Saturday, February 23, 2008

Obama...the black man, right?

Two consecutive headlines on Yahoo!:

• Clinton criticizes Obama over mailings
• Obama raps McCain on lobbyists

Emphasis mine.

ETA: They changed the headline:

• Clinton criticizes Obama over mailings
• Obama: McCain puts lobbyists 'in charge'

I claim full intent and credit.

Art and song

We were touched by a cold wind, my father and I
The sound of desperate breathing her fear inside us all

Photo title unknown
Photographer: Rebecca Rome

Song: Hole in the River, Neil Finn/Eddie Rayner

Well...apart from the vow of silence...

Your Score: The Monk

You scored 39% Cardinal, 51% Monk, 29% Lady, and 32% Knight!

You live a peaceful, quiet life. Very little danger comes your way and you live a long time. You are wise and modest, but also stagnant. You have little comfort, little food and have taken a vow of silence. But who needs chatter when just sitting in the cloister of your abbey with The Good Book makes you perfectly content.

Link: The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test

This is a good morning to read that my "Life" has been renewed

With the writers back, NBC has gone forward with renewing Chuck, Life and Heroes for the 2008-2009 season.

Friday, February 22, 2008

First, learn to spell. Second...

This is the sight of my soul

Two words...

In a peak scene in John Turturro’s "homemade musical," Romance and Cigarettes, Susan Sarandon comes to the lingerie shop in which Kate Winslet, who is Sarandon's husband's lover, works. to confront her.

Just watching these two women, two of the best and best-looking actresses alive, square off across a counter is enough to make the heart leap.

Just when you think it can't get any better, it does. How? Two words:

Cat fight!

(Somebody filmed my dream!)

Besides writing a script which is nearly equal parts fun and grim, as director, many of Turturro's shots are well-chosen, and he gives his actors space in which to do solid work.

Turturro is a talented actor himself: Do The Right Thing, Quiz Show, a recurring part on Monk as Adrian's brother, To Live and Die in L.A., the amazingly underrated Luzhin Defense, Cradle Will Rock, Summer of Sam; Jungle Fever.

That probably goes without saying, but I say it anyway because I think it had a lot to do with why his cast trusted him so much, which they clearly did.

For James Gandolfini to agree to play the lead character in a musical (yes! He sings! He dances!)...well, I infer a great deal of trust from that.

Gandolfini, along with Sarandon, is an actor singing, not a singer trying to act. He acts beautifully and sings movingly in-character, overcoming any feared ridicule for his rusty croak of a voice by virtue of the emotion with which he sings.

Songs ranging from Engelbert Humperdinck to Bruce Springsteen to Irving Berlin, I might add.

--It probably doesn't hurt that I'm one of the few (apparently) who never quite got on board with The Sopranos. If you were, I can see how that might be a stumbling block.

Sarandon, as Gandolfini's wounded wife, to my knowledge hasn't sung in a film since her Rocky Horror days. Her voice may have lost some of its purity but it's hard to tell because just as likely, she was making choices for how this character would sing. In a word, bluesy.

And then there's Winslet. What can I say about her that won't make this read like it was written on ecstasy? She's beautiful, desirable, admirable and bound to win an Oscar before she dies. Here she's all sex and all soul and all heart in one.

I already knew from Heavenly Creatures that Winslet has a lovely singing voice, but she should use it more often, her performances here scorch, love and heartbreak.

She reminds me in a way, here, of Julie Andrews, only the woman we've long heard Andrews really is behind the limited Sound of Mary Poppins public image.

The one who famously replied to a new writer on her TV show's intention to "dirty up" that image by dryly asking, "Would it help if I screwed the band?"

Winslet's character too has a mouth like a sailor's girlfriend (which now that I think of it, she is-Gandolfini's character is an ex-Navy man).

But Turturro has the wit and skill as a writer, and Winslet the gifts as an actress, that we can see the soft edges of a girl who tells the lover who is trying to leave her,

"You couldn't say that if I was licking your balls."

Eddie Izzard does a turn as a sympathetic priest, coming off much better than he did in Across The Universe, maybe because Turturro makes of him better use, giving him the talking parts of "Ten Commandments of Love" ("Thou shalt never love another...").

As written, only Gandolfini and Sarandon are given much in the way of an "arc," the supporting players like Mandy Moore, as one of the couple's daughters, have to take their moments.

Moore rocks; now I'm even more flattered that she's got that little crush on me. Oddly, the one member of the cast who is a professional singer, she doesn't have as many good musical moments.

This is due mostly to the fact that her character is in a bad band with her sisters. But, we do get to see her deliver a verse and chorus of "I Want Candy," which ain't too bad, izit?

Moore makes up for rarely being given a musical spotlight with the way she draws you in during her dramatic scenes. I couldn't keep my eyes off her, and in a film also starring Sarandon, Winslet, and Mary-Louise Parker, that is a compliment.

But I got a better one. I also started thinking which of my characters I'd like to see her play, and if there's a higher compliment I can give an actress, I don't know it.

Mary-Louise Parker appears to have lost the most in the editing...
though she looks like a (fallen) angel and inhabits her character, another daughter, believably and well.

But at least two of her best scenes can only be viewed in the "deleted..." section.

In one of these, BTW, she is seen kissing another woman, which ought to get some segments of her fanbase breathing heavily.

I would have kept her character built up and cut Christopher Walken back down. I'm just not as charmed by Walken as it seems many are.

Turturro's cousin, Aida, has a great moment or two in the main film as the third daughter.

Also, in the deleted scenes, there's a joke he played on her. While shooting a scene in which she, eyes closed and in bed, starts to both verbalize and lose herself in a romantic fantasy, he had a crew member strip down to his underpants, get in bed and lie on top of her.

But, seriously, folks...

I really enjoyed and liked this film. It's fair to say that it's uneven, but what I would have cut and sewed back on in order to "even it out" is not what anybody else would have (see above comments).

And it's still a better film musical than, say, Chicago.

As a whole, the film (and the experience of watching it) both warmed my heart and broke it.

Warmed, because Turturro reveals in the commentary and interviews that he began writing this picture and thinking about it while he was acting in Barton Fink.

Don't bother to go Yahoo! I'll tell you that film was released in 1991.

That's a long time to keep a dream.

But broke my heart, because one of the things the film is about is some people having to come to terms with the realization that they're probably not going to "make it."

You may have to make an effort to find this one, but it's well worth it.

(Almost) whatever they have to do to keep the Lights on is worth it...

Zap2It on the rare if not unique attempt being made to ensure a third season of Friday Night Lights...

A Pippin of the '80s (and beyond)

There's a famous quote from Horace Walpole:
The world is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel.
It's funny, but when I think about the documentary The King Of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, I think of that quote.

I remember my pal Corey Klemow recommending it and saying it was very funny, which it is--there are one or two parts where I wanted to say: Do these people know they're in an SCTV sketch?

And few things can make one feel more smugly superior than watching people caring deeply about something you care about hardly at all.

But what's most compelling about the story--a clash of the titanically pathetic kind to see who can get the highest score on Donkey Kong and get into Guinness--is its poignancy.

Yes, really. See, one of the players comes off as a self-important twat. I don't use that word as a slur very often, but there are times when only a twat will do, and I wanted to dispense with this one quickly.

Because what I'm really concerned with here is the other fellow, Steve Wiebe by name, who actually lives right around here in Seattle. He's shown as a perennial also-ran, always in second place; never in first.

But he also has this loving family.

That's them at left, Steve atop the machine.

His knockout wife is to his right, and I don't mean knockout just in the sense of being sexually attractive--though as you can see she's very pretty.

You can tell she's long-suffering--to its credit the film doesn't play around about that. But in interviews with her talking about her husband, you see just how much she is in his corner.

It's like a dream of what you would want a life partner to be.

His toddler son (sitting in front) is cute, too, and his elementary-age daughter, Jillian (to Steve's left), is precocious and smart.

She might indeed have the best line of the movie.

Jillian: I never knew that the Guinness World Record Book was so... I never knew it was so important.
Steve: I guess a lot of people are... yeah, a lot of people read that book.
Jillian: [looking at her father] Some people sort of ruin their lives to be in there.

And so watching this I think dude, you have a great life already.

I feel like I have spit in comparison.

Yet still he wasn't satisfied.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bill O'Reilly acts like a jackwad.

Film at 11.

I want this somplace where I can remember it

Wolves are one of my three favorite animals

Along with dolphins and cats, not necessarily in that order. One of the aspirations of my life is to travel to Yellowstone so I can see some wolves "in-person."

So, you might think I'd be pleased to read that:
Thriving Canadian wolves in Rocky Mountain states no longer endangered species

A pioneering pack of Canadian wolves sent to the United States to re-establish populations in the northern Rocky Mountains has done so well the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ruled they're no longer an endangered species.

And indeed, I was pleased to read that headline and opening paragraph. But as ever, you have to read the fine print:

In fact, there are so many wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming that the states are likely to set up hunting seasons for them again.

And also to contrast what the Bush administration says--"Wolves are no longer endangered! Hurray! So...we can shoot them now! It's the ciiiiiircle of life."--with what the Center for Biological Diversity says:
Although there are more than 1,500 wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, only a fraction of those animals reproduce, since within each wolf pack only the alpha male and alpha female breed. Thus the genetically effective population is much lower than the total number of wolves. Furthermore, Wyoming and Idaho intend to kill approximately half their wolf populations, to reduce them to 15 breeding pairs in each state.

Wolves in Yellowstone are completely isolated; since reintroduction in 1995 there have been no wolves documented to have traveled from elsewhere into the Yellowstone ecosystem and successfully bred. Recent peer-reviewed research predicts genetic “inbreeding depression” and resulting lower litter sizes in wolf packs in Yellowstone within a few decades.


Ok--you guys are familiar with my "Female movie star: What happened?" posts. That's where I show a photo, or more than one, of said star when I think they were nice-looking, and contrast it with a shot of what's become of them now.

I like to think, sub-textually, this is a comment on how distressing I really do find Hollywood's apparent obsession with unhealthy weights. And speaking of's example goes well beyond "what happened?" (and is also a double-header)...

Christina Ricci.

Reese Witherspoon. And...

What did you do? What did you do?

Ok, the McCain "affair" story thing

I find myself divided. On the one hand, as Jon Stewart expressed last night on Larry King Live, I'm so weary of smear politics. And after liking McCain, then thinking he'd turned into a joke, but respecting his genuine heroism...I'd lately come back to (mostly) liking him again.

There's still no chance I would ever vote for him--the Democrats would have to nominate someone who, with no exaggeration, I thought was the Antichrist for that.

(And what are the odds on Scott Baio getting the nomination?)

At least, however, the thought of John McCain in the oval office doesn't currently scare me to death the way, say, Mike Huckabee would (the man doesn't believe in evolution, thinks the bible is immutable truth and the constitution is "a fixer-upper."). If McCain names Rudy Giuliani his running mate, I could really relax.

But like a lot of people I think, I was really hoping that this election might turn on issues that are actually important to people. And here's something I believe to the bottom of my toes: Outside of "Beltway insiders" and (some-alas, too many) reporters, most Americans don't care who their elected representatives sleep with.

Or do, but are able to separate it from their job performance. There may be some things wrong with Americans, but I really don't think of us--most of us--as that hypocritical. But then, hypocrisy is, as ever, the crux of it.

Because even as all of the above is true, it's also true that I agree with Mark Evanier's correspondent, Jeremy Morris. I don't care about the "affair," if indeed one was conducted...except inasmuch that it may show McCain's talk to be a little more crooked than he contends.

Say what you will about President Clinton--and I could say a lot, both bad and good. But after the '92 campaign, it's not like we elected him without knowing there was at least an average change he liked to dally with the ladies.

And I think anyone who got on a moral high horse during that incredibly stupid impeachment has lost any right to cry foul when the events of their private life, alleged or otherwise, become public sport.

But I also agree with Mark:
If [McCain's] doing improper things to help out lobbyists, that's the sin, whether he's in bed with one financially or literally.

Emphasis mine.

So like I say, I'm all over the place.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I know what you're saying.

You're saying, if only there was some "one-line" way of summing up both this blog's sense of aesthetics, and political perspective.

Well, guess what.

(shirt via C. Press)

Asian culture is ahead of us in many ways.

But on the other hand, they know not to let go of something "retro" if it still that vinyl.

Heather Graham takes my favorite color back to school

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Unfortunate typographical errors

From Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father, 2004 Three Rivers paperback edition, page 197:
Black self-respect had delivered the mayor's seat, he could argue, lust as black self-respect turned around the lives of drug addicts under the tutelage of the Muslims.

Ahem. "Just."

Monday, February 18, 2008

If I didn't know better, I'd swear this picture was trying to play upon my prurient interest

Well if that ain't a metaphor for what can happen to a young woman in Hollywood...

Leelee Sobieski. From Joan of Arcing... Public Parking:

Paget Brewster teasing my favorite color to within an inch of its life

(OK, so it's a reach to call that green...I just hadn't run a very sexy picture of Paget Brewster in a while...)

More Demi

Being a companion to PJ's Sunday Sauce yesterday...I noticed that she chose to focus on the after-implants Demi Moore, so, in the interests of equal time...

Another by Francesca Woodman


Elizabeth Banks makes my favorite color proud

...and firm, and supple...

Symbolism? *What* symbolism?

Well this is interesting...

Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law will step in to replace Heath Ledger in “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” Access Hollywood has learned.

Following Ledger’s tragic death, the three Hollywood heavyweights have all agreed to play Ledger’s character, “Tony,” at various stages in the film, directed by Terry Gilliam.

A rep for Law also confirmed the casting news to the BBC.

In “Imaginarium,” Christopher Plummer plays the impresario Doctor Parnassus, and Ledger had taken the role of a mysterious outsider who joins the Doctor's troupe on a quest through parallel worlds to save the doctor’s daughter (Lily Cole) from the clutches of the devil (Tom Waits).

Throughout the film, Ledger’s character is transported into three separate dimensions. Although it was not confirmed, it is likely Depp, Farrell and Law would each step into the role in a different dimension.

Random Flickr-blogging 1226

Jesus of the panda bears.


It was best not mentioned around the house, but people in the village had begun suspecting Lazlo was having difficulties in satisfying his wife, when he showed off his new collection.


Separating the women from the girls

Marilyn Monroe.

Lindsay Lohan.