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In the Mail

Yesterday's mail brought treats from Amazon here and abroad. I've got The Blind Boys of Alabama's Higher Ground in the tray, and I've got my dico at the ready, the better to read Philippe Garnier's Caractères: Moindres Lumières à Hollywood. No way I can wait for it to be translated; I'll just have brave M Garnier's robust vocabulary and make the most of things when the dictionary is silent (sans-grade, greluche). The opening chapter, "La Confrérie de la Redingote" ("The Brotherhood of the Tailcoats" - as in butlers and majordomos) is devoted to such greats as Eric Blore (who to my mind must be spending his afterlife in the Susquehanna Street Jail) and Franklin Pangborn. I have already learned that Blore was a songwriter who enjoyed West End successes before heading to New York - after a stint in a military balloon toward the end of World War I. I've long regarded myself as a connoisseur of character acting, but M Garnier's Introduction promptly disabused me of my right to such grandiose claims. He has seen everything. Caractères is going to be one of those books that really expand my grasp of the movies. James Harvey's 1987 treatise on screwball, Romantic Comedy in Hollywood, was such a book.


The mail also brought the new issue of The New Yorker, with Mark Ulriksen's parody of the Brokeback Mountain poster. The Vice President has figured in a few of these already; who knew he'd shoot his way into earning one? It still surprises me to see such topical covers on The New Yorker. Topicality was just what the magazine shunned when I was young. I don't mind the change, but I do miss the beautiful drawings of Arthur Getz and Abe Birnbaum.

And the mail finally brought my Times-Picayunes - a week's worth. Nothing could be more quixotic than this subscription, because I haven't got the time to read news that's days old and focused on New Orleans, but I took it anyway as a way of supporting one of the city's premier institutions. There - aren't I good. And what d'you know but that the brown wrappers in which the newspapers are rolled up remind me quite a lot of how The New Yorker used to arrive, a very long time ago. It's funny to think: there was no Internet then. It's funny to think because it's simply unimaginable.

You may recall that I was invited to join the hosts of Joe.My.God and Perge Modo on a "blarg hop" a few weeks ago - the night of the blizzard in fact. Accounts of the evening's antics have been piling up at participants' blogs. Aaron, at Meanwhile, got round to writing about it the other day, far more guardedly than most, and even then as a tangent to the larger context of the anonymous, often meth-fueled sex that the Internet has made so accessible. Ease of access has a price: it makes it less necessary to get to know people. On the whole, Aaron does not regret blogging.

What's the connection between blogging and the way I live? And the way you live? Does this experiment make our lives better or worse? I think my life is better for it.

I know that mine is, and that not least of the wonderful things that keeping a Web log has made possible is the chance to meet people whose writing I've come to like. I foresee a time when I will no longer feel the slightest bit nervous about such encounters. That's not to predict that there won't be disappointments. But I'm as ready to meet fellow writers as any business person is to make new contacts. Please remember me when you come to New York.

And, as long as you're at the keyboard: Those who appreciate moral conundrums will relish the unpleasant situation detailed at Lost Camera, a site that I came upon via Breed 'em and Weep.


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Wow, the lost camera tale is amazing. The dialogue from the Canadian woman really raised my hackles in that way that dysfunctional sociopaths always do...

Philippe Garnier is one of my favorite writer. He has a style I enjoy very much. He writes movies and music stories for the newspaper Liberation, if you want to check it out, go to the newspaper site : http://www.liberation.fr/
and type philippe garnier in the little search window, up on the right, and click on the name in the search result, you'll find some of his newest stories.

I am a kottke.org micropatron

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