Saturday, February 09, 2008

This explains everything

Frances Bean Cobain, 15, the daughter of Courtney Love and late grunge legend Kurt Cobain, is headlining as the star of Evita, Grease and Beauty and the Beast – all for a fashion spread in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar.

Still, the backdrops are appropriate, says her mother. "Frances grew up on musicals. I think musicals comfort her," Love, 43, tells the magazine. "She's a gay man trapped in a woman's body, like me."

Emphasis mine.

So that's why I love Courteny so much and so desperately...

(Well, that and those loose lips of hers...)

A friend once told me admiringly that I was never more delightful than when I was being bitchy. Let's test that theory.

One: Nicole Kidman has pretty nice legs for an old broad.

Two: Good god! Okay, this is no longer funny. Would somebody please get this girl a doughnut?

And Three: Rainbow Brite must have thrown up on Paris Hilton. See?

This is choice.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nik Kershaw in 1985...

great, even with the hair. As it happens, I was listening to this song last night as I drove past the studio where my nephew took his Tae Kwon Do class.

Something about this chorus kicking in just as I glanced in at boys trying to make like they were big was fantastic.

It's green, yes.

find your inner PIE @

I know when to go out, I know when to stay in. Get things done...(I catch the paper, boy!)

Or "A raucous caucus, as it were."

I've just come from the WA Democratic caucus for my district.

According to MapQuest it was only a one-minute drive from my apartment, so I chose to walk.

What I didn't know till I was halfway there is that it was at the bottom of a hill. So I said, "Walking back should be fun..."

There were a lot of people there.

Our local news is describing it as a "huge turnout." There seemed to be a pretty wide age spread, with (maybe) more women than men. The faces were heavily white, but so is my district.

It was my first time at a caucus, and I wasn't the only one.

In previous elections, by this time of year the nominee has usually been a fait accompli, but this time it really seems to matter.

I overheard many people speaking of being excited about this election...and the Democrats, by my watch, haven't had that since 1992.

I supported Obama, who was very popular in my district. At first he got three delegates to Hillary Clinton's one (IIRC), then four when an undecided made up their mind.

Why am I for Obama? No one can say for sure all of what the next president will face, but I believe he has the better chance. He is, simply, inspiring. And we're gonna need that.

The cliché is that he's "bringing people together," and maybe he is, and we're gonna need that too.

We're also gonna need a salesperson. I do probably agree with more of his platform than Hillary Clinton's, but it's a difference of, like, less than two percent.

Should Clinton be the nominee, as I said over on The Red Queen's blog the other day, I will vote for her with a song in my heart and a smile on my face. But it's not just about whose policies you agree with-though don't get me wrong, it is about that and should be. It's also about who you think can get things done.

Also, make of this what you will, but in the past week I have received at least five phone calls, probably more, urging me to support Clinton. They were all prerecorded message tapes.

I received exactly one call for Obama, and it was an actual human being. They didn't give me a spiel but merely asked if knew where my caucus was and how to find it. I said yes to the first and no to the second, but that I was already intending to go and would find out.

He thanked me and said goodbye. That was this morning.

Granted, he woke me up, but I've been trying to get up earlier anyway.

(Meanwhile, Ron Paul supporters left a packet of junk mail on all of our doorsteps here, and as I was walking back from the caucus, I saw a plane dragging a Paul banner. You can't fault them for commitment...or that they should be.)

Perhaps I shouldn't admit this. I worry it'll sound sexist. But, sometimes I get the idea people supporting Hillary Clinton are doing so because of what (they think) she represents. Whereas those of us supporting Obama are doing so because of the person we think he is.

Let me try to make it clear--I'm not asserting that this is an absolute truth: Just that, sometimes, I do get the idea.

Will he be a great president? Damned if I know. But again, I think he has the better chance.

Anecdotal evidence: A well-spoken, pretty Obama supporter and one of our delegates (who looked very little like Anne Hathaway, but what the hey, this is still my blog).

Originally from North Dakota, she said she had convinced her father to switch his vote to Obama from John McCain (!).

BTW, the walk back up the hill was much easier than I was afraid it was going to be, the rise seemed very gentle.

I imagine there are two possible reasons for this. One is that I still have muscle memory from walking up the hills in San Francisco, so this wasn't anything I couldn’t handle.

The other is that the exercising, walking and such I've been doing, may be, actually, in a way, kind of...getting me into shape.

Just what shape is another matter...

ETA: Obama is the projected winner, both here and in Nebraska.

ETA, again: In fact, he "swept" both states and the Louisiana primary.

Caption this photo

"I've had guys get wood for me before...but this is ridiculous!"

Friday, February 08, 2008

Subtlety, thy name is Taymor

Across the Universe doesn't work, but it's worth seeing at least once, and the soundtrack would almost surely reward more plays than that.

It fails as a film musical because it has too much of the worst of both worlds; not enough of the best: It's "stagy" to such a degree it would probably work better on a stage, but does not make enough use of the added intimacy a film camera can bring.

There's also--and I don't often make this accusation--an annoying strain of "political correctness" running throughout. It's annoying first of all because it's tokenistic.

Director Julie Taymor (who is also co-credited for the story with screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais) takes the trouble to introduce black, Asian, and lesbian characters. (The last two in one, presumably for economy's sake.) She then leaves them clichéd and underdeveloped.

The love story at the heart of the film, with which we're presumably supposed to identify, is spoilt by the fact that the girl involved (Evan Rachel Wood) is irredeemably stupid. So much so I ended up thinking less of the man (Jim Sturgess) because of the torch he carried for her.

This is mirrored in the film's interracial romantic couple (Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther McCoy) which cheaply invokes the styles and images of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

In both pairings, the men sing some of the most beautiful songs ever written for women who, for all the behavior we're shown, don't deserve them.

How does the lesbian couple work out? We don't know. Apparently, it's not important. The lesbian character (T.V. Carpio, below) exists solely to be a lesbian, not to seem to know that at first, and then to realize it.

She realizes it because, having locked herself in--yes!--a closet, she is urged out by her friends singing "Dear Prudence (which is the character's name)...won't you come out to play?"

Then the young woman finds a girlfriend-who we are told in the one line of dialogue which refers to her is "a contortionist" (kinky!)-and disappears until the final scene.

This is what I mean by tokenistic.

I'm touchy about things like that, as some of you know. But I'm bugged by this not only because of investing so much of my soul in writing my story about a lesbian relationship where the women are not defined only by their sexuality.

But also because, for my money, Carpio gives the best female performance in the film, and I really resented not seeing and hearing more of her-especially in favor of the all-too typical other pairings.

Perhaps more offensively, on the DVD commentary track the director asserts that in the film's Vietnam sequences she did not show the effects of the war on the Vietnamese because she didn't want to exploit their suffering for effect in a commercial film.

This might be a laudable sentiment...if the attempted emotional impact of the entire movie were not built around exploiting the suffering of the working class, women, American soldiers and blacks, etc.

Now...all that said. It'll come as no surprise that the best things in the film are the songs, but the performances and arrangements (which are admirably not slavish re-creations) are also worthy of note.

Sturgess acquits himself best with the Lennon & McCartney compositions, especially the introductory "Girl" and "All My Loving," which he sings to the girl he then promptly throws over for Wood.

McCoy is also outstanding singing and playing Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." as well as performing a verse of "Come Together." The latter is otherwise sung as well as you would expect by cameo star Joe Cocker.

The other cameo stars fall resoundingly flat. Bono shows (again) that he should be kept away from any song he actually has to sing. His version of "I Am The Walrus" not only pales in comparision to the original, but to both Oingo Boingo and Jim Carrey(!)'s covers.

Eddie Izzard makes George Burns in the Peter Frampton Pepper sound like the "Sugarthroat" Gracie always said he was.

By contrast, "Let It Be" sung by newcomers Timothy T. Mitchum and Carol Woods, may be the most moving performance of the song I have ever heard, and yes, I'm including the original.

In keeping with this films apparent policy of emphasizing all the wrong things, they are never heard from again.

Getting back to the main cast, as I said, Carpio was my favorite among the girl performers. She only gets one solo, on "I Want To Hold Your Hand," but it's enough to make the hair stand.

As the brother of Wood's character, Joe Anderson gets to sing "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" as a wounded vet in the hospital hallucinating Salma Hayek (both above), and he's great.

As for Wood herself (below), except for a stark "Blackbird," her singing abilities seem, to be kind, overrated and are apparently aided by a voice synthesizer.

All the leads join together for "Because," which is the only performance including Dana Fuchs I found to my taste.

These songs are pretty hard to ruin.

However, one way to do so might be to visualize them with pedantic literalism unbelievably mixed with muddy psychedelic thinking.

For example, I imagine director Taymor saying to her partners in crime:

"Man, what if, like, during "Strawberry Fields Forever," right, we have this character that’s like, an artist, and he's painting...strawberries!" "GENIUS!"

"Or what if, like, in "She's So Heavy," we show a bunch of soldiers...toting the statue of liberty!" "Ooh, what a relevant statement!"

The whole thing is probably best viewed as a series of music videos loosely strung together than anything approaching a real, cohesive story. And would have worked better cut down by at least two-thirds.

Funny, if you'd asked me when I took them home which I thought I would enjoy more, this or At World's End, I would've bet you (if I had any money) it would be this. But there's a simple rule of thumb:

A film that knows it's shallow and has fun with it is almost always going to be better than a movie that thinks it's deep, is very pleased with itself for being so...and is wrong.

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Pirate's Life for Me...

Watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End on DVD and was pleasantly surprised, in some ways I thought it the best of the three. But I have to qualify that by saying I still feel better scripts and editing (I'd have cut, for example, the multiple Jacks) would've helped this series immeasurably. Not that it seems to have done badly without them...

The plot is still gobbledygook, but by this point, it seems clear that the actors were having the time of their lives. And being able to tie up most if not all of the loose ends gives the movie a sense of payoff.

...though Jack remains, as he probably should always, delightfully loose in the end.

I was especially pleased to see that the filmmakers allowed the characters' actions to have real consequences and opted for a non-traditional and unexpected end to the love story.

This had a tinge of tragedy, but was right, given all that had gone before.

Too many betrayals had occurred on both sides for me to have been satisfied with an "And they both lived happily ever after."

I'm not saying I plan to sit down with the whole trilogy any time soon (I haven't even done that with Lord of the Rings), but I do feel better about it.

In fact, I feel like making a bold, dashing statement-as the third film in a series it's better, in it's way, than Return of the Jedi...though Empire still buries Dead Man's Chest (get it?).

Nessun commento

Anna Paquin goes Rogue in my favorite color


Oh, well, son of a bitch...

Not to make too much of this, but I was involved with the Palo Alto Children's Theatre when I was a child...

Palo Alto police officers have searched the residences of the four Children's Theatre employees presently on administrative leave, reportedly confiscating computers, according to several sources.

"We conducted search warrants and I cannot comment on what we confiscated at this time," Police Chief Lynne Johnson replied in an e-mail to a query from the Weekly Tuesday afternoon.

But Phil Plymale, president of the City of Palo Alto chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said Tuesday the homes of Assistant Director Michael Litfin, Costume Supervisor Alison Williams and Box Office Assistant Richard Curtis -- all union members -- had been searched and computers were taken last week.

The home of theatre Director Patricia Briggs also was searched.

Litfin--who has just died-and Briggs's names are familiar to me. ISTR thinking he didn't like me. I have the self-deprecating urge to add, "probably I brought it on myself," but I was hardly older than my nephew is now, so how could I have?

And IIRC, Briggs directed the first play I was ever in*. I don't remember if she liked me or not, but enough to cast me...

Anyway, I don't know what happened here, but it seemed worthy of brief notice.

*It was The Go Go The Blue Gorilla Show, to which this is not the cast album, but a record featuring a few of the same songs.

I sang "No Time."

Never mind rock and roll, Julianne Moore stops the traffic

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What's so dirty about that?

From I Love Television in the Seattle Stranger:

THE BONE EATER (SCI FI, Sat Feb 9, 9 pm). In this TV movie, a corrupt land developer unwittingly unearths an Indian burial ground (oopsy!), releasing an ancient bone creature who apparently really loves eating bones! QUESTION: Does this sound as dirty to you as it does to me?

ANSWER: Why, no. No it doesn't. Bone Eater? What's so dirty about that? Let's just see who's starring in this thing...

"Adoni Maropis." Never heard of him....ah! I take that back. I see here he was the lead terrorist on the last season of 24. Pity he couldn't have been on it when it was good. But, speaking of pity...

"Bruce Boxleitner." Oh, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce...Babylon 5. Tron. Even Bring 'em Back Alive, right? And now...a Sci-fi channel original movie. Oh, I don't feel good about this. I'll have to avoid...

"Also starring: Jennifer Lee Wiggins."

Great day in the morning.

Well, that's my next Saturday TV watching sorted, then...

(It's not that I don't have the courage of my convictions, it's just that...Jennifer Lee Wiggins, man!)

Vanity's Fair

Vanity Fair has canceled its annual Academy Awards party, the magazine announced Tuesday.

"After much consideration, and in support of the writers and everyone else affected by this strike, we have decided that this is not the appropriate year to hold our annual Oscar party," said a statement posted on

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter decided to cancel the party after talking with West Coast friends and colleagues, said magazine spokeswoman Beth Kseniak.

"Inasmuch as Vanity Fair is a collection of writers, photographers and artists, we do feel ourselves in aligned solidarity with the writers, directors and actors in the film business," Carter said in a statement.

First you feature a handful of actresses who make my heart flutter on your cover, and now this? Vanity Fair, you're trying to seduce me...

I could make some sort of joke about "tin band, tin president" here

...but I love the Monkees too much for that.

NPR has a good interview with Fred Kaplan, author of the new book Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power.

Naming a "scathing critique of the Bush administration's foreign policy initiatives" after a Monkees song RULES.

I'd already ordered the book from my library on the basis of our pal Mark Evanier's endorsements of Kaplan, but now I'm particularly looking forward to it.

There are excerpts available at both those links, as well.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I don't mind Brooke Shields in theory...

Haven't done one of these in a while, but...

...there's something in this about all women.

Be still my heart.

Emily Blunt, Amy Adams, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, Alice Braga and more, all breathing the same air at the same time.

(By all means, click to see full size)

"Fresh Faces," from the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue, via that other blog.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Is it me, or is this at once the most self-satisfied, depressing and dull story you've ever read in your life?

Very sad. But, I love it when millionaires start suing each other...

It happened AGAIN again!

The divine "tough-power chick" Milla Jovovich.

Anne Hathaway.

(Miss or Mister "Nine" jokes about my future bride would be very tiresome here)

Milla Jovovich, Anne Hathaway and, sitting in-between them, Ashley Olsen (hair looking rather cheap) and an unidentified but adorable-looking blonde.

ETA: Fan RAB has identified the adorable blonde as Chloe Sevigny in the comments. As you can see in my reply, I might have hazarded a guess that it was her, but didn't. I should have trusted my instincts.

Especially since I'd like to make her my second wife, after Ms. Hathaway...who I do not intend to divorce. It's a Big Love kind of thing.

Sigh...I miss this girl

It's happening again.

The women that I love are being drawn together. In red, Minka Kelly, of Friday Night Lights, in grey, singer/actress Mandy Moore.

Sure, Mandy is smiling, but just look at that body language. She's telling Minka, "Varkentine is mine, girlfriend, and you don't want to know what I do to competition!"

...okay, time to check the dosage on the ole' medication...

Dammit...I OUGHT to be able to come up with a clever and comical caption for this image...

This is the news.

Actual Earthlink News headline:

Children Caught in Middle During Wars

And in other news, ads sell for high prices during the Super Bowl. Babies are cute. Jack might seem foolish for trading his cow for magic beans, but wait. Comic books do not rot your mind. Life is not a cabaret. Las Vegas sells itself as a place to commit adultry.

And, finally, another actual EN headline...
Gunman Sought in Deadly Store Shooting


Well who the hell else would you seek in a shooting (deadly or otherwise), a botanist?

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

People say to me, "Ben, you say the state of Tennessee is brain-dead."

And I say "Why, yes...yes I do."

Then they ask "Well, Ben...exactly how brain-dead are they?"

And I reply, "They're so brain-dead, they're going to award delegates to Fred 'Short run, wasn't it?' Thompson even though he's withdrawn from the race. That's how brain-dead."

At this time, I'd like to formally thank the people of Tennessee for so often being the slab of meat to my Rocky Balboa. Don't think I don't appreciate it, people.

Random Flickr-Blogging: 5968

"Steve, when you said your favorite place to eat was some hole-in-the-wall dive, this is not what I had in mind!"


No one told Skip.


Dennis Rodman as a fire hydrant.


FOX Sports: When Cougars Attack!


Disney's latest attempt to take a film property to the Great White Way of Broadway: Tron: The Musical!


"Rookie bridesmaid mistake, Edwina. See, this is why you always bring a coat."


He'd stood there and stood there and stood there, but John had begun to believe Heather Graham was never going to pass by on her way to the shower again.


Bryant could convince no one he was constantly being followed by an invisible dolphin only he could see.


Just try not to think about why the bear is smiling, why Herb is sitting in his lap (and how he lost his hair), or what Julie is doing to his ear.