Thursday, September 27, 2007

A good thing to eat: piles of frosted spoon size shredded what, maybe a little Cheerios mixed in, filling a Crate and Barrel 8" bistro bowl (the perfect bowl, finally found it), scooped up with one of my great-grandmother's soup spoons from C.D. Peacock back when it was still on State Street, so sad when they moved, really. All swamped with lots of rice or soy milk, until the dance of cereal/milk is complete.

Monday, September 24, 2007

sondheim blasphemy and ponderings

Little Night Music: I really think I like Elisabeth Welch's "Liaisons" better than Hermione Gingold's. Seriously. I! [Inneresting: Sian Philips was Desiree A in the 1990 recording based on the London revival--with Welch; in the 1995 London revival Judi Dench was Desiree and Sian Phillips then became Mrs. A....] I do, however, love Glynis Johns as much as S Phillips. Send in tha youknowwhats made a lot more sense when I learned it had been written for GJ and her funny, pixie-ish but squeezebox voice.

Follies: I definitely like Millicent Martin's "I'm Still Here" better than Yvonne de Carlo's, now that I've gotten to know them both (MM is hella cool).

Dick Tracy: I have loved "Sooner or Later" for a really long time and sung along with its accessible-to-altos small-ranged melody at the top of my lungs thousands of times, but I NEVER knew what the lyrics were until today!! And they are few and quite uncomplicated, although pithy and clever, being Sondheim. That Madonna. Needed some diction lessons there. Kiss-this-guy territory ("I'll hover/I'll plan" = "I wonder/out loud"!?). I also recently re-acquired "More," which is an obvious little song from materialgirlmadonna analysis, but a fun one. I really like.

I'm branchin out realllly slowly w/ SS. Seems to take a while to really absorb.
I'm listening to The War...getting sucked into all 230,192 hours of it sorta despite myself (easy). I was trying really hard to guess the narrator from just listening to his voice and, duh, it's Keith David, one of my favorite voices ever, shoulda recognized it, and good. I find him more amazing to experience walking and talking, if you see what I mean, not just a disembodied voice, it's such a cool phenomenon to hear coming out of a human...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Becoming a very big fan of: the tagliatelle alla Bolognese at Quartino. Ohhhhh so good. When you get it at the restaurant it's so hot you can barely eat it, which works. The homemade pasta is so good with the rich shredded beef and sauce...epic.

A new purchase (left) which I hope facilitates a better, happier, more peaceful relationship with my cats, esp. cat #1, that is to say, one in which I might not be winging her into the lake in frustration. Plus, you know, cool.
I bought some violet pastilles today. Which made me think about my late Aunt Kathleen, who had them and other fancy foods for me to marvel at as a kid, and then about Inspector Maigret who I think is always eating them in Simenon's books and then about my college friend Jean who loves Maigret and then MFK Fisher who did too. The tin the pastilles come in now is only 1/2-tin; the bottom is plastic.

I've written about this before, but the things I buy at the fancy-pants, cram-jammed grocery store across the street continue to crack me up in their total lack of necessity. You almost can't shop for staples there--the most staples-y thing I get there is grainy mustard, which I can't find anywhere else nearby, and I do love it dearly and need to have on hand at all times, but that's about it. As it is I wander in and always end up reaching inexorably for things like...violet pastilles. Mini bagel dogs. Green apple licorice bits. I wouldn't know how to buy a sack of flour there if it was the only open place in town (and it'd cost about $10).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Page 147 of the July 2007 Martha Stewart Living has a photo that is really very sexual for an article about desserts. The division of divinity in charge of the design of stone fruits must have been very horny when they did their work. Or perhaps did their training elsewhere.
That previous posting was really more about people than a place, and should, sentimentally but sincerely, be dedicated to FK, BU and especially JM, with lots of Luv and purple hearts.
Why do we live in a world where the need for parks, for green things in the city, ever needs to be explained again?

Yesterday they--yes, I don't know who 'they' are; this is definitely just 'they'--started knocking down trees in the park across from our office. They're building a hotel, I hear, on this tiny sliver of land that's the only breathable bit of space in this neighborhood: a funky little landscaped park with benches and trees and a little river of a walkway that curves through it in a couple directions. There is grass where dog-owners chase fresh dog poop with their plastic bags, a few swollen protuberances that in Chi almost might be called hills, lots of poured concrete seating that skateboarders sand the edges off of after hours, a couple fountains, a few little beds with rotating plantings of annuals. It exists in the nexus of a lot of pedestrian traffic to the El and to other buildings, at the bottom of a deep well formed by the man-made creations around it.

The park has a feeling, as all such spaces in frantically up-building neighborhoods, of both great necessary solidity but then a horrible vulnerability when you are forced to think about it. I mean, it feels solid. Or at least it did. It should be, because it is. Psychically it provides a desperately-needed sense of openness, some decent feng shui in a block of funny herringboned buildings and land usage. The open air allows you orient yourself amidst the grid of streets which bounce up and down around the park in odd ways. The park is the reason there is natural light in our building, the open space it protects.

The park is across a street that, right in front of our building, dips down below sidewalk level, so that the flow of traffic suddenly turns into a monolithic river of motion rather than a herky-jerky collection of speeding city cars, as drivers come together and go faster toward the lake. You lean on the the railing at the edge of the walkway as cars go by below you like a rushing river, as if you could throw a stick in it and watch it float by, with this little of bit of respite in the form of the park across the way. The park, the flow of cars, are like shadow versions of bigger natural elements: the street is our river, this park our open field.

I've spent thousands of hours in that park, or so it feels, sitting on the wooden benches, dodging pigeons and stinky smells, hanging out and talking with coworkers or desperately trying to absorb sunlight or fixing my future in my head, me along with homeless people and office workers and dog walkers and tourists. Knowing it was there, even when I didn't avail myself of it, was tantamount to feeling okay and safe in the space I was in. I had a steam valve, a little breathing room, a place to be, a time-out.

I lost my job last month, and my last day is next week. There have been many sadnesses attached to this process, but yesterday, seeing the park suddenly blocked off at the perimeter with big screens as they get ready to tear up the park, as if somebody owned it, felt like an unbearable attack on human need.

Why do we ever have to justify or explain needing parks? Isn't life supposed to evolve, not devolve? What argument--complicated, defensive, sad, desperate, trite, angry, well-thought-out--anything--can ever defend them, when we should just know? A place that allows people to just be is never in vain, only benefits us. We talk as if open spaces are frosting and frivolity, but they exist down in the core of things that make life navigable and keep us taken care of as human beings.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Things you see at the gynecologist, vol. I: fake aquariums displayed on plasma TVs.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Many signs of the apocalypse this week, but maybe the biggest? According to a friend of a good friend, filming has finally been spotted for the remake of The Women. This movie has been bouncing around in development for a while and I just kept hoping it would die, Meg Ryan is Mary Haines. Let us all ready our cyanide capsules and exit visas, for nothing now can ever come to any good. Seriously. God help us all.
Weird. Non-punch-pulling, realistic advice from Martha Stewart. I like! I've been mildly obsessed recently with the concept that housekeeping = getting rid of things, and this is good.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hey...a big ol l'shana tovah to those out there celebrating the new year! Happy noo-ness!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This li'l message is for XB, to say hi, hello, I miss you, I'm fine, we'll talk soon, I'm very sorry I've been such a bad communicant, I hope things are good there, this is all ending in two weeks and in the meantime enjoy these lovely otter photos! A group of otters--a romp, as it were--all suspicious about their new home a the Natl Zoo and a new otter mom with her pup.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sweet potato french fries: not an advance in the human condition. Put them away, please.

Idea #109,027 here at Cahiers du UnCool: Beaches coulda been a good movie. Yes, it coulda. Well, the horrid music woulda gotten in the way, regardless, and it needs tightening regardless too, but Bette Mider + anybody better than horribly miscast Barbara Hershey + a different tact could have made a good story redolent of women's movies of the 40s, I think. As it is...yoorrnnngf. Blimey. Barbara Hershey. Needles' full of collagen and a name change do not a character make. She's way too intense and idiosyncratic for that role. Plus the lips...she mugs her way through the film in a thoroughly exasperating way. Kinda wanna sock her. But it could have been kinda...Old Acquaintance-y or something. Ah well. I really don't think BM has ever gotten a non-Rose part that matches her oomph. Would be great fun to see what she'd do in a realllly well-written film. I thought she was great even in that lil bit in Get Shorty. Strangely intense sexual chemistry twixt her and GH.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

60 of my favorite seconds of pop music-scored film: "A Quick One While He's Away" in Rushmore (the revenge sequence). Makes my heart swell. The way the film goes slo-mo as the music speeds up, the focus the editing (and the quiet opening) puts on the crazy but satisfying jangling harmonies as the music starts, the barely held in check musical chaos and total thematic goofiness (adult vs. boy) played against the very carefully shot/edited nature of the scenes, the way the car floats to a stop as the song ends in a floaty trailing way. Pretty great. The song's already obviously pretty great, it's just contextualized in a super-neato way may I have my doctorate of film studies now pliz!

Me want!

Seriously 80s. None of this namby-pamby oh-it's-so-80s johnhughes blah blah pablum. Seriously dated. Only, of was made in 1990. But still. 80s.

I saw the first minute of an Eddie Cantor film the other week and it was funny, you could tell right away it was pre Hays code. the first few seconds. So naughty.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Despite a sad heart, I wasn't able to rig my schedule for maximum Pavarotti mourning yesterday--I heard he died in the middle of the night and at that point clicking on various classical stations' streams wasn't providing much. I eventually caught a few things: the Tommasini piece in the Times my mom pointed me to was great--it addressed the inevitable and frankly informative comparison with Domingo well--as was their regular obit, and the Von Rhein piece in the Trib was fine if somewhat fabphobic (Pavarotti was fat? really? no way). It was great fun to hear some of a 1975 rebroadcast of a Studs Terkel interview on WFMT.

The rest of what I happened to catch (TV, internet news), however, struck me in its even lazier than expected cluelessness. There's this shape the media wants to give the careers of artists of a certain stature, whether it fits or not--blowing up huge right from their first moment in the public eye (LP didn't), a predictable bell-like curve of popularity that matches the worth of their work (the dude more or less sold out, depending on how you feel about it), a gradual decline with more sporadic performing at the end of life (ABC didn't even mention LP being banned from the Lyric). He also was often credited in these pieces with, as people chant, "reviving a dying art form," which doesn't work either (especially two months after the late Beverly Sills was credited with the same). Pavarotti was just very very popular; at times very very good; and after getting famous, very very Crossed Over. Which LP and his handlers made happen, of course; if he was opera's Michael Jordan, then he went way past buying and playing on the Wizards toward the end of his career.

One aural inevitability from the hoo-ha yesterday was hearing "Nessun dorma" 10,000 times (I swear Cynthia McFadden called it "Nessum dorma"); an aria which, I was surprised to discover from Diane Sawyer, means "Never Sleep!" Oh really. Well okay then. No victory for the sleeping! Insomnia for all! I love "Nessun Dorma," despite inflated usage that's threatening to squeeze it dry, but that is not what I was craving--my ear wanted something from Tosca or fuck, why not even "Ah! mes amis!" from Fille du Regiment, if you wanna hear something heroically huge. No, I am not a Three Tenors person, not a duet-with-Bono person--I mostly tuned that stuff out--but I loved Pavarotti, and yesterday (to say it again) made me realize that I still do, despite all the goofy shit he did. It was bothersome to watch in all the obituarial coverage his complex artistic life be fairly thoroughly yadda-yadda-ed. Although there's one thing people said over and over that is true--you never, having heard that voice once, mistook him for anybody else again. Very very good, sometimes too good to be believed.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rest in peace, big guys.

Here comes another sniffly elegy, but there's no way around it, down to the cornball libretto excerpt at the end, and it's just gonna have to be.

I didn't expect to feel so much a blubbering mess to hear that Pavarotti had died. But I am. It doesn't seem to matter what a cartoonish sort of person he became in the drawn-out end to his career, with the duets and the yelpy Nessuns and the futbol and the whatever. I'm still upset.

Someone who was once ever that always that good. Vita brevis and all that.

LP is intimately associated with how I learned to love opera because of the age I am. He really started to get famous-famous when I was a kid, and through my parents' appreciation came my own, watching my mother watch him sing 'Recondite Armonia' with this expression in her eyes I'd never seen before and her shoulders up around her ears. That sounds a little precious, but that's exactly how it happened. Tosca was broadcast on TV and all of a sudden I was warbling the Act III Shepherd's Song to myself on the way to school, trying to figure it out, keening my way annoyingly through the melody of the Te Deum. I dunno, I think Puccini can be very good for young'uns. I remember it going straight inside me and just staying there. I am lucky I remembering hearing his voice that time, what it felt like to hear it for the first time like that. It was significant, seeing somebody as good as he was doing what he did--meaningful. He didn't make it look easy, but he made it look worthy, joyful. Transcendant, to drag out that tired term. It was exciting to be part of. And very accessible at the same time.

I was always rather proud that Ardis Krainik booted Pavarotti out of the Lyric--fairly early on--for cancelling so much. And then, of course, was incredibly graceful about it (as far as I know), sending him flowers when he was performing elsewhere, etc. I really liked that we didn't put up with his crap here in this town. That doesn't mean we didn't love him.

Pavarotti is--I just thought of this--on my logo. And sadly enough, the two men who are depicted on it are now dead. Barry White and Luciano Pavarotti, two big dudes with beards and hankies and thousands of women throwing themselves at them.

E lucevan le stelle,
ed olezzava la terra
stridea l'uscio dell'orto
e un passo sfiorava la rena.
Entrava ella fragrante,
mi cadea fra la braccia.

O dolci baci, o languide carezze,
mentr'io fremente le belle forme disciogliea dai veli!
Svanì per sempre il sogno mio d'amore.
L'ora è fuggita, e muoio disperato!
E non ho amato mai tanto la vita!
Well, who woulda thought it and all that, but I am becoming an Old Navy person. Wrong generation, wrong size, but still--it turns out I can buy their crap too!

I never even knew they carried plus-sized clothing until about eight months ago, when a fellow fattie clued me in. I made it to the flagship State Street store just in time for them to stop carrying plus-sized clothing in the store, however, which made me very skeptical. VERY. Between the fact that I didn't have much luck finding stuff at first (except their ribbed tank tops, which I am in love with), the way serious ghetto-ization of the Plus Dept and the fact that they were yet another company --

pardon a regular rant here at Cahiers du Fatgirl --

which has gone online rather than actually god forbid let you try on clothes in the store, a very suspect business practice, which allows them to make more money from the non-returns and not-quite-fits and impulse buys, and keep the fat girls out of the store and hidden away in their homes. Very unAmerican.

But it turns out...they have some great stuff. And it's very cheap, and actually fits my ass, which is amazing, cause LB hasn't for a while. Even the pants, I mean. The real test will be when I finally break down and buy some JEANS. Then we really may have something. As it is, I have placed at least a few orders with them, and they are very cheap (always sale items, always coupon codes), although not quite deadly cheap, more like chronically very dang cheap, and okay, I haven't experienced that total short Old Navy lifespan yet, but so far so good. I wore my new chemise last night, and I felt like a star of the Nouvelle Vague! Or maybe Brigitte Bardot! All I needed was an iron bedstead and a cuckholded husband and some Gitanes. And a view of the quay. All for $18.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My Rear Window obsession is spiking this week...not sure why. I think it's general Hitchcockaniamania, which is bubbling due to the arriving last day of my day job and what my brain is all jumpin up and down about creatively. I am a Hitchcock person. I am a Leo. No more "art" by "democracy." I want my paw prints on every frame.

The documentary on the DVD about the film is really pretty great, with funky ol peterbogdanovich and Curtis Hansen and the woman who played Miss Torso (Georgine Darcy, and I still have NO idea where she got that name or if it was for real or what). Then there's a separate interview with John Michael Hayes, who also wrote Man Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Thief and The Trouble With Harry with/for Hitchcock. That interview is also really fascinating, esp. for what it leaves out. He mentions none of the acrimony and really sour way Hitchcock dumped all mentions of him in later interviews, discounted his contributions, asked him to work for nothing. Really sad, makes me feel yucky. But none of that's in the interview...
This is a Wednesday shout-out for all the sweet black-and-white kitties out there, especially the super-cute loyal ones I know who may or may not be currently forced to eat less-than-yummy good-for-you special food and are therefore maybe thinking about how they wish they could go make a nice chocolate cake with Hershey's cocoa or perhaps misbehave or something. Stay strong, royal cats.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The other day as I stared at my beige carpet suddenly a sea of other colors emerged, very much like the squeezed-out sqoosh of paint on either side of a Wayne Thiebaud cake-painting brushstroke; orange and green and blue and red and pink but all feeling white. All these colors. And then I looked again and it was just dirty beige. Time to call S. Steemer! I wonder how my cats would feel about having little cotton booties tied over their paws.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I'm fairly sure I could eat white bean dip/cannellini hummus every day and not get sick of it. There's just something about it. So yummy.

Yes I am using internet bandwidth to share this information. I am!

I wonder if my cats keep blogs when I'm not here, on the parallel catweb. Long thoughtful postings about...staring out the window.

Okay, I must admit this: I bought Green Card recently for $1 (Hollywood Video going out of business), a film which I used to rent over and over again to worship the apartment! Oy. But getting it again has made me realize how deep into G. Depardieu's weird-ass pronunciation of English I am. I have at least 4 or 5 constant catch-phrases in my head that from things he says in that film. "The elephants are restless againg tonight, cherie, sooo resstless I joost can't sleep." "Coo-cum-burr!" As a fairly committed Voice Person, I don't think I realized until recently how wonderful GD's voice is. It's really beautiful, even when sounding kinda silly in this film. I like GD.

It's not a good film. It's like many P Weir films--you can kind of see through it to what was intended, which is quite good (in the abstract). And sometimes it's downright bad in its execution, due to a few really unconvincing bits of acting by Ms. McD (where the contrast between her flat delivery and GD's expressiveness is kind of amazing). But still--I know every word. Not sure what that means. Hopeless romantic? Urban dwelling fantasizer? Yah, it's that apt. It's kind of how I feel about some Doris Day apts--me want!