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Monday, March 29, 2010

人肉引擎

这一季没怎么看全 Law & Order 系列剧,今天偶然一翻网上的 episode guide,骇然发现去年十月已经播过一集,题目叫做“人肉搜索引擎”!当然这集我没看过,也不知道跟中国有无关系。纽约时报也是最近才登出一篇关于中国的人肉搜索引擎的文章,所以显然电视剧在NYT之前抢先一步撕下了新闻标题。哇噻,太厉害了也。我忽然想起现在的 showrunner 是 Rene Balcer,他太太是华裔,他俩都收集中国古董。难怪,这人还真会与时俱进哦,I 服了 U。

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Laughing Policeman

刚读完这第四本。还有两本Martin Beck在排着队呢。

我看着胖子 Kollberg 的婚姻就有点悬,每次办案子总是碰见魅力的美女,上得山多终遇虎呀,简直把读者变成 Martin Beck 替他担心。

有趣的是,六十年代的瑞典,社会风气还相当保守,大家都按时好好地结婚生子,不象现在,大多数年轻人拒不结婚,但同居生子什么的一样也不落下。这里面的人物,离婚与同居不婚的都尚未出现。

很多戏少的配角都写得活灵活现,例如从北方借调来的侦探,被大城市里的人情冷漠气得半死,找目击者谈话还遇上个疑神疑鬼的太太,连门都不让进,笑得我半死。有点体会到瑞典人慢吞吞效率不高的特征了。

Gunvald Larsson 当然是每集必砸开几个门,否则就不过瘾。笑死了。

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Martin Beck 系列

已经看了系列中前三本,都是借本地图书馆的,正要看第四本 "The Laughing Policeman"。再往后就得自己去买了,图书馆没有收藏后五本小说。很好看呀很好看,估计我会去买来看全。

难怪作者和 barb 同学都偏爱 Gunvald Larsson 这个角色,他的确很特别且出彩,脾气暴躁,态度粗鲁,大大咧咧,很让我想起赤川次郎的某系列中的大贯警部,也是让人哭笑不得,爱也不是恨也不是。为什么这种人物很有魅力呢?因为作者可以借他们之口毫不遮拦地说出大实话,而大实话总是很有喜剧感的 --- 因为在生活中太罕见了。

世锦赛



终于决定今天撬班在家看世锦赛。高桥大辅同学不负众望获得世界冠军,非常值得为之撬班。

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Cult of Matt Savoie's The Mission


A funny phenomenon I've noticed over the years: From time to time I hear a fan confess that she likes to go back and watch Matt Savoie's 2005-2006 free skate The Mission, although his short program from that season is also well loved. And I, too, feel the urge to re-watch The Mission once in a while and think about it more often.

It is by no means the one and only all-time-favorite program of mine. Yet, I am most haunted by it. There is an almost mysterious pull that draws me back again and again. The beautiful, calm, and delicate first half, followed by tension and restrained conflicts in the second half. The program is rich, complex, nuanced, and abstractly emotional (or emotionally abstract?).

There is no story, no dramatic arc, no carved-out foothold for the viewers to latch their emotions onto, no obvious effort to move and persuade and win someone, everyone, over to his side. It is a journey, a mission, that some of us willingly take with him, down the winding paths, into the dark forest, quietly, to a world never discovered.

An important element of modern art is that the recipient (audience, viewer, listener) has to do a lot of work to meet the artist half way. The effort, the experience, the process, is as much part of the artwork as the work itself. There is no one right answer. The ultimate effect of the piece is what the artist and the recipient create together. In this particular piece, however, Matt Savoie gave as much as he can give without any pretension or condescension, but not an iota more than necessary. No easy answers but plenty of impact. It is all there for those who are receptive.

A recent interview with Tom Dickson offers an answer to something I had been wondering about. Apparently, Savoie was finally able to allow himself revealed to such a large extent only in that season, his last in eligible competition. The intensity and depth of feelings that this young man possesses, which we fans had only suspected before from his deep-set eyes, were finally, (relatively) fully let out in the program and performances.

I sometimes wonder whether his experience with this last season --- not just being able to go to the Olympics, but feeling safe and strong enough to reveal so much of himself to others, strangers, and bond with us all --- left a lasting effect on him as a person as he went into the world from Peoria.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Listlessness


World Championships start tomorrow. The weather is dark and gloomy. It is Monday.

I long for the smell of the ice rink. The poorly lit corridors and peeling paint on the walls. The running feet of kiddie skaters and their mothers chasing after them. The whooshing sound of blades gliding across the ice and thumps of landing jumps. The chill in the air.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Aa bhi ja

今天到 Shirlington 的印度餐馆吃午饭(又吃撑了),背景音乐是一些理查克莱德曼化了的叮叮咚咚的钢琴曲。吃到一半忽然听到非常耳熟的旋律,立刻认出是某宝莱坞的 soundtrack,但当时无论如何想不起哪个片子里来的,特别是因为已经被 bastardized,不是原声,只有旋律,更加想不起,只记得我肯定看过这片子。

女服务员过来倒水,我问她这个是啥音乐,是不是宝莱坞音乐集锦。她说不不,这是 "classical music"。我心想这是宝莱坞 classic 还差不多。她还很热心地到后面去帮我查查看,结果音乐一下子全没了,过了半天换成了印度民间音乐。我还以为她要把CD拿给我看呢,十分钟后她过来垂头丧气地说,她不会弄那个CD player,把CD拿出来以后放不回去了。然后口气肯定地说,CD 上是 classical music。我心想别逗了,一听就是宝莱坞音乐的钢琴版,不过还是谢了她。

然后涅,看完了电影出来,在附近的蛋糕店买了一块巧克力蛋糕(既然都吃撑了为啥还要买甜食涅?),忽然就想起来了那首宝莱坞名曲的来源,是笑嘻嘻推荐过的 Aa bhi ja ,电影 Sur 里面的。里面的男声还是演员 Lucky Ali 自己唱的(一般都是配音)。特此记录,省得下次又想不起来。

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I don't buy it.

But I'm not angry. :D

What I don't buy is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

As a novel, it has too much exposition and not enough action. The pace is slow at too many places. The suspense is very mediocre. (I guessed the murderers quite easily even though I barely paid attention to the audiobook most of the time.) The structure is somewhat disjointed and sloppy.

Most important, I don't buy the characters.

Lisbeth Salander is supposed to have Asperger's disorder or some variation of autism, but it quickly becomes obvious that the author was unfamiliar with the actual clinical characteristics of autistic disorders including Asperger's. At places there are inconsistencies and contradictions in her personality and her behaviors. Her talents and skills are stretched far beyond credibility, with no clues building them up throughout the book (ie, the author did not "earn" it). In the end she suddenly becomes a master actress pretending to be other people. Well, if she was so good at playing roles, she wouldn't be in the trouble she is in all her life. For 95% of the book she is one stubborn, gritty, socially dysfunctional person, and in the last chapter she turns into Tracy Whitney. Yeah right. Meanwhile, her fundamental characteristic is not pushed far enough. She says men who hate women should get their balls blown off (or something like that), but she kills only one man in 2 books, and out of pure self defense! How disappointing. Her other enemies are conveniently killed off by the hand of ... uh ... God. Too easy, too neat, too clean.

As for Mikael Blumqvist, what can I say. Any time the male lead character is the same age as the author and gets to sleep with every female character in the book (at least those who are postpuberty and before decrepitude), it is safe to bet that he is the author's own fantasy, especially if none of the women give him any grief about anything. No emotional entanglements, no jealous arguments, no demands for attending to their needs, no pressure for emotional availability, no guilt involved. However, this is kind of a boring fantasy. A hero with no discernible personality is far, far worse than an unconvincing and inconsistent but occasionally enjoyable heroine. The sequel is far more readable than the first book, largely because he has a much smaller role in it.

Oh, well. I'll go see the movie tomorrow. I have a feeling that the novel would actually make a pretty entertaining movie, after all the slow sections are trimmed and her character consolidated into a clear and consistent tone. He, however, is beyond salvage.

I think when it comes to fantasies I am truly hopeless.

*****************

I do buy Martin Beck though. Am finishing up "The Man Who Went up in Smoke." It reminds me of "Dogs of Riga", sort of. A lot of descriptions about Hungary. Hungarian food is considered sumptuous by a Swede. Hmm... What does that say about Swedish food?! Anyway, it's interesting to see Martin Beck get some real action. (For some reason he is always called "Martin Beck" in the books and never Martin or Beck.)

梦见意大利

这件事本身没啥奇怪的,甚至梦见在意大利吃饭也没啥奇怪的,比较奇怪的是梦见在意大利吃豆沙汤团,而且不是普通类型的豆沙汤团而是反过来的。什么是反过来的豆沙汤团涅?就是豆沙馅在外面,浸着实心的糯米团子,而且团子是普通汤团的大小,倒也不难吃 --- 在梦里。

把龙纹身女的小说给听完了,高潮有点反高潮,不够惊险,而且女主角手段不够狠辣,让人失望。不过作者如何声明她是不理睬世俗规则的独行侠,把她描写得多么嘴硬手辣,但还是下不去手,写满了两本书,她才杀了一个人而已,太不够了也,雷声大雨点小。换成男性 vigilante 式的主角早就尸体遍地了。动作部分么,一般般吧,说服力差了点儿。这是文人的问题,写动作戏都只能参考电影里的打斗。

Friday, March 19, 2010

Savannah 4

我得找一个好一点的 photo hosting Web site.












贴完照片忽然流鼻血,二者有什么联系咩?

Savannah 3



A square.





River Street.





Cruise boat on the river.



Street Scene.

没有电脑的时代,龙刺青女

Martin Beck 系列里有一个常驻人物,警探 Melander ,有照相机般的记忆,过去的案例和人物都记得清清楚楚,同事都不用查资料,问他就可以了。让我想起 Smiley 的情报局里也有个这样的人物, Connie ,也是这种类型的天才。没有电脑的时代,至少小说里需要这样的脑子啊,在真实生活中么?只好慢慢地在档案库里流汗了 ...

*******

现在正在听 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,原文题目实际上是 Men Who Hate Women 。比较 shocking 的是,书中充满了虐待女性的男人,肉体加精神的虐待到处都是。我还以为北欧人民思想非常进步呢,不是女权高涨么?被 Larsson 写出来好像不比其他国家强么。让人感到好幻灭啊。

不知道是不是因为没看纸书的缘故,感到一般般,不是很 engaged。为啥呢?这第一本里男主角的戏比较多,Mikael Blumqvist 简直太明显是作者代入自己了,这倒没什么,问题在于, He is devoid of any discernible personality。从读者的角度来看,比香草还苍白,但是小说里的各色女人从老到小都主动地投怀送抱,而且身心同时奉献,还不是肉体满足而已。香草式的男主角倒也不是没有追随者,不幸我很不吃这一套 ...

好玩的是,电影里选的演员跟小说十分一致,看上去也不是有特征的长相,绝不是 Ed Harris 那种老男人。(下面是剧照)

记帐

正在读:

The Man Who Went up in Smoke (Martin Beck series #2)

正在听:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

正在考虑本周末去看一下龙纹身女的电影。

"I don't buy it."

From the preface of "What the Dog Saw":

Nothing frustrates me more than someone who reads something of mine or anyone else's and says, angrily, "I don't buy it." Why are they angry? Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. ... It succeeds or fail on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head -- even if in the end you conclude that someone else's head is not a place you'd really like to be.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

教训

时不时的世界会提醒人意外和无法理解的现象。平时擦身而过,交换只言片语的人,倒记得我并且怀有好意,过去只是帮人开个门说过半句好话的,其实并未提供过实质性帮助的人,倒念念不忘地回头跟我打声招呼,互通下问候,把我当成朋友。反而是曾经投入过不少感情和好意的,费过唇舌,倾注过同情,搭进时间和心力,最后反过来被记恨还要踩几脚。多说多错,多做多错,见识和遭遇的人多了,终究会遇上让我后悔当时伸出过援手的例子。自己好意买罐牛奶送人,不知怎么就变质发臭成了罪状。好吧,nobody's perfect. 好意变成错事自己还不知道,没有读心术又怎能搞清楚什么地方得罪了人。我还没那么大的本事,事先能一眼看出跟什么人应该接茬跟什么人应该躲得远一点。

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Difference Between Gladwell and Me

What the Dog Saw 快看完了。后面一篇很有意思,Dangerous Minds: Criminal Profiling Made Easy。当然我的意思不是文章本身很有意思,因为书里大部分的文章都很有意思,而是让我联想到一件跟自己有关的事。

这篇文章的内容和主题是,激发无数畅销小说、非小说书籍、电影、电视剧等等的大名鼎鼎的 FBI criminal profilers 跟摆摊算命的人卖的是同一葫芦里的药,说得天花乱坠实际上毫无用处。我一看到这个说法脑子里立刻叮地一声,deja vu! 这个说法我早见过,但是完全不记得在哪里见过,给我留下了很深的印象。 相当可靠而合理的说法: psychological profiling 是一件非常不靠谱的事情,在现实的侦探工作里毫无用处,警察之所以能抓到凶手罪犯,根本原因很简单,1) 大部分的罪犯都很笨,无条理,惊慌和混乱,留下大量线索,2) 朴素、沉闷、labor-intensive的侦查手段是唯一有实际用处的工具,例如在附近一家一家地询问有无听见看见异常现象,分析现场留下的各种物理线索,调查受害者的社会关系,如此等等。加上一些运气的因素。这就是侦探工作的全部,什么天花乱坠的神奇东西都是 bullshit。

这个解释非常合乎逻辑,虽然我根本没有第一手经验,也立刻相信了,并且从那时候开始逐渐迷上了 police procedural 类型的 mystery 小说(Martin Beck 和 Wallander 是典型的例子,梅格雷也差不多),而不再被沉默羔羊这种惊险小说吸引。但是我从来没想过去收集这方面的资料来源,这个说法的证据基础。Malcolm Gladwell 并没有发明这个理论,也没有亲手收集过数据,他只是收集和编织起行业内早已流传甚广的专业研究,用通俗易懂而且引人入胜的笔法叙述出来,而一手的数据资料都是从别人那里引用来的,实际上我怀疑在 criminology 里面 FBI profiling 那套早已过时,否则不会连我都听说过对它的批判。但是行业之外的大众是不知道这些数据和研究的: 例如英国有criminologist曾回头审查过上百个罪犯尚未抓到之前开出的profiles,发现只有百分之二点几是准确的,其他都不准,这个概率大概连 random hits 都不如。

我跟 Gladwell 的差别就在于,虽然我们的脑子里都塞满了各种乱七八糟毫无规律的碎片,但是他遇到 curious nuggets 会继续刨根问底,把一大堆的 primary research 都给挖出来,组织成一篇完整有逻辑有条理的文章或者一本书;而我呢,把碎片塞在脑子里的某个角落而已。

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Savannah 2



River Street was quite short. Walking from one end to the other took about 15 minutes. It was still chilly on the day I arrived; on the day I left the weather warmed up considerably. The sun was so bright it made me blink. "Sittin' on the dock of the bay ..." The song came to my mind.

On the last evening, I walked along the river, tourists rushing by me, warm sugary breeze drifting from two candy stores on River Street. In one of the stores, a toy train was clunking its way above our heads on a winding track hanging from the ceiling. Barrels of candy glistened in the light. The cynic in me suspected the authenticity of all this antiquity, but I couldn't really believe my doubts. The houses were real. The wood floor and creaky stairs were real. The dark, exposed stone walls were real. You can't fake this. On the first floor was Vic's coffeehouse, a bare and shabby place in which elaborate and gigantic wedding candles were displayed on wooden shelves that had long lost their colors. All handmade. You can order your own. Yet up the creaky stairs and across the wooden floor, I walked into a chic and modern restaurant with a sparkling bar --- Vic's restaurant.

I sat down at the bar near the window. To my right was a striking young woman with a milky neck and creamy shoulders, jet-black hair cut boyish short and gelled spiky. She was Lisbeth Salander cool. For half an hour she sat and played on her iPhone, then got up and left. Another art student, I thought. Maybe.

The restaurant was crowded. I could get only a stool at the bar. I ordered sea scallops with crab risotto. Instead of bread I was given two warm buttermilk biscuits, whipped fresh butter, and homemade orange marmalade -- not too sweet and filled with chunks of orange. That, my friend, was comfort food. I almost wept with joy and longing. Outside, night was descending on the river. From the window one could looked down onto the black current and pearls of light from docked boats.

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay

买书的问题

心痒,计划买个 Kindle,唯一的犹豫之处是买了书就不想看了。实际上我很少收集书,总是非借不能读也,真的占有了就没动力去读,而是专门去读有死线的书。也不知道是什么心理,急不可耐地看完即扔到一边。生性喜新厌旧,很少有书能经常看,反复看,没事就拿出来看也不嫌腻,包括 Sherlock Holmes 也不行,只能等很长一段时间,将书中内容忘得七七八八或者又老了几年心境大不同,回头看才有意思。或许是因为小时候不看红楼梦,没体会过反复咂摸的经历。

这年头想看什么书都随时可以找到抓到找到,放在家里存着似乎更加无意义了。我总觉得书不属于我,我只是个过客,随时从世界图书馆的书架上抽出一本,看了再放回去,如果死之前还想重看,再回去借来看好了。只要进了自己的记忆中就是占有。总之就是很不习惯占有书的感觉。

To Kindle or not to Kindle, that is the question.

Monday, March 15, 2010

陌路人

上上星期去 Savannah 开会,从 DC 到亚特兰大的飞机上,旁边坐的是一个男青年,三十出头吧。我俩一直自顾自看书,路程一半时,男青年去上厕所,把书翻过来扣着,我理所当然地瞥一眼他的书封面,哦,原来是 Game Change。这是最近很红的一本政治八卦书,描述08年总统竞选过程中的诸位,全是从 staffers 那里挖来的内幕和小道消息,最红最被传颂的部分是 Edwards 夫妇的婚变风波,John Edwards 的婚外恋生女丑闻,把夫妻俩都描写得甚为不堪,当然 John 更恶心。我早就看到过纽约杂志中摘登的 Edwards 那段,真有点黄色小报的感觉,I felt dirty reading it, but I couldn't stop.

等邻座同学回来后,我指指他手里的书说:好看吗?他笑笑说:都是政治八卦,倒很轻松易读,如果你对政治感兴趣,可以看看。我说我看了一点摘要,很狗血么。他说,如果你对政治不感兴趣,还是看你的侦探小说好一点(我手里拿的是 Roseanna)。虽然话不太好听,但他的口气很客气,我也没生气,随便聊了两句里面的 dirty laundry 之类的,然后发了句感慨:不是神经兮兮自我膨胀的人,如果是好好的正常人,谁会愿意选总统?弄成这个样子是制度的错。他挑战我的观点:如果没有一点自我膨胀,给他这么巨大的权力, 甚至是世界大战与和平的权力,谁肯干呢?我笑笑,还真答不上来。

现在记录下来,似乎这位又是一个喜欢高谈阔论臭显摆的男生。但这位同学不是这种类型的张扬男,而是相当低调和气,举止内向,发出的都是友善而毫无攻击性的信号。而且他说的话甚为有理有据,让我搔搔头皮,还真答不上来,只好脸红一红。遇到喜欢吹嘘实则自卑的装蒜男,我总是忍不住要跟他辩论一番,而现在是完全不同类型的对话,我乐得承认自己的无知和懒惰。

然后跟他继续说了些政治方面的闲话,我感慨下人民的愚昧和好控制,表达一下对 Howard Dean 的支持。他则答道:那你为啥不参与一下行动呢?

哈!我一听到这句话立刻疑心他是亲身参与过政治的。首都居民里基本上人人都能扯两句联邦政治,但是只有在河里湿过鞋子的人才会说这句话。一问之下,果然没错,他说他本来在Florida生长,父母和一个姐姐仍在那里住,但是他在大学里对政治发生兴趣,跑到首都来,在国会山上工作,在议员的staff office 里工作,后来又换到C-SPAN做了一阵子。

(事后才想起,我竟然忘记了问他在哪个国会议员办公室里干活。)

那现在呢?我问。

现在他自己开了一个辅导公司,专门给人做私人tutor。

啥?我对这一行很不了解。

他解释道,很多高中生啦,靠研究生的人啦,经常需要课外辅导,在考试前强化训练什么的。大部分人上那种强化辅导班,Kaplan 就是最有名气的公司之一,总部就是华盛顿地区。不过给辅导公司干,当教师,收入很少,公司的利润特别高,为了降低成本,经常雇佣毫无教学经验的大学毕业生,然后照着教程灌输,象流水线养鸡场那样,所以 turnover 率特别高。他说他先在辅导公司教了几个班积累一下经验,然后就自己出来单干了,现在他只接一对一的私人家教工作,自己当老板。一方面收入比较公道,一方面可以自己掌握工作时间 --- “家里有两个小娃娃,这样也比较方便。”

哦,多大的娃娃?

一个两岁,一个才10个月。太太已经先去了佛州,带着BB给亲戚们参观一圈,他现在自己赶过去跟他们会合。

我很好奇地说,你从C-SPAN转行跳到私人辅导业,真是个巨变哦。

他说,搞政治钱太少,成家以后就得考虑养活不止自己一个人了。他哥哥(也在佛州)是个律师,但不开业,而是开了家辅导公司专门教人考律师入学考试(LSAT好像是),他看着可行,于是也进了这一行。

然后说起家庭背景,原来他爹是精神科医生!他娘是 social worker。我看看他满头卷发,心里啪地给他贴了张“多半是犹太人”的标签。从侧面看,他右边的虎牙后面缺了颗牙齿,留下一块说大不大说小不小的缝。

我说那你怎么没上医学院?他说大学一年级念的本来是 pre-med,但是很快发现对科学没兴趣,太没兴趣,于是转成文科,后来又对政治发生热情,于是改学 political science。我嘻嘻笑着说,其实你现在做家教,倒也跟父母的行业有很大关联哦。他说这倒也没错儿,很多时候教人读书其实也需要不少心理学上的技巧和天赋呢,苹果掉下来终于离树不远的哈。

然后呢,就到亚特兰大了。然后我们互道一路顺风就分手了,不带走一片云彩。

龙纹刺青女孩电影

昨天在电影院里看见了这个电音的张贴画,估计很快就要发行了。满酷的。

不过,看 trailer 里面的女主角 Noomi Rapace 虽然化妆打扮和气质都跟书中描述吻合,个子却不能变得极其矮小。可见小说里把主角写成奇形怪状,太不方便后人改编拍电影了! Charles Dickens 笔下的 Little Dorrit,或者龙纹女孩 Lisbeth Salander,这不是给人出难题么?

有些男人喜欢特别瘦小甚至看上去发育不全的女孩子,是什么心理?对女童的 fetish 么? Full figured 壮女让人心虚害怕?

第三部小说尚未出有声版,纸书也借不到,我又不想花钱买,只好等着。还好不迷它。等 Wallander 系列的最后一集出版,恐怕我就等不及要买下来了。

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Prophet




这个周末本来打算去看丹麦影片 Terribly Happy 的(看广告片又是一个关于 eccentric 北欧人民的故事),没想到才两星期就下市了!只好看别的,在 The Ghost Writer 和 A Prophet 之间选一个,决定看了 A Prophet,先是被小汉的博忽悠,然后看见华盛顿邮报的 Ann Hornaday 说好。一般我拒绝看监狱电影,但是 Hornaday 跟我一样讨厌过分暴力的电影,既然她都看得下去,那么应该还可以下咽。

这是一个实际上颇为眼熟的电影,一个青年的成长,从无知天真的小混混爬到黑帮大佬的地位。导演 Jacques Audiard 据说是现在法国电影界的新星。让人没法不想起教父系列 --- 用现实主义的手法表现戏剧性的情节,用艺术风格做pulp fiction ,在情节上也很有类似之处,青年开始并不情愿入伙,为形势所迫而走上黑道,却因此而挖掘了天赋。另外,又是一个全男班的电影,讲的完全是男人与男人之间的关系,我坐在那里看着,fascinated,奇怪的本性和行为规则和彼此之间的关系。

黑帮片从 Dash Hammet 开始到现在,实在被拍滥了,大家出尽百宝挖掘新视角新口味。Audiard 的卖点是innocence和暴力的奇异结合,来一段野蛮危险的情节,紧接着来一段出人意料的温馨段落,把观众左拉右拽,玩在掌心里。他要达到的是一个微妙的平衡,既不浪漫美化黑帮生活和人际关系,又要抗拒自然主义和玩世不恭的冷酷态度和感官刺激的exploitation,这个尺度的把握非常非常难抓,能让我和 Ann Hornaday 这种人嗅不出沾沾自喜的YY味道,实在很难得。导演把赌注几乎全部压在主演 Tahar Rahim 上,也不知从哪儿找来的这么一个惊人贴切的男演员,年纪甚轻,几乎在每个画面里出现,镜头盯着他的脸不放松。从坦白青涩的少年到阴险复杂的黑帮老大,微妙的变化和发展,在狠辣危险与vulnerability之间走一条细细的钢丝,大部分时候又必须非常低调处理,把人简直看呆掉了。

跟教父系列一样,这并不是现实主义,真正的现实主义黑帮影片只有象 Gomorrah 和半部 City of God 才算,而这些个人奋斗史类型的故事仍然是 soap opera,不过是甚为精致的 soap opera。看此类的男性关系电影,我忽然忍不住在肚子里比较了一下中国、意大利、法国的根本差别。中国男性关系的故事总是毫无保留地信仰义气,信仰忠实的关系,loyalty 是此类故事的道德指南针,永远不会摇摆。意大利的故事呢,道德基础是家族血缘关系,一家人之间的 loyalty 比较重要,不过是否绝对和广泛地采取这个准则,我可不能肯定,Montalbano 系列里就狠狠地讥笑了一通黑帮家族讲义气和忠诚的神话。法国黑帮片,算不上有什么深入了解, Melville 受到存在主义的影响那是肯定的,这种冷淡旁观和道德相对性的态度感觉还是挺普遍的。

影片中的某些种族和文化之间的矛盾,想必是错过了不少,只能从蛛丝马迹中推测。例如监狱里的黑帮大 boss 是科西嘉帮的,而穆斯林帮随着时间推移慢慢人数增加势力增长。而这个科西嘉帮似乎跟政治有关,闹独立,跟意大利黑帮有关联。他们讲 Corsican 话,听上去象意大利语,而男主角介乎各帮之间,会说法语和阿拉伯语,又混熟听懂 Corsican ,所以才占据了一定优势。可见语言能力 communication 是最重要的本事啊,在黑帮里跟在企业中都差不多。

Saturday, March 13, 2010

记一下帐

最近在看:
Somewhere in Time by Richard Mattheson

最近在听:
What the Dogs Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

最近听完:
The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri

Gladwell 的书里的前言很好玩,他说他在上大学的时候,原本下决心要当律师,毕业前改了主意想做广告业 (Mad Man!),毕业后申请了多伦多附近18家广告公司都被拒绝。闲着也是闲着,在美国玉米地儿的一家小报找到工作,然后转到华盛顿邮报,然后1996年从那里跳入纽约客。

The rest, as they say, is history.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Savannah 1

这次出差住在 River Street Inn。 River Street 就是河岸边那条街,这个客栈么,也就名副其实地坐落在那条街上。开会所在的 Convention Center,建在了河对岸。很奇怪,河这边是历史悠久的繁荣市区,而那边出了这个贸易中心和一个Westin饭店之外啥都没有,很荒凉。

南北战争之前,Savannah是老南方的一个重要城市,乱世佳人里肯定有提到过的,不过我没读过那本小说,所以也想不出什么相关的情节。南方大庄园出产的棉花,通过铁路集中运到此地,装上货船,顺着 Savannah River 立刻入海,运输到北方港口或者欧洲。当时南方绝对比北方有钱得多得多 --- 北方眼红南方的富裕也是战争的因素之一 --- 原因很简单,种棉花几乎是无本万利的生意,劳动力都是从非洲以集装船贩卖过来的黑奴,只要投点资买下来,喂他们吃点饭,又不用发工资,又没有浮动的劳工市场抬高劳动力价格;还有,只要有土地,白花花的银子啊源源不断地流进来。

因为这里是重要的棉花集散地,所以商业甚发达。River Street 上一溜儿全是老房子,石头或砖的,沿着斜坡陡峭的河岸建起来,当时是用来储存棉花的仓库,现在被改造成旅馆、商店、饭馆儿。第一天中午到达后,下午沿着 River Street 一头走到另一头。老房子大部分外表甚为破旧,墙壁斑驳,斜坡是颠簸的石子路,还有生锈的铁楼梯。我一时把厌烦陈腔滥调的习惯抛在脑后,自己也发了一通“迟暮美人”,Blanche Dubois 之类的感慨。

第二天坐了环游全城的旅游车 (trolley),在整个老城区域转了一圈,发现陈腔滥调果然是靠不住的!因为现实才不理睬俗套呢。

其实Savannah 一点也不比其他有历史的城市更加破败。城里著名的22个绿树成荫的squares(原本有30个)虽然还没长出太多叶子,但是树枝上挂的长长的 moss 倒很旺盛。美丽而各有性格的老房子几乎全都很有尊严地在那儿立着,并没有东倒西歪岌岌可危的样子,一点也不破败,但也并不过分光鲜,而是恰到好处的新旧平衡。

这个城市的规划完全横平竖直,隔几条街就是一个绿树浓荫的小广场,交叉街道全部成直角,房屋围绕着广场建筑。这规划可比华盛顿的圈圈和波士顿的羊肠小路要好多了!Savannah 的老房子最有名气的特点大概要算 wrought iron 栏杆,据说是含铁量最高的城市。各家的铁栏杆都有不同的花纹和形状,极致细腻优美,但因为是黑色的熟铁,又不显得太奢侈。

听旅游车司机兼导游的讲解,二十多年前开张的 Savannah College of Arts and Design 生意特别红火,各地文艺青年都跑来进修,学校成了 Savannah 的一大产业。有资源加上有能力和品位,学校逐渐买下了城里很多的老房子并且加以保护装修,改造成宿舍或者教室。哇,太奢侈了,在充满了历史和艺术的老房子里当学生。所以本地的文化遗产得到了很好的保护。




Sunday, March 7, 2010

Goodbye, Savannah!



因为出差开会,倒也去过不少名气不大的美国城市了(Louisville, Albequerque, Phoenix, St. Louis, Honolulu, Iowa City, San Luis Obispo, 面目模糊的两个Florida城市),Savannah 和 New Orleans 是唯二让我打心里喜欢的地方,南方的魅力果然名不虚传啊。明天就要回家了,一边松口气(我不象CAVA君出差如吃饭那么平常),一边竟然有些依恋不舍,特别是傍晚在河边散步的时候。

Friday, March 5, 2010

Roseanna

Martin Beck 系列的第一本,六十年代中期出版的,故事背景是1964年夏天到1965年一月。

非常非常好看。昨天在飞机上即看了一半,晚上又看掉四分之一,今晚就干掉了。奇妙的是,大部分时间里都在描写艰难而缓慢的证据收集过程,这工作本身很枯燥无聊,但是我看得津津有味,迫不及待地一页一页翻过去。为啥涅?为啥我对这种 procedural 的东西这么起劲?

结尾高潮部分,哇,payoff 果然不枉了那么漫长枯燥的过程,惊心动魄,让人手心冒汗。

很显然 Henning Mankell 深受 Sjowall & Waloo 的影响,很多地方特别是纯现实主义的描写手法,以及先慢后快的节奏,简直是抄他们的。

读这本书的趣味之一是对比当时与现在的细节差别,一大部分也要感谢作者对生活细节的真切描写。不仅是技术上的差别有意思:例如,美国与瑞典警方的通讯要通过快递邮件和电报传递,没有传真,更没有电邮网络之类;查游船的旅客名单要从公司总部的档案里调出来等半天;跟踪嫌疑犯的警察必须从路边电话亭打电话给警察局报信。

但是实际上最特别的地方应该是对人物的描写。64-65年正是社会风气转变的前夕,保守与解放的过渡,瑞典当时是否已经受到冲击?不知道。受害者是个美国女青年,对性爱和女性独立的态度却比北欧风气还先锋前卫 --- 但是作者也暗示了她特立独行,很不合群。我不是很肯定作者对她这个人物的态度是绝对赞赏的,因为在某种程度上她的结局未必不是跟她的独立态度有所关联。但是对 Beck 太太,家庭主妇,的讽刺口气的描写,又让人觉得作者在进行对比,对当时社会中兴起不久的女权运动的一种间接辩论。不管怎样,Beck太太的唠叨和琐碎实在是太真实了,现在看来很有点俗套,但是放在当时或许并不。又有描述到贞操观念颇强的人物。时代不同,很多既定的观念都不同,感觉很奇妙。

虽然书里也有描写食物,但是都引起不了任何食欲,不是土豆烤肉,就是热狗或者香肠沙拉,要么就是面包黄油牛奶度日。唉,这毕竟不是 Montalbano 警长啊。

Timon of Athens

During the intermission of Timon of Athens at Folger, I eavesdropped on a discussion among the 3 persons (who looked like a mother with t...

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