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If he needs a third eye, he just grows it.
Updated: 10/23/2004; 11:38:11 AM.


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Sunday, July 28, 2002

Norah Jones

My pal Mike sends a link to this page of streaming audio on Norah Jones' site. There's some really nice stuff here, and he specifically linked to the cover of The Band's Bessie Smith. I don't know Norah Jones' music, but from this, it seems like she's the real thing (meaning, she covers the songs I like).

Interesting, though, I wonder if she has to pay the same royalties that the Internet Radio stations have to pay? I don't think she wrote any of these, so she isn't the only one that can waive royalties here. No knock on her, it's a curiousity though.

7:53:16 PM  Permalink  comment []

Firebreak by Richard Stark/Donald E. Westlake

Stark/Westlake's Parker series has been going since the mid-70s now, and the guy hasn't aged a day, which is OK, because that sort of reality isn't what you go for in these books.   There are several things which make this series good. First, there's Parker's character. He's a ruthless criminal, unhesitant about killing anyone if he has too, and a great planner of jobs. Second, Westlake is great at coming up with plots, ingenious crimes that Parker pulls off -- and they usually have twists in them that really keep you reading. Third, there's always kind of a weird humor to them.

You can see something of what the Parker books are about by seeing either the old Lee Marvin movie, Point Blank (1967) or the 1997 remake of it with Mel Gibson. They're both good.

This book has the humor, and there's a tension always set up by Parker's ruthlessness that keeps you going, but it didn't really have a very ingenious plot to it. A disappointment; I recommend going to some of the more recent ones instead.

4:06:01 PM  Permalink  comment []

Cloud 9

On my birthday Friday night we saw Caryl Churchill's play Cloud 9 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The production was excellent -- everything I've seen there is excellent. This play won an Obie award in 1981 when it played off-Broadway in New York. It's a "riff on class, sex, and race." It got off to a slow start, I thought, and I was afraid it was going to be a polemic on sexism and colonialism. While it was polemical, it succeeded anyway by the strengths of the acting and some clever imaginings on the part of the playwright.

The first act takes place in colonial Africa in 1880. A small family is led by a strong, traditional British stiff-upper-lip type who is sort of a predictable satiric target. There's lots of good satire here, and it's pretty funny. The danger of this kind of thing is that the characters don't gel into anthing like real people, but this production skirts that, and while the characters don't end up being fully three-dimensional, neither are they cartoons. There's a change-partners sexuality gong on which everyone participates in and at the same time denies.

The second act takes place in Britian in 1980, one hundred years later. It has some of the same characters in it, but they have aged only 25 years. It revolves around Victoria, who was a baby (played amusingly by a doll in the first act) in the first part, and her brother who was a little boy in the first act. Victoria, fully grown, is played by the woman who played the boy in the first act, and the boy, grown, is played by the man who played the servant in the first. The character of the father is not in the second act, but the actor is -- he plays a 4 year old girl! It's amazing to see these actors change into different parts, and this makes a point much better than orations or polemics would have done, and much more subtly.

At the end, the play seems to become repetitive or perhaps lose some of its energy. The characters do gel more and deepen, but still the ending seemed somehow if not anticlimactic, still someting of a letdown.

This was the last night of the play's run; this is the second time we've seen a Berkeley Rep production in its last days; The Laramie Project (which, all in all, was much, much better) was the other. By contrast, we saw the awesom Homebody/Kabul in dress rehearsal.

1:29:02 PM  Permalink  comment []

Gimme That Old Time Religion

Nice piece in today's SF Chronicle discussing the strong grounding in religion among a number of todays' famous corpoate wrongdoers:

 The Good Book says Jesus hung with thieves. I guess some of our corporate fathers took that one literally.

It's kind of ironic that many of the business folk accused of wrongdoing in recent months and years -- especially those allegedly involved in pinching millions or billions -- all share a strong spiritual background. Which makes perfect sense. I'd drop down to my knees and thank Sweet Jesus if my bank account had that many zeros.

Lots of details here. John Rigas (Adelphi), Bernie Ebbers (Worldcon), and both Ken Lay and Andrew Fastow of Enron are "devout Christians." Nothing new here, Charles Keating, a huge S&L crook, headed an outfit called "Citizens For Decency Through Law" which spent its time worrying about the effects of pornography.

In a related vein, check out this nonsense:

 The porno party of the Clinton years is ending and pornographers may be putting the sacrosanct "money shot" out to pasture. George W. Bush is sending out signals that battling pornography will be a key objective of his administration. After Bush's appointment of John Ashcroft, who had a history of prosecuting porn when he was Missouri Attorney General, porn industry insiders fear Bush is looking to appoint long-term anti-porn advocate, Bruce A Taylor, president of the National Law Center for Children and Families (NLC), to be Ashcroft's deputy Porn Czar. According to, two other anti-porn warriors Bush is looking at for the post are Patrick Truman with the American Family Association, and J. Robert Flores of the NLC.

I guess they were doing this when they should have been worrying about terrorists!

1:01:29 PM  Permalink  comment []

Took a nice bike ride this morning. Down to the Albany Bulb (be sure to see this; -- the bulb is a unique place) , past Point Isabel dog park, then to the Rosie the Riveter memorial, to Salute, and back again. Very nice morning, lots of egrets and shorebirds. Wind was in our face as we rode, at our backs on the return trip. After something like that, though, I get hungry. Made a big fritatta and ate too much.
12:29:05 PM  Permalink  comment []

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