Saturday, November 28, 2009
What is it about certain movies that makes you want to watch them over and over - when there are surely plenty of other movies you've never seen once that are worth seeing? Why would I invest yet another 2 hours in watching one I've already seen when there are both well-known and undiscovered masterpieces unviewed?
I will ponder these questions as I make this list of ten (representative but not comprehensive) and maybe an answer will define itself.
1. O Brother Where Art Thou?
Coen Brothers. George Clooney's funniest role ever. Kickass soundtrack. Who wouldn't want to watch it 17 times? Or 117 times? Enough said.
2. The Wizard of Oz
OK so sure, I watched it a dozen times before I was 18 but so what? I'd watch it again right now. Classic in every way, and even more so because all the actors in it were sure that it was stupid and sure to be a flop when they were making it, and because all the little people were pervy and troublemakers, and because it has so much history. The editing is perfect and the fllying monkeys still scare the crap out of me.
Could any movie be more perfectly imagined? Could anyone be cuter than Audrey Tatou?
4. Singin' in the Rain
The zenith of the movie musical - all the pieces fall together so easily. All I ever wanted to be was Gene Kelly, so I am still working on the moves.
5. Rock Star
Super-underrated 2001 flick with Mark Wahlberg and a sexy Jennifer Anniston -produced by Clooney - that tells an inside showbiz story so well - combining the passion performers feel with the cynical reality of the business. Heartfelt and real and fun every time.
Shouldn't be a guilty pleasure since it's a Ridley Scott film and a Best Picture winner, but bottom line still really commercial so I need to feel bad that I like it right? Perfectly shot, perfectly scored, perfectly edited. Joaquin Phoenix at his best and before he went off his nut. What more could I want?
7. Waiting for Guffman
For theatre nerds this movie creates the possibility of a an aneurysm from laughing too hard. And the danger increases with every viewing. Christopher Guest's best to date IMHO.
8. Duck Soup
Before I wanted to be Gene Kelly (or George Clooney) Iwanted to be Groucho. Even taught myself to smoke cigars in preparation. Duck Soup is the ultimate insanity and anarchy that the Marx Brothers created - they were outside law and convention and hilarious at the same time.
9. Saturday Night Fever
Actually kind of choppy and flawed in a number of ways, like a lot of 1970s movies, but compelling all the same. Unforgettable to me in that it always reminds me that the first time i saw it I knew that something had changed in pop culture and things would never be quite the same again. Also notable in that Travolta was prettier than any of the women in the movie.
10. Battle of the Bulge
Always watch it when it comes on TV because my dad used to say "Maybe I'll see myself" when it was coming on. Took me a few years to figure out that was a joke, and yet I always watch it thinking somehow maybe i will see him after all.
This list could go on and on I think. But what so these over-watched movies have in common? Laughs? Comfort? Great timing? Zeitgeist?
What are your movies you've watched so many times you feel strange about it?
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Throughout the annals of history (and it is in the annals where all the best history happens) there have been many well-known stories of survival against the odds. The Israelites and their forty days in the wilderness - that soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes and went cannibal - Dick Cheney toughing it out in his undisclosed-location bunker - all inspiring in their courage, fortitude and sheer will to live on! Nothing, however, can compare with the horrendous crisis from which I have just escaped...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
This just in:
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The play is about three people who find themselves in this - place - and gradually discover they are dead. (Kind of seems like a plot you've seen before, right? Like on "Twilight Zone" or something? But I think Sartre may have been first out of the gate with this setup.) There's a man and two women, and the man is tormented by the fact that one woman rejects him heterosexually and one rejects him homosexually, and the women reject each other, too, and it's all so very French because it's all so sexuality based and they all realize they are in Hell and Hell is a place where you are sexually frustrated for eternity, sort of like real life. Fun stuff! Barrel of laughs! Sarte is the not the kind of guy you'd want to have a beer with. Too much thinking, too much angst. Smile, J.P, is it all really that bad? Actually, for him I think it was. His thesis in "No Exit" was essentially that "Hell is other people."
Let's face it - the man was onto something here. Other people can create Hell in the living world in so many ways! By teasing, tormenting, withholding, withdrawing - by embracing, absorbing, assimilating, smothering - by ignoring, neglecting, negating - by judging, condemning, disapproving. And these are just the emotional Hells, not the financial Hell, physical Hell, or the other many and various Hells that we can become caught up in.
The Witless Phoner is a newly developed species of human who loses 98% of their bodily functions when their cell phone rings. Sometimes a Witless Phoner becomes a Mindless Pauser as a result of the "my phone is ringing!" paralysis - legs stop moving, body becomes rigid, WP digs in the pocket or the purse, traffic stacking up in every direction, phone finally comes out, call gets answered, WP stares off into the distance as if they're alone on the moon. This sequence of events seems to occur often in doorways. "Here's a good place for me to stand - right here in this doorway," muses the WP. Studies show it actually is possible to move while talking - it IS possible to explore one's pockets and maintain leg function - it IS feasible to be at least semi-aware of one's surroundings during periods of consciousness!
Alas, perhaps I ask too much of my fellow man.
Monday, August 3, 2009
One of the most profound changes that occurs when you end a long term relationship is the sudden discovery that you are alone in the bed. This is assuming, naturally, that you slept in the same bed in the first place, and didn't have separate rooms, Rob and Laura Petrie twin beds, bunk beds, hammocks, or some other crazy arrangement (because married or otherwise partnered people who don't sleep together is just really weird to me.) And it assumes that you or your partner wasn't always on the road, passed out on the couch downstairs, or in jail most of the time. In other words, that you are used to having your SO (male, female, canine, feline, amphibian, whatever) in the bed with you a lot. And then suddenly you don't.
Early in a relationship there's nothing better than slipping between the sheets with that wonderful person of apparently questionable judgement who wants to share the bed with you. Nothing better than whispering under the covers, a little tickling, throwing a leg across, spooning. (Mental imagery note: at this stage we're focusing on human-on-human interaction and have eliminated the canine, feline, amphibian, and whatever from the picture - but then again, whatever floats your boat, you won't get any judgementalness from me.)
As time passes things change. Maybe it's not a turn on just to get into the bed anymore, maybe there's some snoring going on and some showering not going on, maybe somebody greases up their face every night or wears a mask, or starts having recurring dreams where you are the pinata. But there's still some comfort level to it. A familiar smell, rhythm of breathing, someone to cling to when you need it. As a character I played recently put it "...in the winter there was always someone there in the bed to warm up my cold feet on." (Wonder why she left him?)
And at an even later stage, you may discover (and your partner may discover it too) that what you do together in the bed is not sleeping at all anymore, but just an ongoing pursuit of sleeping, because the other person is tossing and turning or grinding their teeth or stealing the covers or is relentlessly gassy, and on some occasion you are along on a trip and have the best night's sleep in years and you wonder "maybe I could sleep again if I had the bed all to myself...?"
So then one day your LTR is over and you have no SO. Maybe you are now SOL or AOK or even LOL over this turn of events, but in any case you are AITB (Alone In The Bed. I made that one up myself.) This condition may result in depression, crying jags, self medication and other consequences, but one thing you cannot deny - you now have lordly control over the temperature, sound, the covers, the mattress real estate, and lo and behold, the alarm clock. I discovered this joy most recently, when I indulged in a full hour of snooze alarming. I always seem to get the very best sleep, and sometimes the coolest dreams, in the nine minutes of snooze alarm bonus time - but if you have a bed partner who doesn't share your POV on that one, it's trouble right here in pillowtop city.
When I tote up the balance sheet, it comes out this way - in my new solo world I am sometimes alone, sometimes frustrated (ever try to put a bandaid on your own back?) , always poor, but by God, I can hit that freaking snooze button as many times as I want! Little victories are important.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
- (a) too fussy, ringing the flight attendant constantly
- (b) too fidgety, some kind of tweaker who can't sit still
- (c) too out of it, verging on comatose, sleeping with their head on my shoulder
- (d) too friendly, trying to talk to me when I don't care
- (e) not friendly enough, acting like they don't care when I try to talk to them
Thursday, June 25, 2009
OK, I just turned on the TV and Larry King is getting reactions to Michael Jackson's death by interviewing Jesse Jackson and Donna Summer. I mean, that puts it all in context, you know? I can't wait to hear who's next. Can I?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Resolved: I have a lot of moles. The brown spots on your skin, not the little varmints under the lawn. You can't choose the distribution of your pigment, so what are you going to do? But moles are more than just blips on the radar, they can be annoying to shave around, and as time passes they can get bigger or hairier or just sort of more noticeable in a negative way.
All that said, a few weeks back I started noticing a small mole up near my left eye. It seemed to look different than it once did, and maybe a little inflamed. So being vain, I called up the dermatologist at my HMO and asked if they would snip it off for me.
The doctor checked out this thing (not a mole actually but some other kind of skin thing) and said sure, I'll get rid of it, and no, it's not anything to worry about. But he also wanted to give me the once over, and when I took off my shirt he spotted a couple of moles that looked suspicious. Out came the tools and a few minutes later he's cut one off my abdomen and one off my back. He tells me they are probably nothing but he will call if there's any trouble.
I didn't think much of it. I have never been a big sunbather, and having a couple of funny looking moles out of my crop of dozens, maybe hundreds - well, odds are there are going to be some that look funny. That doesn't mean I've got anything wrong with me. Does it?
Phone rings while I am vacationing in New York. Doctor tells me the biopsy says the mole on my abdomen is a melanoma. He tells me it should be ok, it's been caught early, no chemo needed, but he needs to take a pound of flesh to make sure it's all gone. (Ok, he didn't say a pound of flesh but I have to use my drama major knowledge for obscure references now and then.) So just like that, I have cancer. I am reading things about "survival rates" and whatnot. As the song says, what a difference a day makes.
Melanoma is caused by UVA and UVB rays - they think. But it's also possible to get it in places that never get any sun. Some people say even one really bad sunburn as a kid can set you up for this cancer later. I definitely had a few sunburns over the years - maybe you did too.
Melanoma is the worst type of skin cancer. If you don't get it early, it can burrow down and get you into all kinds of trouble. Odds are I will be fine and this will not be the thing that kills me. But it does feel like the Grim Reaper sort of waved at me from across the room.
Moral of the story #1: Check yourself.
Moral of the story #2: If I had not been vain and wanted to get a blip off my face, this cancer could have gone unnoticed for a long time - maybe too long. So maybe being vain is not the worst thing in the world?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
"Napa County jail is a far cry from the honeymoon suite at a tony wine country inn and spa.
On Tuesday around 5 p.m., Napa County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call of a fight behind the Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville.A woman told deputies that she suffered a cut lip and bruising on her face in a fight with Sean Morris, 27, of Sarasota, Fla. Morris was booked into the Napa jail on suspicion of felony domestic battery. The couple was visiting the Napa Valley on their honeymoon and had gotten married here on Saturday, according to the sheriff’s department."
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Maintaining a blog is no simple task, my friend. Just mouse up there to the top of the screen, left of center, and start clicking on "Next blog." You will soon soon discover there are lots and lots people who start a blog, make two or three posts, and discover it's kind of demanding. (You'll also discover that about two-thirds of all the random blogs you'll see in the "next blog" mode are in Spanish, which I find strangely fascinating. ) Maybe those whose blogs wither realize they don't have any spare time, or their computer crashes, or (horrors) they realize they don't have that much to say after all. Depressing.
So what have I been doing with all my time when I am obviously not being devoted to this here blog? Well, my good old friend Frank in Iowa wrapped it up nicely (on Facebook, wouldn't you know?) when he wrote:
How in the world do you find the time? Work, politics, blogging, city government, golf, baseball, wine tasting, and now more acting..............what's is your secret to vitality? Must have something to do with clean air and all that quality vino you rave about...??But of course, the answer is deeper, and less fun, and kind of sad. Somehow it's really all about the relentless, fruitless search for some kind of satisfaction that has always eluded me. Some sense of adequacy, of being good enough, that is like the classic carrot on the stick - always in sight but always out of reach. Maybe I can be notable golfer - or a blogger - or really know something about wine. Maybe I can lead the old broken-down men's hardball league in some statistical category. Maybe I can, in fact, act my way out of a paper bag - an underrated skill in today's world. Maybe I can do something that means enough to me that I will accept that I am adequate - God forbid, even good - at something that's meaningful to me. Time will tell. But I think the complete inability to "get no satisfaction" - that's what gives me "vitality." Got to keep trying.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
You may not think the following question is too cosmic, but let's face it, the topics you address in your column seldom are. How come some belly-buttons are "innies" and some are "outies"?
— M.E.L., Los Angeles
Now tell me honestly you aren't itching to know the answer? Okay, it's here.
SD originated in the Chicago Reader, one of those great free metro weeklies that are mostly ads and always have a nice snarky tone in their editorial content. (One of many things that make big cities more fun that small towns.) Over the years, "Cecil Adams" has developed books, radio features, websites, movies? Religions? I don't know. But he's prolific. "Cecil" is a ficticious character - I think - and the columns are written by a guy named Ed Zotti - I think - but that matters not. It's heinously entertaining for anyone with an inquiring mind.
Here are a few more teasers - questions that Cecil anwers for you:
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
If someone told you to act like a gay man, what would you do? Chances are your first thought - if you are not, in fact, a gay man - has something to do with a limp wrist. Maybe you conjur up an image from a movie - Nathan Lane or Hank Azaria in Birdcage, perhaps, or some cabana boy character. Pretty easy to act like a gay man, right?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
In about 24 hours I will get on a plane and shoot through the night and when morning comes I will be in the most exciting city in the world for me - New York, New York.
A trip to New York means theater to me. My first two visits in the late 70s gave me the unquenchable memories of seeing an unknown young actor named Kevin Kline on stage with a Broadway legend John Cullum and an understudy, Judy Kaye, who would become a substantial presence in her own right. The show was "On the 20th Century," and I still remember the chill that ran through me when the orchestra kicked off the overture. I said to myself "I am seeing a Broadway musical!" Not bad for a hick kid from the sticks with a bad case of the theater bug.
My mental scrapbook from that far-removed time includes recollections of being in the audience for Frank Langella's star turn as "Dracula," Blythe Danner (when she was known for more than being Gwyneth Paltrow's mom) in Pinter's "Betrayal," the original cast of "Deathtrap" in a late-night benefit for Actor's Equity where the crowd was made up mostly of people who didn't get to see the popular shows because they were in one of the popular shows, and, the penultimate experience for me, the original cast of "Sweeney Todd." I saw a little-noticed musical called "Timbuktu", a re-working of "Kismet" directed by Geoffrey Holder, who made a piece of change and became forever stereotyped as the "Cola nut" guy from some silly TV ad, and a musical called "Strider" that seemed really good to my young eyes but played to a half-empty house and closed a few nights later. More recently, the viewing experiences have included "Rent" and "The Producers" performed by the third, fourth, fifth-string casts, and the compelling Pulitzer Prize-winning "August: Osage County." In the next 96 hours I will spectate and absorb three more New York theater experiences, and my life will be a little better for it. When you're a junkie, you just got to have your fix.
And yet New York is so much to so many - so much more than the legitimate stage. There's Lady Liberty, and Central Park, and bialys in the delis, and the Public Library, and St. Patrick's Catherdral, and Bleeker Street, and the Guggenheim, and - well, where to begin, where to stop? An endless feast for all of the senses, 24/7.
You may not have noticed my restraint in writing about Manhattan and not using the phrase "the Big Apple" even once. That's only because that nickname is only one of so many that deserve a mention. Even a simple Googling reveals no less than 98 Nicknames for this wonderful place, a few of which are worth repeating here.
- Gotham (name given to New York City by Washington Irving in the Salmagundi Papers, 1807)
- The Bagdad of the Subway
- The Bagdad on the Hudson
- The Big Burg
- The Big City
- The Big Town
- The Center of the World
- The City of Cities
- The City of Golden Dreams
- The City of Light
- The City that Belongs to the World
- The City that Never Sleeps
- The Cleanest Big City in the World
- The Crossroads of the World
- The Cultural Capital of America
- The Empire City
- The Entertainment Capital of the World
- The Fashion Capital of the World
- The Fear City
- The First City of the World
- The Frog and Toe (?)
- The Fun City on the Hudson
- The Hong Kong of the Hudson
- The Information City
- The Land of Surprising Contrasts
- The Melting Pot
- The Metropolis
- The Modern Gomorrah
- The Money Town
- The Super City
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Note: The "dirty" words used in this post are only suitable for an "adult" audience. This, of course, is really silly, because anyone who was actually an adult wouldn't get nearly as many laughs out of the subject matter, so I don't know who this post is suitable for. Maybe you? Maybe no one.
Most of my most crisp foul language just comes blurting out without any thought at all. In fact, if I ever stopped to think I probably would choose other, non-"dirty" words. But there is that moment where someone is just driving so stupidly, meandering all over their lane, or going 55 when every else is going 80 (ok, maybe it's just me that's going 80) and suddenly the word "dickwad" just comes flying out of my mouth.
That happened the other day, and I got to thinking about the word "dickwad." An odd concoction, when you consider it. What exactly is a wad of dick? Likewise, "fuckwad." Hmmm.
Urban Dictionary provides 3 definitions for "dickwad."
- An idiot. More powerfully insulting than its predecessor 'dickhead'
- A worthless piece of shit. Also known as a wad-of-dick.
- Commonplace reference to George W. Bush
Both "dickwad" and "fuckwad" have a certain quality of humor that is hard for me to pin down. And like a lot of other insulting terms I enjoy, they have no clear basis from which to become insults. Not sure why, but both strike me as funny, as do some very specific other naughty terms, to wit:
- douchebag: an actual functional item which a human person does not want to be.
- dipshit: who the hells knows where this originated?
- asswipe: compares the inflictee to toilet paper?
- tool: clearly defines one who is clueless, perhaps having the mental activity level of a screwdriver?
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Somehow, somewhere in my ramblings on this blog, or maybe on some Facebook note, I gave someone the wrong impression.
I hate it when I mis-communicate. I mean, that's what I do - I communicate for a living. So when I get it wrong, I feel bad. Or badly. A person who communicates for a living should know the grammar. Oh well.
The problem, I am told by a friend, is that I wrote something about money. I think I may have said that I "needed more money." Unfortunately, someone has interpreted that as meaning that I don't think my job pays me enough money. Truth is, my job with the City of Napa is a very good job and I am lucky to have it. Truth is, my living situation has changed recently because I am now a separated person and because of choices I have made it now costs more money to continue living and cover all my obligations. Truth is, I need to find a way to make a little more money to cover all those obligations. That's all.
So I am hoping to find some kind of weekend job or something where I can make a little more money, so I can continue to live my life and pay all the bills and everyone can be happy. Or maybe a sack of cash will fall out of a Brinks truck and try as I might they won't take it back. Or maybe I will learn how to cook meth. That's all. I don't know.
I hate poor communications, and I hate misunderstandings, so I hope this clears up my situation. For more information, call 1-800-Barry'spersonallife and press 2#.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
I've been thinking a lot lately about the need for approval - why some people seem to have zero need and others have an unquenchable thirst for it. I admit I am closer the the latter description than the former.
It's easy for a person to say that they don't care what other people think, and I've known a few who really walk that talk. People who wear outrageous clothes they find in dumpsters, and take part in role-playing games in the park, on one extreme - or who are complete sociopaths who have no conscience whatsover. But I think most people who say they don't care what other people think really do care - maybe more than the average person. That act of being defiantly bold and unique and living by some unspoken personal creed is in itself a seeking of approval for being defiantly bold and unique.
For those of us who are somewhere in the "mainstream" (whatever that means anymore) there's no denying that we are seeking approval constantly. To get the approval of your friends by wearing the current fashion, listening to the current music, seeing the hot new movie - to get the approval of your family by graduating, ascending, achieving, marrying, reproducing - to get the approval of your circle by espousing the political maxim of the week and jumping on popular bandwagons , to get the better grade, the sleeker car, the tres chic shoes, the latest set of irons, the promotion - all, to some degree, attempts at validation by someone other than yourself.
For me the approval I seek is almost always about making people laugh. If you've ever seen a two or three year old child do something that makes a group of people laugh, and see the child's reaction - typically to try and make them laugh again and again - then you can agree that the desire to entertain is innate in at least some of us. There must have been some time when I was a child when I got a good laugh, and that became my drug of choice. Fairly obvious I guess, for someone who fell in love with theater and made a living on the radio.
But the need for approval runs much deeper and becomes its own problem. Some part of me still seeks to know that my long gone father approved of me - a man who did not know how to give his only son a hug or say "I love you." Is that a gap that can ever be filled? Some part of me seeks constant approval that I am not too fat, that I am at least an above average golfer, that I am an insatiable tiger in bed, that my thoughts are deep enough and my circle of friends is wide enough.
It's not as if I don't get enough pats on the back. In fact, I often feel I get more than I deserve. But plenty is never enough. If I cannot achieve approval on my own terms - to approve of myself - can there be relief from this need?
Saturday, January 24, 2009
So Barry Obama (I like to call him "The Big O" now) is talking up his economic stimulus plan. Looks like we're going to get stimulated to the tune of $820 billion. Or is that $820 trillion? $820 octillion? Is that dollars or pesos? Well, who's counting? Wait - maybe that's how we got into this mess...
Anyway, this whole stimulus thing is way too complicated for a simple guy like me, but the way I understand it there are several methods my government can use to stimulate me:
1. Give me some of somebody else's money. Democrats favor this approach generally, and most everybody likes to get some of somebody else's money. Except the "somebody else" who has their money taken.
2. Give me back some of my own money. Republicans favor this approach generally, and I like this but I would just as soon have some of somebody else's money. Either way works, just as long as I get some more money.
3. Print some more money and set it out on the streets in big buckets. Neither party has really suggested this but I think it's a good idea. Have trucks with bullhorns and a guy on a mic saying "Fresh new hundreds! Bucket of money here! Come and get it! First come first served!" That's a real picker-upper.
4. Attach an electrical device to my nether regions and pass a little 110 through me. This probably won't do much for the economy. This kind of stimulus is mostly reserved for use when we capture evildoers, like terrorists, jihadists, and Dodger fans.
Not so many years ago when I was a radio talk show host, there used to be a lot of people bemoaning the loss of industrial jobs in the economy - bothered that we weren't making stuff like steel and T-shirts and cars and crockpots and soap dishes and electrical devices made to attach to the nether regions, and selling all this good stuff to other people in the world. They used to say "pretty soon we'll all just be selling each other hamburgers."
I'm not sure if there's a big difference between the two concepts. Let's say I sell you some steel or some crockpots, and I use that money to buy some of your minivans and soap dishes. Is that really a more significant economic exhange than if I sell you a cheeseburger on Tuesday and buy one from you on Wednesday? Isn't it all the same paper trading game, the same passing around of money for things or services? Does it really matter if our primary product is coal or cuff links or pop singers or toaster pastries? There isn't much of what we buy and sell that has any real intrinsic value anymore - it's all value we place on things . And so the whole paper passing game is just peachy - until all of a sudden some a-hole decides that something on which we had placed a lot of imaginary value now does not really have that much imaginary value. Then that a-hole's bad attitude spread to some other a-holes, and lots of people start doubting the real hard value of their crockpots and hot lather shaving dispensers and - well, shit, that's a problem. The emperor has no clothes! The jig is up!
So that's where we are right now - a massive collective freak out because we stopped buying each other's cheeseburgers. So you want to fix the economy? Buy something! Now, for Pete's sake! It's just that simple. What do you mean you're being cautious? You're lacking consumer confidence? That means you are the problem! You are the root cause of this recession! What are you, some kind of communist? Get up off your wussy ass and go to the mall right now!! There's bargains to be had on ice cube trays and particle-board furniture and posters of movie stars and chewy dog treats and Magic: The Gathering card sets and six packs of crew socks and Chex Mix and bundles of toilet paper too big to fit in your trunk and extension cords and - well, you get the idea. Doesn't really matter what you buy, just buy. Buy a lot. Ask not what your country can buy for you, ask what you can buy for your country!