Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nice Trick

The thing I find more than a little fascinating about Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno character is that he looks so convincing as one of those fashionista models.

Not that he’s a bad looking fella. He is, in fact, hot. Me likey. But he’s hot in a very masculine way. Not a pretty boy. In fact, he’s far enough from pretty that he can turn himself into Borat. Waaaay not pretty.

But as Bruno, he’s got every detail right. The highlights. The blank canvass facial expression. The toned, but not overly built up body. The getups. The spray tan. And they must have waxed the man within an inch of his life. From eyebrows to toes. Manscaping? They must have napalmed him.

The character is absolutely immaculate. A true transformation. Really, his style of humor isn’t my thing. There’s just some air of cruelty to it that kills the humor for me. But as far as execution, I’m truly all admiration.

They have medication for that

So tonight I’m doing my last “cruise director” bit for the summer. I got together some friends for Twelfth Night last weekend – second only to the Iraq war in failure to meet strategic goals. I haven’t had a campaign break that bad in a long while. Traffic blew up. We couldn’t make it to the nice restaurant I had planned for the meet up and dinner. We had to eat Sonic burgers in the car (I say that like it’s a bad thing). People got lost on the way to the theater. Dis-assed-her.

I had already committed to ringleading this little foray, but it’s my last official act as cruise director. No more capers for me this season. BUT, since things went so wrong last weekend, I’m over analyzing every little thing. I’ve printed out 3 alternate routes. I’ve given the physical address to the person with GPS. I’ve put out several e-mails detailing what picnic items each person should definitely bring. I have a crib list to make sure that I bring the things I’m supposed to. I’ve gone to the bad place. The OCD-overdrive place. If I don’t stop now, they’re going to have to medicate me.

Okay, Julie. Focus. It’s a play. There will be wine. How bad could things possibly go?

Did I mention that it will be hotter than the surface of the sun today? Oh, boy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Circling the Drain

Just saw the Karl Malden died. What the hell?!?!?!? Not a good weak to be a celebrity with one foot in the grave. Fate is droppping banana peels.

I had a friend who volunteered in a nursing home who told me that they always watch out when one person dies. It can set off this wave, where 2 or three others who are on the brink will die too. Now that I live close to a large senior facility, I can say that once you see the ambulance roll up with the lights flashing but no siren, nine times out of ten, you're going to see it again in the next few days. Possibly several times.

I may not have seen all the celebrities to bucket. I'd better go check my dead pool. I might already be a winner. (Shout out to Ed McMahon, and all the homies that didn't make it!)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Can you recall a governor on the grounds of gross stupidity?

Okay, the Sanford thing is just starting to make me nutty. And I quote:

"This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story," Sanford said. "A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."

Buh-arf. Forbidden? Tragic? What? You live in a Danielle Steele novel?

Mrs. Sanford, so far you've been a class act, and also resisted the urge to stand by your cheatin-n0-good-egg-suckin-dog of a husband at some nauseating mea culpa press conference. I applaud your good sense. Keep it up. And should you ever be in Dallas, it would be my pleasure to buy you a stiff drink. It's the very least somebody owes you after this grand guignol of ignominy. A couple of tequila shots and a Silkwood scrub down should go a long way.

Once again, I turn political advisor

It’s kind of sad watching the mess that the Republican’s are making of themselves here. Just when they had pulled some traction with criticizing the Obama administration giving bail outs to the banks and auto industry (and hey, giving money to rich people is a Republican’s job, buddy), they go and blow it with 2 sex scandals in a week. And you know they RNC’s first response was “Thank God it’s with women.” At least with the guy in Nevada, he seems to be able to take the cover provided by Michael and Farrah (and Ed and Billy and Fred – weird) and slink off the radar. But Sanford seems to be such a dumbass that he can’t stop the sleaze flood. Revelation after revelation.

The Republicans are in the exact same nasty spot the Democrats were in a decade ago. Trying to be all things to all people, and sucking at 90% of them. To get market share they’re trying to broaden the brand. They want to be the party of the heartland and big business and the Christian right and the NRA and small government and big military and Pro-Life and law and order. Tent’s too big there, kids. You’re going to need to stop sucking up to someone. The Christian right would be my first choice. Because you’re politicians, and you suck at at least 5 of the 10 Commandments (see above), and it just looks a little hypocritical, you know? Besides, what are they going to do? Turn Libertarian? I think not.

But, I’m an independent, so what do I know? Y’all do what you think is best. I’d get on the stick, though. Otherwise you’re going to spend 8 years wandering in the political wilderness the way the Dems did after Clinton.

Can't you feel them circlin', honey?

Lately when I’ve been watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent, I’ve been catching this whiff of a faint odor. Something salty. Familiar. Something from Seaworld? Then last night I’m watching the latest Goren/Eames episode, and the killer turns out to be not only a lawyer out for revenge on Eames for screwing his case, but also a cross-dresser with a penchant for red wigs inspired by his poor, dead, Irish mother.

Oh, hello, Mr. Jaws. Cause that is definitely doing a Fonzi-style water ski jump, spread eagle, straight over the shark tank.

And I kept thinking, no, surely not. Surely we aren’t going there. But yep. Not only was it a saggy dénouement, the clue that unravels the entire plot is a piece of stationary that is only sold only in Ireland. Seriously? That’s too cockamamie to even be ripped from the headlines. Plus, though you never see him in drag, the guy who played the lawyer would have made one UGLY tranny. And part of the caper is that he picks up the vic’s friend in a bar. It would have to be a coal miner themed bar, lit exclusively by phosphorous lamps for him to have pulled that off. Nobody gets that drunk.

It’s sad when you see the moment when a favorite long-running show jump the shark. First, you start getting that feeling that maybe the writers are out of gas. Then you're making excuses for lamer and lamer plot twists. Then you find yourself thinking, “I’d better start checking the listings for Sunday night.” Once that shark barrier has been breached, the chances are that the writers are just going to be pulling increasingly weirder crap out of their collective butts, until somebody has the guts to put the show out of its misery.

Maybe, L&O:CI can pull out of the death spiral. I thought maybe the Jeff Goldblum character would add some new life. But they’ve kind of quickly slid towards chum. I think that fin's is a circling. Everybody outta the water.

Strictly Speaking

I’m reading Doris Lessing’s The Survivor, in an effort to pull my lazy brain out of its trashy novel rut. I’m having a little trouble because the language is both British and fairly idiosyncratic. But even as I muddle through, it is one of those stories that both creates a world and rings true of the one we live in. Her description of a teenage girl going through puberty captures the way an adult woman can observe the process in another person and recognize everything that happens as both familiar and completely alien. That sense of “I know I did that too, but isn’t it just a bizarre way to act?”

There’s also a description of the way that people will pick up traits from each other to form a community. Shared ways of dressing or acting that we’ll admire in the people we want to be with, and adopt ourselves. Her summary is “We are who we associate with.” We become a patchwork of people we know.

Since I’ve been writing more, I’ve noticed that patchwork in my own language. Since I lived in a lot of places, I have some idiosyncratic language habits myself. Sometimes I’ll ask for a can of “pop” to drink. I’ll point to the house that sits “kitty-corner”. Does this go in the “chifferobe”? And depending on who I spring this motley collection of words on, I may get a nod or a WTF? look.

Which is all fine in a prematurely eccentric person, like yours truly. I can talk like a flake; I have an English degree, it’s my prerogative. But the people in my writing are not me. [Or at least I hope they aren’t me. Those folks are kinda messed up.] And I’ll sometimes have to look at a sentence and think, “Is that a Julie word?” My first big challenge is creating voices that sound real and true to the situation. Like if I’m writing about a psychiatrist in a therapy session, it wouldn’t sound right if she said, “So, you set fire to the curtains. What up with that?” Which, I shamefacedly admit, is something I might bust out with. So, if it appears on the page – erase, erase, erase – “Can you tell me what you were feeling when you set the curtains on fire?” And also, I want to make things as accessible for somebody else as possible. If you're reading and thinking "what the hell is a chifferobe?", it can just really pop you out of the moment in the story. Some word choice can add color. Too much and you're just a pain in the patootie. And I don't have enough chops yet to earn being a pain in the patootie as a writer.

When I was in school, a teacher told me that the best way to learn writing was to read. Seems that you can learn from the best in more ways than one.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Girls will be boys

Well, my Summer of Shakespeare kicked off on Saturday. I’m just determined I’m gonna get my classy on this year. And considering I read a lot of Wild Bill Shakespeare in college, I’ve seen pitifully little on stage (yeah, English degree with most of my coursework in Shakespeare, and a history minor – I was reaching for the stars career-wise; if anybody knows of a Elizabethan noble looking for a crack executive assistant, hook a sister up). And this is a great year for Shakespeare in the Big D, so I’m working it like a wench.

Trinity Shakespeare started up again over in Fort Worth, and as they offer air conditioning with their Bard, I jumped in. The choices were either Twelfth Night or Romeo and Juliet. And since I’d rather take a poke in the eye with a codpiece than sit through R&J again (Seriously, Juliet is 14. I keep expecting Chris Matthews to walk in and tell Romeo to have a seat over there), so Twelfth Night it was.

12N is one of the “cuter” Shakespeare plays. In fact, it may actually be where the term “meet cute” came from. It’s one of those girl-disguised-as-a-boy plots, and involves a romantic pentagram, or possibly Venn diagram, and a lot of girl-on-girl and boy-on-transvestite action. It’s like As You Like It without the fratricide. And it’s funny enough today, but I always imagine how it must have played with the girl dressed as a boy was played by a boy. Those Elizabethans sure knew how to get their freak on.

The show was really well done. My fave was the kid playing Sir Andrew. He was like a very young Hugh Laurie (think Prinny in Black Adder III or Bertie in Jeeves & Wooster) and just so adorable that I wanted to stick him in my purse and run out of the theater with him. Since the same cast also alternates doing Romeo and Juliet, and he plays Romeo, it almost made me want to sit through the Teen Titans of Tudor Tragedy again (but, you know, the codpiece-to-the-eye thing). And even though it was billed as a “Victorian” interpretation, there were boys (real ones) in knee pants (a mild fetish of mine), so plenty to look at.

So, my first Shakespearean salvo was a success. Looking forward to the Merry Wives of Windsor (TX) on Thursday, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. And given that it’s a genuine Shakespeare in the park, and the weather has been so whackadoodle this year, that creek bit is a real consideration.

TIME: Quotes of the Day