Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Le Jour se Lève (Daybreak)

Over the weekend I watched Le Jour se Lève, Marcel Carné's poignant proto-noir film about tough-guy Jean Gabin allowing passion to lead him to his doom. The reviews I've read often refer to the movie's "poetic realism" which is, I suppose, as good a characterization as any. It reminds me, oddly enough, of earlier films of René Clair such as Under The Roofs of Paris in which reality looks very much like fantasy. Film noir did not become a term of film criticism until after World War II, when French critics caught up, all at once, with a raft of American movies they had not had the chance to see. They noticed in them a dark, downbeat quality which was different from any of the American moods they were used to seeing. I think Le Jour se Lève makes it clear that they were particularly ready to appreciate that quality in film.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Originally uploaded by Belsner.
'belsner' has posted a very nice set of pictures documenting an installation by Dale Chihuly in Chicago in 2001. You might also want to check out Chihuly's own website.
. Be sure to look for the photos and (fascinating) videos of his work.

Looking Harder at Surfaces and Textures

Originally uploaded by Auntie P.
Try not to look at the title of this photo by "Auntie P" for a minute and, instead, speculate what it is a picture of. You will be compelled to look closely at surfaces, at colors, at reflections, at interiors, at markings, at the spaces between things...

My favorites among Auntie P's photos all have that quality. The are not all puzzles but, one way or another, they make you look harder.


Originally uploaded by biskitsorange.
'biskitsorange' took this picture in a subway station in Seoul, Korea. Living in Manhattan, I am startled to see a subway station that seems so light and...airy. I don't think of subway stations reaching for the sky.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Horror! The Horror!

The Horror! The Horror!
Originally uploaded by baslow.
Ruth reproduces an illustration from the book "Melly's Menorah" which depicts Melly, a small Jewish gopher girl, watching in horror as her father obliviously vacuums up the Hanukkah cards she has been making.

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Daylight Hours of Nightlife

Originally uploaded by Agnieszka.
'Agnieszka' has invited us to contemplate, during the day, a sign that is clearly designed to make its impression at night. The result is a wonderful little portrait of unrealized energy.

Ice World Lübeck

Ice World Lübeck
Originally uploaded by Altweibersommer.
I've been exploring It isn't difficult to find some really marvelous pictures. 'Altweibersommer' has been posting a series of photos which she calls "Ice World Lübeck". They are lovely meditations of ice sculptures, frozen light, seasonal and lively.


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Currently Reading

This is a novel of World War II. It's a spy novel but not in the tradition of, say, James Bond. Instead, it tells the story of Khristo Stoianev who, in 1934, witnesses his brother being kicked to death by the local fascists in his home town of Vidin, Bulgaria. With the help of a friendly recruiter he makes his way out of Vidin and into the embrace of the NKVD, the Russian intelligence service. He is trained in Moscow and proves to be a natural at espionage. He becomes a Russian spy.

Furst commands a wealth of detail about Europe during the 1930's and early 1940's. His book immerses you in the social milieus he depicts, down to the fine-grained class distinctions, cultural temperaments, and ethnic tensions of these worlds...and the bitterness, cynicism and humor to which they give rise.

Lots and Lots of Pictures

I've loaded close to a 1000 photos to It is the best online service I've found for sharing photos. Many of the pictures will be completely uninteresting to anyone not a member of my family but here and there you will find pictures somewhat more interesting than that.

Baslow's Photos at

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Hand

Originally uploaded by Kh`o.
This picture of a hand, which I found on, seems to me to speak volumes...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Joel, as Hamlet, looks at Yorick's skull

Joel gave his last performance as Hamlet yesterday, December 19, 2004. The house was packed; word had spread that he was doing a remarkable job in the role. We were especially glad that several of his friends from school made the long train ride up to our neighborhood to see him perform. The audience was very enthusiastic. It was a most satisfying conclusion to his run.

After the show, twenty-one members of the two casts gathered in our apartment to party. The energy level was sky-high.