Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Pair of Queens

Speaking of Brokeback, did you hear the one about the two queens hanging out by the docks. Well we did because it was right down the hill from us at the Port of Los Angeles.

The luxury liner Queen Mary 2 came out to LA to “meet” with its predecessor the original Queen Mary that is now perennially dry-docked at the Long Beach Harbor. You may have read about in the papers. To those of us huddled around the great harbor this was sort of a big deal – similar to when the tall ships come in.

We live up on the hill of the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the harbor side – the one LA landmark no one knows about. When I first moved out here I lived near Century City in the heart of West LA in a fairly Jewish berg named Beverlywood (and I often think that residents would rent me their houses there because I could actually pass for being Jewish – dark curly hair , sometimes pasty white) – six blocks from Rodeo Drive. At night we could go party on Sunset Boulevard and glide home through carefully landscaped Beverly Hills streets in 12 minutes flat past Pico – my favorite LA street. In the mornings I marveled at the way I could take the I-10 out to the ocean on a wide-open Saturday morning and be on the Venice Pier instantly. I did that once and looked to the South and said to myself – what the fuck is that down yonder?

And I live there now – and we love the South Bay feel - greatly. Such that if a Port event happens we are right there. I drive by the bay on the way to work and could see the traffic signs out for a big QE2 event but I didn’t really know what was going on. I had been traveling so much I just wanted to make sure I made my Yoga class held at the old MacArthur military base located up the hill.

Meanwhile Deborah made a beeline to the shore with her friend Sharon - who, by the way, is our favorite longshoreman. A good time was had by all.

But while they were watching the historic boat I was doing Down Dog.

Dog, Yo.

(Stay tuned for my Oscar picks this Tuesday!)

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Not That There's Anything Wrong with That"

Saw Brokeback this weekend – and I am outraged.

Well, not at the film – I thought it was a thought provoking pastoral tale of angst-ridden love primarily set in the 60’s and 70’s. What I am a bit miffed at is that I could barely hear the first half of the movie over the constant munching, talking, paper-rattling and baby-crying that goes on at today’s movie theatres. Maybe I’m a bit thin-skinned about this but I do think this is the primary reason people may be “staying away” from the theatres (if you actually believe that is true - that's another post). Now if it’s a big action flick like Mission Impossible 14 maybe I can put up with somebody shaking the ice in their soda cup throughout the entire movie. But when it is relatively a quiet film, like Brokeback, well this behavior borders on the unruly.

The previous weekend we saw “Good Night and Good Luck” – another quiet film – so quiet I could hear the movie next door plain as day. Deb and I like to sit in about the fourth row back in the middle – this means generally no one in back of us (you know the last row before the walkway that separates the nosebleeds from us) and a lot of times no one in front of us – seems that most people do not like to sit that close. Well, at the last minute a couple comes and sits in front of us – which is not big deal, except that the guy has a big head and well….

What was interesting is that they are a part of a disturbing trend to me – and that is of the movie picnicker’s. I mean they had every food group that could be imagined: chips, sodas, water, candies, popcorn – and Deborah swears they had grilled Rueben sandwiches or shish-kabobs down there. This menu also entails a lot of movement and thrashing around in front of us while Edgar R. Murrow and his producer are trying to singlehandedly take down McCarthy. I wanted to say “Excuse me I don’t think this is how George Clooney imagined this movie going experience.” And yeah I could hear the space aliens attack in the movie next door.

Thankfully I got through that movie without making a citizen’s arrest. At Brokeback we are sitting in the same place when a couple again comes in at the last minute and shares our row – no big deal, at least they’re not in front of us. Now this movie is fairly slow and it starts out even slower – so you really need to soak in the solitary world that Ang Lee so convincingly conveys on screen to really see how this romance started.

But that’s pretty hard when you have popcorn lady over here to my left munching away (as we are visually presented majestic mountain vistas and canyons and lakes) and shuffling around making her own space over there. And then she’s got this move – the “I’ll just shake this three-pound bag of popcorn to – I dunno – move it around some more” – what is all of this shaking about? Seven times during the movie - out comes the bag – the seemingly endless supply of popcorn and the shake (well at least I can’t hear the movie next door over the shake). I just wanted to say, “Excuse me miss, but I just can’t hear Heath mutter that well over all of this...shaking.”

Then there is a new item that has just been introduced at theatres (or they were smuggled in but it seemed like a lot of them) soda in cans which means at any time of the movie – “metal scraping” and then “pop”! Sounded like a tailgate party to me. What marketing genius came up with this one?

And I haven’t even told you about the crying baby. “Hey Margaret – let’s go take our three-month old child to see Brokeback Mountain!” “Okay – and I’ll bring the beers with the poptops. And don’t forget the Ruebens!” That baby was in and out of that theater about four times.

As for the movie - it was good. In the early goings on I kept bracing for the gratuitous sex scene but it wasn’t that bad, but the anticipation was. And frankly I couldn’t pay attention because of popcorn lady anyway. As the mass eating died off toward the middle of the movie I was taken with the juxtaposition of these guys hanging out in a great natural setting and then, at least in Heath’s case, going back to a life of significant squalor. I enjoyed the rural depiction of this Wyoming setting and the simple life of that town. Much of it reminded me of the untold stories suggested by painter Andrew Wyeth in his stark rural masterpieces. Ang Lee shot a terrific looking film which shows both the magnificent and the plain. And the lovelorn.

The movie next door sounded good, too.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Fable #1

Before I moved to Texas (in the middle of sixth grade) I spent my formative years on the East Coast: upstate New York, Baltimore and New Jersey - Westfield, New Jersey to be exact - fifth grade and half of sixth. My parents were both New Yorkers so when my Dad eventually got transfered back to New York from Maryland (oil man) we found ourselves in the perfect Jersey bedroom town of Westfield - complete with sweeping majestic bungalows, city parks and a picture perfect downtown village (I went back for the first time 25 years later in '95 and couldn't believe how much it had stayed the same over the years).

So that's right - my father took the train in every day to Manhatten and back (I can almost hear Sheena Easton right now). We lived on an idylic corner near the park in a two-story colonial with black shutters and a backyard that wrapped around the corner. Now do you now what this meant to little fifth-graders in the throes of a Northeast winter - say around February 14th?

Yup - snow shovelin'. That's alot of sidewalk for a kid with that layout I just described. And that was my job the previous weekend - and I thought I did good, but apparently not good enough.

So I think Valentine's Day that year was on a Tuesday also - Mom had prepared a special dinner and was even dressed up and all (pearl earrings, brooch, bracelet) when she ran to the door to welcome father - home from a long bruising train ride.

But it wasn't good ole Dad. It was a policeman. Mother swears to this day she almost kissed the guy - which would have probably made Officer Hanley's day. Seems old Mrs. McGillicuddy almost fell outside on the sidewalk which was now icing up on one of the coldest VD days I ever knew. Officer Hanley wrote Mom a ticket. Improper snow shovelin'. Not quite a candy heart.

Of course, when Dad got home this put a mild damper on VD festivities. I had a bit of responsiblity here, so I was sweating it - but the big point was how could anybody give somebody's wife a snow shovelin' violation ticket on VD day! We will have our day in court godwillin'.

And so we did - after a week or two of mapping out proper court strategy (and I know there was one but I can't begin to remember now) Dad waged a great campaign to the judge in court that day and only had to pay court fees - or half the ticket which I think came out to $12.50. A grand victory. But - it's the principle you see. And because of this I became very much an expert snowshoveler, pretty much by need - because this could never happen again, mind you.

We moved to Texas within a year. And I have never needed that skill set since. I'm a damn good sweeper though.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Real Winner

Michelle Kwan showed what the Olympic spirit is all about with her fairly expedient withdrawl from the 2006 Winter Games due to injury - and in a time frame where the alternate, Emily Hughes, could prepare herself for a good run in 10 days time. Nine-time national champion Kwan has been recovering from injury and was not able to compete in the national trials for the Olympic team but was nevertheless selected by the national committee to compete primarily due to her professionalism and to hopefully see her through to the long-elusive gold medal (she got silver in Nagano '98 and bronze in Salt Lake City ' 02).

After participating in opening day ceremonies Friday night she hit the practice ice the next morning only to injure her groin. Almost immediately she knew her chances to compete at full strength were dashed even though the preliminaries were ten days away. That night she withdrew herself from the games so alternate Hughes could get on board. In early Sunday morning interviews she was asked about her quest for the gold and how could she give it up - and she responded "well you just have to have a love for the sport - and I respect the Olympics too much not to go at full strength".

Of course the press had sort of a field day with this. "Shake up at the Olympics" blared one local news team this morning! NBC's Bob Costas and others debated her place in ice skating histroy (because at 25 that is pretty much it) and although everyone wanted to give her kudos "she didn't win Olympic Gold". Exactly WHEN did this become the barometer for anything! What she did this weekend will be remembered more than any Olympic Gold. She didn't even flinch in taking herself out on the same day she got injured - didn't wait to dwell about it ad nauseum and create any drama - she just did it.

And that's the sign of a true champion.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Grammy Award Winner

Wow - our little Texas girl did it - she wasn't there for the big one but she won two big others - and beat the best. Wow - our little girl did it. There is a God. And he's from the big state.

And did anybody notice that Mary J. Blige cannot fucking sing?

Please see below as well (I spent alot of time on it expecting nothing).

And if you don't comment, I'll hunt you down - well you know - down to Chinatown. Fokker.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kelly Clarkson Update!

And this just in – rock n' roll music magazine Blender just named Kelly Clarkson Woman of the Year!

And what a time to do it - well they actually did it several weeks ago, but I have been holding back until Grammy Week. And you know what I think about the current slate of Record of the Year candidates (see here). Once again publication-after-publication claims Kelly to have rocked their world while the nimrods at the Academy select cartoons, clowns, militant doofasses and cartoonish divas as their primary honorees.

"Clarkson nods in appreciation, as Blender’s 2005 Woman of the Year adds another name to her long, strange list of admirers. It’s a truly disparate group, one that includes – but is clearly not limited to – teenage girls, housewives, gay men, indie rockers, Oprah, Dave Grohl, the cast of Laguna Beach, your mom, your fraternity brother, five million or so record buyers and at least one umbrella-designing friend of Diddy”.

No I’m not gay and I turned Laguna Beach down. Diddy who?

“I never thought someone from American idol would turn out to be the real deal”, admits former Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody who co-wrote two songs on 2004’s Breakaway (and who accompanied Clarkson to a tattoo parlor, where they solidified their Lone Star lineage in ink). “But that was just her vehicle. She used it; it didn’t use her. She flipped it on its ass.”

Also Blender named “Since You Were Gone” as its Number One Song of the Year: “The original Cowell-slayer ditches maudlin ballads of her debut and roars back as…a rawk animal! In 2005’s finest single, Clarkson provides the missing link between The N and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, building from a blasé’ sigh to a bad-boyfriend-obliterating explosion, propelled by a fantastically lean guitar chug. Best experienced wailing along, preferably into an air-mike.” Or while driving with the sunroof back and screaming at people.

Soul Coughing front man M. Doughty enthused about it on his blog: “First of all, it’s just a great, classic single. And she’s got one of those voices – it’s like a higher version of a trombone. (Trombone. Wha – no cowbell?) No vibrato. Super-strong. Pure Texas. (Ye-aagh!) You don’t really hear a lot of voices like that in pop music.”

What is probably even more interesting is that her fourth hit off of Breakaway may even be her biggest. Because of You (“I never stray too far from the sidewalk…”) has been the number one video on VH-1 (or close to it) for about eight weeks now.

So go ahead Grammys. Pick Moo-riah or some of those other clowns. All of us desperate housewives know who rules.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pride and Prejudice

Or Crooks or Incompetants? Want to know what disgraced energy giant Enron and myopic Super Bowl referees may have in common? Then go here.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Super Bowl Color

Just real quick - there was one decision made this week that should make everyone's viewing of the Super Bowl really super - the Steelers decided to go white.

You see they are the "designated" home team, so usually they would pick their home black jerseys to play in the SB. But since they won all of their playoff games on the road in white and since Detroit is really a "road game" according to their coach they decided to stay with the white. This has angered many Pittsburgh fans who love their team in the gold and black.

Actually going "white" is a very smart move.

1) In winning three intensive playoff games on the road QB Big Ben Roesthlisberger (or whatever his name is) is used to looking for white jerseys down the field. To change for the SB would be entirely stupid since they have been on this good roll. Keep looking for white Ben and you will be okay - I actually wonder how much this has weighed in other games. I mean in the college basketball championship (NCAA - March Madness) game of around 1983 with the game on the line a Georgetown player actually passed the ball to a competing North Carolina player with ten seconds left because their home and road uniforms looked so much alike - and they lost the game.

2) It will make the game visually appealing. Many have made alot over Seattle's all blue uniforms - I actually like them in their home togs. But if they went white and Pittsburgh went with black it would have been one of the most ugly games to watch. With Pittsburgh going white and Seattle blue it will be a fairly colorful contest for TV.

And if you really want to know - I am taking Seattle.