Wednesday, May 31, 2006

You're a cookie full of arsenic.

So, in the new Tudor book it says that "Amy's suitor" in Little Women is modeled after Tasha's grandfather, Frederic Tudor, who made a fortune in the ice biz. that Laurie--Teddy Laurence? Or did they mean Fred Vaughn of Fred and Frank? Nerds everywhere wanna know.

Okey, so I watched the rest of The Sweet Smell of Success last night--hadn't seen it in a little while. SUCH DELICIOUSNESS. I felt high and smart and cigarettey afterward. I generally abhor Tony Curtis--he is perfection in this film, though. As is BL. Goddamn. The ozone from them. Just...made me high. I had gotten about 1/2 into the movie earlier in the week, but found my brain just wasn't astringent enough to receive the Odets dialogue at that moment. Not a very *funny* movie. At least ha-ha F. Wasn't in the mood for surfing all fabulous razor-blade dialogue and feeling all intact.

So I turned to...All About Eve. As a natural antidote, since it's *about* almost the same stuff, just from a different POV. Provided a very interesting amateurish compare and contrast (*somebody's* already written their American Studies dissertation about this, I know), since they're both such fabulous films full of clever dialogue with at their center EVIL LYNCHPIN COLUMNISTS. Verr' verr' interesting. Interesting also since I hadn't seen Sweet Smell of Success (I keep spoonerismly and otherwise mangling the spelling of those words...Smeet Swell) since I started working at a newspaper. Not entirely irrelevant.

I think I'm supposed to say something trenchant and billmoyers here, but I can't. Except that SSS is at the first a very MALE movie, in contrast to AAE. And the defrocking/comeuppances are very different. And, well, Addison DeWitt stays on top and keeps the girl with his lies when Hunsecker loses the girl from them. They're both major Doms, these guys. DeWitt is such a top. Hunsecker actually cares about his sister, though, which becomes a flaw. DeWitt recognizes fellow evil in Eve.

Well, anyhow, lots of conclusions to draw besides the obvious, but god those are some good movies. I'm really glad I bought SSS. Funny, they were made only 5 years apart--can't make any deep post-war/50's comparisons there. Don't *think* so.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


...bad poetry happens. So sue me. Had a long day.

There's Always the Aquarium

I want to be
at the ray tray
at the ray tray
with Hanne B.

Wide-wingéd glass shards
cutting planes through the blue
edges rippling as they slowly crew
no gravity their way retards

Nor does anything
no sudden spurts, no stops, no speeds
no thing but the tray their way impedes
a steady turn then back it wings

I want to sit side by side
looking at the ray tray with Hanne B.
watching below our bit of blue sea
for the moment all our cares aglide

Yes, right, like the rays in their tray
not roiled, not beat
just smoothing soothing moving sheets
and nothing we need to say



I have clocked an amazing amount of time watching this show without really knowing any Spanish at all. Or I should say, a minimal amount of taqueria/Univision/Rogers Park Spanish. Or I should say..without understanding it. I keep thinking knowledge will burst upon me like a raincloud and I will suddenly understand everything they are saying, like a 19-y-o in an immersion course, but--not so far. I do think they're fascinating, though--especially Charytin. One way to be an older lady. I guess she had some big feud with what's-her-name --the Bum--Iris Chacon--so that gives you some idea of at least what age might be lurking under all that. She dances more than anybody on Escandalo, though. They all dance, a lot, including the mananchorwhoisgay?Idunno, but Chary more than anybody. She gabbles at the camera with this fierce speedy intensity that seems like it'll break through your TV on the other side, but even that doesn't crack my Spanish barrier. Someday.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Watching the 30th anniversary of Live From Lincoln Center...pretty fun. Weepy (ballbuster arias, all those curtain calls). Delicious (all that Marilyn Horne). Also nice because it confirmed that I actually *did* see that Masur performance of Brahms' Deutsches Reqiuem the weekend after 9/11--I swear it felt like I dreamt it. But there it was on the tape, down to the shocking way that nobody clapped afterward, as asked. That was a remarkable experience, that I never read or heard anything about, but was incredibly important to me at that time.

Always a mish-mash

Goddamn, I ride the remote like Seabiscuit. That means I see a lot of TV in a short period of time, but where's the virtue in that. Just makes more little bubbles pop to surface:

* I am a big fan of Memorial Day, but GOLLY I get tired of war movies. Couldn't be less interested.

* Prettiest colors in any animated show: Little Bill. Really amazing. All those transluscent blues and greens. Byooful.

* Corgi Obsession growing like overactive yeast right now. Between T. Tudor and a friend of mine egging me I am completely in love with their adorable sawed-off look. And Corgi puppies--forget it. Can barely handle them they're so beautiful. God, wanna eat them with a spoon! I'd love to get one one day, but they are NOT urban doggies--they need lots of room to run and to herd things other than roaches and pissy apartment cats.

* One of my favorite names/phrases: MUSCLE SHOALS. Obviously, great internal rhyme. But it's more than that. Just love it. Very cool word, and not just by soul music associations. Just sounds great.

* WHy oh WHY are they putting Queen Latifah in a superannuated violet prom dress in the new Cover Girl commercial?? It looks like it started as a skewed attempt at something, but in the end it's just awful and doesn't seem to be put together with any thought about what actually looks good on her. Looks like a kind of unkind old-fashioned attempt at dressing a fat girl. Goddamn.

* Can't watch Laguna Beach. It's so horrid, and the intersection of incredibly high production values--unbelievable editing and film quality--with absolutely nothing of substance of all, just a lot of roots that need to be touched up, hurts my head. Plus, I'm such an old codger that I keep thinking about what Laguna used to mean, as I understand it, and wondering where it went. I guess everything changes, but it does feel odd that MTV should pick for its major California-marketization a town with a very varied, artistic, iconoclastic history...that's nowhere to be found now.

* Yeah, see, I don't know if they're *trying* to make us hate teenage girls, between that show, Daddy's Spoiled Little Girl, My Sweet Sixteen, Tiara Girls, stuff like that--they must be--I'm sure I'm being cooked like a pancake even watching the promos--but that's some horrible shit on the TV these days. Spoiled, insular, horrible shit. Gotta wonder what the point of it all is.

* I'm embarrassed to say I knew almost nothing about Ivor Novello before Gosford Park. Boy, was he neato. And that movie--only gets better the more you see it. I just got the DVD and although I thought I knew every line, the subtitles tweezed even more out. Amazing. This time I was struck by the Kirsten S-D cavalier attitude toward the Croft/Wilson fight, and its juxtaposition next to their anguished's brilliant, it really is. That movie just gets better.

* Really beautiful: Donna Reed. I don't think people always see this? through the Image, but she was unbelievably gorgeous.

* Also really dreamy: The Sugar Rush guy on Food TV. Oh my, this crush on him only gets bigger. He's dreamy.

* I've still never seen American Idol. Don't really want to--guess the only thing that seems interesting to me about it is the Songs--what is it doing to the American songbook? Is it adding some? Confirming some? On some gigantor level, it seems like we're sort of reaffirming the songs heard round the campfire, and that's kinda interesting. Probably some of it's incredibly excruciating. That is--I don't want to hear anybody but Stevie sing "Ribbon in the Sky." I dunno--will shuddup.

* Totally creepy: those 'cavemen' in the Geiko (?) commercial. They still totally creep me out.

* Oh! BTW. Robert Altman has gorgeous eyes. Never noticed this as such until recently. Check them out sometime. Just beautiful green.

* Sidney Poitier was so amazing. There was NOTHING thin edge of the wedge-y about him -- he just showed the fuck up and demanded to be heard. I mean, there's *still* something groundbreaking about him in these days of all sorts of light-bright color preference.

* Just bawled watching a documentary about the honor guard and funerals at Arlington National Cemetery (that I had seen before!). Totally fascinating. Collision of hardassed-ness, empathy, physical beauty, ritual, pain, military, honor, secrets, washington dc...oh I don't know. It's a place I have now had two major experiences in my life, the latter of which keeps growing in importance and can't ever really be explained in words. I, like many many people, just have really strong feelings about it. Was cool.

* God, Oprah. What to do about Oprah. I was watching that show with her and Elie Wiesel for about 2.3 minutes (the usually O-max) and thinking, why does this seem Wrong? On the surface this might seem just fine, but why...and then for the 10,000th time I realized that part of the problem is that OPRAH IS TALKING. Let Elie talk.

* She and Martha, though. They both have this really annoying, unerring ability to occasionally be dead-on relevant in your life, which is what keeps you peeking around the corners. Like in the new MStew where they write about over-dying and bleaching RIGHT as my William Morris obsession is getting out of hand. Whatever.

* Pile of books by bed are all re-reads right now. Paddling very close to the shore. Hmm. Why? Ah wheel. Even got (finally) a separate edition of Lucia in London so I don't have to carry the WHOLE Lucia & Mapp anthology with me if I want to read that book--for some reason that one always harder to find than the other five. The chapters where Lucia gets her comeuppance as Olga and the Duchess dine with Georgia is some of E.F. Benson's most satisfying prose ever. I tried reading the bits of the first L&M to my cats the other day to show them where they got their names, but--no interest.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ode to the Os

Once you've opened your heart to their possibility, you see them everywhere. Two circles pressed together like a pair of spectacles--two big Os staring blankly back at you like Dr. Eckleberg's billboard in The Great Gatsby. From every medium they peer out: TV, mailings, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, circulars.

I am talking, of course, about the newly-fashionable, newly-affordable, extra-chic, super-big, front-loading (hence side-by-side Os) washers and dryers. You've seen them. They are shiny, in interesting colors like Prussian blue and coral, able with minimal effort to gulp dozens of dirty towels at a time. The doors shut with a rubbery click instead of that horrid clang of a laundromat top-loader. They're the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Or heard.

I do not own them. And now I'm going to sound first-world, covetous and ranty, but I don't care: I want them. Laundry is that important. You know this after twenty-plus years of dragging it Elsewhere to do it.

That is, some of us don't have any kind of washer and dryer, fancy or not, in our own living space. At this point not only am I well into my third decade of no laundry in my apartment, until recently I had no laundry in my building (not to mention often no car). I am like a sea captain who's seen it all-- there are very few laundromat stories I don't have to tell. I have seen roaches in the washer bins. I have had washers die in the middle of cycles and had to drag clothes dripping wet to other machines, only to have them die too. I have had people take my laundry out of dryers--and washers--and dump it on the floor. I once had my car broken into and my stinky clothes spread out all over the street as they searched through them for diamonds or something. I have put my clothes in washers that wouldn't stop until the power was cut. I have gotten fed up with it all and gone on massive laundry strikes where I Woolite-d crucial pieces in the sink over and over for months, letting the rest sit in bags.

The laundromat, the laundry room, is a crucible of this earthly battle—you are fighting for washer/dryer space, a chair to sit on, what TV station to watch, to have enough quarters or the right change, for the working machines, to get your washing done before closing time, to block out the constant screech of bored children, to not run out of detergent, to not have your plastic laundry bag rip on the way out, to not pull a muscle hoisting your laundry around (don't laugh). I hate it all. I hate laundromats themselves too. It feels counterintuitive to take my clothes to get clean somewhere where I don't want to touch things. They have sort of the illusion, especially in the neighborhoods I've lived in, of clean well-lighted places--oases of respite--but that just seemed to make them more likely for shit to go down. If nothing else, the fact that they often are the only places with payphones these days means that I am much more familiar with gang activity than I might be.

This is where I'm really going to sound pissy, because it turns out being significantly closer to the laundry holy grail doesn't make any difference. Two years ago I moved on up into a building that had laundry in it. I even have an elevator. And you know what? I am actively grateful for this, I don't take it for granted after the years of ghettofabulous laundering, but I still hate doing laundry this way. It still takes more time than it should. If I have to put on a bra and find quarters, it's too much. I can't handle it any more. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don't want to have to fight anybody for a washer ever again in my life (that still happens, of course, just through the cage of genteel smiles). I want to throw in a load any time of the day and know I can take it out when I'm good and ready. This laundry captain wants to no more go a-roaming--I'm done.

All this angst is connected, as you might guess, to the deep down dirty (hah) secret that I love to do laundry. I like doing intelligent little loads with just the right settings. I like having clean clothes. I even like the everyday maintenance and upkeep, the small mending chores, the spot removers, satisfying ironing jobs. But it's gotta happen in my own space. I can't seem to get interested any other way. I know I'm lucky--I know I'm not banging my clothes against a rock or fighting roaches for a washer anymore--but if there ever was an unflattering fact I know about myself now, it's that I want my own washer and dryer. I am a monomaniacal new bride in a 60s sitcom. Nothing else will do.

Maybe once I achieve In-House Laundry life won't hold the joy I imagine it will, but, like very few dreams at this point in my life, I am willing to grant it its power until I know otherwise. In the meantime the allure of the frontloaders hangs in the sky like a double star. And I clock washer-n-dryer sightings everywhere. They beckon me, tease me, those big eyes. The large Os blink at me, a single tear forming in their corners, seeming to plead: When are you coming to get us? When will you open our big front-loading doors and crawl through to paradise on the other side?

more Mildred

I love Joan Crawford (can't stop thinking about MP) but her performance is 180 degrees off in that movie. It's part of why it works--if she were just a little bit off, then we'd notice more--and part of why it matches in theory. One gets the feeling Crawford couldn't see her character's fatal flaw quite as a flaw--or she rarely acts it as such, I should say--since it was about the maternal instinct gone awry (easy to imagine her wanting to hide psychologically there herself, if we are to believe Things). So her reactions are all within the spectrum of good, noble--human, but good. She just sometimes boils over, but never really loses it. She's all modulated Joan.

Perhaps it's the sense that it is face-slapping Crawford inhabiting this role with all the potential energy and rage it carries that gives the edge to her performance--that encourages us to bring something to our viewing of her performance. Maybe it's the combo that works. God knows she slaps faces in this movie too, but it's not crazy Joan. Whatever the appeal of the performance is, it's sort of oblique. She inhabits her sideways.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Two other things from Mildred Pierce last night. 1) I can't always get past the campiness of Zachary Scott--he's too much with his mustachios and swimming trunks and 2) I finally admitted a goodly part of my interest in Jack Carson (already spawned one 3K article, much cut down in my alumni mag): he was really hot. I know he was a dope and he used the slang that dated the fastest and sounds a little like a Simpson character but he was dreamy! He's so pretty in this film. Good to finally admit it. He so rarely got the girl in his films - gahwoo!

Because of the VA info scandal (I think), I found myself thinking today of the Ivy League posture photo scandal. That's one of those things you can't even believe really happened. Did I dream it? Was there really such a thing? Am I making this up? Because if there really were, wouldn't we still be talking about it? So unreal/real. Right, sure, somebody took photos of thousands of naked IvyLeaguers.
I recently indulged in a couple books by Tasha Tudor. For a bunch of reasons, really: nostalgia (for my childhood), nostalgia (for hers), gigantic Corgi Lust, and most of all a kind of professional curiosity--I wanted to kind of take another look at her as an adult, at her whole career as an illustrator, esp. as one of those world-creating ones. Her stuff can be so dead-sappy, depending on how you approach it. Very Holly Hobbie if you want it to be, only it's not, really, when you look at her work in total. Not only that, what strikes you really hard right away (I had forgotten this) is what an old Yankee tyrannix she is. Barely under the surface of all that watercolor and pastel shines through this rock-hard woman. I remember thinking this, even as a child, and there it is again, in the smallest of her works. This kind of absolutism and fierceness and this rejection of the world as well as acceptance of it. A very raw kind of peace. Also in interviews, anything. There is a hilarious interview with her on a publisher website that answered questions (they were filtered through her son) with sentences such as: "Tasha Tudor cannot explain the instinctive creative process" and 'Tasha Tudor has no interest in current events." Hilarious. Not only THAT--I recently finally read more about her background and it turns out it was totally dissolute. Snobby, bohemian, incredibly well-connected, but also scandalous. Shocking, really--her parents, her upbringing, etc. Very interesting. Wonder if it pisses off all the people that want to cutesify her flax-spinning and garden-tending and autre temps, autres moeurs. There is no Holly Hobbie here.

Nixon in China finally being performed in Chicago for the first time. I love the music, but am not sure I want to see it (why?). Weird. Bet it'd be cool. Got to give props to my parents for turning me onto that--I'm probably the only person I know whose mom sent them Einstein on the Beach in college. Or Steven Reich. Or Arvo Pärt. Well, maybe, who knows. Either way, I've always enjoyed lazily tracing their forays into new music.

I love Doris Day, but the color scheme in With Six You Get Eggroll almost gave me an aneurysm last night. It's so horridly orange and yellow and wicker and brown, with that dreadful depressive lighting. Also had a short bash through Mildred Pierce (got a lil Amazon order yesterday). Eyebrows. Joan Crawford. Eyebrows.

Monday, May 22, 2006

god bless 'em

Bog the Hounty Dunter - I mean Dog - got married over the weekend to his big breasteded ass-kicking partner Beth. Well, more power to them. Here's to those who pretend "age is not" (to quote MFK Fisher) and to those who kick ass while maintaining their acrylic fills. I'm convinced she's about 10x tougher than he'll ever be, but that's part of the fun.
I am in the mood to watch beautiful confused consumerist Merchant Ivory or Ivory-manque films full of fabrics and jewels and locations and beautiful speaking voices, like Wings of the Dove or Where Angels Fear to Tread or something. Not the really good ones, but the slightly off ones. Weird. Craving.

Okay, I cracked up listening to Quagmire speak Elvish on The Family Guy tonight, but that show is just too nastily sexist in ways for me to be comfortable with it. Yes, everyone gets made fun of, but some characters get their own back, and some don't, and the women rarely do. It feels nasty, plus I'm sick of molestation jokes.

Another gap-toofie: Vanessa Paradis! Go Frenchy.

Jennifer Lopez dances like she's moving furniture. V. uninspiring.

I never watched color episodes of Andy Griffith--rarely watched the other ones--so I can't tell if it's true or not, but is Andy on a date with a different brunette in every single color episode? Seems like it. Can't keep track.

An episode of NOW this wekeend dealt with Katrina thoroughly upsetting. Where IS everybody.

I have become a Netflixian. Shall endeavor to net with my queue all those flix that often pass by without me catching them before they...DVD. We'l see how this goes!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I wanna be a dancin' man,
While I can,
Gonna leave my footsteps on the sands of time,
If I never leave a dime.

About says it all! Pretty good candidate for one's tombstone, along with "I Told You I Was Sick" (my pers fav).

* Interesting that in Malamuldology Harriet Bird dies/evil happens in Chicago. Wot does that mean? Maybe nothing, since that's where whosits endus up too.

* Personal prejudice (humor me): I don't think I could date anybody too terribly into The Fountainhead, but I would like to note that guys who are too into Of Human Bondage and over-identify with Larry Darrell...also a prob.

* The very very great Barbara Harris in all her false eyelashed glory is on TV right now. Every time I see her I think about my two all-excited Recognizations of her at the Lakeview postoffice and whether or not I really scared her away! Cause it sure looked like I did, even though I didn't approach her or say a word.

Friday, May 19, 2006

What I'm most interested in a lot of the time, culturally, is CROSSOVER. Of particular kinds. I'm really interested in African-American culture, for instance, but not so much where crosses over to mainstream, since most all of it is thoroughly co-opted anyhow--but the stuff that crosses over the other way. The white artists who get played during stepping sets on the south side. I like to notice when cultural phenoms touch each other. I'm interested in if/when/how fat people show up in mainstream media and who from the latter gets adopted by the former. For some reason I am missing a strong interest in matters of gender in this way, but in recent years I've gained a growing interest in this issue with regard to religion. How it is that religious figures who sell millions of books right in/next to the mainstream are totally unknown (you might augur from this, correctly, that my real religion is the mystery novel).

This is all code for the fact that I have been watching the moderately bejeweled, slightly shiny, very face-lifted, under-suspicion evangelizing TV preacher Joyce Meyer a lot. What is of her on TV is not devoid of scandal, but down to basics--preaching, not even that much begging. All the other stuff--the big houses, the financial mysteries, the plastic surgery--I've heard about later, peripherally. You have to acknowledge that this woman is a really great preacher. She's really good, really commanding, gets you to listen, fires you up--it's fascinating and interesting to watch it at work. I have never seen (this is probably a lot of it) a woman preaching like that--she's kind of the anti-Marianne Williamson. I'm listening really hard the whole time for crossover--for how it crosses over into modern secular psychological thought, all the sort of general nondenominational/Buddhist/Unitarian "religious" thinking that goes on, etc.--ways in which the dogma both separates and connects it to the culture around it that has no idea who she is. It's really kinda fascinating. There isn't anything much I've learned about her *outside* of her program which doesn't seem tired and corrupt in tired ways, down to how you could argue she uses the 'god don't like ugly' idea to justify being BakkerSwggartwealthy, but I find it fascinating and occasionally helpful, frankly, to watch her.

I've always said I was one really major life crisis away from some Major Religion--same with vegetarianism; probably one good documentary away from it. Dunno about evangelical Christianity--I'm too Episcopalian, probably--but she sure is fascinating. Pulls 16K people into convention centers at a pop. Oh! And her husband. Finally saw him the other day--the only word is grecianformulaed. Fascinating.

I don't know if anybody else saw Growing Up Sitka Deer on Animal Planet last weekend, but HOW CUTE. Another aminal to get all excited about.
I think I may have found the sitcom of my dreams, finally. Seriously. Forget the pesky humans and laugh tracks, keep the drama, intimacy, the, um, meerkats. Seems a natural evolution. Well, we'll see. I've had my rodent dreams dashed before.

I am new to this whole John Edward thing. At a first pass (saw his show once) he seems to be completely telling the truth and I believe every word he says. Am I wrong? And if I believe him, what does that mean? I don't think I do the Afterlife.

My cats (speaking o drama) these days are very unsesttled around each other. One is always pushing for dominance (first at fud bowl, sitting on a higher box, closer to me, whatever). I got all giggly thinking about it as "sceneing" last perhaps they have a D/s relationship I don't know about? Heheheheh. I don't know. It's almost like they're faking it, playing cops and robbers with lazy seriousness. Very unrestful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

shall name my firstborn iTuneslana

$.99-ed again...oh so happy! Got a song by APB that I've always loved. Should just buy Something to Believe In, but for now being able to bounce on my exercise ball (my chair) at work while I listen to "Shoot You Down" is muy fantastico. Also downloaded this great embarassing Jermaine Dupri remix that is truly, definitely, only about loving bass. Not much else to it.
Okay, apparently HHunt isn't all that straight either...which (hello AA) makes her even more of a Jodie Foster-manquee, and Leelee Sobieski (hello Skeep) even more relevant in the progression of straight-haired blondeded actresswomen whom we allow to be perceived as Smart due to a certain kind of speaking voice or by being non-Pam Anderson blondes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

However, none of that means I'm not ALL AGOG at Berry developments. I mean...a Canadian! That's quite a switch.
I really don't think I should be using the word "halfie"! Ain't earned the right to do so!
Skip and I would also like to note that do not let the silence fool you into thinking that we are not watching the Halle Berry situation VERY CLOSELY. Halfies and interested parties everywhere will be verrrrry curious to see Just What Happens Next, now that she has, what? Switched flavas? Made a big leap in a certain direction? Innnnnnteresting.
On the phone with Skip (hello America) and we would like to note that Helen Hunt appears to have been created by Hollywood Play-Dough molders so that we'll have a straight version of Jodie Foster to play with.
1. I say this with increasing frequency and increasing seriousness as I get older, but it is true: You have to have BALLS OF STEEL to do calligraphy. It is not for the faint of heart, the feverishly worried, the hesitant. Raymond DaBoll famously called it "disciplined freedom" in a broadsheet, but I've come to find even that term somewhat incomplete.

The point is: I look for images of people writing, drawing letters, doing calligraphy, dipping pen into ink on film and on TV more than anything, more than the way I look for diner chrome and pressed glass. Always have. And last night on the Anthony Bourdain show my obsession was greatly rewarded.

He was learning calligraphy in a Chinese Cultural Center in Beijing or Chengdu and the master calligrapher was just whipping his ass around. Chastising him for his breathing, his posture, everything. Completely nicely and masterfully, but...I dunno, it was partly AB's willingness (annoying in other contexts) to be the joke for the moment, laugh about the over-seriousness of it as he saw it, that made the whole thing a very outward and visible demonstration of the fact that calligraphy is one of the harder things you can do in this life. It made me really happy -- it felt accurate. That sounds aggrandizing -- I don't mean it that way, like, I'm such a badass! Because I feel very much like an apprentice at calligraphy in this life still. It was more like what I said before: accurate. It is that hard, and it's kinda fun to see it shown as such. Especially the crucially simple things. Anybody can do fancy Victorian engrossing--it's the rows of marching plain letters that are killer. It's like that drawing a perfect "O" exercise in art class--except that you have to be able to do it. Every time.

At the end the master calligrapher wrote out a cooking phrase for AB, and the show completely annoyingly sped up the film so the guy was calligraphing at a speed you couldn't watch. I wanted to watch his hands with a microscope. But, oh the end product. I got all teary eyed looking at it--so beautiful. It's annoying to me that to I'd have to learn a whole other language to go somewhere where they appreciate calligraphy as much as I'd like.

Anyhow, a satisfying little episode, all the more so since it was the often-irritatin' AB who played it out.

2. I wasn't in Germany that long in HS & college, but I was there long enough to cringe every time the newly fashionable term "guestworker" comes up these days in every single immigration debate. I immediately hear "gastarbiter," with all the elongated As and all the prejudice behind it. There's nothing wrong with reclaiming the term and ridding it of its connotations (query: possible?), but it is a little like hearing people argue for a new classification of people called "unwelcome foreigners" or something.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I can barely watch "Growing Up Gotti"--it's past my mortification threshhold for reality TV--although the sight of Pete Gotti trying to explain Che Guevera to his uncaring nephews was one of the better bits on TV last year. I've come to realize watching little parts of the show since then that Pete is Cliff Clavin. He's always half-offering half-understood facts to the uncaring crowd. Kind of hilarious. That show! Her extensions! Oy! Also related: I'm starting to think Under the Tuscan Sun has done a lot of damage to the collective American female psyche. Just notin, even though I'm a sucka for it too.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I have been thinking about P. Larkin's "Church-Going" off and on for months. I think it's the sight on the news of many formerly sacred places in Iraq decimated + Katrina + (bizarrely) home and garden shows that feature old banks and churches rezoned for living spaces. So weird. This constant imagery of places stripped of their sanctity. I woke this morning with the last chunk of the poem in my head:

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round

Prediction: Sometime not too long from now somebody will write an essay about how Erma Bombeck affected literature, the graphic novel and journalism. She was a significantly transitional person, with no overt connections to something like comix, but I think they're there. I rilly do! I had one of those blinding flashes where the whole sphere of influence became clear, then disappeared. Still grabbling for it.

Fox News gets away with its baiting headlines by using the question mark. Former President Clinton a Coke-Addicted He-Slut? Dept of Defense Says Fewer Dying in Iraq?

Why yes, I did watch Bridget Jones's's's's's Diary on Bravo last night. The only line that really twerks is ever Hugh Grant saying through his cigarette, "Fuck me, I love Keats" after BJ misquotes it.

It occurs to me that it's amazing I haven't done more Larkin-quoting here, since it's a fairly constant activitiy in my head. Must be judicious.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

today's top...'stories'

I don't want to sound all frogittudinously Cahiers du Cinema ronathan-bosenjaumy, but Risky Business is a really good movie and I don't think it's that much about sex, really. Maybe it's helped because so many of the visuals are so familiar (loaded) as a Chicago resident, but it's come to feel like it's really about its subtext (I just typed "subjext"): class and money, and a parable where the supply and demand of different classes meet. The goofy choo-choo rides are just about the main characters' separation from their attendant class issues--at least for a while. Heeeheheehee. Okay, maybe not, but nah--I still think it's true. The scene where TC says "looks like it's University of Illinois"--when I was 17 and the movie first came out--was about teenage failure; now the social pressure that statement demonstrates is clearer. Tangerine Dream is not about good fucking music - it's about the consumerist haze we all live in MAN! Yeah!

Heehee hee hee.

Anthony Bourdain looks like a young Humphrey Bogart, esp. about his (I always thought) Gallic full lower lip. They both have the same tiny overbite, fuller bottom lip, long face with a narrowing jaw. Weird. Has to be a young HB, tho.

Todd English is so sold out...does he even have anything left to sell? He's an example of a contemp chef I find completely uninteresting as he's presented. Yawn. Smolder. Yawn.

Thelma Ritter = God. That's why I love the Model and the Marriage Broker so much: you get enough Thelma, instead of those supporting player amounts. Plus it's so groovy to sees a woman running a business in the 50s. Plus why does her char disappear toward the end of All About E? (I've always wondered but never gotten an answer.)

Okay, I saw the GGirls finale last night, if you can call squinting at a bad b&w TV while a young coworker holds up the antennas to get a minimum of reception 'watching.' The Rory storyline wound up realistically enough, although somewhat tepidly and they could have pushed that farther, the elder Gilmores were farcical, I liked Lorelai ending up in the back seat of a car talking to a therapist and the way the discussion with Luke started but then...@#$@#%@#^@#%@&**!! A retreat into emotional cowardice (that show's besetting sin) that was just... Oh dear oh dear. Is this show goin to end with the biggest, longest whimper ever? But then again - nobody can do worse than the Palatinos have this year.

I was watching the new commercial for Pier 1 last night and imagining a table-full of worried executives saying, "okay, how are we going to be all mid-century modern and still keep the......WICKER?"

God I love: lemurs.

I decided it was time to finally watch an episode of Dawson's Creek (never had). So I did. Katie Holmes' squeak-box voice is beyond dealbreaker country. Mostly I marveled at the mean girl from Freaks & Geeks playing nice...hard to see her as anything other than the bitch. That mouth! Like they said about Beatrice Dalle: the mouth of a disappoined Metro station.

Add it to the shows I'm too immature to watch: Growing Up Marsupial. Weepy bonding with adorable orphaned wombats and tasmanian debils. Oh!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sonntag Nachmittags

The usual mischung! The battle of the bands on V103 is Jones Girls vs. the Emotions.

Watching a biography of Jennifer Aniston and as she ages simultaneously seeing her and her contemporaries gradually get landed with Cigarette Face: cheeks caving in, side diagonal lines being carved next to their mouths.

I would like to have Waldo Lydecker's bathroom (Laura).

Winston Churchill: "If you are going through hell, keep going."

I love the scene in Mr. Mom wherein Michael Keaton is just hanging around the kitchen drinking beer, watching soaps, ironing his kid's grilled cheese. I used to love the telescoping Improvement montage when I was a kid (query: source of most of my problems, loving those), but now I just love him goofin off.

Isn't it weird that Bob Fosse's Women (a few high-profile ones) had such compromised, groggy voices, that sometimes made them sound weak or sick, but were such pointed, sharp dancers? (Gwen V, Ann R.) I was watching Ann Reinking in All That Jazz and she puts all the people parading through Chicago to much more spressive.

The Actor's Studio with Dave Chappelle was on again...I can't not watch it! So hypnotic. Seriously some of the best TV this year.

What's up with the sister on the Real World this season? Unless I'm missing something, I don't think they've done more than show an occasional close-up of her. Seriously Endless drama about the other six, but NOTHING about her. Less than nothing. Can't even remember her name! What is up with this?

It's as pre-fab as a Quonset hut, but it's hard not to find some of Tommy Lee Goes to College completely charming. Especially the part where he's getting caught up with other people in the drum line--I was really curious how that happened. Oh how I love drum lines, have since I was a kid. Wish they wouldn't muck it up with horns n shit.

Who the hell is Janice Dickinson? I mean...I don't think you can retroactively claim supermodel status, can you? I am tired of her mean collagened lips flapping on my TV saying horrible things.

Speaking of lip OH wot a bitch: Jessica Simpson's upper lip is--it must be said--very in-bred and distracting. She smiles and it goes away and I think, oh dear the poor slow girl. Mean, Liz, mean, but I feel better.

Friday, May 05, 2006

* Insomnia never a good Reason for television, but then again you never need a Reason for House Party. The original, mind you. Which I already have on DVD so why do I care? How many times must I see it..oh. Oh I do love it so, though, riproaring homophobia and all. My fav lines (at the moment, anyhow): "911? I'll hold" and "I don't know why they named that boy [Bilal]...knowing they're from Cleveland." I MISS ROBIN HARRIS. His POV would be grand to have on this earth right now. Cut through all the layers of bullshit.

* I've now watched Jerry McGuire (never saw it when it came out) more than once and I don't think I've ever seen anything that smells of the lamp more than this film--it is triUMphantly confused. I've never felt such artificial twists of emotion --why are we supposed to think they're 'not working'? Why are we supposed to think they're in love? Nothing there. I think I'm getting a little tired
of Cameron Crowe in general and his nickhornby-esque always-about-guys-changinggrowingloving movies, which often don't make any sense at all or know what they want to be about. I think he'd be a grand director of a STORY, a great script he had nothing to do with--he's really good at that. It's this milque toaste bullshit in the center of it all. The fact that these men often flip around from being assholes doesn't make them human either--makes them feel like assholes. Jerry McGuire is a really unforgiveably confused movie and I really don't mind Cuba Gooding Jr. dancing around in his sweats in it. He is well, cute, but also found something to hang his character on it--Tom Cruise is just Acting to what end I don't know. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Really unforgivable. I hate cheap emotional twists that are about nothing at all. There are tons of women's films that do that too--note--it's just kinda specially awful from him.

* Forgetting all that travesty: BABY BADGERS. Baby badgers being bottle-fed by their human keeper, then following her around in a totally unfortgettable wobbling, chirping mass--toddling strangely unbalanced on their wide feet, stripey fur rippling over the grass, snouts bobbing. Just about died. Also monkeys, with their alarmingly human lil faces.

A Night at the Opera (1935)

Lassparri (dressed as Pagliacci): Get out! Now, what do you got to say to me?
Otis P. Driftwood (Groucho): Just this. Can you sleep on your stomach with such big buttons on your pajamas?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Blah blah blippitiy blue blah touch me

* The thing about Dark Victory is--not a lot of middle ground. Either you're laughing at her unsuccessfully trying to light her cigarette because it dates badly or you're bawling, crying too hard to eat your Sushi Wabi chicken teriyaki and that is some brilliant chicken teriyaki. Although somehow the film gets you one way or another...the transition is slow and you're caught before you realize it. Hic. Geraldine Fitzgerald so beautiful, although too bad she has to be frumpygirl.

* Great new Bette doc on now--“Stardust”...her fav song. Oh how can you not love someone who loves that song. Me strings are twanging.

* There was a great quote in the lil TCM Better Davis interstitial I was too slow to write down last night. I'm not sure I believe it, but I love it. She was having lunch with a very young Ellen Burstyn and said to her (more or less): “My advice to you as a young actor at the beginning of an illustrious career is that you can't know who you are friends are but you can choose your enemies. And when you see them you walk up to them and say, 'You are my enemy.” And do you know how you will know your enemy? Anyone who gets in the way of your work.”

* I dragged an old television onto my desk at work last night and plugged headphones in to watch Gilmore Girls. First episode in a few weeks. Limp as hell! Total teaser for the limp teasing to come next week. Gawd.

* For years I've been trying to figure out if Muriel Rukeyser was related to Louis Rukeyser. And now that he's died...I still don't know.

* There was an otter documentary on last night...realigned my chakras. And so thoroughly Edward Gorey. Even some of those wacky giant Amazonian ones with the sad kohl-rimmed eyes. I could hardly stand watching the baby ones. And then there are all those expected moments when you reach for the remote: SEALS [click]; KILLER WHALES [click]; BOAT RUDDERS, GLOBAL WARMING, KELP BEDS DYING OFF [click click click]. Also hard to see sea otter's noses all red from being bitten while mating.

* More reasons to move to England: a country that takes calligraphy and otters seriously.

* I've said it before, I'll say it again: a great tonic for a bad day is to watch America's Funniest Animals or America's Funniest Home Videos--WITH THE SOUND OFF. Has to be off. For a few minutes. It helps.

* I really dislike Shakira's voice, esp in that new song. Singing out of the corner of her mouth. Twerty. Really hate it--isn't it weird the things that tap into your misanthropy--and the opposite? Very odd. I imagine disliking those who like her voice. How dopey is that.

* Not sure what I think of new Flaming Lips video where they tie donuts to Paris Hilton and let the cops chase her. I think I kinda like it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I haven't your unyieeeeeelding good taste

One of me fav lines from All About Eve. The Bette festival starts tonight with DARK VICTORY! Oh...oh. Must watch. So silly/sad/weird/sad/cool/oh! Oh.