Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms 

Shade Rupe writes about film and entertainment for genre magazines such as Panik and Timeless. As a journalist covering artists in alternative film he has interviewed many of his idols over the years. Dark Stars Rising is a compilation of these conversations. The commonality of these artists is their determined pursuit of art on the fringes, frequently related to horror or alternative sexuality.

The cover art gives an indication of an unusual aesthetic – with a background of deep red, various portraits of artists are framed in circles of different sizes. Staring out from other circles are eyeballs rendered in saturated tones of green, blue, orange, and magenta.

The majority of the subjects interviewed are actors or directors of avant-garde, sensational, "transgressive" film.  These are films the sorts of films that grace the venerable Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film.  Others are performance artists who push to the limits of what seems reasonable or possible.

Each chapter is devoted to a different artist. The table of contents is a grid with a photo of the artist and the page number. Interspersed with text of the interview are photos from Rupe’s collection. Photographs from other sources are credited. The overlapping photos, and photocopied graphics give the book the look of a zine. The interviews are casual and it’s evident that many of these artists have a sense of humor. In the first chapter the author interviews Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as Divine. Rupe asks Divine whether he’s considered writing down his stories. Yes, replies Divine,
…one day I would like to write a book, but I don’t know who they could get to play my part, though, if they made the movie. I guess Rob Lowe. We look a lot alike.
As “the most famous large actor in women’s clothing” Divine is one of the least outrageous artists in this collection. In his introduction to the chapter on Hermann Nitsch, Rupe writes,
The first viewing of a Hermann Nitsch action isn’t just seeing something it is an experience. The blood seems so carefully placed as it runs down flesh, the positioning of the corpse so delicate, the straining of the human wrapped in a carcass so natural. The granddaddy of Viennese Aktionism, Hermann Nitsch is also one of the warmest, cuddliest Austrian teddy bears you’ll ever come across.
Though this book won’t appeal to everyone, for those horror fans with an open mind, it will be a fascinating glimpse into alternative film and art.

Dark Stars Rising: Conversations From the Outer Realms by Shade Rupe (Headpress, 2011).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Women's Work - Thursday Noon Videos for March

This March, the Art, Music and Recreation Department will sponsor the library’s noon film program with a series of movies exploring strong women and the idea of ‘Women’s Work.’  Half the films in this series are fictional and half are "based on a truestory."  All portray characters attempting to break from traditional gender work roles.

In The Help (March 7), a white southern college graduate in the 1960s makes her way into the field of journalism by writing an expose on the lives and aspirations of her community’s hard-working, African-American women.

Coal Miner’s Daughter (March 14) explores Loretta Lynn’s ascent from the traditional role of wife and mother in 1950s rural Kentucky to that of a hugely famous country singer.

Set in the early 1900s, The Songcatcher (March 21) follows musicologist Dr. Lily Penleric as she leaves her university post after being denied promotion and heads to Appalachia where she discovers a wealth of 17th century English ballads still being sung.

Finally, the last film in the series is set in California in the 1990s. Erin Brockovich (March 28) tells the story of a legal file clerk and working single-mother of three, who helps win a 300 million dollar direct action lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric.

Each film in the series offers a great story as well as excellent performances by their female leads, as evidenced by their Oscar award nominations. The Help’s Octavia Spencer won Oscar in 2012 for Best Supporting Actress. Other nominations for the same film include Viola Davis for Best Leading Actress, Jessica Chastain for Best Supporting Actress, and the film for Motion Picture of the Year. Both Sissy Spacek (1980) and Julia Roberts (2001) won Best Leading Actress Oscars for their respective work in the Best Picture-nominated films Coal Miner’s Daughter and Erin Brockovich.  While Songcatcher was not nominated for Oscars it was nominated for awards at Sundance and its leading actress, Janet McTeer, has been nominated for twice for Best Actress Oscars in other works.

Our Thursday noon videos are shown in the Koret Auditorium on the Lower Level of the Main Library.  All Library programs are free and open to the public.

To learn more about each film, please visit the links below. In general, books on acting, film shooting scripts and song books are located in the Art, Music and Recreation Center on the 4th floor. Audio CDs, including motion picture soundtracks, are located on the 1st floor in the AV Center.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2009) - is the novel the film is based upon.

Honky Tonk Girl: My Life In Lyrics by Loretta Lynn (A.A. Knopf, 2012).

Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey (Vintage Books, 2010) - the memoir that the film is based upon.

Still Woman Enough: A Memoir by Loretta Lynn with Patsi Bale Cox (Hyperion, 2002).

The Music Hunter, The Autobiography of a Career, by Laura Boulton (Doubleday, 1969) - a memoir by a real song catcher.

A Song Catcher In Southern Mountains; American Folk Songs of British Ancestry by Dorothy Scarborough (Columbia University press, 1937).

The Ballad Collectors of North America: How Gathering Folksongs Transformed Academic Thought and American Identity, edited by Scott B. Spencer (Scarecrow Press, 2012).

Singing Family of the Cumberlands, by Jean Ritchie, illustrated by Maurice Sendak (Oxford University Press, 1955). 

Erin Brockovich : the shooting script, screenplay and introduction written by Susannah Grant (Newmarket Press, 2000). 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Writing Women’s Lives - Enamored with Place: As Woman + As Architect

San Francisco architect and author Wendy Bertrand will read from her newly published memoir, Enamored With Place: As Woman + As Architect (Eye On Place Press, 2012) and will discuss the importance of women’s voices in documenting social history.

Her memoir chronicles her experiences as a single mother on a mission to thrive, both personally and professionally. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Architecture (1971) and a Master of Architecture (1972), after study in France at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. Bertrand graduated at a time when approximately 3% of registered architects in the US were female. She practiced architecture mainly with the US Navy and is a founding member of the Organization of Women Architects and Design Professionals. Her feminist values and concern for social justice have informed her design and management decisions, as well as her vision for the future of the profession.

This event will be held in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room A, Main Library Lower Level, on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 from 6 to 7 p.m.

All Library events are free and open to the public.