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My blog has relocated to the new address:



http://www.heyvalera.com/
































June 29, 2008

Just Seen: L'Age des ténèbres



A wonderfully subdued, yet strongly sarcastic movie from Denys Arcand - with horrible renditions of operatic arias by Rufus Wainwright and a matching uneven oboe in the closing credits - well-written, masterfully shot, and superbly played out by the Canadian cast, this film represents a not-so-distant futurustic satire of the Canadian society... A MUST SEE!..

Marketing in Afghanistan



Un soldat de l’Armée nationale afghane (ANA) fouille des civils à un point de contrôle dans le district d’Arghandab, près de Kandahar (sud), mardi 17 juin. Un millier de soldats de l’armée afghane, épaulés par des éléments de la Force internationale d’assistance à la sécurité (ISAF), ont délogé les talibans de ce
district. Selon le gouverneur de la province et l’Alliance atlantique, 56 insurgés ont été tués et des centaines d’autres blessés. « Les forces afghanes et celles de l’ISAF ont débarrassé le district d’Arghandab et créé un environnement stable et sûr dans la région », a précisé un communiqué de l’OTAN, qui contrôle les opérations de l’ISAF en Afghanistan. L’opération a été lancée après qu’environ 600 insurgés islamistes eurent occupé, lundi, plusieurs localités du district d’Arghandab, quelques jours après avoir libéré un millier de détenus, dont 400 insurgés, en attaquant la prison principale de Kandahar, deuxième ville du pays. Par ailleurs, Johan Freckhaus, un homme d’affaires français enlevé en Afghanistan par des inconnus, fin mai, a été libéré, jeudi, avec ses deux accompagnateurs afghans. – (AFP.)

Шутка du jour

В Испании и Латинской Америке, когда рождается ребенок, принято выливать
кипяток на толпу. И, что скажут, так и назовут ребенка. Вот и зовут их
либо Хулио, либо Педро.

Есть только один способ поднять этот народ в борьбу за свободу слова:
запретить мат!

TLS: on Alternative Medecine



Click on the image above to see the full article

June 28, 2008

TLS: Three books on Tibet



Click on the image to get the Adobe Acrobat version of the article...

June 27, 2008

TLS: Michael Greenberg

very interesting excerpts... if you care, read the whole essay by clicking read more below

...I recognized in him the particular sophistication of Manhattanites who came of age in the 1940s and early 50s: a clashing sense of the arcane, the absurd, the anarchic, and an inherited immigrant's severity....


... he confided to me that he suffered from a powerful urge to pun, and had had to struggle to restrain himself from doing so, because "it was anti-social, it played with people's minds, forcing them into a word consciousness that made the flow of conversation impossible". It was the price of his intense pleasure in the sound of words. I remarked that this kind of verbal facility was linked to certain forms of psychosis.


read more

Freelance
Michael Greenberg

I spent two-and-a-half days last week in a sound booth the size of a closet, recording an audio version of my memoir about my daughter's manic crack-up. The night before I was to begin, the director called to warn me to wear clothes that wouldn't rustle, and to lay off coffee in the morning. "It may cause your tummy to rumble. The sound system has a way of picking up even the quietest extraneous noise." His voice was cultivated and tensely polite, his enunciation impressively clear, as if, in part, the call was intended to give me a pointer in good diction. My main worry was the cough I couldn't get rid of. It shook me without warning into paroxysms that went on for a full minute or longer. If the rustling of cloth was disruptive, what would be the effect of those dry bronchial barks? I decided to come armed with a bottle of codeine-laced syrup, like a wino with his muscatel, just in case.


At the studio I was met by a short, vigorous broad-chested man of about sixty: David Rapkin, the director with whom I had spoken on the phone. He explained to me that the goal was "to make the listener feel present with the meaning of the words, so that he has a transparent relationship with the text. He forgets that he is listening and simply experiences the story". I noted the subtle theatricality of his delivery, musical and stentorian at the same time. He should be the one recording my book, I thought. He had carefully prepared for the session, reading the book twice, compiling a list of characters, a timeline and a breakdown of major scenes. Referring to my daughter, he said: "When Sally speaks, I think it would be a mistake to view her through any lens other than her own". It occurred to me that for the moment he was more connected to the material than I was. My impulse was to forget it. I had tried to plough through the book again last night, but had stopped cold after a couple of pages. Reciting it off the cuff, I hoped, would allow me to inject it with a spontaneity that countless drafts and the tedium of copy-editing had hammered out of me.


I took my place in the sound booth and peered out at David and the young sound engineer on the other side of the glass. I imagined myself as their antagonist, the obstacle standing in the way of the smooth completion of a job like hundreds of others they had performed. On cue, I started reading, in the reluctant voice of a man embarking on an unachievable task. David seemed explosive from this vantage point, hunched over the text, monitoring my every word, making sure I didn't stray "off book", policing my breath, my popped "ps", my persuasiveness, my fluency. Hearing the thickness in my voice, he fed me a powerful throat lozenge called VocalZones, favored by opera singers, and available, he claimed, at only one pharmacy in Manhattan. "It's like getting hit in the head with an iceberg", he said. A few pages later my stomach began to rumble, which in the foam-walled booth sounded as loud as thunder. Ignoring David's warning, I had drunk two cups of coffee before leaving my apartment. He motioned me out of the booth and handed me a banana. "Eat it slowly." It took care of the rumble, but soon he interrupted me again. I was sounding "gluey". This time he produced a green apple from his bag. "Take five or six bites. Chew as much as you can. It's the only remedy." My cough erupted and I surreptitiously took a swig of the codeine syrup.


This was a mistake. The words began to reconfigure themselves on the page, like information on a train station time board. My New York accent grew heavier. It was as if I was feeling my way through a foreign language, mangling words, running out of steam halfway through a sentence, unnerved by the chasm between the way I heard language in my head and the objective auditory reality that reached David's ears on the other side of the glass. I was unable to say "accompanying" no matter how many times I tried, and after ten takes, stammering and flustered, I simply changed it to "escorting". "Manage your breath", said David. "Slow down. And don't worry, when it comes to pronunciation I'm like a dog with a bone." By late afternoon I was automatically offering a second take to every sentence, with a slightly different inflection, giving the editors an alternative draft to choose from later. "Stop directing yourself. It's destructive to the process", said David angrily. And our first session came to an end.


It turned out that we lived in the same neighbourhood, and we agreed to share a cab uptown. In response to my anxious questions, David assured me that the day's work had gone "just fine". I recognized in him the particular sophistication of Manhattanites who came of age in the 1940s and early 50s: a clashing sense of the arcane, the absurd, the anarchic, and an inherited immigrant's severity. He began producing audiobooks in the 1980s, shortly after the Norelco cassette recorder made the product a viable business. "My first was Elmore Leonard's Glitz, in 1985. One of the best dialogue writers of his time." He took pride in his ear for dialect and accents, his sensitivity to verbal ticks and unconscious speech patterns. He had discovered several such patterns in me, correcting them each time in the same patient, neutral tone. The cab let us off on Broadway and David went into a deli for a pack of cigarettes. Two men behind the counter were talking in a strange language. After listening attentively, David guessed they were speaking Pashto, earning a round of delighted handshakes and several extra books of matches.


The following day he coached me in giving each of my characters his own verbal stamp, in one case feeding me a flawless German accent phrase by phrase. After we finished recording, he confided to me that he suffered from a powerful urge to pun, and had had to struggle to restrain himself from doing so, because "it was anti-social, it played with people's minds, forcing them into a word consciousness that made the flow of conversation impossible". It was the price of his intense pleasure in the sound of words. I remarked that this kind of verbal facility was linked to certain forms of psychosis. "I know", he said. "My sister was schizophrenic. It's partly why I wanted to work on your book." Then he repeated what I had often told myself while writing the memoir: "All I wanted was for you to get out of the way so the story could tell itself".

TLS on Greek Statues

This figure from the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia on the Greek island of Aegina is generally identified as Paris, Prince of Troy, shown engaged in battle against the Greeks . The pediment, which dates from circa 480 BC, was unearthed in 1811 and became the subject of early archaeological investigation, and some imaginative remodelling. For the painted statue shown here, the Munich Stiftung fur Archaologie took the colours from traces of pigment noted in 1906 and investigated with ultraviolet photography in 1982; the patterns on the tunic and leggings were detected under raking light from faint incisions on the marble surface, which show evidence of decoration: diamonds, checks, lozenges, a rampant griffin. Garish Paris is on show alongside some beautiful original coloured sculptures - medieval, Renaissance and modern - in The Color of Life: Polychromy in sculpture from antiquity to the present, at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles until June 23.

June 26, 2008

NG: Visions of Earth



Shodo Shima, Japan—Huddled for warmth, macaques press their bodies into a vast ball of fur. The monkeys' relaxed social hierarchy allows high- and low-ranking individuals to share the same tight space.
Photo by Yukihiro Fukuda

Goodbye, George Carlin



You make me laugh so hard, and strangely, I always agreed with you, the more so, the longer I live here.

June 24, 2008

NYT: Nirvana



Click the image above to read the article

NYT: Cellphones



Click the image above to read the article



amazing!!!!

June 23, 2008

BBC: MeeBox



A pilot episode of the new show MeeBox on BBC Three contains this funny "Lady Mondegrin" snippet. As you may know, "Lady Mondegrin" refers to a well-known effect of people hearing completely different lyrics from the ones being actually sung, so that "laid him on the green" became "Lady Mondegrin". Bruce Springsteen's song have always been the subjects of this confusion.... Enjoy

June 21, 2008

New Yorker: Poem du jour

Slow Drag Blues
by Kevin Young

I don’t believe in sex
after marriage.
       My wife does, just
not with me.
       I plead the Fifth
of whiskey. I am close
to perfecting a theory
       of forgettability.
Grief a dog
       that keeps dogging me—
Good Grief,
       I say. It’s me
he’s teaching to beg—
my next anniversary
       is newspaper, yesterday’s—
lining my cage—
       Tomorrow the day
I hope to learn to stay.

June 20, 2008

Goodbye, Cyd :(



Click on the image above to read the obituary...

June 16, 2008

Just Seen: After Sex 2007



a very simple, yet intimately crafted movie about multiple couples of all shades and orientations talking to each other right after the coitus. Some couples are good, some ok - this one is a knockout.

Milky Way



Milky Way in visible light (above) and in gamma rays (below)... What a difference...

June 15, 2008

Philosophy



"Friendship is an arrangement by which we undertake to exchange small favors for big ones." Is this why I have so few friends? Is it because I have no favors to give out?
Montesquieu

June 14, 2008

June 12, 2008

The organ Donor Was Not Dead

Click me to see the article
Parisian surgeons began removing organs from the donor, whose death they announced an hour and a half prior to that. The patient woke up.

June 4, 2008

Just seen: In Bruges


What a spendidly morose, upliftingly noir film! click on the links above to see the trailers....
A MUST SEE.

June 2, 2008

Just Seen: Futurama: Beast With A Billion Backs


a great movie which is a very nice and twisted sendup of one of the major staples of American life. I cannot tell you what it is, as you will realize it yourself. "This thing does not love us, it is having sex with us"... Brilliant! The dvd has already been "released" in certain countries, so do not tell me it has not been out yet.
I have not posted a trailer that is out there everywhere with incorrect aspect ratio - shame, shame on you IMDB, wikipedia and all others.