31 July 2005

The Aristocrats is amazing. Even when you aren't laughing, you're grinning or hugging yourself at an endless succession of comic goodies, and when the movie gets rolling, it's the funniest thing on God's earth. I had to close my eyes at least once (during Billy the Mime's performance) to keep from hurting myself.

This movie is going to be huge, too. The theater where I saw it was packed, and had people standing in the aisles just to get a peek at it.

It also has, hands down, the best line of the year, delivered by a talented young lady named Sarah Silverman. I wouldn't dream of giving it away, of course, except to say that it involves Joe Franklin and a casting couch.
The Midwest is really pretty. I spent the weekend in beautiful Saugatuck, Michigan, and upon my return to New York, as my plane came down through the clouds and I got my first glimpse of the area around JFK Airport, the words "industrial wasteland" came inescapably to mind.

I was in Saugatuck to catch a regional performance of Urinetown: The Musical, and was flabbergasted by it. It's a great, incredibly funny musical in any case, but the cast in this production was unusually terrific: I haven't seen this sort of chemistry onstage in any musical in a long time. If anyone happens to be in Saugatuck tonight (which is, unfortunately, their last performance), you should definitely try to catch the show.

Also, the lovely ingenue playing Hope Cladwell just knocked me down and all around. As I told her afterwards, she dominates the show whenever she's onstage, even when she's bound and gagged.

Saugatuck, incidentally, is the gayest city in Michigan.

27 July 2005

While I'm pleased with the new energy bill's omission of oil drilling in Alaska, I'm even more excited about this. Starting in 2007, spring will come earlier!
I know it's happened before that every team in a division has finished the season at or over .500. But has there ever been a season in which the last-place team in one division would be in first in a different division? That's what would happen if baseball season ended today. Westward relocation looks pretty good to the Marlins and Phillies right now.

26 July 2005

Apparently even Michael Bay agrees that the poster for The Island makes Scarlett Johannson look like "a porn star."
First Command update:

The salesman peppered my brother with a lot of leading questions, trying to get him to buy life insurance. Since my brother is single and has automatic life insurance through the government, he didn't see much point in buying extra insurance, and was only interested in other financial services they had. When he told the salesman he wanted to get something else and not life insurance, the salesmen stated that that wouldn't be "fair" and terminated the meeting.

This is a big company that certainly has a large number of satisfied customers in the military, but I think they still have a way to go before even meeting the low salesmanship standards of your average bank.

25 July 2005

It's true: John Lennon really does yell "Fucking 'ell!" two minutes and fifty-eight seconds into "Hey Jude." Thanks, Wikipedia!
By the way, First Command (the insurance company that sells overpriced investments to U.S. soldiers, which Nat mentions below) is a fascinating, and controversial, topic. Check out this thread from the excellent Vanguard Diehards forum.
In case anyone is wondering who my erotic obsessions currently are, they consist of the following:

1. The Food Network's Rachael Ray
2. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
3. Kelly McGillis, circa 1986

That last one may seem a bit dated, but I rented Top Gun this weekend, and McGillis just knocked me sideways. I hadn't seen Top Gun since I was about twelve years old, and it's interesting how well that love story—which seemed like an afterthought at the time—holds up. I'm also shocked, shocked that "Take My Breath Away" failed to make AFI's "100 Years, 100 Songs" list. Presumably, it was knocked off by "Up Where We Belong," which is sort of like ranking Goose above Iceman.

22 July 2005

Speaking of personal issues, it turns out that what some have claimed is an unnatural predilection is merely a statistical phenomenon.
I have this um, friend, who was wondering if it's normal to feel megalomaniacal from time to time. Is he the only one who gets that way?

In other news, I'm sitting around plotting national conquest because my brother has been meeting with a representative from this company for the past two hours. I wish I had found this article before the meeting.
I'm sorry to report that there aren't any wombats in the St. Louis Zoo, although there were some cool hippos and monkeys. And sea lions that throw frisbees.

Yes, I'm still in the Ozarks. I was backpacking until my backpack broke, and now I'm just driving around the hills looking for cool stuff. Yesterday was tubing down a spring-fed creek (named "Spring Creek"); today is looking for caves. And in the background of it all, you can hear the reassuring explosions coming from the Ft. Leonard Wood demolition range, and you know that the U.S. Army is training yet more men and women in the fine art of blowing things up.

21 July 2005

A few of you may have seen the Modern Love essay called "The New Nanny Diaries Are Online" in Sunday's New York Times. The author, a New York journalist, writes about covertly reading her 26-year-old nanny's blog and feeling disturbed, conflicted, and titillated by what she finds, until she finally finds it impossible to retain her services:
Yet within two months of my starting to read her entries our entire relationship unraveled. Not only were there things I didn't want to know about the person who was watching my children, it turned out her online revelations brought feelings of mine to the surface I'd just as soon not have to face as well.
Now, I happen to know that the article is unfair, bordering on libelous. Why? Because I know the blogger. (Incidentally, there's a link to Deadly Mantis on the notorious blog in question, which seems to have led to a slight surge in traffic on this blog over the past few days. I'm not going to name the blog itself, but a quick search online search would probably reveal the URL.)
Wow. The ex-girlfriend featured in the "pet names" essay from the New York Times publishes a response, and it isn't pretty:
I originally glanced right past the word.

Froky? In the paper? Typo. Froky isn't in the newspaper. Froky isn't even a public word. It's a private word, our...shit.

My stomach flooded with acid. It was "Froky." Our most intimate pet word. Right there in black and white on the front page of Sunday Styles. I turned to the "Modern Love" section, and it hit me. My ex-boyfriend had gotten his first byline in the newspaper of record with an essay about me, him and our shared past. I had had no warning whatsoever from either him or the Times. Adding insult to injury, the article was accompanied by an illustration of me: as a grotesquely oversized, adultly breasted infant girl, arms and legs spread wide while a little boy frantically filed away at iron bars to make a prison break from a heart shaped metal cage.
Hmmm, yes, I can see why that might be a little troubling. In any case, it's always nice to see the muse fight back.
I told you so.

20 July 2005

As those of you who are tuned in to corporate America probably know, yesterday HP announced a massive restructuring which includes laying off 10 percent of its workforce. As I drove in to work (in Flora's car) a reporter from Channel 2 stopped me and asked what I thought of the layoffs (which was the first I heard of it). I mumbled, "I'm only an intern" and continued on my way. Then at the end of the day as I was walking to the car, someone drove up to me, got out of the car, and said "I work for a financial services company, and we're hiring now, so here's my business card." Corporate America is weird.
The deadpan final sentence of this obituary of James "Scotty" Doohan is priceless.
Life on Mars? Well, we may have put it there by accident.
It's nice to see that a white, Harvard-educated male has finally been nominated to the Supreme Court.

19 July 2005

So I, uh, bought a lightsaber today. It's pretty cool. The power-up effect is awesome, and, as the catalog says, the durable metal hilt "looks and feels like a real lightsaber." While it was mostly just an excuse to use up an FAO Schwarz gift card that I'd been hoarding since Christmas, between this purchase and my sudden obsession with William Shatner, I'm a little worried.

16 July 2005

Yesterday I took a field trip to the San Diego Zoo, which I had never been to before. Cutest Critter prize goes to the koalas, which were sleeping next to each other on high tree branches. Oddest Spectacle goes to the huge throng of people in the panda paddock, who stood motionless and transfixed while some zookeper explained the eating habits of pandas, even though there were no pandas in sight. I looked for wombats in the marsupial section, but they were nowhere to be found. Sorry, Nat!
Why is ESPN suddenly publishing Harry Potter fanfic?

What does this have to do with sports?

And why is it the heteronormative and obvious harry/hermione type of fanfic instead of the more avant guarde harry/malfoy or harry/dumbledore slash fanfic?

15 July 2005

At some point this evening, I realized that the Magnetic Fields had replaced the Pet Shop Boys as the predominant objective correlative of my inner life. Different sound; still gay.

I've often wondered why my favorite musical artists have always been vaguely or obviously queer. My usual explanation is that gay artists, for various reasons, have been compelled to be ironic, coded, or reserved about their strongest emotions, and I find that sort of reticence aesthetically more interesting than the unguarded feelings of most pop music.

In a way, this may also explain why my favorite musical discovery of the last six months is an album by William Shatner.

Has Been is brilliant. Everyone who has access to the iTunes store (which is perfect for this sort of shame purchase) should spend $9.99 on it. If you aren't grinning madly halfway through the first track (a beautifully produced cover of Pulp's "Common People"), I'll gladly refund the price. It isn't gay or ironic, exactly; it's just very, very strange, funny, moving, and compelling. Shatner is becoming a weird sort of role model for me. After all, the guy's a survivor, and Has Been is dizzyingly full of hard-earned wisdom and humor. Once you start listening, it's hard to stop. (My favorite line: "By the time you hear this, I may well be dead / And you, my friend, may be next." But it's hard to choose.)

On the other hand, between Has Been, Paul Anka's Rock Swings, the soundtrack to Beyond the Sea, and lots of ironic country by the Magnetic Fields ("Country music by people who should know better," as I once called it), my iPod is all irony, all the time. Maybe it's time for some heavy, pretentious progressive rock instead. The Wall, anyone?

13 July 2005

Just ran accross a comic that reminded me of the good old days of The Misanthropic Mr. Chu.

11 July 2005

My iPod software was corrupted a few months ago, and I haven't been able to add new songs for a long time (although it still plays fine). Today I finally ended up going to the Genius Bar at the Apple store in Soho, where a helpful genius fixed my problem in about fifteen seconds. Of course, the scary thing isn't that I waited so long to get this fixed. The scary thing is that the first new albums I downloaded were by Paul Anka and William Shatner.
This article from the Sunday Times about lovers' pet names and secret games is funny, moving, and a little nauseating. My favorite paragraph:
We'd go to watch classic film noir at Film Forum and make up childish games while waiting in line. See, it wasn't enough to make a frog ribbit, you also had to do a ribbit and face of an emotionless frog, then the sound of an emotionless ape, then an ape pleading for emotional connection, then you had to stage a stare-down of emotionless frog versus pleading ape. (The ape always won.) We didn't care that people looked at us oddly. Their disapproval merely drew us closer.
Awww. I hate couples like this.
Thank you, Alec; the book of Ozark folk tales you recommended has vastly increased my store of incest jokes. You never know when those will come in handy.

08 July 2005

There's been a lot of talk about a box office "slump" in Hollywood, but as this perceptive article in Slate points out, the six major studios are actually doing better so far this year than they were in 2004. The difference between this year and last year's box office was almost entirely due to The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11, a pair of independent surprise hits that came from outside the studio system. I guess the lesson here is that you can't expect a Passion every year, although I have high hopes for The Aristocrats.

07 July 2005

Occasionally I (and other contributors to this blog) have toyed with setting minimum standards for the sort of person we'd be able to date. (This is, obviously, something like Argentina trying to set foreign policy on the Falkland Islands.) For example, I'm not sure that I could date someone who didn't like Casablanca (which is just a basic test of human decency), Chungking Express (which says a lot about a person's taste in movies), or Morrissey (which is more of an empirical observation than anything else).

Anyway, I've got another one: Beyond the Sea. I'm not saying, God knows, that I could only date someone who thinks that Beyond the Sea is a good movie. But if she isn't strangely fascinated by the idea of Kevin Spacey (at his smuggest and most inexplicable) singing and dancing through a candy-colored quasi-musical written, produced, and directed by Kevin Spacey himself...well, it probably wasn't meant to be.

In any case, this movie is finally out on DVD, and while watching it recently, I found that I'd unconsciously constructed my own Beyond the Sea drinking game. Here it is:
Take 1 sip when you see Kevin Spacey sing
Take 1 sip when you see Kevin Spacey drink
Take 1 sip when you see Kevin Spacey in a tux
Take 1 sip when you see "Little Bobby"
Take 1 sip when someone mentions Sinatra
Take 1 sip at the beginning of every voiceover
Take 1 sip at the beginning of every flashback
Take 1 sip at the beginning of every dance number

Take 2 sips when "Little Bobby" sings
Take 2 sips when you see Kate Bosworth drink
Take 2 sips when Kevin Spacey dances
Take 2 sips when a Jewish mother throws a fit
Take 2 sips when Kevin Spacey smashes something
Take 2 sips when Kevin Spacey does an inexplicable impersonation (e.g. Walter Matthau, old Jewish man)

Take 3 sips when Kate Bosworth swears
Take 3 sips when "Little Bobby" dances
Take 3 sips when Kate Bosworth throws a fit
Take 3 sips when something "morphs" for no apparent reason
Take 3 sips at the line "People hear what they see"

Take 4 sips when you see Kevin Spacey in an oxygen mask
Take 4 sips when you see Kevin Spacey's mighty sword
Take 4 sips at the line "Memories are like moonbeams"
Take 4 sips when "Little Bobby" swears

Take a bonus sip whenever the movie becomes inexplicably self-indulgent, self-referential, campy, or queer.
It still needs some fine-turning, but perhaps I'll have a screening sometime soon. Sharon, perhaps when you're in town? I assume that Mr. Chu will show up...
Here are the lyrics to "King's Cross" by the Pet Shop Boys. Yikes.

06 July 2005

Can anyone recommend any good books on the Ozarks? I think I'm going to be in that area soon and heaven knows I have enough time on my hands.

04 July 2005

I just got back from Sway, an aggressively hip lounge in Soho that has a Morrissey night every Sunday. Sample dialogue, as my friend and I surveyed the crowd:
She: You go for the androgynous type, right?
Me: Well, in a pinch, I'll take slutty.
Anyway, the evening ended up being more "How Soon is Now?" than anything else. (You know: "You go and you stand on your own / and you leave on your own...") Still, I had a good time. And Bessie, if you're ever in town on a Sunday...!

02 July 2005

Free at last!

Yesterday was officially my last day on the job. Now, I have no idea what I'm going to be doing with my time. It's not yet time to pen my tell-all book, although maybe I could start jotting down notes.

I'm also more wealthy right now than I will be for quite some time. Well, maybe not, if I can make some shrewd investments. Is anyone interested in starting a pyramid scheme?