Saturday, April 30, 2011

basic funk formula



Bootsy knows funk and I love me some Bootsy. io9 has a great interview including classic video links and some great quotes:
If we only used a tad bit of doing the right thing for people and situations, man, we could wipe this stupidness out so quickly.

And speaking of Star Trek - William Shatner - you know, I'm actually doing a record with him, and that's like a dream come true.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

royal wedding

I'm getting married in the morning ...


These days, thanks to DVRs, it's not necessary to get up at the crack of dawn to watch the wedding of the century (plus, no commercials). I was able to get up at the regular time, do my usual morning routine, feed the cats and dog and child, walk the dog, walk with the kid to school, walk back home (in some seriously muggy weather for 8am), have a bowl of raisin bran and soy milk topped with a sprinkling of granola on top, check email, and then flip on the tube and start playing the recording. That's how I like to attend a royal wedding.

This is truly a major event, especially for England, and the general giddy air that I'm seeing on screen reminded me of when I attended President Obama's inauguration. It is socially important for people to have a part in such events, no mater how small a part, if only camped out on the living room sofa. I remember seeing some of the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles on what now seems a very tiny television compared to today's big flat screens. It seemed very long and boring, sort of like the train on Diana's dress. Although a tad old-fashioned-looking (she had to have her shoulders covered), Kate's dress is much better. Diana's was such a long time ago ...


Watching the guests arrive, there are some out of this world wonderful hats, I assume most are by Philip Treacy. Most of them seem designed to fall off the side of the head, much like the one Kate is so famous for wearing. Posh's hat is quite subtle in comparison to most, but looks fantastic, as does she. And of course, so does her husband. It is truly a modern era if Becks can come stubbly to a royal wedding. Mr. Bean! (Rowan Atkinson) How cool is that? And he's stubble-free. Elton John looked nervous — clutching his program. Posh 'n' Becks were invited, but no Fergie. The Queen doesn't forgive.

I love the little crown mounted on top of William's chauffeured Bentley as he was driven to the Abbey with his brother Harry, both resplendent in their uniforms. Can't help but feel sad at their mother's absence. It's amazing how they can still manage to look diffident in these crcumstances. Ahhh Brits.

The ceremony was very CofE, reminiscent of Episcopal services I've attended. Westminster Abbey is truly a glorious space and the trees and greenery made it even more magical. Catherine looked beautiful. It's been a long road. At 29, she's the oldest woman to marry a royal, as well as the only to be college-educated. A far cry from pretty but naive 19-year old Diana. Best man Prince Harry seemed to whisper to his brother as she walked up the aisle, "Wait until you see her." William looked thrilled when she reached him.

Good luck, kids. All the best.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

antibiotics and tacos

The kid was cranky and tired and moving like a glacier this morning, so I gave her one more stay at home day to get back from her ear infection. I needed to run some errands this afternoon and she requested a Double Decker from Taco Bell. Ahhh, the powers of television advertising. But I believe in the school of thought that when you're sick, you should get what you want to offset the being sick part, so her wish was my command. And now for an antibiotic chaser ...


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

her shell-like ear

Just when I thought the kid might be past the age for ear infections, I had to pick her up early yesterday from school after-care as she was in a lot of pain. Ear infections are the worst, as there's not much you can do except give some pain reliever until you get to the doc's office the next day. And to see the kid crying from pain — not fun at all. But everything went well today, her doc's a dream and her ear hurts a lot less, so tomorrow we should be back in the groove again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

anarchy in the UK

Article first published as Book Review: My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up by Russell Brand on Blogcritics.



Russell Brand is a lucky man. Lucky to be alive, to have two movies in the box office top ten, to have married a woman who seems to not be too bothered by his checkered past. A past so checkered — well, I'm not sure I've ever seen a fabric with checks that small. The man has done it all — been an alcoholic, a junkie, addicted to sex, (prostitutes a specialty). What is extraordinary about Brand is that he managed to live this life of debauchery before he became really successful. Just when you think he's another showbiz cliché, he really isn't. He may have partied like a rock star, but his hedonism wasn't a result of the trappings of fame. It was about a larger-than-life personality that couldn't seem to handle being a larger-than-life personality.



Brand's story is one of hitting the depths and crawling back up out of them, but he never uses labels. My Booky Wook is not a self-help book. He tells funny or tragic stories about his life and goes on his merry way, letting the reader draw their own conclusions. When he was in rehab for sex addiction, all the doctors wanted to label him bipolar and start filling him with drugs. A recent graduate of a 12-step alcohol and narcotics program, he wasn't supposed to have drugs and politely declined. But he doesn't preach or complain or call the doctors the ridiculous twats that they were. He just tells the story.
"I've never had a sustained period of medication for mental illness when I've not been on other drugs as well. It's just not something that I particularly feel I need. I know that I have dramatically changing moods, and I know sometimes I feel really depressed, but I think that's just life. I don't think of it as, "Ah, this is mental illness," more as, "Today, life makes me feel very sad." I know I also get unnaturally high levels of energy and quickness of thought, but I'm able to utilize that."
Like many other Americans, Russell Brand has only been creeping onto my radar gradually over the past year or two. His star has exploded here recently, with his marriage to pop star Katy Perry and his more frequent voiceover work and movie roles. He's still an acquired taste, but I don't mind mad Brits, and My Booky Wook is as mad dog and Englishman as it gets. Plus, its pretty damn funny.

It's poignant, too. Brand was only six months old when his father and mother separated. His dad and his dad's family stayed in his life, but his dad clearly didn't want to be married, or responsible for him, either emotionally or financially. He seems to have been, most of the time, pretty isolated and lonely, "For me happiness occurs arbitrarily: a moment of eye contact on a bus, where all at once you fall in love; or a frozen second in a park where it's enough that there are trees in the world."

He was one of those kids that are constantly in trouble. He had a compulsive need to do what was the opposite of what someone wanted, just to get a reaction, see what would happen. He's still doing it in his comedy today. One story he tells centers on a day when he was talking to a nice old house-proud man in his neighborhood who he had always been friendly with. The old man was admiring his garden and said, right before he went inside for a moment, that he wasn't the type that would ever stamp on any flowers, was he? That's all Brand needed to hear. Almost as soon as the old man's back was turned he jumped on the flowers, crushing and destroying every one. The old man was at not happy with what he came back to see."He glanced first at me, and then at his devastated flowerbed; all plowed up and butchered, like a Ripper victim — like Pearly Poll, lying gutted in Hanway Street, Spitalfields."

Brand realized that he probably blew it big time. This man could have been a quasi-father figure to him, but not after that incident. That same recklessness, sense of anarchy, led to his self-harming as well. "I get fixated when I'm bleeding — I can see why they went in for blood-letting in the medieval times because it makes you feel a bit better. When I cut myself, the drama of it calms me down." The biggest source of his unsettled childhood was his mom's multiple illnesses. She endured (and survived) three bouts of cancer — uterine (when he was 8), breast (when he was 9) and lymphoma (when he was 16). While she would be in hospital or undergoing treatment, he would be shuttled from his beloved Nan's house to his father and other relatives and back again.

He was constantly getting in trouble at school, but everything changed when he was cast in a school production of Bugsy Malone. He must have heard angel choirs singing, because finally a kid who belonged nowhere found his place in the world, on the stage.
"The light. The light is so bright that all that remains is you and the darkness. You can feel the audience breathing. It's like holding a gun or standing on a precipice and knowing you must jump. It feels slow and fast. It's like dying and being born and fucking and crying. It's like falling in love and being utterly alone with God; you taste your own mouth and feel your own skin and I knew I was alive and I knew who I was and that that wasn't who I'd been up till then. I'd been so far away but I knew I was home."
Brand's epiphany came at about the same time that his mother's boyfriend Colin moved in with them. Brand and Colin distinctly did not get along — to the point where Brand left home because he found it impossible to live under the same roof with him. His mother must have been too distracted and freaked out by her latest cancer scare to intervene. At this time Brand also discovered and started using drugs — first pot, and then gradually but steadily all the way up the scale — speed, acid, coke, crack and finally, heroin.

As soon as he started using, he doesn't seem to have been able to function without being on some substance, sometimes all cocktailed together. He'd come to school high, get kicked out. He would be enrolled in another, get kicked out. As messed-up as he was most of the time, he was still able to get a grant to attend the Italia Conti drama school (eventually kicked out of there, too) and was accepted into the Drama Centre London. The Drama Centre, as Brand explains it, is a sort of British version of The Method style of acting, with such distinguished graduates as Paul Bettany, Pierce Brosnan, Simon Callow, Maryam d'Abo, Frances de la Tour, and Colin Firth. Can't you just hear Brand shouting across the room at an alumni reunion, "Oi! Colin!"



The faculty at the Drama Centre seemed fully aware of Brand's substance intake, but must have chalked it up to artistic temperament. "... And drinking neat liquor from the bottle, with all my long hair and my shirt undone and my beads, not so much the lizard king, more a gecko duchess, I fitted in nicely with their idea of what a creative person should be." Brand received great reviews for his work there until during a crit session he broke a bottle and cut himself on stage. He was of course high at the time and was inevitably expelled.
"What I've learnt — to my cost — on several occasions in my life, is that people will put up with all manner of bad behaviour so long as you're giving them what they want. They'll laugh and get into it and enjoy the anecdotes and the craziness and the mayhem as long as you're going your job well, but the minute you're not, you're fucked. They'll wipe their hands of you without a second glance."
Out of school for good, Brand decided to try to join the workforce, mostly bit parts in television programs or stand-up. He's been hired and fired in more jobs in a few years than most people have held in a lifetime. But even at the height of his drug-addledness, he could always get someone to hire him, give hm a chance. He seems to have always had a protective bubble around him, of friends and family that stepped in to pick up the pieces when the moment required. He also strangely enough, managed to maintain some of his own ideals in his junkiedom, "Even as a junkie I stayed true [to vegetarianism] — 'I shall have heroin, but I shan't have a hamburger.' What a sexy little paradox."

Most of Brand's early television work isn't too familiar to U.S. audiences, but they sound intriguing, especially his show RE:Brand. He seems to have taken reality television to a whole new level of "too real," focusing on subject matter sexual and social, such as masturbation, prostitution, elder sex and neo-Nazis. What Brand may have failed to realize was that as he went deeper and deeper into the outsider scene of sex and drugs, his audience might not have wanted to go along with him. As brilliant and outrageous as his ideas may have been, the majority of folks only want to live vicariously up to a limit. Most of his shows sounds like performance art rather than comedy, similar to Vito Acconci jerking off under a gallery floor.

Brand was on drugs steadily from the age of 16 until 28, in 2002, when his manager John Noel pretty much strong-armed him into a 12-step program after catching Brand using heroin in his (Noel's) bathroom at a Christmas party. He was successful in his attempt to quit drugs and alcohol, but his incessant womanizing took much longer to give up.

Brand was exposed to porn at such a young age  he claims as early as four years old — that when he would be dropped off at his father's, he would be watching porn videos or looking at Playboy magazines while his father "diddled birds in the room next door." That qualifies as being a victim of sexual and child abuse in my booky wook. When he became a teenager his most significant bonding experience with his father was a father/son vacation — his dad took him on a sexual odyssey tour of Asia. He got his first introduction to prostitutes and he never seemed to look back. He loves women — in quantity and abstractly, but it's hard to not wonder about misogynist tendencies when someone is such a serial fucker.

Brand now has to take everything "one day at a time." So does everyone, but when you are such a compulsive person, it must be that much harder. My Booky Wook is actually a very entertaining and even endearing read. Brand has a very amusing way of phrasing things and for the most part, seems to unflinchingly reveal his deepest darkest thoughts and deeds. He has lived the life of Alfie. The question is whether he has truly come out the other side.

One of his quotes relating to his dad resonated with me, "My dad's philosophy was (and I think still is) that life is a malevolent force, which seeks to destroy you, and you have to struggle with it. Only those who are hard enough will succeed. Most people get crushed, but if you fight, in the end life will go, "Fucking hell. This one's serious. Let him through." Brand is certainly serious, and has been his own worst enemy, but he is breaking through. It will be interesting to see how he channels his natural, anarchic tendencies into a more sober world.
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Monday, April 25, 2011

at the flagler

After the egg hunting festivities were over, we wandered through the Flagler Museum, where the kid cooled down and I played with iPhone filters.

Blowing bubbles

In front of the Flagler

Relief sculptural detail
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

easter without ann

I was thinking about my cousin Ann the other day while I was at the mega-store picking up some groceries. Are grocery stores the next thing to disappear as it becomes easier to pick things up like bread and juice, etc. while at Target or Walmart? Anyway, in the supermarket section there were all of these vegetable balloons. No Disney or other overly-marketed characters. Vegetables. It made me smile and think of Ann. As an herbalist and endless proponent of the wonders of vegetables she would have been thrilled, and I'm sure, bought them all on the spot (whether they were for sale or not — I suspect their purpose was decorative).

Broccoli balloon

But being Easter week, I was already thinking about Ann.

Last Easter, Ann's last Easter, we spent it together, as we usually did. I suggested that Ann, who was also one of my daughter's godmothers, take her to church with her, if she felt up to it. Ann's cancer had spread and she was in the last stages of her illness. She was in constant pain, but she was thrilled to be able to share this experience with her godchild. She even provided a suitable Easter bonnet.

IMG_5506

I'm not much of a participant in organized religion, but I do create my own rites and rituals. I believe in a higher power and celebrate the major Christian holidays (I was raised Episcopalian), but most of my deepest religious feelings have occurred contemplating art, both European and ancient, or visiting churches, cathedrals or other amazing historical architecture like the Pyramids.

As an adult, Easter was a holiday I always shared with Ann. Pre-mommyhood, the two of us would do some ritual/renewal sort of thing (after she got back from church), like visit a garden or some other similarly beautiful spot and then have a big Easter lunch at a local Greek restaurant. We loved the blood-red eggs and the breaking plates and the sense of celebration. Once my daughter was born we still continued going to the restaurant, but also dyed eggs together and enjoyed watching my daughter try to find where the Easter Bunny had hidden them. And we probably ate a bit more chocolate, too.

IMG_5259

I feel that Ann is still a part of my life, but I can't pretend that without her here Easter just isn't the same. My daughter is still young enough to enjoy things like Easter Egg hunts and the Easter Bunny. The Ten Commandments will still run every year on television and I'll probably watch part (or most) of it. I know that today is a day when most are thinking about everlasting life and resurrection. But for me, the all-too-human reality of a life lost, and how daily life must shift and change to accomodate that sadness, a sadness that never really leaves you — that's what I'm thinking about on this Easter.
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

i wanna easta egg, i wanna easta egg, i wanna easta egg!

We went to the easter egg hunt on the Flagler Museum front lawn this morning. Looks like the Easter Bunny sent Bugs down here to stand in for him. Or else he took a wrong turn at Albuquerque ...

With the easter Bunny

It was utter mayhem when they let the kids loose to get eggs, but fun to watch.

Getting eggs

There were some nice give-aways and even some downtime to blow bubbles.

Blowing bubbles

Happy Easter!

Bugs Bunny in Easter Yeggs
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Friday, April 22, 2011

perfect friday

I remember seeing this movie on TV with my dad when I was a kid. Probably too young to pick up on all of the sexual double entendre — Ursula Andress (or Undress, as my dad liked to call her) playing husband David Warner against bank manager Stanley Baker — in this 70s caper movie.


Ursula Andress as Lady Britt Dorset: "I must be absolutely your most troublesome customer Mr Graham."

Andress was not only gorgeous, but she had a wonderful way with dialogue and always spoke each line as if she realized she was in on a delicious joke. She was, of course, the quitessential Bond girl, but I think my favorite of her performances may be What's New Pussycat?, Casino Royale and Perfect Friday, which unfortunately, has yet to be released on DVD.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

these drawers were made for playing

Every home office should have one — or two — cats in file drawers.


p.s.  Lookout — I figured how to create my own YouTube channel.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

these are a few of my favorite blogs ...

We Had Faces Then is a great tumblr blog of Old Hollywood stills that its author has found cruising the internet. I'm grateful he is doing it for me, so I just have to scroll through his blog rather than go looking for fabulous photos of Gene Kelley myself.

Tumblelogs are interesting. These microblogs are actually designed for easy posting and sharing — and most bloggers give credit where credit is due. It gets kind of interesting when one photo can lead you back through four or five blogs to track down the source. Of course, then you might also want to start following four or five new tumblrs ... But for folks who like images, this is always a good thing.

Gene Kelly, tumbled back and forth between We Had Faces Then and kissmegenekelly


Looking a tad uncomfortable — Lucille Ball and Gene Kelly, via We Had Faces Then, via vintagegal


Gene Kelly, via We Had Faces Then, via theflamingcurmudgeon (via buttbeautiful, jenbebe)
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

redbush tea and comfort

Article first published as Book Review: The Double Comfort Safari Club, by Alexander McCall Smith on Blogcritics.

New in paperback, the 11th book in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, The Double Comfort Safari Club, by Alexander McCall Smith, does not disappoint. McCall Smith, one of the most prolific writers around, once agin crafts a deceptively leisurely tale featuring the best (and only lady) detective in Botswana, Precious Ramotswe.

Mma Ramotswe, to use the correct and respectful title for the traditionally-built detective, once again must navigate an assortment of problems, mostly related to maters of the heart. As her secretary, no, make that Assistant Detective, Mma Makutsi notes, everyone, including herself, comes to Mma Ramotswe when something is bothering them. She has a way of making a person feel better. "Mma Ramotswe was always willing to talk about weighty matters — you could talk to her about something as simple as the weather or the price of sausages, and you would come away reassured. Perhaps the weather was not going to be as dry and hot as everybody feared — perhaps there really would be good rains; perhaps sausages were not as expensive as they appeared to be, given that they contained all that meat, and there was no wastage with a sausage."


Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe, from the HBO series based on the books

McCall Smith is very much like Precious Ramotswe. His books are always a balm. Problems of ethics and affairs of the heart are introduced, but they always have a solution. It may not always be the happiest outcome for everyone involved, but it is usually the correct one. Mma Ramotswe understands what is most important in life — kindness — and she tries to approach every situation with that in mind. Even when she is physically restraining an angry woman, someone whom she has just informed will not be successful in her scam to cheat one of Mma Ramotswe's clients, she still manages to find compassion for the woman, feeling sorry for her, knowing that her bad behavior comes from a deep inner well of unhappiness. Mma Ramotswe is not a detective in the tradition of Philip Marlowe or even Miss Marple. She is as much a guru as an unraveler of puzzles.

The Double Comfort Safari Club is a continuation of the day-to-day lives of Mma Ramotswe and those she loves, but can also be read and enjoyed out of sequence from the rest of the series. If you had read an earlier novel, taking place before Mma Makutsi had become engaged, as you are reading this book you might think to yourself, "Ah, Mma Makutsi has become engaged, good for her, she deserves some happiness," much as you might remark hearing the fact from Mma Ramotswe herself, telling you over a cup of strong redbush tea.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the book, apart from the interactions between all of the very different characters, is that these people all ponder. Lots of different things, and their pondering is always entertaining to read. McCall Smith has a gift for being able to write in the many different voices of his very individual characters. Maybe it is the pace of life in Botswana, or the open vistas that influence so much reflection, but it has a soothing, beneficial effect on the reader.

McCall Smith's books are never boring — there is always plenty going on. It's surprising how many little plot threads are introduced and resolved by book's end. There is an overall sense of life taking time, and that in itself is good. As Mma Ramotswe is waiting to meet with a client, a nature guide from the Double Comfort Safari Club, she is told by his supervisor, who looks out at the setting sun, that he will be back soon. "Mma Ramotswe noticed the glance at the sun. People who lived in towns had stopped doing that — they had watches to enslave them. Here in the bush it was different: what the watch said was less important than what the sun said, and that, she thought, was the way it should be."
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Monday, April 18, 2011

who do you Brits think you are?

Who Do You Think You Are? may have finished its latest run of shows, but that doesn't mean that the amateur genealogist has to go without. Imagine how happy I was to discover that my love for actor David Suchet, best known for his portrayal of Agatha Christie's famous Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, and my interest in genealogy was combined in an episode from the British version of the series. I have loved watching the first two seasons of the American series, which it turns out is actually an offshoot of the British original, which originated in 2004 (and is still producing new episodes). Why am I not surprised — all the best television ideas seem to come from across the pond.


It was a little strange for me at first, just getting used to listening to Suchet in his own voice, own accent. I'm so used to the precise inflections he uses and slight accent for Poirot. It was amusing watching him realize that like his signature role, he would have to go on the trail for clues. At one point he was laughing as he pulled on white gloves to examine some old documents, "How many times have I done this before?" Of course this time, it's for some information that will directly affect him and his family.


Suchet found out the real source of his last name (not French, as he had been told) and travelled to England, France and the Ukraine. Thankfully, all of the episode, in six parts, can be watched on YouTube. Now that I've started watching the British version of the show, I can't stop. Other favorites I have queued up include Stephen Fry and David Tennant (both can also be watched on YouTube). The episodes I've watched have been narrated by British actor Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Stardust, Robin Hood).

Stephen Fry, as you might expect, was quite amusing in his episode. He was delighted to discover an ancestor, one of the "amazing Prings" was a pauper inmate in a London workhouse. His reaction?  "How Dickensian!" Fry had always been told that on his mother's side of the family, Jewish relatives were "killed by Hitler." This proved to be true, and he took an amazing emotional journey to Vienna and beyond to discover how tragic his relative's stories were.


My favorite Dr. Who, David Tennant, was initially also a bit surprising — to my ears — as I got used to his Scottish accent. Tennant knew next to nothing about his ancestors. He discovered a star athlete and a beauty queen and travelled from the Lowlands of Scotland to the Highlands. His quest also took him to Ireland, where he found it quite difficult at first to learn about his ancestor's involvement in "the troubles," Bloody Sunday, gerrymandering and poll-rigging.

Who Do You Think You Are is always an interesting history lesson. People find out not only about their relatives, but their relatives' part in history. I'm looking forward to digging up some more of these shows, and learning more as well. Zoë Wanamaker, Patsy Kensit, Robert Lindsay, and Graham Norton's shows all seem available. Hopefully more will be put up on YouTube or become available on DVD, as some of my favorites have also done episodes — Alan Cumming, John Hurt, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Nigella Lawson.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

sunday stroll




Saturday, April 16, 2011

I ♥ noir


Ray Milland in Ministry of Fear

Friday, April 15, 2011

the good and bad points of sausage dogs

Having a sausage dog comes with built-in disadvantages and benefits.

The disadvantages are that the dog requires walking, which may not always be what you are in the mood for. Even worse, the dog, as soon as you get its leash, may decide to let loose, for some inexplicable reason, and pee on the rug. This causes a lot of cursing and frustrated stomping around as you still have to take said dog out for a walk — after you clean up the mess.

But, as previously stated, there are a few benefits. On these oh-so-inconvenient walks, which disturb you from early sleep or watching television or cruising the internet, you actually get outside, into the fresh air, and can look around. A certain amount of exercise is also involved. If the walk takes place during the daytime, you may see some interesting flora and fauna. If it takes place in the night time, you can study the heavens.

Tonight, as I was shaking off my bad mood at what had transpired a few minutes earlier on the living room carpet, I happened to look up in the sky and see this:


A moon ring, also known as a winter halo, is a phenomenon that usually appears in conjunction with a full moon ... It is caused by refraction of the light from the full moon in the ice particles floating in the clouds, as opposed to a rainbow, where light refracts in the water vapor that makes up the clouds ... In ancient beliefs it is believed that a moon ring means very warm days before the winter storm.
Sausage dogs may sometimes be a nuisance, but if it wasn't for a certain accident which better not happen again in the near future, I might not have been inspired to take a different route with a more unobstructed view.

With a nod to Alexander McCall Smith
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

you don't take a photograph— you ask, quietly, to borrow it.—unknown

Steven Klein's photographs sometimes verge on the trying-too-hard department for me (subcategory: sweat), but I can't deny that I love these images of some of my favorites ...

I really like his work when it's a bit more focused on one or two subjects.

Daniel Radcliffe, from Details Magaizine
steven klein photo daniel radcliffe Pictures, Images and Photos

A Rod, from Details Magazine

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, for Energie

Madonna, W Magazine

Brad and Angelina, W Magazine
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

forget about Mildred, it's Guy Pearce for me

I just watched the last two episodes of Mildred Pierce. It was ... O.K. I 'm afraid that's how I usually feel about Todd Haynes's work. The set design and costumes were meticulous, but the rest was ... ho hum. Especially the too-long segments of Veda singing, or I should say, Evan Rachel Wood lip-synching (real coloratura is opera singer Sumi Jo).

I love Kate Winslet, and I applaud her characterization, but the bottom line is that Mildred is just as big a drip as her awful daughter Veda says she is — I don't care how long-suffering Mildred is. She's pathetic, not sympathetic. Veda is the monster that she helped create. They are two sides of a very bad coin. I'm convinced that no matter how many times they tell each other to "go to hell," ten minutes later Mildred will be full of regret and wanting Veda back. When Veda tires of Monty and dumps him and needs some cash, she'll just worm her way back into Mildred's life — for as long as it suits her.



But enough about the Pierce women. Let's get to Monty, who was truly the only bright point in the washed-out 5-part miniseries affair. Monty Beragon was played by Aussie actor Guy Pearce. He was the only person in the whole production who didn't seem to be playing 1930s-40s dress-up. He really, authentically, seemed to be part of the era, from the way he walked and talked to the way he lounged on the furniture. Someone needs to sign him up to play Errol Flynn's life story immediately, like yesterday, because he perfectly embodied the sexy 30s rake to a T. Wait a minute — apparently he already has played Flynn in a movie, about his early pre-Hollywood years. I'll have to track it down.

Pearce has been on my list of mad crushes for years — hell, I sat through The Time Machine in the theater. I even find him incredibly sexy in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Of course he's insufferable in L.A. Confidential, but in a good way. And Memento is just classic. But he's also been in some unexpected roles, big and small. Two Brothers is an interesting little movie about two tiger cubs that are separated and what becomes of them. He's played Andy Warhol, Houdini and Edward VIII.

I still think Pearce is the perfect age and actor to be doing Flynn's autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways — that 80s TV movie version doesn't count. He does have an upcoming movie, The Wettest County in the World , in which he is co-starring with Gary Oldman, set in the 1930s, Depression-era. That's a start.
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