Monday, February 23, 2009

Shameless Plug for a Good Cause

If you liked Beck's "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat" from the Oscar telecast, the album it's on is available as of February 24 from Amazon and proceeds go to War Child, a charity that assists children in war-torn areas. The tracks featured are from legendary artists choosing new artists to cover their songs.

Track Listings
1. Beck (Bob Dylan - "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat")
2. The Kooks (The Kinks - "Victoria")
3. The Hold Steady (Bruce Springsteen - "Atlantic City")
4. Hot Chip (Joy Division - "Transmission")
5. Lily Allen feat. Mick Jones (The Clash - "Straight To Hell")
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (The Ramones - "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker")
7. Franz Ferdinand (Blondie - "Call Me")
8. Duffy (Paul McCartney - "Live And Let Die")
9. Estelle (Stevie Wonder - "Superstition")
10. Rufus Wainwright (Brian Wilson -" Wonderful & Song For Children")
11. Scissor Sisters (Roxy Music - "Do The Strand")
12. Peaches (Iggy Pop - "Search And Destroy")
13. Adam Cohen (Leonard Cohen - "Take This Waltz")
14. Elbow (U2 - "Running To Stand Still")
15. The Like (Elvis Costello - "You Belong To Me")
16. TV On The Radio (David Bowie - "Heroes")

Random Oscar Thoughts

In deference to the recession, first let me say the Oscar noshes this year were toned down: deli sandwiches, generic chips, deviled eggs. But I did bake a nifty cake: triple chocolate chunk 4-layer torte with hazelnut/chocolate filling and faux buttercream. Cooking tip I just invented: to make faux buttercream take a container of prepared milk chocolate frosting, whip up two cups of whipping cream with nothing added, and fold together. Tastes remarkabely like German buttercream without the agony of actually making German buttercream.

As for the show, it was the best-produced Oscars I can remember. It was funny, with very few clinkers, moved along well, and there were no cringeworthy moments. This made up somewhat for the lackluster slate of nominees.

Random impressions in no particular order:

The opening bit was swell, Hugh Jackman was hilarious, Anne Hathaway was charming.

I liked the format where they had five winners highlight the nominees. And let me say I hope I age as well as Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn or Sophia Loren. Seriously, don't fuck with Sophia Loren, she looks like she will not be amused with your bullshit and will summarily kick your ass. Also let me say that whatever Javiar Bardem is made of, they should bottle it and sell it on every street corner.

Ben Stiller was funny, but not as funny as the bit with James Franco and Seth Rogan. And even Franco and Rogan were upstaged by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. Will he be in Pineapple Express 2? Of course now I have to convince the kids it's NOT funny to staple things to your face.

Kate Winslett finally won an Oscar, blah, blah, blah. At least it wasn't Meryl Streep. If Meryl Streep had won, I think I would have died a little inside. Melissa Leo, you were robbed.

Was Philip Seymore Hoffman planning on knocking over a gas station later in the evening? Did he have a contagious scalp condition? WTF?

It was worth it for "La Maison en Petite Cubes" to win best animated short film just to hear the winner end his acceptance speech with "Domo Origato, Mr. Roboto." Yes, I am 12.

Personal disappointment of the night: the fact that In Bruges did not win best original screenplay. That was a brilliant, brilliant film and a kick-ass screenplay. I would say that was the best film I saw in 2008.

Dear Academy: putting whoever it was from Mamma Mia and whoever it was from High School Musical in a musical production number will not make the kids think you are cool. Stop it.

Did Philip Seymore Hoffman do Reese Witherspoon's hair?

Really, Sean Penn? I would have picked Best Actor in this order: Mickey Rourke, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins, Brad Pitt, anybody but Sean Penn, Sean Penn. I have the same problem with Sean Penn that I have with Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. I never see any of them as a character, just as themselves. And when I see any of them I get a sharp shooting pain in my head. Therefore I can never watch a movie that features Sean Penn, Jack Nicholson or Tom Cruise. I take that back. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." But that's it. If I saw a movie starring Sean Penn, Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise, I would spontaneously combust.

Why is the TCM Dead People Montage always better than the Oscar Dead People Montage? And I'm pretty sure they missed some dead people. Goodbye, Paul Newman. You were a class act.

Heath Ledger's family did a fine job in memorializing him. I felt as teary-eyed as Kate Winslett. Here's to what could have been.

I was hypnotized by the best film montage and how they put each nominated film in the context of other films. Bravo. Took the least interesting category of the awards this year and made it worth watching.

Finally for anybody who stuck around for the credits -- and if you don't stick around for the credits you are a bad, bad person -- I am really psyched about both Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards, starring everybody else. And now I really, really must download the song "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Friday Night DVR

The Mentalist. Simon Baker is a lovely, lovely man. Robin Tunney is as pointless as, well, Robin Tunney in anything she's been in. I understand a faint cheer went up across the land when she was finally dispatched on Prison Break. Put Robin Tunney, Elisabeth Roehm and Anna Torv together and you could form a perfect triangle of pointlessness. Seriously, all the charisma of used lawn furniture. The second best thing about The Mentalist is Tim Kang, or as the S/O refers to him, "Asian Jack Webb."

The problem with The Mentalist -- other than Robin Tunney lurching pointlessy about -- is that it's a CBS show. You know, the kind of show your grandparents watch. It's like a slipper, or oatmeal, or like a slipper full of oatmeal. And while slippers and oatmeal can offer a certain comfort, they lack pizzazz. When a show like The Mentalist -- acknowledging the charms of Simon Baker and Asian Jack Webb -- can be "America's Number One New Show" while Pushing Daisies is, well, pushing up daisies, just goes to show that we are not at all hip or cool or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

The New Twilight Zone. Episode 1 was "To See the Invisable Man," a sappy paean to the need to connect with our fellow humans, blah, blah, blah. Made me realize that if I was sentenced to a year of no one acknowledging my presence, I would be a very happy woman indeed. Episode 2 was "Button, Button," starring a delightfully dippy Mare Winningham and an almost as dippy Brad Davis as a bickering couple trying to decide if they should push a button that would kill a perfect stranger but deliver them $200,000.

Watching The New Twilight Zone on Chiller is like opening a time capsule from the '80s. Look! Bruce Willis with hair! Pam Dawber wearing a skinny pink tie and a cashmere sweater vest! It's uneven but there are some gems, particularly the adaptation of Robert McCammon's excellent short story "Nightcrawlers," and the nasty little tidbit "Need to Know" starring William Peterson. I still remember watching the adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "The Elevator" alone one night at college and being unable to sleep without the lights on.

BBC's Top Gear. First thing I realized while watching this episode: given the choice between the Dodge Charger, the Cadillac, the Corvette, and the old Fiat you had to drive with the boot open so the engine would keep running, I would still choose the Fiat. The second thing I realized while watching this episode: Jeremy Clarkson is a very funny man, but also the kind of guy likely to get you arrested for something you didn't actually do.

Adventures in Babysitting

The 8-year-old comes home from school yesterday telling me he's going to get a uniform demerit next week if he doesn't get a hair cut. You see, his bangs were TOUCHING HIS EYEBROWS. I mean the horror of it! Next you thing you know, he'll be the spitting image of Mickey Fucking Roarke.

I felt like snapping off a note stating, "I'll trim my kid's hair when you assure me that every teacher at your school can speak proper English." Last year in second grade he had a teacher who said things like "Valentime's Day" and "liberry" and "I seen him do it." And this is a PRIVATE SCHOOL that went up 10% in tuition this year. Maybe if they spent more time worrying about actual education instead of if a kid's bangs are touching his eyebrows or his socks are a few millimeters above his ankle -- I kid you not, they measure the socks in the mornings -- then this state wouldn't be freaking 49th in the Union in education.

I realize now that I'm paying people more money than I can actually afford just to piss me off.

Why I when I was a kid, you could go to school wearing nothing but a grass skirt and two coconuts, have birds nesting in your hair, and smoke a cigar while sitting in the front row of class, but the teachers knew that Africa was a continet and not a country and they could DIAGRAM A FUCKING SENTENCE.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Today was a windfall day, a "bank error in your favor" day, which leads one to think about fortune at the (possible) expense of others. Do you worry over who might be paying for your good fortune, or just take it as karmic balancing? Maybe a bit of both. I'll feel guilty for 10 minutes out of every hour for a few hours and eventually forget about it.

At least it makes up for yesterday, when I received a ticket for an expired license plate. Not a little expired, but 13 months expired. How do these things happen? Either I'm a genuine ditz or my head is chock full of MORE IMPORTANT STUFF. You can guess which option the cop chose. I explained to him that my incredulousness was not over the fact that it was so remarkabley expired, but that no one -- not the 17 police license and insurance checkpoints I'd endured over the last 13 months nor the inspector who issued my current brake tag -- had noticed that it was expired. Sigh.

Thanks to my S/O, I am fully legal again and no longer a menace to polite society. Hurrah! Of course attempting to be law abiding does nothing for my agent of chaos street cred. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

There's a First Time for Everything.

Well, I finally got around to it. Now everyone can stop asking me why I don't blog. This is a test, this is only a test, in the event of a real post, you would be directed to the nearest shelter. Soon to come: actual ideas, examples of the work, pithy comments, witty rejoinders, all manner of mayhem and merriment. Just as soon as I finish captioning all those lolcats.....