Friday, August 31, 2007

Crazy, Innit?

One of the most handsomely ridiculous* movies I've seen in a long time.

*Lest there be any confusion over whether I liked it, in the clear light of morning perhaps preposterous would be a better word.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Good Heavens, Is That My Foot in Your Stall? I Do Apologize!"

And this is great -- Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. (You may need to be registered to read it.) It's the only place thus far that I've seen Craig's excuse for how he came to be making contact with the foot in the next bathroom stall.

Uhhhh . . .

"While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of making it go away," Craig, 62, told reporters in Boise, Idaho.
-- from today's Washington Post article on Senator Larry Craig of Idaho

Monday, August 27, 2007

Closer to Fine

Okay, I've now officially had my summer and can go into autumn smiling. Last night Diablo and I trekked out to Wolf Trap -- a true natural and artistic treasure that we Washingtonians are lucky to have in our vicinity. To me, Wolf Trap (America's only national park for the performing arts!) is summer. I try to go at least once a season, and I didn't make it there at all last year. To listen to lovely music on a lawn full of congenial people while warm breezes pass over me in this particular place -- well, it's one of my favorite things in the world.

I can't do much better than Diablo has in describing last night's Indigo Girls show. "Catching up with an old friend" is just right. I'd never seen the Girls live and had long heard that their Wolf Trap show was something to experience. Indeed it was. As all of the very best concerts are to me, it was, in some indefinable way, inspiring. Not really "I could do that." More I want to do . . . not that but something like that, something beautiful and humane and connecting. The pursuit is worthwhile. And being the recipient of that feeling almost feels enough. At least on one night.

I have only one Indigo Girls album, which I'm listening to right now (on cassette). It's their self-titled one containing the career-defining anthem "Closer to Fine." (Diablo would argue "Galileo," which I'd almost forgotten about, is that song.) I consider myself a fan, so why don't I have more of their music? I will rectify that situation.

Here are some pictures of my own from last night, to supplement Diablo's and his narrative of the entire evening.

The Filene Center, where the stage and the people with the more expensive seats are. I've sat there too, and I think I like the lawn better, unless it's someone I'm fanatical about, like Emmylou Harris, and must see every movement of. It's a beautiful structure that burned to the ground when I was in college and was completely rebuilt.

Me with glasses.

Without glasses. Look at the couple in the background. Are they mocking us???

The horror! The horror!

Still Life With Calves (and Knees)

Please, sir, I want some more.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Hate That -- You Know That, Don't You?

If I could have one wish tonight, it would be that no play, no movie, no TV show, no book -- hell, no real life -- would ever again contain the hackneyed, cringe-inducing line "I love you -- you know that?" (Variants: "I love you -- you know that, don't you?" and "I love you -- you know that, right?")

I saw a play tonight, Lazarus Syndrome, that contained that line. I wish I could say it was the only misstep in an otherwise wonderful play. It was a so-so play -- about a middle-aged gay man living with HIV -- far from wonderful, but it did have a surprising and genuinely moving twist toward the end that ultimately made its compact 75 minutes worth seeing, or at least not a waste of time.

Wish number two would be that actors playing in a small theater wouldn't YELL their lines as if playing to the back row of the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. The guy playing the main character's brother tonight did that; strangely, he did it only on half of his lines.

I see that problem a lot in Washington, and it's probably my number-one theater pet peeve. Why so many local directors don't ask these actors to scale their performances to the size of the space is a mystery. Why these actors don't just figure it out for themselves is another.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

All Over but the Shoutin'

Only the hairy balls survive.

Sorry, no time for anything but sophomoric double-entendres tonight. I've been painting.

Soon, a lovely quote from this book. As soon as I finish it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Five Little Words

"I have three words," said Diablo as we exited the theater where we'd just seen Death at a Funeral. "Contrived. Predictable. Gross."

I added two: pedestrian and implausible.

Although it came in too late to qualify as an official sixth word, we later agreed that "offensive" applied as well.

I was convinced that the screenwriter, Dean Craig, had to be an American hack (or rank beginner, or both) who got it in his mind that he could write a wacky British farce -- I could think of no other explanation for the lame, write-by-numbers material -- but it seems that he's British after all.

A shame to see the sexy and talented Peter Dinklage fallen this low. But hey, the rest of the audience seemed to love it. Why does this happen so often?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Say It With Flowers

Sign at the farmer's market this morning: "Folks, I didn't make it up. The green object in the bouquets is called hairy balls."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me

This past Wednesday, I had lunch with my junior-high and high-school classmate who had e-mailed me out of the blue.

It was a fairly transformation-less experience. I couldn't quite figure out what, if anything, he wanted from me. He had indicted in his e-mail that he was interested in writing for the publication I work for, but every encouragement I issued to him was met with seeming indifference. He talked ad nauseam about himself -- and of course, I asked question after question about him, even when I wasn't all that interested. The only time he asked anything about me was toward the end of the lunch when, apparently out of desperation or an eleventh-inning surge of politeness, he said, "So how long have you worked at ______ ?"

He wasn't very into reminiscing about our school or classmates, either. We did a little of that, but he made it clear that he didn't have fond memories. Strangely enough, he's been in touch recently with a guy who used to be one of my best friends, now a priest, whom I haven't been in touch with since the early '90s (the ball is in his court, if you ask me).

As we left the restaurant, the conversation turned to a classmate who was the closest thing to a best friend that T.B. had (in my memory anyway). He said, "We went through some rough times." I wasn't sure I had heard him, and I said, "You went through some rough times?" (meaning "you" singular). He said, "We both did. Drugs will do that to you."

Right. The drugs. I almost forgot.

He's a very handsome straight guy -- very white teeth, open collar with gold chain, pleated pants (heh heh), learning to play golf (very useful in the investment field and all), three kids in the suburbs. I didn't mention Elton.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Maple Nut Prufrock

I had a nice visit to Madison, but I have to confess that as I walked into the crowded party Saturday night, I thought, Are you serious? Did I really come halfway across the country to attend yet another party at which I know only the host? It wasn't quite the elegant, flowing affair I'd imagined, but it was fine. I think my friend was touched that I came.

The highlight of the weekend for me had been earlier that day when I attended the Sugar Maple Festival, an all-day (actually, two-day) outdoor festival of country, folk, and traditional music. I was particularly excited to have accidentally timed my trip just right to see a singer I like a lot and had never seen live before, Robbie Fulks. He kicked off the afternoon in an authentic, unpretentious, yet passionate way. A really good local Celtic band, West Wind, totally won me over, particularly the mesmerizing voice of one the singers, Josh Perkins; unfortunately, the group doesn't appear to have a CD.

As planned, I did have lots of ice cream (orange custard chocolate chip, maple nut, chocolate mint flake) and took a several-mile-long walk around Lake Monona. And Madison has the most amazing farmers' market. It completely encircles the Capitol building. But the city boy in me did start to get a little impatient with the slooowww pace of foot traffic -- which they can hardly be blamed for: You want to stop at every cheese, baked-good, flower, and produce stand. Unless you just . . . want . . . to . . . get . . . out . . . of . . . the . . . crowd -- and move.

Sigh. I was really glad to get home. It was a little too quiet there. I like where I live.


Get this -- I actually finished a book: Songs Without Words by Ann Packer. It's officially being published in September. I loved her first novel, The Dive From Clausen's Pier, which came out five years ago, and still recommend it to people. This new one was a little harder to get into, if just as well written, and I put it down for a few weeks, picking it up again on my trip. It's largely about women's friendship -- which makes it maybe chick literature, not to be confused with chick lit -- but it's also about marriage and parenthood and sadness and working your way out of all the muck, even the muck you'll never understand.

Here's a short passage I liked, about a husband and wife whose relationship has been strained after their teenage daughter's attempted suicide:

"He said, 'Something smells delicious.'

"She said, 'Just chicken.'

"This was how they often talked these days, in code. He had just told her that he was not disinclined to see her in a favorable light, and she had replied that that might be true, but that he hadn't convinced her."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Oh, All Right

After much resistance, here goes:

1. What is your favorite word?

Can't think of one word. One of my favorite phrases: Aberdeen Proving Ground. I have no idea why.

2. What is your least favorite word?
Since I picked a phrase above, I'll do the same here: "I could care less."

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

4. What turns you off?
Small talk. The older I get, the less tolerant of it I am.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

G.D., pronounced as initials. It's what my father says, adjectivally ("Who put that
G.D. box there?"), when he's really angry. (No one ever uses a real swear word in my mother's presence.) My siblings and I occasionally say "G.D." in a cheeky homage to him, and it always makes me smile.

6. What sound or noise do you love?
Someone, human or canine, snoring beside me.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?
[Number 7 was not on the list, but I assume this is it and it was left off by accident, since James Lipton always asks it on Inside the Actors Studio.]
The sound of a cranky child between the ages of zero and two crying in a public place. Parents reading this are probably thinking that I'm unsympathetic with the child and/or his or her parents. I'm neither sympathetic nor unsympathetic with either; I'm not passing judgment. I simply hate this sound
as sound. It makes me want to scream.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?


9. What profession would you not like to do?


10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

"This is
so going to be worth it."