Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Holy cow, WilliamfuhBuckley died.

Suddenly obsessed with Coral Browne. Must every book on my Amazon wish list fall under fag-hagiography?

I watched Laura yesterday while laid up (you can see the connection) and I'm sorry, my mouth was agape, just agape, I tell you, at the ever-so not remotely latent homoeroticism/phobia in the opening bathtub scene...makes Spartacus look like Jackass. I've seen this movie many times before, I just couldn't really believe it this time for some reason. Any academic reading of that scene really belongs in Barebackin' Muscles n Twinks or something. I do love that goofy movie though. So many things to love, including (another thing I couldn't ignore this time) Judith Anderson's so soignee/chic outfit in her first scene. (I guess I'm answering the question in my second paragraph.)

It must have been done already, but somebody must curate a film series about newspaper columnists...evil/evil-ish ones. Addison DeWitt, Waldo Lydecker, J.J. Hunsecker, Sheridan Whiteside...

Which brings us back to WFB, I guess--not the evil part; those columnists were all about lying in their public face...Buckley/political columnists can't really do that, whatever you think of them. Maybe the kind of power he wielded or life he occupied falls into those old-fashioned cinematic paradigms at bit, though. Every day at the typewriter. I have found some of his comments about the Iraq war to have been spot-on.

Monday, February 25, 2008

making with the blah-blah

!!!HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!, my darling Hanneleh girl! Many happy returns from your wizzums.


Delicious dinner last night: Salmon with pomegranate glaze, brown/wild rice cooked in a (completely totally store-bought) glace di viande, puree of black beans cooked with green pepper and onion, garnished with wedges of lime and thick Greek yoghurt. Served with a grape and acai juice spritzer and for dessert a wedge of homemade brownie with chocolate/caramel chips and ice cream. WOO HOO.

Also. Heaven on earth: slices of thickly-cut rye bread spread with soft salty butter.

I keep gettin called on this, but I JUST DON'T LIKE Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie in P&P. I just don't. I don't like this version that much in some ways. It's not haterism, it's not a pissy never-ending ability to be satisfied, I just think Ehle doesn't exhibit/demonstrate/inhabit/convey that character's intelligence or vivacity or attractiveness. She smiles, she cries, she goes from one to the other at a manageable speed, but I don't ever think she's Lizzie. She's not bad, she's just not right. Flat. Soap opera-y (which is fine) but without the necessary underpinnings. A Lizzie who is too Knowing/modern/winking at us is a problem, and quite a common contemporary danger, but so is a Lizzie (this one) who doesn't really emit any of her smartness and perception as well as her real involvement in the world around her (she's not a "Dear Reader"...she's not a narrator). I think Ehle's face just isn't expressive enough. She does that thing Dave Kehr? described Catherine Deneuve doing--presenting the planes of her face to look at over and over--but without the supermovie-star draw, it comes across as a pretty-girl simper. It's hard not to see the casting problems for this adaptation as looks-based: Lizzie, but also, esp., Bingley and Jane. Flat flat flat--but they'd make great portraits. Only funny ol Julia Sawalha inhabits her character with any life.

Another part of the problem is the direction, which is often ill-thought-out and inappropriate, and repeats itself stylistically a lot. When they don't know what to do they give Lizzie a book (wrong!) or make her walk--this adaptation is full of so much over-ambulating it feels like it should be called a Walking Guide to Hertfordshire. Especially--worst of all--during the ultimate scene twixt Darcy and Lizzie when any intimacy and tension between them is completely siphoned off by the shots of them walking together, with no sense of sudden closeness or nervousness or denouement, their asides or reactions, trailin off into their peripheral vision. Total travesty. (This version even gets rid of their last cozy convo after that.)

It's an awful lot better than the Kiera Knightly P&P (bleaurgh!), but still. What a weird experience. The fact that this version simultaneously contains maybe the best Darcy to ever walk the face of the earth does weird things to one's head. Sometimes it's still exhilarating, sometimes it's so out of whack and clunky that it's the last thing I'd want to watch. Although usually I do.

So I also indulged in more examination of modern American life through stories of Chicago and its suburbs--er, watched Ordinary People--this weekend. Intense! I think Julia Philips called it "more tragedies of the uptight midwestern goyim"--and it is; stylistically it hasn't aged particularly well esp Judd Hirsch's burden as the majickal Jew/psychiatrist--but it's a good story. Was really interesting to see it again. The smartest thing Robert Redford ever did was cast MTM in that movie...fucking brill. And (I'm sure I'm not the only one who's thought this but) will a piece ever be written about Walker's Bros Original Pancake House in the movies? (the diff twixt Ord. People and Mean Girls is intense.) Oh stand in for us all, all of America.

The biggest difference this time through--I've been waiting for this to happen--is that I finally felt the sympathy one might for Beth. Actually felt it, rather than an abstract idea. Once you do, feels like she doesn't get the fair shake everyone else does. Every one else is reacting badly to her son's death, but she doesn't get her chance to undo her own behavior as well. I guess the point is she can't, but I stopped feeling the need to hiss at her, I don't know why. It all changed, once it changed. I could see some of the (sad, misplaced) valor in her trying to just move ahead.

Obviously people don't really make movies about suburban angst like that anymore, that take it so seriously. But should we be? It would have been a blessing to see Mean Girls as a whitesuburban traumatized adolescent--to see all that crap put in any kind of framework with any kind of humor--but I wonder what the Ramis are. I wonder how people really feel. Do Beths ("Everybody loves Beth") still wield that kind of influence?


One of my pet peeves/obsessions is with food escapism advertising directed at women. Biting into a _____ [whatever] = escaping your life!, your little bit of relief from the everyday, your flight, your alone time, blah. International coffees, Dove chocolates, sweets. (Women are never escaping with a nice pork roast.) I'm obsessed with this kind of advertising, I hate it, hate the implications, feh. Anyhow, Betty Crocker Warm Delights has hit a new low, albeit using the same spoon-fellating imagery these ads often use (nobody ever just EATS). This particular ad (click on photo) is missing the rhetoric another one of their ads has about licks needed to get to the center of it all, but it's basically an advertisement for an orgasm. Look at the woman on her back waving her feet in the air, or the pregnant woman (post coitum..apparently eating chocolate can make you pregnant). "You're just 3 minutes from heaven." Yah. Right. Thanks for clearing that up.
(click on porny photo for video link)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kelly Bishop is my hero(ine). Kelly Bishop--or as she came to be known as in SkipLiztalk, Elizabeth Bishop (love's the boy stood on the burning deck!)--was often the very best thing about the Gilmore Girls. She was sometimes overwritten, but she never gave, she never caved, she never winked. The closest she came to letting that character bend in authentic ways was in episodes such as the one they reran today, in which she sat limply on Lorelai's couch, trying to come to grips with the fact that her usefulness as a corporate cocktail party-giving wife was ending. She shoulda gotten bagsfuls of Emmys for that work. It's hard to watch episodes like the one today...they're startin to get really good, ramping up to the psycho-sextet with Logan that was so fabulously realized and emotionally authentic in the beginning but flopped about like a fish at the end.

It's been a long, rather maudlin week, I have tons of things I "have to write about" (blogger credo), we'll see if I make it through them, and this becomes an unwieldy, overlong entry, or stays just a laundry list of confusing shorthand.

News: Competition for occupation of the Very Fur-Covered Ottoman continues. I enjoy this bit of documentation (left) because cat #2 is handling the stress by stickin her tongue out.

Had a lovely and cozy Valentine's Day evening at the H/O last week, where friend MB is now a bartenderess. It was that beautiful early bar-just-opened time of the evening (cf Raymond Chandler) that I love so much, plus it was cold and snowy outside and warm within and we had fun making up Valentine's drinks involving alcohols that were red or pink (I wanted to call one Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart), although the signature drink another friend came up with was too fruity and nice for that. Also: other friends very thoughtfully went and got pizza for dinner from Piece, and I dunno if it was the fact that I hadn't eaten since breakfast, the aperitifs, the cold night, where I was in my winter Chicago pizza consumption cycle, or what, but DAMN that was good pizza, exactly how I think pizza should be. The kind with terribly hot, soupy sauce slurping under the cheese and that crucial oreganic (I am making up this word, I don't care) fumé. Honestly, one of my thoughts while marauding through 4 delicious slices was...I guess I probably should move back to the east coast. This is what pizza should taste like, to me. Good golly, it was good.

I can't stop humming the massively derivative but super-fun new Snoop song and watching the video. The vocoder/talkbox...the wendylisas...the Cameo-like break....luv it. I like how Snoop moves. One of my fav little bits on TV recently was watching him do the Tighten Up on his reality show as he came off the Conan show (that band is so fun sometimes...will never forget their swing version of the Mozart requiem). Also watching him do this clever little Dylan riff at a Jaz Z benefit.

Listening to Snoop usually segues into a search for more Pharrell beats, and today I was reminded of the N*E*R*D song, "Provider." R.I.P. Brad R. and all that (weird timing). I really like that sad macho song.

The NIU story has been very sad here, very close. Also...we now have our test case, yes? No real warning signs, fastest possible response. And still: sad, horrid carnage of a kind that nobody should have to get used to, but our youth has. So what (to ask the news question) will we do about it? Anything? When oh when will second amendment discussion evolve past the reductive, finger-pointing, static, non responsibility-taking... I don't know if you really can put Pandora back in that guncase, but it is way too easy to kill people and it shouldn't be.

This is the day, for some reason, that this election really started to seem tough. I mean...McCain. I personally think its still winnable, and for the right reasons, but yeah, damn. Totally tightrope. Two superficials the Vegas oddsmakers must be noticing: height (6" difference), and age. McCain looks sort of Napoleonic next to Obama.

Writers might like to think they are beloved for their prose, but I will tell you, two years later, the search for what information really keeps the tens of internet-querying googlers coming back to this blog, over and over (courtesy sitemeter):
- Is Cl*ve Pe*rs* gay?
- Where can I get the naked photos of Lainie Kazan?
- What maker are Pa*la De*n's w*dding r*ngs?
And now, having listed them, this will officially never stop. Ah well.

That's all for now. More minutiae later. If you are reading this, please think good thoughts for my grandmother AGT and my sister RGT.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

whine of a dilettante

Es schneit noch wieder--
mon dieu it schneit
never-ending dump of white

The snow kommt immer--
toujours just Schnee
underfoot & in the way

Wird Winter nie enden--
manchmal glaub' es wahr
tout le monde all tout d'ivoire

Salty sleety slipp'ry kalt--
through the constant precip fierce
the soleil can't remotely pierce

This lack of sun's the coup de grace--
the ice will not melt
ans Ende der Welt

So I throw down my gauntlet glove--
through Blitzkrieg, bombs or coup d'etat,
one or the other, hiver: vous ou moi.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Let it rain!

Because the internet should be used for happy things. Every time he screams something stupid (another view) then puts up a brick I can't stop giggling.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

On TV tomorrow night: C. Firth a l'a mode Anglaise in a light lake court boullion.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Night Cocktail Cup a la Another Bitter Cold Air Mass Arrives This Weekend

In a nice tall drinks pitcher combine in vaguely G&Tish proportions over masses of ice:

• Hendrick's Gin
• Bit of Rose's lime juice
• Tonic water
• Splash of Pimm's
• Big splash of Dole orange/peach/mango juice

In the spirit of winter provisions, do not use any fresh citrus, although frankly I think rings of lime and orange in it would be lovely. Stir, strain into glass. Imagine softer weather.
How is it that your basic Jewish deli, one of not nearly enough in this city, for what it's worth, can make such a fabulous sammch involving pork and mayonnaise? I had a BLT from Manny's yesterday that was downright...transportive. Worthy of great rhapsody, in story and song.

I just heard that apparently when Susan Sarandon originally auditioned for Annie Savoy in Bull Durham the decisionmakers thought she was too old for the part. It seems semi-hilarious/emblematic of something or other, that men would build a fantasy groupie-cum-George-Willian baseball acolyte but then demand that she--what--be a ding-less 26-y-o? Or something. Or just not show age at all.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I am having one of those days, those days when one is randomly filled with the white-hot rage of 1,000 suns and could happily play mailbox baseball with the heads of those who annoy. Or so it feels. The election-focused ethos probably isn't helping.

I feel like standing with my boom box in the air a la Say Anything, pointing it at the big round world, only the boombox should be playing Run DMC's "You Talk Too Much," so loud that apartment windows in Russia rattle. GRRRRRRRRRRR.

Luv, Misanthropia
I don't want to be too lugubrious, but my heart continues to break hearing the details of the Lane Br*ant shooting in the Chicago south suburbs (LB has created a memorial fund). Now it appears that one of the women was sexually assaulted (fondled), in addition to being herded into the back with the others. This still doesn't feel like just a robbery, for many reasons, and continues to hit very close to home for me. There is a very particular atmosphere in LBs, common to any place that serves a specific customer base, I guess, but with its own big girl flavor. There's some commonly-shared intent that gets you there, and the mood reflects that--it can be strangely intimate and communal. It's also just a store too, but still--LBs by definition already in many ways feel like havens from the rest of the world. To have someone barge in this kind of safe place I've been in a million times and create trauma...

I have not watched TV news coverage of the event since the story first broke. I did see enough at the beginning to watch a local woman being interviewed who was worried about her daughter's safety but already knew she had not been there:
"She lives at Lane Bryant...she's overweight...she's there all the time." Thanks for clearing that up. Really wish the local news had not let that one through; I will continue to be watchin this story.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What I'm Getting Tired Of

• Welcome to the land of low-grade vitamin D deficiency. Three very recent views out me can't tell but you're looking at a slice of the lake behind all that white there. Snow, snow, rain, sleet, fog, snow, snow, snow. Might I say....tired of snow? ME TIRED OF SNOW. No sun that I can see, nowheres.

I have a reflexive don't-bitch macro that kicks in after complaining about winter precipitation; among other reasons, I have family in Colorado and a sense of how you have to be grateful for water, for the snow that will be water. Although recently it's occurred to me that despite the commonality of high-idiocy modern folly like manicured lawns in the Vegas burbs, life in the future really will probably be more Waterworld than Chinatown. Sooner than we think. So I bitch.

Besides...slush in my Crocs? Not good. I feel perhaps De La Soul could do the topic justice.

• My truly guiltiest indulgence these days. It's so GOOD. Soft. Glugs down so nice.

• Finally made it through Notes on a Scandal. I can't figure out why I didn't find it more convincing. I worry that I am too PC to accept either Judi Dench in an unsympathetic role (don't think so) or an evil mustache-twirling lesbionic villianness (don't think so). Despite the setting and all the snarky commentary on modern multi-culti life it contained, there was something dated about that character, sort of Lillian Hellman. I feel like I'm still trying to put all the pieces of that lady in the same bag. I dunno I dunno.

• I need to arrange more adult play-dates with Henry James. I watched The Wings of the Dove the other day (now that's a guilty pleasure), out of a desire for some pritty pritty Linus Roache and beautiful blacky-Prussian blues and posturing sex-having Edwardians, and was struck anew at how very Edward Gorey Charlotte Rampling is in that film (people always use Gorey as a wholesale point of comparison; I mean it very specifically in this case: the turban, her EYES--their spacing, the eyeliner--the shape of her head, her clotheshangery body under the luxe drapery, everything) which of course made me think about what Gorey said about Henry James, whom he just hated. Never more hilarious. But I think I need to dip me wick in some more James again. Stop tasting regurgitated versions.


I ordered four magazine reprints from Time-Life recently. Two arrived fine, the other two...what I got was this envelope. Torn open, encased in a USPS WE CARE bag with an apology for the package arriving damaged. No magazines. Enclosed instead? A digital camera. Batteries dead. Much scratched up.

Clearly if I put batteries in camera:
* Camera will blow up OR
* Blurry photos of cold war-relevant microfilm will be revealed OR
* Compromising photos of various US senators will be found.
Will report back.

• I was eatin an Italian bif last night (dipped, no peppers, no cheese, BBQ sauce, thank you) and it was so Dipped that it was drippin down me chin. I had one of those obvious but real foodie moments: Ah. Pan Bagna. Drippin down yer elbow. That's the stuff. Look at em all relate.

• The chocolate chips in Breyer's chocolate chip ice cream: THINNER. This changes the experience entirely.

• Did you know you can now buy whole bags of green M&Ms? They are really pretty all massed together.

• I was thinking the other day watching Groundhog Day...what about Nancy Taylor? God, how awful to be Nancy Taylor in this story. Is she stuck there? Rita 'gets' something good by being herself...poor slutty Nancy gets nothing. I mean...I don't think anybody wants to be the Nancy Taylors in this paradigm. Although I think the filmmakers would say that she is somewhere in the midst of her own arc, intersecting with his, on her own journey. I dunno, though, they don't much hint at that idea, period. She would make a good Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead spin-off novel kind of thing. Free Nancy.

• I was bouncing around my apartment listening to Obama serve it up Chicago-style last night. He makes my heart...unclench. And I just don't think Hillary gets it, or why we're craving it. I mean, why should she? Maybe it's something he can 'afford,' inclusivity (by virtue of personality, age, temperament--although I also think some of this is hard-won and this is therefore actually a fair comparison--what he has is the place you hope all politicians get to) and she can't, it's just been too long. Maybe that's okay, but maybe it's better that she not be pres.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I saw a great movie the other night that I keep thinking about, I Saw a Dark Stranger (1945; Amer. title: The Adventuress). Mostly because it was just a nice meaty film about spying and counter-spying during the war, funny and interesting (same people who wrote The Lady Vanishes), starring Deborah Kerr at her most dewily young and pretty and Trevor Howard, all hot and pock-marked and posh, an old movie star for which I have your basic girly pash. The thing that reallllly struck me? How similar it is to any romantic film made these days. There is nothing new in romantic films under the sun, nothing. All of 'em, screwball comedies, everything. The mismatched couple, meeting cute, the goofy lil joke at the ending, a chase, a journey, a change of mind. It still wasn't quite the same (autres temps v plus ca change); T. Howard was courtly in ways that jumped out, felt sweet. But still. It was quite fun. Also? Her character's name was Bridie Quilty, and Quilty is the name of me best pal from high school. The Q name looms large in my life.

Also finally saw recently? Humoresque. I wasn't in a Joan mood; I actually thought it was a lot more interesting until she showed up with the love story. That'll probably change when I rewatch (I just wasn't ready for her campiness; particular campiness, I guess). As it was, the combo of sharp Odets dialogue and romantic music was super-fantabulous. I really really enjoyed. Lil Robert Blake...really good! Who knew! Well, and it wasn't just Joan. I thought the complications of the character were enough as they were, without a grand suicidin' romance attached.

Erica on Martha

Kinda interesting (what can I say, I missed it the first time around). "The most uncomfortable things I did, I did knowing in my gut that I would write about them."