Saturday, March 18, 2023

Swansong for Spain’s king of spy fiction

One cannot help but be drawn into the labyrinthine world of Javier Marías, the masterful Spanish novelist, as he unfurls the intricate narrative of "Tomás Nevinson." In this complex tale, Marías explores the depths of human character and the shadowy realm of espionage, subterfuge, and political machinations.

At the heart of the narrative lies Tomás Nevinson, an ex-agent wearied by the clandestine world he once inhabited. It is the psychopathic spymaster Bertram Tupra who lures Nevinson back into the fray, urging him to undertake one final mission. Thus, our protagonist finds himself navigating the provincial streets of Spain in search of a former IRA terrorist, a key player in the Hipercor bombing of 1987.

Marías' prose is nothing short of mesmerizing, as he deftly constructs Jamesian, self-qualifying sentences that demand the reader's undivided attention. The allusive narrative voice further serves to bewitch, leading one through a tale that is both nonsensical and undeniably compelling.

Despite a foundation built upon a blend of comic and erotic elements, "Tomás Nevinson" takes a dark turn as Marías incorporates the real-life murder of politician Miguel Ángel Blanco into the fabric of the story. It is this juxtaposition of the absurd and the tragically real that elevates the novel to new heights.

In conclusion, "Tomás Nevinson" is a resplendent gem in the literary oeuvre of Javier Marías, and it is only fitting to commend the exceptional efforts of translator Margaret Jull Costa for her skill in rendering the nuances of the original Spanish text. Thus, it is with great enthusiasm that one recommends this novel to those seeking an intellectually stimulating journey through the intricacies of the human condition and the enigmatic world of espionage.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

One Typed Page

Zorki 1E
A typed page I submitted to One Typed Page

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Looking at the Snow

snowSandy in a parking lot in front of the mountains
snowA selfie we took with the San Gabriel Mountains behind us.
snowSummits in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Under the Weather

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately. Twice in October, including Halloween night, I was hospitalized for a rather severe cardiac condition: Atrial fibrillation (A-fib), an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots in the heart. The drugs they have me on are basically kicking my ass. I have no energy at all, although I can still do a little illustrating from time to time.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

BIGFOOT TIM — A Documentary Film

My documentary film, BIGFOOT TIM, is now streaming on YouTube. The film recounts the last ten years of my deceased twin brother’s life, using over 1,500 of Tim YouTube videos plus archival content such as 8mm home movies, newspaper articles, podcast segments, and recorded radio interviews.I made the film with a total budget of $79, using the Filmora software on an older iMac.A little background: Tim was born in Virginia and eventually settled in the Tampa area. The film explores Fasano’s life as he struggles to pull himself out of poverty as a cab driver while developing an interest in videography and a passion for finding Bigfoot in the swamps of Florida. The film brims with wild stories, wild characters, strange dreamers, and big ideas about human existence.The soundtrack uses 31 compositions by the Australian/Swedish composer Scott Buckley. It also uses the song “Wishes” by American guitarist, singer, and songwriter Matthew Mondanile, performed by his solo music project, Ducktails. The film’s trailer features the composition “Wonderful” by Scott Buckley.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Robert Caro's Smith Corona Electra 210 Typewriter

Robert Caro shows off his typewriter and also gives a succient explanation of his writing process and how to avoid “thinking with your fingers.”

New-York Historical’s exhibition “Turn Every Page”: Inside the Robert A. Caro Archive showcases never-before-seen highlights from life and career of Robert Caro, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author behind such masterful biographies as The Power Broker and the multi-volume series The Years of Lyndon Johnson.

Watch as Caro himself explores some of the key objects in the exhibition. In this episode, he describes one of his trusty Smith Corona Electra 210 typewriters, a brand that he’s worked on for decades and that has become an essential part of his writing process.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Location Scouting - Griffith Park

I’ve been driving around town scouting locations for my independent film. Today in Griffith Park I found a beautiful bench designed by local artist Alba Cisneros. In the movie, I’ll be filming myself walking and sitting in various locations around Claremont. As soon as I saw this bench I knew this was a perfect location.

My hope is to start filming in July.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

The Andy Warhol Diaries

For the most part, the well-known facts about Andy Warhol’s life are covered in the first hour of Ryan Murphy’s six-part Netflix documentary The Andy Warhol Diaries. When he was younger, he drew portraits of his classmates in an attempt to stop them from bullying him; he also had a fondness for Campbell’s tomato soup; and he left Pittsburgh in 1949, when he was just 20 years old. After making the switch from graphic design to fine art, he opened The Factory in Union Square, where he exhibited his first soup cans in 1962 and went on to become a pop star by 1968.

Warhol’s inner life is the subject of director Andrew Rossi, who focuses mostly on the artist’s complicated connection with his homosexuality. Using a mix of archival and newly shot material, the documentary tells the story of Warhol’s intense feelings for three key characters: interior designer Jed Johnson, Paramount Pictures vice president Jon Gould, and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. By all accounts, Warhol’s attraction to Basquiat was parental, sexual, and opportunistic. The primary tone is one of intense loneliness, as a voice like Warhol’s reads sections from his journal, a blend of actor Bill Irwin and a somewhat robotic drone of artificial intelligence.

After leaving Pittsburgh’s oppressive homophobia, he moved to New York City, where other gay artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns radiated a machismo he could not begin to conjure.

Then Rossi turns to Warhol’s relentless cultivation of his own persona. Meticulous yet glamorous—his trademark silver wigs are shown off by Jessica Beck of the Warhol Museum—the artist built a perfectly constructed persona, one that he often used as a defense mechanism. “The way he presented himself was as asexual,” says Fab Five Freddy. “You would hear rumors, but he publicly kept that aspect of his life out of the picture.” In the film, he describes the various young, beautiful, or powerful people whom Warhol regularly surrounded himself with: Keith Haring, Andy Kaufman, Basquiat, and Jon Gould (the subject of his last film). Warhol often hid behind these figures in an attempt to mask his persistent fears of ageing and irrelevance.

Warhol’s diaries, do not remind me of a medieval saints, nor even of a kept mistress, but of the secret lovesick grumblings of servant-boy, frustrated in an attic turret. One therefore assumes that Warhol’s diary is less than a masterpiece of the genre. But this is not the impression conveyed by Mr. Rossi’s film, which insinuates itself into the territory of Proust and Henry James with its wet and spongy footsteps. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they started putting gays in concentration camps,” Warhol writes. It is only what you would expect from such a louche observer, such a tone-deaf man of fashion—those sneakers, those sunglasses!—and such an aesthete, who still, despite his fame and fortune, thought himself a member of some oppressed minority. Much of the language of Warhol’s time is problematic today, including his references to Basquiat as “the big black painter” or Aids as “gay cancer.” You can blame yourself if you remain in doubt about this film’s intentions. Strictly speaking, it has none. It is not trying to understand Warhol or his work, or to interpret either in any way. It is a bath that has been prepared for you; into it you must sink for as long as the water remains warm.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Urban Shots #3 — Montclair

Today I visited the Montclair Transit Center, which features modern architecture and offers easy accessibility to buses and trains.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Urban Shots #1 and 2 — Claremont

These videos are the start of an ongoing series of video clips of urban life in Southern California’s Inland Empire.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Disrupting the Groundhogs

Groundhogs are taking taking over our yard, especially the strip of lawn between us and our neighbor in the front. We’ve been told that professional exterminators are expensive, so I thought I’d try digging down about 3 inches in order to disrupt the entry to their tunnels. Maybe they’ll get the idea they’re no longer welcome and find somewhere else to burrow.
The yard will look a bit torn up for awhile, but I see it as only a first step. Next step: Rodenticide, blocks of which I’ll shove into the their holes.

If anything, it’s good exercise.

My Writing Process - the Planning Stages

Using manual processes to write in this digital age might appear odd or anachronistic — perhaps even an affectation. But I don’t care. I us...