October 2003 Archives
Off to la dentiste.
- GO, the movie. I started with "Beat the Devil" in the DVD player, then decided I wanted to see Kirk Douglas chew the scenery in "The Champion" instead, but I couldn't find my copy anywhere. Tripped on "Go" and decided it was perfect for my state of semi-ironic exhaustion. I was right. Funny, interesting, dark. And Sarah Polley. And Katie Holmes.
- "Direct from Brooklyn," by They Might Be Giants. If you own only one music video collection, make it this one. Fascinating, full of their quirky music and equally quirky visual style, and they included the two Tiny Toons cartoons based on their songs "Particle Man" and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", which rock. Also, they have a new desktop application for TMBG fans, the TMBG clock radio, so check out the site.
- Elizabeth McCracken's "Niagara Falls All Over Again", a delightful romp through the lives of a pair of vaudevillians turned radio stars turned movie stars turned TV stars. I'll confess to an inexplicable weakness for anything that shows an affection for vaudeville and early radio, when just about anything passed for entertainment (as opposed to today's television? Okay, good point . . . ). This is well-written, touching, lyrical, and with enough detail to really bring the characters to life. Loving it. (I should admit that I once wrote a short story that was remarkably close to this in subject, tone and language, so maybe I was in love with this book before it was written.)
- The Y. Time to head back indoors and run the track and soak in the whirlpool. Time for bedtime hair to still smell of chlorine and to be a little loose about bedtime if it means we got a little swim in of an evening.
- Christmas cards. Created, ordered and delivered, baby! Here's this year's pic, unlikely at best but showing our lovelies off in their rock star mode (which Rebekah, at least, has been in since seeing "School of Rock").
This is a huge deal, and every weekend from now until performance time we will be dragging our Pink Polchinelle and our Party Child into an overheated estrogen zone of dozens of dancers and their moms (and some dads, of course), and we will wait while they rehearse. (Yesterday, I chose not to wait, and instead wandered around with my cam capturing the aesthetic delights of downtown Albany. Got some amazing photos, and I'm starting with the least amazing, so check them out at my Fotolog.) Today is picture day, so there will be many hours of hair preparation this morning. Last year Lee's arm was broken, and she was away on picture day, I believe, but we got through it because Hannah is such a good big sister - she was able to get her hair done and then took care of Rebekah's. They were both clowns last year, which involves braiding and looping and ribbons, and while I'm not exactly the football-meat-beer type of guy, I'm not imbued with the hair-arranging gene, either, so Hannah was the hero of the day. Today, after some flip-flopping on the part of The Man (Miss Madeleine), the clowns are back to their old hair, and Hannah has to have ringlets attached to hers to make it Party-Child-Like.
I think there's shooting going on over in the sand mine. I'm going to just ignore it, though it's been a long time since I heard anyone taking shooting practice down there. When we moved here it was much more common.
We're having our annual revolt of the appliances. This year: the refrigerator and the dishwasher. Both exactly two years old. The fridge has never been quite right. The fan gets ice on it and gets very very noisy. Then the whole freezer starts frosting up. And the dishwasher has started leaking. They're not supposed to do that. Luckily, all under warranty, but the guy they sent out yesterday, said he hadn't seen this model before, and proceeded to take the fridge from "functioning, but like living next to the runway" to "dead" in just a few hours. Then he declared his day a loss and went home. Thanks, Mr. Snappy Repairs. This necessitated a run to Delmar by Lee in order to keep our new free range chickens in a frozen state, rendering them incapable of revenge. A bunch of stuff we just had to throw out. (Note that we did NOT have this problem in the blackout.) But the store was great when she called today, sent over a loaner fridge and with any luck we have a REAL service person coming tomorrow.
Otherwise, my day was like Roger Clemons in the first inning last night. I was just shelled. But I didn't have that first hit in a World Series to make it all just a little better. Arrgh.
Have to go and do a speaking engagement that I don't want to do this morning. As I groused about it yesterday, the primary enticement I was offered was that there would be coffee and donuts beforehand. If you could see me you would know that, while not as svelte as I'd like to be, donuts are not my primary motivator in life. Why do people say things like that?
Okay, time to get back to that guitar dream.
I'll note that it was in Quebec that I first learned that there is an international highway sign that indicates "road crumbles into nothingness," but around these parts, we don't feel the need to warn people about that. If it happens, it happens. This particular road was paved for a few hundred feet on both ends, and unpaved for more than a mile in the middle. Another thing we don't do around here is put up signs naming the back roads. Or even the main roads, often enough. I believe the thinking of the woodchucks is that if you belonged there, you'd know what road you were on. So I found myself climbing and climbing and climbing up a road, and every now and then it would level out, round a bend and climb again. It was only when I was at the top, consulting my map for the rest of the journey, that I realized I might have expected nothing less from something called Mile Hill Road.
Windy this afternoon, and the sun hid away by the time I got out for my ride. I was wearing my leg and arm warmers, and needed them, and zipping and unzipping my jacket and jersey. I'd climb to the top of a hill in a fierce hot sweat, rolling things down as I went up, and then at the top have to cover myself back up again. I learned why the serious guys shave their chests -- it's quicker than letting the zipper pull the hairs out seven at a time.
Had a delightful morning shopping with my older daughter. She needed jeans and a hairpiece for the Nutcracker (party children MUST have ringlets, and with her cool little Keira Knightley haircut, she can't ring), I needed some new dress shirts, so we had a nice little morning together, followed by a bad lunch at the Friendly's (but followed by ice cream and caramel). She's a vision, she is. Both my girls amaze me constantly. Smart, funny (well, they have my sense of humor -- decide for yourself if that's funny), and a little too pretty for their own good.
But now I'm tired. Watched some of the playoff games last night, then I had to find a vampire bar so I could watch "Angel." Syracuse still has some good vampire bars.
Tomorrow morning: driving to Syracuse in a windstorm! Woo Hoo!
I know, that made no sense at all. I'm a little stressed out. I'm accustomed to being sued, but I have never actually had to go to trial before. The plaintiff's lawyers are mostly aiming to make me blow up. Our exchanges in the deposition frequently went like this:
Them: Have you ever seen this document before?
Me: Not to my knowledge.
Them: When did you first become aware of this document?
Me: I have not seen this document before.
Them: If someone on your staff had prepared this document, who would have done that?
Me: I don't know, since I'm unaware of this document and I don't know why we would have prepared it.
Them: When did this meeting take place?
Me: I couldn't say.
Them: Why couldn't you say?
Me: Because I don't recall.
Them: When do you think it might have taken place?
Me: I don't recall.
Them: Could you estimate?
Me: I could, but I'd be wrong.
Four hours of that. Twice.
This is karmic payback. Probably for blowing up a frog with a firecracker once. I said I was sorry!!!
Just for the record, lawyers really do say "Asked and answered." A lot. But I think they picked it up from Sam Waterston.
Watermark: I count to three and grin. You smile and let me in. We sit and watch the wall you painted purple. Speech will spill on space. Our little cups of grace. But pauses rattle on about the way that you cut the snow-fence, braved the blood, the metal of those hearts that you always end up pressing your tongue to. How your body still remembers things you told it to forget. How those furious affections followed you. I've got this store-bought way of saying I'm okay, and you learned how to cry in total silence. We're talented and bright. We're lonely and uptight. We've found some lovely ways to disappoint, but the airport's almost empty this time of the year, so let's go play on a baggage carousel. Set our watches forward like we're just arriving here from a past we left in a place we knew too well. (Hold on to the corners of today, and we'll fold it up to save until it's needed. Stand still. Let me scrub that brackish line that you got when something rose and then receded.
It's some kind of miracle when we get to see movies two weekends in a row, and even more of one when there are actually that many movies we'd like to see. I could have seen three last night, but had to whittle it down to one, and having just seen "The Big Lebowski" and being especially susceptible to the charms and machinations of the Coen Brothers generally, I went with "Intolerable Cruelty." As with the best of screwball comedies, I was utterly torn between needing to burst with laughter and needing to hear every next word, so I spent most of the movie expelling single bursts of glee into the air, then holding my breath so I could hear. "O Brother Where Art Thou" proved they had watched Preston Sturges movies, and they knew what to do with George Clooney. Catherine Zeta-Jones knows what to do all on her own, and she does it very very well. And I think it's fair to say this film has the absolute Funniest Fatal Gunshot Wound Ever.
What else would I have seen? Well, we missed "Once Upon A Time In Mexico," and I had just recently been wowed by the previous film in the trilogy, and it looked like things blew up real good, so I had wanted to see that. "Kill Bill" also looks like a hoot, and, well, I mean, Uma Thurman. Kinda all I need to know. And the Bill Murray vehicle, "Lost in Translation," is supposed to be marvelous. But none of them have a hitman named "Wheezy Joe."
Then, nasty work stuff, but when it was over the day was still unspeakably gorgeous. Despite the best efforts of the attorneys from Evil Incarnate to f up my week, I did not need my non-refundable one-way ticket from the Big Apple (Newark, actually) to the Salt City (Syracuse, don't ya know). Unable to trade it on the street for a ticket to the playoffs, I found myself able to follow through on oft-cancelled plans to finally meet up with a very old friend, former colleague and even roommate. Despite having been around me at an extremely messy time of my life, she's kept in touch through the years. So it was a delight to see her again at the Daily Orange reunion, though our time to talk there was limited. So tonight we finally got together for dinner, along with a delightful friend of hers, and had a perfectly civilized evening at an excellent restaurant in Greenwich Village, the Grange Hall. Fabulous Northeastern food, I had a salmon in a "Hudson Valley apple" sauce that was incredible, with sweet acorn squash on the side. Then we wandered along Bleecker to The Bitter End, where we were treated to another DO alum playing in a kick-ass fun band called The Mar-Tays. Swinging blues, I guess you would say, some old Leon Russell stuff and a blow-the-roof-off-the-dump cover of Elton's "Border Song" (think "Holy Moses"). Really rocked, and the singer really had the depth for the material. Wild to be in a small, hot place listening to live music again -- hardly ever get to do that in my life. Thank you, Smoking Ban, for making that enjoyable again.
So, a wonderful day. The Elton cover made me long for more, but I only had "Madman on the Water" on the iPod. So now I'm on to Eliza Gilkyson. A completely different thing, but can that woman sing.
With eyes open wide, in her sweetest dolly voice, she asked, "Butterflies?"
Oh, wait, that was in my dreams! No, in fact, the install hung up in the middle, and now I can't get on the network at all. Ever. I'd call the Help Desk, but I don't have their number because I use the online phone directory. And I'm just going to end this tirade there, because it will end up with me blaming Windows for my inability to go to NYC and have a fun evening with friends tomorrow night, as I had planned, because instead I have to go to Syracuse and defend a certain state in a ridiculous lawsuit. I'm not happy about this. If I took this governing thing personally, someone would pay.
California: my prayers are with you. You have long been the republic's equivalent of a crazy homeless person, teetering on the edge between being a harmless amusement and being a danger to yourself. Well, now I'm afraid it's time for the straitjacket. You can no longer be trusted not to hurt yourself. This is the state that gave us the Beach Boys and Charlie Manson. At the same time. I'll take the Big Apple's brand of crazy any day, thanks. I understand people wanting to push me onto the subway tracks. I'm against it, but I get it. I do not understand people who think drugged-up, overcompensating sexual harassers still struggling with English as a third language qualify as leaders. Your futon; lie on it, if you dare.
A rain of frog's eggs would appear to be another matter entirely.
So, okay, maybe best rock 'n' roll movie ever is ambitious, but it's definitely in the Top 5. It's right up there with "The Commitments" (technically an R&B movie, but still), "Quadrophenia" (a true rock 'n' roll movie, with music as background to the story), "Rock 'n' Roll High School" and the incomparable "A Hard Day's Night."
I will admit that I once thought that "Streets of Fire" was a great rock movie, but I was mistaken, blinded by a serious ache for Diane Lane and a willingness to forgive its reliance on a completely suck song by Dan Hartman. However, it introduced me to The Blasters, and it's still a dumb fun sort of urban fantasy. This is not to be confused with one of Diane Lane's other forays into rock moviedom, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains." I remember only two things about this one: despite being played on cable about every five minutes in the mid-'80s, it was virtually unwatchable, and Diane Lane spits out "We're the Fabulous Stains, and we don't put out!" to try to show us she's punk. She's not. Diane Lane? She's a lot of things, but not punk.
Enough! There's work to be done!
Comments have always been part of my Fotolog, by the way, and the work there is probably a little more worthy of comment. If you haven't ever seen a 2-year-old covered in Post-It notes, I'd recommend you head on over.
Speaking of leaving a mark, we've decided that we're going to take the kids to see "School of Rock," inappropriate drug humor and all, because by all accounts it's a very funny movie, and we did the uplifting girl-power thing ("Bend It Like Beckham") last time.
And Joan Cusack as a principal. That's a fantasy bordering on porn, in my mind. Which shows you just what a dark and scary place my mind is. Her little speech impediment drives me wild. I can barely get through her repeatedly saying "Sssthhir!" over and over in "Grosse Pointe Blank" without an intervening cold shower.
Perhaps I've said too much . . .
Now, of course, the old Country Joe and the Fish lyric from "Flyin' High" is stuck in my head: "The one with the fez, he turns and he says, 'We'd like to help you make your trip' . . ."
By the way, I am killing in French class.