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.

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