Thursday, August 31, 2006

I just finished the De Capo reprint edition (with the horrid xeroxed photos in the back--what the hell?) of DV. Everyday life feels a little...blah.

AND I bought a Dover book I've wanted to get since I was in high school of unusual handdrawn alphabet designs. I may expire from inspiration!

I'm off to correct my posture.

Something in the air.

I just weighed in--officially--on the "waddle" kerfuffle at Willamette Week. What is going on this week? Something in the air about fat folk, methinks. I don't want to keep the controversy alive (very glad she will be apologizing), but at the same time I *had* to say something. Unbelievable. I still can't believe--more than anything--that the editors let that one through. Unbelievable.

Off to mash my sausage fingers hopelessly against the keyboard--

Raging Anglophilia.

It never dies. Just keep stokin the fires.

I just had a delicious ridiculous surge through the Colman's Mustard online gift shop website and bought a few fabulous trad. English thingies like a little mustard pot and a tea towel with the yellow logo. PLUS I got myself a facsimile edition of the Mustard Club Recipe Book, which is what started all this ridiculousness; Dorothy L. Sayers wrote it during her tenure as an advertising copywriter in London and it's hard to buy original copies (spendy), so I finally bought this version. The Mustard Club was a fake club that Sayers and Benson (the ad agency) invented that eventually became a real one and one of the great silly advertising campaigns of all time, with fake club officials like Miss Di Gester, its secretary. It had songs, and rulebooks, movies, newsletters...just brill. I wish more companies would sponsor things like that now for no other reason except that they're fun and fascinating (and yes, it sold mustard) created a whole generation of amazing advertising art too, by John Gilroy. Very neat. A little obsessed with it. Anyhow.

PLUS...I finally joined the Dorothy Sayers Society. This is partly because the 2007 annual convention is going to be held at Wheaton College. The Wade Center at Wheaton has this astonishing collection of works by Christian English authors like Chesteron, Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and Sayers, and I *missed* the first US Sayers convention held at Wheaton, what -- 10 years ago? I hain't going to miss this one in me own backyard, no. I have been excited about this for about two years now. Think I might have reached my excited nerd quotient already with it and I still have a year to go. Anyhow, can't wait.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

god, it feels good to get this stuff off my chest

* Err...scuse the rant (previous). I don't usually live in such a lugubrious yet turgid place about it all, but it's been building all week. Yahoo has been specializing in alarmist health-related headlines seemingly every day (among other stuff) and everything just built to a point. A pointy oratorical point!

* I *miss* the days of the Will Ferrell Bush. Not just because WF was funny--I always thought the unscripted little-kid I'm-tiwed! eye rub was genius and I love the cackle--but because it just doesn't seem like Bush can be made fun of that way anymore, as if he's harmless. I saw an old SNL skit at the height of it all the other day that and it was really funny. But no more! (somehow)

* I was gettin really giggly w/ Skip on the phone this week articulating this mental image I've had for days of Mel Gibson, sitting by his pool, chain-smoking and working his way through a list of Jews his assistant dials up for him ("I have Sherry Lansing on the phone, sir"). I just don't know what I think of this! It seems inane. Atonement isn't inane, but atonement to the public/for a crime that lives mostly in the public eye almost always is. I mean...what is he trying to prove? Or, I mean, what can he possibly prove to others? I'm not sure that anything he can Do could be seen by the public eye anyhow. Well--I mean--justice has to have been *seen* to have been done, not just done, but I'm not sure that's the issue here.

I told S. it reminds me firmly and somewhat inaccurately of the bizarre public debate about/with Jeffrey Dahmer before he got shivved in the pen. He was accused of being *racist* at some point, and spent some time on the public airwaves trying to defend himself, say he wasn't, in the most prosaic fashion. It was just...insane! (well, literally). But it was like--you ate little brown guys, dude. How are you going to spin that? Why are we bothering accusing him of racism? Do we really want to hear him to defend that?

* Much has been made of the difficulty of Really Doing Fosse choreography, and I have to say I think about that every time I see All That Jazz. Ann Reinking is so GOOD, I love watching her. I always find that a little surprising (duh), because her weird cracked voice can give the impression of weakness, or hurt. But she's so sharp, so crisp, she gets the shoulder stuff and the hand stuff and the weird stuff you hold too long... I wonder if only a muse/protege can get there. Like...only a Balanchine-sublimated-woman could really do Balanchine? Nah. Just a sexist theory--I don't know enough about *her* choreography in all this...

* I saw a little of Gilmore Girls tonight after not seeing it for did we EVER survive last season?? It felt so grim after a little absence; Lorelai and Luke could barely look at each other. They showed the generic headshot CW promo for next season and frankly, I just can't picture what it's even going to look like.

I am developing a new theory about the horrible Lorelai chatter--I don't know anybody who likes the show who can stand her or the constant Talk. Chatter. Rabbitting on. That weird, stupid, faux-screwball, distancing (strangely), annoying chat! But it's strange--the strengths of the show exist *despite* it, or through it. I always think if I had more backbone I'd stop watching it because of the Chatter just on principle, but I'm starting to think it's a kind of penance you have to do to get to the good stuff (golly, Matt Churzchzhzhzchy really is amazing). I'm not sure one can exist without the other. All bets are off next season, though--man.

* I love dancers--musicians who dance I mean--who pull out/emphasize/make manifest less obvious things about the music. Prince is one of those dancers; he articulates/points out/moves to all these things existing in the layers of music that may not be as obvious as the boomboom time signature. It's so cool. This skill can kind of exist apart from how *good* a dancer you are, if you see what I mean. You have to be good enough to express youself well, but it's not really about spins or something. Anyhow, I've always loved the Commodore's goofy choreography to "Brick House" in that spirit. It works with the syncopation, that deep nasty bass that makes you leap out of your chair -- it's just not that easy a song to dance to despite that, but I love that weird back-and-forth slightly Temps choreography that emphasizes the song's underlying strengths. I think I love the first ten bars of it more than the rest, but still--sweet.

I bet there's an interesting article to be written about band choreography and the weird things it emphasizes. Some of that wacky Motown choreography highlighted the most unexpected things...

* The Bird Cage is such an enormous waste of movie-making skills. The cinematography and lighting in that film is just amazing, but who cares. Not just because it's not really good, not just because I think we are well, well past the need to make an if-only-they-weren't-gay!hilarious! gay film, but because (this is my own hobbyhorse) I love *domestic* films. That film has all this potential to be so great, and so much about those guys' daily lives. Wish it were just a movie about two men raising their son, toddling around Miami. Then it wouldn't be Cage Aux Folles, I guess, and I'm missing the point, but I just think it's a horrible compromise. MN drags in Elaine May to make it all human, but it's just nastily stuck in the middle. Would have been better as a homophobic farce. Really. I wish she had put her screenwriting abilities to a movie made 90 degrees in either direction...

* I saw some footage of Sting from 1992 and....HMMM. Has he, she thought to herself for the first time, had some very careful BOY WORK DONE?? His face looked like...a very different species of face. Not an older version of the Police Sting--the whole forehead/eyebrow thing was totally different. It's baffling. He sometimes didn't look that young when he was young either, not to mention there are at least a couple other phases of Sting, including the Mod/Quadrophenia version. So maybe this is all real aging and he just has unique genetic code that allows him to hit his stride in his 50s. (60s?). I don't know! I'm not going to post photos for this, because it's going to be hard to find ones that explain exactly what I mean (I will if I find them).

GOD, I loved the Police. Had every album. Did an entire set of music videos for Synchronicity in me best pal's (HALLO JQ) carpeted attic, using Star Trek/Star Wars plastic toys as "instruments." Had endless fantasties about Stewart Copeland. Obssessed about the 4 seconds near the end of the "Every Little Thing" video where it seemed like you could see Sting's hip bones through the cutouts in his pants. Clipped out every article and photo I could find and taped them on my wall. Memorized all the lyrics. Wore out my Outlandos d'Amour cassette. Good golly. They were exciting.

60-second rant

How much do people hate fat folk? On the IMDB board for Phat Girlz (msg now taken down), somebody posted a message saying that all fat women should put poison in their food and eat it to kill themselves off. They compared it to giving needed medications to their dog.

It's upsetting hearing that kind of vitriolic prejudice, but (like for many people, I bet) it almost feels good to hear that shit said out loud. Because it's like not like I don't *experience* that reaction from people--they're just too chickenshit to say it. (Sometimes. It ain't fun to get harrassed on the street either, but that kind of idiot reaction is different.) Here you get to hear people articulate their hate. And you can say--oh right. That's why you won't look me in the eye. That's why you're waiting on my friend, not me. That's why you're talking behind my back. That's why you burst into laughter when I walk away. That's why you don't see me. That's why you look suprised that I'm not dumb but can't remember that I'm not. That's why your smile falls off your face when you see me. That's why you're hoping for a hole in our talk that makes it clear I hate myself so you can jump in and hate me (in a nice way) too. This is how you act when you *want* to hang out a car window and yell things at me but know you can't. And the grossest part of all *that* is that the next shade of emotion closer to human is only horrible disapproving pity and who looks good in *that* color--nobody. Miles to go before the love. Lifetimes.

By any means necessary!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fear of a Fat Planet.

My friend Damian (see sidebar) made this image/takeoff on the PE logo -- it always makes me giggle. Hilarious. Plus that sentence often finds cause to go a-ringing in my head. Very appropriate. Only about 19,000 news stories/headlines/goings-on I ran into this weekend that made me think it. Including the fact that:

I was talking to my friend Holly tonight and she confirmed something I had *thought* was true from commercials I had seen on TV, which is look at what the *!@#$%$^&^&$(%# they did to Mo'Nique on the cover of Phat Girlz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??!?!??!?!?!??!! It looks like they PhotoShaved a good six sizes off of her--I have a hard time believing Mo'Nique approved that herself. Not to mention that the alternate cover isn't much better--she's slightly bigger but the theme of the image is worse. What the bloody hell. If Fox Home Entertainment can't get it together to show a fat girl something close to her real size on THIS DVD cover, then there's no hope. Idjits.

I am pondering...REAL bookcases. With glass fronts. I got fed up today watching my cat, for the millionth time, grip with her pointy claws the tops of some kids books that I just discovered are worth a lot of money preparatory to flinging herself off of them. It's not that I want to sell them--it's the opposite--life is hard enough on my buks, the objects I own I probably care the most about and actually try to take care of. Yes indeed, hard enough, with greasy fingers, late-night bathtub reads, and foldy paper corners. And freaking cats. There is something, though, about big, matching, glass front bookcases that feels like I'm really not old enough for them. Most purchases feel like that, and I get over it, but even the cheapest IKEA ones feels like a Brideshead-sized commitment. God, it'd be great, though. The other day Cat #2 knocked over my collected works of Saki from the 1920s and I almost busted a gut, if you can excuse me sounding like a precious old queeny gouty book-collecting lawyer. So maybe it's time.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cat fud addendum.

After an unavoidable foray into Kute Kat Pix, I discovered while looking for pix of that nasty stuff that not only is Fancy Feast's Elegant Medleys marketed as all restaurant-style gourmet food, but it was launched at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic with (get this) Rocco di Spirito. Oh MAN. Hilarn!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Pardon me dilatory posting here...I wrote a little article unexpectedly this week (more or less done) that while self-contained nonetheless needed ffrantic ffluffing in every spare moment, of which there were few. Now it gets to percolate, thank god. I am not so much a writer as a re-writer, deep down.

Isn't it hilarious the way that people market cat food? They want it to look good, but NOT AS GOOD AS HUMAN FUD. There is a hilarious commercial for a new Fancy Feast product ("Elegant Medleys") "inspired by menus of the world's finest restaurants" that you can tell the *second* you look at it is for animals, despite the fact that at a quick glance it also looks like delicious human food. They couldn't bear to make it look quite appetizing to Us, so the sauce they pour on the salmon, which otherwise appears to be a nice place of fish a la Florentine, is a bizarre clear viscous liquid. Clearly Animal-Grade. And yet - appealing to human sensibilities in some barfy half-way fashion (do cats care about restaurants?). Fuckin hilarious.

If I lived in TN there is no way I could vote for Fred Thompson--he character was SO convincingly mean when he was on Roseanne. Just a little too good at playing a horrible man.

I saw Theresa Heinz (sp) the other day on TV and it felt WEIRD. *That's* what could-have-been. Wow. Felt impossible and far away and nice.

In the same spirit, I sometimes think I'd like to get inside Ann Coulter's insane head. Just to see what hamsters are powering the machine.

The oldest Hefner girlfriend on Girls Next Door *has* to be older than 31. No way those wrinkles match 31.

Too much ink spilled about Tom Cruise, nothing to say, except you get the sense that he (in the medial mogul world) violated the first commandment (had other gods before them). This a strange celebrity time, twixt him and Mel--different measuring sticks are being used, even as the ridiculousness goes further. Can't stand either, but it's still interestin.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

5,001 Nights at the Remote.

* Okay, this may or may not be anything to note, but I had the sense I saw a little log-rolling on a new episode of Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels the other night. In her New England episode, she featured a breakfast place in Ogunquit, Maine, that was owned and run by a woman with the last name of Cusimano. Which, as crazed foodifilic fans know, is the same name as her husband. It may be that there's no connection at all (I couldn't find any), but in that case, why didn't she mention it? Did I miss it? I don't think so. Hmm. Hmm!

* I don't mean to always be kvelling about Jacques Pepin (note: new show coming! The Complete Pepin--I think it might be the full cycle of Jacques Pepin Celebrates with Claudine [blech]--I can't tell), but I was struck by something the other day. There is a certain kind of "common knowledge" Food Talk that fleshes out the chatter in many shows. I don't mean actual *facts* (bake this at 350) or knowledge (how to clean a squid), but this kind of middle-ground, kinda/sorta/mostly/maybe true stuff that people say over and over. Like...Don't worry, all the alcohol boils out. Always salt the pasta water. Never salt the pasta water. Tear, don't chop. Don't refrigerate oil. Let the meat rest. Sensible ideas, but not as absolute as the way in which the are delivered.

One major type of this talk is always about hot peppers. Over and over you hear that "the heat's all the seeds." "The heat's all in the ribs and seeds." "Get rid of the insides and it won't be hot." Jacques is one of the only chefs I see who actually *does* what you're really supposed to do in these situations, which is TASTE a little bit of it. As he pointed out in a recent show, the flesh of say--a serrano pepper--can be as mild as a bell pepper or as hot as a scotch bonnet--you don't know until you take a little nibble. He nibbles and tastes as he goes, and it just feels different than other chefs to actually see him do it. I've also seen Jacques violate a major Cooking Chatter tenet, which is that he washes his mushrooms. He just doesn't let them sit in the water, and uses them right after. I can't count how many times I've seen TV chefs admonish their audience to neeeeever wash the mushrooms.

* Alton Brown's show turning about to be about as annoying as I'd expect. The funny thing, of course, is that it's not that I disagree with him--I agree with his likes/dislikes and love of diners, etc.--and he's pretty sensible about the seeds in peppers--but perhaps if only because of my own know-it-all-ness, I find his species of this almost unbearable. The gabbling know-it-all-ism and precious, this-is-real-AMERICA-man! schtick together are in fact basically unbearable. That is, he has a talent for standing in his own light, whatever he's doing: he's either pontificating by himself, or else rhapsodizing in an inhuman way which should be appreciative but makes for bad journalism. He doesn't seem able to listen to people very well.

* In this same spirit, I really should dislike the Deen boys show--more road food/looking for America stuff--which suffers not from know-it-all-ism, but the opposite, but I can't help it, I like it, other than the folksy, gee-whillickers fake summings-up at the end of their travels. They *do* more or less give people time to talk, if nothing else. And they're damn cute and would make a delicious big girl sammch yes I said it.

* Nigella going to be on the Food Network this fall--don't think she's ever been on American network other than Style, right? Nigella Feasts. Anyhow, it'll be interestin. I'm a big fan of How to Eat and her general take on cooking (I like that she has a real POV, and not just about deep-frying Mars bars); not a big fan of the faux cinema-verite breathless porny filmmaking style of her cooking show. We'll see.

random, oh so random n pissy

I can't believe Troy Garity is Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden's son. He's so...subtle. And his parents are not, whatever they are. I spent all weekend devouring the Jane Fonda bio THANK YOU SKIP. It is kind of fascinating to be inside the head of somebody who was going through such enormous changes that could look darn--not fickle--but kind of...too malleable to be genuine on some level. I ain't talking about sitting on the tank in Hanoi, exactly. Chapters about Ted Turner very funny. Annoying (qv talk w S) that she doesn't note that--strangely--her bulimina stopped just at the same time that her exercise anorexia whoops I'm sorry workout tapes started. She doesn't seem to bring quite the same candor to this issue that she does to everything else--feels disingenous. (I swear to God, the phrase "as long are you're not fat" should be added to any declarative sentence to accurately reflect most American beliefs. "Do unto others--as long as they're not fat. You deserve a break today--as long as you're not fat. I've grown to love and accept long as I'm not fat" [is the flava of Jane's subtext--sometimes--despite the talk]). I would, however, like to heartily thank Jane for a word to sometimes replace "seminal," which I don't *want* to use but for which I have never found as strong a replacement. Jane kept using "germinal." I can do that.

Proof that this cute misanthropy stuff isn't a crock of shit: I *hate* the Honey Bunches of Oats commercials. I hate them all, I hate the jolly cereal factory worker in her hair net who delivers the happy buy-me line in her cheerful yelling voice, and I hate the noun adjunct in the cereal's name. Hate. Go away.

Proof that this obsessive pointless media-watching stuff isn't a crock of shit: TV stations have started placing the first commercial break for The Fugitive a few minutes earlier. Where it used to come (right after Tommy Lee Jones delivers the "hen-house-out-house" line and then says "...go get him") made for one fantastic 20-minute batch of expository filmmaking. Now where they cut it--after Kimball starts running, before TLJ gets there--it cuts the tension in half too early. You need the Gerard char. to show up and make it the ballet a deux that it is. God, I love a good movie opening.

Proof that News is really only disturbing: 100,000 media hrs about JonBenet for every 10 about the war. First rule in American filmmaking: individualize the conflict and then people will watch. Also: too much footage of hunted, sad-looking animals with no habitats to roam in anymore as humans gobble it up. That's much sadder than nature red in tooth and claw in the end. Makes my heart break.

There. That oughta do it for now.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Been laid up the last few days, so media consumption is a little overwhelmed and blurry. But still must note:

* Fairly fascinatin documentary on VH1 about drug use in America ("The Drug Years"). That sentence (the VH1 part) means I am officially an Old Person, I guess, but it was still interesting to watch even a somewhat reductive take on drug *history*, how its meaning, use, availability and quality has changed, and the interviews (Lou Reed, Fred Smith) were really interesting too, as well as ideas about how exactly it relates to rock culture (perceived, actual). It is a topic where a straightforward, vaguely even-handed, more than 2-minute documentary take on the issue at hand is such an enormous relief...I get so tired of people's opinions about it all and of tiny news features that try to digest the thing in a few minutes. Julia Phillips should have been around to be interviewed for that one. Note: losing patience for drugs.

* In the middle of the documentary they played a song that has been on my mind tonight--I can't help watching Goodfellas, whenever it's on, especially, as a treat, the coked-up, tires-screeching, Day That Henry Gets Arrested sequence. It is the ONLY piece of filmmaking where Hollywood's cardinal sin--overscoring--seems merited, and in fact, the use of music there isn't really classic overscoring anyhow. I love the mashing of all the songs together, all cut off and half-finished, which sounds like a jittery coked-up person playing with a car radio (perfect for all the Cadillac sequences, including the one where he almost gets in an accident, which is completely terrifying). The song that sounds the best, though, the one that makes me want to jump out of my skin, is "Monkey Man" by the Stones. It's of those songs that makes you think this is the best band in the world. It's completely primeval, an ancient howl. It really works in that sequence. - I just love that 10 minutes of film for some reason. Love it. Brings everything to a head. Maybe it's because there's no violence to deal with, but more likely the wild combination of the domestic (up early to start braising veal shanks) with the criminal and the this-can't-go-on tension. Or the fact that it's so thorough (the sequence)--he may be a gangster, but he still has to pick up his brother at the hospital, and the impatient way he pushes him down the hallway in his wheelchair says it all.

* Also saw: fascinatin documentary about Lana Turner, basically a slightly niced-up version of her daughter Cheryl Crane's Detour (no talk of 12-inch penises). I've always really disliked LT as an actress--I know her mostly from her brow-furrowed, fake-worried, completely unconvincing Peyton Place/Imitation of Life/Madame X years, when she replaced acting with looking upset. Unconvincingly. Looking upset about things that you got the feeling she didn't care about in real life. She reminded me of suburban mommies I have known. But I hadn't ever really seen any of her early sweater girl movies, and she was so *different*. Not necessarily a good actress, but just this sweet pretty girl kind of out of her league. She aged really tough, that woman. I always wanted her shiny gold/silver hair, though. I still have a newspaper clipping I treasure: it came from Ann Gerber's gossip column in Skyline (Gerber's a lot like/from the same era as Kup--fabulous Klassic Hollywood Tawk, which is what the real Chicago old main-liners read--none of this CS stuff) and contains the exact formula of hair dyes Lana combined to make her hair that color. Never had the nerve to try it, but it feels like a precious clue to Great American Femininity. Someday I will combine it with the recipe for Hedwig's lips (which I also have) and kill the world with Shiny.

* Finally watched Sideways. It's good, but sad and grim, if you ask me--if I had seen it in a theater I know I would have laughed much more, had a good buoyancy under the whole thing to fill in the cracks and make it feel less sad. It's sadness is arguably part of its strength, but it left a slightly metallic taste in my mouth.

* I am convinced that skin care products are a joke. All you do is ride out the nasty vagaries of acne into your 20s, 30s, during which you're too scared to really moisturize cause your skin's so touchy, then once that calms down desperately try to stop the aging, when anything smooth and creamy seems like it's helping. The other 98% is genetics and whether or not you smoke. I *think*.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Welcome to my humble chapeau!

Lainie Kazan is the Paul Muni of the modern cinematic world, our nonspecific zaftig 'ethnic' Greek/Jewish/Italian movie-TV lady. Like...a more generalized Renee Taylor. I like her, though. Frankly, I wouldn't mind being either of those women in a few years (quick, gotta go back and grow up in Brooklyn). I feel embarrassed that I'd never taken it upon myself to once and for all figure out her ethnic origins until now (I like to know these things), but it turns out she's a mix of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jeww. Whoo kneww. Brooklyn. Erasmus Hall. I thought she might be Greek because of Kazan (like Elia), but...maiden name is Levine. Anyhow, I was watching her Moonstruck her Italianate way through a made for TV movie (curses, wine, antipasti) and I thought: I gotta know! I can't stand it anymore. Actually, it was her use of "agita" that made me finally look it up. An awful lot of slang is non-geographically specific these days, but that's one word that I've neeeeeeeeeeever heard anybody say out of New York, and I knew it was more Italian than Yiddish (note: that's a great word--awfully useful), but--I just hadda know. Anyhow, now I know, and I still think it's cool she was in Playboy in the early 70s although I have a sense I might not like her singing (Babs' understudy?). I dunno.

Lainie Kazan is also the source of a dumb, slightly offensive, nickname I have for's the result of the confluence of different personas--fandoms. That is, it's easy to mishear rap lyrics, but sometimes I mishear them in a way that is more than just hopelessly uncool. For like fifteen years I thought Chubb Rock was singing "my homegirl Lainie Kazan" in "Treat 'em Right," but it turns out that of course he was, um, saying "Lady Kazam." RIGHT. Right. When I figured that out is when I started calling myself "faggy rapster" in my head.

Dixie Chicks concert from last album was on PBS Saturday night. I wish I liked their new album a little better (maybe it'll grow on me), but I still think (I've said this before here--humor me) that they are one of the greatest pop groups out there. I want to line up a parade of meaningless adjectives to spress myself, but must just say they have great songwriting abilities, are great musicians, their music is hooky in the best ways, moving in the best ways, their lyrics are fun, story-telling, relevant, interesting...not to mention it is three women onstage playing the hell out of their instruments, fronting a male band (I wish I had the song "Wide Open Spaces" when I was 18), and I think Natalie Maines has the reedy voice of an angel, yes I do. They write some great pop songs, yes they do! I got all verklempt and sing-a-long and bouncing watching that concert. Fun. Another reason I like them: I grew to like them seeing them live (always a good sign).

Finally...a non Capitol Years/more Star Is Born version of Judy singing "The Man That Got Away" for me to download from iTunes. Essential listening (faggy rapster!).

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I get very frustrated (read: I'm a snob) about people who don't know that photos lie. Photos do lie, photography is the most mercurial medium in the world. One knows this, especially if one 1) works with photos for a living 2) has spent any time in the world of the personal ads, and I do both. Photos can do whatever you want them to, bless them. They are driving the bus.

In addition, as a generally emancipated fat girl of some empowered variety, I tend to be sensitive about beauty norms and have (this also sounds snobby) something of a genuine disconnect between what I'm told is pretty and what I find pretty. That's probably true for everybody, but I like to think that my own tastes at the least are a little more rounded, flexible, adult, thoughtful, fully-formed, observant, questioning than others. Maybe. All I know is that in order to get to the point where you like and appreciate yourself as is in this world as a big girl, you have to travel a long long road filled with a rainbow of human differences that are hard to ignore.

So I get very frustrated with people who are incredibly harsh (or alternately worshipful) about public figures and their looks--"She's SO ugly"--"He's SO handsome"--"oh SHE doesn't deserve to be a celebrity" kinda goes the subtext blah blah--especially when they start judging bodies and body parts in a way that make it clear they're not seeing past what's presented to see what things really look like--and that it doesn't matter the way they think it does anyhow. If you look, really look at a photo of somebody who at first glance "looks fat" because the image doesn't quite fit What We're Used to Seeing, you can parse it out, you can see what's really going on, how that person might look in front of you (probably not fat). For instance.

Having said all that -- this really is the most massive rationalized apologia on earth -- there are a few actress/actor types out there that just make me think...ARGH! Stop trying to tell me they're beautiful! They're not! They're dogs! Gah! A big part of this reaction is because contemporary beauty icons are shoved down our throats in ways that make the Photoplay layouts from the 40s look like serious journalism: everybody is so coy, so mugging, so heavily made-up and costumed, so worshipped, so Paris Hilton looking over her shoulder, as she clearly practiced in her bedroom for years. Cute cute coy coy on/off. And really skimpily-dressed on top of it.

But I can't help it...I can't stand Jennifer Love Hewitt! I think she's a dawg. She ain't pretty, she's skinny as a pole, her face is horsey, she can't act, and she mugs for the camera with this sweety-sweet smile that would look over-the-top and preening on a much prettier person who, in fact (I guess this is the point), wouldn't preen like that. Are disproportionately big boobs that important? I don't know. And who cares. And shouldn't I be cheering her for (what is in effect) actually not conforming to some of the strictures of our beauty mythology (even though I think people think she does)? I dunno, but I hate women who simper. Hrmph.


Elaine Stritch was wonderful and a little frighteningly hyper but who cares on Chicago Tonight last week. I don't get the appeal of John Calloway--I don't entirely dislike him but his demeanor is really bizarre--herky-jerky--randomly intense--and the sword-battle of those two sure was very weird. He was *not* the right audience to bring out the best in her, but it didn't matter. The best bit was when she sang her opening number from her was so easy and beautifully listenable and kinetic. I love the way she uses her voice, the way going from speaking to singing all the pitches and melodies and runs start to stand out more--all the subtleties and changes from verse to verse, the easy way she wears it all. She is one totally cool chick, I *wish* I could be that charismatic and storytelling and oh-my-dear at any age. Dammit, I want to hold forth in the Carlyle too. Wish I coulda gone.

She reminds me a little of the kind of women my friend Heather wrote about really well in this blog entry--I *love* those people who are never seen without their _____ (Chanel intercrossed C tortoiseshell cuffs; big glasses; bright lipstick, whatever--Elaine's becoming really known for that white shirt.) I always really admired that kind of eccentricity, wanted to be a Carrie Donovan or Diana Vreeland or Fleur Cowles or Coco Chanel type who was known for their signature something or other and paid her maid to iron her $5 bills. I think it's one reason I love Edward Gorey so much--his eccentricity was cut wonderfully from that cloth, with his fur coats, African rings and tennis shoes.


The E! television network continues to roll around in its own filth. Last night on their news the same people who were in their lead stories were reported in a later story as the celebrities America was the most sick of in a poll. Right. It's alllllll good. And last week on a particularly bad newsday from the Middle East as an attempt to describe the current spate of popular 'happy' songs by girl singers (Jessica Simpson's new single, Fergie's, whatever), the E!anchor said that maybe it reflects the happy state "we're in right now." As a country. Hmmm. HHHHMMM.

I am craving CREPES SUZETTE. Made in a lovely slow old-fashioned way, with silver spoons to fold the crepes and sugar cubes rubbed on oranges to pull out their oil. Yum.

The other day I wondered: I wonder if the whole Mel G. hoo-ha is a test? A plant? A giant experiment so that Mel can feel smug and never be hounded again once it's all revealed?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Always Martha

I don't mind every trickle-down effect from our years under the reign of Martha A.P. and P.P. (Ante-Poncho/Post-Poncho)--well, there is the expanding effect on low-end antique prices. And the way she's made a color of green I used to love a cliche (albeit easier to find). And the proliferation of the phrase "this _______ [doily, vase, expenditure, attempt at excess] is what makes a house a home" (sad, Martha; wrong, Martha). Ehhh...maybe I do mind most Martha-effex, but anyhow:

The one effect of MStewartization on American homekeeping--at least the visual image thereof, which in Marthaspeak is the same thing--that I really can't forgive is her effect on American NIGHTSTANDS. It's actually nightstands and desks, but mostly nightstands. Most of the time I rather enjoy Martha's wretched excess, her pained pursuit of perfection, because it's such a pretty world to look into. I used to say it was like my version of shooting smack, only how would I know, but still--pritty pritty. No dust, no fingerprints, no disorganization. Delish and tingly. Her nightstands, however, push me over the edge. They are big lies.

She's perfected this world wherein the nightstand--whatever the context--is a smooth, water-ring and -droplet-free environment that generally houses only the following: a lone clock; a lone bloom in a glass; a lone lamp; a few carefully arranged books; reading glasses just taken off. That's it. The nightstands in her magazines and catalogs are worlds of stylist-ed perfection, with not one untoward item in sight.

That is to say: no kleenex, no water glasses dripping condensation rings despite your best effects or eventually knocked over by your cats, no DUST, no sex toys, no cold medicine, no piles of exasperating papers, no hairbrushes or tweezers or Vapo-Rub or scribbled phone numbers or vitamins or retainers or phones or mouthguards or lube or embarrassing photos or ankle braces or clothes or piles of ear plugs or lotion. I personally have almost everything I ever use that's not in the shower on my nightstand, including perfume and medicine (where else am I going to use it?).

Whoever is parked in MStew's beds is there only momentarily, long enough to slightly rumple the (ironed, stain-free) sheets, just like Martha and her four hours of sleep a night (I bet her jail partner in WVa loved that). (And where do the pillows go....WHERE DO THE PIILLOWS GO? the bleat of modern life--all those shams.) Nobody needs, lingers, sleeps too much. Nobody's there long enough to park piles of shit next to the bed. There are never any logos or brand names, bespeaking a need for analgesics or the paraphernalia of menstruation. In MStew-Land there are often not even drawers to hide that stuff in--the nightstands are that spare. No stuffed drawers below, no piles of things to do, ferociously tweezed domestic landscape.

And the point is that this has spread everywhere: in the deluge of furniture catalogs I can't stop there is always--in addition to this frightening embrace of espresso wood stains and fabric-covered frames masquerading as wall art that make me think I'm in a SCAN Furniture store in suburban DC, c. 1975 (PLUS CA FREAKING CHANGE, is the point)--one of these Martha Nightstands. A beautifully fingerprint-free carafe of fresh water, one lily, the ubiquitous Braun alarm clock. One book, one pair of spectacles, one lamp. One gun, one condom, one passport. Hah! No. But try it: open West Elm or CB2 or Chiasso...

The problem I have with her desks is similar: no paper. Not even 1/2 a day's onslaught of junkmail, which indicates that somebody must be waiting under the mail slot of the door to catch the mail before it hits the ground, then run it piping hot out to the trash where they shred and dump, then bring only the very most relevant mail inside and immediately file everything but the one postcard with pretty lettering on the front that they tuck into the paper sorter on the wall for visual interest before fluffing their cup of identical pencils. I keep looking for evidence of humanity, for evidence of a phenom I find completely unmanageable within the space of two days in my own home, and it's just...Hoovered out of sight. Where is Martha...or the spectral She who occupies these spaces...while she tears up credit card offers? Delays opening uncomfortable letters from relatives? Keeps catalogs she never quite orders from? Has sex? Drools in the pillow?

Friday, August 04, 2006

More movies I'm too young to see

I finally saw DUMA last night, which is about, if ye don't know, a baby Cheetoh, orphaned by lions who killed his mother (this year: not good for lions or seals in cinema; need PR firm."HI! I'm Sandy and we'd love to invite you to SealFest, a celebration of the warm caring seals in your community...") and found by a young boy and his parents, who raise him on their farm in South Africa. It's a beautiful and silly film, as this cheetah raised in captivity shows no evidence of his innate wildness, of which the characters talk so much, even when full-grown. It seems realllllly unrealistic about the demands and pitfalls of raising a wild cat, even though it uses this trope to great plot-spurring advantage much later. Most of the latter half of the movie is about the boy taking the cat back to the wild on his own, a bit of a nod to the grand tradition of boy/animal movies. Many trials.

It is, however, despite being silly, also grand and weepy, and most of the time I didn't care about any of the previous stuff, because I got to see either the 1) baby Cheetoh and there really are no words for how cute they are--they are devastating or 2) the older cheetah (played by a bunch of diff animals, according to credits), with his/her beautiful upturned bowl of a head under its scratchy fur that you could almost *feel*, just from looking at him. Just the shots of the animal looking intelligently into the camera or being filmed so close were worth the whole movie--they were so frisson-inducing and other-worldly, with that weirdly human or communicative cast to his features combined with the sort of infantile round-y kitty-cat thing, combined with the huge long-tailed carnivorous catness, combined with the way he purred recognizably like my housecats. That, and the scene in which a bush baby hops onto the boy's shirt. Oh my GAWSH. (I'm not sure about Campbell Scott's it supposed to be Afrikaaner? Sounds Aussie.)

I tell you, though--I'm really not old enough for this film. Thank god it was PG and the violence was toned down, because otherwise I couldn't have seen it at all. As it was, the themes of danger and freedom and parents and death not to mention just the aminals and the Cheetoh and the inevitable scene with a poaching trap made me more or less...bawl. Get too riled up. The suspension of disbelief is not even the right term for the state I get in watching movies like this. Or Babe. Ridiculous.


Elaine Stritch on our local PBS tonight, I think because of her Ravinia gig this week (query: did John Calloway land this interview through his daughter/cabaret connections?). Saw the preview and was enchanted--golly, I love her. I think she's just so cool. Nothing I can write here will communicate even a little of how it is exactly that she's so neato, it occurs to me, which is frustrating, but I'd love to see her show sometime. Esp. as I get older and queenier. She makes some great song choices.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Dear, well, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf has died. I checked and Opera-L is buzzing enormously, as expected--even a thread linking Mel Gibson's recent hoo-ha with the Dame's endlessly-debated Nazi connections. (In general I can take that listserv only in smallish bits; the drama is so heavy it's like trying to fight your way through a wet quilt--there is nothing on earth to compare it to. Not only that, the feverishly high pitch of erudition--no room for even a reasonably well-informed dilettante; everyone's a raging expert--makes the air there very thin and not very sustainable for most life forms. I do love their absolutism, though; if you need the Real Answer on anything, that's the place.) Poor Dame E--I always find something particularly poignant about the deaths of opera singers--this sounds inane--it's not a compare and contrast thing--it's just that so often they *did* (have to) Vissi d'arte first and d'amore second, due to the demands of the profession, but even when it was flipped (Callas?) it can be sad. It's not even just that, though--it has something to do with the fact that these people have through their art already brought you close to the emotions engendered by death and love...

I didn't know she was Norman Schwarzkopf's aunt! He has weird family connections (father was cop on the Lindbergh baby case).

I feel a little surprised that people are surprised about Mel Gibson. Feels related to the idiotic and dead-end workings of the celebrity culture we live in, where the cameras are farther and farther inside people's hides, sticky with information, but what We Know is farther away and less clear and sometimes so completely contradictory. I'd say there was plenty of evidence, including the serious nicotine lines and capillary bursts on that man's face, to let you know he had some drinking problems, and his entire career to look at if you were wondering about Mel and The Jews. Who would need a drink more than somebody who fancied himself if not just the tiniest bit Christ-like, then (equally gnarly) the favored story-teller of Christ's life, especially in the double context of Hollywood, which is as inclined toward Worship as an MO as the churchiest church anyhow...

If you are noticing a new, more mature confidence, and firm handshake in my prose, it is because I turned 40 yesterday. Ahem. The list of people with my birthday grows more and more complete with tools like the Internet--this year I was excited to see Gary Merrill on it! (who knew--I do love him so in All About E) and Per Wahloo, because who doesn't need a Swedish crime novelist to feel connected to. Others include: Pete Sampras AND Aaron Krickstein, Mary-Louise Parker (blech), Cynthia Stevenson, Apollonia ("Sex Shooter": worst Prince song ever), Butch Patrick. Andrew Gold, Kathryn Harrold, Lance Ito (oh gawd), Joanna Cassidy, Isabel Allende, Wes Craven, Peter O'Toole (yay), Ireland, Betsy Bloomingdale, Carroll O'Connor and Myrna Loy (yay oh yay).

Thanks to darling HB, I have both the lyrics to and a recording of Sophie Tucker performing the following song-y monologue (on my iTunes it segues immediately into the overture to The Marriage of Figaro THEN "Home" by Stephanie Mills, which is kind of a exhilarating combination). I quote the lyrics here because, well, they rock, and Sophie Tucker becomes only a cooler role model as this shit gets realer, yo.


I've often heard it said and sung
That life is sweetest when you're young
And kids, sixteen to twenty-one
Think they're having all the fun
I disagree, I say it isn't so
And I'm one gal who ought to know
I started young and I'm still going strong
But I've learned as I've gone along...

That life begins at forty
That's when love and living start to become a gentle art
A woman who's been careful finds that's when she's in her prime
And a good man when he's forty knows just how to take his time

Conservative or sporty, it's not until you're forty
That you learn the how and why and the what and when
In the twenties and the thirties you want your love in large amounts
But after you reach forty, it's the quality that counts

Yes, life begins at forty
And I've just begun to live all over again

You see the sweetest things in life grow sweeter as the years roll on
Like the music from a violin that has been well played upon
And the sweetest smoke is from a mellow, broken and old pipe
And the sweetest tasting peach is one that's mature, round and ripe

In the twenties and the thirties you're just an amateur
But after you reach forty, that's when you become a connoisseur
Then it isn't grab and get it and a straight line for the door
You're not hasty, you're tasty, you enjoy things so much more

For instance, a novice gulps his brandy down, he doesn't understand
Observe a connoisseur, the way he holds it in his hand
How he strokes the glass, fondles it, warms it as he should
Smacks his lips, aahhh, slowly sips, hoo boy, it tastes good

Life begins at forty
Then it isn't hit and run and you find much more fun
You romance a girl of twenty and it costs you all your dough
But when a forty thanks you, she hates to see you go

And girls of twenty, all they want are big men
Big men with strong physiques
I don't say that it's bad
But you do get tired of those damn Greeks

Life begins at forty
And I'm just living all over again

- - - - - -
(Jack Yellen/Ted Shapiro)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


1. Also funny in this documentary: somebody who couldn't get a doctor the day of the wedding (doctor was opera fan and didn't want to miss Kiri TeKanawa).

2. I am the only person I know (so far) who thinks this, but I *liked* the crumples in her wedding dress material. I am not talking about the design, mind you (different ball of 80s wax), but the material. I thought the crumples were a sign of what nice material it was -- it showed. The only dress that would have been uncrumpled coming out of that carriage would have been one made out of nassy polyester rayon somethingorother.

Thank you for humoring the establishment.