October 2007 Archives

Duel (1971)

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There's not much to say about the DVD re-release of Steven Spielberg's 1971 made-for-television film Duel. The plot of the movie is fairly straightforward: David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is, as his name suggests, something of an American everyman. He's a middle-aged businessman on his way to an important meeting. On the road, he passes a truck. Then the truck passes him and slows down. Then Mann passes the truck. Then the unseen trucker proceeds to follow Mann through an arid western landscape, trying to kill him. That's essentially it.

Of course, it is the film's aim to highlight the unexplained maliciousness of the trucker, which it does admirably, but not terribly memorably. Just as the brand of nihilism with which John Gardner infuses Grendel is stale in comparison to that found in writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O'Neill, and Horace McCoy, Spielberg's depiction of the aforementioned unexplained horror seems a hollow approximation of the dynamic Franz Kafka perfected in his nightmarish novels and Alfred Hitchcock explored cinematically in The Birds. Still, as far as low-budget thrillers go, one could do considerably worse than Duel and, it must be emphasized, the film makes no grand claim to be anything more than an entertaining ninety minutes, which it is.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Doris Lessing Wins the Nobel Prize

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Another extremely good selection for the Swedish Academy:

"Doris Lessing, the Persian-born, Rhodesian-raised and London-residing novelist whose deeply autobiographical writing has swept across continents and reflects her engagement with the social and political issues of her time, today won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy described her as 'that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny.'

[. . .]

Ms. Lessing, who turns 88 later this month, never finished high school and largely educated herself through her voracious reading. She was born in 1919 to British parents in what is now Iran, raised in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and currently resides in London. She has written dozens of books of fiction, as well as plays, non-fiction and two volumes of her autobiography. She is the 11th woman to win a Nobel Prize in literature."
(Source: The New York Times)

I'm Not Certain Which is More Frightening

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Bad Thing #1: On the heels of the recent flurry of stories pertaining to Naegleria fowleri, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (henceforth MRSA) has been making waves in newspapers across the country. According to a story by The Washington Post's Rob Stein, United States health officials have reported that MRSA "causes more life-threatening infections than public-health authorities had thought and is killing more people in the United States each year than AIDS." In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that "[t]he microbe - a strain of a once innocuous staph bacterium that has become invulnerable to first-line antibiotics, is responsible for more than 94,000 serious infections and nearly 19,000 deaths each year." Stein continues,

"The germ, spread by casual contact, rapidly turns minor abscesses and other skin infections into serious health problems, including painful, disfiguring "necrotizing" abscesses that eat away tissue.

The infections often can be treated by lancing and draining sores and quickly administering other antibiotics, such as Bactrim. But the microbe enters the lungs in some cases, causing unusually serious pneumonia, or spreads into bone, vital organs and the bloodstream, triggering life-threatening complications."

Bad Thing #2: The Associated Press reports that "[t]he nation's first baby boomer, a retired teacher from New Jersey, applied for Social Security benefits Monday, signaling the start of applications from the post-World War II boomer generation."

Anne Enright Wins 2007 Booker Prize

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According to a story on Reuters:

"Dubliner Anne Enright won the Man Booker Prize, one of the literary world's most prestigious awards, on Tuesday for her bleak Irish family saga 'The Gathering.'

'We found it a very powerful, uncomfortable and even at times angry book', chairman of the judges Howard Davies said after picking one of the outsiders from the short list.

'It is an unflinching look at a grieving family in tough and striking language,' he told reporters after the judges spent 2-1/2 hours closeted together picking the winner of the prize of $100,000."

Unreal

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ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA (Sobriquet Magazine) - A 28-year-old woman was convicted Wednesday of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, simple assault and child endangerment for having used her four-week-old son as a weapon in a fight with her boyfriend. According to reports, Chytoria Graham returned home on October 8 after a night of heavy alcohol consumption and began fighting with her boyfriend, DeAngelo Troop. During the course of the fight, Graham reportedly picked up the couple's infant son, Jarron, by his feet and swung him at Troop, using the boy's head as a bludgeon.

The boy has recovered from a fractured skull and currently lives with Graham's parents.

No Way

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Unreal. Please tell me this is an elaborate gag perpetrated by Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Please.

Otherwise, there really is an organization called European Fecal Standards and Measurements Board located in Austria.

Well Said, Ms. Costello, Well Said

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An exchange from J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello in which a professor censures Costello's sister for criticizing contemporary studies in the humanities:

"'This is a secular age,'" replies Godwin. 'You cannot turn back the clock. You cannot condemn an institution for moving with the times.'

'By an institution you mean the university?'

'Yes, universities, but specifically faculties of the humanities, which remain the core of any university.'

The humanities the core of the university. She may be an outsider, but if she were asked to name the core of the university today, its core discipline, she would say it was moneymaking. That is how it looks from Melbourne, Victoria; and she would not be surprised if the same were the case in Johannesburg, South Africa."

Websites Worth Visiting

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The Gaddis Annotations (www.williamgaddis.org) This post is the first in a series of Sobriquet Magazine weblog entries to highlight some of the best resources we have come across online. We start with a quasi-scholarly site devoted to an oft-overlooked giant of postmodern American letters, William Gaddis. Although The Gaddis Annotations rather humbly describes itself as "[n]otes, sources, references for the works of the great 20th-century novelist," the website proves to be one of the most comprehensive single-author reference works online. In addition to comprehensive annotations for each of Gaddis's novels, the Annotations site offers a detailed scholarly bibliography, full-text critical essays and books devoted to the author, biographical information, interviews, reviews, and obituaries, as well as fan-oriented features such as a selection of reader-submitted reminiscences dubbed "How I Discovered Gaddis" and a list of Gaddis's appearances in fiction. In so effortlessly combining the fun with the academic, The Gaddis Annotations easily joins The Modern Word as one of the most impressive resources for students and lovers of postmodern literature to appear online.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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