Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dear Hollywood,

I understand, if nothing else, that you are a land of complicated accountancy. Rolling points, breaking points, percentages, creative budgeting that lets a $400 million movie fail, succeed or just break even. The people with the spread sheets seem to be the hands that rock the cradle.

In that spirit, would you please let your accountants find for you a small--I think it could even be very small--and regular piece of your budgets for the music to be used in movie trailers? I know it could be found somewhere, maybe in line items for hookers or trailers or re-insurance premiums.

As it is, we have only three movie trailer Moods:

  • Indicated by five seconds of The Commitments' cover of "Treat Her Right" (as far as I can tell--certainly not Otis Redding's)--also known as the "HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!" song. Hey. Oh hey hey hey hey.

  • "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" by Natalie Cole.

  • Usually Carmina Burana. Sometimes Ennio Morricone's score from The Mission. Maybe Samuel Barber. Usually Carmina Burana.

There are other regular offenders, but these are the ones I hear most often. Surely you can find a little money to shovel out for rights to music besides these? Y'all are looking way stingy. And tired.

In fact, the music choices back up on themselves. I hear "hey-hey-hey-hey," and I immediately assume the movie in question is one the studio knows is sucky but needs to sell as subversive fun anyhow. Hence cheap pavlovian music cues. Hey hey hey hey. Wacky fun. Better than Porky's. Come see it this weekend. Bleah. And Natalie Cole sounds so perky and repetitive you are already rooting against KateHudsonJenniferGarnerwhoever finding Luv. And the Carmina Burana thing...that deserves a separate essay, the way its turgid overuse creates the opposite effect from what you'd like.

Anyhow, it seems an odd place to be cheap to me, unless there's something I'm missing. Can't we cut the vegetarian options in the set catering budget or something?

Yours sincerely,
Movie fan who's actually a big sucker for a well-placed music choice
A noted phenom around here at the Cahiers (search 'Hugh Laurie', 'Rufus Sewell') are the increasing numbers of slumming English actors who show up in the American TV show lottery, looking for a popular one-hour show to take home the bags full of cash--raise their profile--just find work--whatever. You do, more often than not, get the sense they are hoping for the cheddar that comes from being on a show that meets the 100-ep syndication minimum and/or from American TV's inability to put a TV show out of its misery at the spot when its natural life span is coming to an end, as compared to the UK's humane TV show euthanasia standards. Anyhow, two more random names to add to the pot: yummy Linus Roache, now on one of tha L&Os, and Gina Bellman from "Coupling" on Leverage. Just notin.

There's room here for a gripe about the ridiculousness of House, of which I finally have seen a few episodes, but the idea makes my head hurt + increases my Monty Woolley misanthropy quotient a little too high for this topic at the mo.
A decent, occasionally advanced level movie parlor game: Look at the evening schedule for Turner Classic Movies and see if you can guess their programming theme from the movie titles. Sometimes it's obvious (films with Joan Crawford; films directed by Orson Welles), sometimes not so much (Haskell Wexler as cinematographer).

Tonight, for instance, their evening's line-up starts with: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Hannah and Her Sisters and Mogambo. I couldn't think what the theme was until I looked it up: Cheaters! Duh. Mighta guessed it if I looked at the others (Madame Bovary and The End of the Affair). Or not.

I do love TCM. Yesterday their schedule included both a Joan Crawford set and the 1984 breakddance classic Beat Street. Go Ted.

hurry up, don't wait

Today's fud homily: Pancakes teach you no conventional lessons about life. That is, they are best made in a thrashing hurry and taste best with no time to savor either with others or by yourself.

It does make them pretty decent trying not to spend money eating out but oh I'd like some yummy breakast fud fare. Today's were maybe my most successful yet (the recipe? why, Joy of Cooking's basic pancakes, of course, and none of those silly add-ins, although I use soy milk not cow's), and I made them from start to finish in the time after I'd turned the burner on to heat. In my hurry I whisked the dry ingredients together well, which really helps later when you will be barely incorporating the wet into the dry and there are gonna be some lumps but this way not as many. I threw the butter to melt in a metal measuring cup on the heating burner for a few seconds and it melted fast and cooled down fast as long as I took it on/off in the right time. Everything was flung together and cooked in a hurry and I honestly think you really shouldn't ever wait (for another person or another pancake) to eat a pancake, that they're best just one at a time off the griddle with any crispness they have intact. I cooked three in this case, and they did fine waiting for 5 minutes, but still. Incredibly good & fluffy, the most seriously ephemeral things. For as stodgy filling food as they can be/their rep is, they are actually very fleeting and transitory. Hence their native habitat of the diner, where they can make more people happy/cranked out in more sensibly large batches.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

1. I luv watching Turk do the BBD dance. Happy happy. I always loved that song (the actual "Poison" video is a little too...D*ck in a Box, even for somebody who loves sometimes embarrassing old hip-hop). It's the bass! Not to get too far into why, but it's always the bass, esp. with that snare/high-hat/ring-ting overlay. I'm such a suckah.

2. I actually met somebody last week whose father is a blacksmith. An actual iron-smashing, sweating, horseshoe-banging blacksmith. Really, how neato is that, is all that I have to say. How cool.

3. Super delish: the house smoked salmon with mustard creme fraiche potato salad appetizer at Bin 36. In a moment of ¡WinePanic! I ordered oaked Chardonnay with it, but I woulda liked it better un-oaked mit.

4. Can't currently get over, among others: Slick Rick or The Steve Miller Band. Yootoob yootoob. I amuse myself sometimes imagining navigating my everyday life (or anybody's) talking like Slick Rick: making gyn appointments, chit-chatting with cashiers, taking communion at church. Hee HEE. So much sass.

5. I can no longer masquerade as Donnie Van Zant. I thwacked 5-6" off my hair in a fit of exhilarated exasperation at the sheer...impenetrability of the mess, even after pouring in a whole bottle of conditioner. Was growing dreads no matter what I did. It *looked* fine when up--I could take a tiny rubber band and secure just the very outside of it all in a tiny lil knot uptop and look like a Victorian housekeeper, with a big pouffy skein on my head, *without* any ratting necessary, but I'd take it down and....Medea. So it's gone, and hair is much chastened. Makes sense in the new economy, eh. I sometimes have fantasies about living on a Greek island and cuttin all my hair off, letting this scalp see sun for once in its Midwestern life, rubbing olive oil into it. I'm definitely one of those people with bleached-white-houses-on-Greek-island-hillside escape fantasies. All very abstract and full of blocks of color (blue, white, maybe some others.). Why am I talking about this? oh yeah, WINTER'S HERE. Feels like it, at least.

6. It goes against everything learned and unlearned about fashion, but I am flirting naughtily with the idea of a...muu muu! Authentic Hawaiian type, but a you-kids-get-off-my-lawn garment, nonetheless. Some aspect of this gesture falls under the idea of reclamation, since it's the garment fat girls cast off in order to wear our cute tight Torrid tops and all that. I dunno, they seem dang handy to me. Kinda pretty/fun. I'm tempted.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Minnie the Minutiae (amended)

[It's my Blog and I'll Obsess If I Want To.]

So, WHY....I wondered yesterday, watching a repeat of the pilot episode of the Gilmore Girls, did the very recognizable title credit sequence/type choice undergo a subtle but strange change?

The title page of the credit sequence has always bothered me for one (seemingly) unrelated reason, the incorrect capitalization. Here is the first image of the pilot; it opens with (what you might call in book design) a half-title or bastard title, just black background and white type: which, strangely, they don't capitalize "girls." The show never capitalized Girls, anywhere. It never looks anything but sloppy to me! Maybe they're trying to emphasize the proper noun-ness of the word "Gilmore" in contrast, but I ain't buyin it. Especially in contrast with the very formal type (more on that in a sec) it doesn't work.

[Another thing to note about that half-title page is how reminiscent it is of a Woody Allen title page, especially as both the capital and small-case G are very similar to the Gs in his famous Windsor Elongated that he uses in almost all his films. Notice the small G in this title, although this also allows you to see how different the other lowercase letters are:

Allen, btw, apparently chose Windsor at the casual suggestion of typographer Ed Benguiat, at least according to this blog entry. I always wondered!]

So there's that problem, but I noticed something odd in the actual opening credit title sequence in the pilot, which is that the lettering is really tracked out. Here is the normal--later--opening title page:

And here's the pilot page:

Look at how much more loosey-goosey it is. Very odd. Totally tracked out (not kerned, I don't think). I can't quite figure out what the point of it is. Or was, since they fixed it. It's just not the usual kind of thing that gets fixed after the fact. Usually things are overhauled wholesale, not....tweaked. Here it looks like somebody took a second look and hit command-shift-[ a few times (as it were).

The only reason I can see that they did this is to use the ligature of the "gi" in girls in the tightened up version. Maybe that was it. But that just emphasizes the incorrect capitalization! Gah. Not to mention the tightening up wasn't very well done, period.

It is a fairly effective type choice, regardless. I sometimes think of it as a Metropolitan font, since a slightly more shaded version was used so effectively for the Whit Stillman movie (here's the title page from that trailer):

Since the font -- type -- has its origins in engraved type, especially those used on invitations (I guess Mrs. John L. Strong or Crane probably'd call it shaded Roman), it makes a huge amount of sense for that movie's titles. It suggests the round of invitations and social events the characters are all living in, the cage of adult formality they are playing with/growing into, the film's wordy, literary qualities, the pretty but old-fashioned and conformist world it depicts, the sort of bleak--b&w--sad, wintry undertones, everything. They even switch types to emphasize it in the promo for Barcelona, Stillman's next film:

And the Criterion release takes it even farther, using hand-drawn lettering and engraved-looking illustrative style:

(If you look at the IMDB photo page for the movie, which shows a series of VHS/DVD covers, you'll see a little lesson in what people have found "classy" in the last 28 years....the range of typefaces is interesting. Much bigger, horsier 90s choices at the beginning.)

Anyhow, ponder, ponder.

Reference source: I've recommended this site before, but I'm going to again because I love it so: this site has title pages from over five thousand movies to look at, all lined up next to each other. Hands down one of my favorite sites, ever. If you love letters/lettering/design/layout/text/type/fonts, it's endlessly entertaining. Here's a snapshot of their recent additions page...delish.

The black and white pages are always, always the most delicious...all the creamy grays and shadows. Another random fact that emerges: how tiny titles are now becoming. (Maybe that's another reason why the GG title got tracked in.) Look at how absurdly sub-fusc the title page for Michael Clayton is:

The only way you could read that title page is on a big screen... ADDENDUM: Just look at this not-quite accurate (it's from the trailer; I think the title sequence one is slightly diff, but I changed my mind and couldn't resist adding this) but fairly representative shot of the title from Wall Street! Beyond horsy.

OKAY, enough wambling around letters for now. Fonty fun.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Queen of England is the most widely-traveled head of state in history. She was also the first monarch to write email (1976). I dunno, she--herself--not the institution (can one make this distinction?)--is startin to grow on me more and more, and it's not just the Corgis™. I like what she's done with the choices life handed her. And that she didn't get along with Thatcher. And her hats. I really like her clothing choices, which are way more daring and brightly-colored than are credited with.

I am aware this makes me seem like another dumb-ass royalist, but sometimes I get exhausted having every side of an argument. Plus, what can I say, most of the time I think I am comfortable with humankind's need for q/Queens, especially when we have the same name. Hee. I don't know that you can grow up high-church Episco + gayboy in your sensibilities and not be reconciled to our need for ceremony. All you have to do is go to one funeral to realize that. Anyhow, I think it is cool how much E II has traveled, even if it had its roots in nasty English colonialism. Our world would be much different now if Bushie II had done that. Had just been forced to sit through endless dinners with so many people so different from you.

I'm out of the habit of blogging. I have had incredibly crucial news to report (such as the rediscovery of an extinct pengie) but I'm out of the rhythm of getting the news to the People.

Nellie Bly

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Je suis retournĂ©. I haf my noo keyboard from The Apple That Cares™, and now I type carefree, bang my thumbs on the space bar--and hit that apostrophe key--with wild-eyed abandon. Kinda had to re-learn how to type. The only difference? This keyboard is currently still wrapped up in plastic like a couch in a Queens living room. I don't want anything to get on this one. I'm not sure the Mac open design does much good in keeping keyboards alive. Despite lots of air, canned and otherwise, judicious blowings and proddings and pokings, they always Die. So for now...prophylactic measures persist.

Idiotic media crushes: Michael Symon (it's the voice) and Huge Ackman (it's the Huge). Those are some beautiful dudes.

Another current pash: Erik Satie. I'm in love with his world of goofy music neologisms. Which is very fun combined with music you actually like, rather than just find interesting. Neither can I still shake the Southern Rock obsession nor the big moments in opera obsession, nor the 80s b-boy/new jack thing, making for weird ear worms at any given time. I do love YouTube. Reminds me of playing in the radio station library in college. I am starting my day today with Full Force, Lucia Popp and 38 Special.

To wit: my hair is very shaggy and Medea-esque at the mo. I keep thinking with some peroxide, an old morning jacket and a snakeskin Hi-Roller, I could turn myself into Donnie Van Zant. God knows my arms are short enough.

It's funny the things you remember. For some reason right now I can't stop remembering driving around in a VW in the dark with Lynyrd Skynyrd on the tape deck, looking for a drive-in near Atlanta, a night so hot we had to keep the car on for the A/C but hot-wire the lights to turn them off once we got there.

I don't know that I really want to bail out the auto industry. Thank you.

I have my last visit for major dental work this week--that makes 8 or 9 visits now, all-told, I forget. I am frankly astonished and crazily proud of myself for getting through this, dental phobias, tiny mouth, no money, novocaine resistance, fitful ability to breathe through my nose, tearful insurance woes and all. I have threatened to throw an incredibly boring party to celebrate. I was picturing people sitting around on chairs saying nothing to each other, but perhaps I'll up the boring by providing dental health pamphlets and unsalted potato chips. Par-tay.

Many many congratulations to my good pal D and his new wife who tied the knot recently. Much love and many happy returns. Mahal kita.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Temporary toof is now very temporary. Came off eating Dots! (how cliche) Feels fweird. Toof goes on, toof goes off. Soon to have real one please.

Also to arrive soon: keyboard mit space key. Then typing two short paras will no longer take 10 minutes and xtra carpal tunnel. GOOD TO HAVE. Space and teef.

You dont miss what your two banging thumbs can do until they...cant.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

RainbowsunriseinYuppieville/overthelakeinChicago,takenday afterelection.

(From Obama's campaign photographer, David Katz//Barack Obama photostream on Flickr. )

Blah blah blah blah...First Doggie. What about a kittycat? Your pro-dog, anti-cat agenda has been clear for some time, America. I bet Willie the Cat voted Dem.

From Jerry Orbachs first film (Cop Hater). He was a revelation as the teenage badass rebel!, and identifiable only (fascinatingly) by his characteristic headdip and beginnings of the Hooded Gaze. Voice not really the same, nor face.

Have you ever seen such a beautiful escritoire? Like a rococo indoor swimming pool.

Really into right now:

* Tasha Tudor/19th century portraiture that predates
* Reports from the DL Sayers society and her poem 'War Cat'
* Todd Rundgren's great pop tunes
* Macha/o opera feats: High Cs, Fs, Bflats. Fille de Regiment, I Puritani, Il Trovatore, Lakme. MONSTER TRUCK RALLEY SHIT.

Via cuteoverload via Flickr:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Still no space bar. This prevents great art, I am willing to hazard, yes it does, and encourages much frustration, thatmuchIknow.

I bawled for hours last night, occasionally throwing my shirt over my head like an overwhelmed maid in a drawing room play, and my heart continues to burst from pride and excitement. I was thrilled at how wonderful McCains speech was, even--humble, direct, setting very good tone for future. (Where did that guy come from.) And Michelles Rothko-ish dress. Overall I am still basically...overwhelmed. Happy, proud, verklempt, ready to get to work, amazed. So proud. When have we ever been on a ride that was like that--ended like that--in US? Everything has (blessedly) changed to keep up with the Change that was happening anyhow.

Nah, no words for this one. Not yet.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hello, man, you got Cookypuss's number?

Ehhhh…are you, how you say Mizzzz Lap--Lapi--Pal--Pallin? Yoo are une Milfuese Americain?
That was a really weird All Hallow’s Eve. Today is weird too. This week is weird, and unique, esp. here, in Chicago. I cannot really explain the confluence of energy that you feel, just sticking your finger out the window. Hope, yearning and realized, and real time, real life wishing and loss and cynicism and youth and age and politics and just everyday life…

Last night--humor me--I felt the ghosts of so many swirling around. It was chaotic and sad and I couldn’t stop thinking about Studs. Today the lock on the door twixt the beyond and here is in place again sorta and there is more peace, and it is starting to make a little more sense. But what a wild time to be alive and broke and hopeful and young enough to have some future left but old enough to be way out to sea already.

Note: TCM is showing the ultimate tale of demagogueric caution tonight (A Face in the Crowd). Its part of a fame-themed evening, though, not politics. Way interestin.


"At a time when pimpery, lick-spittlery, and picking the public’s pocket are the order of the day—indeed, officially proclaimed as virtue—the poet must play the madcap to keep his balance. And ours."