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Bar of Cable: GoT Chickens?

“Think I’ll take two chickens,” says the goth behind me. “Think I’ll take two chickens,” says the Hound, the bestial bodyguard on-screen. Shh. I have not read the books. I don’t intend to read the books. And like Jon Snow—my Game of Thrones avatar, according to Buzzfeed—I know nothing. But I like it that way. I don’t have HBO or even a TV, and I don’t intend to get either soon. Yet I have seen every episode of GoT, via more questionable means. Tonight I’m watching the premiere of season four at a not-so-secret bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and sipping Dansk Mjod Viking Blod Mead from a co-branded Game of Thrones–Ommegang Brewery tulip glass. “Is this legal?” a new initiate queries, while 50 would-be cable subscribers gaze into a screen of medieval skulduggery. The promotional glassware would suggest HBO has plotted as strategically as the Imp and has a stake. And of course, this kind of viewing party wouldn’t be possible if the bar didn’t subscribe to premium cable. So is it any different from watching an NFL game at your local watering hole? Maybe, maybe not. HBO’s official statement on the matter reads: “Though we appreciate the huge enthusiasm around Game of Thrones, the HBO subscription is for residential use only. The two most obvious reasons for this requisite are, one, that it depletes the value of the subscription if any public forum can show this content and, two, that HBO is a service that at times airs adult content which may not be appropriate for all in a public forum.” To the second point, yes, America is terrified of bare breasts, nipples in particular. (But keep that brutality flowing!) To the first point, it’s worth noting that sports fans have enjoyed their pastimes in bars for decades, via broadcast and pay-per-view. Only recently have fans of serial drama started to indulge in the same type of venue. Mad Men and True Blood are just two other cable series that are substantially enhanced by a boozy group setting. And in the case of GoT, hoots ring out for Daenerys and her dragons, while groans of sympathy resound for one-handed, dishonored and sex-deprived kingslayer Jaime Lannister. But wait, back to my new glass. Is there some secret collusion here? The tulip glass, which I’ve christened Thirstador—for we name our vessels as we would our swords, do we not?—where did he come from? Not HBO, as I’d originally assumed. The bar itself purchased 20 to give away as a promotion—how’s that for dedication to the cult? So while some HBO subscriptions may have been lost (to the tune of $4,500, for 50 Optimum Silver packages), what is the marketing value of all those tweeting and tumblring tastemakers in the hipster equivalent of King’s Landing? I’d say it’s the difference between two chickens and every fucking chicken in the room. Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9:00pm on HBO and, if you’re in the New York area, can be viewed at some of the bars  listed here. Photo courtesy of Everett CULTUREMAP_There-Be-Dragons

by David Pfister

Apr 18, 2014

What Is a Chapbook?

“I, too, dislike it” begins Marianne Moore’s famous poem “Poetry,” and almost every poetry lover or poet I know can relate. Think tedious readings in unventilated bookshops, complete with the passing of a battered hat. Think tomes of Collected Poems as heavy and useless as gold bricks. Think open mics populated with sensitive types intoning line after line in a crescendo of feelings. But I would argue that the cringe-worthy elements in each of these propositions has nothing to do with poetry itself. It’s the situations in which you meet poetry that are the pits. If you’ve been avoiding running into poetry in the usual places, I’d like to introduce you to the chapbook. A chapbook is a sexy, slim volume—almost always less than 40 pages, sometimes as few as 16—containing just the amount of poems you can digest in one sitting. The name comes from a 19th-century term for small paper booklets, printed since the 16th century for popular consumption. The chapbooks of Olden Times ranged from folk tales to almanacs, from political and religious tracts to nursery rhymes. The common thread was that they were printed cheaply and in great quantities, and that they were aimed at buyers without access to formal libraries. Chapbooks still fall outside of mainstream publishing, since they are too short to qualify for an ISBN. But aside from zines and other xeroxed curiosities, today’s chapbooks are often beautifully handcrafted, limited-edition works of art. Using conceptual book structures and thoughtful design, the very best chapbooks create a lasting, tactile reading experience as unique as the poems within. A few publishers any chapbook aficionado should know: Ugly Duckling Presse is one of the largest makers of beautiful ephemera, and Flying Object, out of Hadley, Massachusetts, is also doing interesting things, chapbook-wise. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts is a bastion of bookcraft, and New York City’s Center for Book Arts has great exhibits and classes in book-making as well. Poets House, the poetry-only library in Battery Park City, has a chapbook collection nonpareil. And finally, DoubleCross Press, Greying Ghost and Small Fires Press are just a few of the smaller publishers consistently making beautiful books. But don’t take my word for it. It’s National Poetry Month—treat yourself to a chapbook and you may find, as Ms. Moore does, that “Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in / it after all, a place for the genuine.” Photo courtesy of Flickr CONNECTS_chapbook

by Beatrice Conselyea

Apr 17, 2014

The Fantastic Mr. Desplat

Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann. Steven Spielberg and John Williams. Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. Throughout their careers auteurs have teamed with great composers to create a signature sound. Director Wes Anderson’s current muse is Alexandre Desplat, who scored The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom, as well as Anderson’s latest confection, The Grand Budapest Hotel. But Wes Anderson is just one A-list director turning to Desplat to conjure musical magic. So far Desplat has worked with Terrence Malick, Roman Polanski, Stephen Frears, Kathryn Bigelow, David Fincher and many others. While Hollywood clamors to hire Desplat, his name remains virtually unknown in the United States. But if you’ve been to the movies in the last 10 years you’ve already heard the music of Alexandre Desplat. I first heard Desplat’s breathtaking music in Jonathan Glazer’s 2004 film Birth, in which his haunting score transforms the everyday image of a solitary jogger running through Central Park into a magical, mysterious and menacing journey. I had to know who wrote that music. Desplat’s Hollywood breakthrough had actually come the year before, in 2003, with his sumptuous score for Girl With a Pearl Earring. But by that time, Desplat had already scored dozens of French films. “Hollywood has opened the gate for me and has kept it open. Many Europeans, not only composers, have tried to break into Hollywood but only get one attempt. I’m very lucky to have continued to work [in the US] while still doing work in the UK and France.” Since Girl With a Pearl Earring, Desplat has scored independent art films like Syriana, The Painted Veil and The Tree of Life, as well as big-budget fare, such as two Harry Potters and a Twilight. In addition to The Grand Budapest Hotel, audiences can currently hear Desplat’s musical chops in Philomena (his sixth Oscar nomination) and George Clooney’s Monuments Men. As Desplat told Vanity Fair, “There are directors who love music and enjoy the process and are happy when you feel that you’re flying.” Desplat names Franz Waxman, Maurice Jarre, Henry Mancini and Bernard Herrmann among his influences. “I wanted to be a film composer because I heard scores that could stand alone, from Vertigo to Star Wars to La Dolce Vita.” This summer everyone’s favorite movie monster, Godzilla, will return and his path of destruction will be set to the music of Alexandre Desplat. Whether the score will stand alone remains to be seen, but if Godzilla decides to go for a jog through Central Park, I know we’ll be in good hands. Photo courtesy of Everett CONNECTS_Alexandre-Desplat

by Colin J. Warnock

Apr 16, 2014

Art of the McConaissance

When Matthew McConaughey won his first Oscar this year for his turn as Dallas Buyers Club’s tenacious cowboy Ron Woodroof, I thought, “Oh no, he’s gonna say ‘All right, all right, all right.’” Sure enough, at the end of his acceptance speech, McConaughey trotted out what has come to be his catchphrase—but only after some pretty bizarro stuff about his dead father’s celebratory meal of choice, and his own personal philosophy for self-improvement. But this performance aside, McConaughey has been riveting lately—in The Wolf of Wall Street, True Detective and even the little-seen Mud. I’ve been a fan ever since McConaughey first proclaimed his Dazed and Confused character’s louche appreciation for underage chicks: “You know what I like about them high school girls? I keep getting older; they stay the same age.” I’ve stood by him through the good (A Time to Kill) and the bad (The Wedding Planner, Sahara, Failure to Launch). Even when he became the butt of jokes for playing the bongos naked, I thought he was pretty cool (okay, especially then). And now, finally, the rest of the world is catching up to my devotion: Matthew McConaughey is having a renaissance or, as some folks have been calling it, a McConaissance. According to The New Yorker, “McConaughey’s return to the Hollywood firmament in the past two years has had an unusually organic quality to it, in that critics and audiences alike have quickly made room for his new oddball intensity and his desire to make interesting choices again after a decade of just livin’ and relying on his dimples and his baritone drawl.” Of course, the dimples and the drawl still work too, but McConaughey’s new, darker characters enthrall us in a way his cheesy rom-com counterparts did not. Just ask Camille Cauti. Next up for McConaughey are Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, out in November, and Gus Van Sant’s Sea of Trees, about Japan’s “Suicide Forest.” The Interstellar teaser proclaims that “our destiny cannot be behind us”; here’s betting McConaughey’s best films aren’t, either. Photo courtesy of Everett CONNECTS_Matthew-McConaughey

by Emily Burns Morgan

Apr 15, 2014