Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy new year, lambs

I wish all of you a joyous 2008. May your final hours of 2007 be merry.

Be well.

Raise our hats to the strange 'Phenomena'

I love titling posts with obscure Kate Bush quotes. Anyway, last night it got into Art Boy and me to watch the 1985 Jennifer Connelly movie "Phenomena," directed by Dario Argento. From the opening credits this film was a revelation. On the soundtrack: Iron Maiden. Costumes: Giorgio Armani. Costarring: Donald Pleasence. By the time the action started, I had turned to Art Boy and said "Why does everyone not know about this movie?"

One reason might be that it was originally titled "Creepers" in the U.S., and preceded Jennifer Connelly's big break in "Labyrinth" by about a year. It was shot in English but features a largely Italian cast, many of whom re-dubbed their own English dialogue, so all the conversations sound incredibly stilted. For example:

Lady: This is a strange area. It's called the Transylvania of Switzerland.
Jennifer: Why is that?
Lady: I don't know. It just is.

You're left thinking "..." But fortunately, Dario Argento is in charge and the dreamlike horror sequences soon take over. Jennifer plays an American movie star's daughter sent to a Swiss boarding school, where everyone has been unnerved by a young girl's recent murder in the woods nearby. Fortunately, Jennifer can communicate telepathically with bugs -- a fact that impresses local entomologist Donald Pleasence -- and is able to find clues no one else can, such as a glove crawling with maggots. Which is good, because the killer appears to be striking again...

At first I thought the story would end up being secondary to the fabulous dream sequences, in which Jennifer sleepwalks down long hallways in her billowy Armani dresses while Iron Maiden plays. But then toward the end it becomes a pretty good mystery. Jennifer is preternaturally calm whether insects are crawling on her arms or whether she's sticking her finger down her own throat to make herself vomit. I adored this movie. Art Boy would probably appreciate my adding, however, that you'll want to finish eating beforehand.

I'm pretty stoked to watch Suspiria for the Final Girl Film Club. A copy is laid in and at the ready. We may however take a break and get a little more festive tonight... maybe some Arrested Development reruns or something crazy like that.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

She's dead

That would be my PC Clarissa, who expired last night with a tremendous snap and smell of smoke. Some guy at Best Buy decided the power supply had exploded. My data should be salvageable, and hopefully in the next week I'll have a new computer that actually runs Blogger without complaining and I can update more regularly. Won't you all love that? So it is a blessing in disguise. Still, I mourn Clarissa, my first really-all-mine-and-not-just-borrowed computer. She was ramshackle but lovable.

RIP.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The annual smackdown

I came home the other night and Art Boy had put "It's a Wonderful Life" on. Yes, gentle readers, it was time once again for our recurring argument: Bedford Falls vs. Pottersville. It runs along these lines (and can be blamed in large part on Salon's marvelous article on this topic, which I read a couple of years ago and which completely horrified Art Boy):

Me: Pottersville rocks! Look at those great bars. Bedford Falls is full of nosy old biddies who are all up in your face all the time.

Art Boy: Pottersville is a city of the damned. Bedford Falls is great!

Me: I don't want to live in a city where I have to share a bartender with a doddering old guy who orders flaming rum punch. Look, wouldn't it be fun to go to one of those jitterbug places?

Art Boy: Bedford Falls is friendly. Pottersville is scary.

This year I got particularly worked up by the swimming-pool scene. "Bedford Falls," I ranted to Art Boy, "is the kind of city where the floor opens up underneath you and NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING. You just dance right toward the edge and everyone goes 'Oooh!' and nobody warns you." Art Boy ignored me and did his patented imitation of the school principal diving into the pool. I don't know, gentle readers. I might just not get this movie.

But I'm pretty sure Annie Korzen does. Merry Christmas, Annie! Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter! And Merry Christmas, gentle readers. Check out the gorgeous moon tonight, wherever you are, and don't miss Mars shining nearby. I hope you will all be safe, happy and well.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Separated at birth?




I don't know much about "Sweeney Todd." I'm sure it's lovely. But the posters just remind me of Count Olaf. I would be more excited about this movie, I think, if it weren't for "Sleepy Hollow" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and the fact that Depp/Burton is just not a sure thing the way it was back in "Edward Scissorhands" days. Yeah, it's got Helena Bonham Carter, but so did Kenneth Branagh's "Frankenstein," you know? Sigh.
Oh, I'm probably just grouchy on account of Dan Fogelberg dying today. To find out if the encounter described in "Same Old Lang Syne" really happened*, go here.
*IT DID! Can you believe it! He had an awkward conversation with his high school girlfriend just like a regular person!! Except, as he reminds us in the song, he's famous. OMG.

Monday, December 10, 2007

One of those days

It's a very bright, clear day after several days of scattered clouds (and occasional, gasp, showers). A dry wind has picked up, playing havoc with my sinuses and filling the air with this electric energy. I feel very sort of nervous and lively; made lots of unwise lane changes on the drive to work, ran yellow lights, that sort of thing. Also, apparently this morning I was laughing in my sleep, multiple and prolonged times; I woke myself up doing it. I've never, ever done that. There's just something buzzing in the air today.

I thought maybe it was just me, but Veronique de Turenne at Here in Malibu waxes poetic about today's insanely bright light.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Visit to Ohio


Paid a visit back east last week. Got to see friends, have some excellent food and perform some Christmas shopping while actually wearing a coat. I spent two nights with Betsy & Mike in Dayton, snuggling with my favorite dog, and then one night with Jamie in Cincinnati, which included a night out at Plum Street Cafe with all the ink-stained wretches I used to work with. It was just lovely to be back.


Jamie and me the next morning



I also stopped by Mt. Lookout Square, noted with interest that the movie theater is now a nightclub and Sushi Ray is now some other sushi place with "wasabi" in the name (which is like having a coffeehouse with "java" in the name). But Zip's is still there, and The Dust Jacket, and Muz's, and that random cat store. I poked around my old garden, which was very poignant: it's just a mess. I had always imagined someone else would move in and enjoy the plants and take care of it. Heh. Beer bottles, dog mess, cigarette butts... actual trash, in my garden. I was kind of happy to leave.


Blurry

Met Jeff for lunch at JeanRo. Oh God I missed that place. It was great to see him and walk around downtown a little bit -- stop by the Mercantile Library, admire the new Fountain Square (don't make the Genius cry!), use the bathroom at the Tower Place food court, note the closure of the Federal Reserve bar and the opening of a new lounge by Pigall's. And then get in the car and drive away. The next day at the airport I walked to the terminal from the rental-car lot, took off my coat and packed it in my luggage before checking in. Won't need it again until my next visit.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Uh-oh




I just ate an entire tin of these at my desk. The whole thing. Christ.

I've long looked askance at them in grocery lines. They seem like a good idea, but the combination of chocolate and curiously strong mint reminds me of the scene in "American Psycho" where he gets the fancy restaurant to cover a urinal cake in chocolate and serve it to his girlfriend as a special dessert. And I hate even thinking about "American Psycho." But today, I don't know, the cinnamon one looked kind of good and sounded less urinal-cake-y. And now the entire tin is gone.

So be warned: These are kind of good.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Puffy sleeves

I am fairly indifferent to this new movie "Enchanted" but I am really enjoying the images of James Marsden in puffy sleeves, cf:



If I guess the plot correctly, his character will end up getting dumped for the guy from "Can't Buy Me Love." Summer before last, of course, he played one character who was murdered by his wife and another whose wife had borne Superman's son, and now he has to wear puffy sleeves on top of everything else. The poor guy cannot win.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Arf!

OK, I just have to say this. The tagline for Will Smith's upcoming "I Am Legend" -- "The last man on earth is not alone" -- is perfect. I like that it references the Vincent Price version, and it has just the right teasing note of mystery for a horror movie. But dammit, when they use the tagline on posters where Will Smith is walking along with his dog, it DOESN'T WORK. Of COURSE he's not alone. HE'S GOT A DOG. This has been making me crazy all week. The image turns it into a whole different movie, some kind of postapocalyptic "Because of Winn-Dixie": "It's the heartwarming 'tail' of the last man on earth -- and the last man's best friend! Together they formed a 'legendary' friendship!"

Warner Brothers, do something.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Highlights from home



A few highlights from my trip home last week...

- Trick-or-treating with my niece and nephew, who are not yet quite getting into making scary faces for the camera. (Since they are costumed as, respectively, a stormtrooper and Sleeping Beauty, I suppose they do not really need to be scary.)
- Getting an urgent phone call from my mom telling me to come down to the barn and look at a really big housecat. By the time I arrived, the cat was gone. But I did get to see the open grave for one of our horses, who evidently had a bad winter last year and was expected to die any day. She's feeling much better now, but they're leaving her grave open (with a fence around it) so when it's time to put her down, they can just lead her into it and shoot her. "That way we won't have to get the backhoe," Mom explained.
- Tennessee countryside in October. Oh my, it is beautiful; golden and hazy yet crisp. Took a couple of walks, seeing hawks, a great blue heron, bluebirds, and many cows. I did not however get to see our neighbor's Watusi cows, who had been moved between two fields through some of our land. "Their manure is right here," Mom pointed it out on one walk. "Hmm, it's dried out since yesterday."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boooooo!

Happy Halloween, my little Internet pumpkins! I did not make my beloved severed-finger cookies (not beloved-severed-finger cookies) this year, which was a shame because Art Boy was out of town and would not have had to be horrified by them. However, I am visiting my parents and get to go trick-or-treating tonight with the niece and nephew. The last time I trick-or-treated was in high school when several of us tried to collect money for Unicef. It was not a success. Somehow having high school students show up at your door asking for money and candy does not inspire generosity in most suburban dwellers...

Anyway, enjoy your Halloweens! And if you need a movie to watch, try one of the "31 Flicks that Give You the Willies," popularly elected at Shoot the Projectionist. I did my best but was not able to get "Cabin Fever" on the list... oh well.

Update: Maggie made severed-finger cookies! They look fab. I was ridiculously excited to see her photos and might have to make some myself for Christmas. Elf fingers?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire!



Well, we appear to be in the midst of a natural disaster. Fun fun! First Malibu was on fire, just up the coast from us; we walked to the beach yesterday and admired the smoke in the distance. Now Ardenstone is surrounded by flames and thinking about whether he & Christy might need to evacuate. And new fires keep springing up around L.A. I am monitoring the situation with the help of my friendly neighborhood newspaper, which has some really amazing photos up - check them out - and local blogger Veronique de Turenne at Here in Malibu, who is also posting amazing photos.


Small disasters are lost every day in a city this size. This is a big disaster. Heck, we're even the main art on tomorrow's Washington Post. Thanks, guys.
Photo above by Don Kelsen, LAT

Friday, October 19, 2007

Professor Dumbledore is a great man

So J.K. Rowling is evidently doing a fancy U.S. tour and reading to huge groups of children, which she really seems to be enjoying now that they can no longer try to squeeze her for spoilers. Instead, they can receive refreshingly direct answers to their questions, as happened to some kid from Colorado who asked about Professor Dumbledore's love life. According to Bloomberg News, Rowling replied that "she always thought of Dumbledore 'as gay.' ... But things didn't turn out with Grindelwald, his mental equal, who died in 1945." What a nice validation for the fanfiction community! Although that community is young and hip and has completely moved on from Harry Potter by now.

(In an earlier chat on the Leaky Cauldron, she was asked if Dumbledore and McGonagall were in love, and she replied with an exasperated, "No. Really, everyone isn't in love with everyone else." Apparently she has mellowed.)

She is also dismissive of Draco fans: "No! No! Please don't pass for Draco. I've given you an array of pleasant characters.'' If you ask me, this reveals the woman's fundamental cluelessness about books. Pleasant characters do not make great fiction. People don't want to read books with titles like "The Pony Party!" Harry Potter is all well and good, but the resolution of the series bothered me immensely because it revealed its fundamental toothlessness. The books are nice yarns but are designed to be as inoffensive as possible (except to a few fundamentalist Christians, and most people enjoy offending those guys). Anyway, I haven't got time to rant about this right now, so will simply conclude that Draco is the best character in the series & his creator hasn't got the sense to see it. Still, it's nice that children are reading books instead of playing those awful video games.

Update: Slate, reminded of Tinky Winky by the whole affair, dredges up its favorite essay from those days "on the outing of fictional characters." I popped online here in order to look up and share my own favorite Tinky Winky essay, but cannot find it just now. Sorry!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Corn rigs are bonny!

Art Boy and I had a discussion long ago about the 1973 horror classic "The Wicker Man." He was interested in watching it. I had never heard of it, but protested, "Is it about someone getting burned to death in a giant basket? Why on earth would you want to watch that?" He was then annoyed with me for guessing the "surprise" ending. To my mind, this is not particularly surprising; why else would you build a wicker man, if not to put someone in it and light them on fire? I mean, honestly. Anyway, the very idea just chilled my blood, especially knowing that's the end of the movie. I disliked the notion of sitting there waiting and dreading, and then it happens, and you go home feeling sort of nasty. (This is why I also refuse to watch "Open Water," and why I was disappointed by "The Blair Witch Project.")

But that conversation was something like four years ago, and he's had plenty of time to wear me down, so this weekend into the DVD player it went. And much to my surprise, I absolutely loved it. It would probably achieve the original intended effect if you did not know what a wicker man was and did not know the ending (I can't imagine I've wrecked it for anyone this many years later; and anyway, the DVD cover and tacky animated menu give it away). But still, watching it unfold makes for a nice and weird little mystery. Devout Sgt. Howie (Ed Woodward) arrives at a remote Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. The locals are both unhelpful and extremely unsettling to him, with their bawdy pub songs and pagan practices and pickled rabbits (sorry, hares) in jars on counters. They're led by Christopher Lee, who brushes off Howie's concerns about the local children leaping naked over bonfires with "Well, naturally. It's much too dangerous to jump through fire with their clothes on." I was already in love with the movie by this point, but Lee's serene dementia just nailed it for me. He's charming, deranged and utterly placid about it -- sort of like a pagan Willy Wonka.

The atmosphere piles up with a series of unsettling images: a sweet-faced woman slicing a baby-shaped cake; a man in a fish mask; a coffin containing a dead rabbit; a second coffin sliding from a baker's oven with a man-sized pastry inside. And then, of course, you have Britt Ekland's famous naked dance, which is actually remarkably seductive, even to a heterosexual lady viewer. Plus there are songs, some pretty and some bawdy. This movie really has everything. The ending is profoundly unsettling, no matter how many times you have clicked through the tacky animated DVD menu. But it gives you that October chill really nicely.

We enjoyed the accompanying documentary, "The Wicker Man Enigma," quite a bit. Christopher Lee describes having been approached for the project and told what the title was. "Does it have anything to do with Druids and human sacrifice?" he recalls asking. The producer replied, "I hate you." For this reason, I am adding Mr. Lee to the list of gentlemen who may come to the house and carry me off if they wish. (Although I do not want to either injure Mr. Lee or discomfit Mrs. Lee, so I understand if he must regretfully decline.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Braaains. No, wait, bloood. Oh, whichever

We watched 1964's "The Last Man on Earth," starring Vincent Price, this week. Vincent plays Robert Morgan, a brilliant scientist who also happens to be the only survivor of a plague that has turned everyone else in the world into zomb-- er, vampires. Every night a crowd of them staggers to his house and moans his name, calling him to come out, pounding on his boarded-up windows. Supposedly they inspired George A. Romero's treatment of his ghouls in "Night of the Living Dead," and they are certainly much more zombie than traditional vampire. They haven't got much intelligence, they have no visible fangs, and they seem more interested in sort of leaping on Morgan or pounding his windows than going for his jugular. Still, they are repelled by garlic, mirrors, crosses and sunlight, so vampires they are. I was surprised at how creepy this movie was. I'm adding it to my Willies List (which is not dirty) -- useful because mean Ed isn't letting me include "It" on account of "It"s being a TV movie.

At Borders the other week I got ahold of one of their last copies of "I Am Legend," on which this film is based, without the Will Smith movie cover. It's a spiffy short novel. I was inclined to agree with Dean Koontz's blurb on the back cover that it's the best vampire book since "Dracula," but then I thought of "'Salem's Lot." Still, pretty good, particularly if you're looking for something Halloweeny but don't have much time.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's too bad she won't live. Then again, who does?

The LA Times has a nice story in this morning's paper about "Blade Runner," which is being released this fall in its third incarnation - I am a bit unclear on what is so new about this one except that it's remastered and just happens to be coming out on the film's 25th anniversary. Still, it means the movie will show for an entire month at a theater delightfully close to the house. Huzzah! How many showings can I cram in?

In the Times story, the reporter says this and drops the topic, without citing a source: "The paper unicorn shaped by Olmos' character, for instance, telegraphs to the audience a huge plot point: that Ford's character, Deckard, is himself an android." This prompted me to set down the paper and begin ranting to Art Boy about how sick and tired I am of all this "Deckard is a replicant" business. People think they're so smart because they thought of this cra-azy twist. What is the point of the movie if Deckard is a replicant? The entire film contrasts Deckard, with his crappy overcoat and nasty stubble and near-total lack of conscience, with the gorgeous and noble replicants. Our creations are more beautiful than we are, is the unsettling point of the film. If you take that central conflict away, the movie is pointless. It would be like (here I brandished a piece of bacon at Art Boy, who flinched) if you went around saying the real point of "Gone with the Wind" is that Scarlett was really a Yankee all along. It's just dumb.

Anyway, I got around later on to reading the other Times, which also has an article on the movie. And they address the Deckard-replicant issue head-on -- they even quote Ridley Scott saying, "Yes, he's a replicant. He was always a replicant." God-fucking-dammit. I hate being wrong.

Still... their explanation is actually fairly convincing. They make a good point that Deckard does show some flickers of conscience and is no more loathsome than the other human characters. I think my movie is better, though.

Do I like the movie less now? Hmm. Multiple viewings will be required to determine the answer to this question.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A good day

It is a good day when your yoga teacher - your yoga teacher! - advises you to put more butter on your food. According to her, this is a season where our joints feel creakier and our skin feels dryer. Eating more butter will help. Now that I can do. Namaste!

(She also advised that we bathe in sesame oil and chickpea flour. I wonder if she is trying to eat us.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Splatter!

Happy autumnal equinox, ducklings! The tang of fall is in the air even in Southern California. We had rain for a day or so (I know, crazy) and it's washed away much of the summer's dusty haze, leaving a blistering blue sky and cool breeze. Fabulous. The Elvises in my neighbor's window are garlanded with harvest wreaths. I have, as usual, failed to harvest much of anything from my garden, but am nonetheless celebrating the season of the reaper with some lovely scary movies. (Art Boy: "But you always watch scary movies.")

First up was Final Girl's October Film Club Selection: "The Burning." Like the Friday the 13th films, it concerns a camp populated almost entirely with counselors, who are stalked by a vengeful killer. In this case, the killer is Cropsy, who is angry because a group of campers set him on fire. They didn't mean to, but Cropsy is angry all the same, and has taken up his trusty gardening shears to exact vengeance. Art Boy and I watched this last week (he wanted to Netflick it early & send it back so other FG readers could have at it; isn't he nice?) and enjoyed it tremendously. It opens with a group of boys at camp, whispering urgently above their flashlights, and the entire film retains the feel of a campfire ghost story. Yeah, it's got gore, it's got oversexed counselors, but it's genuinely creepy. (Except for Jason Alexander's scenes, in which he will not shut up. Art Boy and I imagined him constantly improvising on set, trying to take over each scene with his jovial banter, pissing his colleagues off. It's fun to see him, though. Holly Hunter's in it too, but is much quieter.) If you're hungry for a slasher set in the woods, this is a great bet.

As for the gore... this was the uncut version that's just been released on DVD, and my is it graphic. Cropsy's gardening shears slice merrily through foreheads, necks and limbs, all thanks to the wizardry of Tom Savini. It's lots of fun but the gory moments have sort of a similar feel to the ones Savini created for "Dawn of the Dead": the action almost seems to stop at each one, as if to allow the audience to go "Agggh!" It feels like a tiny interruption. After a while it almost feels like the movie has the hiccups.

I didn't give this a whole lot of thought until last night, when I settled down with Peter Jackson's classic splatterfest "Dead Alive," (Art Boy would not watch this with me), in which a young couple's burgeoning romance is hampered by a zombie plague. I knew it would be gross - I had seen the luncheon scene, with the custard, and I knew about the lawnmower finale. But oh my God. I was shocked. This movie is so tasteless, so over-the-top, so completely disgusting that I watched most of it with my fingers over my eyes going "Ugggh!" (This is different from going "Agggh!") Zombie baby in a Cuisinart, pus in the custard, writhing masses of reanimated intestines that are still passing gas... I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I absolutely adored it. For every "Ugggh!" something made me laugh out loud. (For example, the heroine's indignant shriek of "Your mother ate my dog!" and the sheepish retort "Not all of it.") It's funnier and better paced than "Evil Dead 2." It has a consistently beautiful look - it's set in 1957, and the sets, cars and costumes are gorgeous. Jackson uses color exquisitely: mostly red and green, often spewing out of a zombie or fresh victim. And the gore just... looks nice. It's seamlessly woven in with the action; this movie is sick, but it definitely has not got the hiccups. Sure, it could just be that the whole point is gore. I'm fine with that.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Out of town



Took myself to Joshua Tree National Park yesterday. Very hot, very beautiful, a very good trip. I listened to Boards of Canada & Neil Young, walked on hot rocks admiring prickly plants, drank lots of water, ate lots of Starbursts while driving (unwrapping them carefully with my teeth, as there was no Delicate Flower to do it for me), enjoyed the absolute silence. Photos here.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Madeleine




I know you darlings will all join me in mourning the passing of Madeleine L'Engle -- "Wrinkle in Time" author, thoughtful Christian, and tall lanky cutie. Her obit in the NYT is pretty nice, and I note with gratification that it's their most popular story today. I read a lot of Madeleine's memoirs around about middle school and found them hugely inspiring. She was a smart woman who never talked down to her readers and wasn't afraid to wrestle with her faith on the page. She also wrote directly about how awkward and clumsy she could be, which was a great thing for me at age 13.

Thinking about her oeuvre today, I realize how long it's been since I read anything of hers besides "Wrinkle," which stays on my shelf & gets reread occasionally. Madeleine could be all over the map - "A Wind in the Door" is particularly bizarre, and "Certain Women," one of her last adult novels, was a real snooze. But "The Small Rain" is just a lovely book, sort of a modern "Jane Eyre," and "The Other Side of the Sun" is a decent Southern racial drama. I also dig "A Swiftly Tilting Planet." The New Yorker had an interesting profile of her in 2004 - unfortunately it's not archived online - in which her family members are variously angry and dismissive about her memoirs. Still, she wrote great stuff. She was sensitive yet tough. She kicked ass and took names. I mourn her.

Yesterday a thoughtful colleague, with whom I had never discussed Madeleine's work, sent me a nice note with her condolences; she was sad about the news and knew I would be too. I just loved that.
My brother also tried to call me when he heard the news, but didn't realize I had changed my cellphone number (last year) and called some random guy in Ohio by mistake. The random guy's feelings on the passing of Madeleine L'Engle are not known.

Chomp.

A cure? For nail biting? Please. I have bitten my nails ever since I had teeth, and if I wanted to quit, I would have done it by now. (God knows my parents tried everything they could think of, bless them.) I don’t need to pay some damn Dutchman $670 for a mouth guard. It’s no wonder his customers were too embarrassed to be interviewed. These are probably the same people who buy those products advertised in the backs of teen magazines. (And if I were this reporter’s editor, I would have spiked this story. The damn Dutchman can buy his own ad in the back of the paper if he wants one.)

At least now I know the word for it: onychophagy. Sure, it’s not a clean habit. I do try to be vigilant about biting at work during flu season. And I consciously keep my nails from being too gross: they don’t bleed, they aren’t ragged; they’re just very, very short nails. I kind of like that I bite them. I enjoy it. It’s something I do while I’m thinking. (And hell yes, I bite my toenails. I am very bendy.)

The tone of this story is completely out of control. “Self-mutilation”? “Obsessive-compulsive disorder”? For Christ’s sake, we don’t have to diagnose and treat everything. People are untidy. We get sad; we eat too much sometimes; we bite our nails. If we had no flaws, we’d be boring. We’re beautiful as we are.

This violent reaction has nothing to do with having just watched “X-Men 3” again. Really.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Devil's Eyes

Art Boy and I celebrated Labor Day by going to see the “Halloween” remake. We are both pretty big fans of the original (as we demonstrated with our South Pasadena field trip last fall; still pretty much the only movie-fan-type thing we have done in L.A. so far). Neither of us expected it to match the original; I think both of us were ready for an interesting exercise in “Halloween” fandom. And that is what we got. Would I recommend this? Not really. And yet it was interesting.

Rob Zombie takes John Carpenter’s beautifully spare slasher film and turns it into Act III of a psychological drama. Act I is young Michael Myers, unhappy in a rotten home, working up to the slaughter of his older sister that opens the original movie. Here we see him tormented by a dysfunctional family life and taking his pain out by torturing animals. I have not got much patience for this sort of thing. The very first image is Michael picking up a pet rat, so I spent the first five minutes of the “Halloween” remake with my eyes covered. Kind of a drag. But the look of Act I is absolutely gorgeous. Rob Zombie and his genius cinematographer have a beautiful white-trash sensibility - a filthy kitchen becomes a work of art in their hands. And young Michael is very creepy in his clown mask. There are some nice in-jokes, too: one of the first lines in the movie is a scream, from the baby who’ll grow up to be Laurie.

Act II is young Michael in the institution with Dr. Loomis. It’s just nothing like I imagined it from Donald Pleasence’s monologue in the first movie: “I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.” The image that gives you is so chilling… and here we have Malcolm McDowell, sitting across from this blond kid who’s saying “Can I go home?” just like any kid would. This is the part that’s sort of a shame, I think. You don’t really see evil behind this kid’s eyes. If anyone’s creepy at all, it’s Dr. Loomis. But still, these scenes are just riveting, somehow. And the adult Michael coming out of his cell in his orange mask, oh my God. That’s new, and that’s scary.

Act III tries to tie all this together with the original storyline, and of course it doesn’t work. You don’t really worry about anyone or feel sorry for anyone, and it all happens so late that you don’t even really identify with the Laurie character the way you’re supposed to. I spent this whole segment completely distracted by the contrast between the 1970s teenagers and the girls from 2007. Annie and Lynda are so badass in the original. They say “shit”! They wear blush in straight lines across their cheekbones! I don’t know, these girls today are so sensitive, all falling over each other and calling each other “baby.” It really annoyed me when Lynda called Laurie and said “I care what you think.” They just don’t seem as cool. What does this mean? I’m not sure. It also bothered me that Annie’s fate is left a bit up in the air.

But again, the look of the first act is absolutely gorgeous – it’s like looking through your parents’ faded Polaroids, or listening to Boards of Canada. (I bet Rob Zombie hates Boards of Canada.) The moment when tiny Michael puts on his iconic William Shatner mask for the first time is pretty good – I love the image of him walking down the hallway, looking like a hideous dwarf version of the famous killer. You laugh but it gets under your skin. Rob Zombie’s cameos are pretty fun: here’s Brad Dourif! Here’s Dee Wallace from “The Howling”! Here’s, ah, Micky Dolenz! (I completely forgot that Adrienne Barbeau had a cameo and missed her. We are both still annoyed about this.) And, while the final showdown went on way too long, I loved the final shot of Laurie screaming and screaming. Not for Rob Zombie the fetching trickle of blood at the corner of the victim’s mouth: his stabbing victims are absolutely covered in gore. Laurie’s blood-drenched shrieks were operatic.

So yeah, we liked it. I’d watch parts of it again if it ever came on TV. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone besides us, but as we expected, it’s an interesting exercise. I really can’t wait to see what RZ does next.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

At the corner store

On impulse, I stopped in at the tiny liquor store & market on the way back from flamenco tonight. It was dark, Art Boy was still out and the fluorescent lights looked welcoming. Also, I needed bourbon. 

The first guy in line was buying lottery tickets. A ponytailed older gentleman, who looked not quite homeless but rather well-worn, was  next: he bought a pack of cigarettes and a lottery ticket. Behind me, a young teenager squeezed between the racks, his friend standing in the doorway with a leashed dog yelling "Get me a Sprite!" 

The teenager turned and yelled back, "Do you want anything else?"

"What?" his friend called. 

"Do you want anything else?"

"What?"

"Do you want anything else?"

It went on at least twice more. The friend finally said "Yeah, see if they have any Twinkies."

The ponytailed guy, now putting his change away, exchanged glances with me and we grinned. Behind the counter, the young South Asian proprietor asked me what I wanted. 

"Could I please get the large bottle of Wild Turkey?" I asked, pointing.

Ponytail guy and teenager both looked at me and said "Woo-hoo!"

"Wild Turkey!" continued the ponytail guy. "Wow. Now is that the 72 proof or the 101?"

"Ah. I'm not sure," I said. "I'm just taking what they've got." The selection here is small; it really is just a little storefront.

"What proof is that?" ponytail guy asked the proprietor, who gestured for him to move along. This agitated ponytail guy: "I'm just curious."

"It's 101," I said, looking at the bottle.

"Very good!" said ponytail guy. "Have a good night." He headed out. I paid and left without incident. Ponytail guy was headed up Lincoln past the Taco Bell. I turned left toward my house, went on in, and made myself a nice Manhattan. Cheers to ponytail guy, cautious proprietor, the two teenagers with Sprite and Twinkies (of course they have Twinkies!), and the cute dog who, if this were an English-class discussion, would be what the story was really about all along.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Out

Sorry for the lack of updates, people. I am about to completely not remedy the situation and go out of town for a few days. Will return with beach photos and many book reviews. Be nice to Art Boy while I'm gone.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Celebrity Korner

Today's news: Steve Martin stuns guests with surprise wedding.

Gentle readers, I apologize for this, but - BLOODY BLOODY BUGGER.

Yes, I want Steve to be happy, but why can he not be happy with meeeee?? BUGGER! Sorry, Art Boy.

At least there is good news for Robin: Usher's wedding has been canceled, according to The Insider, which has the headline right under its story about Steveums. (Ha-ha, Usher!)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I was a child! I was in love!


Was quite bucked to learn this week that Karen Allen will be in "Indy 4." The film might just end up being a long sequence of allusions on the order of "The Simpsons Movie," but that's better than some alternatives. We could hardly expect another "Raiders," after all.

Rather wish I had arranged to attend Nerd Prom. Sounds like it would leave Fangoria in the dust... Perhaps next year.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mouse call

Got a frantic email from my mom this afternoon (subject line "Help!"):
AT&T has redesigned my home page, and there is no line for entering a web address and going directly to it; I have to use Google, which sends me to all these unrelated things, and if I am lucky, one of them has the web address at the very end that I am looking for.

Being a good daughter, I called. "Oh, thank goodness. Hang on, let me switch phones," she said. It took longer for her to get settled with the downstairs extension by the computer than it did to talk her through switching the navigation toolbar back on. "Why, there it is!" she cried. "I can't believe it, I just can't believe it. You are worth a million dollars!"

If any of you could use an infusion of grateful Southern hosannas, I'd be more than happy to give her your number for next time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Maj. Heyward will create a diversion


Ah, an evening at home, geeking out with my favorite movie. This is my first time watching the DVD on Art Boy's fancy TV with his fancy stereo system. Holy mackerel. To any of you readers who may have just moved in with art boys who have nice multimedia setups... take advantage of it and watch your favorite movies now. It was so much fun to hear the incidental dialogue ("I'm with you, Jack!") as well as the sound effects, from swelling music to snapping twig (as Mark Twain wrote, "Every time a [James Fenimore] Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig"). I have been having a ball. Art Boy went to bed hours ago.

I have spent much time in recent years ruminating over which is better - the theatrical-release edition, now only available on VHS, and the "director's expanded" edition, the only one available on DVD (unless you are Ardenstone). It may be Art Boy's nice speakers, but I am ready to weigh in on the director's side: the DVD is pretty gorgeous. Sound is lovely and the loss of the Clannad song is really rather a plus. The only problem is that three of the movie's best lines have been taken out, and in a movie with this little dialogue, that is no small problem. Still, nobody seems to have a choice in these dark days. And the new last lines spoken by Russell Means - "Once we were here" - give me a delicious frisson. (Also, once you notice the canvas covering the Chimney Rock graffiti in the climax, you absolutely cannot take your eyes off it. Editing it out for the DVD was smart.)

If anyone can find Colm Meaney in this movie - and I am assured he is in it, by both the end credits and IMDb - tell me where he pops up and I will buy you a beer. (Pete Postlethwaite, no small-name actor at the time, is in it and in one scene is completely obscured by the buttons on someone else's uniform. Michael Mann is crazy.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Where the hell is Harry Potter?

If that little four-eyed bastard doesn't show up on our doorstep before I leave for work, I'm going to smash some Horcruxes. Or something. Art Boy ordered Book 7 from Amazon and we're going to spend the weekend playing tug-of-war.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Friday the 13th Part 3, in 3D

Oddly, three was really the charm for me with these movies. Part One was endearing and then genuinely scary, Part Two was goofy and then creepy. But the pacing of Part Three really, I don't know, rubbed me the right way. None of the back story makes an ounce of sense, but that's OK, because the movie that's in front of you holds together really well. You have your fake scares courtesy of the dorky boy that everyone hates; your real scares courtesy of the motorcycle gang who represent A Real-Life Peril (that of being approached in a store by ethnic minorities, apparently); and finally, your hardcore Jason-based scares. Why is he in a hockey mask? It doesn't matter. He's coming to kill you.

I just loved the prolonged final chase sequence of this movie. It's what these movies are all about: the nightmare that someone is chasing you and wants to kill you for no reason. His motives don't matter. You don't care about his mother. What's important is you need to get away.

The 3-D stuff is also quite entertaining. I asked Art Boy if any sequences would be as exciting as the 3-D ping-pong ball in the Vincent Price "House of Wax." He said no, but clearly he had forgotten the eyeball-flies-at-the-camera sequence. I can't be contemptuous of 3-D, even watching it years after its release in 2-D. If it was good enough for Vincent Price, it's good enough for me.

The ending was pretty stupid, though, I'll grant you.

Coda: Hey Ardenstone! You know the robe the girl is wearing in the hammock as she's flipping through Fangoria, and then her boyfriend's blood starts dripping on her? That is totally the robe you used to have in college!! Excerpt yours was navy blue.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The sequel


Yep, we watched Part 2 the other night, even though it was after midnight and therefore Saturday the 14th (a movie which Art Boy will not Netflick for me; he says he's allergic to Richard Benjamin). Very nice! The sequel doesn't really goof around with ominous locals or foreshadowing or anything - Ralph reappears but is dispatched fairly quickly, allowing the camera to spend more time on the counselors' short-shorts and precarious-looking half-shirts. In both these movies I am very impressed at how quickly the characters just start dying. I suppose they're each meant to be One Terror-Filled Night, but it all just seems to happen quickly.
Anyway, Part 2 is sort of more fun in that the killer mythology is much better set up. The kids are more aware that something horrible happened nearby a few years ago, and final girl Ginny has an interesting discussion in the bar about who Jason is and what he might want. As I understand this series, that's the closest anyone in the movies gets to analysis of the famous killer. The killings seem fairly rote - nothing can match Kevin Bacon's arrow-through-the-throat for sheer inventiveness - but Ginny's showdown in the creepy old shack is just fabulous. She is a final girl who really keeps it together. And I screamed out loud when Jason leaps through the window. But the end is pretty confusing... were the last few minutes a hallucination? Who-all is dead exactly? Ah, who cares?
We're watching Part 3 tonight. It's like eating potato chips.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Hairstyles by Six Feet Under."

Very nice! We may watch #2 right away, but I will spare you people the updates. Have a nice evening.

To recap: We've been watching "Friday the Thirteenth," which I had never seen. At a tender age, I got in deep trouble with my mom after planning to go to a friend's house and watch, on video, all the F13 movies that had come out (perhaps five?). Mom found out about it and I wasn't allowed to go... so I have never seen any of these movies. But I love Halloween and Cabin Fever, among others, and today seems like as good a time as any to get caught up on this series with the help of my sardonic yet well informed Art Boy. He will chase away anything that comes to get me in the night, I am sure...
Alice surprises Mrs. V. with a frying pan. Honestly! Why can girls not fight with axes? Is there some kind of rule about that? Ah, here we go. Mrs. V. will strike a blow for women's lib. Oh my, and she bites too! But she's no match for the head-severing Alice.

And now what you want to do is take a boat onto the lake into the dead of night. Still, this next scene is pretty gorgeous, with the leaves and the water and all.

Art Boy, who is cool and remembers stuff, is describing everyone getting up, waiting for the credits, which are clearly about to roll. The movie is over. AAAIIIEEEEE!!!!

I knew it was going to happen, I'd even seen it, and it still made me scream.

This movie is fabulous.
Fight! Alice and Mrs. V. are bitch-slapping and throwing spools of thread at each other.

I like the visual parallel between the full moon in the upper right and Alice's blouse disappearing into the forest as she runs off.

Art Boy wants to know if he's the only person who can tolerate beer and chocolate together.

Horror movie rule: Never collapse in relief with your back to a door.
Mrs. Voorhees has arrived. "It's just this place and the storm, that's why you're upset!" God, I wish I could be surprised by the ending -- that would be quite a twist to feel.

Mrs. V. explains herself. Is this story an inverse "Psycho"?

Ack! "Don't let her get away, Mommy!" says Mrs. Voorhees. I've got my hands over my face. Gaaah! I cannot believe this movie is actually scaring me!

Friday, July 13, 2007

OK, I sort of zoned out for a minute. Alice is making a cup of coffee in what Art Boy describes as real time. "This is where I learned how to make coffee," he says. I completely love her old stove. ... it is a classic horror-movie-in-the-woods prop. Her coffee-making goes on and on and on! The tension is unbearable! She can't stand it anymore either and goes out calling for Bill, who has gone searching around in a red poncho. Uh-oh... there's the poncho... where's Bill?

AAAA! Bill is dead.

Alice is all that is left! She immediately figures out a smart way to barricade herself into the cabin. This is where, I think, the movie will start to get really interesting. All the death setpieces are fun, but knowing that she's going to have to actually battle whatever's out there, rather than just make a grieving face and die before it, is much more exciting.

AAIIEE! Here comes a body through the kitchen window! I actually just screamed out loud. Art Boy is laughing at me.
The sound in this movie is super-nice. I like how the swinging door sounds like a faint scream.

This movie makes me feel like an 11-year-old. I'm not sure if it's having wanted to see it at age 11 and having been thwarted, or the haircuts, or what. Or maybe it's the way it's perfectly designed for talking to your friends while it's going on, then looking up periodically to go "'AAAA! An axe!" or whatever. Its overall creepy mood is lovely but I'm not sure that it would reward close attention the way, say, Halloween does... Time for another beer!
Watching Steve's dinner in the diner. It's interesting to watch this movie make the occasional effort to establish where all its characters are, in case you were wondering if any of them were the killer. There seems to be no real motive for the killings so far, so how anyone could have a theory about the killer at this point is unclear.

Still, just the trappings of the woodsy setting, with the crappy old sinks and flimsy walls and dim lights, are super creepy.

Suddenly, we're in a vampire movie. A counselor is getting into bed with a single candle, wearing a long lacy nightgown, when suddenly she hears a child's voice crying outside in the rain. Brr! It's shameless genre-skipping, but who cares?
"Alice draws first blood." She's a ruthless strip-Monopoly player! This will aid her final survival.

We're trying without success to make out what the book is on Kevin Bacon's bedside table. Maybe we're missing the.... point? Wow. That is a very nice-looking death! You go, Tom Savini!

Now the ungallant killer is going after his girlfriend while she's having a wee. I point out the rudeness of this to Art Boy, who tells me we are playing dirty pool. I wish I had as much fun prancing around solitary restrooms in just my panties as she seems to be doing. AAA! Axe!
"Gonna tear down that valley like a son of a gun." What does that mean? Kevin Bacon is a poet. But he's not as cool as his blood-dreaming girlfriend.

I love any horror movie set in the woods -- creepy dark trees, moving shadows, old cabins with wood floors really get my horror-geek on. This movie gets an impressive amount of mileage out of the lake, though. Lakes are even scarier to me than forests, but I had never considered lake-horror as a separate genre. Hmm.

Sex scene with crisp white panties!

Guitar by the fire with thunder raging outside. Suddenly, "We're going to play strip Monopoly!" Art Boy: "The moral of this is, learn to play guitar."

Back to sex scene with unconvincing vocal enjoyment on the actors' part. AAAAA! A dead body!
"We ain't going to stand for no weirdness out here."

The creepy police officer swings by Camp Crystal Lake on his motorbike, convinced they're all doing drugs. It would be jarring if there were a tone to jar. Art Boy is convinced the creepy deputy from Cabin Fever is a direct reference to this guy.

Oh cool, Ralph is back. "You're doomed. You're all doomed!" Ralph and his little vest and hat are awesome. I want him at all my parties. His work done, Ralph pedals away into the forest. Alice, having thrust out her hip defiantly yet sexlessly, goes back inside.
"What's Vitamin C do?"
"I think it neutralizes the nitrites or something."
Art Boy: "This is just filler until the next death."

This k-k-k-k ha-ha-ha-ha business is very unsettling to the cats.

A symbolic snake is introduced into the Garden of Eden that is Camp Crystal Lake. "I can't sleep with a snake in here!" says sexless Alice. These guys are just hopeless battling this snake.

I like the moment when the snake is macheted and everyone looks horrified, the pillow feathers drifting slowly onto their heads.

Art Boy, rounding up incontinent housecat for trip to the litter box: "You're so easy to catch! You're worse than a camp counselor."
Girl running through the woods! Very Evil Dead. Nice Psycho-esque music. Why do girls running in the woods always twist their ankles?

I love the bird sound effects in this movie.

Graphic onscreen death! I like how her expression is that of profound grief, rather than, say, pain... so many years she could have spent with "kids" gone to waste.
Oh my God, the guy chopping wood is a Never-Nude! (Cutoff shorts.)

Alice, the Final Girl, is introduced. (Art Boy has already wrecked the movie for me by showing me the very last scene.) I posit that her Final Girl characteristics are her efficiency and her comparative sexlessness. I compare her high-waisted, form-fitting yet boyish trousers to those of Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. Mike observes that Jamie's character in The Fog is, like Alice, an artist. Hmmm. Hmmmm.

The counselors are running around in short-shorts getting their foreplay on.
"You're an American original." That's for sure.

First ten minutes are pretty super. Snogging, homicide, a death curse, a ponderous silence from suspicious locals... Art Boy's favorite part is the music leading up to the shattering glass behind the title.

Art Boy: "It's like watching a template, isn't it?"

Sex is clearly all Kevin Bacon ever thinks about.

Just under the (garrote?) wire


In honor of the lovely Friday the 13th blogathon over at Final Girl, I am watching "Friday the 13th" for the first time and liveblogging! I do not know how much interest this will hold for anyone, but here we go....

11:00 p.m. "You're an American original." That's for sure.
First ten minutes are pretty super. Snogging, homicide, a death curse, a ponderous silence from suspicious locals... Art Boy's favorite part is the music leading up to the shattering glass behind the title.
Art Boy: "It's like watching a template, isn't it?"
Sex is clearly all Kevin Bacon ever thinks about.

11:02 p.m. Oh my God, the guy chopping wood is a Never-Nude! (Cutoff shorts.)
Alice, the Final Girl, is introduced. (Art Boy has already wrecked the movie for me by showing me the very last scene.) I posit that her Final Girl characteristics are her efficiency and her comparative sexlessness. I compare her high-waisted, form-fitting yet boyish trousers to those of Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. Mike observes that Jamie's character in The Fog is, like Alice, an artist. Hmmm. Hmmmm.
The counselors are running around in short-shorts getting their foreplay on.

11:09 p.m. Girl running through the woods! Very Evil Dead. Nice Psycho-esque music. Why do girls running in the woods always twist their ankles?
I love the bird sound effects in this movie.
Graphic onscreen death! I like how her expression is that of profound grief, rather than, say, pain... so many years she could have spent with "kids" gone to waste.

11:13 p.m. "What's Vitamin C do?"
"I think it neutralizes the nitrites or something."
Art Boy: "This is just filler until the next death."
This k-k-k-k ha-ha-ha-ha business is very unsettling to the cats.
A symbolic snake is introduced into the Garden of Eden that is Camp Crystal Lake. "I can't sleep with a snake in here!" says sexless Alice. These guys are just hopeless battling this snake.
I like the moment when the snake is macheted and everyone looks horrified, the pillow feathers drifting slowly onto their heads.
Art Boy, rounding up incontinent housecat for trip to the litter box: "You're so easy to catch! You're worse than a camp counselor."

11:16 p.m. "We ain't going to stand for no weirdness out here."
The creepy police officer swings by Camp Crystal Lake on his motorbike, convinced they're all doing drugs. It would be jarring if there were a tone to jar. Art Boy is convinced the creepy deputy from Cabin Fever is a direct reference to this guy.
Oh cool, Ralph is back. "You're doomed. You're all doomed!" Ralph and his little vest and hat are awesome. I want him at all my parties. His work done, Ralph pedals away into the forest. Alice, having thrust out her hip defiantly yet sexlessly, goes back inside.

11:23 p.m. "Gonna tear down that valley like a son of a gun." What does that mean? Kevin Bacon is a poet. But he's not as cool as his blood-dreaming girlfriend.
I love any horror movie set in the woods -- creepy dark trees, moving shadows, old cabins with wood floors really get my horror-geek on. This movie gets an impressive amount of mileage out of the lake, though. Lakes are even scarier to me than forests, but I had never considered lake-horror as a separate genre. Hmm.
Sex scene with crisp white panties!
Guitar by the fire with thunder raging outside. Suddenly, "We're going to play strip Monopoly!" Art Boy: "The moral of this is, learn to play guitar."
Back to sex scene with unconvincing vocal enjoyment on the actors' part. AAAAA! A dead body!

11:29 p.m. "Alice draws first blood." She's a ruthless strip-Monopoly player! This will aid her final survival.
We're trying without success to make out what the book is on Kevin Bacon's bedside table. Maybe we're missing the.... point? Wow. That is a very nice-looking death! You go, Tom Savini!Now the ungallant killer is going after his girlfriend while she's having a wee. I point out the rudeness of this to Art Boy, who tells me we are playing dirty pool. I wish I had as much fun prancing around solitary restrooms in just my panties as she seems to be doing. AAA! Axe!

11:38 p.m. Watching Steve's dinner in the diner. It's interesting to watch this movie make the occasional effort to establish where all its characters are, in case you were wondering if any of them were the killer. There seems to be no real motive for the killings so far, so how anyone could have a theory about the killer at this point is unclear.
Still, just the trappings of the woodsy setting, with the crappy old sinks and flimsy walls and dim lights, are super creepy.
Suddenly, we're in a vampire movie. A counselor is getting into bed with a single candle, wearing a long lacy nightgown, when suddenly she hears a child's voice crying outside in the rain. Brr! It's shameless genre-skipping, but who cares?

11:45 p.m. The sound in this movie is super-nice. I like how the swinging door sounds like a faint scream.
This movie makes me feel like an 11-year-old. I'm not sure if it's having wanted to see it at age 11 and having been thwarted, or the haircuts, or what. Or maybe it's the way it's perfectly designed for talking to your friends while it's going on, then looking up periodically to go "'AAAA! An axe!" or whatever. Its overall creepy mood is lovely but I'm not sure that it would reward close attention the way, say, Halloween does... Time for another beer!

11:54 p.m. OK, I sort of zoned out for a minute. Alice is making a cup of coffee in what Art Boy describes as real time. "This is where I learned how to make coffee," he says. I completely love her old stove. ... it is a classic horror-movie-in-the-woods prop. Her coffee-making goes on and on and on! The tension is unbearable! She can't stand it anymore either and goes out calling for Bill, who has gone searching around in a red poncho. Uh-oh... there's the poncho... where's Bill?AAAA! Bill is dead.
Alice is all that is left! She immediately figures out a smart way to barricade herself into the cabin. This is where, I think, the movie will start to get really interesting. All the death setpieces are fun, but knowing that she's going to have to actually battle whatever's out there, rather than just make a grieving face and die before it, is much more exciting.
AAIIEE! Here comes a body through the kitchen window! I actually just screamed out loud. Art Boy is laughing at me.

12:02 a.m. Mrs. Voorhees has arrived. "It's just this place and the storm, that's why you're upset!" God, I wish I could be surprised by the ending -- that would be quite a twist to feel.Mrs. V. explains herself. Is this story an inverse "Psycho"?
Ack! "Don't let her get away, Mommy!" says Mrs. Voorhees. I've got my hands over my face. Gaaah! I cannot believe this movie is actually scaring me!

12:08 a.m. Fight! Alice and Mrs. V. are bitch-slapping and throwing spools of thread at each other.
I like the visual parallel between the full moon in the upper right and Alice's blouse disappearing into the forest as she runs off.
Art Boy wants to know if he's the only person who can tolerate beer and chocolate together.
Horror movie rule: Never collapse in relief with your back to a door.

12:14 a.m. Alice surprises Mrs. V. with a frying pan. Honestly! Why can girls not fight with axes? Is there some kind of rule about that? Ah, here we go. Mrs. V. will strike a blow for women's lib. Oh my, and she bites too! But she's no match for the head-severing Alice.
And now what you want to do is take a boat onto the lake into the dead of night. Still, this next scene is pretty gorgeous, with the leaves and the water and all.
Art Boy, who is cool and remembers stuff, is describing everyone getting up, waiting for the credits, which are clearly about to roll. The movie is over. AAAIIIEEEEE!!!!
I knew it was going to happen, I'd even seen it, and it still made me scream.
This movie is fabulous.

12:23 a.m. "Hairstyles by Six Feet Under."Very nice! We may watch #2 right away, but I will spare you people the updates. Have a nice evening.

To recap: We've been watching "Friday the Thirteenth," which I had never seen. At a tender age, I got in deep trouble with my mom after planning to go to a friend's house and watch, on video, all the F13 movies that had come out (perhaps five?). Mom found out about it and I wasn't allowed to go... so I have never seen any of these movies. But I love Halloween and Cabin Fever, among others, and today seems like as good a time as any to get caught up on this series with the help of my sardonic yet well informed Art Boy. He will chase away anything that comes to get me in the night, I am sure...

Harry Potter and the pubescent angst

Kelly's lovely OOtP rundown reminded me that I did not address the relative hotness of the maturing actors in my comments below. Briefly, then:

Neville, after showing great promise in the "Goblet of Fire" film, particularly with his sexy albeit plot-convenient interest in botany, got sort of relegated to being a dork again. I suppose there weren't any school dances here where he could show his stuff. The St. Mungo's scene would have been great for showcasing Vulnerable Neville who Knows Pain, but we must make do with his laconic discussion of his parents with Harry. This was sweet, but it felt a bit tacked on to me. Neville-wise, this movie is a wasted opportunity.

At least we have plenty of Fred and George, who have unfortunate new haircuts but are still completely hot. I should like to snog them both.

As for Draco, he's just not looking well. Puberty seems to have hollowed him out. I am dreading his big final scene in the next movie... he's just going to stand there looking scared, and not be all conflicted or anything I bet. Damn you, Canon Draco, for being so boring.

(Isn't this the book where Ginny dates everyone? I was all set to sing "Save Ginny Weasley from Dean Thomas." Oh well.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

You will lose everything

*blows dust off blog* Hello, gentle readers! Art Boy and I are just in from seeing "Order of the Phoenix." It was certainly not as much fun as seeing the "Goblet of Fire" late-night show wearing handmade shirts with Kelly and her gang, but it was still nice to see it with the kind of enthusiastic opening-night crowd that all goes "oooh!" during the kissing scene. Similarly, the movie's not the best in the series, but it definitely has its moments. Gary Oldman fangirls will enjoy all the beefed-up screentime he gets, more than making up for his criminal (ha! ha!) absence from the last movie. Sirius also gets to be a little more badass and less ineffectual than he was in the book, which is nice. His hair is lavishly curly and he gives Harry the barest wink a couple of times, which made me moan aloud. (Art Boy: "Oh GOD.") My favorite is when he sees Harry off at the train station (secretly, of course) and he's wearing a fur coat with no shirt underneath. Mrow! There's not enough Lupin/Tonks, but they'll get their time in the next movie. There is not much Draco either, but there's just enough Snape to satisfy. He gets some great dialogue, such as:
"I must penetrate your mind, Potter!"
and
Harry: "We've been at it for hours. Can't we rest?"
Snape: "Voldemort won't be resting!"

Also listen for his muttered "I may vomit" during a moving flashback. Much has been made of Imelda Staunton's performance as Dolores Umbridge, and she is quite magnificent. The movie does a nice job of balancing her bureaucratic nastiness with the threat of actual scary violence. And I must say, the wizarding duel at the end really kicks ass this time.

Surprisingly nice touches: the cool-looking thestrals; Luna Lovegood; the delightful absence of Rita Skeeter; and Helena Bonham Carter's predictably deranged but still fun performance as Bellatrix Lestrange, particularly the bit when she dances madly off down a hall singsonging "I killed Sirius Bla-ack!"

Yeah, I wore my Draco/Harry shirt.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Back



I'm back! The Oak Ridge Boys and their lifesaving devices were not required on this trip. Did I miss anything?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Off

Off to Nashvegas, my little munchkins! Just for a couple days. A hummingbird just zipped by my window... I'll miss it here.

Be good.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Connecting to neural net

Oh dear readers, I apologize for my lack of updates recently. Art Boy has accused me of having another blog but I do not. There has just not been much to report. The cats are fine; the plants are fine (growing like gangbusters now that June Gloom is over); we are fine.

I did go dancing tonight at Perversion again. Gosh, it was fun. Once more the shoegazing room was closed, the main room was full of pounding industrial and the front room with the 80s music was where I spent most of my time. Some beautiful people were out tonight, including a cute vintage-clad couple - he wore brown trousers, suspenders and a sort of ammo belt thing (a Brendan-Fraser-in-"The-Mummy" look) and she wore a darling old-fashioned aviation kit with a leather Amelia-Earhart-style helmet. Also a fetching girl in a green bikini with fishnet stockings and Day-Glo blue dreads, whose boyfriend had dyed the tips of his mohawk to match; a scrawny gal in a ruffled white blouse & long skirt who danced beautifully; and a cute petite girl in a red bustier, black miniskirt, gloves & ankle boots, who looked straight out of the "Papa Don't Preach" video. I leaned my elbows on a little round table, watching them all dance and reflecting on how everyone there, rather than trying to fit into a scene, was just wearing what they fancied and dancing as they pleased. Was this a generational thing? Or just LA? Or just this club?

Out front was a Walk of Fame star - this was on Hollywood Blvd - for Antonio Aguilar, who died this week. It was covered with flowers, memorial wreaths, burning novena candles and handwritten messages. It would have been incongruous but nothing really seems incongruous out here.

Anyway, I got to dance to "Kathy's Song" and "Once in a Lifetime." Squee! Jeff, we are totally going when you visit.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Texas Chainsaw Mascara

Or, in which I bleat helplessly and incoherently along the lines of "Why haven't I seen this movie before?" and "How did I come to love, say, 'Cabin Fever' without having seen this movie?" Oh dear God in heaven. Last night Art Boy and I sat down and watched "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" ... he is super cool and has seen it many times, but it was my first. Wow, people.

First of all, it's BEAUTIFUL. Visually, "Picnic at Hanging Rock" has nothing on this film. People buy special cameras to get this kind of saturated visual effect. It has the look and feel of late summer. My favorite bit is a couple of shots through a screen door, which is all full of dust that catches the light from the setting sun... it looks so gauzy and dreamlike. This movie feels like being outside, wearing shorts and worrying about mosquitoes, in the late summer.

And yeah, it's scary. The sense of dread builds as the kids in the van listen to newscasts about horrible things happening around the world, then read their scary horoscopes (Saturn is evil!), then pick up a creepy hitchhiker... then knock on the door of an innocent-looking farmhouse... And then, of course, you have Leatherface lunging out of the dark with a chainsaw. Yikes!

And it's just hilarious. Art Boy and I both loved how, when you get a sense of the family dynamics, Leatherface is kind of the fuckup. The other cannibals keep yelling at him, and they can't even walk around their own kitchen without shoving each other. My favorite part (I think) is when Pam sits up shrieking in the freezer and a slightly exasperated Leatherface shoves her back down and slams the door. No more of Pam!

There are three movies I've watched and immediately turned to the person next to me and said "Let's watch it again": Last of the Mohicans, The Fellowship of the Ring, and this movie.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Grunion run

Last night I was all hepped to return to Disko Nekro, but checking the Switchboard I discovered it has closed. Rats... The other options just didn't sound all that appealing so Art Boy and I ended up going down to the beach around midnight for our first grunion run. Apparently this was a "90210" episode, but I never watched that show.

At first I thought it was going to be a bust... the beach was dark and quiet, except for the glaring lights from the pier. But gradually people emerged from the shadows, sitting on blankets behind the lifeguard stations or standing in the shallows with plastic bags. A woman lurched by with an odd assymetrical lump on her back that proved to be a fairly contented toddler. It was like a fair, but dark and wet. We walked toward a clump of seagulls in the wet sand, and before long we had seen our first grunions, flapping horribly toward the water. Quite nifty. It's hard to say whether it was more fun watching for the fish, or watching people chase them with buckets and plastic bags. You apparently need a fishing license to catch them, but it's irresistible - like catching lightning bugs. I picked up a couple to show Art Boy, who was wearing sneakers and staying out of the water, then tossed them back into the shallows. Poor things, they'd had a hard enough day already.

After an hour or so we headed back toward the car, away from the pier, and suddenly came across huge flats of them. A huge wave would come in, all the way up to the high-tide line, then recede a dramatic distance, leaving a wide expanse of silvery fish flopping dryly on the flat sand, their tiny flapping bodies the only sound in the sudden silence. I've never seen anything like it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lovely day




If memory serves, that's the title of a Front 242 song... anyway, it has been a nice weekend for me here in Santa Monica. Went to an outstanding yoga class this morning with a long meditation at the end - I don't know what she did, but it was amazing. I walked out feeling like I did after my reiki session last year. Picked up some necessities at the garden center (everyone needs hyssop!) and walked over to the farmers market. Bought some peaches, green beans and asparagus; went into Old Navy to use the bathroom and walked out with a couple of cheap dresses. Went to the library and got "Song of Kali" by Dan Simmons and "The Warden" by Anthony Trollope. They were the two I was looking for, they were both checked in, and they both turned out to be much smaller than I expected, which was great news for my increasingly heavy shopping bag.

Then walked home, got in the car and drove to Malibu Lagoon State Park, which was just beautiful. I missed the turn-in and ended up parking by Surfrider Beach, a fairly nifty sight as well. You cannot swim or even wade in the ocean at Surfrider. It is all for the surfers. Although there were plenty of people on the sand as well. I walked from there to the lagoon and back, and had a lovely time. More pictures on my Flickr page.

On the way home I got a flat tire and called Triple A. When does my membership expire? Tomorrow. They were there in 20 minutes - I had it mostly done but they helped me get the lug nuts off and busted out their much nicer jack. And they recommended a place to get a new tire. Where is it? Two blocks from my house.

The day felt rather charmed, I must say. Art Boy did not particularly care for the green beans, but one cannot have everything. Settling down with "Song of Kali" and a belly full of asparagus.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cloudy

Cloudy morning/afternoon. Art Boy home and off to work. On today's list: Fix seat of beautiful new bike, make chicken curry, go to flamenco. Short list. Time for a nap perhaps? Mmph.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thanks, Bettie!



My summer swimsuit arrived today from the lovely people at PinUpGirlClothing.com. It is always a long shot mail-ordering swimwear, especially from a company that designs vintage-style clothes for, ah, curvy ladies. But the Bettie One Piece fits my surfboard body like a glove. It's super comfortable and meets my exacting coverage standards, so I feel comfortable in it. Is there anything Bettie Page can't do, even extremely indirectly?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Art Boy out

As he has mentioned over at his site, Art Boy is going home to eat some horrible food and see some lovely people. I will be working over the holiday weekend, and probably also watching unimproving movies, eating avocadoes with a spoon, and biting my toenails. Am looking forward to it.

Not much else to report. Couple of sundews are putting up flower stalks. I was going to take pictures this morning, but wouldn't you know, the sun went and came out on me.

Mumbles

Art Boy and I have taken to addressing all the cats as "Mumbles." For some reason I find this endlessly hilarious. It has a nice cumulative effect - I'll say "Hi, Mumbles" without thinking when Stasia jumps on the couch, and then look to see her giving me a withering glare. Some friends pointed out that it also makes the cats sound like gangsters. Try it on your pet today.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Postcards from Fangoria

My weekend (or what is a weekend to normal people; my Saturday and Sunday afternoons before work, and my Friday night after work) was largely spent at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors convention in scenic Burbank. Oh gosh, people, it was neat. Fetching goths, beautiful makeup, random freebies, a T-shirt for sale with the face of Tom Atkins, models pretending to reenact scenes from "Hostel Part II" and "Fido" ... it was neat.

Some of the booths I patronized...
Haunted House Productions: Some lovely gothic/gory figurines. The usual stuff - bats, skulls - but nicely done.

Curioddities: Crafty goth, with many products based on cute/creepy black-and-white line drawings. I bought a T-shirt of the tiny Dracula with a big head. Adorable.

Lurker Films: Some nice Lovecraft people, responsible for the HPL Film Festival and also the new Zompire - The Undead Film Festival. If Prombie happens I may have to invite them.

Got to see Eli Roth do a panel on Hostel II. I'm not particularly interested in the movie but it was nice to see Eli and hear his great David Lynch imitation. He promises more Rotten Fruit cartoons in the future. Art Boy and I also saw Neil Marshall, director of The Descent, talk about his new movie, Doomsday. It sounds very 28 Days Later, which is probably not a bad thing. Someone in the audience asked him a great question about the role of gender in his movies - Dog Soldiers is a very guy movie; The Descent is all female - but he just sounded confused and said something like "I didn't set out to make a gender statement." Whatever. He was probably just being all delicate and politic, afraid of being misquoted; I bet if you asked him about it over beers he'd say something smart.

I also accidentally elbowed Voltaire in the ribs; shook hands with original Michael Myers actor Tony Moran (my God, does everyone but me have a MySpace page?); and stared shyly at the Ladies of the Evil Dead from across the room, unable to speak, but they were beautiful.

I also reprimanded a stocky male goth for surreptitiously photographing the posterior of a woman in a zombie-stripper costume with thong. And finally, while walking past a booth labeled "AUTOPSY," I was told by its proprietor: "It's so nice to see a normal person."

Friday, May 18, 2007

RIP Lloyd Alexander, 1924-2007

Alas. I'm afraid I did not even know he was still alive, but he was still writing children's books at 83. Lloyd Alexander wrote "The Chronicles of Prydain," a series of five* books following young farm boy Taran, who goes from Assistant Pig-Keeper to High King. Based in Welsh mythology, they feel epic and down to earth at the same time - the characters have swordfights and cope with magic, but they also bicker among themselves and complain about having to sleep on the ground. They hold up beautifully for adult readers, so I highly recommend trying them out. (Start with "The Book of Three.") Prydain was mapped out in my head before Narnia, before Middle-earth. I wish Mr. Alexander a safe journey to the Summer Country.

His publisher's obit is here.

*There's a sixth book, "The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain," but I feel this is more of a glorified appendix.

Hwoinch!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Borage martini



I promised myself one of these when the borage finally bloomed, which happened this week. And the damn thing is gigantic: it towers over the tomato it shares a pot with. I'm transplanting it out tomorrow.

The martini is just Hendricks gin with the usual splash of vermouth and borage flowers floated on top. They're just pretty. They're also edible so you can eat gin-soaked slightly cucumbery flowers. It's all kind of pointless but fun, a nice complement to the martini's ruthless qualities.

And of course it is gripped in my red floor-scrubbing soil-loading nail-bitten paw. Dr. Brian, we need some new hand models pronto...

'Jericho' update

The show has been CANCELED! HA! Take that, Art Boy!

No word on "Blind Justice." We're something like three weeks behind on "Lost." This may necessitate a marathon tonight, although Art Boy thoughtfully Netflicked "The Notorious Bettie Page" for me and I really want to watch that.

Right. Farmers market. I'm off.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Iron & Bone Tour

Yesterday I went tromping off in my car in the extreme heat to find Mystery Bookstore in Westwood Village, where authors Cassandra Clare and Holly Black were doing a joint signing. (And if those are their real names, my name is Emma Blackwood.)

Anyway, my expectations were fairly low based on my previous book-signing adventures. Readers may remember my three-hour adventure waiting for Lemony Snicket and finally giving up, and my entirely unsuccessful attempt to meet Bruce Campbell on my dinner break. I got there an hour early, and the bookstore was empty except for a gentleman (who turned out to be Cassandra's dad) talking to the proprietor. "Do you expect a big crowd?" I asked the proprietor, and she grinned and said "No." So I went across the street, had a drink and talked to Robin. An hour later I came back and found a respectable little crowd of maybe two dozen, all of whom were much younger than I am, bless their darling little hearts. Holly and Cassandra were introducing each other - their give and take was very cute. They took an audience poll: "Zombies or unicorns?" Of course I went with zombies, but the overwhelmingly female crowd went with unicorns. "They have a giant sword right on their heads!" enthused Holly. Cassandra gave her a look.

After their talk, they read, and then they signed, writing beautiful notes to Emma inside my copies of "Ironside" and "City of Bones." I had not expected to get to talk to them, so I had thought of nothing to say except to tell Cassandra how much I loved the Very Secret Diaries. She was very gracious. I probably looked like somebody's mom to her.

If any Cincinnatians are interested -- oh, hell, Kelly, they'll be at Joseph-Beth a week from Thursday at 7 p.m. You'd love them; they're hilarious. And they attract fun people: I was complimented on my "Save Ginny!" shirt by a cute girl who said she & her friends used to sing "Save Ginny Weasley From The Basilisk" in their high school cafeteria. She actually poked her friend and said "Look at that shirt!" when she saw it, which was enormously gratifying to this tired old nerd.

And "City of Bones" is pretty damn good. I just started "Ironside" last night.

Monday, May 07, 2007

What now? Looking back at Sassy

Actually, I was going to write a nice nostalgic post about Sassy today and how there's a new book out about it, but today it is smashingly gorgeous out, I'm just back from the garden center, and I have two hours to put these plants in & enjoy the day before heading to work. So, in sum: Sassy kicked ass. Here is a business article about it. Here is its Wikipedia page. Here is Marjorie Ingall's parenting column in the Forward, which I love even though I am a childless shiksa. I may fill this out later, but the lobelia is calling me. Sassy would want it this way, I feel sure.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Elvis



It is a fiesta today in our neighbor's window.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Take me down to your dance floor

Went out dancing after work last night, this time visiting Perversion at the Ruby. Another Hollywood club, this place also does not have a sign, but it has a large smoking patio that was full of goths so it was very easy to spot.

The Ruby is quite large, with three impressively separate areas where three different DJs were playing. In the main room was your large, traditional dance floor with platforms, strobe lights and many people wearing white shirts and grinding. The music there was mostly industrial. Off to one side, by the smoking patio, is a very nice little bar area where a DJ was playing what the club calls "indie, electro and dark 80s." In short, The Cure. The back room was closed for a private party but opened sometime after midnight; it seems to be the room of making out and dancing to Cocteau Twins using your best we're-in-the-forest moves.

I tried out the first two rooms and found them agreeable. My favorite was the Cure room; the music was my preferred variety for dancing, and the floor was marvelously slippery so I could practice my turns. Despite the people in white shirts, the main room was good too. Everyone on the floors of both rooms was very courteous and made room for people moving in and out. Neither dance space was ideal; one had strobe lights and the other was full of constant traffic to and from the smoking patio. But it was nice to be able to switch music styles at one's own whim rather than the DJ's. As a lady dancing alone, I also felt much less conspicuous in such a large venue. The bartender was agreeable as well, and although a gin and tonic was $7, he added enough gin that it did not seem too criminal.

The best thing about going out though is just watching the people. They are adorable. Last night there was a tall willowy woman in black trousers who looked exactly like a female Joey Ramone; a woman in pirate blouse and corset close-dancing with a gentleman in a top hat; and a girl in a vintage dress with pillbox hat that miraculously stayed in place all night. I love watching these people skulk around being all badass, then see their friends and start yelling "Squeeee!" and embracing. And then I went home and got in the tub, which was pretty nice too.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Because the South hasn't suffered enough

The Groovy Age of Horror reports with just alarm that Quentin Tarantino has gotten the idea of setting a movie in the South. Its author quotes Britain's Daily Telegraph:

Having already paid homage to martial arts, revenge, slasher, Japanese and road-rage movies, Tarantino is also planning a new genre, a form of spaghetti western set in America's Deep South which he calls "a southern".

"I want to explore something that really hasn't been done," he says. "I want to do movies that deal with America's horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they're genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it's ashamed of it, and other countries don't really deal with because they don't feel they have the right to.

"But I can deal with it all right, and I'm the guy to do it. So maybe that's the next mountain waiting for me."


(Full Telegraph interview here. Can I just say I love that headline? I would get in piles of trouble if I tried to write a headline like that! British papers are so ballsy sometimes, I swear, it makes me dizzy.)

Anyway, I agree with GAoH that this is a rotten idea. Tarantino may have been born in Tennessee, but he cannot actually believe America, and the South in particular, haven't explored their "horrible past with slavery and stuff." I'm imagining a horrible fusion of "Borat" and the "Kill Bill" movies - which were fine, but were exactly like being buttonholed at a party by a guy who's got good anecdotes but never stops to ask for your opinion. The South has to deal with outsiders' stupid preconceptions all the time. Tarantino is the last thing it needs.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The lamentable spectacle of late-night cable

Art Boy is at Coachella, which means I get to hog the remote and watch unimproving movies all weekend. Unfortunately, a spring cold has rendered me unable to enjoy this privilege until tonight, and tonight all I can do is complain. My preference is the movie channels, and I am unsatisfied with the movies being shown. What is this "Elizabethtown"? The plot appears to turn on the notion that traveling from Louisville to E-town (as the locals call it) is a difficult thing. It is not. It is a straight shot down I-65 and only an idiot could get lost. Next channel. I wanted to see "Constantine" in theaters and am gratified that it is now airing on television, but there is a great deal of mumbling. The demons are not particularly scary. Keanu Reeves does not resemble John Constantine and I am weary of Rachel Weisz. Next channel. Why is it that "The Remains of the Day," which I love, is always on but it is always the scene where he is busy with the big dinner party and his father is dying? Perhaps this scene is the entire movie. I haven't actually watched this all the way through since second grade. Oh, fuck this. I'm getting in the tub with a book.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Back




I'm back! Florida was lovely. Did I miss anything here?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gotta go

Off to Miami for the world's largest gathering of copy editors! Dear God. //REALLY WORLD'S LARGEST? NEED CHECK// Fortunately, we are a heavily drinking lot. And unlike my last excursion, to Santa Fe, I am unlikely to be made utterly foolish by the altitude. I shall instead be made foolish at the hotel bar. But not too foolish, as many bosses will be there.

Right. Gotta go cover the carnivorous plants with a tarp (the hose-wielding gardeners come today) and mail Mom's birthday card and catch a bus. See y'all next week.