Thursday, July 31, 2014

throwback thursday: jer-sey!

We are off for a Jersey Shore vacation today. Yes, we may live by the beach year-round, but there's something about Jersey and going home. Plus, the kid and I haven't had a long break in a really long time. Really looking forward ...

Elizabeth on the beach

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

stormy (sorta) skies

It's been raining and thundering and lightning all week, but that doesn't spoil the kid's sunny mood.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

oddball movie: yesterday's hero

I've always been a fan of Ian McShane, so thought I'd give one of his movies on Netflix a try, Yesterday's Hero. The story of an almost washed-up soccer player, it seemed appropriate viewing after the recent World Cup. And it sort of was. Half of the time. A film with bit of a split personality, Yesterday's Hero is half thoughtful portrait of an aging, boozing athlete, and the other half a Suzanne Somers (at the height of her Three's Company fame) vanity musical. The two halves never really work convincingly together, and one wonders why anyone thought they might in the first place.

"Goal!" McShane and friends on the field

McShane plays Rod Turner, an alcoholic soccer player who knows that the end of his career is nigh (his father, Harry McShane, actually played soccer for Manchester United). He has hopes of playing for an American team, but his only real offer comes from a rock star named Clint Simon (Paul Nicholas) who also is the owner of a team called the Saints. Clint also seems to have a platonic relationship with a singer named Cloudy (?!), played by Somers. They are inseparable, and Clint is obviously in love with her, but Cloudy keeps him inexplicably at arm's length. Cloudy also had a fling with Rod many years previously, but he flew the coop before things could get serious. British pop idol Adam Faith plays the Saints' manager, who also has a thing for Cloudy and has it in for Rod. Blah blah blah, etc. The disjointed narrative was written for the screen by Jackie Collins.

McShane is always a pleasure to watch, and his scenes are, for the most part, done realistically. The movie takes a really strange turn by inserting multiple musical numbers (but only of two songs) featuring Somers and Nicholas dueting. Always shot from a perplexingly low angle, and involving some really herky-jerky attempts at dancing, they are not quite terrible enough to qualify for "so bad it's good" status, but just seem to fall in the bad camp. I guess they weren't bad enough to make me turn Yesterday's Hero off completely. Watching McShane, and whether he could kick the sauce and kick the winning goal, kept me tuned in for its 95 minutes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

hercules and dwayne johnson have fun with a classic

The kid and I checked out Hercules this weekend and were very presently surprised. I guess I should say that I was presently surprised, the kid just loved it. In fact, she loved seeing it on Friday so much that we went back the next day and took in the IMAX 3D version. I'm not usually very fond of 3D, but love the sheer scale of IMAX. I actually preferred the film in 2D, however. Hercules is a good-looking film, and the 3D, while it may have made some of the battle scenes more visceral, ended up distracting me from the overall action and and cinematographer's composition.

Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) in search of the Hydra

Hercules was directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X-Men: The Last Stand, Tower Heist, Horrible Bosses), who has a penchant for overblown actioners, and based on a comic book Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore. While some critics have complained that the famous labors of Hercules which spin by quickly in the film's trailer appear just as quickly in the film, that is not quite a fair criticism. It is true that this version of Hercules's story tends to spin the Greek hero's legend on its head, portraying Hercules as just one member of a team of elite mercenaries. The band of brothers (and one sister), with the aid of some skillful publicity, has spun the story of his godly parentage and fantastic exploits to their great (monetary) reward. But fans of Greek mythology will notice some sly nods to both Herc's adventures as well as some other famous Greek heroes — and the movies made about them — especially in a powerful scene where warriors rise from the ground a la the classic Jason and the Argonauts. And what is mythology anyway, but a constant reinterpretation of a classic story?

The Nemean Lion hat and club are just too cool
This film's Hercules, played by Dwayne Johnson, may be quite human, but his physique is certainly larger-than-life. Johnson has said he trained harder for this role than any other, and the results are truly impressive, as his Hercules is, without question, the film's most special effect.
"I trained and worked harder than ever for 8 months for this role. Lived alone and locked myself away (like a moody 260-lb. monk) in Budapest for 6 months while filming. Goal was to completely transform into this character. Disappear in the role. Press journalist asked me today, with the mental & physical toll the role had on me, would I do it again? Not only would I do it again ... I'd do it f*cking twice."
As fun as it is to watch Johnson take on the role of Greek's strongest hero, what really makes the film are all the wonderful actors that surround him. Hercules's traveling companions include Ian McShane as the seer Amphiaraus (who also knows how to wield a long spear); Rufus Sewell as the smart-talking Autolycus, who is very handy with a blade; Norwegian actors Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as the huntress Atalanta, whose bow can be used to take down enemies as much as her arrows, and Aksel Hennie as Tydeus, who suffers from an ancient form of PTSD; and Reece Ritchie as Iolaus, his young nephew, whose tales of his uncle's exploits serve as his calling card. The group forms a tight unit, and their humor and camaraderie helps make them a more convincing and engaging group of super-heroes than the Avengers.

The gang's all here: L-R: (Tydeus) Aksel Hennie, (Atalanta) Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Hercules, Iolaus (Reece Ritchie), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), and Amphiaraus (Ian McShane)
Herc and Co. are just about to hang up their weapons and head for a well-earned retirement when Lady Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) approaches them to take on one last (and very lucrative) job — to aid her father, Lord Cotys (John Hurt), whose land has been besieged by a mysterious enemy named Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann). It's a pretty basic adventure movie set-up, but things move swiftly and entertainingly, with some humor and even a few surprises. Joseph Fiennes turns up as one of Herc's previous employers, King Eurystheus of Athens. It's great to see him and especially great to watch John Hurt once again don the robes of a classical-era character. Johnson's Hercules is haunted by his past — he woke one evening to find his wife Megara and their children murdered. He has been trying to atone for his alleged crimes ever since.

So lovely to see you: John Hurt as Lord Cotys

Although everyone adds to the proceedings, Ian McShane almost steals the show with his wry Amphiaraus, who has prophesied his own death, but so far hasn't seemed to time it precisely:
[A flaming javelin comes flying towards Amphiaraus, who spreads his arms wide, ready to receive the blow]
Amphiaraus, "My time ..."
[Hercules runs past him, grabs the javelin, and throws it back]
Amphiaraus, "Do you mind? I was having a moment!"
Hercules, "You're welcome."
The rugged locations (filming was done in Hungary and Croatia) add a lot to the atmosphere, but it is the non-stop action, Johnson's huge musculature, and clever twists on a well-known story that really make Hercules so much fun.

Friday, July 25, 2014

favorite song friday: the need for speed

Pharrell's latest song, "Come Get it Bae" has joined a long tradition in modern music of making a correlation between sex and cars, or in this case, motorcycles. Good looking and fast-moving vehicles have metaphor-ed their way into some of music's greatest hits.

The Beach Boys wrote lots of songs about cars. And girls. And girls and cars.
"You wanna ride it, my motorcycle
You've got a license, but you got the right to
Gonna pop a wheelie, don't try too high too
Take it easy on the clutch, cause girl I like you"

Marc Bolan of T Rex was pretty forthright with mixing his automobile as pretty girl metaphors in "Bang a Gong" and "Jeepster."

"You're built like a car, you've got a hub cap diamond star halo
You're dirty sweet and you're my girl."

"Just like a car
You're pleasing to behold
I'll call you Jaguar
If I may be so bold ...
Girl I'm just a jeepster
For your love"

Prince took things a step further (as he is wont to do) with "Little Red Corvette."

"Believe it or not, I started to worry
I wondered if I had enough class
But it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it all right
And you say, "Baby, have you got enough gas?", Oh yeah
Little red corvette
Baby, you're much too fast (yes, you are)
Little red corvette
You need to find a love that's gonna last"

Music and sex and cars seem to be a winning combination. These are my favorites, but there are many others:

"Mercedes Benz" - Janis Joplin
"Drive My Car"
"Slow Ride" - Foghat
"Cars" - Gary Numan
"Pink Cadillac" - Bruce Springsteen
"Little Deuce Coupe" - Beach Boys
"Mustang Sally" - Wilson Pickett
“Drive (Who’s Gonna Drive You Home?)" - The Cars
“I Can’t Drive 55" - Sammy Hagar
“I’m In Love With My Car” - Queen
"I Drove All Night" - Roy Orbison

Any great songs I've left out? Let me know.

And to finish things up, this song by Rose Royce seems to say summer to me ...

"Hey, get your car washed today
Be in our band, you don't have to pay
Come on and give us a play"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

throwback thursday: ginger miso dressing

The kid loves going to the supermarket with me, because it's an endless buffet. And she has always been all about the buffet. Exotic chips and flavored popcorns are available to sample. And then ask mom if we can buy a bag, which are usually, curiously, on a two-for-one sale. Hmmm ... The man behind the cheese counter at our local Publix knows her by name, and when he sees her coming he always slices up some Manchego or some other cheese he thinks she might like. And she does. It is great to watch her broaden her horizons along with her palate.

Lately, at Whole Foods, she has become enamored of cucumber slices on offer that are being used to tout a ginger miso salad dressing. She likes it so much that the last time we went she insisted I try it and buy it. I did and did. Not only was I impressed by the kid wanting a salad dressing (she's not much for salad, but will eat her own version of crudités that we have dubbed "bits and pieces"), but I was immediately brought back, with one bite, to my own salad days in New York City in the '80s.

It had outdoor seating for warm days ... (photo from Yelp)

An art student never has much money. What little I had went towards art supplies, and maybe a vodka drink on a night out from time to time. Food was always a secondary concern, but when hunger did strike, one of the places my friends and I frequently found ourselves was at Dojo's on St. Mark's Place. Dojo's was (presumably) healthy food, and even better, it was cheap. Plus, they served alcohol, so some sake or a Rolling Rock would sometimes sneak their way in to our evening menu. My friend Sibylle introduced me to the place, and one of its signature dishes, chicken sukiyaki salad with carrot ginger miso dressing. Mixing the noodles and the greens may have been funky enough, but it was the ginger miso dressing that made it a dish to reorder and reorder. The dressing also appeared on their soy burgers and I'm sure lots of other recipes, but it was the chicken sukiyaki salad that became our go-to fuel.

New York has changed immeasurably since those days, and a quick online search has confirmed what I feared, that Dojo's is long closed. But those memories of fun evenings and delicious ginger miso dressing remain.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

girl trouble

Hollywood churned out romantic comedies by the dozens in the 1930s and 1940s. Wacky heiresses, bumbling suitors, and their faithful sidekicks made up most of the casts, along with some situational impediments to romance until the final few minutes. 1942's Girl Trouble, starring Joan Bennett and Don Ameche, is one of the genre's lighter, fluffier entires, but it is good fun all the same. ...

Pedro may be unimpressed with June's work ethic, as she picks up the wrong suit from the cleaners, and doesn't seem to spend much time dusting or mopping, doing anything else, but he is no snob, and quickly proceeds to fall in love with her. Complications arrive in the form of a trouble-making friend of June's (Helene Reynolds), and a tire mogul, Mr. Flint (Frank Craven), who wants to cut corners and use a rubber substitute instead of Pedro's rubber in his tires. Film buffs will recognize Billie Burke, Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz, in a small but amusing role as June's daffy friend Mrs. Rowland.


You can read my complete review on Cinema Sentries.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

scanning the horizon

Trying to keep things in perspective ...



Monday, July 21, 2014

vicious is viciously funny

I have been enjoying the heck out of Vicious, the Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi sitcom airing on public television. We are already halfway through its six episode first season.

McKellen and Jacobi are Freddie and Stuart, an elderly gay couple who have been together for 48 years. The pair bicker constantly and caustically and share a dog, Balthasar, who the audience never sees, but the pair occasionally checks on to see if he is still breathing. Freddie is an actor who has never had much success, but is constantly reminiscing about his career. Stuart is his long-suffering partner, who still hasn't told his aged mother about Freddie being more than just his "roommate." In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly McKellen pointed out the essence of the comedy, "Probably the most remarkable thing about them is not that they’re gay, but that they’ve been together for 50 years."

Freddie (Ian McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi) share a cuppa

Like all classic apartment sitcoms, Freddie and Stuart's apartment is a way-station for their friends and neighbors, most frequently in the form of Violet (Frances de la Tour), who flirts relentlessly and fruitlessly with their other regular visitor, their young upstairs neighbor Ash (Iwan Rheon). The series has an old-school feel. Jacobi's character at times calls to mind John Inman's Mr. Humphries of Are You Being Served fame. It is interesting to watch Jacobi trading barbs here on PBS on one night while the station is also running the latest season of the more dramatic Last Tango in Halifax.

ian mckellen vicious derek jacobi my rubbish gif my other ian mckellen vicious derek jacobi my rubbish gif my other
ian mckellen vicious derek jacobi my rubbish gif my other ian mckellen vicious derek jacobi my rubbish gif my other

In the first episode of Vicious we are introduced to the couple, who are remembering an old friend who has recently passed away. They hold a wake in his memory, but spend most of the evening trying to impress their young and handsome new neighbor Ash — and determine whether he is gay or straight. By the second episode Ash is on good enough terms with the older pair to confide his troubles with in on-again, off-again girlfriend. The couple may trade vicious barbs, but also make sacrifices for one another, Ash discovers, as he becomes impressed with Stuart, who has taken a part-time job in a shop to earn enough money to buy Freddie a new overcoat.  The most recent episode was a blast, as it gave McKellen an opportunity to teach Ash about acting — in a horrible, hammy way — as he was preparing for an audition as Cook Staff #4 on “Downton Abbey.” Jacobi also missed no chance to steal every scene he was in, with some great physical and verbal comedy.

Freddie goes over his script with Ash (Iwan Rheon)

Jacobi and McKellen are working in a typical sitcom format, but their characters' fearless attacks, whether trained on themselves or anyone who happens to be in their general vicinity, take their campy insults to another level. Frances de la Tour makes the audience cringe with her single entendres as much as poor Ash, while still making Violet likable. It is especially nice to see Iwan Rheon in a part where he can be not only funny and cute but a nice guy — quite a change from his creeptastic performance as Ramsay Bolton on Game of Thrones.

A second series has been confirmed, which is good news for viewers both here and abroad.

Friday, July 18, 2014

favorite song friday: bobby womack

Bobby Womack passed away on June 27. The versatile Womack wrote and performed music in many genres, including soul, rock, gospel, R&B, and even country. He worked with artists as diverse as Sam Cooke and the Gorillaz.

Probably his best known song, and one of my personal favorites, was "Across 110th Street," but Womack covered also recorded an interesting cover of "California Dreamin'" and wrote the Rolling Stones' hit "It's All Over Now." Quentin Tarantino gave "Across 110th Street" another life when he featured it in his film Jackie Brown.

Here he is performing "Across 110th Street" on Later with Jools Holland. And here's a link to a nice profile from the BBC.

RIP Bobby.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

throwback thursday: 14th street

My dad was born on 14th Street in New York City, and at least, c. 2000, the building was still standing. Here's a photo from a trip we made to the city from our home in N.J. (probably to see a Yankee game) in the 1970s. The building is the first brownstone, with Allen's Bar at the ground level.


Here's a close-up shot, with my mom and me standing in front of Allen's Bar. The family had more than one apartment in the building. The family patriarch, my great grandfather Don Peppino, a retired chef, had an office in the front of the building, where he would see patients. After he retired from the restaurant he spent his time as a healer. The family lived in rooms at the back of the building. In summertime Don Peppino would sit out on the roof and dry tomatoes, which he would later use to make sauce. Apparently the building also once featured a stoop, and a shop that sold prosthetics and wheelchairs was the storefront in the 1930s.

14th st

Here's a color polaroid from 1999 or 2000, from when I last lived in NY. The storefront was still a bar, but with a different name, and the bike store was gone. A satellite dish was now on the roof, but for the most part times didn't seem to have changed all that much. I'm not sure what I'd find there today.

349 14 st3

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

woman's world

Woman's World is a glossy, mid-'50s drama, with comedic undertones provided by June Allyson, and finally available on DVD on-demand.

The plot centers on automobile mogul Ernest Gifford (Clifton Webb) and his search for a new general manager from a small pool — three of his best and brightest salesmen. Gifford Motors' (not so loosely based on Ford Motor Company) corporate headquarters is in New York City, and Gifford intends to bring his three top candidates — and their wives — for a long-form interview and look-see. ...

Elizabeth and Sidney (Lauren Bacall and Fred MacMurray)

Katie and Elizabeth (June Allyson and Lauren Bacall) shop until they drop

... The set-up of the dutiful wives supporting their ambitious husbands may seem dated at first, but there are some slight (and surprising for the '50s) feminist undertones. Gifford believes that the success of top job is just as due to the wife as the husband, and he is as interested, if not more so, in the ladies. The film is splashy, but also truly entertaining, as viewers are taken on a tour of 1950s Manhattan and treated to some very cool-looking vehicles. The "Giffords," we are informed in the credits, are all concept cars of the Ford Motor Company. Also treated quite honestly is the toll a CEO's job will inevitably take on one's life; at home and otherwise. This country is so success-oriented that it is rare for a movie to depict both the good and bad aspects of reaching for the top. ...

You can read my complete review on Cinema Sentries ...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

like sands in the hourglass, these are the games of our thrones ...

Both book and television spoilers lurk within ...

A Dance with Dragons, the fifth novel in George R. R. Martin's epic A Song of Ice and Fire series, was published in 2011, after a five-year gap between it and the previous entry, A Feast for Crows. The series started with A Game of Thrones in 1996. The series has had an interesting evolution. Originally intended to be a trilogy, Martin soon realized that his fictional world of Westeros and beyond was expanding and would require first, four, than six, now seven, and possibly even eight books to complete. As the time between the published novels stretches, his devoted readers fret that their author may never reach a conclusion. After completing A Dance with Dragons I can understand some of the reader-panic. In his latest entry the world and its characters have continued to expand. How can Martin possible polish off this series in just seven books?

Dany (played by Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones) with her dragon, Drogon

I discovered Martin and his world like many, after watching the first season of Game of Thrones on HBO. A huge Sean Bean fan, I was shocked when the axe fell and ended both his character Ned Stark, the presumed "hero" of the show, and any expectations I might have been harboring of where the narrative would take me next. As soon as the first season ended I dove into the books — A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and straight through until A Feast for Crows. In the meantime, I had purchased A Dance with Dragons not long after it came out, and even read a few chapters before I set it aside. I wasn't ready to get to the end of whatever Martin had written so far.

When the second and third seasons of the television show aired, I was, I thought, prepared for what would be depicted onscreen. But show runners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have managed to add a few twists and turns of their own, especially in the recently ended fourth season, to keep both book readers and the "Unsullied" jumping. Once the fourth season recently ended it finally seemed like a good time to pick up the threads of the story and see where Tyrion and Arya and Daenerys and Jon Snow and all the others were headed next. I got those answers. Sorta.

If you browse Amazon or any other site that reviews A Dance with Dragons the number one complaint is that nothing happens, that Martin is treading water. At a glacial, even soap oper-like pace. There are a lot of pages devoted to ships traveling on the sea. Slowly. It's not an incorrect critique, if what one was hoping for was a lot of physical movement of the main characters, like pieces on a chessboard. Martin may be playing chess, or cyvasse, as Tyrion does, but with a different, longer game in mind. Which is why I think that to truly sum things up, he'll need three more books. Hopefully we can all get there.

Martin may spend what some consider an inordinate amount of time describing what his characters are eating and how they are dressing, but can anyone deny that they don't know the difference between conditions at The Wall versus Meereen or the Dothraki sea? He also manages to get in quite a bit of backstory, to expand on what happened before the first novel took place, the motivations of people that are casting long shadows on their younger generations. And the horrors of war, and difficulties of governing, which could easily be compared to some very contemporary problems and issues. I will admit that I didn't necessarily need to be reminded multiple times of Meereen's many-colored brick pyramid walls. But I think Martin may have acquired the same problem with his editors that plagued J.K. Rowling towards the end of her Harry Potter series. They don't cut a damn word.

Reek (Alfie Allen) gives his master Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) a close shave

Some characters may seem to have evolved only slightly in A Dance with Dragons, but appearances may be deceiving. Let's examine.

Daenerys. The Queen of Meereen and all her other numerous titles, is still in the east, and seems no closer to getting to Westeros, which is very frustrating for readers. As she likes to say (a lot) she is just a young girl. This young girl does spend a lot of time mooning over a certain sell-sword named Daario, but when the goings get tough outside her adopted/conquered city (plague, famine, attack from many enemies), she doesn't take the easy way out as all her advisors want her to do, but stays put and tries to make a better life for her people. She even agrees to marry the noble Hizdahr, someone she neither trusts note ives, because she thinks it will bring peace. And towards the end of the book she finally gets to do what I had been waiting, hoping for for ages — she hops on her dragon Drogon's back and takes flight. Truly the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys may be temporarily a bit lost in the Dothraki Sea, but she will still be a force to be reckoned with.

Tyrion. His chapters may have been the most frustrating for readers (and Martin). A fan favorite, how are we supposed to feel about him, after he has killed his father and his lover and fled, presumably in search of "where whores go"? Martin's answer was to send him on a circuitous journey, teasing us with his reaching Daenerys to join her council. But he never really does. Instead he meets another Targaryen no one knew was still alive, also interested in taking the Iron Throne, gets captured by Jorah Mormont, then both are later sold into slavery where he meets a female (and fairly annoying) performing dwarf. As always Tyrion uses his considerable wits to get them out of that predicament, but what next? Another cliffhanger.

"You know nothing, Jon Snow" (Kit Harington)
Jon Snow. His character showed the most growth. He had to contend with King Stannis, his Red Witch Melisandre, and his Queen and her court while simultaneously trying to breach a peace with the Wildlings. A decision that was most unpopular with his men of the Night's Watch, Jon let the Wildlings not only cross to their side of The Wall, but allowed some to don the black cloaks of the Night's Watch. Heresy. Jon understands that the old prejudices must be set aside if they are truly going to survive the winter that is coming, and the Others and otherworldly threats that lurk beyond the Wall. At the same time, he can't seem to let go of his allegiance to his old home of Winterfell, and a decision to try and defend the castle opens the door for his men to pull a Caesar-style execution move. Or did they? Cue Melisandre and the Lord of Light's magic in 3,2,1 ...

Those are the three central characters of the narrative at the moment, but there was a lot more going on as well, with Arya, and Bran, and Asha Greyjoy, but most especially with Reek, now back to calling himself Theon. Theon has become a fascinating character, one which I never expected to sympathize with. When we first meet him in A Game of Thrones he was clearly a callow youth. Some might even have called him a jerk. It comes as no surprise (except to the Starks) that he became Theon Turncloak. But Martin threw Theon and his readers for a loop when he introduced an even more vile character in the form of Ramsay Snow, the Bastard of Bolton. Ramsay tortured, castrated, and mutilated Theon, turning him into the sniveling Reek. The unpleasant Reek gave us a view into Ramsay and his father Roose Bolton's doings (much like his sister Asha functions to show us what Stannis and his army are up to). But once Ramsay takes Winterfell in A Dance with Dragons, Reek slowly transforms back into Theon. His memories of his childhood there and his vists to the weirwood tree (and possible coaching from greenseer Bran) restore, at least mentally, his manhood. A character I used to loathe reading about, Theon has become one of the most interesting characters in the series.

A Dance with Dragons visits King's Landing for just a few chapters, which may have worked better in A Feast for Crows, but why quibble? Cersei is as awful (and fun to read about) as ever. Her uncle Kevan had a slam-bang chapter of his own, which featured another favorite face from the past, Varys. But these brief visits are just previews of the next book, The Winds of Winter. And there, lies the rub, of course. Martin has such a way of making us interested in his characters, that one can't help but be frustrated when one nears the end of the massive tome and realizes that just ten more pages aren't going to reveal what happens next to Tyrion, Daenerys, or in a way-too-short tantalizing peek, Jaime and Brienne (!) So here we sit, hoping for scraps and previews that Martin is posting on his blog. And maybe rewatching select episodes of Game of Thrones until The Winds of Winter comes out. This year? Next year?

Monday, July 14, 2014

quote of the day

"A reader leads a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

I already shared this quote from the author my twitter, but I think it bears repeating. It really jumped out at me in the 1000+ page novel. I will share my thoughts about (finally finishing) the book tomorrow, but just wanted to remind myself and anyone who's listening, about the power of the written word.*

Don't provoke him, people

* Although Martin seems to have little respect for spoken words, as he has multiple characters spout often (and oftener), "Words are wind."

Friday, July 11, 2014

favorite song friday: tennis court

Wunderkind Lorde keeps up her winning streak with her latest single, "Tennis Court." It's minimalist, funky, and fun. I love it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

throwback thursday: life's a beach

Some more vintage family photos from the Jersey Shore. Getting myself in the mood for our upcoming vacation.

Periale sisters, c. 1920
My great grandmother Paola, second from the left, c. 1920a

Joseph & James at the beach, c. 1935
My dad striking a pose, second from right, with his brother Jim and cousins, c. 1935

Pastel by Mary Elizabeth Winship Periale
One of my mom's pastels of my brother, dad, and me at the beach

Ann & John and sand sculpture
My cousin Ann and brother John pose before a sand sculpture masterpiece, c. late '80s 

Lucy on the beach
The kid contributes to a sand castle's fortifications

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

rip paul mazursky

Director Paul Mazursky passed way last week, at the age of 84. Whenever I hear his name I inevitably think of classic films of the '70s, although his work spanned the '60s to the '00s.

Mazursky wrote and directed two of my favorite films, An Unmarried Woman and Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Both movies play with crushing, from both inside and out, the idea of American life that we have constructed for ourselves — marriage, sex, status, homes, possessions. No matter how timely or personal the stories in his film might be, he always  gave them a touch of comedy, too —  Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Harry and Tonto, Tempest, Moscow on the Hudson, Scenes from a Mall.

Mazursky, center, with Alan Bates and Jill Clayburgh during the filming of An Unmarried Woman

Here are a few humorous quotes from his film:

Ted Henderson (Elliot Gould, from Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice)
"First, we'll have an orgy. Then we'll go see Tony Bennett."

Nick Fifer (Woody Allen, in Scenes from a Mall)
"How many 16th anniversaries does a person have in a lifetime? One ... maybe two."

Dave Whiteman (Richard Dreyfuss, from Down and Out in Beverly Hills)
"I thought we weren't going to drink any more."
Barbara Whiteman (Bette Midler)
"Well, Dave, yeah. It's true. I am a vegetarian. But I hear ... that vodka ... comes from a potato!"

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

last weekend, continued ...

I covered our trip to the local comic con yesterday, but wanted to share a few more pix from what turned out to be a fun, long, weekend.

I really love this park sculpture/planter in downtown Miami Beach

July 4th 2014
A hole in the clouds as the bad weather passed us by

An Impressionistic shot of the Intracoastal, post-fireworks

July 4th 2014
The kid had fun with sparklers on our porch

Monday, July 07, 2014

baby's first comic con

The kid and I attended the Florida Supercon this weekend and had a blast. We saw some famous folks, some amazingly creative cosplay, and lots and lots of stuff that celebrates the larger and larger world that is all things geek these days. While everyone expects science fiction, anime, and fantasy to be represented by all things manga and Star Wars and Star Trek and Game of Thrones, I had to admit to being surprised to also see emissaries from such worlds as Spongebob Squarepants and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But that was great for the kid, who got an autograph and got to pose with the voice of Squidward himself, Rodger Bumpass.

The kid with Squidward (aka Rodger Bumpass)

I have to admit that although I love Miyazaki, and am aware of anime like Sailor Moon and of course Pokemon, I was at a loss by some of the references displayed by young cosplay-ers. But I did love these creations, whoever they were supposed to be.



One of the draws to get me to go initially was Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones. We just caught the tail-end of his Q&A, but he seemed very engaging; having a great time with the audience. But the highlight for me certainly had to be the photo-op with Star Trek star Nichelle Nichols. What a great lady.

Jason Momoa favored sitting on the edge of the stage to relate to his fans

Nichelle Nichols favored us all with the Vulcan salute

Before we headed for home I gave the kid a quick tour of South Beach and its great Deco-style architecture. Miami Beach was pretty torn up — lots of construction going on — but being a city gal at heart, I really enjoyed being in a little bit of a bigger pond for a while. We will definitely be back soon, when we can spend a bit more time hanging out there. All in all, a great, fun day.