Sunday, August 7, 2022

Spiritual Quote of the Day (Soren Kierkegaard, on Love)

“What is it that makes a person great, admirable among creatures, well pleasing in God’s eyes? What is it that makes a person strong, stronger than the whole world; or so weak as to be weaker than a child? What is it that makes a person firm, firmer than a cliff; or so soft as to be softer than wax? It is love. What is older than everything? It is love. What is it that outlives everything? It is love. What is it that cannot be taken away but itself takes it all? It is love. What is it that cannot be given but itself gives all? It is love. What is it that stands fast when everything falters? It is love. What is it that comforts when other comforts fail? It is love. What is it that remains when everything is changed? It is love. What is it that abides when what is imperfect is done away with? It is love. What is it that bears witness when prophecy is dumb? It is love. What is it that does not cease when visions come to an end? It is love. What is it that makes everything clear when the dark saying has been spoken? It is love. What is it that bestows a blessing on the excess of the gift? It is love. What is it that gives pith to the angel’s words? It is love. What is it that makes the widow’s mite more than enough? It is love. What is it that makes the speech of the simple person wise? It is love. What is it that never alters, even if all things alter? It is love.”—Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Spiritual Writings: Gift, Creation, Love—Selections from the Upbuilding Discourses, edited and translated by George Pattison (2010)

Quote of the Day (Saul Bellow, on Hot New York Nights)

“On some nights New York is as hot as Bangkok. The whole continent seems to have moved from its place and slid nearer the equator, the bitter gray Atlantic to have become green and tropical, and the people, thronging the streets, barbaric fellahin among the stupendous monuments of their mystery, the lights of which, a dazing profusion, climb upward endlessly into the heat of the sky."—American novelist and Nobel Literature laureate Saul Bellow (1915-2005), The Victim (1947)

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Photo of the Day: Farrell Woods, Closter NJ

It’s a bit surprising to find a set of woods behind a public library, even in suburban New Jersey. But that’s what I encountered a couple of weeks ago a few miles from where I live in Bergen County.

I was making a stop at the Closter Public Library when I decided to take a short walk around the surrounding area. That’s when I came across Farrell Woods and took this picture.

Quote of the Day (Jorge Luis Borges, on Events as a Writer’s ‘Clay’)

“A writer, or any man, must believe that whatever happens to him is an instrument; everything has been given for an end. This is even stronger in the case of the artist. Everything that happens, including humiliations, embarrassments, misfortunes, all has been given like clay, like material for one's art. One must accept it.”—Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet, translator and librarian Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Seven Nights, translated by Eliot Weinberger (1977)

Friday, August 5, 2022

Quote of the Day (David Warner, on Not Being Choosy About His Roles)

“I said to him [actor Ian Holm], ‘What are you doing next?’ And Ian, who was always in the best way choosy, said he was doing the Kafka film with Jeremy Irons. Then he said, ‘So what are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m doing a thing called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.’”—English actor David Warner (1941-2022), quoted in Neil Genzlinger, “David Warner, Actor Who Played Villains and More, Dies at 80,” The New York Times, July 25, 2022

The year he won the first of his two Best Supporting Actor Oscars, Michael Caine was unable to pick up his statuette for his Hannah and Her Sisters because he was on location for another, rather more forgettable, film: Jaws, The Revenge.

Caine, with more than 175 film credits (and counting) on his resume, might be in the best position to understand the attitude towards work and roles exemplified by the late David Warner.

Why are such actors so prolific, so accepting of whatever jobs they are offered? Do they like the chance to work with a certain director or co-star? Is the money irresistible? Is the job a nice change of pace from what they usually do? Do they just figure the hell with it—who knows how, when all is said and done, after the director and studio wrestle over the footage, the picture will turn out, anyhow? Or are they just fearful of never working again, and figure they’ll take what they can get?

With Warner, there might be another factor involved in all those movies: his relative lack of stage credits. After a sterling beginning in the Sixties, Warner came down with such a terrible case of stage fright that he did not appear in a theatrical role until he played munitions titan Andrew Undershaft in of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara.

I saw him in that Roundabout Theatre show back in 2001, but was so annoyed at the normally estimable Cherry Jones’ in the title role that I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to catch Warner in such a rare appearance.

Whatever the reason or reasons involved, Warner certainly made his share of movies—about 225, or more than even Caine has appeared in so far. You might not recall his name, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen one of his films—or will soon.

In fact, the weekend following his death, I caught one of his appearances from quite a while ago: one of those Perry Mason made-for-TV movies that Raymond Burr made two decades after his long-running hourly series went off the air, now showing up again on MeTV.

In this case, Warner made a fast but memorable appearance as a not-very-likable murder victim in The Case of the Poisoned Pen. (Evidently, the experience was agreeable enough for both parties that he came back for another one of those Mason TV movies three years later.)

But the movies that cropped up repeatedly in his obituaries were The Omen (source of the still accompanying this post), Titanic, Tron, and various films in the Star Trek franchise. With that long, lean face, he was fated for character actor rather than leading man roles. It might not have made him the most prominent actor in Hollywood, but it did make him among those you’d see the most.

And sometimes, you didn’t even have to see him. His voice made him a natural not just for sci-fi and thrillers, but also voice-over work in animated movies and games, as discussed in this piece by Riordan Zentler of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

I’m sorry that Warner is gone now, besides the fact that one hates to see the end of a performer of such versatility. Remarkably for his profession—and especially for one admired so much by his peers—he seems to have had a refreshing lack of ego.

After all, he may have played countless villains, but anyone who can joke about being in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze can’t be that bad a guy.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Quote of the Day (Garth Brooks, on a Major Source of Conflicts)

“Some of the greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself.”—Country-music superstar Garth Brooks quoted in Rick Mitchell, Garth Brooks: One of a Kind Workin' on a Full House (1993)

(The image accompanying this post, by Glenn Francis, shows Garth Brooks arriving at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles on March 14, 2019.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Quote of the Day (W. H. Auden, on the ‘Leaping Light’ of Summer)

“Look, stranger, on this island now
The leaping light for your delight discovers…
And this full view    
Indeed may enter
And move in memory as now these clouds do,
That pass the harbour mirror
And all the summer through the water saunter.”—English-born American poet, critic and playwright W. H. Auden (1907-1973), “On This Island,” the title poem of the On This Island collection (1937)

Well, since it was the first week of October six years ago when I took this photo, “Indian summer” (not the torrid mid-summer variety we’re experiencing now) might be a bit closer to my experience.

But the interplay of clouds, light, and the water celebrated by W. H. Auden made an impression on me when I walked around Brooklyn Bridge Park back then. Auden himself was still two years away from coming to the U.S. when he wrote these verses (I don't know the locale that inspired him0, but when he finally came to the U.S. and settled in Brooklyn Heights for a year, he would have occasion to see this sight for himself.