变成 action + horror 类型,一群人类和另一群人类互相扫射、打斗、爆炸等等情节。我耐着性子看完了还给S 同学,他跟我进行了一大通关于 nanotechnology 的辩论,说是在原子程度操纵和制造任何物质是科学的终极高度云云,其实我对 nanotechnology 一点也不懂,十年前胡乱地看过两篇这方面的科普文章,零碎记得一点,就跟他胡搅蛮缠地瞎争了半天。实际上,我的不满是针对小说的 ---- 这么高级的生物,这么神奇的技术,最后的结果就是制造出一些“仿人”动物来帮着一边打败另一边人类,把“坏人”的脑袋揪下来, literally,太失望了。

那么无比先进的外星智慧生物应该是怎样的举止呢?我哪儿知道啊。看来看去只有 Arthur Clarke 的神秘主义最恰当最经典:行事以三,无法破解 (Rendezvous with Rama)。

FilmFest DC: A Rational Solution

昨晚在城里看的,演瓦兰德的胖子 Rolf Larsgard 主演的。这是一部专拍演员的 reactions 的片儿,看样子。

两部瑞典片子看下来,感想是瑞典人咋这么能忍啊,忍功直追中国人。很难想象西班牙电影里有那么多忍到内伤的人物和情节。

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Filmfest DC: Pure

昨晚去看的瑞典电影,记一笔。剧情对我来说尤其 ... hehehe.

本来打算看完这一场再看下一场的Happy,Happy,没想到8:30票子早卖光了,遗憾。

Turkey, Jazz, Washington DC

大西洋唱片公司 (Atlantic Records),即使非音乐迷多半也有所耳闻。昨日听到一支八卦,才知道公司背后的一点有趣的历史。

1930年代,土耳其派驻美国的大使带了家属住到首都华盛顿的大使馆官宅,大使的两个儿子Ahmet & Nesuhi Ertegun 之前已经疯狂地迷上了 jazz,来到美国的时候以为遍地都是 jazz music。Ahmet 后来说,他刚到DC时跑到大使馆附近音乐店里找唱片,发现店里卖的是清一色闷死人的白人音乐,又失望又疑惑:在欧洲听到的 Louis Armstrong 等人的音乐唱片怎么在美国却没有卖呢?这时候遇到一个小老太,悄悄跟他说,我知道你在找什么音乐,在这里没有卖的,你得去T街那边黑人街坊的店里去买。 他去了,挖,发现的不仅是卖jazz唱片的商店,而且有jazz音乐家表演的场所,剧院。他跟哥哥于是结识了很多仰慕已久的音乐家和乐队,开始请他们周末下午到土耳其大使馆来 jam。于是,在土耳其大使馆里,每星期日下午都有十分小型的 jazz jam sessions,音乐家不拘肤色。听众人数甚少,只是大使家人与美国友人而已,但个个都是疯狂的jazz迷,气氛十分亲密。

Ertegun 兄弟请到不少最有名的乐人,包括 Duke Ellington 乐队,Benny Goodman 乐队,Lester Young, Sidney Bechet 等 jazz 音乐史上的鼎鼎大名。当时在美国的土地上,黑白音乐家不可同台演出,法律规定加人民拥护的种族隔离政策,黑人到高级旅馆里给白人听众演出必须从仆人的后门进出。Bix Beiderbecke 不能跟偶像 Louis Armstrong 同台演出,只能在俱乐部表演之后,关起门来私下 jam。但是在这一小片土耳其地面上,黑白音乐家得以合作,是当时在美国本土罕有的 integrated 音乐表演。

当时有个美国议员给土耳其大使写信抱怨:我经常路过你们大使馆门前,总能看到有黑人从前门进进出出,不成体统。你知不知道,在我们国家,黑人只能从后门进出,怎能跟白人同用前门,堂皇出入?大使礼貌地回信答道:我们的风俗与贵国有异,进门都是客,一律礼待。您看见的没错,的确常有黑人音乐家在我们的前门出入,都是我的客人朋友。如果您有意拜访在下,欢迎从后门出入。

上面这段轶事,是我过去就听说的华盛顿本地传奇。但我却不知道,Ahmet 一生都跟 jazz 结缘,家人回土耳其之后,他和哥哥留在美国念书,然后跟友人Herb Abramson (看名字象犹太人)合开了大西洋唱片公司。大西洋唱片公司录制发行了巨多各种各样的美国音乐,从jazz和 blues到一脉相承的 R&B, soul, 和 Rock 'n Roll,以及流行乐(pop),产品无数,是美国现代音乐史上极重要的角色。Ahmet 自己也写过不少音乐曲子,并且当过 Rock & Roll 名人堂的主席!好神奇呀。

流行音乐在1960-1970年代的种族民权运动中有微妙但重要的作用,我不能不疑心 Ahmet 早年在大使馆里跟黑白音乐家接触的经历和他的非美国背景对他的人生轨迹乃至美国的艺术文化历史有不可言喻但无法磨灭的影响。

Monday, April 11, 2011

Your Smile



Again and again, Alissa touches me deeply, although I'm not quite sure why.

贴一个冰迷自己剪的视频

食面党



这星期出于客观原因不得不天天吃中餐,晚饭尤其单调,几乎总是米饭青菜,可把我给憋坏了。还好明天开始又可以胡乱吃各种非中餐了。想想参加治疗试验的多动症儿童只得吃米饭,蔬菜,肉类蛋白质,真可怜。自己吃了一星期米饭,也没觉得注意力有什么增加,可见平时的ADD倾向跟食物过敏毫无关联。

虽然父母二人都是祖籍南方,习惯且偏爱米饭,但在北方生活多年,也学会了做面食。不知为什么,我就偏爱面食,跟父母住一起的时候还经常随着他们吃饭,不过吃面饼和饺子之类的时候胃口特别好。一旦开始自己喂自己的生活就迅速蜕变成面食主义者,米饭大约一星期煮一两次而已。平时一周不吃米饭不会想念,但是淀粉必须天天有,面食是让我无法抗拒的。偏爱面食,不知道是不是因为小麦做出来的食物香气比稻米食物强烈,包子/馒头,面包,还有(特别是)面饼,新鲜出锅出炉的时候都有明显的香气,而米饭就没那么香,比较neutral。

按照不止一个现代营养学流派(Paleolithic diet算是之一),农业时代发展出的食物跟人体系统“磨合”事件太短,容易引发免疫系统过度反应,导致各种消化道和内分泌的问题。小麦和牛奶是主要的“罪魁祸首”,貌似稻米还好一点,而“古代”食物,如肉类和果子,人类进化中适应时间长,“契合度”比较高,就比较安全。我对这个理论不是非常买账,因为很多现代食物的出现其实在历史上都很晚,例如玉米,例如辣椒,例如巧克力(!),对之产生免疫反应的数目并不很高。自免疫变现在越来越常见,免疫系统紊乱而攻击自己的病例在人群中越来越高,我总是疑心与现代生活里的某些未知因素有关系,至少有非食物因素激发或促进了食物过敏的反应。

一个同事在二十几岁的时候忽然得了一类糖尿病,再过几年开始对麸蛋白 (gluten) 发生敏感反应,吃了含有 gluten 的东西就会腹痛腹泻,不得不戒掉所有含 gluten 的食物,当然所有的麦制品都不能吃。她有时自诩意志坚强,以前爱吃的东西现在都严格地戒掉了,且说有不少 gluten allergy 患者忍受不了 gluten-free diet,拼着肚子难受也要不时满足一下口腹之欲。我心想自己就是后一种人,为增进健康而限制食物种类,恐怕很难做到,多半会自暴自弃,只是运气比较好没有食物过敏症而已(敲敲木头)。

当维持生命不成问题之后,食物的作用就变得暧昧起来。限制食物种类的摄取真的能增进健康?此类理论在美国就是billion-dollar industry,极其风行,但是我对此持强烈的怀疑态度。为了更健康而吃饭还是为了快感而吃饭,在某种意义上看是一个 instant vs. delayed gratification 的问题,相信不同的人有不同的倾向,不过在我看来(对于没有食物过敏症的人来说)这个 instant gratification 是实打实没问题的,而 delayed gratification,即“不吃XX就永远健康美丽聪明长生不老”的许诺,至今还虚幻得很。

所以,明天要好好地放纵一下自己,到土耳其饭馆去大嚼面饼!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FilmFest DC

下周开始在城里的几个艺术院线放映各国电影。今年有好几个北欧影片应邀出现,甚至有一部是 Greenland 出品的。我打算去看几部,虽然影院有点远,交通也不太方便。

http://www.filmfestdc.org

还有一部法国片Queen of Play, Corsica 岛上取景,男主 Kevin Kline 在里面说法语。虽然从 trailer 上看发音比较生硬,但是在美国演员里已经实属罕见。

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

世界锦标赛

折腾了半天,世锦赛改到莫斯科举行,推迟一个月,四月最后一星期举行。上个月有好几个国家地区申请举办改期的世锦赛,俄国玩政治,冰协贪财,事前我已猜到会落入莫斯科手中。说实话真让人心烦,这年头我的政治触角如此敏锐,还不是拜工作所赐,花样滑冰里也成天搞政治,看样子得等2014年俄国办完冬奥会占尽便宜之后大家才能消停点。

不过,说来说去,推迟和便宜俄国,总比彻底取消好一点。别人我也不认识,没什么感觉和特别的支持,只是美国队的参赛者里好几位是我追着看了好几年的,不免多一点关心和私心。女单里的Alissa Czisny,全部男单,冰舞里的Meryl Davis & Charlie White,一鸣惊人的 Shibutani 兄妹,各有让我牵挂的理由。尤其是男单三个人,一个是差点退役的“老”大哥,两个是从未参加过世锦赛的小弟弟,都是很想很想去参加比赛的,有这个机会都十分渴望。祝大家好运。



Ricky Dornbush



Ross Miner

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Troubled Man

今晚看完了。

其实对于熟悉作者的读者来说,谜底并不难猜。不过这个过程还是挺享受的。故事中的中心情节据说是完全建立在真实事件上的。

里面很多段落是对瓦兰德这个人的总结,盖棺定论。也有很三屉馒头的部分。我很生气他最后不留余地地写出来瓦兰德的下场:Alzheimer's disease。简直比 Reichenbach Falls 还狠。

很遗憾的地方是,这本又是 Laurie Thompson 翻译的。瓦兰德系列至今有三个翻译,另外两个都比 Thompson 好很多,尤其是之一瑞典人 Ebba Serberg,一方面英文流畅舒服,一方面又保持了原作的风格和态度。Laurie Thompson 自己是英国人,翻出来的英文极其生硬笨拙,而且有时候会乱翻一些习惯词,例如 "the security service people of the armed forces",什么呀,不就是 military intelligence 嘛。而且并非英国和美国英语的差别,因为两边都用MI这个说法。

The Longest Year: Smirking ...

... at all the wrong places.

The boss had been absent for months since complications began to pile up. In the first week of spring she went to Vienna for an international conference to give a talk. Spending a week in Vienna and Prague was the best remedy for the sound and furies on her frayed nerves. She came back with renewed energy and attended the first team meeting in a long time. She felt an additional motivation to run the team meeting yet again, because she had just gained a new subordinate on the team, one who had not been dragged down by all the lethargy and negativity permeating the team for a long time. To top off the fun, the new subordinate was the first male under her in several years, albeit he was obviously gay.

As the boss gave decisive, spunky speeches and orders, I caught myself smiling at all the wrong place and forced myself to pretend scribbling notes and repress the bubbling amusement. For the new guy's benefit, she recounted the origin of her team's current major project and, in turn, the source of the budget for his position, so that he would appreciate the importance of this project.

A couple of years ago, the big, big boss, the head of the "center," was irritated by the sorry state of drug information officially put out by the organization. The boss did not explain why, but it was probably triggered by someone's direct challenge to the head's competency which made her lose face. So the head slammed her fist on a couple of tables and set a couple of eager puppets loose to chop off a few heads. Upon the first sign of trouble/opportunity, two separate "offices" under the "center" immediately started a turf war over whose fault it was and who should get the authority to fix it.

The outcome of that turf war was not immediately obvious to me, as I sat in the team meeting listening to my boss boasting the triumph of her boss, Mr. JJ, the king of our "office," the largest turf in the entire center, thanks to its massive budget. The rival office was more "high up" in name, but it was even more dysfunctional than JJ's office and had not been able to muster enough power to defeat the stupid but gigantic elephant. In any battle, there is no substitute for an overwhelming force in number and funds.

But the battle was hardly over, despite my boss's boasting. I suspected that the other office was still crouching in the bushes, gathering strength and ammunition, waiting for the elephant to slip up, so that it could pounce on it and reverse the balance of power. It was doubtful, however, whether the "center" head still remembered her own wrath some two years ago. Indeed, it was just as likely that the external irritation had long blown over and her face had long been restored and lost several times over for various other mishaps and embarrassments. Nevertheless, the wheel had been set in motion and the show must go on.

It was during the boss' diplomatic but ultimately illuminating spinning of the history of the battle that the truth dawned on me. From the reflection of my face on the polished shell of the projector on the table, I suddenly caught a glimpse of my own smirk at the revelation of this inter-office struggle and tried to straighten my curled lips before the boss saw me. Ah, one must be a Juliard graduate to survive this precariously hilarious situation.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kindle 之“必要”

个人经验仅供参考。

1. 一睹为快:追看某作者或系列,迫不及待要看新书,在美国买电子版比 hardcover 便宜不少。 前阵子追 SJ Rozan 的新书,以及这两天追 Kurt Wallander 的新书。而且是出版第一天一大早就自动送到 Kindle 上,真是要多早就有多早。但是一般哪有什么书是非得立刻到手呢?

2. 超大部头的纸书:福尔摩斯全集我只有一套带 annotations 的版本,巨大开本,砖头一样沉重,本来只能搁在腿上看,现在是随时随地都可以拿出来搜索。

3. S 同学经常在网上到处搜到各种免费的科幻小说,非常OCD地复制下来,自己排版,在纸上密密麻麻地打印出来,拿着到处看。我很不耐烦这个,前阵子找到 Phillip K. Dick 的 Adjustment Team 短篇小说,txt 记录下来,发到 Kindle 账户,它帮我排版好了。

4. 绝版书,只有电子版,纸书的买不到。

5. 未来出版业有可能转向纯电子出版一部分作者,而不再印刷纸书,替出版社省去一大笔overhead。有说法 Amazon 正在建立自己的出版分部。

Kindle 和其他电子书都有订阅功能,要钱的报纸和杂志,不要钱的blog和RSS,都可以第一时间刷新阅读。我不是此道中人,所以至今尚未订阅。

其实电子书最多只能算奢侈品,不能算必须品。书本身才是生活必须品,形式或媒介并不是。新书如果可以在图书馆里免费借阅,我当然仍选择借阅,只是有时不耐烦排队等候,这个也是奢侈而非必须。

纸书一时不会被电子书替代,这一点我可以肯定。但是短期内二者可能互相占据各自一角市场。

Trippin'

昨天去城里看自然历史博物馆,在National Mall广场上走路,因为樱花季节,游人忒挤。看见路边长凳上坐了一对年轻貌正的情侣,瘦瘦的,黑发,男生有点象黑发版的Ryan Gosling,女生有点象 Katy Perry。两人姿态亲密,但是眼睛不看对方,而是全神贯注地各自在 iPhone 上噼里啪啦地写短信。且各自叼了半只烟,女生的含在嘴角,男生的夹在左手指间,不过大拇指还在飞快不停地按键,一点没耽误。哇,好酷的现代情侣。

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kindle

S同学说: 你帮我在Kindle店买本书,Neal Asher 的“寄生虫”。

我问:你干嘛不买纸书?

他说:这本书只出过一版,印数极少,现在买不到了,要买收藏品得几十块。

我上亚马逊一查,所言不虚,收藏版要一百多块!于是花了五块!买了Kindle版。然后对S 同学说:你得等我看完了瓦兰德才能拿我的 Kindle 来看 --- 瞧,瞧,这就是为什么你应该自己搞本 Kindle!(这人的借口总是要买大版的Kindle,现在太贵,等价钱掉下来就买。)

可见电子书正在改变出版业,一点不假。

Kenwood Cherry Blossom




昨天带人去看樱花,到马里兰的Kenwood住宅区而不是著名的DC城里,主要因为可以开车而不必走路。不到一百年前,Kenwood住宅区种了一大堆樱花树,现在成为本地的昂贵区之一。

看到一半下起阵雨来,而且越下越大,不禁庆幸自己的英明决定。如果去了城里的 Tidal Basin 看花,肯定变成落汤鸡,又湿又冷,连躲的地方都无。

因下雨没机会下车拍照,偷张别人的照片贴出来。明年希望天气合作,可参加一个当地的walking tour。

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Station Agent



Tom McCarthy 编导的第一部影片。

有时候吧,有些人做的东西,让我看了就立刻产生共鸣和共情。这种表达一般是不能讲出来的,只能依靠演员的表情和情节的设置暗示出来,等着某些观众上来跟他们对暗号。这是一种内向的作品,给内向的人来看就明白了。

很多影评啦什么的,虽然也给了不坏的评价,但是没搔到痒处,一看就知道不在一个频率上,不是同一类人。作为一个内向的人,跟影片里的男主角一样,叹口气走开,多说无益,解释有什么用?

这一部片儿让我想起去年看的 Jack Goes Boating,让我立刻有“碰上自己人”那种感觉。大家都是天生脆弱容易受伤,皮不够粗,肉不够厚,在充满了摩擦碰撞的世界里尽量躲避伤害地生存而已。孤独冷漠的外表只是保护自己的外壳。

Tom McCarthy 最近的 Win Win 不如这一部那么好看,我猜想原因之一是剧本跟朋友合作,过于努力地照顾“正常人”的感情需要,所以太安全太缺乏之前作品的棱角与痛。但是在安全周到的外表之下,仍然有些地方让我嗅到熟悉的气息,与之对上暗号。难怪。

******

McCarthy 有一个缺点,在钱的情节上非常马虎,这两部片子都有这个问题。在The Station Agent里,Peter Dinklage 演的男主继承了一幢旧房子,遂在里面住下来,也不解释他整天不工作,生活费用哪里来,是积蓄啊还是什么的。在Win Win里,Paul Giamatti 的男主成天为钱忙活,但他的经济也是一笔糊涂帐,没讲清楚。

Another Country

这片儿其实N年前就有朋友对我大力推荐,前阵子 barb 也说起,正好 Netflix 上有直接 streaming,我就立刻看了。

从某种角度来总结一下,这片儿就是讲公学里小男生搞政治的事儿。这是一个挺有效的角度,其实。最近在工作里常常感慨诸多搞政治的狗皮倒灶来来往往,跟中学里小屁孩儿们的那点恩怨纠缠本质一个样,没有根本差别,越是高高在上的领导越幼稚退化。

剧中没直接说是哪所学校,不过显然是影射Eton,上流社会的孩子从此直升Oxbridge,然后毕业为大英帝国的精英们,从政经到文化。这就是造就统治阶级的系统。中学里就是高班几个人弄权,欺压低级学生,有那么一两个特别起劲的militant军国主义者搅得大家鸡犬不宁,其他的统治阶层里都是脓包软蛋。别看学校里折腾的都是一些看来十分愚蠢的小屁事儿(例如Guy Burgess/Rupert Everett念念不忘要当上 "God",高班生的作威作福就是叫低班生给他们擦皮鞋,Colin Firth之马克思主义者担心的是自己的名声),其实成年人的世界与之没有本质差别,一样充满了无聊愚蠢的内斗和内耗。

这就是帝国的精英,训练他们的就是这种等级森严愚蠢僵化的系统,把青少年一早洗脑成循规蹈矩服从高班生维护既定秩序的顺民和顺官,难怪帝国社会本身也是等级森严愚蠢僵化。性情自由思想独立的少年,别以为离开了压抑的中学环境就可以放开心情自然生长,整个帝国都是一个巨大的伊顿公学。

难怪 Graham Greene,DH Lawrence 痛恨鄙视学校,简直太正常了。

Timon of Athens

During the intermission of Timon of Athens at Folger, I eavesdropped on a discussion among the 3 persons (who looked like a mother with t...

Popular Posts