Saturday, December 24, 2005

'Tis The Season To Sit In One's Own Filth.

Today I didn't shower. I didn't get dressed. I don't think I even brushed my hair. Nope, I didn't, I discover after trying to run my fingers through it. The closest thing to person hygene today was a quotidian tooth brushing.

I bought 6 movies yesterday at Blockbuster for the grand total of $40, and I watched three of them today while I sat and knit. Knat. Knitted. Anyhow, I watched Birth, with Nicole Kidman, which was a solid ok in my books. I also watched the remake of The Goodbye Girl with Patricia Heaton and Jeff Daniels. I still prefer the original with Richard Dreyfuss. This one wasn't very different from the original film at all. Well, they're both adaptations of a Neil Simon play, so I guess they wouldn't want to stray too far. Finally, I watched Charlie Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux, which I'd seen before, but couldn't pass up on sale. None of my family members recognised him out of his Tramp costume. I mightn't have either.

Tomorrow I'm going to (a) shower, (b) get dressed, (c) venture outside. I think I'll visit my long-lost roommate Jeremy while he's in town.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ex-Husbands.

I arrived at the airport at about 8:45am. My flight was at 9:45am. The serpentine queue was filled, and I couldn’t find my confirmation number that would allow me to check in at the speedy kiosks. After digging for a minute or two, I decided I had enough time to wait out the line. I swung my bag to the end of the line, and who was there but a hometown celebrity who used to make my heart go pitter-pat. No, I’ve never flown with him before, which excludes the now-married (!) J.Mo. (Jimmy Morris, star of the UPEI Varsity Men’s basketball team). (God, that time I flew on the same plane as Jimmah he was wearing a pair of utterly disgusting jeans. Not quite dirty denim, but close to that wash, with insane OCD-rubbing distressing on the front and back of the thighs. I still kinda thought he was dreamy, but those jeans sure did take the shine off.)

This time it was the ever-lovely Mike Ross. I hadn’t seen him in a long time. Well, no – I guess I saw him briefly on-stage in the Charlottetown Festival production of Canada Rocks! this past summer. He was with Nicole, who I assume is still his girlfriend, if not his wife or some state in between. I sorta knew her from the UPEI music department. They both remembered me, if not my name, by association with the UPEI Wind Symphony and the Charlottetown Festival.

I used to have a big crush on Mike Ross. (Never just Mike – there are too many Mikes in my life to not differentiate.). I can still see why. He comes across as so kind. Sure, the fact that he’s mind-blowingly talented doesn’t detract. There’s something about brown eyes for me. I don’t really know a lot of people with brown eyes, so I find them very striking.

Anyhow, the three of us chatted about what we’re all up to (Mike’s acting in Toronto and Nicole is an accompanist at the U of T, and I’m an unemployed under-entertained Renaissance Woman, but you already knew that) and then conversation petered out. Great. A couple more twists of the serpentine with one of my non-celebrity mind husbands (who I’m pretty sure couldn’t remember my name), his girlfriend/wife, and nothing left to say. Still, it made me fuzzy inside to see people I knew so early in my homeward-bound travels.

Brokeback Mountain.

Ang Lee is not a director. He is a painter.

Brokeback Mountain is one of the most bitter-sweet movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a story of love that can’t be, but not in a Montague and Capulet kind of way. These two men are so trapped in their lives and times and circumstances, it’s a pity.

I wish the story wasn’t getting so much media coverage for being about “gay cowboys.” Why isn’t it billed as a love story? These two characters are stuck in stereotypically super-heterosexual roles, but their relationship doesn’t become a spectacle. It’s not like this a porn featuring the Village People.

I won’t go into the plotline, because the trailers don’t give it all away and I want others who see this to have the same experience that I did.

Heath Ledger is already being focussed on as best actor in all the awards nominations that have been announced. He is, I suppose, the main character – Ennis. His stoic sensitivity is heart-breaking, and he’s put on a mumble that would put Vito Corleone to shame. His character is engaged when the story starts, and has two children soon after (with his wife, playing by Michelle Williams, who is great, and not just because he’s from the Crik.).

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jack. Sometimes I can’t decide if I think this guy is handsome or not. Jack marries later than Ennis and indulges in homosexual encounters when he’s not on “fishing trips” with his buddy. (Both wives are perplexed by the dearth of trout upon their husbands' returns.) Jack is not as meek as Ennis, and his sexuality is sometimes beyond his control. I think his character is just as compelling as Ledger’s, but I suppose he is in a more of a supporting role – a bottom, if you will.

Please see Brokeback Mountain. Movies like this are rarely made (hell – the script for this has been shopped around since 1997!) and it is an excellent opportunity to see wonderful, heartfelt performances. Ang Lee’s directing was fantastic. He seems to be especially sensitive to textures. One of the first shots is of mountains and foothills early in the morning. Whereas with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he might have worked with greens and Sense and Sensibility was all pinks and greens and haze of the English countryside, there were a lot of muted neutrals in this film. Layers of grey mountains, entire screens of creamy sheep, and shadow and focus went a long way in setting the mood of the story. Breathtaking.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Some Serious Movie Watching. And Some Silly Ones, Too.

Holy cow, there's nothing as good as visiting Holly and John to get my movie prescription filled. What have I watched since I arrived? Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, for one. I like Allen movies. Little character studies. Me likey. Holly wants to make brain babies with Woody, and I don't think there's much wrong with that.

We also watched The Cocoanuts and the previously-mentioned Duck Soup by the Marx Brothers. Both are very good. I can see why people were so influenced by them.

We all watched The Seven Year Itch, which I avoided seeing for years because I thought it was all about Marilyn Monroe and thought it would be annoying. It most certainly was not. It was excellent and I would whole-heartedly reccommend it to all.

John and I watched Star Wars Episode III, which is fitting since the other two times I've seen it was with him (and Mike and Holly and Mark, besides him, but John is now the one common denominator).

Then John and I watched the original Boris Karloff Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. I fell asleep in the last minutes of Bride, and therefore missed her, since we apparently don't see her 'til the end. Weird, huh? It reminded me of Rosemary's Baby when she wasn't even freakin' pregnant until 45 minutes in. Jeez.

I think that's it, but that's really a lot of movies in a short span of time. Holly is now working hard on her last paper, and John is done. I still want to see The Believer, but I don't know if I'll watch it before I leave for Toronto this afternoon.

Friday, December 16, 2005

APB: SNL

I forgot earlier: If anyone cares to/can, can someone tape SNL for me tomorrow? I think Jack Black, a.k.a my lame summer crush of 2004, is hosting. Last time he was on was good, and this season is already a lot better than it has been in recent years.

The Circuitous Route Home.

I’m now in KW with Holls and John. John’s off writing an exam and Holly just finished her second-last paper of the term. Last night we watched Duck Soup for the first time. It was excellent. Holly keeps watching movies with me that turn out to be hilarious. Actually, I had wanted to see Duck Soup for quite some time. Groucho Marx’ character reminded me so much of Hawkeye Pierce. Oh, Hawkeye.

The train ride up was long, but good. I took the cue of the Will character from About A Boy. He fills his day with 30-minute units of time. I filled the 7-hour ride with 30-minute units of reading two books, jotting in a notebook and knitting a scarf for my sister. I wrote a short story about a cute guy sitting kitty-corner to me, and I had a talk with a cool lady from England who is a food critic for the Toronto Star. My butt didn’t fall asleep, but my knees started to ache from keeping them at a constant 45-degree angle.

On Sunday, I’ll head into Toronto for a supper with Marianne, sleep at her place, and not miss my flight home to Charlottetown on Monday morning. If I say I’m not going to miss my flight, then I won’t miss my flight, right? Positive thinking, yo.

I don’t know what we’ll do today. John has to study for another exam that’s up tomorrow, but I think we’ll walk up to the grocery store and get some foodstuffs. Then we’ll, oh, I don’t know… watch movies, or tv, or play games or whatever. I dunno.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Salt In The Wounds.

Did you know that the medical term for uncomplicated acne is acne vulgaris? Now, at 26, I understand its etymology – vulgaris means "common" or "ordinary" in Latin. We see that in the common Latin translation of the Bible, which was called "The Vulgate." It is the root of our word "vulgar," which now mostly means rude or indecent.

Now imagine you are 13 years old, unread in Latin, and staring at your first prescription bottle of topical acne treatment.

Talk about insult to injury.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

This Is Not Here.

It’s not even funny: I was debating the virtues of writing tributes on an anniversaries (especially ones that can be divided by five, i.e., the most important ones), and I turned on virginradio.co.uk, as I often do. The first song they play (as I type this) is "The Ballad of John and Yoko."

It seems too "done" to write about John Lennon. I normally probably wouldn’t, because I hate doing things that are "done." But, this year, I’ve found my mind wandering to his death quite often. Strange, I suppose, considering he died before I could speak, or, more importantly, sing. Maybe that makes it harder - my generation was cheated. I guess it shouldn’t make me any sadder than any other person shot to death when he or she is 40, but I don’t know them. I didn’t have a relationship with all those others. I had a relationship with John Lennon. I still do. I intend to in the future, and my kids will have relationships with him, too. I think that’s the best I can to for a tribute.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Catherine On The Aisle.

I got to see three moves when I was rockin’ the Tdot. This is fewer than I would have liked, but I suppose there is something to be said for getting "fresh" air, too.

I mentioned in an e-footnote (comment) that I’d seen Walk the Line. It was good, indeed. I do not know Johnny Cash music, and I’m not really running out to get any, either, but I had "Jackson" stuck in my head for the rest of the day (you can ask Marianne – she wanted to deck me). I would recommend this movie if you were already wanting to see it, but I wouldn’t nag and bug too much if you didn’t intend to in the first place. Maybe biopics just aren’t for me. Last year, Ray was good, but I didn’t poop my pants over that one, either. Monster? Pass the prozac. The only one I can think of fondly is Ghandi.

If my internet was hooked up, I’d investigate Cash’s music, but I’m not invested enough to invest. You can download a lot of stupid crap and not be yolked with the lasting physical evidence of your dalliance. For example, I have two (2) songs from "Annie" in my computer but I’d never dream of buying the actual CD.

Back to the aisle:

Next, Marianne, Martin and I saw The Squid and the Whale, a smaller-feeling film about a family that is taking a beating through a particularly nasty divorce. Jeff Daniels is the dad and Laura Linney the mum. There are two sons, one 16 and the other 12ish. The parents both have PhDs in English Lit. He was the writer of the couple, but her recent first attempts at writing have been gloriously received. His new manuscripts are all turned down. The spotlight has shifted. She’s had an affair. He’s manipulative and stoops to manipulating the children. The oldest son takes after the father (uncaring and verbally abusive toward his sweet girlfriend), and the youngest son prefers the company of the mother (oh, and he also prefers humping school furniture and, um… anointing lockers).

I know the whole situation sounds like a real downer, but there are moments of comic relief that come out of real life. I think it’s the smallness of the story that makes it so meaningful. A mundane sad thing, a nasty divorce, is so close, emotional and intimate, that the scale is more palatable. Perhaps that was my problem with Walk the Line; it tried to cram too much life into two hours. There was still a lot of story in The Squid and the Whale, but the scope was smaller.

Finally, we went to see one of The Clooney’s movies, Syriana. I have no idea where to start. This is basically because I have no idea what this movie was about. I think there was a plot, but I lost the thread of understanding in the first 10 minutes. Who was good? Who was allied with whom? Where was money going? Why did they beat up my Clooney? If you want to see this movie, might I suggest reading a synopsis first? Maybe you’re cleverer than I am, but I like it all spelled out for me. Syriana’s no Fellini, but still, I was lost. Different strokes, I guess.

This morning, O Brother, Where Art Thou? was on TV. Jeez, I love that movie. Music, Clooney, the Sirens, a mass baptism, a Cyclops and a muse, a cool sepia/dusty look washed over the whole film… Ahh… it cleansed my confused Clooney palate. I remembered why I loved him. The quirkiness, the smile, the Dapper Dan.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Can You Hear That Whistle Down The Line?

I got back from rockin' the T-Dot yesterday. I took my first Canadian train journey! It was very pleasant, really. I liked it a lot. And the husband of the lady I sat next to from Toronto to Kingston went to med school with my father at McGill in the mid sixties! How cool is that? That's kinda like the time I met a guy in St. James Park (or was it Hyde Park? on that bridge anyway...) in London, who went to school with Amanda Gallant at UBC. Lawrence, his name was.

So, here's the plan for me coming home for Christmas. On the 15th, I am taking the train again, this time up to Kitchener-Waterloo to visit Holly and John. Then, on the 18th, I head into Toronto to spend the night at Marianne's so I can get an early flight to Charlottetown on the morning of the 19th. Then I shall frolic in the snowbanks just like the Fathers of Confederation did that night they all indulged in some ye olde wassailing and ye olde binge drinking.

(Note: Historical accuracy is not the responsibility of the proprietors of this site.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mister DJ Come On And Turn It Up.

Man, if you get that title reference, you are the perfect blend of really big pop-culture encyclopaedia and really big loser. Join me, won’t you?

I’m in Toronto now, visiting Marianne for a couple of days. Yesterday we went downtown and wandered about, doing some shopping, stopping into a couple of bookstores to buy books of screenplays (Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, The Brothers McMullin, She’s The One, and another one I can’t remember the title of and can’t be bothered to get up and look). I’m a little disappointed that the latter two Edward Burns scripts are transcripts of the finished films and not the shooting scripts, which is more what I was looking for.

After wandering, we went over to Marianne’s friend Natasha’s house to quietly watch some TV and eat copious amounts of those cheese crunchit things. Natasha is a producer of As It Happens, the flagship show of CBC Radio One. She says it’s not %100 rosy to work there, but I think she’s just saying that to make me feel better about them not hiring me ever. She’s sweet. Mare’s friend Martin was there, as well, and although he doesn’t work for the Ceeb, I enjoy his company anyway. Insert smiley emoticon here.

In one shop I found a set of magnets that Joe LaRose had at his house in Hamilton. It took a lot of self-control not to steal said magnets from said Prakrit scholar. Tiny and unassuming, they were discs of colour with the small word “anus” written in each one. It’s so unexpected, I loved them. I didn’t buy them yesterday and I’m kinda regretting it now. If we go by the store again, I might pick them up.

I’m reading a good book now. It’s called Songbook, and it’s by Nick Hornby, the author of About a Boy, High Fidelity, and Fever Pitch (oh, and A Long Way Down, which I have not yet read, and How To Be Good, too, but that one’s an afterthought for me because although I read it wasn’t as memorable for some reason – female protagonist, possibly?). I thought Songbook would be a collection of essays about music he really likes, and it sorta is, but it’s more than that. It’s not just why he likes the song, but how he found it, or why he bothered to give it the time of day, or what it means to him as the dad of an autistic son, or just trying to point out the unexpected genius and sincerity buried in pop music. I like reading his stuff because he’s unabashedly dedicated to pop music and culture, so I sympathize with him trying to qualify its allure. A mantra: because a lot of people like it does not mean it’s crap, but I concede that there are always exceptions to rules. (And, just because it’s crap doesn’t mean a lot of people don’t like it.) (His style also includes long interjections with parentheses, a characteristic with which I can identify.)

Tonight, Mare, Martin and I are going to see a movie and go to eat. I think we’re seeing The Squid and the Whale, which I didn’t know a lot about until yesterday, but it sounds good. I’d see 3 movies tonight if Marianne didn’t disapprove, which I suspect she would, so I haven’t asked. I know I could squeeze in two Clooney films today, and then more tomorrow, like Water, Everything Is Illuminated, P&P, HPIV again, and I’ve been hearing good things about The Ice Harvest, so why not that, too? In case you haven’t caught on the last 10 times I’ve mentioned it, I’m movie-starved.

Oh, and can I recommend a movie I recently saw? Yes? Good, yes, I will. It’s called Green Street Hooligans, or Green Street, or Hooligans, depending where you see it. It’s starring Elijah Wood, but don’t be put off if you think that all he can do is stare at rings and dance with hairy feet. Wrong, of course. This movie is about a Harvard journalism student expelled in his last semester. He goes to visit his sister in London, meeting his infant nephew, brother-in-law, and his brother-in-law’s brother all at once. The in-law’s brother is, to put it lightly, a supporter of West Ham United football club, and soon the main character is adopted into the world of football hooliganism. Be warned: it’s violent, and sometimes the thick common London accent is difficult to parse, but this is a very good film that I’m surprised hasn’t been given much attention here. Yes, I am an anglophile, so I go searching for his stuff, but I think anyone would like it. To finish, a quote from Elijah's character: “And as for this, the violence? I gotta be honest - it grew on me. Once you've taken a few punches and realize you're not made of glass, you don't feel alive unless you're pushing yourself as far as you can go.”

Tomorrow, Marianne’s friend Chris Kaynes is coming back to Toronto for a week-long intensive advanced videography course at the CBC. He’s stationed out in Prince Albert as local CBC video journalist and not loving it, but I’ve been told he’s very talented and his superiors feel it’s worth training him further. Either way, I get to see him. It’s been a joke for a long while that the best way to get Chris to socialize with us is for Catherine to come to town. Well, I came from Ottawa and he’s coming in from Prince Albert. Huh. I guess it’s true.