Saturday, December 30, 2006

[[[Apologias are inevitable, and the hall of mirrors they create endless! The more you say, the more you saysaysaysaysaysaysaysay. Rather like a habit one could always break--and yet]]]

[[This is one of those times when I feel that bloggin' makes me one of millions of rubber ducks all rising up and down on the edges of the same waves, eyes forward blankly open in unison, bobbing gently in the water, sometimes a little out of line, all fundamentally the same direction...little quacking sounds making a cacaphony.]]

[Not to mention that it's so tired to indulge in softie, sentimental, slightly revionist, de mortuis media talk.]

But I haven't been able to shake the sense that I underestimated Gerald Ford a bit, especially when you compare the man's rhetoric to Bush's. He seems more genuinely religious, but more humble, more honest, more straightforward. He just seemed boring to me as a kid, I think. I think. I remember a lot of excitment about Carter (in my house? in general?). We went to his inaugural parade--I had the sense of it being really important, a new beginning of some kind.

I don't know that (I have ever thought) Jimmy Carter's presidency was a failure. I can see that his win was probably inevitable, that Ford's defeat was too, but it is interesting to note how hard-working straightforward people can't/aren't rewarded at the tempo of public opinion. I think Ford pardoned Nixon too fast--tactically--but maybe that was the point? Maybe doing it any other time or way would have synched up for further, worse reverberations, but this way he absorbed the effects at his own costs? I don't know that he "healed the nation"--that presumes weren't not in a state of dissention and dislike and fairly well house divided right now--but maybe he did something that had to be done regardless.

I will say this: his wife rocks. I certainly didn't know much about her then, but it's a very short hop from him to her, to admiring him for having and loving and supporting an outspoken, interesting, smart, strong wife (who studied with Martha Graham!). I also admire him for being accessible to the media.

[Everything here has been said, in every case, earlier, nothing's new. I'm just catching up with some of the rethinking of the last ten years, itself already in its 700billionth layer of back and forth.]

[[But it is a relief to just...not hate him. Know he tried. This is really a personal rejiggering of thinking more than anything. That should have happened already but was triggered, obviously enough, by the obituarial deluge! I am very proud that he was a Midwesterner. What about that.]]

[[[Maybe PDJames was right, that modern politics are dangerous as they replace religion. Can never get out of our leaders what we want.]]]

quack quack

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Well, that was about the sappiest lil blog entry ever (the previous), in lots of ways, but do 'scuse. Emotion of the late-night, insomniacal moment. There's more here, plus please note that really--although I adore that version of "If I Ruled the World"--the best song would probably have been "I Don't Mind," the version off Live at the Apollo:
... But I know, I know
You're gonna miss me

I don't mind
This is my song
I don't mind
Goodbye, so long

I know, I know
You're gonna miss me...
- - - - -

Boxing Day film choice? Life of Brian, of course. Hadn't seen it in a long time. Had the expected probs (sometimes dragged on, quite uneven) but oh does it ever seem relevant. Rele-fucking-vant! In these days of global fundamentalism...oh my gosh am I boring. And the documentary that comeswith (Criterion!) is interesting for how beautiful and young they all look. Especially Palin and especially Graham Chapman, who (paradoxically) did really have a slight spark of divinity about him, if you ask me. He was a very beautiful man.

BRIAN:
I'm not the Messiah!
ARTHUR:
I say You are, Lord, and I should know. I've followed a few.
FOLLOWERS:
Hail Messiah!
BRIAN:
I'm not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand?! Honestly!
GIRL:
Only the true Messiah denies His divinity.
BRIAN:
What?! Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!
FOLLOWERS:
He is! He is the Messiah!
BRIAN:
Now fuck off!

Monday, December 25, 2006

R.I.P.

Sex Machine: Recorded Live at Home in Augusta, Georgia, With His Bad Self (1970)

If I ruled the world
Every day would be the first day of spring
Every heart would have a new song to sing
And we'd sing of the joy every morning would bring

If I ruled the world
Every man would be as free as a bird
Every voice would be a voice to be heard
Take my word, we would treasure each day that occurred

My world would be a beautiful place
Where we would weave such wonderful dreams
My world would wear a smile on its face
Like the man in the moon when the moon beams

If I ruled the world
Every man would say the world was his friend
There'd be happiness that no man could end
No my friend, not if I ruled the world

Every head would be held up high
There'd be sunshine in everyone's sky
If the day ever dawned when I ruled the world

Thursday, December 21, 2006

You want six dollars for what?

A writer at our paper I really like posited an interesting, and I think, very significant question in her blog the other day: what would Obama's campaign song be? There is something about that question that is larger than itself, that kind of wraps up all the political issues at bear (generational age, class, coalition-building, race, term agenda) in this potential campaign into one package. (My very cynical, political strategist suggestion was Staples Singers. I can see that working. Wouldn't like that, though. Because I *like* the Staples Singers. And I like Obama! I just don't want it to get overkilledededed.)

I've thought a couple times recently though that the real campaign song right now is "Can't Do Nuttin For Ya Man" -- Bush's song I mean. It squeals through my head when I see him on TV backpedallin and floundering.

. . . It was you that chose your due
You built a maze you cant get through
I tried to help you all I can
Now I cant do nuttin for you man

I cant do nuttin for ya man
You got all these people on your back now
I cant do nuttin for ya man
Flavor flav got problems of his own
I cant do nuttin for you man

Go lean on Shell's answer man
I cant do nuttin for ya man
You jumped out of the jelly into a jam

Make ya love the wrong instead of right . . .
For some reason, TCM chose today for a wham-blam of serious, intense, ne plus ultra romance films, which made for very interesting viewing during a hazy early-morning, err...recouperation from, errr...annual social events that may or may not be connected to the Christmas 'oliday and / or certain cliches about the ability of newspaper personages to embrace the pursuit of pleasure with greater avidity stemming from perhaps the greater vocational challenges, um....we had a departmental Christmas party. I don't drink often. Anyhow -

TCM is showing these in this order today: The Kissing Bandit, Love Affair (1939 version), Brief Encounter, The Clock, The Enchanted Cottage, Penny Serenade, The Last Time I Saw Paris and The Way We Were. ! I wish I had time today today to do the whole cycle (I love heroic thematic movie-watching, although I might be so awash in seductive Western romantic ideals from this lot that I'd never recover), but I did see part of Brief Encounter, one of me all-time favs, which was on when I woke up. That was strange. It's The Clock, though, that I watched most of, that I'm really in love with these days. That is one astonishing heart-rending movie. Really coming to love it, especially for the things around the romance: the complete snapshot of how war-based urgency was affecting things then, all the details of everyday life, its meandering quality, Judy's naked performance, crowded New York, the look in Robert Walker's eyes... Combined with the TCM year-end film about those who died in 2006 (they have an amazing graphics department) it was all very weepy. But satisfying.

- I was listening to somebody snark in the usual way about Penn Jillette naming his new kid Zoltan (other child is named CrimeFighter)--saying that he's going to have a hard time on the playground, other kids will make fun of him. And I thought--I'm not so sure that's true anymore. That argument doesn't seem so convincing. Some huge sea change there. Linguistic dams/dykes broken.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

minutiae round-up

The title of that last blog entry? Sounded like a Christian kids book. Or a bad e.e. cummings ripoff. Not intentional.

* Finally caught up with my newsletter of the Dorothy Sayers society (conference comin' quickly!). The newsletter is sooooooo Barbara Pym. I don't mean that in a casual way--British, sort of academic--I mean, in all its very small particulars, attitude, focus. The trivial round, the common task, the nerdfully responsible...sort of hard to explain if you're not a Pym fanatic, but trust me, it's all so deliciously there. Very No Fond Return of Love, certainly, topically. Adorable.

* Speaking o' which, I see that Excellent Women is being Penguin Classics-ed, which is a first for her--her books have hiccuped through strange reprints over the years: pre- & post-wildness, pre- & post-her death. Interesting that EW is always the central Pym, the one that (as people say) they recommend to people first. Anyhow, I guess she's officially part of the canon now? Odd. Interesting. I think she'd find it so too. This is a major step. (!)

GAWD, is there a lot of academia surrounding Pym. I love her dearly, but can any author support it? That's a dumb question--look at how lit crit works, count the number of disserations about ____ (anything)--but still. I dunno...

* In other literary news, the collected hard-to-find works of MKF Fisher, A Stew or a Story, was just published (by Avalon in Oct). The book was anthologized and edited by (dare I call friend) Joan Reardon, who wrote the Fisher bio that I ended up doing a little research work for (I got to know Joan when I interviewed her for an article before the book came out). There's no way that doesn't sound like bragging, I suppose, but I'm quite proud to have been involved with that book--it was an example of a decades'-long personal obsession flowering into an actual connection, involvement. Those things still amaze me. Plus it was incredibly fun.

I was looking at the table of contents--I've read at least a few of the pieces, xeroxes I got from Joan and from a Fisher acquaintance whom I know was instrumental in collecting all these Fisher pieces that got flung to the publishing winds as she tried to support her family. One of them, strangely, which was held for publication because of anti-Japanese sentiment during/after the war, made its debut in my alma mater's miscellany (have always wanted to know why). I'm really glad they went with that Fisher caricature on the cover--a little tired of the classic Pym glamour shot. Think this might serve her a little better.

This book arrives at a time when I have to say that I am more than full--surfeited, glutted, gorged, stuffed, bursting, over-laden--with food writing. To the point where I'm not even reading it much right now (all these new books!!). The only thing I've really wanted to read was Fisher or Pepin's Apprentice, which is definitely making a place on my serious Re-Read List.

* Insomnia/overwork has created a lot of strange late-night viewing, including:

- Doing Time on Maple Drive (or Ordinary People-Lite). Lori Laughlin: good actress! What the hell. I'd seen it before, but it was kind of interesting to rewatch--NOT, exactly, as ye might think at an easy guess, for how our attitude towards gayness has changed, but just because...all of a sudden it seems like everything has changed. Is that quite what the uptight upper-middle class (forlackofabetterterm) family is working to uphold these days? All of a sudden it just seems like things are different.

I do miss funny ol Bibi Besch. I've recently been noting how tiringly typecast actors are these days, but boy was she good at being the suburban wife. Brought a lot of oomph to it.

- The Mystery of Love on PBS. This program was completely fascinating. The interstitial graphics were distractingly awful! But the program--I think my mouth was hanging open the whole time. Really interesting, thought-provoking. Want to see again.

- Too many other things to remember or mention, but I did finally watch Old Acquaintance and sweet jebus! It's very boring to call things gay all the time (everything is) but BLEAGHOILKJI! It's really gay. It's mostly Miriam Hopkins' fault, for being such a melodramatic spazz, and turning it into farce (not to mention making Bette look completely sane), but it's just so...hammy. Campy. And I just can't get all excited about the ending--if I liked Millie at all, I could have, but even having marginal sympathy for that character it was just a limp conclusion--damn, Kate should have gotten Preston back! I'm a sucker. This was another movie (like my recent Ross Hunter obsession) that made me think--duh. We think of camp, of queer, as a quality that is visible in movies only in retrospect, now that it's safe to see the imprint because enough time has passed--but--no way. Somebody knew what they were doing here. Elizabeth Taylor was right when she said that Hollywood couldn't have been built without the gays, and not just the hopelessly closeted folks.

* I have a headache and a half reading about 1) the current Dream Girls movie and how whatshername is "big" compared to Beyonce and 2) the plot of the story, the original inspiration for it, and how whatshername was "big" compared to Diana Ross. Nobody...repeat...NoBODY in this scenario was ever big, or ever even pudgy. Judy Garland? Never pudgy. The differences in body size that drive all this shit are--VERY VERY SMALL. Our definitions and ways of looking at this stuff gotta change tout, but fucking suite. I'm so sick of it. This is related to the fact that EVERY fat girl I know has looked at pix of herself when they were young and said, "Wow--I was never as fat as I thought--I was never that big." Those differences that are seen as so huge when we're young/unformed...they're not. Of all the little platforms to built eating disorders and lifelong obsessions on...this ain't it. Really makes me mad. Leave people alone. Let them grow up.

* The main reason KH should never have married Tom Cruise? She looks terrible, just terrible in those ginormous Bono/Jackie-O/celebrity-hiding sunglasses. Just awful. Like a stick insect topped with big googly eyes. Her face is too small, too midwestern, too flat, to carry them off. Terrible. At their worst, they make her look like a little girl playing dress-up, infantilize her. All contributes to the creepitude.

* Since you asked: actually, somebody did ask what my my favorite Christmas "songs" were the other day and I realized anew that I don't believe in them as such. I mean, I guess I like some of them pretty well (secular Christmas songs), but that's not Christmas music to me. When did Christmas music move from something we sang to something we listen to? I am officially an old stuffy fuddyduddy, but I know the difference with this and I'm stickin to it.

* Uncool thought #398,201: I am starting to wish I had a few....housedresses. Schmatte. Muu muus. Those things. Long coaty-dresses you can throw on for puttering around the house--the absolute opposite of contemporary yummymummy wear. Not even zippers, just - thrown em on. The kind of garments perhaps that others fought for us never having to wear again...esp fat girls! But for puttering around the house?--they seem incredibly handy. Esp. for someone like me who (excuse) hates to wear clothes sometimes, I think they'd be darn handy for housekeeping, puttering around--for taking out the trash, not necessarily being seen naked by your neighbors when you are tottering around the appartmente and alternately caring and not caring about that. Nobody ever seems to wear them anymore (my mom certainly never did) except people in SNL sketches wanting to make fun of Italian grandmothers, but I dunno, I think I might indulge. Hmmm. Hmmm! It's very hard to even think about this without worrying that I just put a cautious toe on a fast slippery slope to major middle-age, but I'm not sure I care.

* Using YouTube like my jukebox these days, esp for all the songs I can't iTunes! Like the "Human Nature" remix of "Right Here" by SWV, the radio remix with sung chorus of "Ladies First" by Queen Latifah/Monie Love, "Keep Ya Head Up" by 2Pac, that jenniferlopez-Big Pun/Fat Joe song I can't quite bear to buy... Fun.

* Showing on our local PBS this week? Documentary about the Christmas windows of Marshall Field's, complete with sound-bite in the preview: "Chicago is Marshall Field's--Marshall Field's is Chicago." What the )*$*#(&%)(@*&.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

i wonder how many fingers god has

I was thinking
today
as I zoomed around
behind my life
that
God--to coin a cliche--1) must have a sense of humor 2) must have anticipated the need for representational art--understood that humans would need to try to draw the world around them.

I thought this because I was looking at an illustration that had a four-fingered hand on it, and I was thinking about Homer with his four fingers, and Peter Griffin with his four fingers, and then I thought about that art-class cliche that you can tell how good an artist someone is by how they draw hands, then I thought about Da Vinci's sketchbooks full of hands.

And I thought about how hard it really is to draw hands (there's a reason Homer has four fingers). It's not how you expect the extremities of the human body to end when you are trying to represent them, trying to follow the energy of the shape (of the human form). You almost have to shift gears. Crank back. Cram all that long, stretched-out energy from the human limbs with a screeching halt into these too-small, mutable, individually yet collectively expressive bundles of digits that are like whole exponentially complicated bodies unto themselves, that deserve a separate drawing for each. Subjugate them.

We know when we're in the human body how neccessary our fingers are, how they work, how the strength of our bigger limbs works with them. Viewed from our head they feel more like appropriate ending punctuation for our limbs rather than strange, disproportionate fringes, but when you're on the outside looking in, you think...hands. HANDS. How can I ever draw hands? Why do I have to slow down and draw these? On a good day, a hand can be an easily-rendered, simple, sensible shape, but most of the time: rather than finishing the flourish of a limb with an organic gesture, you have to tie it off in an incredibly complicated knot.

I thought today that God anticipated all that, probably found it funny, probably knew all the ways we'd try to get around drawing hands. Also that he knew how important hands are and that deep down we can't get around it.
"I've outlived all of my diet doctors. My first diet doctor was Dr. Atkins. And then I went through Dr. Stillman, the water diet. I think he drowned on his own diet. And I had Dr. Tarnower, and his girlfriend shot him. So I gave up dieting.."
(Merv Griffin in Esquire)

Monday, December 11, 2006

trashy mish-mash

1. Another media crush: Sean Astin. His voiceovers on "Meerkat Manor" make him very appealing! Why on earth is that?

2. If you haven't, you must try these cookies, Bahlsen Truffets. They have a little cocoa meringue as a base, cream on top, covered in choccy, with little sprinkles. They are just...devastating! And go very fast. Fantastische texture.

3. I know why I was meandering on for pages about Grey Gardens and "The Girls Next Door" the other day. I got close but didn't say it, which is: they ARE the same show. I was watching one of Hef's girlfriends totter bizarrely around the mansion grounds on her way to a dog birthday party and thought...oh yeah. Right. Same thing.

4. Out of a strong need for sweet yellowy vanilla cake, I made Rombauer's One-Egg Cake out of the Toy tonight. Not bad! Not bad 'tall. My life as a lactose-intolerant has gotten much easier with the arrival of rice milk in those little juice-box sizes. Can indulge in the occasional spot of baking without a lot of don't-have-milkangst (milk often an ingredient).

5. Those of us obsessed with Torvill & Dean were thrilled to notice a competition-filmed version of the Bach "Sarabande" they choreographed for Yo-Yo Ma on YouTube recently. Exciting because the arty-farty camerawork in the yoyoCD version makes it hard to even see what's going on. Really annoying though: the idiotic commentary over the heart-rending music! Sigh. I am working my way up to an enormous essay about my love of Torvill & Dean. It is going to be very complicated to explain.

6. Speaking of enormous ongoing internal essays, Doris Day obsession continues unabated and highlights YET another reason to move to the UK: they reallllly like Doris there. Many more movies on (pal) DVD that I've been looking for here recently and not finding...

7. I forgot that Clipse (reviewed in this week's R) is the group who did "Grindin'," which I always really liked in its funky spareness. New disc sounds good!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Great site.

This is a fantastic site. Over 4,500 title screens for movies, many of them old. For those of us obsessed with 1) titling 2) credit sequences 3) calligraphy 4) fonts 5) movies in general 6) graphic design 7) lettering 8) B&W films, it is a little piece of heaven on earth. Try scrolling down the page of new additions--it's rich creamy delicious death. Can hardly stand it. That title for His Girl Friday is one of my favorites...used it as inspiration for a design I did last year.

I think often that when I finally make a movie it will be for the sheer pleasure of putting letters on screen.

What the Queue Hath Wrought

Brought to the top of the Netflix queue this week: Old Acquaintance with Bette (hah! just typed Better) Davis and Miriam Hopkins. About time I saw this...can't wait. And Gig Young with a mustache! Etrange. As ever, I am hoping that all that Bette will rub off and do some crazy bitch-slapping and fierce enunciation in my humdrum ex.

Last week it was Walk the Line. There is definitely something to be said for watching a movie--any movie--once the cycle of hype has gone all the way around. Easier to like/not like. Maybe you miss some of the fever pitches, but I find those often misleading. Anyhow, I liked this one a little better than I thought I would, given that I had sort of lost my enthusiasm for it. It hit events and moments super-hard, of course (I was a sucker for the scene with Sam Phillips), but it also had a certain larger-scale narrative lightness of touch that I liked. Some movies are so afraid you won't understand a situation is important that they have to build too much structure around it...this just kept hitting spots and not bothering to give endless context, which was good. Can still convey the importance and/or assume people will get there.

Johnny Cash may be one of the most distinctive looking/sounding people on the planet, though--I'm not sure I felt like I was watching him, to use that old test. JP was sort of a Cash manque...parallel universe Cash. He sure has an intense gaze, though. Cash's voice immediately makes me think of my childhood, because that's when I heard it the most, singing "Casey Jones" on my friend's record player.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

1) Astrology often: spot on. SPOT FUCKING ON.

2) Why, oh why, WHY are the upcoming new Doris Day releases all from the, shall we say, less than stellar late-Melcher era? I swear I didn't even know she had made a movie called Do Not Disturb, and I thought I knew Everything. Why can't they release the Warner Bros. musicals? Must be some nakedly commercial reason why not. Some backstory everybody but me knows about Jack Warner or something... Move Over, Darling wasn't going to bring anybody's career back.

3) Not the right place for this but: Today is the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, a significant anniversary, as it will be the last survivors' reunion. It is a significant date in my world: the famous photo on the right is the USS West Virginia, which my grandfather was just leaving (his shift ended at 8:00) when Pearl Harbor was bombed at 7:55 a.m. My grandmother and one year-old father were living in Pearl Harbor too. They all survived, but I've certainly felt the weight of this date all my life, today not excluded.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gothick fun.

When I was a teenager one energy node of my literary obsessions was focused on historical novels and history, in particular the books of Anya Seton. They turn out, in retrospect, to have been fairly nutritious reading, given that I was scarfing them up primarily for the sex scenes. They were always incredibly well-researched, told good stories, were packed with history and atmosphere... I've not read one recently enough to be immediately remember what their weaknesses were, other than perhaps those common in the romance genre, but her books always made me interested in the eras and subjects at hand. And sexy historical nookie!

The book that I loved in particular was Dragonwyck, in an inherited tattered old edition, which I gobbled like it was crack the first time I read it. There is no way I'd know anything about feudal tenantry in New York State, patroons, or the anti-rent war without it, nor really that that kind of feudalism existed (outside of slavery) in America without this book. I've been thinking about it recently because it turns out there was a 1946 movie adaptation with Vincent Price and Gene Tierney that shows up on late night cable sometimes, as it did the other night. Price is good, really quite good as the dommy patroon Nicholas Van Ryn and Tierney's pretty well-cast too as the farmer's daughter who comes to live at Dragonwyck and gets caught up in the gothicktude. It's missing some of the sharp ups and downs of the book, since both Price and Tierney can be so dreamy-(weird/dreamy-evil/whatever), but it's good, and we get to wallow Price's undeniable sex appeal and menace. After all, what's a big B&W blowout historical film good for if not some serious shadows thrown on the walls for scary effect?

The story, though, especially the book, really is the most RIPPING YARN. It's such a good story that it has that kind of universal / abstract / parable-like / allegorical feel to it. You want her to sin, you want the unsympathetic compensatory-eating wife of no import (BUT IS SHE?) to be out of the picture so that Miranda, with all her imperatives of youth and beauty can have the patroon. Why shouldn't they be happy at other's expense? Then Van Ryn changes, our perception of him changes, the story blows up (yeah, gothickly) to be about why anybody should own anything (such as land) at other's expense and zow ping! War. The book gives a really good picture of the fierceness of certain kinds of Christian living at that time (1840s) through Miranda's father's reactions to all the luxury, which seem exasperating but prescient, yet not all easy-foreshadowing English 101 either. Even the man Miranda ends up with the end feels genuinely unlikely at first, in some ways.

Maybe the book doesn't hold up--I dunno (must rerererereread)--but I remember it as a really a good story, and I really admire good stories like that. And in that your-teacher-told-you kinda obvious way more of the history has stuck than I realized. (Turns out Anya Seton's (English) father helped found the Boy Scouts. Interestin.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Do I have to like the new, expressionless, iron skillet-faced Anthony Michael Hall? Who seems so determined to not be sixteencandles that he's verging into hyper-macho David Caruso deepvoiced non-acting, so very unconvincing and unattractive? Cause I don't.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Two major media crushes: Warren Brown and Ben Mankiewicz. Cakes and movies. Movies and cakes!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Everybody's always talkin about the ka-chungggg chord that is Law & Order, how evocative it is, but I've become newly re-in love with the opening of the Six Feet Under theme, by which I mean that one very first chord. It's really brilliant, makes my head whip around when I hear it. It's driving me crazy that I don't have a piano I can use to figure it out what exactly it's composed of. My friend Jenn could do it in two secs in her head, but I need help. There's an octave in there, I think, and a minor second on top? And doubling of a note with another instrument over the piano? Plus the triangle? Even getting this far in parsing it out makes me think it's another one of those things--like many of the best things--that is deeply simple. I don't think it's got that many components. Figuring out the interval(s) is what's driving me nuts... Fun nuts.

candy store

Ginormous sale at Sotheby's yesterday of American art, including! Charles Sheeler's Red Tulips. Also sold were Hopper's Hotel Window, Wyeth's Stand and Deliver, and Rockwell's Breaking Home Ties, which, you know, I really like. I guess that means I'll be bidding against Steven Spielberg in the future (maybe he bought this one). They'are all really delicious. And so American. How is that?


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Heather over at Fashion Survivor pointed out some recent scary Hollywood weight drops among the "plus-sized" actress group (such as Sara Rue oh my GAWD, that Reba lady). Sigh. She also pointed out a story I'd heard about Nicole Ritchie firing her stylist, the stylist being notorious for clients who get too skinny.

The thing that suddenly struck me about that is: how incredibly nefarious and WHAT a good plot for a story. A demoness...a Svengali/Iago/Faustus (Iaga? Faustina?) type who pipes women to their doom, tempting them with all the empty spoils of fame that burn them alive but make the stylist burn bright. There are plenty of archetypes to manage that, make it interesting. It's kind of Dorian Gray-y...or even Persona-like. Twisty turny identifications and devilish schemes. I mean, the situation really--on the surface--bespeaks some old-fashioned evil at work, to cozy up to people, play on vanity, get them doing bad things that are probably good for the stylist. Rasputin-y. That kinda thing.

Um,

I would never in a million years say I flat-out liked this movie, but I am starting to develop a relationship with it. Do you see what I mean? The relationship is primarily based on my part on interest in technical cinematic issues, as well as a love for movies set in conscribed locations (and how), not to mention a lifelong obsesion with the topic, not to mention an ancillary obsession with Gloria Stuart stemming from years of MFK Fisher obsession...but it exists, that's the point. I am hesitant to note this, even to bring it up, because in the end this could sound like or be unconvincing as anything other than an enormous steaming pile of rationalization, or even a kind of sam-n-diane thing (hah! thin line between love and hate, yo), but really--there are more parts of it I really actively dislike than parts I like. And some of the things I dislike are dealbreakers.

And yet, the point is: I watch it when it's on sometimes--often, parts of it. It's so strange (qv my endless meandering blog about how one consumes or half-absorbs media) the weird way we let movies (or whatever) in, make them our pets. I tend to Lenny them into overfamiliarity. I like to sniff along the seams of things. It's FUN. Can't help it. Once they dive in under the radar, that is. I mean...there's some crappy crappy stuff that gets in there. I read You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again once and was like oh! what a shittily written megalomaniacal piece of crap, but I've probably read it 30 times since. I don't know what you would call this behavior--the DSM probably has a term for it.

I will say this: there is only one word for K. Winslet's performance, after seeing the movie too much recently. CLAMMY.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ignorance Exposed! Film at 11

One of the besetting sins of 1) my know-it-all, ex-quiz-show, trivia-hound personality type 2) the kinds of work environments in which I have indulged is how I manage the deluge of information that is usually floating up to and past our nips in fast-moving rivers. That is to say, I often err on the side of a knowing a little about a lot, when it comes to general topics (not pet obsessions). Easy to paddle around somewhat lazily in the gigantic never-ending flow, especially at a newspaper.

So it can be embarassing to have inevitable huge gaps in one's knowledge pointed out! They almost seem impossible, those gaps, amongst the pressure of the deluge (although of course they're not--and there are tons!), which in turn makes them seem that much more shocking when they surface. How could such big air bubbles exist unpopped?? Shocking...but fun! I'll be honest. Frankly, ignorance is fun. Because learning is fun! I've stopped being embarrassed most of the time when I don't know about some crap, even, frankly, crucial crap--I mean, how can I possibly keep up? Okay, I'm almost always embarrassed by the specificity of my knowledge about current events and the war in Iraq, but that's different. Discovering something wholesale--popping a huge air bubble of ignorance--can be very exciting as well as disturbing! Especially if you like it.

The point is: I never heard of the American painter Charles Sheeler. In my life that could mean that I wrote a paper on him in college and forgot--not to mention I worked at an American museum for eight years and have no excuse, but still--who knew?! I swear I've never heard of him. He's the subject of a major traveling show right now (National Gallery, AIC, etc.). I absolutely fell in love--this is the really fun part--with his work this morning, even 2x3" on my computer monitor. Really exciting. How did I miss one of the founders of Modernism? I had to call my friend Jill to get all excited, which she let me do, bless her tolerant talented heart. How NEATO. (I guess one of the cool parts/flip side of the Info Deluge is that this stuff comes to you. Crosses your desk.)

I guess he's rather 'opper-y (as in, Edward H.--hallo Skip!), but I don't think that's the part twangin my strings exactly. The painting I really liked is American Landscape (1930), top, which is at MOMA, and completely and totally theirs and borrowed only for eddifyin purposes here, not to mention consider it a big ad for the traveling exhibition! The other one above is Steam Turbine (1939) at the Butler. The Wikipedia entry has links to lots of other neat images.
The beat du jour: I'm all hung up on "Random" by Lady Sovereign. I like her all right, I got a pet peeve about the way she's using the word "random" (the way everybody in her age group does--hate it), but damn! I love that mix/beat. The echoey synthesizer gongggggggggg sound workin in the chorus background...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

see your food

It's been another weirdly warm and thus slightly carefree weekend in Chicago. Today was spent in part dining at a lovely Hyde Park institution* famous in story and song, then in a trip to my local way-gour-may store that resulted in an expensive bagful of helpful staple groceries like one can of sugar-free Red Bull and a box of lemon pizzelle. A single croissant. So glad I crossed those off my list.

I read about 1/3 of the new Nora Ephron book at the Hyde Park Border's (I'm liking it, but that seems about right so far for committment levels). One thing that made me really happy was coming upon her description of the photos in Gourmet: "the splendid, reverent, slightly lugubrious photographs of food that the magazine was famous for." I thought she really nailed it there. I've tried to describe or refer to those photos' qualities with other people before, and had no luck. They were always a little stodgy, or conservative. Almost as if the registration was just the tiniest bit off, like an old-fashioned cookbook, with a haze of blue hovering unappetizingly above an otherwise attractive table. Only they weren't off-register, but still there was that feeling. Just a little too...static. Full frame focus from close-up to slightly old-fashioned styled background. Clearly I can't stop trying to describe these photos, because the feeling they gave was so specific, but "splendid, reverent, slightly lugubrious" is damn close.

This is all before le règne de la Reichl, of course, or as the French shorthand it--la Terreur. Hah! No no no! I kid. The magazine's photography seems to have caught up with contemporary style, all foregrounded n shiny n stuff.

*I'd put up a photo, but I can't for the life of me remember for some reason what the new signage looks like--since the renovation, I mean. And sorry about the Amazon linx, that's tacky I know.
Finally saw W&G: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. I am in love with the inane lil squeaking rabbits.
You know how you can get food cravings for things you've never had? For years my imagination has been caught by the idea of la truite Grenobloise, even when I didn't know what it was called; now I'm really craving it! Only, um, I've never had it. And maybe I wouldn't like it, esp. if it were too caper-y. And maybe I have scurvy, that's why I'm craving it (all that lemon). Actually, the lemon is really what makes me want it--seems yummy. And lil bread cubes. And thin delicious fillets of fish, crispily grilled.

First sighting of White Christmas tonight; guess it's official now. I am behind on my Christmas shopping.

I may go to Le Francais in January...this is exciting!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

confused chili a la tejas

I made the most confused pot of chili ever tonight. I started with ground beef and stewing meat that I was too lazy to re-cut in smaller chunks (wondering if it'd ever break down when I threw it in the pot), then chuck I cut up myself, then gallons of chili spices (this is Texas chili, btw), some pureed tomato, and, in a fatally disastrous decision, a wallop of kosher salt that sent the salt levels FLYING. Yuck. Irrecoverable. Disaster. Mon dieu.

So after a quick consult, I drained off a big portion of the salty chili liquid, then threw in water and chicken stock. And more chili spices. With no salt. And started cooking again. Lid on, lid off. Medium, Lo, Medium-Lo. Couldn't decide. Eventually I got it at a brisk simmer with the lid off.

Later I fell asleep watching the Beverly Sills documentary (she is a miracle. I wish I were Beverly Sills). When I woke up: luckily no burning, but all the liquid gone, just a steaming cake of cow meat, starting to crackle ominously around the edges. I threw in more water--too much--brought it to a boil, stirred it all up, then mixed in some paste from masa harina to try to thicken up.

I'm really not sure what state it's in now, except I'm quite sure the chili was confused in the end by all the dessicating and hydrating and boiling and rehydrating. I think it actually might not be thick enough. Regardless, I had a bowl (after six hours of chili-ing, I had no patience for 45 minutes for rice) with a blop of tangy Greek yoghurt on top and it was really good! Now it's cooling down (will take about two hours) and I will have not nearly as much chili as you might think from all that cow, but it'll be good. And I will freeze it, 'cause I'm actually already almost sick of chili.

Ingredients:
organic ground beef
2 lbs. of beef stew meat, cut up
2 lb. of chuck, cut up
olive oil
s&p (more P)
chili powder
cumin
oregano
paprika
thyme
sage
tomato puree
chicken stock
masa harina
agua

Sear meat well in olive oil in a big stew pot in batches so it doesn't braise. Drain fat if you need to. Put all the cooked meat back in the pot, cover it in huge shakes of spices (biggest: cumin, chili & oregano), letting them crackle in the fat in a bit. Then bung in water and two big cans of tomato puree. Cook forever, until the stew meat breaks down. If you need to, add more water or chicken stock, also spices. Stir occasionally to keep things from Sticking. At the end, mix in a paste of masa harina, and adjust s&p. Great with cheese, yoghurt, sour cream, whatever, on toast, rice (esp brown), pasta, quinoa, even, believe it or not, leftover Thanksgiving stuffing if its spice profile is complimentary (oh so good).

Your seats are a featherbed

Okay. When I was writin that rant about Thanksgiving media, the coda I left out was that for me, the one real Thanksgiving-related media phenom I know is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, because that movie was always on TV Thanksgiving afternoon, post-dinner, in my suburban DC youth. We only watched the first part, though, up to the part where they start flying.

But I turned on the TV tonight (ABC Family--a Disney channel) and...wham! Chitty Chitty B.B. But I don't know why. Was the Wonderful World of Disney the vehicle for it then when I was a kid? Or was it local? I don't remember, but it feels a little magical that it should be on now, only there's no way in the world the programming decisions were that fascinating, I'm sure. But still.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Doris!












Okay, nobody get too excited, but there's a Doris Day marathon on TCM tomorrow. Based on the thinnest of linguistic jokes ("Thanksgiving Day Marathon"?) but--who cares! Romance on the High Seas, It Happened to Jane, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, The Glass Bottom Boat, That Touch of Mink and Lover Come Back. I don't know why not By the Light of the Silvery Moon (pictured), more Thanksgivingy, but--again--who cares!?!
Posted a turkey rant in the Reader food blog I kinda like. Gobble gobble. Also one about Gordon Ramsay. The thing I didn't say in that one? His food will probably rock. Funny how that's kind of irrelevant.
Nothing much to say about Robert Altman (everyone else is doing that), but I surfed obituaries sadly for a while last night, thinking about the alarming gaps in my film education despite a lot of reasons why there shouldn't be. I never seemed to give myself over to rabid fandom with him, and I don't know why--he was ripe for it. I think it's partly the challenges that his movies present. They don't ever have easy toeholds, they are are like portals to a new dimension that turn themselves inside out once you enter, and there isn't a lot of room for grey. Very black and white, in a completely non-bossy but demanding way, cinematically.

To complete the image of a Anglophilic parvenu (the subtitle of this blog), I have given myself over totally to Gosford Park--that movie made it clear how much liking his films is about familiarity, because the more I see it, the more I like it, the more there is to see. I adore that film. I think it's unbelievably smart, and wears its virtuosity easily. And, thinking about it--The Player arrived at a point in my GenX life that was significant. It seems, in looking back, to have provided a crucial transition in filmwatching, a broader validation for film's cultural relevance that we take for granted now. Knowing about the opening sequence of Touch of Evil went from a film school convention to a general cultural one.

I told two people at work the news about him yesterday with (I am in an honest mood today) what felt like a bit of the unflattering relish and adrenaline that comes with imparting bad news, and I can still remember the looks on their faces! Was revealing to see, especially in a work environment that trafficks in information and the timing of the acquisition thereof and is thus somewhat unsurprisable. We should all have people grieve like that when we go.

I guess I do have a few things to say about Robert Altman. It would be much cooler to announce in the spirit of the sniffy endings of sad newspaper articles everywhere that I'm going to spend some quality time with Nashville or McCabe & Mrs. Miller this weekend and think about my blessings, but I think it may be Gosford Park again. We'll see. Oh how long a Robert Altman film festival would be!

Monday, November 20, 2006

gemisch gemosch

* So, the end of Prime Suspect was this evenin'. I dunno, think it was rather a hopeless mixed-up mess in some ways, with lots of fabulous elements that needed a much tighter weave. I stand by my Helen Mirren fixation--she was a good portion of the fabulousness--that, and good editing (I sometimes think the opening sequences of both parts were the best things about them). The show had grand plot elements, they were just all kinda jumbled together, even in the ending. The whole thing felt a bit like a trial run. But still--some very good moments. What is it about her that is so good? I feel bored at even trying to parse that out, except that she is smart, she is committed. She's the greatest.

* Saw my first helpful/non-irritating minutes of a Steve Raichlen cooking show this weekend. This is news. He has maybe the most un-attracting TV demeanor/voice/everything of anybody I've ever seen host a cooking show. Anyhow, he was going over cuts of meat, which is as far as I'm concerned something you can't do enough, and it was very clear and helpful. And non-annoying and non-grating. Odd.

* Saw Proof for the first time this weekend, the adaptation of the David Auburn play. I dunno, eh. I guess I'm in an Eh mood, but still. Eh. It's a pretty great premise, and I know the movie veered far enough from the play that he wanted to take his name off, but I found it not quite fully realized for such a great story. I didn't find Gwyneth P. particularly convincing as somebody who could be that smart (why is she ever the Smart Girl choice for mainstream movies? blah blah blah), although I'm trying to imagine Mary Louise Parker (who originated the role in NY) and I think I would have clocked her--I cannot STAND her mannerisms, her open-mouthed, wide-eyed reactionism that passes for acting. Hate her. Anthony Hopkins kinda put everyone to shame with his easy brilliance, but even that felt...I dunno! I don't wish I had seen MLParker, but I certainly do wish I had seen Larry Bryggman in NY. Golly. And (since I'm sort of playing fantasy football here with my casting wishes), definitely Richard Coyle from London for Hal, because he's so deadly yummy, although I thought Gyllenhalwhatever was pretty good.

I will say this: good Chicago geography. He got the way Hyde Parkers talk about Northwestern exactly. And Hope Davis was amazing.

* Also lazily saw for the first time this weekend: Murder, My Sweet, which was Raymond Chandler's adaptation of Farewell, My Lovely. I was surprised I hadn't seen it before, although in some ways not since I haven't been that interested in Marlowe-mangling in general. Don't think anybody really got it much right on screen.

I know the plot of Farewell well enough that I could kind of 1/2-watch the movie and say, oh, that's whomever, without much checking, but lost it once the plot veered off tremendously from the book. One thing I liked was making Anne Mrs. Grayle's stepdaughter--made more emotional sense. And some of that book is so racist--it was almost a relief that for whatever (moviely racist) reasons they didn't include so many scenes with black folk in the movie.

The thing they never ever get right is Marlowe. I think Mitchum gave hints of how he would have been perfect for the role in that bizarro English Farewell adaptation, but only 40 years prior. Dick Powell (that's him up there, on the right, with Moose Malloy on the left) was pretty good, but everybody's missing the world-weary, quiet but not Dana-Andrews-like quality that character should have. As well as the sex appeal (he's a Jane Eyre-like 1st-person narrator, in that you know he's hot). And the smartness. And the idealism. And the physical ability. It's pretty impossible to do him right, I guess. Maybe he's too delicious to ever come down from the page. Oh mystery writers and their delicious protagonists they fall in love with...


* Current can't-stop-playin song:

"Sista Big Bones" by Anthony Hamilton. Hookityhookityhook. His voice is sweet as pie, sweet as PIE. I love that Mo'Nique is the slo-mo video honey, and I love the goofy sweet expression on his face. But mostly I love his voice! Good GOLLY.

In order to break the spell, I switched over to the new DVD I got (swag) of the Maazel/Raimundi/Te Kanawa Don Giovanni and it's a fairly complementary switch. Sista Big Bones by Johannes Chrysostom...

* Completely and totally unrelated:

Don't you wish sometimes you could swish your hair clean after washing in a bucket of water like you were a Barbie doll? Sometimes when I'm in the shower trying to rinse my hair I think: I wish someone could pick me up by the feet and just...swish. Get it clean that way. Thank you.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I hate getting even this far into the whole stupid tomkatwedding (makes me feel a little barfy) but the fashion nerd in me has to notice (she was wearing this at the airport in Italy)--phwoar! The cloche is back. Or I mean--maybe not back, but has shown itself for the moment. This is interesting.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nerdfulness & weirdness.

1) I have received my new Panda lunchbox in the mail from LLBean and really couldn't be more excited.

2) I had a very celebrity-driven calligraphy dream the other night. Yes, because celebrities care as much about calligraphy as you do.

In this doozie, I and other art "students" were going to meet this master calligrapher/artist in staggered clumps. His name was...CCIJJO. Or...CCIZZO. That was his signature, his first initial/last name, which was what he went by. I was calligraphing it over and over and in my dream with "ZZs," but I kept dotting them, like "JJ"s, so I don't really know what the name was.

(All I know is, when I woke up, I started doodling this name on paper like I was Richard Dreyfuss with the mashed potatoes.) When I got to my meeting with the calligrapher, Ashton Kutcher came out and said, "yes, it's difficult isn't it?!," very smiley.

Then I discovered toward the end of the meeting that the reason we were all auditioning was because that Johnny Knox guy who's in Jackass and the Dukes of Hazzard movie couldn't read scripts unless they were: comprised of many sheets together, all stapled in the MIDDLE; calligraphed in a modified Italic hand; cut around the text so in each case the margins were mostly removed; edited so that his lines somehow were centralized on all these weird jagged oval pages, around the staples. Anyhow, we were there to audition to the calligraphic work. Oh yeah! I remember being very excited that Ashton understood the demands of the art. Ahahahhahahahahah can't stand it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

QV that last post

More Chicago sentimentality: I got a great-lookin book at work recently called Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class. It'd normally be right up my alley, but now I can barely stand to look at the photos because every other one is of Marshall Field's! Not to mention every other paragraph. Breaks my heart. I was all prepared to be overly sentimental about the department stores I got flashes of in my youth--Robertson's in South Bend, Indiana, for instance, but this Field's wound--how long before it goes away?? How long before the sight of MF green or a dashing brush-script font or The Clock doesn't make me a lil choked up?? Wah! I hope they bring it back. Macy's (as a coworker said) doesn't deserve the Tiffany Dome. It's like trying to rename corn or George Washington: it's either Marshall Field's or it isn't. Can't rename it. Go somewhere else.
My great-grandfather was chairman of this old-fashioned but still thriving (unfortunately) Chicago charity, the Pacific Garden Mission, 100 years ago--it's fascinating to see some major--and green--architecture attached to this and the new Near North SRO as well. The new Pacific Garden Mission building (image left) is by Stanley Tigerman.

The Times reported on these two buildings on Sunday--they've been reported on locally much more as they've gone. As usual, I was struck by the wild contradictions and undercurrent in these kinds of things. It's so great we're building forward-thinking green architecture, and it makes me insanely proud to read about housing initiatives and attaching important architectural work to the lives of the homeless, but...what about all the SROs torn down to make Presidential Towers? What about the condos taking over every affordable neighborhood? What about all the significant architecture torn down and thugged despite preservationists' best efforts? What about the people putting up tall luxury buildings in my neighborhood like they're in a race with the devil despite low occupancy rates? What about the (packed, constantly used, popular, featured in films) YMCA on the near north side that is closing because of insane real estate costs? What about the psychotic property taxes? Who can afford to live here?

Chicago breaks my heart constantly as an architecture fan and a citizen. But the small solace you find, you have to find, is that if you have to characterize an entire city you know we are tigers. Sometimes it does feel like it hasn't stopped since the fire. Build build build. Tear down tear down build start over. People here always care, and something is always happening to care about. We are not like other cities that worry and talk but in the end nothing happens, good or bad--like or not, something's always about to change. Chicago doesn't feel particularly like it's moldering unattended--at its core--even if it feels like you spend your life grieving for old buildings and brutal change. I don't know...will the new SROs be better? Did this have to happen? Is this about necessary urban growth and change?

What would all of those teetotalling, civic-minded Chicagoans like my great-grandfather thought of the new architecture? Would they have thought it "too nice" in their paternalistic, Victorian way, for those it seeks to help? Or would it have been the fulfillment of unknown dreams to see such big gestures come to fruition? Would they have been shocked at the fact that social ills are still all around us or accepting in a Christian way?

I do know--it suddenly occurs to me--that I will be sad to see the landmark of the Pacific Garden neon sign disappear from its current location. I look for it every time I'm on the El, every time I'm around there. The buildings in that part of the South Loop aren't quite as thick as some places, so sometimes you can see a stretch of State Street and, usually, the men lined up in front of the Mission. It's one of the first landmarks I learned in the city, one I came to feel threaded me to my past a bit. At least they are keeping the sign.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cor blimey, pretty good (Prime Suspect). Nobody really does turgid like PS, and why do I like it there and not in Law & Order/CSI/Cold Case/1-Hr Scenery-Chewing American Drama? I dunno. I thought it was a stroke of brilliance to bring back creepy old Bill Otley, like a weird fallen AA angel. Although, as ever, they pushed that device pretty far...did they? See, we dunno. Looks pretty good, I'll be back next week. This episode has the strengths of the best earlier ones, which is pressure within (the sexist lads made for great drama) and without the investigation situation, but I'm not sure it's quite as gripping.

I still miss Jack Ellis, from the first season (turns out he's the brother? cousin? of the guy who played whom my mom called Poldark&Handsome in the 70s...80s?). Anyhow, greatest speakin voice ever...bring back Muddyman!
I care only idly about the whole James Bond hoo-ha, but I have to say I like what I've seen of Daniel Craig. Partly it's sheer Blonde Man liking, but he also just seems more like a rough-hewn English bloke, and less like a smooth magical Everyman. I mean, he frankly has that wing-nut look when his hair's wet and his ears stick out. I guess I am also slightly more interested since Judi Dench's involvement in the whole franchise. And reading more Kingsley Amis. Maybe this new one will get me there. Oh! And to finally see Sylvia. DC sure has that Ted *look*, kinda. Beaky, manly, leathery--could excise him from his 50s surroundings and plop him in a bar in Wicker Park this weekend with no problem.

Every time I see the words ted hughes it makes me want to read Philip Larkin--his letters, etc. He was so funny about his appeal (and PL's lack thereof).

Pensées de, um, Mlle. Brigitte Jones

1) Censorship is so...fickle. Broadcasters go to great lengths to excise the words "tits" and "fuckwit"--aurally and visually, even, from over-the-shoulder shots of instant messaging and journals--but leave in phrases like "Sod 'em all" and "I don't give a toss." It's just odd to have evidence of all this linguistic arbitrariness right there. In the same mix.

2) So, this bum. Okay, it's a bad screen grab and probably stretched/skewed in the getting. And putting a camera on a body does add difference if not weight. And there's camera angle. And costumery. But adding and subtracting everything you want, you are basically looking at a bum that needed 20-30 lbs. to get even this big, which when you watch the film isn't very big at all. It's a little scary to actually see. I know this is obvious ground, but I needed to tread it. Goddamn starvation thinkin.

3) It seems to me that in order for Hugh Grant to play somebody even as nasty/edgy as he does in this film (and it's not that bad), he has to have this whole other career of jollity underneath it. 50 years ago he might have been a charming cad, professional roue (which he's clearly better at playing) with not nearly as much preliminary nice-making. I mean, Nine Months? Come on. Well, he was certainly much more interesting in his early career. Maybe it's just America's fault.

Friday, November 10, 2006

PBS Sunday

Reel Fanatic reminds us that Sunday is Part I of the final Prime Suspect (#7) on Masterpiece Theater. The plot promises Tennison battling alcohlism in a "brutal way," which I take to mean barf scenes, but I'm still excited. There's a little bit of chasing the dragon involved with liking Prime Suspect; nothing ever quite compares to the breathtaking discovery/experience of the best ones in the beginning for the first time, and not all of the series were that good. Plus they never quite acheived the fabulousness of her first series haircut again. But I'd pay to watch Helen Mirren dial a phone, frankly. I get teary-eyed just *thinking* about some of the best, most powerful moments in that series and other things she's done. There aren't too many people worth the hyperbole and praise heaped on them once the world decides to start doing so, but she's one.

Her Russian background is interesting--looked it up the other day.

If that isn't enough for Sunday night, then note that the evening begins an hour earlier with an episode of Nature all about penguins of the Antarctic! It's enough to start shoveling bread at PBS.
H. just told me that Gerald Levert died. Oh golly...that is sad. He had a beautiful voice, just like his daddy Eddie of the mighty O'Jays. Cleveland's very own, which is where he died. Ungh. I will make sure to listen to V103 this weekend...bet there will be good tributes. He was so fine. Also died: Jack Palance, and this whole Adrienne Shelley thing is so awful. What a weird news week. I'm not keeping up.

I sent this link to lots of people, but I will post it here too. The paper was the first place to really report on the immolation death of a Chicago war protestor/fixture of the music scene last Friday. It's colored a lot of how I've felt about all the Big News this week.

requiescat in pace

I mention this not to make anybody more sad, or be lugubrious or uncomfortable, but I wanted to say goodbye to Puck, who was not my dog, but a very very very good dog I was privileged to know, even babysit once or twice. He was the kind of dog that was All Dog, you know? All Id. He made me giggle a lot, as he charged about, even when he was a pest. Very very doggie, even though he had the usual charming non-dog quirks, some of which ran hilariously counter to stereotypes about his partial pit bull ancestry. I always thought of Puck as an inspiring survivor, a street dog, a fundamentally sweet animal whose loyalty and companionship to J. was the sweetest thing about him, as was her unwavering devotion back. It seems one of the best things you can say about a dog, that he hung in there through the creation of many years' worth of art, like a midwife, the ultimate studio dog. I know he will be missed a lot and I hope there are no fireworks where he is now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More Proof That I'm a Horrible Human Being

or
New Manly Hugh vs.
Old Rubbery Hugh
- - - - - - - - - - - -

This is about me, see, me. Not other people, because if it were, then not only would it be passive-aggressive and sad, it'd be about people I love and am related to, and see--it's not.

Here's the point: I am not feeling this big nouveau cultural American TV Schwärm for Hugh Laurie. I hate it! I resent it! I hate it! HE WAS MINE FIRST. In the very most decorous and understanding and non-psychotic way, but MINE FIRST. I never thought I was going to marry him, but ohhhh. And yuck.

I have been having sexual fantasies about that man since he played Lord Monty on The Young Ones! I have been scouring the web for Hugh information since I first had access (the internet was actually a better resource for Laurienalia, say 12 years ago, before worries about copyright restrictions and when it was more directly ruled by BritCom-loving geeks); downloading scripts from A Bit of Fry and Laurie, reading first-hand accounts of his first show at The Fringe. I have the entire boxed set of Jeeves and Wooster. I even found ways to fantasize about him and Imelda Staunton in Peter's Friends, and I'm sorry that movie sucks, same with Maybe Baby. I've dived into every ancillary thing I can think of: partly just Anglophilic prediliction, but sometimes just for Laurie context: Ben Elton novels, Elton plays, bad video tape copies of TV series like Comic Strip Presents and Thompson, Stephen Fry's books. Okay, I haven't read The Gun Seller--HELLO PEOPLE, it wasn't released in America because it was thought too Anti-American at the time--but I read every UK review when it came out.

And now there's this new sardonic heartthrob American Hugh Laurie. I'm not quite sure what to even think! It's hard not to feel that he's pulling this enormous hoodwink on touchy-feely Americans (whom he dislikes); financing his kids' education or a new second home in Majorca with 3-4 years on a TV show that wouldn't run more than a couple years in England since they are much more humane about putting shows out of their misery before they outstay their welcome.

I mean, it's not that I always/only like the nerd before we've taken off his glasses to reveal the Hunk Beneath, but if there ever were somebody whose appeal lay partly in his lightness of touch, it's this guy. That, and his sense of the absurd, and all this heartthrobby HughFandom seems very absurd.

This is my problem, and I must deal with it. Maybe I got a little haterism in my game. He is a good enough actor to pull this off and this new brusque manly doctory Hugh (I know, I know, his father was a doctor...I probably knew it before you!) is Hugh too, somewhere, and I must accept it. .38 Special tells us we must hold on loosely and not let go--so I will. This proprietary feeling is not healthy. And how much of this is self-hatin' jealous snobbery, you might well ask, if I think I have a better sense of how he dislikes Americans than others? No, forget it, it wasn't all snobbery, it wasn't. Dammit, I liked him. He makes me giggle, he's smart and weird and hilarious and talented. Sigh. Anyhow.

The new surge in AmericanHughitude that sent me over the edge recently was everyone kvelling (nicely) about his appearance on Saturday Night Live, as if he had just pulled off a neat little trick. This guy is a major comedian and done TV comedy since the early 80s...why are we so surprised? We are we always so myopic about things in America, things so far up our noses they're touching olifactory receptors?

It's a strange row to hoe, being a pervy heterosexual Anglophile. Maybe I should try actually watching House. Hah! Shuddup.