Passages records the books I'm reading, the live music I'm hearing, and the movies I'm seeing. Every now and then I'll throw in a passage from a book I read a while back or a trailer from a old favorite movie. Occasionally, there is something that simply caught my eye. But most of it is what I'm reading and hearing and watching in real time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dallas 1963

Thousands of people are jumping, screaming, waving. For more than a few, it feels cathartic, as if Dallas is letting something go. As the happy crowds push toward Jack and Jackie, the motorcade slows even more. Secret Service agents jump off the follow-up car and surround the presidential limousine to make sure the president and the First Lady are protected.

The procession is now slowly passing Nieman Marcus. Lady Bird spots a friend of hers who works at the store, and the two women wave gaily at each other. Looming above Nieman Marcus, on the opposite side of the street, is the Mercantile Building. Up on the seventh floor, in the offices of Hunt Oil, the seventy-four year old billionaire is somberly watching the procession from his window. He is flanked by two young secretaries. No one has to say a word. The huge roar from Dallas says it all.

Down on the street, a reporter from the Dallas Morning News nudges one of his colleagues and shouts:

"They've got this town wrapped around their little fingers."

Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis, Dallas 1963

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Partners In Command

In his own mind,he was conquering evil, but he paid a dear price for victory. Already awkward in the presence of others, [Stonewall] Jackson's intensified internal focus seemed to heighten his eccentricities and distance him further from most people. He was at ease only with God, his wife, and a handful of friends. Ceaseless strife with sin had sucked the youth from him. To strangers, Thomas Jackson appeared much older than his thirty-seven years.

Joseph T. Glaatthaar, Partners in Command: The Relationships Between Leaders in the Civil War

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bring Up The Bodies

It may, even now, be necessary to impress on the boy's imagination the stages on the walk ahead: the walk from the room of confinement to the place of suffering: the wait, as the rope is uncoiled or the guiltless iron is set to heat. In that space, every thought that occupies the mind is taken out and replaced by blind terror. Time falsifies itself, moments becoming days.

Hilary Mantel, Bring Up The Bodies

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Genius of the System

Warner's released White Heat in the summer of 1949, and neither the critics nor the public knew quite what to make of it. Without a stabilizing narrative force -- a love story, say, or a more appealing agent of law and order -- the viewer is necessarily drawn to the doomed and anarchic Cody. At the film's end, the nominal hero, Edmund O'Brien, pumps one bullet after another into Cody and mutters, "What's keeping him up?" The answer is obvious. It's what kept Robinson up at the end of Key Largo -- that odd logic of stardom and drama and Hollywood myth making, accumulated through decades of films and roles. It's what gave stars like Cagney and Robinson, Davis and Muni, Bogart and Flynn, the power to overcome conflict and loss and even death itself, and to be forever reborn and forever revitalized in another role, another life, another on-screen incarnation.

Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System: Hollywood and Filmmaking in the Studio Era