Saturday, July 21, 2007

Now you tell me, Charles

From The Art of the American Musical, this quote from Charles Strouse:

I have found out in a life in the theater that there are certain subjects it is best not to bring up because almost anything one says about them can be interpreted in a way that is going to hurt somebody's feelings. Feminism is probably one, perhaps homosexuality, and race relations.

Words & Image

Noel Coward:

When the storm clouds are riding through a winter sky
Sail away, sail away
When the lovelight is fading in your sweetheart's eye
Sail away, sail away
When you feel your song
is orchestrated wrong
Why should you prolong your stay?
When the wind and the weather blow your dreams sky high
Sail away, sail away, sail away

That's what I like to see

A woman making it on the basis of her "talent"...

ETA: Karma.

The new issue of Entertainment Weekly has an article reporting on the varied success rates of American Idol vets, including "report cards" for eight. The article notes that McPhee is "MIA from any [radio] format," and her "grade" is the lowest of any (C-).

Sales have hardly been over the rainbow, and a full third of her discs were purchased in the first week of release.

Now, what kind of man would I be if I were to rub the faces of her fans, those very special children, in this public smackdown of their fave?

"Ohhh, the tears of unfathomable sadness, mmm, yummy… yummy you guys!"

Nah. I'm not the sort of guy to do something like that.

...I'll let Dr. Cox and Laverne do it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

All right!

Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!

A few movies to look for...if you're not reading a book this weekend, that is

Or, Friday the 13th jigsaw: The missing pieces...

1. A bitchy girl is assaulted with a curling iron...where no woman wants a curling iron. a pleasant scene from Sleepaway Camp. This is a slasher flick with a truly unforgettable ending. Whether it's unforgettable because it gives you the chills or because it's really, really stupid is another question alltogether.

If you think there's any chance you might ever see the movie and don't want to be spoiled, don't follow the link above, and don't look at this Robot Chicken spoof...

3. Before being sucked through a grate into the vacuum of space, a picturesque young woman declares, "This sucks on so many levels!"

...would be a scene from Jason X. Self-indulgent note: The picturesque young woman is Melyssa Ade, an actress on my short list of those I would like to send a script and ask to audition for my character Keitha. If I won the lottery tomorrow and could finanace a film. By the way, the picture above is not from JX.

5. A crippled guy gets a machete in the face; then goes bouncing in his wheelchair down about three flights of outdoor stairs... a scene from Friday the 13th Part 2. This is not an image from that scene, but...which would you rather I post?

6. In a movie with a "mystery" killer, the person who will eventually be "revealed" as the culprit stares right into the camera. We hear a low, deep, synthesized note on the soundtrack. Viewers spend the rest of the movie saying "Who could the killer be? Who?" one of the many reasons Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is bad even for a slasher movie. Just look at this guy:

Who could have possibly forseen him as the killer?

8. The star of the film-who allegedly looks like me-is slowly swallowed up to their waist by a not-at-all disturbingly phallic version of the murderer in the form of a giant snake.

...would be a godlike scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, starring my lookalike, Patricia Arquette.

9. In a rare truly surprising scene, a horror movie expert is killed in mid phone-taunt. a scene from Scream 2 which upset so many people (including me) that the writer of Scream 3 put a reference to that in the script.

Which didn't stop Scream 3 from having become a parody of itself...

11. The murderer cheerfully informs her most recent, and large-breasted, victim: "Good thing you're dead 'cause in a couple of years your breasts would have been sagging something terrible." just one of the many comedy gems to be found in Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, starring actress and photographer Pamela Springsteen as the psychotic killer.
As a photographer, Springsteen's shot at least one album cover for Tears For Fears, as well as a few albums and/or singles for her brother, some guy named Bruce.

By the way, it's likely as not the large-breasted victim in question (her name is Stacie Lambert) was just as happy to be killed off, since this was preceded by one of the most uncomfortable sex scenes ever filmed.

How uncomfortable? Her partner: Character actor Michael J. Pollard. You can actually hear her saying: "He's touching me-I have a distinct no-touching clause in my contract..."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This is beautiful


Too easy?

"Excuse me, miss, your slit has a dress on it."

Yes, I think I could really come to like Kelly Clarkson

On Planet Gossip (one or two more hot pics there, too):

At least one person isn't worried about the success—or lack thereof—of Kelly Clarkson's new album, My December: Clarkson herself.

"I don't care about selling millions," Clarkson says in the new issue of Self magazine, on stands July 26. "I just want to write music that people will relate to."

But then, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love Texas women.

it's Emmy time

Every year around this same time, I like to remind myself that one of these days I actually have to see Emmy Rossum act in something. I've thought she was excellent eye-candy ever since I first saw her on the Tony Awards a couple of years ago.

But she keeps doing rotten (by most reports) movies like Poseidon or, god help me, the Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, so I've never actually seen her work. I'm just resigned to remembering each year around this same time, that she really is excellent eye-candy.

Why around this same time? Because it's Emmy nom time, of course.

Amid the drama contenders, I'll be crossing my fingers for House, with a foolish and vain hope that Boston Legal might trip everybody up and win. Same goes for Outstanding Actor in a Drama, I'll be realistically expecting Hugh Laurie to win, but unrealistically hoping James Spader will.

Speaking of being foolish and unrealistic...I was kinda hoping Studio 60 would get a few more nods. I'm aware most of the country didn't watch it, but when it comes to the Emmys, who watches is equally as important as how many.

That's why I kind of roll my eyes when critics complain that shows like Buffy, Scrubs or Veronica Mars almost never get nominated. Not enough people watch them, and those that do are not Emmy voters. That's an unbeatable equation.

BTW, even less of the country watch 30 Rock than watched Studio 60, and...but I'll get to that later.

All S60 got were a couple of Guest Actor in a Drama Series nods for John Goodman and Eli Wallach. And I have to believe those were more because the actors themselves are well-loved craftsmen than because their work for this series was especially outstanding.

Plus a directon nod for Thomas Schlamme for the pilot, Casting for a drama series and Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series. Who's missing? Well, I was kinda hoping Sarah Paulson and Matthew Perry would at least get nominations, though I'd have been very surprised if they won.

As it turns out, Perry was nominated, but for The Ron Clark story, not Studio 60. All I know about The Ron Clark Story is that in it, Perry did the "White Guy Rap" which hasn't been funny since the early 1980s.

And, um Aaron Sorkin? Not even a nom? That must hurt.

I'm also sorry there wasn't a little more recognition for Friday Night Lights, I blew hot and cool on the series over the season, but the bottom line is, they did a lot of things right and deserved to be recognized.

On the other hand, for a series with its ratings, getting their second season is almost recognition enough. Although apparently they mean to try my patience next year, what with this talk of casting Rosie O'Donnell in a recurring role.

For outstanding lead actor in a comedy, I'll be hoping Tony Shalhoub wins again, since Monk is the only one of the nominated series I watch. Unless Ricky Gervais gets it, I haven't watched Extras but he's Ricky Gervais...

About outstanding lead actress in a comedy...okay, here's where I need a moment. Earlier today I was talking about the inexplicable, to me, overhyping of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Joss Whedon. Speaking of overhyping...

You're telling me...that according to the Emmy Awards...Tina Fey is in the same category with Felicity Huffman and Mary-Louise Parker? Is that what you're trying to tell me?

Never mind the alligators, I think I'll just go stick my tongue in a light socket.

In the Supporting Actor, Drama category, William Shatner is the only one whose show I watch, but if would be kind of wickedly cool if T.R. Knight won. And by the way, do you think this year Christian Clemenson will finally be in the credits of Boston Legal as what he already is: A series regular?

And by the way...about 24...last year, the day after the 2006 Emmys aired, I wrote a post here in which I said
You longtime fans...note how he optimistically yet again uses the plural...will know that I've had somewhat divided loyalties on the subject of the '24' show recently. On the one hand, I was genuinely offended by the show's creators and some of the actors getting into bed with the evil wing of the Republican party("Chloe" even accepting a kiss from Rush Limbaugh, the whore).

But, on the other, god, yes, I remember how happy I was during the season finale. It was one of the only series that didn't disappoint me all year. But now it's won (certainly deserved) Emmys for best drama series, best actor for Kiefer Sutherland, and directing.

It's too popular. It's too succesful. It's time to bail.

Ahem...called it!

And another one gone, and another one gone, Another one bites the dust

You remember when cute redhead Laura Prepon decided to act out of accordance with god's will, and went blonde? This was not the way things were supposed to be (this was), and I think we all knew it.

It further struck me as perversion when a redhead was cast as the blonde Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3.

But now...brace yourselves, fellow redhead-lovers...we have a trend. Julianne Moore, she of the brilliant red tresses...

...has taken the peroxide.

I think I'll go down to the zoo today, and throw myself into the alligator pit.

ETA: Fortunately, Alicia Witt is still holding it together.



As most of you probably know, I have something of a love-hate relationship with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show. In that I feel that for most of its run, it was an entertaining, well-made series, but I hated the self-important, glum-to-the-point-of zombification last seasons on UPN.

And I think the unmitigated admiration of fans of Joss Whedon and his flagship show long-ago crossed the borderline into quite nauseating fawning and delusion. These are the people who will tell you it was a popular series. No, it wasn't. CSI is a popular series. Buffy was a cult success.

That's why I wasn't surprised when Whedon's Wonder Woman movie deal fell through, or when he started writing the Buffy comic book: He is not a mainstream writer. And I don't have a problem with that, except for the people who want to tell me he's the freakin' reincarnation of Charles Dickens.

Unfortunately for me, many of the series' biggest fans are media-types, and I frequently have to grit my teeth at the not-at-all-14-year-old-kid-like ways they find to give their fave a plug. I have grown accustomed, for instance, to finding references to BTVS or Whedon in almost every single issue of Entertainment Weekly, whether there's any story to warrant it or not.

I don't know why, but maybe I expected better from NPR's Fresh Air. They're running an interview with the director of the new Hairspray movie, of whom their little blurb says:
Adam Shankman, whose earlier credits include the legendary musical episode of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.


(sigh through gritted teeth)

Look, I know a lot of Buffy fans really love the musical episode. I myself thought it was good, if overrated. (I have a probably-impossible-to-prove hypothesis that how much you liked it depends on how much exposure to real Broadway musicals you've had.)

But love it or just like it...can we at least agree it's not freakin' legendary, in any sense of the word?

(It wasn't even new, they were following in the footsteps of everything on TV from The Drew Carey Show to The Simpsons to South Park to even Xena.)

Sorry, sometimes I have to let off a little steam...

Words & Image

You keep it up
You try so hard
To keep a life from coming apart
And never know
The shallows and the unseen reefs
That are there from the start
In the shape of a heart

-–Jackson Browne, “In The Shape Of A Heart”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Just be

Race You to the Bottom is about a mostly-gay guy and a mostly-straight girl, Nathan and Maggie, played by Cole Williams and Amber Benson. They've been having an affair for several months as the film opens, though both have live-in boyfriends. Everything comes to a head--for not terribly well-motivated reasons--when they take a weekend trip together.

It's one of those movies that just doesn't quite make it, though you can't put your finger on anything overwhelmingly bad about it, something just feels out of place. It rarely finds a groove and when it does, it doesn't stay there long.

And it doesn't help that neither of the two main characters struck me as people I would particuarly want to spend time with. Well, Maggie, but only because she looks like Amber Benson.

The movie defines them almost completely by what they're un: Unreliable, untrustworthy and unfaithful. Even to each other. And then the movie frees them of responsibility for those qualities.

The film is well-acted. You guys know how I feel about Amber Benson, but I think she'd be a standout in this film even if I didn't have pre-existing rooting interest. Together, she and Williams create a belivable intimacy.

As a side note, it was also nice to see Danielle Harris in a small role. As a girl, Harris gave a superior performance in the only Halloween sequel worth a damn (4), and also had a recurring role on Roseanne for a few episodes, but I haven't seen much of her lately.

She looks good here, but doesn't have enough screen time to show if she could have done anything with more, even though it's a short movie. Seems like filling out her character (along with one or two others) would have been a better use of time than some of the travelogue montages.

Back to the Bottom: The dialogue, though it didn't have much of a rhythm, also didn't make my head hurt. I don't ask for much, really. But, sometimes it feels as though the acting is off-beat with the dialogue, sometimes vice-versa.

It's beautifully shot in some of the same romantic settings as Sideways, the wineries of Napa. Director and writer Russell Brown knows how to make his settings and actors look good (it probably doesn't hurt to start out with elements like Napa and Benson). Though, I haven't listened to the directors commentary yet, and I'm wondering whether he'll be gnashing his teeth about the lack of any lighting whatsoever in one fight scene. I'm guessing it was a "We've got to get this shot, but we've lost the light...fuck it!" day.

And...I wish the characters weren't so self-concious about one of them being gay, even conceding that in this story, they have reason to be. I'm not sure how I got it, but I seem to have this aversion to people who are gay talking about being gay, at least in movies.

I feel like: Just be, and be gay, y'know? Yet I know, even as I say that, for most people it's not that simple.

Oh, I'm going to kill myself.

There are no words.
Which Annoying B-list Celebrity Are You?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Me and Mrs. Crane's...sentences

When I read Elizabeth Crane's When the Messenger Is Hot, I said on Amazon: I want to kiss this woman's sentences. So you can imagine the surprise and pleasure I felt upon opening her second book, All This Heavenly Glory, and finding the words:

for Ben
my favorite

Now, obviously, this isn't me. Much as I might like to construct a scenario in which Mrs. Crane immediately felt...understood by my sparkling, 175-word review (found helpful by 2 of 2 people), so understood that she had to repay my rare perception with a shout-out on her next dedication page.

Don't think I didn't try to construct just such a scenario for a few seconds there, but then I remembered I'm sane. "Her" Ben is the David Benjamin Brandt credited with the cute author photo, thanked in the Acknowledgements "for the happy ending," and her husband.

Still and all, opening a book by an author whose previous work you enjoyed and finding your name on the dedication page. That's got to be my favorite way to start reading something.

But anyway...will it explain to you anything about why me and Miss Crane's sentences got a thing going on, if I say:

The first story in Heavenly Glory is 10 pages...and one sentence. And it never gets away from her the way it could have. I am in awe. Let me give you a few examples from elsewhere in the book:

On page 50:

Charlotte Anne is of course pro-Betty, as it is already being established to her that the Veronicas of the world are an obstacle to be overcome, which is arguably a sort of victimy stance for a nine-and-a-half-year-old to be taking and which sort of contradicts the whole independence thing, because why would she even care about/need any Veronicas at all if she were so independent, except for everyone needs a friend, even if they do sometimes try to steal your Archie. Charlotte Anne has formally proposed to Archie Comics that they put out a Betty comic without Veronica, which doesn't happen for several decades but when it finally does happen she will say it was her idea and someone will say to her, Let it go.

And here is just a section of a sentence that begins on page 184 and keeps up until the bottom of page 185: a friend I am always advising people to check their motives before they tell people where their head is at, primarily because I am of the belief that if you want to tell someone where your head is at with the intent of this changing them somehow, whether it be into some perfect person who understands you from that moment on or whether it's just that you want them to feel as crappy as you've been feeling, it either won't happen, which is most common if you are trying to get people to change, or it will happen, since people successfully punish people all the time for making them feel shitty...

Get where I'm coming from? In my just-posted review of Heavenly Glory, I upgraded to: I want to marry this woman's sentences and have children with them.

BTW, if you read that review and are wondering "What Julian Cope song?"

...this Julian Cope song. Probably one of Cope's finest, definitely the best on the My Nation Underground album, top 40 UK, a good and beautiful song. I rate it highly, is what I'm saying, and Crane's gorgeous book couldn't help but put me in mind of it.

Sorkin wipes the tomatoes off his windscreen

From Aaron Sorkin article in the Los Angeles Times:

"When you're doing a show, you're living entirely in that world, only trying to deal with all the issues in your show," says [film and Tv-maker Paul] Haggis. "But then the show goes into people's homes and it becomes their show. Suddenly you have no control over what happens. And when you discover that the stories you're telling don't have the same meaning to other people that they did to you — wow, it's a real smack in the face."

Oh, good. Something to look forward to.

Sorkin contends that TV drama is robbed of some of its punch when it's turned into a roman à clef. "There were too many people looking at this show like it was the cover of 'Abbey Road,' " Sorkin says. "It was never an autobiographical show. I'm a lot more than a recovering cocaine addict. Jordan McDeere and Jamie Tarses had one letter of the alphabet in common. It was really a lot of silliness." (Young and aggressive, Tarses had a brief run as ABC's programming chief, the first woman to hold such a position at a network.)

Weeeeeeel...I agree with some of this. I said as much when West Wing critics seemed incapable of viewing it as anything other than apologia and revisionist myth-making for the Clinton administration. But, Sorkin's denials aside...come on.

Studio 60 may not have been as explicitly autobiographical as something like Almost Famous, but, still: Come on. Who's kidding who here? Reading autobiographical intent into the show may have been "a lot of silliness," but it's silliness he's being disingenuous if he says he wasn't expecting.

I suspect Sorkin is fighting a losing battle. We've become a nation of prying eyes, snoops hungry for the inside story. It's surely telling that Sorkin's old time slot is now occupied by a reality show about real-life wedding crashers, people eager to barge into someone else's life. For Sorkin, TV is an all-too accurate barometer of our ideals. As he puts it: "TV has a very measurable effect on our national mood. When TV gets bitchy and pissy, you find Americans getting bitchy and pissy too."

Again I agree with this, but only to a certain point. As much as TV celebrates low-standards, the lack of shame in seeking fame and the "talent" America's allegedly got. I'm not sure we have become that nation of prying eyes-only that the TV executives think we have, or perhaps more to the point: It's in the interest of the billionaires to treat us as though we have.

I also think TV's effect on the national mood is very much a chicken-or-the-egg type question. Is Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader a hit because we're pissed off about how stupid we are, or...

In a way Sorkin may have come around to a final way of handling failure: acceptance. "Expectations were high and I couldn't come close to meeting them, so you'd have to say our show failed in a big way," he explains. "But when you get to write 22 episodes and have them produced exactly the way you want — well, as someone I know once described it, 'Things are OK when the things you complain about are the things you used to dream about.' "

Thank you for knowing that, Aaron. If you'd been moaning about Studio 60's failure in the ratings, I don't think I could have taken it.

Welcome to the party, pal

The latest conservative to come to the conclusion many of of us America-hating liberals had reached before the needless deaths of thousands?

Richard Mellon Scaife, Clinton-hater with the big purse.

The Pittsburgh newspaper owned by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife yesterday called the Bush administration's plans to stay the course in Iraq a "prescription for American suicide."

The editorial in the Tribune-Review added, "And quite frankly, during last Thursday's news conference, when George Bush started blathering about 'sometimes the decisions you make and the consequences don't enable you to be loved,' we had to question his mental stability."

Really. We need to withdraw the troops. and Bush is mentally unstable. Imagine that. Imagine if you'd admitted that a few years ago. Instead of, well...y'know.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things I've found in books

So I'm reading Naked on the Internet by Audacia Ray. Quoting from this item in a college newspaper...

The book is a guide to the ways women use, experience and cash in on the Internet, as well as a critical analysis of the empowering and oppressive aspects of these experiences, according to a press release.

"It grew out of work I was doing and personal experience," Ray said.

"There was a two-prong approach to it - it was a personal interest of mine and an academic interest of what the Internet means in women's sexuality."

Ray, who has a bachelor's degree in Cultural Studies from Eugene Lang College and a master's degree in American Studies from Columbia University, started working as a researcher at New York's Museum of Sex during her senior year in undergraduate school. She is also executive director for a magazine by and for adult film workers called "$pread."

"The Internet creates lots of opportunities for women to explore sexuality and connect with other people," Ray said.

Ray said that although the book focuses on women and their experiences, men often show up at her lectures and book signings among a diverse audience of women ranging in ages and Internet experience.

All good, right? That's what I thought too until I got to page 249, a section on "fucking machines." So defined (quoting now from the book):
Whereas most vibrators are compact, handheld, battery operated, and designed to enhance a woman's relationship with her clitoris, fucking machines are large, indiscreet, and loud, and most of them are designed solely to thrust dildos in and out of whatever orifice they encounter.

Still, whatever turns you on. That's not what bothers me. This is what bothers me:
For straight men, the images on [a Fucking Machines] site represent a kind of ideal; they're able to watch girls be penetrated and fucked without the nuisance of having to look at another man's penis.

I resent that. Maybe for homophobic men with a fetish for turbine engines, that's some sort of ideal, but I can assure you it's got nothing to do with mine.

(my ideal starts out with slow dancing to Aaron Neville with Amber Benson or a young Janet Fielding, but that's another post)

Tennessee: Even corrupting Democrats

Tenn. - The last of five lawmakers indicted in an undercover public corruption probe dubbed Tennessee Waltz pleaded guilty Monday to bribery.

Former state Sen. Kathryn Bowers, 64, a Memphis Democrat, pleaded guilty to one federal count accusing her of splitting $11,500 with an accomplice who served as a go-between with FBI agents posing as dishonest businessmen. She had insisted for two years that she was innocent.

Batgirl is cute, perky and made for fun!

The feminist DC Comics says super heroines just don't go kicking crook butt until they've finished making up.

Note to self: When in Germany, sit at the back of the bus

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German bus driver threatened to throw a 20-year-old sales clerk off his bus in the southern town of Lindau because he said she was too sexy, a newspaper reported on Monday.

"Suddenly he stopped the bus," the woman named Debora C. told Bild newspaper. "He opened the door and shouted at me "Your cleavage is distracting me every time I look into my mirror and I can't concentrate on the traffic. If you don't sit somewhere else, I'm going to have to throw you off the bus."

The woman, pictured in Bild wearing her snug-fitting summer clothes with the plunging neckline, said she moved to another seat but was humiliated by the bus driver.

Per TX Poppet, via Feministing.

Oh, for god's sake. I can be as distracted by a fair amount of cleavage as the next guy. But I don't think even Liz Hurley and Tara Reid doing toe-touching exercises would distract me so badly that I couldn't even drive.

(Well, maybe Liz Hurley and Tara Reid doing toe-touching exercises)

Random Flickr Blogging 2991: Inside joke edition

"Ladies, ladies, please! Just because I'm dressed this way does not make me a hero. For god's sake, stop it!"

(original image posted here)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The things I'll watch on a Sunday evening...

Scott Baio Is 45... and Single is a "reality" show in which the inexplicably famous Baio goes on a quest to find out why the title is true. Based on the premiere tonight, I could give him the answer in one sentence: Because Scott Baio is an uncommonly boring asshole.

My favorite part? When he starts whiningly explaining to an old colleague about how fame put him in a different position....

The colleague? Henry Winkler, who wouldn't know anything about that.

And apparently he was such an inveterate cheater that, we learned from a tease for the next episode, a Playboy model had her first AIDS test because of him.

This Playboy model.

When I say asshole...

The only reason to watch another hour of this would be to revel in the superiority some of us feel upon finding out that one of the monied class is a schmuck. And oh, what a schmuck Baio is.

America takes another step back further from the edge of the abyss

Via Yahoo!

Best known for a billboard campaign that tried, but failed, to spark audiences to its tagline (and accompanying photos of a distressed Elisha Cuthbert)—"Abduction. Confinement. Torture. Termination"—the so-called torture-porn movie opened, barely, in a relatively sparse 1,050 theaters, grossed an absolutely sparse $1.5 million, finished out of the top 10, and presumably began the wait for its unrated DVD release.

Lionsgate celebrated Captivity in a much-publicized Los Angeles premiere party, but, per newspaper critics, kept the movie itself under wraps. In the Boston Globe, reviewer Ty Burr wrote of having to commute to Danvers, Massachusetts, about 20 miles north of Boston, to catch a screening. His eventual verdict: "Wholly pointless," which was one of the more charitable blurbs for a film that scored only three positive reviews out of the 47 tracked and categorized by Sunday afternoon on Rotten Tomatoes.

I claim full intent and credit. Of course, it probably didn't hurt that Joss Whedon jumped on the bandwagon, but you know it was really me. Between this and the failure of Hostel II, I could actually start being proud to be an American moviegoer again.

Random Flickr Blogging: 2991

Tapi had only been out of the monastery for a day, but by god, he was making the most of it.


I've been popping those "chick-lits" like they were Chiclets

A couple of months ago, someone who I thought was a friend read my first novel and said of it,

"it would slide squarely into a modern romance/chick-lit genre."
She also said some other, more tactless things, but I don't want to hash that over again now. At the time I had not read any actual "chick-lit." Since then I've read Little Pink Slips by Sally Koslow, some but not all of the stories in the This Is Chick Lit anthology, and I just finished How To Sleep with a Movie Star by Kristin Harmel.

I didn't read them because of what this "friend" said. Even before she made that remark, I'd had the feeling that the kinds of stories I like to tell were, if not exactly "chick-lit," then certainly "chick-lit"...adjacent. See Andrea Schicke Hirsch quote from earlier this week.

As for romance, well, there is a certain amount of the classic narrative, to this story in particular(love found, love tested...). I'm a romantic guy anyway, and my stories are colored with (there's no point in denying it, nor do I particuarly wish to) sentiment and desire.

A romantic comedy, is how I like to think of the book (I hope) to-be in question.

But reading this latest example of the real "chick-lit" genre, I found myself thinking: Are they all this formulaic? Because I read two novels, at random, one because I saw a good review in Entertainment Weekly, the other because I liked the essay its author wrote for that anthology by women writers on Judy Blume.

And they both turned out to have some pretty big things in common, besides the superficial things like both being about women working in publishing. If I believed these books, I'd believe all women really need to be happy is boys, comfort food (or drink) and shoes.

So like I say, I'm just wondering if they're all this formulaic. I'm also wondering: Am I crazy? Am I crazy because I think my novel is not just a romance-though it is that, and I'm proud of it, though not a "romance novel"?

Am I crazy because I think it's actually about something?

(Not all of these are things I expect most or any of you to have answers about. This is just what I'm wondering, this afternoon.)

Unfortunately, thinking my story is actually "about something" doesn't make me feel any better, even if it is. Because I'm cynical and fatalistic today and I don't think it matters.

As I type that I ask myself, "is that really true?" Or do I just believe-or am only afraid-that it is? I don't want it to be. I want to tell you about the flame of hope that leaps up from my heart and says No! That's not true. That flame is there.

But it's really, really hard to keep it lit when it feels like you're the only one. You have to keep it sheltered from the wind outside, and keep blowing on it enough to keep the sparks glowing, but not enough to blow it out.

These are some of the things I've been thinking today.

A battery stimulator, a cerebral vibrator

Roger Ebert, in his Great Movies column, features a film called 'WR -- Mysteries of the Organism.' I had never heard of it before, but Ebert makes a good case. Actually, before I read word one of his, I was hooked by this image from the film:

This is # 8 in my There's something in this about all women file. You longtimers will know that's a caption I give to pictures I seem to find about once a month, although I never go specifically looking for them.

I mean it, though; I don't just assign the caption to any picture of a wonderful-looking woman-if I did, more of the women on this list would have made it. There has to really be something in the photo that is about all women, or at least as I think of them.

Anyway, back to what Ebert says about the film and its director, Dusan Makavejev:

Bald, burly and bearded, Makavejev has fashioned a career out of poverty, windfalls, luck and genius. The year "Sweet Movie" played at Cannes, he had a suite at the Carlton Hotel. The next year, I asked him if he was staying at the Carlton again. "Wife and I have tent on beach," he said. "Some years Carlton, some years beach."

The new editions of Makavejev's films in the Criterion Collection include fascinating supplementary material, not least a little documentary on the "improved" version of "WR." The movie was purchased by the BBC's Channel Four, which asked Makavejev to re-edit some of the more graphic scenes. He was happy to oblige. Key elements of the "plaster casting" scene are obscured by starbursts of psychedelic colors. And an opening nude sequence from an old silent sex film is tidied up with goldfish swimming past the crucial areas.

There is also Makavejev's own short doc about the experience of leaving the dissolving Yugoslavia and finding himself in Hollywood. Monique Luddy, wife of the co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival, takes him to buy some trendy clothes. He looks dubiously at a colorful shirt. She encourages him: "If the producer doesn't like you, maybe he'll like the shirt."

This sounds like a man whose country (films) I need to visit...

Don't it make you want to scream?

At If I Ran The Zoo, ahab has a post about a CNN story about those niggling little whispers about impeachment that have not gone away. And won't, no matter how much a certain monkey wants them to.

Ahab quotes a CNN pundit saying the same thing many pundits have said...
Gee, why won't the idea of impeaching Bush "just go away" already? CNN doesn't appear very interested in exploring the question. What we get instead is CNN Political Editor Mark Preston applying the doctrinaire conclusion about any and all political acivity in the USA -- It Is Bad For Democrats:

But talk is just talk, and political observers say that actually trying to impeach the president would be a bad move strategically. As Preston explains it, impeaching the president would actually hurt Democrats in their pursuit of the White House in 2008. "They would look partisan," says Preston. "They would look petty."

Now, there's one or two things I could say about that. Fortunately, ahab says them, and I happen to agree with many of the things he says, so I'll let him take it. Because when people say things like this, I feel like this:

This is another one of those groups you'd think I'd like more, given how high I fly my gay-music flag

...but in truth I really only like one or two of their records. Fortunately, this is one of them. Here's the Communards, lip-synching Don't leave me this way...