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Showing posts from July, 2011

Irish Raffle

Eyewear is pleased to report that Salmon Poetry, of Co. Clare, Ireland, is celebrating its 30th year. As well as promoting its superb track record, a special  fundraising raffle is now underway with a unique prize of  all  thirty-one (!) of its 2011 poetry collections, signed by the authors. Have your own bookshelf of some of the finest contemporary Irish, American and British poetry.  Euro 5.00 for 5 tickets; Euro 0.00 for 12 tickets.

JCS On Songs You Need To Download

Songs You Need to Download James Christopher Sheppard divulges the tracks he has on repeat. Korn ‘Get Up’ (featuring Skrillex) At school in the late 90’s, if you liked metal, Korn were a pretty good starting point. Now, seventeen years since the debut, Korn release their freshest single in years. I first heard ‘Get Up’ on kerrang radio and had to double check who it was. The collaboration with master of dubstep, Skrillex , throws Korn’s aggressive thrashing metal sound into brand new industrial waters. This is the best song Korn have released since 2002’s ‘Here to Stay’. Fucking incredible. Melanie C ‘Rock Me’ Rock Spice Melanie C finally returns with the first release from her long-awaited fifth solo album, The Sea . ‘Rock Me’ is vibrant, simple, catchy, up-beat and addictive. With her own very loyal following, and sales of over ten million albums worldwide, sporty spice still has a great deal to offer. Within Temptation ‘Sinead’ New single from Within Tem

Minding Manners

Within minutes of posting a message about a poetry issue in the UK, I was inundated with nasty personal messages.  One poet said she was "disgusted" by me.  Goodness, and I was only recommending we try and get along.  Apparently, poets are not immune to the dangerous attractions of instant messaging and the Internet.  But, as I have said before, we need to be good to each other, and to try to reign in the ad hominem attacks.  I can only imagine what it would be like to be one of the offenders in this whole PoSoc debacle, if a mere bystander can get so spammed and reviled.  This is why I have removed the earlier posts on the matter from this week.  I have no wish to continue being a part of this.  There are enough parties on both sides to handle it at this stage.

Craig Wasson 30 Years On

Thirty years ago, a young up-and-coming actor, Craig Wasson , starred in Ghost Story , a beautifully-shot adaptation of the Peter Straub horror novel.  The film was very well received critically, not least because of the casting of several elderly classic actors, including Fred Astaire .  I recall it being very new England; and a scene on a wintry country road.  It was like Frost meets King .  I think this film has become forgotten; it is not available on DVD in Britain, at the very least.  Googling for Wasson, I was disappointed to learn that, after 1984's Body Double (which has a Frankie Goes to Hollywood cameo) he mostly slipped into soaps, and one-off appearances on TV.  Wasson was born in 1954, so he'd be around 57 now.  I'd like to see some director bring him back and give him a good role again.

Guest Review: Capildeo On Slavitt's La Vita Nuova

Vahni Capildeo reviews Dante Alighieri: La Vita Nuova Translated by David R. Slavitt Vermilion is the colour of the Seraphim in the angelic choir of Dante’s Paradiso ; the burning, stinging ones, according to the likely Hebrew root of their name. Red, too, is the colour of Dante’s robe or scarf, distinguishing the poet of love, in so many of the anguished-yet-muscular portraits of this man whose political life saw him driven into exile from his beloved city of Florence. Slavitt’s new translation of Dante’s libello is itself a little book, and slips ardently into hand or pocket: an ideal gift. The hardcover edition’s binding and endpapers are cardinal red. Most disconcerting, the sweetly grave dark eyes of a young lady all in shades of red and white and gold fix you with a quality that may soon appear relentless. Her posture is open, yet she is ungraspable: this detail taken from an Elisabeth Sonrel painting shows the right arm crooked around saffron lilies, while the left ar

Shock In Oslo

There has never been an act like it.  Though the cruelly-executed mass-murder in Oslo is not numerically the worst terrorist outrage in human history, it is hard to think it is not the worst single-person act of murder, barring mad dictators.  The individual in question seems to have acted alone, stepping out of central casting as half Nazi-arch-villain, half Scandinavian lone wolf, a Kierkegaard with bullets. Too often the phrase cinematic is used for these insane projects, but this one was timed with the grandiose perfection of a brilliant engineer, and has the hallmarks of a barely-plausible  Stieg Larsson   thriller.  It is unbelievable to think one man could set off destruction at the heart of a nation's political centre only to use that as a diversion to strike at the heart of its youth, miles away, on a pleasant summer island, dressed as an officer of the law. It is ironic, and demonic.  It is made worse when one realises the killer surrendered calmly, in no sense compel

Winehouse, Women and Song

Nothing much left to say.  The obvious things - her joining the "stupid club" of musical self-destructive genuises of 27 who die young of excess - the tragic waste - the talent - were obvious.  The moment I saw the news, though, I was shaken.   Amy Winehouse , unlike Adele , actually was a genius - a genuinely troubled soul, with the ability to sing her heart out.   The Beatles had Martin ; she had Ronson .  She declined almost as soon as she reached the heights in 2006.  Five years was a long time to falter in public, and her missing out on the Bond theme, and the broken promises and failed rehab stints, as well as the late-night punch ups and fall-downs began to create a counter-canon of pathos, or bathos.  What I cannot accept is that no one cared enough to intervene and put a stop to the ruinous life mistakes.  Too many of the tweeting names who apparently loved here are hedonistic night-livers with one foot in the grave themselves, up to their necks in dope and crack.  

All Hell Breaks Loose

I was away for a few days in Somerset for a friend's wedding.  While there, human life, in all its horror, broke out across the world, oddly clashing with the sunlight and champagne of a rural English marriage.  Norway's madness, Chinas' train collision, Amy Winehouse 's senseless death, and a serial killer ex-Marine in the US, as well as several other tragedies, alongside the famine in Africa, seemed to render an already-fragile sense of optimism shattered.  Yet, here I am, it is Sunday, it is sunny, and I am writing this.  The world wobbles on.  I will post more on some of this later.

Freud Has Died

Sad news.   Lucian Freud , one of the greats of British post-war painting, has died, at the age of 88.  I had the pleasure to see him several times as he dined at his table at The Wolseley.  Yesterday, according to The Guardian , that table was draped in a black cloth with a single candle on it.  Freud, whose paintings sold for tens of millions, was famously linked to Sigmund Freud , his grand-father.  I recall studying his work in art history class back at college in Montreal; we were all taken aback by and impressed with his attention to genitals, and to the gross realities of human fleshiness.  Later, in London, I looked into his late self-portrait and recognized in its slashes of dark colours genius, and dark self-reflection.  Genius can be complicated, strange, ugly, and attractive, all at once, in a compelling way; the best art usually is.  I am not sure Freud was a person you'd want to meet unless you were a beautiful woman, or someone to model for him, or a close friend;

Guest Review: Westcott On Williamson

Sarah Westcott reviews Electric Shadow by Heidi Williamson The blurb on the back cover of Heidi Williamson’s first collection focuses on the poet’s “fascination” with science and the exploration of what her publisher Bloodaxe calls “less usual territories” for poetry, including maths, computer programming and space travel.  But Electric Shadow is written from a more integrated, subtle area than the traditionally diametrically opposed cultures of poetry and science and their ‘territories’. While Williamson does indeed write about sciency subjects, this collection is less notable for its scientific substance and content - and more for its clear-eyed approach to the world and its mysteries, with poems often written in the spirit of Keat’s negative capability. Williamson’s writing has an openness to ‘not-knowing’, a spirit of exploration tempered with quiet rationality, a drive to convey the ‘astonishing state of possibilities’ in the world.  It also stems, like science, from

Sophie Mayer On Harry Potter, End of an Era

In   the Guardian   yesterday (19th July),   Peter Walker   and   Charles Gant regarded what has become a virtual media monopoly in the UK – much maligned by some – and asked what will be missed when it’s gone. Not   The News of the World , but the Harry Potter franchise. While the losses to the UK’s filmmaking economy and skills base are being totted up, as a teary-eyed viewer I found myself posing the question critically: what will I find myself missing when there is no HP 7.75 or 9 rampaging through next summer’s schedules? It’s a question with two aspects: the film and the series, not least because – unlike Lord of the Rings   – it is not an auteurial project, but (almost) an old-fashioned studio film series, albeit one helmed most ably by   David Yates   for the final four films. The plot of the final film (and indeed the whole arc), that good triumphs over evil through its commitment to love, and its willingness to lose what it loves in order to protect larger concerns,

Sherwood Schwartz Has Died

Sad news.   Sherwood Schwartz  has died.  Perhaps less well-known and beloved in the UK, than in North America, Schwartz's two key TV Sitcoms of the 60s, Gilligan's Island , and The Brady Bunch , between them created a kind of colourful post-modern Camp zaniness that came to define the telescape.  He has a genius of pop culture.

JCS On Kylie's The Albums 2000-2010

Kylie Minogue The Albums- 2000-2010 Reviewed by James Christopher Sheppard Having just completed her massive ‘Aphrodite- Les Folies World Tour’, Kylie Minogue is releasing a stunning boxset of all five of her studio albums released since her career-changing monster hit ‘Spinning Around’ in 2000. Better than any Greatest Hits from the past ten years could be, this literally includes every track released by Minogue since signing with Parlophone in 1999. Light Years Including her first Top Ten hit since 1994’s ‘Confide in Me’, Light Years catapulted Minogue back to the forefront of pop. Following almost eight years of musical experimentation and collaborations with Nick Cave and Manic Street Preachers , Minogue put her shiny stilettos and hot pants back on and produced the most unashamedly camp disco album of her entire career. ‘Spinning Around’ hit number 1 in the UK and Australia and similar success followed for singles ‘On a Night Like This’, ‘Kids’ with Robbie Will

New Poetries!

Carcanet launches a cool new blog, New Poetries .  Try it and see...

Heartbreaking But True

Came across this tonight reading his Daily Telegraph Obituary: Frank Kermode was in private a genial man, fond of a good pipe, and many felt for him when he was the victim of a highly unfortunate incident in 1996. Expecting the arrival of some men to help him move house, he blithely handed the 50 cardboard boxes containing his library of 2,500 books, including many rare volumes, to the two burly types who knocked on his door. The entire collection was duly lost to the compressor of the municipal dustcart.

Eyewear's Top 140 Films Of All Time

January Jones in Unknown Eyewearers may beg to difffer - but here are the Top 140 Eyewear Films Of All Time .  Many are currently available at Amazon for under £10.  Have a good summer of visual pleasure! [editor's note: I have revised and expanded this list from the original 125, after considering the comments sent to me.] After the Fox Aliens Altered States American Gigolo An Officer and a Gentleman Antichrist Apocalypse Now Barry Lyndon Barton Fink Black Book Black Narcissus Blade Runner Bonnie & Clyde Bram Stoker's Dracula Cape Fear Casablanca Chinatown Citizen Kane Colonel Redl Congo Cyclo Darkman Days of Heaven Death in Venice Diamonds Are Forever Die Hard Dillinger Doctor Zhivago Don't Say a Word Double Indemnity Dune Elmer Gantry Excalibur Eyes Wide Shut Fantastic Voyage Fargo Fear Strikes Out Five Corners Flash Gordon Flightplan Forbidden Planet French Connection G