Monday, February 26, 2007


Well, the Oscars were actually faintly interesting this year. Go them! I spent my evening working in between two TVs that were playing the telecast on a slight delay; an award would be announced on one, then two seconds later on the other one. By the end of the night my head hurt, but at least that dreadful "Little Miss Sunshine" movie didn't win. I'm fine with Martin Scorsese. I think mobsters are dull but it sounded like a better-qualified film than most of the other nominees, if my beloved "Children of Men" couldn't make the cut.

I felt bad for the gang on the red carpet as it was pretty cold and gray here. Art Boy went to a NASCAR race, at which he thoughtfully secured a trinket for my cute nephew, and complained that he was absolutely freezing. Perhaps the folks back home would like to tell Art Boy what he can do with his freezing-cold 50-degree weather? Head on over to his blog.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sound and vision

Hmm. Well, finally watched "The Prestige." I dunno, kittens. Maybe it's just sort of the inherent goofiness of seeing the action onscreen, as opposed to imagining it in a book; maybe it's being asked to accept Hugh Jackman as a more personable stage presence than Christian Bale (what is with his accent? Every time he opened his mouth I wanted to toss a tomato. Why is he American while Christian's character is some sort of Cockney?); maybe it was the loss of the multigenerational flashback element of the book that I enjoyed so well. (Southern girls love a good multigenerational epic. We'll settle for a framing device.) Maybe it was just having "Batman Begins" flashbacks. It was fine. It could have been much worse. It could also have been much better.

I very much like the mood of this film. The sense of dread builds very nicely: dead birds lead to a dead, well, bird (we are in England), and the rival magicians' one-upmanship gets gradually nastier and nastier. I love when one of them finally meets Tesla, and gets to stand around in a series of impressive set pieces, realizing he's dealing with something authentic, not just for show, and very potentially unpleasant. David Bowie is awfully cute; his accent is great; but somehow Andy Serkis gets to have all the most fun with the Tesla scenes. How did that happen? Who let Andy in here thinking he wouldn't run off with a scene?

The final twist ends up, to my mind, making a great deal less sense than it does in the novel. A bizarre turn has been added that makes it much more unpleasant on a great many levels. The marvelous goth creepshow sequence that crowned the novel has been turned into a sort of shocker final shot. Also, Michael Caine is all well and good, but I'm not sure why he has to narrate events. Obviously the two magicians are unreliable, but introducing a third character only complicates events. Does his character have a big secret too? No, I suppose not: here are the end credits. And poor Scarlett Johanssen. I love her, but anyone would've done in this role.

Still, it gets three stars out of five from me: one for the marvelous, Edward Gorey-ish image of a pile of black top hats in a snowy forest; one for Christian Bale; and one for Mr. Bowie, who, it goes without saying, may carry me off if he ever wishes to visit L.A.

Salon has a nice review here. I'm sorry if you have to watch an ad.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The grocery store is unfair

I put off going to the regular grocery store for weeks, making do with the house-brand goods at Farmer Ted's for as long as possible, but tonight I had to get dish soap and butter and facial scrub and a rotisserie chicken, and there's only one place within walking distance that has all those things. It took about the length of one song for me to pick everything up and get checked out, and that one song was Eric Carmen's "Make Me Lose Control." Why? Why? I could have dealt with, say, "Hungry Eyes." A Go-Go's song started up as I was leaving. Goddamn grocery store.

This is not an intended slur on Eric Carmen's singing skills, but if I were to use the word "batrachian*," would anyone here know what I meant? I had to look it up recently and am trying to figure out if that was just me or not.

*I apologize for the earlier misspelling. It is my weekend and I have been kicking up my heels by misspelling terms for amphibians. Don't say copy editors don't know how to have fun!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

You choo-choo-choose me?

Our Valentine's Day was nearly wrecked by a last-minute discovery that Art Boy and I do not, between us, own Season Four of "The Simpsons" and therefore do not own the "Monster Mash" Valentine's Day episode (such ugly realizations are among the many hazards of moving in together). But we managed to muddle through. I rather thought last night's "Lost" was one of the most lavishly romantic episodes to date; I just love Des and Penny, particularly since Penny looks exactly like Catherine Deneuve. Today I have been waltzing around humming tunes from "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and ordering forked-leaf giant sundews for the back patio. Also slept through my yoga class and had cookies for breakfast. Life is nice. Art Boy is pretty nice too.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Finding stuff

While hunting up information about "The Passenger" (after hearing Siouxsie's version on WOXY vintage), I came across this little essay over at Swoon. I don't know that it's necessarily a bad thing that finding stuff has gotten so much easier with the Internet. I do worry about the divide it creates socially: not every kid is going to have access to a computer growing up. And about how much easier it could get to sell kids things. Anyway, either way, "The Passenger" rocks.

Today's list:
Repot Nepenthes
Take nice brisk walk
Finish chapter of Spanish book
Attend flamenco class

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday update

Just back from a semisuccessful trip to the hardware store... bought some sticky carpet-runner stuff to cover the areas of the floor where Sebastian likes to make messes, and some lovely cheap red pots. "Are these for Valentine's Day?" asked my eyelinered sales clerk, who looked about 15.
"Ah, no. They're just for me," I said. "What are you doing for Valentine's Day?" she asked doggedly. I explained that my Art Boy wasn't much of a fan. "That's terrible!" she said. "I just found out my boyfriend was cheating on me for seven months. But how can your boyfriend not like Valentine's Day?" So take that, Art Boy!

Meanwhile, Nashville's mayor has made me proud, and the Anna Nicole paternity case is starting to sound like Richard III to me. I hope not a one of these conniving "fathers" gets a cent of the Marshall estate.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Wrung out

I am still what the good Spanish call agotada after last night's shift. Does anyone want to know anything about Anna Nicole Smith? I know more than I ever wanted to. There is no good way to scour this information out of one's brain.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More housekeeping

Adding Big Country to the links list. It took me 16 years (Jesus Christ) to get around to following his recommendation to see "Becket," but he was absolutely correct. The Times' film critic accurately described the two leads as "incandescent." It's a marvelous film.

I don't know that I'll be rushing out to rent "New Jack City," nonetheless...

Home alone

Art Boy is in what he likes to call Sub Diego on a fun-sounding business trip. I am here by myself. Come and get me, ruffians! Tonight I plan to take myself to see the restored limited-run showing of "Becket" at the Nuart, and then come home and make a big pile of vegetables with chicken and peanut sauce. Mmm... broccoli.

Otherwise all is well here. My minibog is recovering nicely from last week's rain, and the lemon tree is sprouting new growth all over the place. The Nepenthes are suffering from low humidity, but they're surviving and the sooty mold they brought from Ohio (sorry, California agriculture!) seems to be dissipating. I think they will be showy and gorgeous again in a couple months.

Today's book: "The October Country" by Ray Bradbury. I have been a bit disappointed with Ray in recent years, having found "From the Dust Returned" a bit unfocused (despite its stupefyingly gorgeous cover); and finally having read "Something Wicked This Way Comes" only to be reminded that I am not intrigued by carnivals. But this short-story collection jumped off the shelf at Dutton's into my arms the other week and I have been enjoying it immensely. Ray is a pumpkin pie, and he lives in L.A. I do not know that he would be able to carry me off, as he is an aged gentleman, but if I ever meet him I will snuggle him.