Wednesday, July 30, 2008


My friend Mike's sweet big city rabbit, Cornelius, died yesterday. Please think good thoughts for him. He lived a long, well cared-for, lagomorphic life, and had a really great name that went nicely with his urban existence and his pretty Lop-ish black and white coloring, I always thought.

What Would You Do, Mr. Rogers?

Dear Fred (May I call you Fred?):

Caring is hard.
However, not caring is harder,
and that's because caring is harder,
actually, than not caring.
When you care.
When you don't, it's easier.
But how do you?

Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't,
and that's all I can really tell you.
So what would you do, Mr. Rogers?
Now that time is naught?

loyal GenX viewer

Monday, July 28, 2008

Too Pieces

I had a mini flare-up/obsession with Yaz this weekend...I missed the fact that they reformed for a summer tour in 2008. So I clambored all over that news, looking at photos of them now, youtube-ing stuff, reading interviews. Corrr...Yaz. I wore out Upstairs at Eric's in college, I did. My favorite song then and now is still "Too Pieces." (These are all of the lyrics)

Write me a letter a face in the hall
Hiding from someone afraid of the fall
And she's waiting for someone
to take her back to where she came from

And she'll wait alone for hours
she won't mind because there's someone

In the story she remembers she remembers in the letter
And the tears locked up inside her make her heart break open wider
Shuts her eyes and takes the picture from the wall

It is a weird song. The vocals start off very oddly--very off the (very driving) beat, introducing a new beat along with them, in fact, this beat that is really off, then synched, then kinda takes over. Those warring beats provide a lot of the energy...feel great when they merge.

There is just 50 seconds of vocals in the 3:15 song--chorus, verse, coda, everything, all collected in a lump that starts toward the beginning. So the momentum of the song is very strange. The vocals have a complete arc to them, lyrically (above) as well as musically, so you go on this very fast sad ride. The melody is beautiful, and very simple, despite the harmonies at spots (in the album version)--it's kind of like a demo or something. It opens up biggest, builds to the highest spot when Moyet sings "make her heart break open wider," then finishes on a beautiful low note, almost sentence-like, conversational. Then she disappears.

But the song keeps going. It's as if the song has to keep plugging ahead, after faltering--almost slowing to a stop--picking up the old tempo--when Moyet leaves, and as it does it gains its equilibrium back from the emotionality of the beginning, then picking up some of the mood and energy again, and carrying it along as it fades out, riding that great propulsive beat that's got so much emotionality to it with the simple notes overlaid... It is a great pop tune, it is. It's sad and bizarrely elegiac about what I don't know and I love how off-kilter it is.

There are lots of versions of it from the recent tour on Youtube. The sound quality on none of them is very good, but I kind like this version in Berlin. Hooray for Alison Moyet, hero to chubby singers everywhere, not to mention those who appreciate the lower register of the female voice.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Let's goss

Some under the hairdryer thoughts, having finally seen the preview.

So the new version of Brideshead Revisited is out and the promotional material is painting quite a...mood. It looks fuckin trite, is what it looks like. Awful.

Lurid, in the most boring ways. They play up the he/she - Sebastian/Julia - thing hugely, heavily, start to finish. OH MY CHARLES IS (horrible bit in the preview when Michael Gambon - who has to be playing Lord Marchmain - I would have guessed that blindfolded with my arms behind my back - puts his arms around them both and talks about the "temptation") ATTRACTED TO THE BROTHER AND THE SISTER (wonder if they're going to squish the events chronologically?). And they also front and center Lady Marchmain - Emma Thompson - as if it is she Charles will be betraying - really heavily. Rather than...making it "about" Charles. And thus the whole family.

It doesn't pay to revere the 1981 version too much, but one thing it avoided was lurid--which made it all the more sexy, of course. And the book is already a consumerist doesn't need torquing and tweaking to convey the riches of by-gone twixt the war-ness, which the preview chucks in your face with a bucket.

This version just looks tired. It could be anything - marketing is marketing. But as far as selling it they're clearly trying to make it...Atonement. All sorts of visual assurances that this is a pretty period piece, fleshed out from the underwear to the long shots, but with the naughtiness you crave inside. They cast Charles/Sebastian/Julia really young, too.

The one thing I know about this version--I haven't wanted to know anything--is that Jude Law was originally supposed to be Sebastian. That...I coulda gotten with. I can't think of a single better pairing of actor/part. But if it had been in an awful adaptation that would have been rather excruciating.

And how about this titling? They're practically dropping the "REVISITED" (in aural emphasis too, in the preview). It's supposed to read as if "MANDERLEY" or something, I think (makes the word "Brideshead" feel different - gorier). If there ever were a book about which the second word of the title told you what you needed to know, it's this goddamn book. Not to mention that looks so X-Files. Batman.

I don't want to be a crank for the sake of being a crank. A reactionary on principle. I don't think I am. But bad, gratuitous period adaptations get my hackles up with their casual molestation of great (I'll say it) art. This one looks bad.
Query: Happy endings less about human being's desires for niceness but more rather the egotism of art itself? A desire to say...this piece is bigger than the space it takes up? It goes on farther/longer than these 200 pages/2 hours?

<---Query: I hate to add to this lady's troubles, but have you ever seen a bigger case of celebrity lollipop head in your life? Good golly gee whillickers. It's making me think about that character in the Manticore. (It's easier to see here.)

Query: YougonnaseethenewBatman? I am having strong chauvinist feelings about it because of how specifically some of it is set in my funny neighborhood DOWN BY THE RIVER. Funny "lower" River North. Also, as I said, they shot scenes from on top my building one day, so...I'm curious. Sheer boosterism, really, although part of the pleasure is that it's Chicago, but not Chicago, and as such free of some of the bad Hollywood Chicago concepts that linger to this day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

mixy mixy

Most everything in my life is currently conspiring to make me a BAD BLĂ–GGER. BAD. Chronic illness #35986739 + too much bleary media consumption + too much of my own opinion + bloggitudinous procrastination due to said illness = I'm commenting on things late & without looking at what anybody else said about anything first. I apologize, although honestly I'm not sure I give a shit.

On super-delayed deck: reviews of The Sopranos (it's this new show! you might like it), the new Doris Day bio and Disfigured. First though: Please think really really good thoughts for KAJ, whom I love terribly and whose ticker needs some love and TLC, and those around her. Also: much more on this to come, but major congratters to darling Skip and her musical about Martin Luther which just got major developmental support from the NYFA. Luther! happening. But we knew that.

• I am feeling a little territorial about the fact that the Soup has discovered Cee Dub, long one of my fav cooking shows--I wrote about him in the now defunct Local Palate back in 2001--a show that as far as I've been able to tell you can no longer see here (used to be on a PBS-alternate). Good for him, but dang!! I miss that show. I loved his plastic bags full o food and mustache and tales of packin' in the west. Some LA PBS affiliate must be showing it to have caught the attention of Joel McH.

• VERY not safe for work/very 2004: wacky eco-porn organization that I heard about probably like most from seeing footage of them having sex onstage in Norway at a show. Lots of things to say about that, but mostly it's funny how kinda nerdful the whole thing was.

• Nobody on the Food Network knows how to bake. It's not news--their biggest names often mention it with a certain amount of complacency, as if to say don't tie me down with your petty bourgeois measurings!--but I mention it as a frustrated tv media consumer who takes it as further proof of how it all kinda sucks. I long for...complication. I don't care. Make croissants, turn it 16,000 times and poke fingers into the dough. Smoke haddock for days. Build a cassoulet for weeks. Do whatever you want, I'll watch, please just don't do it in 30 min unless you are using heroic amounts of editing. PBS gets a little of this complaint too, despite not being nearly as bad as FN.

• I remember reading, back in da color newsprint billyjoel years of Rolling Stone in the 1980s (ahhh, just so not their heydey, but what can I say--that's when I was reading it, every word, cover to cover) a review of a Stevie Nicks album that mentioned how her voice had never sounded better, even though her material was worse than ever. I remember thinking that was a slightly spurious argument to use in a review, but I thought about this split again--as I occasionally do--watching the trailers for Meet Dave. You just knew that movie was gonna bomb, but it's weird--Eddie Murphy keeps getting better and better. He's turning into a hiding-in-plain-sight, underrated actor. He does some really interesting, clever stuff in that movie I'll never see, it looks like, but then again, who knows, maybe they're bits. But still. I wish he'd just get cast in a good movie more often. There are some actors/media figures for whom the demise of the studio system is the worst thing that coulda happened to them.

• I am ALL about the new Stori Telling reality show--too fantastic--but the 90210 resusitation...oh god. That show ended, finally, shot in the head after being forced to dig its own grave, in 2000. That's only 8 years ago. At that point it was a distended, wheezing, falling apart corpse of a show that functioned every week lubricated by the overpaid eye-rollings of actors who could never get all the way away, who wanted the Spelling $, who wouldn't read the DNR form. So Really. Must we? Is this it? Is this all our kultur has to mine and remake? It's not nostalgia, it's not even commerce, it's not even ghoulist necrophilia, it's less interesting even than that. Not to mention it won't work, either, for what that's worth. Please make it stop.

• The New Yorker Ob*ma cover...why'd they do it? I mean...why? It was a really stupid/irrelevant/tired/immature/racist thing that might have had the slightest reason for existence if it were illustrating a piece on latent fears about a black presidency, but it had nothing to do with that or indeed with anything. Was just wrong. It felt like...a nervous racist spasm, a tourette's-like joke at a cocktail party that nobody wanted to make, that embarrasses everyone. Don't they realize this shit is OVER? It's so over. And who have they been pretending to be for so many years that they'd do this now anyhow? It's sad. (RE: actual article -- It continues to be so weird to have a Chicagoan be a candidate. 20 years of jobs in Chicago mucking around in the proper names that are now common journalistic's weird. Guess everybody gets their turn - Little Rock, Plains, Austin, whatever!)

• The best thing about ABBA songs is...ABBA singing them. I don't really wanna hear anybody else doin it, and yet there appears to be a whole industry of film and stage plays devoted to having EVERYONE BUT ABBA sing ABBA songs. GO AWAY PLEASE I dunno am I alone in being really squicked out by this whole Mamma M*a! thing? Why are they all so sweaty? I turn in to a rapt psycho rok-critik type with my little otter paws pressed together when people start fucking with the ABBA harmonies I love so much, and it does have to do with who's performing them. Listen to the harmonies in the word "out" in the last half of "Does Your Mother Know," after the two women start singin in descant, so that there is this endlessly layered...yeah, okay, whatever, I'll shut up. I just ain't feeling it. I suddenly feel like a misanthrope saying this, watching the commercial for the 900th time,

• Sometimes when I watch E! or music videos or whatever, girl performers, the stuff that's skewed super-young usually, although it can go as old as Mar*ah or Jess*ca Sim type, and they are mugging and preening and pouting, and out-sticking and whatever...I feel like Sting in "Don't Stand So Close to Me." I feel..molested. Put it all away please. [Note: this idle thought sparked 3 hours of solid Police YouTube-ing....GOD, did I love the Police back then. In the first three albums days. Good golly. Completely obsessed, completely, still, in love with SCopeland's drumming. It was really interesting to dive back into them after not paying any attention for so long...oh oh oh. Will write more some day, but so much lovvvvvvveeeee.)

• I continued to be baffled by the idea of adulthood. No wait, I mean...I am the usual amount baffled by adulthood, but it's augmented by tectonic shifts under the cultural landscape which make the media of less use than ever. Too much contradiction, confusion. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, the second time they meet in When H Met S, are 28. 28. Floppy bowties and suits and business travel and marriage. Matty Walker in Body Heat...28. Luke Perry as a teenager--28. People playing mothers/sons/partners at all ages...parents...Molly Ringwald is now a TV mom... I'm not articulating the subtleties of this at all well, but trying to note that in addition to weird Hollywood/TV age math, what age means is now changing there and in real life again, in big quantum leaps, so that actors are going through 2nd/3rd media adulthoods and I dunno...I still like to buy jewelry at Torrid. But I also love a well-tailored suit and a nice Liberty print. But...well, whatever. These rumblings are white-caps of endless GenX waving thoughts about age that never stop crashin...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

For a cherry-picking friend. Plus it just makes me snicker helplessly.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday Devotional

Let us praise God. O Lord, You are so big, so absolutely huge. Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell You. Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying, and barefaced flattery. But You are so strong and, well, just so super. Fantastic. Amen.

Dear [god or God or G-d or Jebus or Goddess or classic American semi-agnostic patchwork of deistic powers involving core protestantism with lazy doses of eastern religion and modern convenient prosperity theology and a lil bit of Oprah despite best efforts or Gaia or Mary or Mother Earth or ancestors or Higher Power or into whatever form it is that atheistic 12-steppers rationalize Higher Power despite careful nomenclature or the Great Attractor or indeed Julia Phillips or that last blue crab hiding in the Chesapeake Bay or Things Beyond My Ken or anybody listening at all]:

A boost, please. A boost, if you please, humbly I seek.

I am thoughtfully not going bananas after being laid up with the same immuno-compromised sinus hell I've fought through every month the last few years, one that knocks me out, removes me from human activity in solid swathes of weeks, pushes me back in my life, every time. Look at all the things I'm not doing, all the convenience stores I'm not robbing and small children I'm not screaming at and boxes of ball bearings I'm not throwing onto busy streets. Look at all the things I am doing, such as hacking, coughing, mouth-breathing, not sleeping and killing off boxes of Kleenexes every couple days--surely for the trees, if nothing else, you would spare me. Think of the trees.

In return I would love...a boost. Some help. Some serendipity, a langiappe, a benison. A mighty meaty finger on the pause button. A tiny little quantum leap. An unexplained improvement. Oh Pliz.

I understand this is all the result of a complicated set of larger problems that I also seek to ameliorate, so in fact I am perhaps asking for too much to shake out at once, but since that's the ultimate goal too, I'll just throw it out there, naked as I wanna be. Any help with any of this would be appreciated.

Be Careful What You Wish For is the equal-and-opposite reaction the universe works in when it comes to specific prayers, so please note I am asking for whatever' Whatever you find best, and I will make it work. Any boost at all!

Yours by the grace of door-to-door grocery deliveries and Kimberly-Clark Global Sales,
I remain,
humbly ever yours--

(awful tired)

Elspeth Eugenie Iphegenia Melissande Scott Dolly Dupuyster von Sputum und Wheeze
[submitted via]

p.s. Hey, how about that koala bear? How neat was that. What a brave lil bearkin.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Totally Extemporaneous Non Lactose-Focused Sorta Kinda Frozen Hot Chocolate

I was thinking about it, on low simmer, just in the very most back kitchen of my brain, and then I sproinged into the kitchen and did this, without really thinking at all:

Poured a cup/cup-and-a-half of boiling water the jar of my blender over a lot of cocoa and as much sugar, or a little more. I like insane amounts of cocoa in my cocoa, hot or cold (FLAVINOIDS!), and in this case (I had a box of it to finish, which meant scraping out the last of it, as well as filling the container with granulated sugar and shaking it to abrade off the most tenacious powder) I think it was probably 4-5 tablespoons. (Or more? not sure.) Use the pulse button on the blender to combine, and let the heat from the water dissolve the sugar. Add some spoonfuls of Schokinag drinking chocolate flakes for good measure (in this case it was Triple Chocolate Schokinag, I think), maybe 2.

Have standing by your ice tray. Throw in handfuls of ice and let them whirr up with the cocoa mixture, cooling it and thickening it. I used maybe 3 handfuls. I was going to throw in soy milk to keep this from being too melted sorbet an experience, but I remembered I had a can of Redi-Whip on the fridge door so I squozed in a solid squirt. And whirred again.

I don't know if it's in the stablizers in the Redi-Whip or what (I actually think that's just cream), but the half of this drink I have leftover in the refrigerator is still beautifully suspended and emulsified. Cocoa can do that (especially in soy milk), so maybe it's not a fluke. All I know is, yum, and yum. Put it in a tall glass and watch it foam thickly up, dark as can be. Drink it down. No pinch of salt, no vanilla, no anything else in this. Really good! Very cold and sweet. Luxe.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

"Extra Creamy" ice cream? You're payin X-TRA for AIR (is how to translate that).

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It happens every July 3 in my lake-kissing, riverfront-abutting, tourist-absorbing neighborhood. Why all these people? Cops? Why the folding chairs and...? Ohhh...Venetian Night. A beat ahead of the actual holiday and partly a surprise, every single year. Oh I do love my funny neighborhood, though. I love it mostly when the river's in charge and bridges go up and boats noodle around.

Great website. The one on the image and its parent site, LOVE IT.

Finally saw Sexo en la Cuidad today. Or should I say....gave myself over to it. You don't actually watch anything that consumerist, bless its heart, you it. Had a very good time, felt quite willing to watch it go where it went. Other thoughts: 1) WRINKLES! They have them. I do too. They are my age. 1a) Quite enjoyed this, even if the ladies top out at a size four. Interesting parallel phenom: Movie about four fat urban chicks? Many fewer wrinkles (much more fabric, though). 2) Ending reminded me unavoidably (not read this a common comparison?) of ending of How to Marry a Millionaire...'slumming' delicious NY meal with chick friends and conquests. Only this is to be a post-happy ending fairly tale, and HTMAM wound its plot up much earlier and more conventionally in the arc, just as the initial deception ends, in fact. But are they that different? Is SITC just more/farther, not different? It's still all about unrealistic acquisition of New York real estate. 3) I would have enjoyed more actual hairdos to go with the clothes, not just long hang-y stuff 4) Jennifer H*dson impossibly self-conscious, like a bad audition tape...what the heck happened there? 5) Poor gays get short shrift always in SITC...they are basically hags, themselves, in bad old connotation. 6) Chris Noth with black eyebrows starting to look more and more like Tito Gobbi playing Scarpia. 7) Everyone in the whole world wears jeans except the people in this movie (and me). I still had fun :).

BTW, in the spirit of unplugging ears occasionally for the bad news I should already know about (I am only sort of an adult), I am actually now living between TWO huge construction projects. The Spire, but also the new 100-story Waldorf Astoria (see pic--Waldorf on the left, spire on the right), going up NEXT DOOR. And when I say next door, I mean RIGHT UP MY FUCKING ASS (sorry). You can actually see a little bit of my building next to it: dwarfed, as it were. Topped. I really am living in the enchanted penis forest here down by the lake. Did Burnham want/plan this?

It annoys me the way that T*p Chef in effect treats the chefs like they plucked them out of thin air or discovered them. I mean, they talk about their backgrounds and stuff, but Stephanie ran what seemed to be and people I know thought was the best restaurant in Chicago. I think it's totally fun to see chefs compete--put all the background aside and compete--but sometimes that dopey show can make it all seem a little too fucking miraculous. Stephanie had already won accolades doing that cuisine in a serious food town...she's not some pixie they plucked off the street. It's like they're patting her on the head sometimes. I guess it's like that with everybody, but it bothers me. I mean--they probably did the same with Dave Lev*tski, I just didn't see it. And that is my foodie, chauvinist (Chicago-ly), crankypuss thought for the day. Great to see her win.

The best thing Verve ever did was rerelease those Ella Fitzgerald American songbook collections in the late 80s, and the best thing I ever did was play them in the way I play anything I love, half to death, thousands of times, rolling the lyrics around my head, for they forged the core of what knowledge I have of those songs. Augmented eventually of course, with many others, especially Frank and Doris, but I think everybody should know them, I really do. And I really didn't. Actually, to be totally honest, the acquisition started with Linda Rondstadt in college, only that's not as cool, right. HEH. HAH.

The ad's been chopped, and maybe pulled, but the worst, gnarliest, fatfuckingphobiest ad EVER was recently released by Subway restaurants, they of the turbo-stale bread and vitamin-less vegetable toppings and profit margins of 95% from their 1/8" of protein per 3" sub. Mean, disgusting, hateful, dismissive, smirky, wrong. If you wanna boycott/complain (I'm doing both), try their customer service form. The gist of the ad (still can't find link) shows a man at a regular fast food joint "needing" deodorant, fatty pants and therapy along with his combo meal....fuckheads.

I finally realized why I like almond and hazlenut-studded biscotti so much: it's the textural contrast...biting into something that's actually crisper than the nut, but not too crumbly/crisp to lose togetherness. Oh that contrast! I love a good plain biscotti.

It is very very hard to think about soldiers over in Iraq and other areas right now, so fucking past their due date, soldiers who are as I see it terrorizing/being terrorized rather than fighting a war in any traditional way we know it. What is going to happen when they are all back? How can they possibly be supported thoroughly enough to really come back from all that trauma? There are so many really broken--literally--people who are surviving assaults that would have killed them in 1969, but are they being given what they need to survive afterward, despite fistfuls of prozac from the commissary? It is very hard not to think about those not remembering history being condemned to repeat it. This war looked like Vietnam five years ago, it still feels like it.