as the fur flies

December 24, 2019

Perhaps you’ve heard: the movie version of “Cats” is here. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical opened on Broadway in 1982 and is still running, so what could go wrong?

Apparently, more than you’d expect. Rotten Tomatoes, which gives the film 17% on the Tomatometer (as of this writing), says, “Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.” Me-ow!

Somewhat hastily released to make scheduled screenings, the film is being reissued with some quick fixes. Here’s Louis Bayard’s commentary in The New York Times.

As the fur flies, it bears repeating that the inspiration for all this drama is a book of rhyming poetry: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. If you don’t have a copy on your shelf and the library copy is checked out, you can read it online at Project Gutenberg.

cover, Ulysses by James JoyceToday, June 16, is Bloomsday. It’s the day on which the events unfolded in Ulysses, by James Joyce. Celebrated in Dublin since 1954, Bloomsday is marked each year by Joyce fans with readings, walks and other celebrations of Leopold and Molly Bloom. (Read more about the origins of Bloomsday.)

If you’re inclined to celebrate and you’re not in Dublin for the Bloomsday Festival, you could choose a random line from Ulysses as a poetry prompt. The full text is available free from Project Gutenberg. You could follow in Bloom’s footsteps with the help of JoyceWays, an app that takes you to more than 100 locations from the book, with excerpts along the way (more JoyceWays on Facebook). You could also check out the Naxos iPad app, James Joyce’s Ulysses: a Guide.

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June 16

June 16, 2014

Bloomsday drawing by Alexander Morozov
June 16, 2014, is the 110th anniversary of Bloomsday, which celebrates Leopold Bloom’s single day of unfolding events in James Joyce’s Ulysses (not to be confused with the recent Bloomsday Run in Spokane).
The day is marked with readings and reenactments worldwide, and while many happened over the weekend, there are still excellent ways to observe this literary day.

First and foremost, pull that dusty copy of Ulysses off the shelf, open it to any page and read it aloud. Oops, don’t have it? Don’t despair. It’s free online at Project Gutenberg.

Then, stroll over to the Found Poetry Review to peruse Lá Bloom, a special, brand-new, online issue with found poems sourced from Joyce’s Ulysses.

Learn more about Bloomsday at the James Joyce Centre online and on Facebook. Listen to a rare recording of Joyce himself reading from the Aeolus episode of Ulysses (there’s lots of static, but the text is printed on the same page of The Public Domain Review). See what’s tweeting at #bloomsday. Set your clock for 7:00 p.m. Eastern time and listen in to Radio Bloomsday, a seven-hour reading, including a full two-and-a-half hour version of Molly Bloom’s monologue, the novel’s final chapter. Listen live or stream into the wee hours on WBAI. And if you’re still awake, go to your favorite video store and check out the documentary In Bed with Ulysses. Happy Bloomsday!
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drawing by Alexander Morozov

the whale is in the room…

September 22, 2012

Moby Dick Big ReadYou’ve been wanting to read — or re-read — Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville for a long time.

Now, the actress Tilda Swinton and 134 other readers are lending their voices to the “Moby-Dick Big Read,” an online audio version of Melville’s epic novel. At the rate of a chapter a day (today is chapter 7, read by Keith Collins and accompanied by artwork by Oliver Clegg), you can download and listen to the novel long into the autumn’s lengthening nights.

Start here.

You can also download Moby-Dick in a variety of formats from Project Gutenberg (not part of the Moby-Dick Big Read).

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