Monday, July 31, 2006

Don't drown me out cause I'm preachin good

100 degree heat and humidity is preventing me from sounding like the dainty, measured, ladylike creature I know I can be....BLEGH! I am so FREAKING HOT. I am just not built for this. I am, however, rather enjoying my bad mood, letting it rip. Heaven NOR hell hath no fury like an overheated underairconditioned fat girl.

I had prematurely posted something last week about the new Mary Wesley I was reading to cleanse my palate from the wild bloody ending of the previous. This new one (Part of the Furniture) seemed more conventional, sweet, but then--BLAM. Another one of those MW endings. This one not bloody, just...breathtakingly unconventional. Best analogy I can think of is it's like the world's longest shaggy dog story. Comes hundreds of pages only to stop up short at the most unlikely spot. She was a PERVERSE old Cornish lady and I love her very much for that. I am now on the very last one of hers I haven't read and it is a head-spinning kaleidoscope of honeycombed interpersonal connections--she's laughing at us, spinning coincidence after coincidence.

Oprah has discovered the working poor (last week's re-run with Morgan Spurlock). If I remember correctly she also discovered them with Barbara Ehrenreich, but either way she made it very clear that she thinks none of these people WATCH HER SHOW. "Them" "them" "them"...Yes, them. Us. Them. OhohohohfreakingOprah.

In a slightly similar vein I was reading about a mirco-loan organization recently--a global group that makes $100, $200 loans to people in very poor countries. 98% of the loans are paid back, and within a short period of time. You hear that, Mr. Skilling? Perfectly consistent on a very extreme end with the truth about how loan companies make their money--it's the small to medium loans that are paid back, statistically. It's the ginormous corporate fuckers that default.

There was a really good program this weekend on WE called "You Had to Be There" that was about the ChucknDi royal wedding. It sounds like a holiday-sweater-wearing/teddy-bear-collecting/Precious-Moments-loving sort of affair, but it really wasn't--it was fascinating. For one thing, they interviewed a wide, wide array of people, not all of whom were thrilled with the event (one guy talked about the steaming horse shit in the sun, one violinist said, "it was just another gig"), including Diana's makeup artist, and somebody in the choir, and people who were partying in the streets. It was a strangely effective program that recreated the event really well and to an interesting end that I am still trying to parse out, apart from all the Diana cliches (i.e., one person did say "We believed everything we saw"). I guess partly because as a GenXer there is something about this event that dates us--it *was* more innocent, the last gasp of something. I dunno--there's too much ink spilled about the Meaning of this event for me to sift through the chaff at the moment but there was something very...significant about it all that I believe but can't explain. As ever.

So (also posted this before I had thought it out last week) I guess the real comparison of Unfaithful to L Fatal Attraction lies in the area of female vs. male anger. And yes, duh. Man's being expected and justified and family-saving, woman's being crazed and irrational and destructive. It's so stupid, though. Just sayin.

Armistead Maupin (HELLO...wonder if the Night Listener movie will be any good--it was a darned effective creepy novel) coined the expression "the nervous pursuit of chic" in one of his books (the one after Jon dies--probably Babycakes) and this is a remarkably spot-on term that I love dearly. It has slipped into the front of my brain pan about 12,000 times today. Just noting.

Blimey...CRANKY. Heat + the nervous pursuit of chic = strange animal noises.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


* Ooof! No time to write! Zu viel Arbeit! Und alles anderes.

To wit: I came home quite late the other night, into the double-digits, craving...sloppy joes. I was really tired, really hungry, more tired than normal, and in my very low level of operating threw together some SJs without batting an eye or marveling at my ingenuity. The next day, though, I was like...damn! gotta remember this. Especially as I had no produce in the house except lemons and nothing but the basic condiments to work with:

Sleepy Sloppy Joes a la Refrigerator Door

Throw 1 lb. of frozen lean ground beef in a saucepan just big enough for the brick of meat to lie almost flat, with a bit of olive oil on the bottom to encourage it (MFK). Turn burner to medium. Then open your refrigerator, check out the condiments in the door, and throw all over the frozen meat in judicious sloshes:

- mustard water (I didn't shake it up enough, but was a spicy kind and I didn't want to add any more)
- unPC slightly sugary tomato sauce
- ketchup
- Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (biggest glug)
- Worcestershire sauce
- balsamic vinegar
- red wine vinegar
- leftover red wine that's been sitting on your counter for a month
- pepper
- dried thyme

Slap the lid on and let it percolate undisturbed. Stir it up once--or I should say hack away at the meat with the side of a wooden spoon--to break it up, then go back watch TV until it's done. Serve open-faced on whole wheat toast with knife and fork. Good.

* Unfaithful is often gets cooed over these days as this masterpiece of sensuality and good, "real" movie sex...primarily "female" in its flavor/gaze/tempo/POV/whatever. "Ooooh, that movie" kinda stuff. What I want to know is: why did Fatal Attraction become a cautionary tale of infidelity, and why did Unfaithful (in which, note the husband kills his wife's lover) not? The last half of that movie didn't seem to stick. Are we still marveling at female sexuality in brand-new way that absolves it from sin? Is Olivier Martinez prettier than Glen Close and Diane Lane prettier than Michael Douglas so we don't care? Have we lost our adulterous guilt between the Reagan era & now? Granted, the husbin and wife are in it together more in UnF, but the end result is kind of the same. Perhaps the fact lies in the *French* origins of Unfaithful, vs. puritannical American underpinnings of Fatal Attraction...

* I decided to try and once and for all parse out Jacques Pepin's accent the other day. I find it very entertaining, partly because it's completely immutable--set in stone--frozen exactly between French and English in this funny fashion. Here is what he's actually saying while he's (yum) making fresh corn puree, or, as he kept calling it: "pah-LAWNT-a" (he can't seem to say the "ent" in "polenta" except in a French fashion) for what looked like a lovely dish of poached halibut on corn with red pepper coulis:

"I usk the corn . . . and with a knefe cut the kernel, about two cup--two to three cup of kernel, put them in the blander, you need the BLANDUHR, the food processohr does turn turn faest enuff and also if you have YOANG corn it will liquify easier. . . leeft it up to make sure with your feenghur taste it to see if there is any GRAN in it, it should be quite smooth. . . so put it deereckt right as a little KUSSHHUN of PAHLAWNTA underneath here."

* I got two Amazon self-gifties this weekend. 1. Howard's End and the three-film box set of 2. Doris & Rock classics (Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers [natch] ).

1. I don't know why I avoid horror movies, cause Howard's End is as freaking brutal as any horror flick! Just with more...shirtwaists. I spent a great deal of time admiring the tension (small, large, overarching, useful) in that plot. Made me wish I could build something that beautiful in its structure. Ismail Merchant and James Ivory disagreed with each other constantly in the little DVD extra documentary. And James Willby: I know he must--he has (Maurice) played characters who aren't self-limiting, deluded, Babbitty, hail-fellow, ignorant, middle-class, hide-bound prigs, but lord has he ever cornered the market. Starting to look kinda twitchy as a result (he was in this week's Agatha Christie too).

2. Speaking as a Doris fan, a Rock fan, and somebody impatient with hopelessly snarky Best Week Ever cultural interpretation, I still gotta say these really are three of the gayest, faggitudinous movies ever (god bless 'em). How fun. And Rock was so beautiful - there's a scene in Send Me No Flowers where he takes off his shirt that is kind of heart-stopping. Big hunk of man. Anyhow, all the movies together this weekend were a big pink and yellow blur and I love them all (Tony Randall is brill in Send Me No Flowers). The best scene in Lover Come Back is when Rock says seriously to Doris, "Can I ask you a question?" and before answering she firmly puts on that pink hat (see). Her hats are a trip in this movie, down to the Jiffy-Pop thing she wears while picking her way wearing Doris white through the wreckage of Rock's carnal party with the advertiser.

* I've been thinking about simple songs recently. As usual, this was because I was trying to sing "Sentimental Journey" along with Doris and noting anew how HARD it is to do so. Well. The fact that there are just two notes in the first 5-6 bars makes it a challenge -- not easy. (Always reminds me of that quote from E.F. Benson: the "simplicity that springs from the highest art"). But what takes a song from simple to simplistic? "Mr. Monotony" is chic and cool...."Survivor" (Destiny's Child) sounds a lot like "Mr. Plow." R. Kelly's made a career out of 3-note songs ("You Are Not Alone," "I Believe I Can Fly") that suck, but "Step in the Name of Love" kinda works. I hate admitting that, because I think he's kinda sucking up in that song to the older black community in Chicago for approval (humor me--who knows), and I love stepping and hate to see him try to leverage it...but it's good! A good stepping song. Feh. Anyhow, try singing "Sentimental Journey" sometime. I dun't know how Doris sang it thousands of times during the war.

* Lance Bass is gay. Thank God, thought my gaydar was off.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Getting older = kinda not being able to cover up when you sound crazy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Miss. Etta. James.

That's how I hear her name in my head, from years of listening to my cassette of Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll!, when she's introduced by Chuck Berry, all three words very clearly separated and pizzicato. Her intro on Etta James Rocks the House, which is what I've been listening to a lot recently and one of the best live albums ever, if you ask me (I think I like "Baby What You Want Me to Do" best), as well as Sweetest Peaches 60-66, sounds kinda similar. But I always hear it in my head the way Chuck Berry says it.

(There are a lot of phrases from that album I hear in my head, all of which come out at weird times, especially what Chuck says at the end of "Wee Wee Hours"?--I think--which is, "Sure gotta play some pritty pritty chords to be a rocknroller, jack." And his version of "I'm Through With Love" comes warbling out at weird times too.)

Goes without saying I love her much. I love her voice and expressiveness and easy mastery of flow and she makes me want to be the sassy fat girl I think she was. I love her growls and chirps (when I can't always stand them on either people) and I love her deep register.

This man who once broke my heart into a million pieces told me that he couldn't stand to hear "At Last" one more time because he had shot video for so many weddings, which meant that he had overlaid that song as a soundtrack for the happy couples a billion times--everybody apparently requests that song. He had heard it way too much. I know that song is seriously overplayed, and overcommercialized, but it was the first time I had heard somebody say they just couldn't listen to it anymore. To me it is one of those songs that is overexposed, but it's not its own fault, and it holds up, regardless. Its bones are good. A standard/classic, wore thin, that still has the possibility to move and can be used very judiciously. (Probably should have guessed from his reaction to this song that things might not work out, I suppose.)

(An interesting topic: songs that are occupational hazards of certain jobs. Like "Shout!" if you're a wedding band or "Rock Me Like a Hurricane" if you work at the state fair. I once had a hairdresser break face and tell me absolutely seriously once that if he heard "I'm Too Sexy" one more time he was going to kill himself.)

It's a funny song, though, "At Last." I can't ever imagine choosing it for a wedding--well, maybe--but not as a big theme song, because it's so sad. Every note of that song belies its lyrics; you're not at all sure--at least, I'm not--that Etta's really found anybody, at last. Seems like she could be fooling herself, or dancing with a ghost, or at least as if the pain of the past is still bigger than the present.  It sounds mournful and alone and pretty. All reasons to like Etta James's abilities and the song more.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Blaa and waffle.

* I've come to them late, but I'm really enjoying the chic Miss Marple adaptations Mystery! is running for the second season. They've let the stories drift into the 50s, instead of the 20s, which means more opportunity for pretty dresses, dark lipstick and moderne fashion (among other changes--will have to untangle the double-datingness of it all later, including plot-twistin). I am enjoying as ever having more of my lingering querying Anglophilic itches scratched - like (this is really silly) finally seeing what a pot of Gloy (glue) looked like. But the coolest thing is the amazing people starring in these programs -- it's 180 degrees from the days when (as I remember somebody saying) Agatha Christies were the Love Boats of the Aging Acting World--and always so *turgid*. These adaptations have amazing actors: Harry Enfield (the comedian) was in the one last night, as well as Ken Russell (the director), and Imogen Stubbs and Emilia Fox (although I never really like her, but). Others have had Dawn French, Martin Kemp (the guy from Spandau Ballet), Greta Scacchi, Charles Dance (ahh), Michael Maloney, Claire Bloom, John Hannah...everybody. An Anglo-dream. None of it matters very much if you don't like Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple, but I do. Oh - also (this is actually the most important thing): The series employs tasty, daring font choices in the opening credits and series promotion that were impossible to use in the more decorous 20s-style adaptations--they're ever-so-slightly 50s/pulp fiction-y, and change the tenor of the series entirely. They are a little...what--fey? something? coy? too fashionable? but basically very cool, as are the color choices, and provide a more subtle dated quality (along with everything else--still strong English Village-ness here) than normal. This is probably 88% of my enjoyment.

Anyhow - how fun. This show is cozy in the best ways...can't believe I missed so many Sunday nights of them already! Agatha Christie now always makes me think of Edward Gorey, I have to say, right away. Because he liked her so much, and *why* he did, which was complicated and contrary and because I like what he didn't, which is PD James and all her psychology...I don't know what he would have thought of *these* Miss Ms. He's tightly linked to AC these days, though, either way.

* I'm slowly working my way through the Mary Wesley novels I haven't read (down to two, now, I think), and last night I finally read her first--Jumping the Queue, a wickedly clever title. I gobbled it in an hour and a half and GODDAMN! The ending killed me. It is *not*, repeat NOT, people a normal Mary Wesley ending. I felt mauled, rather as by an Anita Brookner novel. It's not that the ending was unfair or mean, but it was fucking ruthless. Wesley *is* ruthless, which is one of the reasons I like her, but it's usually combined with more charm and more interesting, happier endings. Bloody hell. I was so wigged out I had to turn on the TV for a few minutes to scare away nightmares. It hasn't made me not love her--I still think she's an amazing writer, continuously inspiring in a completely nonsappy way in that she published her first novel at 70, plus she was so deliciously racy and sexy...but still. I'm still reeling from the ending! Also, nobody, I mean nobody, tears apart old age like her. Her prose is brutally honest, but not in a say-it-once I'm-so-deep way--she drones, she dances around, she says things she contradicts, she repeats, she refines, she puts it out there over and over. Brill.

* Some excitin news:

- A new album out by a gorg friend in the size-acceptance movement I met at NAAFA, who's since become a good friend of my friend Holly, and her husband called "Use What You Got"; Kristie's voice is amazing and Roy's a fantastic trombone player (I'm strangely partial to "Roy's Blow"). Anyhow, keep an ear out. Same with a new album from Holly sometime soon. Not entirely sure how I got so many friends with amazing voices (this isn't half of them), but I'm awfully proud of all. I have dreams of getting them all together to sing for some event. For me. Yes. With me at the center! (I'll just say it.) Maybe a presidential inauguration or my 5th (tasteful, but celebratory) wedding.

- Hanne's book, about which I have *very* Auntie-Liz/duenna/yenta/proud/midwife-ly feelings (among other things, I am a proud dedicatee, which I have to pretend not to be thrilled about because it can look so preeningly immodest) is finally showing up on Amazon. It's going to be rocking the pillars of the Western World soon. Soon!

* I, er, read some Farmer Boy this weekend (my annual Laura Ingalls Wilder reread usually starts with Long Winter or this one, but so far we're just holding steady at Farmer Boy) and was struck anew by this fact: the contrast between the sometimes harsh parenting and the constant theme of gentling the horses. The horses were trained with infinite gentleness and patience, only---ONLY, and these kids were learned by whippin. I don't feel full of indignant rage about it, but still. The contrast is strong! GOLLY! Was just visited by some sudden greed--I would really LOVE to get old LIW editions with the Helen Sewell drawings someday. Good ones. Oh oh oh. Bibliolust.

* This VH-1 pop culture trivia show ("World Series of Pop Culture") is really...weird. I had always been sure I had vast stores of entertainment knowledge I was basically embarrassed to have taking up room in my brain, but this stuff is...triflin' and I'm almost proud to not always know the answers. Really would rather not. Seriously fluffy TVGuide crap. With ominous 3-note synthesizer music and Pat Kiernan wasting his serious delivery skills on all this pablum.

* I think this about once a day ('s not going away), but oh what oh WHAT would Philip Larkin have thought of Girls Gone Wild infomercials? THIS, *THIS* is the "paradise / Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives--/Bonds and gestures pushed to one side . . " What the hell would that old degenerate have said about GGW? Everything he and his generation had to sneak to naughty shops for and send in brown paper packages (esp. with his proclivities)--all right there. What the hell would he have thought.

Perhaps we can market a reissue of High Windows with GGW images.

(I am SUCH a freakin old sap -- like prisoners who call out numbers to laugh at jokes instead of telling the jokes themselves, I just have to think of some poem titles to get all weepy. This would include "Faith Healing," "At Grass," "An Arundel Tomb," "Aubade," "The Explosion" and often "High Windows." Others. )

* I like Cl*ve Pe*rs*, host of HGTV's Designed to Sell, mostly because he's so out of place. If you look at his CV he's a total quippy TV music presenter of the English Europoofter type that allows straight guys in English clubs to sing along with Kylie Minogue songs--he's one of those highlighted, coiffed topofthepop guys, and here he is trying to make it in America on a redesign show. Something kinda funny about it. I hope he breaks out soon--I saw that he's hosting the new design competition show. Maybe a better fit.

* Speaking of all this British stuff, I did something rilly silly and great Friday--I've done it once before--the kind of thing that makes you happy you're an adult and can do shit like this with your own money: I ordered some British groceries. From one of those online stores specializing in British foodstuffs for homesick expats. I don't mean I spent hundreds of dollars, but I got myself a little stache of Hoops and Flakes and Cadbury chocolate fingers and BBC Good Food and stuff. Oh YEAH! Let's hear it for eccentric old age.

* The new Deen boys TV travel/food show much more tolerable than I thought--I liked it. I like them. They're pretty charmant and it's not too pre-fab, either. They seemed to genuinely bring some of their POV to the experience, which was refreshing, rather than just recycling road food cliches. Plus they're cute, in a slightly ambiguously gay duo kinda way. BTW, I figured out what I don't like about Paula Deen's new series of her show: the set! Her beautiful dream kitchen, while beautiful, is a very bad background for her coloring. Awful.

* I am getting a Mac at home soon--hang tight for much joy. I have been a Mac girl my whole life, but not had one at home since the days of my MAC II-SE, god help us all, that didn't even have a hard drive and was just the very last word in chic in Northfield, Minnesota, 1987. It is time, ladies and gentlemen, it is TIME, to merge these worlds--my everyday Mac-using self from work with Home Liz.

* "I can be as irrational as the next person if I put my mind to it" (DLSayers). To wit, I hate:

- when people chop scallions in big nasty bourgeois chunks instead of long sticks or tiny slivers
- when people are afraid to let a Cuisinart rip, even a lil, and dab at the "pulse" button as if letting something run for more than a second will ruin whatever it's grinding with its raw Gallic power!
- when people are so fundamentally disgusted by the eliminative process that they concoct all sorts of colonic purifications and cleanses and tout them as "necessary," when all along they are fucking with a very well-designed and sophisticated system that they are just uncomfortable with
- thank you

* I am heartsick and ignorant about the Middle East, but I wish we had a cowboy peacemaker in office. I don't care if Clinton was grooming his image for posterity even as he sought peace in our time/by doing so--I want somebody with enough balls and yes, hubris, to broker peace. I don't care whose name goes on it. I do care that there are so many bombs, uniform and tanks with our country's name on them in use everywhere, out in the open or in the tiniest of bits of blown-up covert pieces. Not with my money, not with my taxes.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Red Buttons has died. More beige/yellowy/strawberry old movie & burlesque stars goin'.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Some TV you watch; some just sneaks through cell walls.

I rather think--all of a sudden--that my life is really, very incomplete without owning any Jackson 5 albums. How can it be otherwise? "Goin Back to Indiana"? "Got to Be There"??

This was sparked in part by one of my idiotic but sincere rock-critic-manquee moments hearin "Never Can Say Goodbye" coming out of a car stereo and being immediately overwhelmed...what a perfect song that is. And the J5 version makes perfect use of Michael Jackson's voice at that age--the reaching sound it had, the high range, all augments the searching, wanting melancholy of the melody, the harmonies. I like how that song--more than many--gets itself in and out of choruses/verses. It builds and builds. And guess who wrote it? Clifton Davis, star of Amen and That's My Mama! Blimey! I did not know this, but I am enjoying knowing it now. I love the theme song to Amen too, by the way--I used to stay up late to just to watch/listen to it.

The Cup That Is World has reactivated my crush on Fabien Barthez. Kinda.

Among all the shows I spend so much time not watching there is the Hulk Hugan reality awfulness and I would like to go on record protesting that during what little I've seen of it he manages each time to chastise his daughter for her eating. It's like...birth of an eating disorder, live on TV, and completely nauseating to watch. Especially coming from a professional bully. Whenever I see that kinda shit happening, I think of that stupid/smart Adam Carolla quote: "A child is like a spring, and restricting it is like putting your foot on the spring. Sure, no matter how hard you step on it, as long as you keep your foot there, the spring will stay put. But once you let go just a bit, it'll go flying right up your ass."

Saw some rare photos of MLKJr. on TV the other day (that predictably, made me bawl, and also made me embarrassed to live in Chicago, given the era they were from) that bore out what I had seen in the last documentary I saw about him, which was that that man was TIRED. He just looked exhausted, and in one of the Chicago speeches talked about not wanting to be martyr and being so tired. In the documentary they had mentioned he had the heart of someone twice his age and would have had an attack soon after his assasinaton. Anyhow, it really struck me. Is that a very very unnecessary sentence while blogging?

There was a woman on one of those surgery makeover shows (which I also can barely watch - this is a weird bunch of rambling) who was having boobaugmentation and a tummy tuck to please her husband, who is in Iraq ("he deserves a wife with a hot body"). Anyhow, I found myself looking at her yucky tummy scar and thinking--what does he think of that? Does it look like somebody ripped by shrapnel? Or does it look good? I wish I could handle gore--the psychology of these shows is really interesting.

Barking Mad (now this I do occasionally watch) is a great show on Animal Planet, in large part because it's English. So it's full of embarrassed pet-owners whose pets do all sorts of hilarious and, yes, embarrassing things. I was laughing the other day watching this red-faced owner trying to drag her cocker spaniel down the street as it keened and huffed at rollerbladers. It's kind of a combination of Stupid Pet Tricks and something else.

I am fascinated by the phenomenon of people who get *worse* at things. I have a 1/2-written article in me head about it, and the topic really is interesting. Um. To me. Entropy in action.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

De mortuis and all that, but man, I always really disliked June Allyson. Not that I'm not sad she's dead, but her virtues/appeals, which seemed to be unrelated to whatever talent she had, didn't do much for me. Which is basically irrational; I love Doris Day, who is, just like JA, a cracked-voice-d blond singing Golden Era star, but June Allyson always seemed saccharine to me in the way people actually sometimes say about DD: boring, bland, milquetoasty, who cares. To me, Doris has a lot more spice/intrigue/interest.

Monday, July 10, 2006


This is good news. Non-crankums.

Me bffpal Skip's good friend and (my) occasional-pixelated-friend-by-proxy (can I say that?) Thomas is the subject of a book being published tomorrow: Confessions from the Velvet Ropes: The Glamorous, Grueling Life of Thomas Onorato, New York's Top Club Doorman, the point being how neat is that, and how neat is it to be biographied when you're as young as this guy? Very. Esp. because of (I have some small sense of) how hard he works. Go Thomas go! I hope the launch dinner is so dernier cri and chic that even *you* are Groucho-Marx-ily unable to get in. If you see what I mean.


You'll have to pardon a restless, cranky message. I said I'm sometimes crankums, and I am. I am a fretful poodle flomping from lap to lap, driving everybody nuts as I scramble ungainly out and to the next lap ouch watch it flomp flomp. (Can't wait til I get my computer at home! Will help.)

I am cranky, restless, enervated, unable to be satisfied. Media consumption scratchin no itches. Books are annoying and familiar, or annoying and unfamiliar, and don't engage. Movies: the same. TV is annoying on the largest scale...a bizillion channels and nothing on. The only lil things on TV that got me perked up this weekend were a great documentary about Niagara Falls on PBS, the kind of thing that almost - not quite - makes up for the begathons; the documentary I'd already seen about Tai Shan's birth (Animal Planet's "Panda Party"--downright skimpy); and god help me some C-SPAN2 hearings about online privacy and predators with the guy and others being grilled by a senate subcommittee (fascinating). I need to be living larger, in a Bierstadt painting. No book, no TV, works when you're in that kind of mood. Need to go sniff some fresh air. Join a Girly Fight Club [tm] where I can beat a fellow GenX low-income over-educated professional to bits and we can pretend we're George Foreman. Thwack some tennis balls against a wall. Things that have nothing to do with this journal. I am, at least, sensible enough to be blasting The Replacements' "I'm So Unsatisfied" at unhealthy levels in my headphones.

My favorite new photo of Tai Shan is this one. Adorable little humped over chubby absorption. If you don't keep up with his development online, I highly recommend that faboo reading: . I am also newly enamored of Owls and Walruses. Owls, despite all the adorableness they decimate, are just so cute. Big-eyed, fluffy, confusable, but smart. Ruffly. Vertical. And walruses are just nuts. They're so prehistoric I want to jump out of my skin.

At the same time that I am all unsatisfiable, I have a case of what my father used to (with annoying perspicacity, I thought) call "the Heavy Wants," which was his term for the crazed Christmas state I and my sister would get in where we wanted more and more Things. I've come to think of this as a very accurate description of that consumerist wanty frenzy it's so easy to slide into when you're all tetchy and twitchy and vulnerable. I want to go on an ocean cruise, I want to go on the Queen Mary II before I am too much older, I want to stay in grand old decaying hotels from the last century in this country, I want to go to spas and watering holes in Eastern Europe, I want to drive a beautifully-kept old car, I want to build kitchens from beautiful tile, I want to build a folly along the Hudson River. I don't feel greedy, I feel loosed from earthly bonds and floaty. It's not that I want to *own* them, exactly...

I am having the same problem with food. Nothing is tasting very good, but I am really hungry. I am starving for foods with all sorts of connections to my childhood: I want great Chesapeake Bay/Carolina coast fish and fried flounder and GOOD crab cakes and if I don't get good hush puppies soon withOUT big pieces of onion in them FUCK ME do people not know how to cook hush puppies?? I will die. I want vinegary lean eastern carolina BBQ on softy-soft rolls with delicious coleslaw. I want Krystal burgers. I want sausage gravy and biscuits, peppery grits, chicken fried steak and scrambled eggs. I want to go to meat-and-threes. I dunno what's going on, but I'm not going to be happy until I am neck-high in a pool of sausage gravy having a Mai Tai at this rate. Will let you know how it goes. Am in need of some serious restaurant-going.

Heavy wants.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

5,001 Nights at the Remote.

* The interview with Jacques Pepin in the "Domains" feature of The New York Times Magazine a few weekends ago predictably charming, serious, self-effacing. (Sorry to say he really is getting older. He had a long run of not aging, though.) Funniest bits: He mentions as his evening routine sitting down to dinner with his wife and two bottles of wine, then in the next para. mentions that what's always on his bedside are antacids, for the heartburn he sometimes gets (from drinking too much wine). Also his admission that after three or four days of not cooking, he gets edgy, so he avoids hotels when he travels (because he can't cook). Cute.

* The new Alton Brown show on Food Network...blegh. I haven't seen it ("Feasting on Asphalt," it's called), I just know right now I don't want to. I am *not* a big fan of his, in general; I don't dislike him, I admire some of what he does, but he doesn't make me chuckle or twang my strings or go, "Oh, Alton! Yer so funny!" Hrumph. This new show seems problematic on a lot of levels: riddled with stupid, myopic, old-fashioned, All Come to Look for America food media bullshit (if we just leave New York City...there will be Pure American Cuisine at every stop!), for one. Then there's the fact that a bizillion people have done this already (hello J&M Stern), and A. Bourdain even did it for his series for the Food Network all of three years ago. Then there's the fact the Kerouac-y badass image AB is working for this is terribly hard to swallow. Everything about him is so (admittedly) manufactured, even/esp his usual 'cute nerd' persona--this bad boy shit feels straight-up ego-stroking and stupid. And derivative. The way he breathlessly, schoolmaster-ly gallops through his shows leaving no room for contradiction doesn't make me think he's going to be any good at actually listening to somebody besides himself. Or existing out of context, since he micro-manages every bit of his show normally. It would be nice to be surprised, but for now: Blegh. Part of the problem is the Food Network, period, which is so out-of-date sometimes it gets lapped by other network's shows, even with all the advantages they have in their position. Very behind Things.

* Have been noticing more and more that the close-up, sexy, Nigella-like camerawork on Giada de Laurentiis' shows highlights, rather than disguises, how sloppy a cook she is. She cuts up something wet and soggy (canned artichokes) on a her cutting board, then after sweeping them off, just plunks something else down on the wet wood, not even swiping at it with a tea cloth. So the cut-in close-up porn shots of her cutting/grabbing/touching things makes you go: hmm. How'd that get so clean? And now it's dirty. Now it's clean. Now it's dirty.

* My friend KA have discussed this, but Rachel Ray is gettin more and more frantic. Her voice is hoarser, her eyes less focused, the whole onscreen delivery much more packed with chatter. No pauses anymore. Just runs and runs and runs. You get the feeling she might say she's being more herself now (?), and her earlier incarnations on the show were more nervous/beginner, but she was actually a lot easier to take Then, when she acted much calmer. Not sure if this is a symptom of her being stretched too thin professionally, or what, but I'd like her to chill.

* Well, A. Bourdain's special about Ferran Adria was finally on on Monday. As always with things I care desperately about (that would be Adria), I could barely stand to watch it: I made sweeping sideways movements towards it, catching 10-second-bits out of the corner of my eye, running away, then watching a little more, then more, then more... Not bad. Not everything, but not bad. I have at least two big articles still bubbling around inside me about this guy--it is very hard to sit still when I watch/read things about him now. Too much fact-gathering and not enough Out-Putting. I think FA is adorable, by the way--I mean his eyes and their expressiveness and the way his face breaks into a smile when he's pleased someone. It's downright unAmerican.
The new guy playing Superman has the same cast about his face as C. Reeves, in that they both look(ed) simian/outsize/gargoyle-like. Their features are really big and frankly not always handsome. The times when all the bits and angles and protuberances work together, though? Preternaturally beautiful. Oversized.

Superman was the first movie I got to know--by seeing it a lot, I mean. The Sound of Music was the first movie I ever remember seeing twice, and of course I got to know the (opening parts of, until I had to go to bed) of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Wizard of Oz when I was a kid by seeing them once a year, but Superman was the first film I saw over and over. This was because it one of the few movies there was to play on "cable" in Columbus, Ohio in the very early 1980s (just like there were about three videos to show on the pre-MTV shows/stations--always The Shoes, Split Enz, and Van Halen). The system was called "QUBE" and was actually quite avante-garde in that Columbus way (Cols = test market capital). It featured a response box with all these buttons you could push to play interactive shows and such. I think we had The Movie Channel (?), and they played Superman over and over and over...I saw it a lot. I haven't thought about it much but maybe that played into my later urges to always re-watch/re-read/re-visit movies and books I love, over and over? Except...I didn't think I loved the movie, quite, at the time. It wasn't that kind of urge. Not to mention it was still connected to a world of movies that wasn't that in our control (no VCRs quite yet, etc.). Movies were still Bigger. But I remember having strong reactions to CReeve's beautiful ape-like face, the cleverness of Lex Luthor commandeering the NY underground for his lair, the weird sadness of it all when Lois died, the weird weirdness of Margot Kidder (that casting was significant). Miss Tessmacher. The quiet before you hear the sound of the earth starting to whip back around in time. I don't have gargantuan soppy feelings about the Superman mystique, but it was a fairly formative film, no way around it.
I would like to thank me pal Skip for letting me talk about Nicole Kidman's veil--not her wedding, *exactly*, but the drape, weave, transparency, and relative heft vs. flow of her veil--yesterday. More than once. That was one beautiful veil, and in a way that does not have to do with just money. Somebody there was making some beautiful design decisions, down to the cream / polished chrome of the car.
Some of the rhethoric around Kenneth Lay's death sounds bizarrely like Stevie Smith's "Not Waving, But Drowning."

Monday, July 03, 2006

A sluggitudinous weekend resulting in a cranky Monday with missed alarms and grey weather begging to be slept through! In! During!

This phenomenon guarantees that I quote from Prince in my head at least once a day (alarming). It's either: "They say there is nothing better / Than sleeping on a rainy day" (from "Gonna Be a Beautiful Night")--'cause it's true--or "Oh no motherfucker, not today" (from "The Pope"); the latter you say to the vending machine when it looks like it's not going to give up your pistachio nuts and they're dangling, caught in the machine, until you wrest them, victorious, from the curly grip by giving the machine a he-man push.

Ran into a few things I really enjoyed on TV this weekend: an interview with Mary Gordon on billmoyahs, for one, whom I always get confused (yes) with Gail Godwin (and did you know MG was married to Robert Starer? I used to play his piano pieces, I think), although I don't think I will any more, and it was pretty fascinating, I can't lie. More casual forays into reeeeeeeeligion on my part. Jebus talk; the threats of fundamentalism and consumerism. It was relevant. I enjoyed a documentary about Vincent Price, who needs to go on my list of people whose voices I love. His obviously became quite parodic early on, but it has astonishing, multiple timbres, of really wild textures, especially when you listen to early movies like Laura. It holds the threat of much more in its modulated tones. Frankly, he was downright hunky when he was young--very tall, arty, yum. I am related to him, I think. First cousin, sixteen times removed, or something. I also enjoyed watching The Heiress, except I can never remember how Washington Square turns out, so I had to keep reminding myself that it was Henry James and get ready for the bad ending. Chilly. And as part of my Saturday night falling into TCM, yes...I watched Gone With the Wind. Can't usually not, when it's on. I've written endlessly about the conflicted feelings watching this movie (which I do love) generates...not sure what there is to say now, except that I noticed when I flipped around to take a break that no black folk in Steel Magnolias say a word. Is it better to be wallpaper? Or characters of some roundness who are fundamentally stereotypes in the end? Don't think the answer lies in either of these films. Hattie McDaniel always used to say: "I'd rather play a maid than be one"--who knows.

I saw Mrs. Henderson Presents, which I thought was quite Go-Fluffy-od...Fluffed...Good/Fluffy...Fluuood. Good and fluffy. Whatever the waiting neologism would be. Interesting that Bob Hoskins stripped down...rather think he was trying to Make a Point there.

I was struck watching this movie and GWTW that all they have to say about war is defeated...does the current administration even watch *movies*? Evenif we are going to take our cue from the most superficial, the most outside-in, then it's still all saying the same thing:

Ashley Wilkes: "Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars. And when the wars were over, no one ever knew what they were about."
Mrs. Henderson: "“When you lose a son in a war--no matter what others say--you know he’s died in vain.”