Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Seems a waste; I just got my hair done

I'm giving myself a night off with a borrowed copy of "Suddenly, Last Summer," a 1959 film based on a Tennessee Williams play. Katharine Hepburn plays the scary widow Violet Venable, who wants to give Elizabeth Taylor's character a lobotomy. Taylor makes sarcastic remarks about having to shave her head. It is great so far. (I'm turning it off halfway through to go to bed, as my day hours have turned me into an old lady.) Violet has a carnivorous plant that she addresses as "my wicked lady" and labels a Venus flytrap, although it appears to be a fake Nepenthes. She also appears to have a giant Amorphophallus in her garden; it stands not-so-subtly behind Montgomery Clift's doctor character as they converse.

I am grateful to Barry at the marvelous Carnivorous Plant FAQ for making me aware of this film.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rosabelle answer tell pray answer look tell

Just finished "The Prestige." Gosh it was good! Although the idea of Hugh Jackman starring in the film alarms me. I'm afraid once he gets his magician costume on, he's going to start prancing. Anyway, the novel progresses from a clunky modern opener to a long, dry flashback to a full-on goth creepshow, and it's only in the latter third that you realize how elaborate the story has been all along. It's enormously enjoyable to watch the pieces plunk into place. Nobody in the book knows as much as they think they do. So it's a mystery but the tone is very modern. And its setting in London of the 1890s-1900s is wonderfully atmospheric; the text could be easily converted into a graphic novel to accompany some Edward Gorey illustrations. Most highly recommended. And quick, read it before it gets to be summer, because this is definitely a book for the season of wind and thunderstorms.

Speaking of spring, the good lady who runs You Grow Girl has done a nice redesign. Check out her photos of black tulips.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bloody hell

Tonight's Easter theme is ... blood! To celebrate my present condition, I have just enjoyed an extremely rare steak while watching Roger Corman's "The Pit and the Pendulum," which Stephen King recalls with palpable pleasure in his memoir "On Writing." It was pretty darn good. While not a comedy like Corman's "The Raven," it's still pretty inventive, incorporating elements of "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Cask of Amontillado" into what passes for the main storyline. Darling Vincent is wonderful as always. There's a nice running visual gag where his character, who is substantially taller and broader than any of the others, keeps fainting onto them.

And now, a major storm. I will retire with my hot-water bottle and tea and hope to feel more.. rejuvenated in the morning.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Calm down, my heart ... don't beat so fast

Am back from the end of the continent, richer by:

-One sunburn
-One bottle rosemary massage oil, acquired at pharmacy that sold many interesting powders with skulls on them
-One dozen or so enormous newspapers
-One really good travel mix CD made by gentleman-caller, and
-One unspeakable T-shirt.

A satisfactory haul. Last night I went dancing at The Dock with Dr. Mike, and we quite enjoyed ourselves - the DJ is mixing it up a lot more than he used to do at the Warehouse. Last night he had something off the new Covenant album and a bunch of stuff we didn't know but liked dancing to. And, of course, the classics; when he played Wolfsheim's "Once in a Lifetime," two tiny girls next to us just screamed and screamed and jumped up and down and up and down. It was adorable. "Kids!" I shouted at Dr. Mike. He gave me a look that clearly said "Were we ever that young?" Then we danced our bottoms off. Also, they were handing out CDs and stuffed Easter bunnies, which made good dancing accessories.

Anyway, today's books: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and The Prestige by Christopher Priest. I didn't set out to read Anansi Boys, but when I took it off the library shelf to read over lunch, of course it just sucked me in. Along the same lines as American Gods, but since he's just focusing on Anansi, the plot is much tighter. It's a very sweet family story of two feuding brothers who discover how alike they are. Plus everyone ends up with the right girl. (And it leaves one with the tendency to apply Neil Gaiman-esque chapter headings to everything that happens, such as "In which Emma sleeps twelve hours and must relearn how to walk.")

Interestingly, The Prestige (which I started last night) is also apparently about long-lost brothers who are really the same person, or something. It came highly recommended but a blurb on the back compares it to Robertson Davies, and a very long and uninteresting early segment is giving me major "Murther & Walking Spirits" flashbacks. Still, it's being made into a movie directed by Christopher Nolan, starring darling Christian Bale and (ready?) David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. So I hold out hope. Rosabel, believe.

Also, Mr. Priest appears to have written the novelization of David Cronenberg's film "eXistenZ," which is weird.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

S is for Spain, our enemies across the sea

Well, my dearest nonreaders, I am off for a week's... not quite vacation, but a week nonetheless. It should be sunny, if nothing else, and it is possible I will be meeting briefly with this gentleman. So I am looking forward to next week. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Today's book: "So Yesterday," a young-adult novel by Scott Westerfield. Like the mildly successful "Feed," this is a story about teenage consumers suddenly stopping to question their buying habits. I think it's important that young people pay attention to advertising and branding, and consider why they're buying the things they are. However, this does not translate to an interesting tale of adventure and espionage. Westerfield has some good ideas but not a good story. And his device of referring to brands indirectly, like "he named a certain trilogy of movies about cyber-reality and frozen kung-fu whose title ends in an X, counts as a brand, and therefore will not grace these pages," is more distracting than anything. If this is post-consumerism, I think it's already been co-opted. (Whatever the hell that means.)