Sunday, March 26, 2006

11 of my favorite movies with 1 extra

12 films completely committed to their premises

Since our BLOGGER profile & other such handy services are always asking about our favorite this & that, I'm posting this list of films I have loved watching, for several years or decades. It is not a for-sure "Gary Meek's 10 favorite" or "10-best" list; it is not claiming to be balanced & perfected, but it is great stuff!
(Listed chronologically, followed by country of origin, director, & top-billed leads.)

King Kong 1932 (U.S.) Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack. Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong. How amazing this must have been when it was new! Yet its power is evidently undiminished today, over 70 years later!
Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein 1932, 1935 (U.S.) James Whale. Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Elsa Lanchester. Talk about undiminished power! James Whale's 2 immortal Frankenstein films may never cease to draw adherents to their warped fervor, & to conquer all comers.
Top Hat 1935 (U.S.) Mark Sandrich. Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. The word sublime resides in the Astaire-Rogers section of Hollywood history, in at least 4 films.
Citizen Kane 1941 (U.S.) Orson Welles. Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten. I cannot watch it without learning, without thinking, without smiling.
To Have and Have Not 1944 (U.S.) Howard Hawks. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall. William Faulkner & Jules Furthman contribute one of the greatest scripts of the 40's, in one of the slyest, funniest movies I know.
8 ½ 1963 (It.) Federico Fellini. Marcello Mastroiani, Claudia Cardinale. The post-modern cinema ars poetica.
Last Tango in Paris 1973 (Fr.-It.) Bernardo Bertolucci. Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider. The post-modern cinema ars poetica. Oh, um, Breakthrough experimental masterpiece that proved shattering to many viewers, & opened (eventually) a way into so much (good & bad, of course) that has followed.
Chinatown 1974 (U.S.) Roman Polanski. Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway. One of the greatest scripts ever, richly deserving the Original Screenplay Oscar for Robert Towne.
That Obscure Object of Desire 1977 (Sp.-Fr.) Luis Bunuel. Alejandro Rey, Carole Bouquet, Angela Molina. Neither descriptions nor conceptions can impart the experience of surrendering one's will to Bunuel. Do it now & be wise. Be wise & do it now.
Naked Lunch 1991 (Can.-Brit.) David Cronenberg. Peter Weller, Judy Davis. If you still possess, dear reader, a mind or a will of your own, after living Bunuel's dreams, you may yet be too weak to resist giving them over to the tender care of the keeper of the Black Meat & the drinker of the Mugwump juice.
Barton Fink 1991 (U.S.) Joel Cohen. John Turturro, John Goodman. None of these titles lend themselves to easy abstracting. Here the Coen Brothers' alchemy transforms Bunuel, Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, & Arthur Miller, with Bogart, John Huston, Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder, as well as Kong, Frankenstein, Kane, Fellini, & Polanski, into a still-point of flaming perfection & weirdness.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

photo details of grandpa (me) & Morgan

Here is another photo of my precious angel-fairy grandbaby, Morgan, standing in front of me at our local mall in the city of Gautier, Mississippi, this past Halloween. (Generally speaking, Gautier, in Jackson County, was mine & my 2 sons' hometown, B.K. [Before Katrina].)

Being a grandfather is the best, greatest thing I've ever known. I love Morgee so much I can't talk or write about her without going out of my head, so I'll stop now...Soon...I should say that Morgan is not my grandbaby anymore, she's 28 months old.

At Halloween she was 23 months; she had a wonderful time going from store to store collecting goodies & seeing other children & adults in costumes & decorations. We met quite a few darling angels, fairies &/or Tinker-Belles, winged cherubim all.

Below is a cropped image of my face taken with a cool Minolta Vectis Weathermatic underwater camera, using 24mm 400-speed APS Fujifilm. (I'm just saying, for the record; I know diddly tech-specs about photography.) I wanted to see what it would look like if I took a picture of my face at arm's length with the panoramic view & the zoom both turned on. Looks akilter.

My post-Katrina benefactor/roommate/landlord, Mark, found that camera in a debris field he was cleaning up on the beachfront, buried in muck. He brought it home & cleaned it up, got a new battery, I got some film, & it has taken every picture I've posted here at BLOGGER so far, except my profile with glasses (it comes from, my band's webpage). I've used it to document Triage's performances, my 2 drumsets I've found since the storm, my grandchild's & children's rapidly changing lives, my household life here in Moss Point (same Gulf Coast, same county) with Mark & his 2 girls. A camera well worth its ~$175 list price.

Friday, March 24, 2006

my first song, Laughin' Blues

A few days ago I wrote my first song– quite by surprise to myself, I must say–a blues song, a real song which I can imagine my band giving a try; & then I immediately recorded myself "singing" it (I really cannot sing) while quietly tapping on my djembe (It was 4AM; I wasn't alone in the house). Then I listened to it & laughed my ass off the entire time (only a minute & a half or so, I guess).

Laughin' Blues (Zen Blues)

(G. T. Meek, 2006)

(1) I got the blues but I’m laughin’

I got the blues but I’m laughin’

I’m laughin’ but I got the blues

(2) My woman done told me...

–You laughin’ at me?

My woman done told me...

–You laughin’ at me?

My woman done told me

She settin’ me free

(3) I got the blues ‘cause I’m laughin’

I’m laughin’ ‘cause I got the blues

You give me a glass of water, now baby,

I’ll throw it all over you

–& me too

(4) Laughin’ blues, laughin’ blues

Laughin’ blues, laughin’ blues

Blue laughin, laughin blues

As I reread & re-listen to it, I realize I may have written (or transcribed, because that's what it felt like I was doing) a fairly deep & cohesive & cogent lyric. Obviously, the notion of laughing at suffering & suffering through laughing would represent a Zen-like contradiction; or could be seen as a contemporary koan, as, certainly, could many blues verses before mine. Also, later, I say I have the blues because I’m laughing, & I’m laughing because I have the blues, which kind of twists it a little. Then, I start to say the old line "My woman done told me...", 2 times, each time interrupting myself with a sudden question seemingly addressed to my listener: "You laughin’ at me? This paranoid scene of encounter with the singer’s audience or interlocutor performs or enacts some extensive & somewhat ambiguous playing (playing music, playing with words, playing with rhetoric, with relation). Is the laughter real, is an Other there present and speaking? & if so, is the laughter prompted by the listener’s prior knowledge of what the woman’s "done told him"; or is it prompted by the listener’s knowledge that "my woman done told me" is a long-used formulaic blues line that "you can’t do anything new with"? It is indeed that very fact, of that particular line as a formulaic cliche or set-piece that it would seem to be impossible to make new, that I believe I have made some headway toward overcoming in this lyric, as follows. By anticipating & calling forth the question, by raising the objection himself, like Socrates, like a Zen master, &, as well, because he’s already laughing, the singer is able to bring the listener into the dialogue first, so to speak, by laughing at himself for his own use of such on old saw before the other gets the chance to, & thus being the one who deflates his own self-seriousness in this poking of fun at one’s own writing. By being the one who first addresses the other, who initiates communication, & who then uses it to simultaneously deprecate himself & invite the Other into the song, to respond to the song, to speak, even, the singer of the lyric achieves at least a partial reversal of the author’s own belatedness, my latecoming to the tradition of the blues, by thus participating in the earliness & firstness of the (mostly unknown) originators of such lines. (This is the same temporal overcoming which my "favorite" critic Harold Bloom speaks of as central to the Jewish myth of existence, a return to the scene of Creation itself, & so to origins.) (This is, of course, not to even mention the question of whether my lily-white, middle-class, "Liberal-guilty" Southern ass has any ^%$#@+= business writing any blues songs, Zen-clever or not.)

The concluding lines, "My woman done told me/She settin’ me free", put a new spin on things, because in Zen terms, the freedom I receive could be a positive experience & value, an opening & lifting up rather than a betrayal or a harmful or painful experience, not a severing but a joining at a higher level, a different, or differently seen, relation, such as a relation of muse to artist, or of guru to devotee (that is, the relation of shaktipat, in Hindu or Kundalini terms).

The glass of water that ends up getting the singer & his "baby" wet may be said to introduce a sexual &/or mystical element (to flow a pun). Water has often been seen as representing feminine or hidden or unconscious or subconscious or religious or creative themes, & it surely calls up imagery of a sexual nature in this context, with the singer, the man, casting the woman as the cause of his "glass of water", "giving" it to him, & making him spill it "all over you/–& me too". I added the "& me too" because I didn’t want it to be too straightforwardly conventional & literal about the sexuality, I wanted it to be able to really be a glass of water, as well. At the outro, I don’t know whether "Blue laughin’" means anything. I guess it could be read as someone’s name, either the singer or his woman or the listener. I just like it.

Musically, I think I didn’t follow a very regular form. Are the last 3 lines of verse (3) the "change" part? Or is verse (2) the bridge? Is every verse a refrain? I don’t know. I’ll have to count the measures & so forth, & get my band mate Kelly to help me work on the music of this some more. Fun!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Oxford English Dictionary online, & a good quote from Sartre

The Oxford University Press, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), has a useful website ( which offers free access to the contents of the OED & other databases, allowing one to get the definitive definitions to words, & answers to various types of questions about words, languages, & more. Also available is a "word-a-day" email service, worthwhile for building one's vocabulary.

On that site, I found an interesting line by Jean-Paul Sartre, a writer & thinker who had a great influence on me in my college days, an influence still at work in me. His famous early novel, Nausea, was one of the 2 or 3 most powerful novels I had read by the time I reached the age of 21. His later book, The Words, is one of his shortest, simplest statements, a small book, large with meaning & value. I do not know the source of this quote on the OED site, but it certainly expresses one of the chief notions Sartre deals with in Nausea, that habitual actions must, by definition & by the nature of humans, lose much of their power over time, lose much of their meaning & value, to the person who practices them. (I'm not sure I completely agree with that now, having lived an additional quarter-century, & thus, having practiced a number of habits that have probably helped me to make it this far.)

Good habits: they are never good, because they are habits. --Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

I'm a writer, so of course I can't write...

I’m a writer, so of course I can’t write; of course I’m having trouble getting started.... Eldest rhethorical rhoutine in the hbhookh....Uh. Sorry. I only mean that I don’t yet know quite what tone to take, where to pitch it, as I always insist on saying at the outset & ever repeatedly return to, when I write about writing, or when I write at all, it would seem. For here I am, again, talking tone, taking a tone, which is indeed the problem of where to pitch it, of receiver, audience, lecteur, doppelganger, interlocutor, an other.

Writing a blog, or attempting to, about one’s life or one’s views or one’s self, to be read by an unknown number of unknown readers–at least at first, as now for me–is a little like trying to write a love letter to a complete stranger–or a complete strangler, for that matter. I say "I’m a writer" like I am one, like it means something about my specialness or my history or something (& maybe it does, but that does not necessarily negate the point I’m about to get to); to say "I’m a writer" only claims that one writes, is writing, has written. Has struggled with writing. Has sailed through writing. Has flown, fallen, written.

I’m a writer. So, of course, I can’t write. I can’t write for preparing to write. I can’t write for figuring out how to write. I can’t write for meaning to write. / Write to meaning for write can’t I. If I can mean what I write, can’t I write what I mean? I know what it means to write. Do I know what I mean to write? Is it mean to write? Is it right to mean? Mean to mean? Right to write? What am I? Who is it? Where is You?

Friday, March 17, 2006

My first link to another's blog, with reference to drums

These days I am searching the Web for references to serial numbers of Slingerland brand drums from the 60's or earlier, because I recovered a 4-piece Slingerland set from a Hurricane Katrina refuse pile here in Moss Point a few months ago. This drumset (a bass drum, 2 ride toms, & a floor tom) was sitting by the roadside not a mile from my post-Katrina adopted home, outside a very small church building under restoration. They were sort of on top of a small pile of debris pulled from the building, very clearly meant to be taken by the cleanup trucks, so I figured, Who am I to refuse this gift from the Universe? If I left them for someone else, they might get rained on, etc.... When I stopped the car to look, I was amazed to discover that they were being thrown out, for, lo and behold, they were vintage Slingerlands, older & heavier (that is, better-made, of higher quality) than my old 2-piece Slingerland starter set my parents bought me new around1970, when I was in the 8th grade. They appeared to be sound, uncracked, if slightly dusty. In fact, the evenness of the dust on the insides of the drums proved they had not been exposed to water in the storm, or on the side of the road! The finish of each drum is a white metal wrap I've read about (it looks as if they have since been painted white again, by an owner, poorly). The shells look to be the 3-ply type with the wooden reinforcing ring I've read about. The hoops are StickSavers; the badges, black & (fading) gold Niles, Illinois; the serial numbers on the badges are 5 (five) digits long--in the 78-80,000 range, which I have not yet read anything about (I've seen a good bit about Slingerlands from the 50's & 60's with numbers above 100,000).

So if anyone who reads this knows anything about these Slingerland drum serial numbers, I would appreciate a heads-up.

Well, while surfing-searching for this, I came across this website by a young, working drummer, He has a blog, Time Requires an Argument, which I will now make my first link to a blog: http://www.billyrhythm/com/traa.html. I like his sense of humor so far, he owns some nice drums, he knows more than I do (which is nearly nothing) about blogging & web design (my brother's field, also), & he has a few cool quotes scattered around, such as:

"I love defenseless animals, especially in a good gravy."--Stephen Wright

Check him out.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

picture of my granddaughter Morgan & my mother

At left is Morgan eating,
age 20 months,
with my mother, Bobbye, age 80,
looking on, last July, in Gautier,
about 7 weeks before Hurricane Katrina.

Below is a photo of my
beautiful grandbaby
Morgan Ann Michelle Meek,
at her baptism last November,
shortly before her 2nd birthday
(November 23; her birthday will be
Thanksgiving Day this year).