These are the ones I was just about always happy to find popping up on the iPod. That's all.
Asterisks are for ones I think you may not know yet … and should. The
rest are so excellent and well-known … they're just … like … obvious.
Alphabetical by the music maker (but if I had to name My Own Personal Very Best Album of the Year, it would have to be Lord Bring Me Down by The Consolers ... what sorry excuse for a culture would not/could not steer me to them before now?)
An Italian Songbook - Cecilia Bartoli
Sea Change - Beck
For Emma, Forever - Bon Iver
Resurrection of the Bayou Maharajah - James Booker
The List - Rosanne Cash
Lord Bring Me Down - The Consolers*
My Life - Iris Dement
John Wesley Harding - Bob Dylan
Since We Met - Bill Evans Trio
Shake That Thing - Stefan Grossman*
Two Short Stories - Jayber Crow*
Bach Sonatas & Partitas - Gidon Kremer
Oh My God Charlie Darwin - The Low Anthem
The Good Feeling - Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele*
Shakuhachi; Japanese Flute - Kohachiro Miyata*
The Sunset Tree - The Mountain Goats
The Voice of the Poet - Frank O'Hara
Brighten the Corners - Pavement
Little Grey Sheep - Danny Schmidt*
The Eternal - Sonic Youth
Going Up: The Very Best of the 13th Floor Elevators - 13th Floor Elevators
Because I revisit good movies, many of the titles here also appeared on last year's list.
I settled myself into an actual movie theater seat only five times in
2009. Most views were on disk. A few were downloaded. Two (Home and Sita) came straight through YouTube (hurrah!)
I seem to have gotten over my IMAX motion-sickness thingy.
3-D is good fun … 3-D IMAX even more ... and I'm glad that District 9 was not in it.
I've been watching sets (Capra, Lombard, Pre-Code, Noir, Westerns ...)
India is cool … from Slumdog Millionaire through The Apu Trilogy to Sita Sings the Blues. Have yet to meet Bollywood.
Shining Stars: James Stewart, Anthony Mann, Carole Lombard, Andrei
Tarkovsky, Satyajit Ray, Heath Ledger, Michelangelo Antonioni, Jane
Campion, Ingmar Bergman, The Criterion Collection
Best Viewing of 2009: Andrei Rublev, The Apu Trilogy, Bright Star, The
Class, Fanny and Alexander, Hands Across the Table, Home, Lars and the
Real Girl, La Strada, Leonard Cohen Live in London, Man of the West,
Sita Sings the Blues, Tension, Waterloo Bridge, Winchester '73
Two very pleasant surprises: L'Auberge Espagnole and Lars and the Real Girl
Best movie about which I'm trying hard not to have an opinion because
everybody has one and how could I be sure it was mine after all: Avatar
My most powerful movie experience of the year (and possibly of my life, no kidding): Andrei Rublev. You may not like it.
Non … je ne regrette rien.
13 Ghosts (1960)
The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (1936)
Andrei Rublev (1966)
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
Baby Face (1933)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Beauty and the Beast (1946)
Border Incident (1949)
Bright Star (2009)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
A Christmas Carol (2009)
The Class (Entre les Murs) 2008
The Conformist (1970)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Dead Man (1995)
District 9 (2009)
The Divorcee (1930)
Don't Look Back (1967)
Fanny and Alexander (1982)
A Free Soul (1931)
Garden of Evil (1954)
Gran Torino (2009)
The Gunfighter (1950)
Hands Across the Table (1935)
His Kind of Woman (1951)
I Confess (1953)
I'm Not There (2007)
Into the Wild (2007)
It Happened One Night (1933)
Lady in the Lake (1946)
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
L'Auberge Espagnole (2003)
La Strada (1954)
Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (2009)
Leonard Cohen Live in London (2009)
The Leopard (1963)
The Man from Laramie (1955)
Man of the West (1958)
Man of the World (1931)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Night on Earth (1991)
The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)
The Palm Beach Story (1942)
The Passenger (1975)
Pather Panchali (1955)
The Racket (1951)
Red-Headed Woman (1933)
Richard III (1955)
Rio Bravo (1959)
The Rules of the Game (1939)
Sita Sings the Blues (2008)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Spirited Away (2002)
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Three on a Match (1932)
The Thin Red Line (1998)
Touki Bouki (1973)
Umberto D. (1952)
The Wackness (2008)
Waterloo Bridge (1931)
We're Not Dressing (1934)
Winchester '73 (1950)
Wise Blood (1979)
Woman in the Window (1944)
The World of Apu (1959)
You Can't Take It With You (1938) Zelig (1983)
Crossing on the lower level of the George Washington Bridge toward New Jersey last night, Mike said something like, "Just think of where we are, here on this bridge, inside this massive structure that's bearing such massive weight from above us and below us."
So I thought of it.
I wonder if this is an apt image for our life on this planet. I don't think so. The planet is not a massive structure in any sense similar to the bridge, i.e. not made by humans (though quite likely un-made).
But I think The City is more apt. Massive structure. Made by humans. Bearing such massive weight above and below. The city would not exist if people were not willing to enter it. Obviously ... but ... such a move demands ... such trust. That it will not collapse upon our heads. That we will not starve here where no food grows.
In my experience, cities do not collapse. But I know about earthquakes. And we know about intentional acts of destruction.
I suppose we each need to consider the scale on which and within which we can best, safest, and sanest live (if safety and sanity are primary virtues).
Yet ... this smaller structure—this big old house in New Jersey ... how safe ... how sane? It's always a question of "enough", isn't it?
This small structure of my (or your) ego ... or our larger selves ... how safe ... how sane?
John is one of those characters who has always been out there lurking in my shadows, but I've never taken much time to look directly at him. I (and perhaps my Carmelite brothers) am not without some ambivalent feelings about John.
One of those issues is that our roots are in "the Ancient Observance" (O. Carm.)—some of whose members imprisoned and brutalized John in Toledo through 1577 and 1578. He was the reformer, and our guys were the reactionaries. We are in the line of the bad guys, and it's good to know that—good to know that we have been wrong. But in my own time with the Carmelites I've seen an explosion of interest in his work, from the ground up, which has reminded us (me) of some necessary things to be found there about the interior life. It has also encouraged more conversation and some joint ventures between ourselves and our Discalced (O.C.D.) brothers and sisters.
Another ambivalence, related to the first, has to do with the perceived intensity or "specialness" of "the spiritual life" that people sometimes assume about me (us) here in "religious" life. There's probably no escape from this, except to ignore it and go about living the best I can (funny that this reflection arrived just after I typed that). On one hand, I can see that the intense busyness of teaching high school for the past thirty-two years has not been a big help to my "spiritual life" as it is traditionally understood ... it's quite likely that I don't have a "spiritual life as traditionally understood." But I do have an inner life (just as you do, dear reader) fueled by and fueling all kinds of emotional and intellectual weather ... somewhere in the swirl of this may be found "the spiritual" ... I guess. It's a still point, sometimes very dark ... sometimes not so.
From Iain Matthew's The Impact of God: Soundings from St. John of the Cross, which is the best intro to John that I've found:
Stranded and starving, somebody has to get packed up and sent off into the unknown to search for food, taking what water is left, hacking a way through the undergrowth, hoping somehow to forge a path to something somewhere. But then comes the noise of a helicopter, and rescue approaching. That changes everything. The one thing needed now is some space, so that what is coming can come.
This is the revision: for John, God is an approaching God, and our main job will be not to construct but to receive; the key word will be not so much 'achievement' as "space'. 'Making space for God in order to receive.' (35)
That goes a long way toward explaining the need for all that talk about detachment and the path of negation (nada nada nada nada nada). It's not a flight from the (mostly) normally great things of life, but making room for what's Best.
Merton says this in "Light in Darkness: The Ascetic Doctrine of St. John of the Cross" in Disputed Questions (209):
I've been mostly not watching television for the past year or so. Well, mostly since getting out of Mundelein. Kicked the habit in San Antonio and am having no trouble with it here in Mahwah where there's a pretty nice wide screen TV right down the hall. But I rarely feel the need to use it. I just go in sometimes, if somebody else is in there. Just to be sociable. I know I'm not any better than you who do watch it, but I don't miss it.
What have I missed? I've missed being daily disappointed by the Obama administration. I've missed daily being assaulted by all of television's yelling and selling. I've missed the general sleaze ... I know something's going on about Tiger Woods ... but only via fourth- or fifth-hand echoes over the internet ... and lunch-table chat.
I've certainly become an under-informed person ... and am willing to risk becoming an uninformed one.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against screens the way Mr. Wendell Berry
is against screens. I'm loving old movies more and more, it seems. I
watch them on my computers and only very rarely on that big TV down the
hall. So, I'm still willing to let myself be entranced by electricity.
I watch these dvds over and over again, picking this one or that
depending on my mood.
But ordinary TV cuts into my movie time and my internet time. And any day now I'm going to slow down on the internet because it cuts down on my book-reading time & walking around time. It may even cut into my thinking about stuff time, but I'm not so sure about that since here I am ... right now on the internet, thinking about stuff.
And maybe it's time to think a little life back into this blog. We'll see.
A large part of the work at Carmel Retreat here in Mahwah, NJ involves us in the ministry of hospitality. In short, we keep a certain kind of inn. And I've recently gotten an eyeful of what it takes.
Yesterday, Sunday, we had mass at 11:30 then bid farewell to a group of about 30 who had been here since Friday on a parish retreat. Then we set up for the next group due to arrive at 1:00. And we welcomed about 100 people to a 50th wedding anniversary celebration which ran until 7:30. Then all three of our houses needed to be "turned around" to feed and room another group of 70 who will be here through tomorrow, at which time another somewhat smaller group comes in for a special dinner.
As you might guess, these events are fraught with the potential for trouble. But they've been largely trouble-free thanks to a staff who knows what they're doing. And me—I just stand back and watch and stay out of the way until it's time to pitch in with set-up, take-down, or table-clearing.
Today I've got some sore arms, but the old back is doing just fine, thank you.
OK ... so now I've re-recorded the poems I let Alex do. I've done
them in my own human voice ... the one I was tired of listening to and
so let Alex take on. It really was a comfort to let Alex do it ...
highlight the text and click. But now I'm back. I wonder how I might
work up a duet with Alex. That would be something.