Mystery of Picasso

AMAZING movie shot in 1956 with Picasso painting in front of a camera so you see every stroke he makes. He painted 15 pictures just for this documentary, and destroyed most of them after the filming. The very definition of an art film.

Great idea for a story

there’s a guy in his late 20s, travelling around the country, stopping off for weeks at a time in certain locations. he has 2 types of days, driving days and non-driving days. on his driving days he gets up early and drives for 12, 15 hours. most of his time is non-driving days in which he drinks until dawn and sleeps until late afternoon, only to get up to watch Seinfeld reruns which make him laugh out loud. Basic M.O. is to stay inside on sunny days but move from town to town watching teevee. In towns where he has friends, they hang out with him and break up the monotony of his daily pattern. In one instance, he arrived at a friend’s house and left from a stranger’s ten days later.

That vs. Which

The relative pronoun that is restrictive, which means it tells you a necessary piece of information about its antecedent: for example, “The color that is used most often is purple.” Here the that phrase answers an important question: which of the many colors are we talking about? And the answer is the one that is used most often.
Which is non-restrictive: it does not limit the word it refers to. An example is “Darlene’s restaurant, which had an outbreak of food poisoning, was the scene of the anniversary dinner.” Here that is unnecessary: the which does not tell us which of Darlene’s chain of restaurants we’re considering; it simply provides an extra piece of information about the plan we’re already discussing. “Darlene’s restaurant” tells us all we really need to know to identify it.
It boils down to this: if you can tell which thing is being discussed without the which or that clause, use which; if you can’t, use that.
There are two rules of thumb you can keep in mind. First, if the phrase needs a comma, you probably mean which. Since “Darlene’s restaurant” calls for a comma, we would not say “Darlene’s restaurant, that had an outbreak of food poisoning.”
Another way to keep them straight is to imagine by the way following every which: “Darlene’s restaurant, which (by the way) had an outbreak of food poisoning. . . .” The which adds a useful, but not grammatically necessary, piece of information. On the other hand, we wouldn’t say “The color which (by the way) is used most often is purple,” because the color on its own isn’t enough information — which color?
from Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar
(i changed the words in his examples, his were boring)

Got vs. Gotten

David Crystal, on the gotten/got distinction in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (p.311):
“Gotten is probably the most distinctive of all the American English/British English grammatical differences, but British people who try to use it often get it wrong. It is not simply an alternative for have got. Gotten is used in such contexts as
They’ve gotten a new boat. (= obtain)
They’ve gotten interested. (= become)
He’s gotten off the chair. (= moved)
But it is not used in the sense of possession (= have).
AmE does not allow
*I’ve gotten the answer or
*I’ve gotten plenty.
but uses I’ve got as in informal BrE. The availability of gotten does however mean that AmE can make such distinctions as the following:
They’ve got to leave (they must leave) vs
They’ve gotten to leave (they’ve managed to leave).”
(thanks English Grammar FAQ!)

The Curious Case of Sidd Finch

Finished Curious Case of Sidd Finch last night. Bizarre, but Plimpton TWICE mentions the guy who attached helium balloons to his lawn chair to float over Long Beach back in the 80s. The last mention was on the last page. Last week I saw the link to the NYTimes article from back in the 80s when it happened. I was reading along and when i got to that part i was like, “Hmm, this is oddly familiar.”

Continue reading “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch”

Washington Square

A named place (Washington Square NYC). A named half century (1850). A named, sucessful, respected, clever physician (Dr. Sloper). A mature blossom (daughter Catherine, age 22). An unnamed emotion (greed, love, despair). A proposed match with a plausible coxcomb (Morris Townsend). Infinite modesty (Catherine).
A rejected lover (the mercenary Mr. Townsend). A silent battle of wits (Dr. Sloper & Catherine). Obstinacy. Treachorous traitors within the ranks (aunt Penniman). An extended trip to Europe (Dr. Sloper & Catherine, one year). Catherine remains in love, prepares to be married. The return home, to Washington Square, where Morris has been lounging about for the past year with aunt Penniman, drinking deeply of the doctor’s cellar, fingering the expensive cigars. An abrupt break (Morris knows he will never see the money, flees). Catherine’s coup over her father (tells him she has broken off her engagement with Mr. Townsend).
Seventeen years later (1868), Catherine is an elderly matron, unmarried, greatly liked, living out her life fully. Her father is dead. Morris comes back from the void, asks for an audience. Aunt Penniman takes the liberty of granting him one, traps Catherine into seeing him.

Continue reading “Washington Square”

What Makes Sammy Run

Notes typed up from discovered notepad scribblings tucked away and forgotten:
The story of a boy-man on the move, always looking to advance himself and his career. Sammy’s story told by his closest friend, Al. The exposure of the Hollywood lifestyle and the falseness of everything from love to scenery. Sammy moves fast throughout the story, which keeps the excitement on the surface, keeps involvement in the story.

Continue reading “What Makes Sammy Run”

The Sacred Fount

Notes typed up from discovered notepad scribblings tucked away and forgotten:
The narrator meets Gilbert Long and Grace Brissenden on the way to Newmarch for a weekend party. He finds them both remarkably changed ~ Mrs. Briss much younger and lovelier, GL more witty and friendly. Obsession begins to figure out their secret. Gradually Mrs. Briss goes from 42, 43 to 50 to 73 in N’s mind.
At Newmarch, he sees Mrs. Server, who is to become the other obsession. She too looks lovelier, but her mind is gone. “Guy Brissenden, at any rate, was not much younger. It was he who was old – it was he who was older – it was he who was oldest. That was so disconcertingly what he had become. ”
“Guy Brissenden, at any rate, was not a much younger. It was he who was old — it was he who was older — it was he who was oldest. That was so disconcertingly what he had become… He looked almost anything — he looked quite sixty.”
The first two chapters are quite easy to get through, light and delightful. The rest becomes a tangled mess of conversation between the narrator and various persons at the party.

Continue reading “The Sacred Fount”

Blithedale Romance

Notes typed up from discovered notepad scribblings tucked away and forgotten:
Zenobia- strong woman, beautiful, wealthy, kills herself. Coverdale’s reaction: why did she have to do this? sympathetic. Blithedale farm- unreality. Reality was in the city scenes. Veiled Lady was Priscilla for the entire novel? Very strange the way all the pieces come together, at the crisis point when Coverdale (C) and Hollingsworth have their falling out, C leaves the farm, espies P & Z in town. Best scene: bar scene with Moody? or Hollingworth’s speeches? C’s confession not unexpected- the book kept opening to the last page, so I saw this last line previous to actually finishing. C floats in, wants to know their life, cannot insert himself into the bloodstream, makes guesses, his guesses become the romance.

Continue reading “Blithedale Romance”


Good scene in Torquilstone, the battle is described to Willfred by Rebecca, who hears and sees the battle from the tower. Good use of character perspective. Also: “And I alone escape to tell thee” out of De Bracy’s mouth to Prince John. Good action and plot. The 1st battle a mock battle, the 2nd a real battle (Torquilstone). Althestane’s rising from the dead 3 days FETCHED-FAR. Better to leave him dead. Frustration at Rebecca’s plight- no resolution for her. Frustration good for a reader. Other thoughts: too long, some of it could have been cut. Every book needs an editor.

Continue reading “Ivanhoe”

Things Fall Apart

Majority of book about pre-white man tribal life in Africa. Harsh customs of killing for the gods, but ancient customs, links to their ancestors. Now, with Christianity intruding, the tribes lose legality of their customs and come under the jurisdiction of the Queen of England. Ends with the thoughts of a white man, who will use the tragic material of Okonkwo’s death in his book, maybe a chapter, maybe just a paragraph. It is sad how totally the culture is consumed and westernized, how it remains powerless against forces of modernization. Inclusion of folk tales well done.

Continue reading “Things Fall Apart”

Treasure Island

Constant action, some (most?) farfetched, the boy becomes hero of the island, at least in his description of the action. One small part switched to the Doctor’s point of view. Tale of pirates, treasure, one-legged men, sea adventures, Hawkins wrests control of the boat which is adrift… rather abrupt ending telling about the dispensation of the monies.

Continue reading “Treasure Island”