Saturday, September 01, 2007

Camp? On Broadway?

Thanks to the generosity of my pal Corey, I spent this evening at the final performance of the pre-Broadway run of Young Frankenstein, "The New Mel Brooks Musical" based on his film of 1974.

The original is one of my favorite comedies, and I'm hardly alone in this.

(Actually, I have a theory that Brooks was always at his best when he worked with Gene Wilder: Aside from Brooks, what do Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and the original film of The Producers all have in common?)

Oh, but you want to know how was the show, don't you? Well, if I tell you before the first act ended my hands already hurt from applauding, does that answer your question? Young Frankenstein, the musical, is first and foremost a good old fashioned pull-out-all-the-stops musical farce.

"Puttin On The Ritz" got the biggest hand of the night, and it's not just because audiences recognized it from the film (which they did), or because it's such a great old song (which it is).

Director and choregrapher Susan Stroman, repeating her duties from The Producers, has expanded the number into a great spectacle, which goes for the whole production, full of magic and stagecraft.

The characters are barely developed, but who the $&#& cares? What you want to know is was it fun, was it funny; it was both, with lots and lots of thinly dressed women and even more thinly dressed entendre.

I don't know about you, but that's what I call a night in the theater.

Being so familiar with the original, I worried slightly beforehand that I would constantly be comparing and finding any new variants wanting. Fortunately, this hardly ever happened. Mostly this was due to the fine cast, about whom more in a moment.

All the principals seemed to know how to touch on the performances of their filmic forebears without becoming mere imitations.

And boy, could they milk a joke. When Frederick and Elizabeth laugh over his leaving her alone with all of her single men friends, they stretched it out to get three separate and growing laughs from the audience.

Also working in the show's favor, I suspect, is that Brooks and his co-author, Thomas Meehan, know that audiences are more familiar with the original film than they may have been with The Producers, Brooks' last film-into-musical.

As films, The Producers was a cult success, but Young Frankenstein was a top-grossing, Oscar-nominated hit; one of the funniest movies of all time. So the writers know we're anticipating key moments ("What knockers!") and use that against us...and for themselves, by playing up to them.

As Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Rober Bart keeps a manic edge, vocally, he reminded me more than once of Matthew Broderick on the Producers Original Broadway Cast Album-not surprsingly, since he followed Broderick in the role (and Wilder, of course, created both parts). Desperate Housewives watchers may know Bart from a role he played on that primetime soap.

But as someone behind me pointed out during the intermission, it's a little weird that the biggest "star" name away from New York is playing what still is a very little part: Megan Mullally, from Will And Grace, plays Elizabeth, the Doctor's fiancee.

On the other hand, four of the other leads (including Bart) are Tony winners, something I imagine means as much as Mullally's TV fame, if not more, on The Great White Way. Mullally gets a star's entrance applause-and may set some sort of record for longest note held while singing the word "tits."

But if there's a star female performance in the new version, it's that of Sutton Foster, who plays labratory assistant Inga. Foster (Seen below, with Bart) has legs that go all the way down to the floor, a smiling face that radiates the joy of performing, and a way with a comedy line.

As if that weren't enough (and it might be, for me) she can both sing and yodel. You heard me, yodel.

Her first number, "A Roll In The Hay" recieved the biggest round of applause of any original song of the evening (Only "Puttin' On The Ritz" topped it, and come on...).

She also has what I took to be the best song in the show, near the beginning of Act Two: "Listen To Your Heart."

I know that title makes it seem like a cliche, but it's got music and lyrics of which Brooks can be genuinely proud.

Quick aside: Speaking of song titles, when was the last time you went to a musical where just reading a title in the program beforehand gave you a laugh?

Well, that's what I experienced when I looked down and saw the name of Frederick's opener: "There Is Nothing Like The Brain."

Shuler Hensley is the monster; unfortunately, it's the performance that suffers most onstage. It's not Hensley's fault, he dances and moans up a storm. But onscreen, the benefit of closeups of the late Peter Boyle's face gives his creature a heart that this one just can't have.

As a matter of fact, the movie in general has a heart that this version just can't have. For the most part, this is an acceptable tradeoff for what it offers that the film cannot.

Andrea Martin is the horse-terrifying Frau Blucher. She also gets a warm round of applause on her entrance that speaks to the esteem in which people hold her from her film and television appearances.

But, like Megan Mullally, she's a bit wasted, on the other hand, her song "He Vas My Boyfriend" is better than any of Mullally's, and staged with a bit of Marlene.

Christopher Fitzgerald is Igor, the sometime hunchback. To my mind, his performance suffered once or twice in comparison with the late Marty Feldman, whose throwaway delivery on some classic lines I did miss.

But what Fitzgerald gets dead on (you should pardon the expression in this context) is the sheer happiness with which Igor performs his mischevious tasks. To this trait from the original character has been added a wide streak of camp.

Yes, I was shocked and horrified too. I'm sure the drag queen sitting a few rows from me was equally taken aback.

The rest of the ensemble is made up partly of handsome, muscular young men who I'm sure the gay fellas and straight women in the audience appreciated. (Any gay women in the audience may have appreciated a moment or two with Mullally).

But I'm going to dismiss the boys with those few words in order to devote myself to the gorgeous distaff collective. My friends. It's a toss-up as to which are the two most beautiful words in the English language:

"Chorus girls," "garter belts" or "G-strings." Put them all together and you have the reason any straight man ever does anything, right there onstage.

"Shortie Nurse's costumes" is pretty good, too-and whoever decided they should put those costumes back on for the curtain call deserves some kind of special Tony Award.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sex always sells, but how often does it tell?

I've mentioned before Jim Emerson's sometimes devastating disembowelments of film. These occur mostly in his Scanners blog, but this week he also has an "open letter to Hollywood" in MSN movies. This is a good example of what I'm talking about.

One of Emerson's suggestions to fix what ails Hollywood is that they adapt an attitude towards sex and nudity onscreen that is closer to the films of the '70s and directors who started then. He says:

Do you know people who pop out of bed after sex sporting underwear? Who's in such a blasted hurry to get dressed?

The best special effect in the history of movies is the human face, with the human body coming in a close second. Use it.

I have, I hope not a double standard about nudity in film, but I am of more than one mind about it. As a heterosexual male, I am pleased to see attractive women nude onscreen.

I'm also equal-minded enough to think those who would be pleased to see attractive men nude there should get their reward as well.

But, I've always remembered something I once read; I wish I could remember who said it. It was to the effect that whenever an actress (or, much less frequently, an actor) shows nudity on film, it instantly changes the genre of the movie. It may have been a comedy or an action film or whatever, now it is a documentary.

Eyes Wide Shut, to pick one example, becomes "This is what Nicole Kidman (and a whole lot of other, less-famous women) looks like when she takes her dress off."

I think there's something to that. There are always exceptions, of course. But more-or-less off the top of my head, I can think of less than a handful.

By exceptions, I mean films that use nudity and/or sex to really tell us something about the characters or advance the story. Which films those are is, admittedly, often or always a matter of opinion.

I think Monster's Ball is a good example.

There's just no way to tell that story without the sex scene, and we do need to see it, because it's about more than "seeing Halle Berry's o face."

In this scene, the way the two characters have sex tells us something about them-and it also gets each of them to new places in their lives. (There actually is a reason why Berry won the Oscar that year.)

More than 95 times out of 100, though, if an actor doesn't want to show all or any of his or her body, I think most stories can be told without them.

But one of my pet peeves, and Emerson touches on this, is when actors behave in ways onscreen in which no human being would behave. Unless they were trying to prevent their nude bodies from being seen by a camera.

A good example of this is Lisa Cholodenko's Laurel Canyon. Near the beginning of this film, Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale are having sex.

Sexy Pictures of Kate Beckinsale

When they finish, Beckinsale is seen lying back in bed, her breasts covered by a shirt. (Ladies, how many of us guys leave your shirts on?) Her pants are off, but one of her legs is raised just enough to obscure any glimpse of her pussy from the camera.

What I object to is not that I was denied a gimpse of Beckinsale's tits or a look between her legs. What she has can't be that much more mysterious than any other woman.

But Cholodenko, by shooting the scene that way (or Beckinsale, by choosing to limit how much she would show), shook me right out of the movie.

Looking at Beckinsale strike this very awkward, hard-to-hold and uncomfortable-looking position, I wasn't thinking about the characters, or even watching a documentary called "This Is What Kate Beckinsale's Naked Body Looks Like."

I was thinking "Wow. Somebody really, really didn't want to show her body." Well if that's the case, then find a likely reason to cover it up (in context, this character even had one).

The answer isn't "more nudity," it's "a grown-up attitude about necessary nudity." (Excluding exploitation films, and others that have no pretensions of anything but quick-and-easy entertainment. If you want to entertain a mostly male, mostly young audience, there's still no quicker and easier way than breasts.)

If a scene that needs to be in a story features a character or characters that, if no one were filming them, would naturally be naked, they should be naked.

This doesn't mean their nudity has to be seen on camera, btw-but we the audience should know they're naked.

And if the scene isn't necessary either for plot or character (which for some of us is the same thing, but that's another post), it should have been cut already.

Okay, the Larry Craig thing

Kathy has a good entry at If I Ran the Zoo that sums up most of what I would say in the headline: It's the Hypocrisy, Stupid.

But there is something I've been wanting to hit you with and link to, just so I can crow a very little, little bit. Let me ask you to cast your mind back to April of this year. I wrote a post about an article which had quoted Sen. Craig's reaction to the then-recent shootings at Virginia Tech. I pointed out that the reporter did so without disclosing Craig's connection to the National Rifle Association.

I also said this:

...have a look at the aforementioned Sen. Craig, on the issues. Among other positive things, notice the consistent record of voting against same-sex marriage, prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation, and other gay rights issues.

We all know what that means, don't we?

An anti-gay rights GOP Senator?

Uh-huh, that's right. He has sex with men.

My point is, this is something that I knew even before the "disorderly conduct" incident to which he recently pleaded guilty. That took place June 11, my blog post was April 17. So if I knew, with my low-traffic blog that these days is mainly devoted to appreciations of "the fairer sex," how can any lawmakers or big Christian groups claim ignorance?

They don't want him to resign 'cause he's gay. They knew he was gay. They must have. They want him to resign because he got caught.

This, the Republicans demand accountability for.

The Iraq war? Goin' great!

Vivien Leigh wearing my favorite color

Fast question

I need to take a cab tomorrow evening to get somewhere at a specific time, something I haven't done for a number of years. So I find myself idly wondering: How far in advance should I call the cab company?

I know this isn't exactly a Hamlet-like decision, but I thought I'd put the question out amongst the brain trust-or you, my vast reading audience. Any ideas?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Women my own age, Part 15 (the last)

Geri Halliwell, born August 6, 1972. The once and maybe future Ginger always struck me as having the best body of the Spice Girls, one that people who believe what the media tells them might call fat, but I call the way a woman's body is meant to be.

Case in point.

...and that's as good a way as any to end this series.

stop time

At times there is nothing more frustrating than a movie that almost makes it...but then doesn't. Cashback is such a movie.

Granted, I knew going in it had received mostly negative reviews.

RT sez:

An unlikable protagonist, messy editing, and gratuitous nudity might make audiences ask for their cash back.

Yet Roger Ebert was delighted by it, so I decided to give it a try.

Well, the "messy editing" rip I'd say is fair, on the grounds that if I notice...

As for the rest of what RT sez, well, I identified with the main character (named Ben, yet), the female lead I liked enormously, the storytelling was at a measured pace of the kind I appreciate.

As Ben, Sean Biggerstaff's (don't say it) acting is understated and belivable, but people who don't identify with artistic, romantic types may have a harder time latching onto the character than I did.

This Ben is an art student, who starts working a night shift at a local supermarket to combat insomnia after his girlfriend finishes with him.

Then he discovers he has the ability to stop time.

Or he may only fantasize that he has this ability. The movie isn't clear on the point, which is the first place it stumbles. But, we are certainly shown life from his point of view, (tho wandering POV is the film's second problem) as if he has this ability.

He uses this power in order to strip his female customers nude, sketch them, then redress them and start time.

Is this gratuitous? No, definitively not. One may not think the entire story is justifiable, but if you're going to tell it, then the nudity is necessary.

The way I see it, it's a fantasy every man (and for all I know more than a few women) has had, and it's presented here in a way that appeals to the more romantic side of it.

Ben finds himself drawn to one of his coworkers, Sharon. Although nothing is made of this, it seems to be a point of pride that he never uses his newfound (or fantasized) ability to see her in the altogether. Tho he makes hundreds of sketches of her face.

Her face, new to me, is that of Emilia Fox, who seems to be reasonably well-known in Britain, and is both from and married into acting families. She's strikingly lovely, and she rewards much of our attention...when the script bothers to remember that women are actual human beings who have existences apart from men.

More about that in a minute.

Trouble is, this movie doesn't have much more to say apart from the fact that naked girls are fantastic. Which is utterly, inarguably true, but it's useless as a launching pad for the tepid romantic comedy this turns into, rather than remaining an examination of beauty.

There's at least a couple of places where I thought the film was going to make a point, however lightly. I'd hoped it would be something about the difference between the way Ben's laddish friends and coworkers look at strippers and the loving care he takes with his "subjects." However unwitting they may be.

What we get instead is him visiting a strip club, not entirely willingly, but finding himself imagining Sharon doing a pole dance.

Unfortunately, director/writer Sean Ellis falls into the traditional trap of male writers writing women characters: Most of them seem to exist only to serve the needs either of the protagonist (making it a male fantasy in more ways than one), or the plot.

And when those two needs clash...God, this movie becomes aggravating.

In some ways, it could have been made for me. There's even the use of a Frankie Goes To Hollywood song at a charged moment. Yet again and again it stumbles and falls, for me most irreparably in that charged moment.

We are asked to believe one of these characters would behave in a way which nothing that has gone before has led us to believe they would behave. It's the obligatory "boy loses girl" moment, and one of the worst I've ever seen.

It's as if director/writer Sean Ellis doesn't know how likable his characters are, when he's shown them to us as funny, humorous, and smart, and thinks we won't notice when a plot peg depends on them forgetting it.

The Interview: When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV

Questions from Johnny Bacardi...

1. Give me three guilty pleasure movies.

The Mummy films.

A lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing, but...

Xanadu. I cringe to think how many times I've seen this, especially since my cable company keeps making it availible On Demand. It's mostly 'cos I just like the songs that much.

As a movie musical, it deserves every critical hard knock it's ever gotten. But not so many as...

The Pirate Movie.

...and this one, I can't explain at all. It's rightly fabled for its cheesiness, no ifs, ands or buts. Yet I've seen it almost as many times as Xanadu.

2. I've been enjoying your ongoing appreciation of attractive actresses that share your birth year. Who among this list would you consider least attractive?

I would probably have to say Tonya Harding.

3. Name me one book you wish you had written.

All I can think of is a book I wish I had had published...

4. Last CD you bought.

It's been a few years. These days I get most of my CDs either through the generosity of friends or free for review. It was either the Essential Johnny Cash 1955-83, or one of Colin Hay's solo albums.

5. What's your drink? Assuming you do so, that is...

I don't frequently, but when I do, I enjoy many things mixed with Coke...

Some sort of a visual poem

I came so far for beauty

I left so much behind

My patience and my family

My masterpiece unsigned

I thought I'd be rewarded

For such a lonely choice

And surely she would answer

To such a...hopeless voice

I changed my style to silver

I changed my clothes to black

And where I would surrender
Now I would attack

I stormed the old casino

For the money and the flesh

And I myself decided

What was rotten and what was fresh

And men to do my bidding

And broken bones to teach

The value of my pardon
The shadow of my reach

But no, I could not touch her, With such a heavy hand

Her star beyond my order

Her nakedness unmanned

I came so far for beauty

I left so much behind

My patience and my family

My masterpiece unsigned

(Words by Leonard Cohen. Images found on Google.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

or even your year. But -

Thanks to Jen, who sent me Ebert's Your Movie Sucks book from my wish list for my birthday. It's the follow-up to I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, and I'm happy to get it.

(Changed) thanks to Jen too for The Lightning Seeds' Sense CD, also from my Amazon list.

I bought this album on casette when it was new; it has some of my favorite songs by the band, which is really just one guy, Ian Broudie. Songs like this, one of the best album-opening title tracks ever.

I remember thinking the first time I heard it that this album was going to be something magical. I was right.

(note: the audio doesn't quite work for about the first five seconds of this video, but it corrects itself)

Women my own age, Part 14

Selma Blair, born June 23, 1972. By the by, according to a news item that was bouncing around the world a week or two ago, Ms Blair is "unhappy with her looks."

'I don't bleach my teeth, I chain smoke, I'm flat-chested, I'm pale as a ghost and I've crow's feet.'

Okay, the chain smoking breaks my heart (first Keira, now you...why, Selma, why?).

Other than that...she's insane.

But maybe that's what it is that I love about her, she has an ambiguity as an actress that I find very attractive.

I can't wait for "Hellboy 2." I've come to enjoy the first a lot more over the years-it has more weight than I at first thought.

(deep breath)

She also gave a good performance in a film that was ultimately too depressing, "Storytelling," wore a large pair of fake breasts in the movie "A Dirty Shame," which was, she was attractive-which is all anyone needed to be-in "Cruel Intentions" and with previous WMOA Christina Applegate starred in "The Sweetest Thing," which wasn't, but as I've said earlier this week, I like almost in spite of itself.

Whew! Now, on to...

Maya Rudolph, born July 27, 1972.

Actually, I've found Ms. Rudolph to be one of the more amusing performers on "Saturday Night Live" right now. This is to say she's actually made me laugh, which is more than most. I was also interested to read in the book "Live From New York" that she's the daughter of Minnie Ripperton.

Ripperton, of course, was the singer most known for a single that only dogs could hear, "Loving You". This in itself was later sampled into The Orb’s moody “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld."

This in no way brings us to:

Elizabeth Berkley, born July 28, 1972. I said in the first post of this series that these were supposed to be "appreciations" of women my own age. Well, I appreciate Elizabeth Berkley.

But I hate myself in the morning.

I feel that God is not in heaven

Last night I dreamed I was going to a concert with an old girlfriend of mine. The last time I dreamed about this girl I took it as a sign--cos' I'm philosophical like that--and reestablished contact.

This turned out to be a mistake, one I do not intend to repeat. From my POV the pattern of our relationship, such as it has been, is that I make myself vulnerable and she fucks me over.

Problem is, no matter what she says, part of me will always think of her as the dark-eyed girl sitting next to me outside, forehead to forehead, waiting for me to kiss her for the first time, years ago.

I tried to tell her that, in the dream.

Anyway I don't know why I woke up thinking of this band. I don't associate her with them or with any of their songs.

And yet this one seems like a seriously good soundtrack for a loss of faith I do associate with her. Without much literal connection to the lyric (and I've never even seen the movie).

Why are we haunted by pretty liars?

Naomi Campbell: Making nudity unattractive, passionless and dull

That's what I think, anyway...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Before dozens of viewers across Canada (and, in the US, just me) tonight, Megan McDowell was chosen The Second City's Next Comedy Legend

...on the reality series of the same name.

This final episode was better than the show's been in weeks, and if you've been following this series of posts, you can probably guess why I think so: Because we, in the audience, actually got more of a chance to evaluate the would-be "legends" in performance. At first, though, this too was grim.

For maybe the first quarter/first third of the show, I was envisioning typing comments like:

Comedy is dead.

And these people killed it.

Two And A Half Men made it sick, but these people killed it.

But, after a while, they started to live up to...well, not to the title "legend." That's a ridiculously tall yardstick. But, if this show's title had been...

Second City's Next Comic/Actor, Who With About 10 More Years Of Training And Performance Experience, You Could Conceivably See Becoming Outstanding!

...well then that, that they lived up to nicely.

All three finalists really made me laugh quite a few times and I'd have been as happy as not to see any of them win.

Even Ian McIntyre, who if I haven't mentioned him before it's because if he's done anything noteworthy, damned if they showed it to us.

I liked Kayla Lorette from the beginning and held to that pretty steady. Last week had me wavering, but as I keep feeling compelled to qualify, I blame the show at least as much as her (or any contestant) for that. And probably more.

As Dave Thomas said in his little judge's "summation" tonight, Lorette's incredibly likable onstage, and that can be very valuable.

I had a feeling the fix was in for McDowell, though. Just based on the incredibly scientific observation that more people have found this blog searching for her name in recent weeks than any of the others. I think so, anyway-I didn't go so far as to actually count or anything,

BTW, side note to any of the cast-members who may have found this blog by Yahoo! searching themselves (or otherwise), as I suspect: If you were unable or unwilling to say anything in comments till the winner was announced...I hope you'll say "good day, eh?" now.

Back to McDowell: You have to admit it's a great story: Inexperienced, elfin woman tries out for improv reality show; lasts to become the winner. I have a feeling it's that which put her over the top, and not that she did that much of a better job than McIntyre, or especially Lorette.

But, somebody had to be picked the winner, and based on the (I'll say it one last time) incredibly limited exposure I had to each of them as performers, she was as good a choice as any.

I only hope that if Second City tries something like this again, they learn from their mistakes, that for too much of this "season" made the show about as fun as being stuck in traffic.

Oy to the vey.

My TV remote control stopped working early this morning. I'm still getting service,'ll understand how much less I'm liking life right now if I remind you: I'm a guy.

Women my own age, Part 13

After some consideration, I'm not including her in this series, but FWIW, Jennifer Garner is looking better than I've ever seen her in those new ads she's doing. Maybe motherhood is agreeing with her.

Julie Benz, born May 1, 1972. Never in very many good movies, television has been a lot better to the cute, hot blonde Benz. She derives most of her fans from her recurring appearances as Darla on Buffy (and later Angel). In fact she's the first vampire we ever see in the series.

This being the case, I always get a kick out of the knowledge that she's married to John Kassir. (Kassir is the voice man and character actor who's best known as the voice of the Crypt Keeper in Tales from the Crypt. He can also be seen in Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical...embodying the title)

Alison Eastwood, born May 22, 1972. Far be it from me to speculate on what issues Ms. Eastwood might have with her iconic father. But I think you have to admit the above picture is a therapist's gold mine.

Ms. Eastwood has yet to figure out how to best use whatever genes and other advantages she's inherited, never really making a name for herself as an actress. At least in films that most people have seen. Which is too bad, in a way, because when she was about 13 she gave a superb performance in Tightrope, as her father's daughter.

But she had the bad luck to choose as one of her first films as an adult the legendary example of shameful filmmaking, Friends & Lovers. Which if anyone remembers (doubtful), it's likely they remember only because she's nude in it.

Most recently, having failed to distinguish herself by following in her father's footsteps once, she's trying it again as the director of the forthcoming indie, Rails & Ties.

It would seem to me as though competing with her father as a director is only slightly less suicidal than as an actor, but that may just be my jealousy talking. I wish my father was a wealthy icon who'd given me jobs in his movies and I'd grown up privileged too...

Robin Tunney, born June 19, 1972.

Oh, those ex-Catholic school girls....

Actually, Ms. Tunney has much in common with Natasha Gregson-Wagner, at least from my POV. I've only seen her in one or two movies (if Rotten Tomatoes is anything to go by, only one or two of them are worth seeing).

(I did see her on Celebrity Poker Showdown, where as I remember it, she said almost nothing and came off rather cold...but won the game.)

But also like Ms. Gregson-Wagner, I think she's gorgeous...and has perfect breasts.

Click to see image in original size

Beautiful, but have I got the legs for it? Or: I sure hope this doesn't mean I have to make out with David Schwimmer.

You Are Jennifer Aniston

Girl next door with a free spirit.
You're low key and naturally sexy.
Sweet and approachable, people are attracted to your upbeat attitude.
And even when life doesn't go your way, you always eventually turn things around.

Monday, August 27, 2007

And the people watched in wonder, how they'd laugh and how they'd cheer

From the book Sinatra! The Song Is You:

At first, "Ballpark" seems to be an old-time sports fan's recollections of an extinct baseball field. [Songwriter Joe] Raposo astutely makes the first word "And" so as to commence with the concept that we've caught some old codger rambling on in midsentence.

Within a few lines it becomes clear that Sinatra is talking about something much broader than baseball or sports.

"There Used To Be A Ballpark" has an air of mystery and mystique that speaks to millions who never so much as threw a pop bottle at an umpire.

Will Friedwald

I don't care about the parks, but I'm moved by this song.

I remember how much I hated it when Candlestick Park, San Francisco, became "3Com Park."

Again, not because I'm a fan (I'm not). I just mourn the loss of romance in our language.

See to me, if you say to someone,

"Where you going?"
"To the game!"
"Where they playing?"
"...Candlestick Park."

...yeah. There's a romance to that name, a sings.

Now compare this:

"Where you going?"
"To the game!"
"Where they playing?"
"3Com Park."

(Since then the stadium's been named, god help us, "Monster Park.")

A question...don't you think Ted Nugent would be happier if he could really satisfy a woman?

And if any of Nugent's supporters should happen to stumble across this, I said women, not "girls" (who, BTW, rule my world...I said they rule my world).

These latest foaming mad dog Nugent statements were made at a recent concert.

Brandishing two machine guns, with his stars and stripes guitar still slung over his shoulder, Nugent called Obama a "punk" and a "piece of shit" and said that he told the nominee to "suck on one of these" when in Chicago.

He went on to say that when he was in New York he told Clinton to "ride one of these into the sunset", calling her a "worthless bitch" and a "worthless whore."

One does not normally refer to U.S. Senators as "punks" and pieces of shit." Especially when, by any definition, somebody we support "100 percent" fits the bill a lot better.

But what I really like is the way he adds the word "worthless" to his namecalling involving our former First Lady.

It wouldn't be enough, obviously, for him just to call her a whore, because gosh darn it, how would people know he considers her worse than whoever is his whore du Jour that day? And I think it's safe to say "bitch" is his definitive term for persons of the opposite sex (call it a hunch).

She's a worthless bitch. She's a worthless whore.

(He also called her a "toxic cunt," about 15 years ago...which reveals no fear of women whatsoever.)

(But, again, dig that need for a qualifier. She's not just a cunt...such as he might see in any issue of Hustler. She's actually poison!)

(Why do I get the feeling he actually believes there's such a thing as a toxic cunt...and this may explain why my headline statement is so true?)

Ok, the Owen Wilson thing (sorta)

As you may or may not have heard, actor Owen Wilson was hospitalized today following what may have been, reportedly, a suicide attempt.

"I respectfully ask that the media allow me to receive care and heal in private during this difficult time," Wilson said in a statement released by his representative to celebrity website

Later Monday, sources close to the actor cited by syndicated entertainment television show "Extra" said Wilson had attempted to take his own life.

I don't care much about Wilson either way-I seem to have missed most of his films, but not because I don't like him, particularly. I hope he gets any and all of the care he needs, and that's all I'll say about his case.

What I wanted to say, in a bigger sense, is's a movie star. Someone who would seem; certainly compared to just about anybody reading this blog, to have no real problems.

When stuff like this scares me.

Don't jump!

Women my own age, Part 12

Come on, everybody now!
Only you can set me free, 'Cause I'm guilty - guilty - guilty as a girl can be...

Amber Smith, born March 2, 1972. Looked at broadly (which isn't a bad idea), actress and fashion model Amber Smith has a handful of award-winning films and television shows to her credit.

She's appeared in American Beauty, L.A. Confidential, The Rat Pack, and an episode of Friends. However, her parts in all were either small, dependent on her displaying her body (naked or otherwise), or both.

One can understand why. She is picturesque, to say the least. But then, so are a lot of actress/models who don't have her credits, so either she's doing something right or she's the luckiest actress/model in the US...

Judith Godrèche, born March 23, 1972. When I said Charlotte Gainsbourg was the French girl in this series, I didn't realize Ms. Godrèche was also going to be in it.

I first saw her in the film Ridicule, about which I remember little now, save that I was delighted in her performance. Since then I have also seen her in the film La Désenchantée~

~ about which I remember more. It's a very quiet film, which depends a lot for its effect upon what we read into Ms. Godrèche's face. The character isn't going to tell us what she's feeling or thinking easily.

This seems to fit with what is, according to her IMDb bio, Ms. Godrèche's favorite poem. I like it, too. Here is an excerpt, but you should follow the link and read the whole thing.

What I was taught,
I go down from the window at the back of the house.
I went to the countryside with grand plans,
But all I found in it was grass and trees,
And when there were people, they were just like other people
I step back from the window and sit in a chair. What should I think about now?

Now may I tell you what I get a kick out of? I get a kick out of the fact that I have just discovered a poem that was new to me; in which I find much philosophy. And I never would have read it, had Godrèche not been so beautiful.

There's something about all women in that, to coin a phrase.

Or all men.

I get no kick from champagne; Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all...So tell me, why should it be true...

(And BTW, who else do you know who gives Bananarama and Sinatra nearly equal space in his heart?)

NiCole Robinson, born April 12, 1971. Ms. Robinson-and she put that capital "C" there-was Margaret on The West Wing for all seven years, first as secretary to the great John Spencer's character, Leo.

After that well-remembered actor's sad passage, I'm not sure whose secretary she became (I'd stopped watching), but I know she was with the show until the end.

"Serious" WW fans like me all have our favorite "Margaret moments." Fortunately for you, a YouTuber called diloeee has put together a compilation of about five minutes of some of the funniest.

On one of the WW DVD commentaries, director Tommy Schlamme describes Robinson's acting style as "One foot through the wall." See what he means?

For the record, my two favorites in that comp are one that I'll just call "Who's Elizabeth?" so as not to blow a punch line, and when Leo finds out Margaret's been practicing the President's signature.

An episode called Lord John Marbury has my favorite non-comedic (and not included in the above comp) "Margaret moment." It comes when Josh tells Leo that his (Leo's) drug problem is about to be made public, and asks if his family knows.

Yes, Leo says, they know...and almost before he says it, Margaret is nodding her own reply to Josh's question. I always loved that, because even though nothing is ever mentioned about it again, what it said to me is: Margaret not only knows, she knows and is keeping track of everyone else who knows...