Thursday, January 24, 2008

A review of "The Dud Avocado"

by Elaine Dundy

The Dud Avocado is the first book I’ve read in a while that I kept imagining as a movie. Probably because I had just recently seen Bonjour, Tristesse and was always picturing Sally Jay Gorce (the protagonist) as Jean Seberg. Which is lovely, if only slightly regrettable for the fact that I lost the opportunity to imagine a Sally Jay of my own making, which is always a special prerogative of the reader.
I must recommend this book to anyone that needs an little of that ye-ye flavor in their lives. If we can’t be at a seaside villa near Biarritz right at this moment, we probably also aren’t prepared to deal with the career ramifications of sporting a pink hairdo at the office, or ignoring the stares while waltzing down the street at 2pm in evening wear. Or meeting an Italian diplomat for drinks at the bar in the Ritz. Sigh. You go, Sally Jay.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I DID IT! (rated 3 stars)

by Leo Tolstoy

The day I never thought would come is finally here. Today I closed Anna Karenina FOREVER! The force-fed nightmare is over. While there were certainly beautifully written passges (helped by the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation, no doubt) I can’t ever imagine reading this book ever again. I will say the scene at the horse races was lyrical and sparked the imagination. And when Levin went on the hunting trip with Stiva, the natural descriptions made me feel as if I was there. But my brain was so choked by the extended description of Russian provincial politics at approximately page 600, I put the book down for a month and wouldn’t touch it. Way to throw a wrench into whatever plot momentum this thing had, Count Lev. 

At that point, knowing the fate of the heroine anyway, I couldn’t help wondering what could possibly be so important that we had to delay the climax for still another 200 pages. As I recall the upshot of those provincial elections was that….Levin was so confused by all the political doublespeak that he a) didn’t understand the voting process, and b) forgot who he was supposed to vote for anyway. So I made it through all that for absolutely no pay off whatsoever. Dear Tolstoy, allow me to quote Tim Gunn: I can’t want you to succeed more than you do! If the (secondary) main character can’t be bothered to understand it all—WHY SHOULD I? The only redeeming event in those final infernal pages were the descriptions of Anna’s internal emotional break down. I just kept thinking, “Yes, that’s just like a woman.” But that did not take up 200 pages. I persevered to say I had done it, but I would not recommend it.  

This fall, when I began Anna Karenina, I was excited by the announcement of the new Pevear-Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace, but at this point I don't know if I could do the slog.  Maybe a 4 pages a day program, but right now I don't know if I have the strength.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Golden Globes

I am absolutely over the moon that my two favorite performances of the year, Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men and Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, and my favorite show of the year Mad Men, actually won. My favorites never win. For Cotillard it means an Oscar nomination for sure (she should walk away with it if I had my druthers). And as for Jon Hamm and Mad Men, here's to a second phenomenal season (hopefully longer) and a budding movie career for Hamm (Clooney, watch your back!)

As for the Golden Globes "Winners' Special," of course I missed the red carpet, but I wasn't too upset about the new format. Usually I like the Golden Globes and the SAG awards better than the Oscars because they combine the worlds of television and movies, the evening seems more intimate and informal, and the jokes and speeches are usually pretty good, but I didn't miss them that much. Although I would have loved to see Jon Hamm in a tux giving his acceptance speech, a sartorial fantasy that one can only hope will be fulfilled next year. I wouldn't be surprised if they ended up having another "Special" like this for the Oscars, the way the strike is going. Anything to get out of the Debbie Allen choreography numbers.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Daughter of "The Happy Baker"

Alexis Stewart (daughter of Martha) and I probably have a negligible amount in common, except for one thing: we are the first (and in her case only) daughters of Happy Bakers. It seems so right that Martha is a mother of an only child, doesn't it? The PERFECT child, right? Well, as I said I am a daughter of a Happy Baker for what good it has done me (and my bod.) I mean for Pete's sake, the other day my mom showed me a recipe for apple cider that included brown sugar and BUTTER! The dream of brown sugar addicts everywhere has finally been realized: a way to wrap our guiltiest of pleasures in something wholesome and ostensibly healthy (well, fruit-related.) I was having a hard enough time getting to the gym as it was. I did not need to stumble upon these:
...The PERFECT baked goods packaging. It doesn't just stop at the cookie boxes above, we've got cupcake boxes with holes for individual cupcakes, cellophane bags with ribbon closures for caramel corn and the like, and ye olde petit four boxes as well. Each box also includes wrapping tissue and matching labels. Thanks alot Martha. It's bad enough when your own mother doesn't have your best interests at heart, but what has the world come to when every mother is out to get ya?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Try it, you'll like it!

Back in October 2005, or as I refer to it, the happiest time of my life, l was living in London. Part of what made me so happy in that most fabulous of cities was my discovery of Wensleydale cheese with cranberries. The Green Park subway stop had a two-floored Marks & Spencer's, which was like if Whole Foods was a 7-11, fresh food for people on the go. They sold sticks of this cheese and I would buy fistfulls of them. I have never personally experienced death by mini-bar, but I have experienced nigh unto it thanks to M&S Simply Food. Ok, maybe it only induced a hotel nap or two. So to celebrate finally getting my new ATM card after 23 days without (DURING THE XMAS SEASON!), I christened it by ordering a pound of Wensleydale. I might have paid for it in pounds sterling for as much as it cost me, but what the heck. If I can't watch dogs romp around Primrose Hill on a chilly fall Saturday while nursing a hot cocoa, at least I can close my eyes and remember, eh?

A review of "X-Special Edition"

Oh please, we all know this isn’t going to be an objective review. A lot would have had to go wrong with this CD for me to dislike it and honey, nothing did. It’s perfect new Kylie. It’s harder-edged than Fever, the lush, dreamy dance disc that re-ignited our dormant passion for Kylie, but hey, she’s been through some stuff alright? It took her a long time to convince me to come back, that's for sure. Wearing out my tape single of "Locomotion" on the annual family ski trip in 1988 to my grudging first listen to Fever in 2004 is a long freaking time to be out in the cold.

On X, the standouts for me are “Like A Drug” and "Heart Beat Rock" but I have a feeling with further listenings, I will find other faves. I only listened to the album 4 times all the way through today, so… Apparently it’s been out in America for a while and hasn’t done well at all. I get that. Sometimes we Americans are too cool for school. That’s ok. All I know is I have no more excuses not to go back to the gym now. I’ve got the trainer sessions, the engraved shuffle, and the 2nd best (behind Fever) workout CD EVER!

Honestly with that cover art, how was I not going to love it? It reminds me of the mural in Jules' (Demi Moore) room in St. Elmo's Fire. And the black tulle masque? It's the one accessory, above even the poncho and hotpants, that has such a high degree of difficulty for wearing it well, that only a select few, really a handfull, can pull it off with
élan. The rest of us can just dream. MVLC watch your back! Just kidding Madge, but you know you've got to step up your game with this year's release. I have yet to watch the DVD included, and don't really know if I can, as it's an import and I'm pretty sure doesn't have Region-1 encoding, but if I work that out, I will update this review.

I am totally confused.

Visit page on mun2

What do quinceaneras and wrestling have to do with eachother? It's not a joke, it's a promotion. A contest for which only girls that turn 15 this year can apply, so Peter Pan, dry your tears, you're not eligble to be flung around the ring by all those big naughty boys that dress their age. It's really only when you're a female over 30 that you drag your siblings and only surviving grandparent (grandma) to stand in line for hours to watch tapings of shows like NBC's American Gladiators revival, sheesh. WWE Raw, you're wasting your time on the wrong demographic.

La Bruni

I've been following the French President Nicolas Sarkozy during his tenure and find him to be one of the more fascinating leaders on the world stage in recent years. Have you seen tape of him during that school hostage situation in Neuilly, back when he was the mayor? Or storming out of an interview with 60 Minutes*? Or possibly drunk at the G8 sumit? This guy is nothing if not interesting. And now I think he's topped himself.

Since his divorce in the fall of last year, he recently began dating heiress, folk singer, erstwhile model and maneating all-star, Carla Bruni. And according to some of the most venerable press outlets, he's announced his intentions are serious. As in marriage. The couple are currently in the midst of a mid-winter Middle Eastern romp, with whistle stops in Luxor, Egypt, Petra, Jordan and...oops, no Saudi Arabia for Carla (apparently their delicto is too flagrante for the Saudi powers that be.) Anyway, I think it's all kind of fabulous, but I just want to be the first to warn Super better watch out, cause she will eat you for breakfast. Says so, right here.

See, I happened to have read Justine Lévy's roman à clef Nothing Serious which is subtitled How Carla Bruni Dated My Father-in-Law then Stole My Husband and Had His Baby. She's a serial girlfriend with really bizarre taste in men that can swing from exotic gorgeousness (Vincent Perez) to frumpy blowhards (Donald Trump...seriously). She broke up Mick and Jerry, and you have to know fidelity wasn't exactly part of the agreement there, so the situation must have been extraordinarily egregious. If Sarkozy thinks he can tame her, I'd like to see him try.

*I think it's kind of funny that he got all pissy when Leslie Stahl asked him about his marital situation a couple of weeks before his divorce was announced, and his reaction was like HOW DARE YOU even broach the topic, but now he's pulling a Bennifer.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Perfect Timing

I just watched Tommy for the first time ever this week--an event many years in the making. I sheepishly admit that, but am consoled by an article extoling the glory of Tommy wherein the author said he hadn't seen it before 2007, despite having been a long-standing fan who had actually reviewed the band for The Village Voice in the 60s. But I seriously doubt that he has as good an excuse as I do for avoiding it this long: I was frightened by it, and for good reason. My dad used to play "Boris the Spider" to my sister and I when I couldn't have been much more than 5 and she, like 3, as he recently reminded me. As if I could ever forget!

Actually it was the cover art for The Who Sell Out that made the indelible impression of a lifetime on my sib and I. To this day all I have to say to her is "remember that album cover" which she certainly will reply, "The one with the baked beans? Oh yeah." At that age, I had a hair ribbon wardrobe to die for and was immersed in a world of triumphant pink OshKosh corduroy overalls. I spent my days practicing the piano with a Rogers and Hammerstein songbook and doing barre exercises in ballet classes after school. During one of my forays exploring the cover art in my dad's album collection, my pastel purple universe was irretreivably altered when I was confronted by an angry guy sitting in a bathtub of baked beans ("Why would someone DO THAT?" my young mind wondered), his hawkish eyes threatening that any second he would jump out of that tub and grab me. Or not. Maybe he liked it there in that tub; more than he liked scaring little private school ballerinas, one could only hope. The several faces of the proto-Where's Waldo? group photo on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (bought the week it was released in London, I would later learn) attracted nothing more than summary curiosity, even with a gatefold, after I was introduced to the scariest image I had ever beheld. Well, not as scary as the Skeksis in the Dark Crystal, or Dragonslayer. But those were yet to enter my purview.

Much to the amusement of certain persons in my life, I've recently re-discovered how much I really do love a lot of The Who's music. Let me be clear though, my taste only extends to the EARLY oeuvre, the amphetamine-driven snarling white boy R&B married to the avant garde pop arty stuff. NOT their over-synthed stadium rock of the 70s. Pete Townshend would snarl that that early stuff is juvenile, and so be it, I can live with that.

is the bridge between those eras. Back in 1993 when Tommy came to Broadway, being the good drama geek that I was, I knew the complete "libretto" (if I may be so bold) and had the Broadway cast recording. I watched Ken Russell's Women in Love via Netflix in December and thought it terrific. So when I saw Tommy was going to be on TCM recently, I thought, why not? Who couldn't do with a little more Oliver Reed and Ann-Margret in their life? After reading the aforementioned article, I was especially amped to see Tina Turner's turn as The Acid Queen and the much vaunted "Champagne" sequence. And now, my thoughts:

  1. Thank goodness they really didn't "go there" with the creepy Uncle Ernie sequence. That was a big concern for me. I just didn't want to watch that.
  2. Oliver Reed à la Danny Zuko who can't sing? GENIUS!
  3. How does Tina Turner do that thing with her lip? And the mirrored robot thing she put Tommy in? Who else was thinking "PUT THEM IN THE IRON MAIDEN!"?
  4. "Champagne" lived up to my expectations. My STARS, Ann-Margaret was robbed of the Oscar! Her best performance ever. What a trooper, that was serious commitment to a character. I hope being the Dame of the Month here on the blog eases the pain of being denied recognition a little.
  5. Wha? Tommy was only a pinball wizard for like 5 minutes! More pinball wizardry, fewer cults, please.
  6. Eric Clapton segment=zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Question: When you are God, why would you agree to a demotion to priest?
  7. Mixed emotions re: Sally Simpson's Tommy wallpaper. Cool effect, but could you live with it year round? Also, Sally was way younger than I envisioned her to be.
  8. Pete Townshend, 10 years on then, more than 40 now, isn't the whole "birdman" strum/guitar destruction thing a little played? How can it be an organic expression of feeling when it's progressed into an "insert trademark move here" type thing? And the corollary: Roger, you had that haircut for at least 8 years (1967-1975). I'm glad it wasn't the world's first straight perm that you were sporting before that, but my goodness, evolve already. You just wanted people to confuse you with Robert Plant, admit it.
  9. There is no way Roger and Ann-Margret didn't have an affair.
  10. Bring on Lisztomania!
The vein of Who-related arcana runs deep in my life, or better said, the lives of my parents. When I told my mom I'd watched Tommy, she said (predictably), "Oh, that movie's dis-GUSTING!" When I asked what was so disgusting about it, she said,"Didn't he have zits?" Now I am sorry but that is funny. Of all the things she could have taken exception with in that film she picks non-existent zits and says nothing about chocolate-doused silk bolster pillows. Then she went on to reveal that she and my dad walked out of Tommy and went to see Antonioni's The Passenger...and hated that too! In her defense though, she was pregnant with me at the time. That accounts for the memory loss re: the zits and the impatience with experimental filmmaking....and probably, quite a lot about me as well.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Vitalic - Birds

This is how I started 2008. À tous mes chiens de diamant, Bonne Année!