Monday, September 27, 2010

Wee Hours Weirdness

I'm up in the wee hours and the interwebs are entertaining me as always. Here are a couple of oddments.

Wait. I just discovered something! I can do jump breaks on Blogger now. I shan't experiment now, but I shall, chickabiddees. I shall!

Ahem. Anyhoo . . .

The Hello Kitty house in Taipei. Lordy.

Someone is trying to rent a Rubbermaid-esque 8x10 outbuilding as a studio. Apparently someone lived in it over the summer too. I'm disappointed in the comments. Usually Gawkerites are pithier.

Mother-in law jokes are no longer allowed in the London borough of Barnet.

CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2010 award winners. And hon, these are fantastic!

Hilarious costumes for Lady Gaga. The linkage at the bottom is pretty funny too.

And finally, Mighty Beanz.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

LOVE! and Friendship (A Sunday Sermon)

"I love U Baby Girl!"

A dear friend and former theatre colleague posted that on my Facebook page the other day. I worked with him in Memphis in the late '80s. We only did one show together, but we became good friends and he and my mom developed a mutual admiration society for one another. The first time I saw him on stage he was playing Aslan in a production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He played other characters too, but his Aslan was phenomenal. I never imagined any actor being up to the role of Aslan, but my friend was. Is. I'm sure he could still do the role.

The show we did together was Studs Terkel's Working. We each had multiple roles in the production, like everyone in the cast, and while it wasn't the best theatre I ever did, it was good. The audiences liked it and the reviews were decent. I loved the show because of the cast and the themes. I remember going to my friend's apartment and playing board games and Pictionary into the wee hours. It was a wonderful experience altogether and I was sad when my friend left town. But then I did too, as that's what happens when you're a journeyman actor, so I coped.

My friend is on the west coast now. He does theatre still. Last winter he was in Orpheus Descending with the actor who played Tasha Yar in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He did an X-Files back in the day as well, a character that true fans recognize still and that tickles me because he was glorious in the part.

It's funny how relationships form sometimes. There are some theatre people I worked with that I will be perfectly content never seeing again in my life. That's normal. There are others, though, that I'd give my left tit to work with again, just because they are so gifted and I was inspired by their talent and drive and would love to feel that energy again.

I have writer friends who do that too. Oddly, I know a lot of really good poets. Yeah, I know some meh ones (no, I'm not naming names so get over it!), but then, I'm not really a poetry person. Yet I know some poets who blow my mind and that's really weird because most poetry leaves me cold.

I know some phenomenal prose writers, a few I'm deeply honored to count among my friends. These are writers who can string words together and tell me stories that leave me gasping for air because I stop breathing while I read. There aren't many writers like that, you know. So to be friends with some, and I don't just mean Facebook friends or Twitter friends, but real friends, is truly a blessing.

Friendship is a great thing. In the last few years I've reconnected with people I have never stopped loving even though we lost touch with one another for a while. Soul sisters and brothers all. Musicians. Artists. Writers. Computer geeks. Scientists. Teachers. Every one of them fascinating. Every one of them dear to my heart.

The thing I value most in my friends is our mutual acceptance of who we are. Few judgments. No harshness. Well, of course we have misunderstandings and bad days, but really, those are seldom. I try very hard to love my friends unconditionally. I'm human, so I'm not always successful, but for the most part I take them as they are. I'm not their mama or their teacher, but I'd be lying if I said I never behaved as such. I do. But I consider my main role in my friends' lives is to love them. Love is so powerful. It surpasses everything else. And the coolest thing about Love is that the more you give, the more you receive.

But it's not about the receiving, really. It's about the Love. Loving with no expectations and judgments is difficult, but if you allow yourself to practice such, you'll be much happier. It will lead you to the path of Compassion and once you find Compassion you will find Peace. The Dalai Lama taught me that at his lecture last year. I'd been reading it for a while, but it finally penetrated when I attended that magical man's talk.

So LOVE! Release your pent up resentments and self-hatred and LOVE! Find the kindness and compassion for others within yourself.


You'll be so much happier if you do.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Movie Night!

First of all, if you're into that sort of thing, there's Sharktopus on Syfy tonight. They've been pushing this movie for several months and I gather it's awesome. Me? I may briefly have a gander, but there are other movies airing tonight that are more my sort of thing.

TCM is having a Tennessee Williams' fest. It all starts with A Streetcar Named Desire, moves on to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, then Suddenly Last Summer, Sweet Bird of Youth, and Period of Adjustment. So from 7 PM until 5:30 AM CDT, it's a Tennessee Williams film festival extraordinaire. I've seen all of these films save the last and I'm not sure I want to watch it. Of course, it's to be followed by a Carole Lombard movie, Nothing Sacred, and that I really want to see. I love her! Also it's a brilliant movie that has been remade several times, most recently in a version with Queen Latifah. No. Really. I wouldn't lie about that.

There are plenty of other movies around the old digital cable channels tonight too.

AMC is obsessing over Mad Max but I've never been interested in those films, even before Mel Gibson lost his damn mind.

Comedy has a couple of the American Pie movies. I've seen a couple of those and was underwhelmed. I think if one is high or drunk it helps to appreciate those films, but since I'm the posterchild for being straitlaced, that ain't likely.

As mentioned above, Syfy has Sharktopus. Dinocroc vs. Supergator too. Yeah, um, NO. I love Syfy and all their writerfolk and actors, but no thanks. Really. It's okay. ETA: I did watch part of Sharktopus and I frelling LOVED it. I was wrong. I actually clapped my hands and whooped when Sharktopus leapt out of the water and snatched that irksome bungeewoman right off her tether. That was brilliant. So yeah, I'm going to be looking at the TV schedule for another airing, kids. Really. I want that bit on a .gif.


BBC America is showing Diehard With a Vengeance. If it were the original Die Hard with Alan Rickman I'd be willing to put up with the commercials, but even though I like Jeremy Irons, he isn't beating Paul Newman or Montgomery Clift in Tennessee Williams' flix.

There are beaucoups of movies on the other movie channels in my digital package tonight, but none of them come close to the Tennessee Williams extravaganza on TCM. So you know where I'll be right?

Y'all have a good evening. I've got to get supper done now. Ta!

Thoughts on Reality TV

Last year I tried out for a reality TV show. I didn't even make it to a second interview. I was not upset by this, however, because the whole thing felt wrong, somewhat crooked, and I felt the casting people and producers were taking advantage of people who didn't have the sense to realize how frakked up the whole thing was. But I believed I was desperate at the time, so that's why I went. It was a mistake, but one I'm perfectly able to acknowledge. And really, I made a friend while there, so I don't consider the experience a failure at all since she's an absolute sweetie.

Anyhow, I don't watch famewhore shows like Jersey Shore or the dating shows or the ones that exploit children or people with real-life issues. I admit to watching Rock of Love, Toddlers and Tiaras, and even Tila Tequila's show long ago when I was desperate to believe I was superior. I even became fascinated with that hotel eejit's show where she was looking for a bff briefly because I was boggled that anyone really admired her and wanted to be her bff. Seriously! It blew my mind.

I enjoy competition shows that require real skills. So You Think You Can Dance is probably my favorite such vehicle. I've been a dance fan my entire life, ever since I saw The Nutcracker when I was five years old. I enjoy all genres of dance which is why SYTYCD is the perfect show for me.

I watch many other competitive shows too. Project Runway. Top Chef, Top Chef: Masters, and Top Chef: Just Desserts. The Next Food Network Star. Design Star. All-American Handyman. Iron Chef America. The Next Iron Chef. Chopped. Work of Art. Shear Genius. And even the very silly Hair Battle! While it's true some competitors are cast more for personality than ability, in general, the ones who have the skills are the ones who come out on top. I like that. It makes me happy.

Okay, I'll own up to watching America's Next Top Model too. I hate the shrieking, but find that I'm enthralled by anthropological aspects of the show. And yeah, I love looking at the photos, the clothes, and being constantly boggled by the judges' behavior and comments. And since I'm in confessional mode, I admit to watching She's Got the Look on TVLand. Oy vey! Talk about delusional! But I love it. I do. I talk back to the TV and clap my hands and boo. It's embarrassing, really.

I have friends who watch documentary shows like Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs and so on. I understand intellectually why they're fascinated by such and see the value, but I find such things stressful in a way that's too upsetting. I care too much when it's real people at risk. I far prefer documentary programming about food lore and other fluffier things. Okay, I like science shows a lot. And I admit I'll watch just about any UFO oriented program too even though they freak me out sometimes.

But as I typed above, it's the competition shows that require real skills that make me the happiest. This last season of Top Chef was a disappointment, but I'm loving Top Chef: Just Desserts' premiere season. A new season of The Next Iron Chef is starting soon and I'm all atwitter because Ming Tsai's going to be on. Really, though, they just need to make that man an Iron Chef. He's all kinds of awesome, he is.

This new season of Project Runway is like the Bizarro rendition. The general consensus among most of the fans I interact with is that the judges were high during all the runway presentations. This last week, for example, had a freaking Mrs. Roper caftan nightmare in the top three. WTF?! As someone at TWoP said, "Hey, Gretchen! Mama Cass called and she wants her dress back!" I love me some Cass Elliott, but that comment was spot on. I did laugh aloud. Yup. Sure did.

Tomorrow is the final episode of All-American Handyman on HGTV. This was a limited run series and I have been enjoying it a great deal. I love handyman and renovation shows and tend to watch several hours of such programming a week. I am partial, of course, to kitchen renovations, but I'm also into shows like Yard Crashers and House Crashers too.

And then there are the real estate shows. House Hunters and House Hunters International make me insanely happy. I love Designed to Sell too. And the comparison shows that take you across the country and show you the kinds of properties you can get for a specific amount of money. I tell you, it's amazing what you can get for a rational price if you are willing to live a bit off the beaten track. And have you seen Selling New York? It's fantastic! I hope they bring it back. One of my favorite places to poke around online is I can be happy there for hours looking at apartments and townhouses all over Manhattan and its environs. A show I miss on HGTV is If Walls Could Talk that took you into older houses and revealed the secrets homeowners discovered after moving in. I LOVE that show! I must have seen every episode at least a half dozen times, but I never once got tired of it.

So even though I'm a retired actor and a writer of fiction, I do love some reality TV. It will never replace my love for crime drama or the likes of Mad Men or Dr. Who or EUREKA or Leverage, but I don't disregard all of it. Just the worst famewhorish bits.

Now then, if we could just obliterate all those terrible housewives . . .

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Frivolity

I refuse to be serious today if I can possibly avoid it, hence, FRIVOLITY!

1. I enter a lot of sweepstakes and contests. I do right well with it. I've won all sorts of odd things. Alas, no big money yet, but I'm working on it. ;) My most recent prize came via LOGO and RuPaul's Drag U. I won a prize pack that consisted of a lip color, a book by RuPaul, a RuPaul's Drag U banner and poster, and a RuPaul's Drag U patch for attaching to a jacket or somesuch. Altogether a package full of silliness and the timing couldn't have been better.

Before the Drag U prize pack, I won a cookbook: The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. I won it by retweeting something on Twitter and had no expectations whatsoever of winning. It's a great book, perfect for someone who is interested in learning some kitchen basics. I, for example, know little to nothing about wine, but this book offers advice and instruction on how and what to choose if you want to serve wine with a meal. I'm not a wine drinker at all, but the next time I have folks to a meal and wish to serve some, at least I'll have some semblance of a clue thanks to this book.

Other things I've won in the past include movie tickets, concert tickets, high end basketball shoes, a hand mixer, a toaster oven, and much more. Nothing major, but I'll keep on trying!

2. I'm very pleased Poison Ivy was booted from Project Runway. I personally like the colors she chose for her dresses and did not understand the judges' issue with such, but her execution was as terrible as her over-inflated ego and mean girl behavior. I think I'm still bitter about Casanova being booted because even though his designs were inconsistent, they were pretty much always better than Ivy's. Also he was a love.

3. As I type this, there's an inflatable monkey hanging upside down on the hanging lamp across the room looking at me. Below Mr. Monkey (my roomie's name for the critter) sits an inflatable pink flamingo wearing a fake flower lei. Oh! I nearly forgot, Mr. Monkey has an electric orange flower accessory clipped to his right ear. Very festive, that.

4. Tomorrow is farmers market day! And the dawg adoption people will be there so I can love on some dawgs and be free of any desire to bring one home. For me, dawgs are like children. I love those belonging to others, but I have no desire for one myself. Usually. Okay, one day I aim to have a Great Dane. Really. I mean it.

5. I think I'll make sunshine salad in a bit. It will go nicely with the turkey burgers and lowfat coleslaw I'm making for dinner tonight. Here's hoping my carrots are still viable . . .

6. Great. Now I want carrot cake. I almost got some at the store the other week, but I read the ingredients and it had been bastardized with frelling coconut. Feh. At least it will be cool enough to make carrot muffins myself within the week. That will be much better anyhoo. Lower in fat, no skeery chemicals, no raisins, and NO COCONUT!!!

7. It's almost cranberry season! Soon they'll be showing up in the stores and I'll be hoarding them in my freezer. It's kind of ridiculous how much freezer space I lose to cranberries every year, but when I have homemade cranberry sauce in March? It will be so worth it.

8. I type about food a lot. I think it's because I watched The Galloping Gourmet and Julia Child and local home ec segments so often on tv when I was little. Also the influence of having two very different cooking grandmothers impacted my interest. One was wont to serve canned soup and tuna fish made with sweet relish and Miracle Whip while the other could take the most humble ingredients and make them into deliciousness. The cooking grandmother's table never lacked for lovely things. The non-cooking grandmother took me to Big Boy, however, and that was also very cool.

9. I won't be posting Flash Friday pieces in this blog. I'm holding tight to my fiction and focusing on perfecting things and sending them out into the world. I'm pleased with how this week's writing's been going. One story in particular really surprised me. I need to get some writing perfected soonish because I have a couple of editors getting a tad impatient with my tortoise impression. Eep.

10. I'm excited because next week I am having lunch and spending a few hours with a writing chum I've known for about a decade. She's also a violinist, loves animals, is fluent in Spanish, knows sciencey technical stuff that boggles me, and is a really sweet person. And she was born on Bastille Day, so she's another Cancer like me. :)

Okay, that's enough frivolity. I may do another post about TV later, but I'll probably save it for tomorrow.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yay for Enthusiasm!

Most of my life I've been considered odd because I'm enthusiastic about lots of things, especially learning. If something makes me happy or interests me or affects me greatly, I really appreciate it. What's more, I have no problem letting people know about such things.

For example, in this blog I've already typed about coffee, tea, movies, Mad Men, and writing. Eventually I'll type about cooking, cooking shows, food allergies, the swoonworthy and oh so sexy Ming Tsai, books, anthropology, art, artists, Jazz vocals, good teachers, France, the importance of good friends, and much more. My interests are varied and I'm on a constant journey of discovery.

You see, I'm rebuilding my memory banks. During the years before the uterine cancer diagnosis, I experienced extreme anemia due to the symptoms of that disease. As a result, my brain was constantly starved for oxygen along with the rest of my body. My short term memory went kablooey and I began having more frequent instances of aphasia than normal. I also forgot simple procedures that I'd been doing my whole life. And, worst of all, I lost much of the trivia that had been accumulating in my brain since birth.

Honestly, it was terrifying how much memory I lost. I had no way of knowing if I'd get any of it back. Thank the Universe, much has returned. What hasn't returned is all the information I used to know about things I learned when I was a teenager. For example, I was very much into punk music then, but I kept my interest closeted because of where I lived and went to school. If I'd been in a city like New York or Boston or San Francisco, I very likely would have been fully into the punk scene. Alas, I was in the South, and thus all I could do was listen to the punk djs on local college radio stations and get relevant magazines when I went to more outre bookstores in Chapel Hill or when I went on a school trip to NYC my junior year.

Well, I've forgotten most of what I knew. I barely recall names of bands or any songs and it drives me nuts. I had a tape of '70s punk that I used to play in my Walkman when I was walking around Ole Miss in the late '90s. There were times I really hated being there and listening to the screaming angry punk kept me moving fast and helped me keep my temper in check when I had to deal with my much younger student peers' myopic and often idiotic behaviors. Anyhow, you'd think that since that I was still listening to punk in the late '90s that I'd remember more about it than I do, but I don't. I have huge gaps.

I don't seem to have forgotten much about cooking and cooking shows. I guess that's because I've been focused on cooking ever since I can remember. I was always in the kitchen w/my mom and in the summer with my grandma. In fact, one of my favorite meals is one my grandmother served regularly because it was economically and nutritionally sound. I'll type more about it another day.

I remember a lot of the folklore and fairytales that I used to collect. It's really funny how I'll be watching TV or reading a story and I'll go, "I know this. This is just like <insert relevant fairytale or folk tale>." It's really true that there are no original stories or characters, btw. It's all in presentation and a writer's ability to tell the tale effectively.

The things I remember are things going back to when I was very young. Interests that began when I was a teenager or later kind of poofed. I'm getting them back, though. It's slow-going, but the interwebs are very helpful. I'm working on my college French again too, for example. I'm doing okay with vocabulary, but my grammar is atrocious. I could survive in France, but people would shake their heads at my syntax, I'm sure.

So yeah, I get really into my research about whatever catches my interest. I cram as much information into my brain as hard and as fast as I can. If I can read it, odds are I'll remember it. Or look at it. My visual memory is really strong. That which I learn aurally? Not as much. Unless it's music. Melodies and harmonies I hang onto.

Be enthusiastic about learning, whether it's something new or something you've been into your whole life. Ignore people who look at you funny. Some people are very limited in their scope, alas, and simply don't see the value in learning something new each day. But you do, don't you? Else, why would you be here, visiting The Goobiverse?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writing Wednesday

Yesterday I wrote a story of 1000+ words in under ninety minutes. It was an odd story for me in that it wasn’t regional or colloquial. It was a timed, prompted exercise and thus the end result was far from perfect, but it was a complete story, and I consider it a success.

I like the challenge of timed, prompted flashing. I have to be very focused and that’s not always easy for me. Easily distracted by noise or physical discomforts, if I don’t have the proper conditions, I freeze. That’s why it’s gratifying when I complete a story. Chunks of things I can write every day. Entire stories or chapters are more difficult. Doable, but some days it's a battle. I gather this is common among most of my peers too. Nice to know I'm not unique.

Even though the story I wrote yesterday was prompted, I utilized old fodder of mine as well. Every month I create a file for writing fodder. Sometimes it’s notes I make when I’m in the outer wilderness and have a chance to observe the natives. Other times it is a phrase or sentence or photo I’ve run across when traveling the interwebs. Regardless of the source, I write everything down or copy a URL or photo and save it to my fodder file for the month. I highly recommend doing this if you don’t already.

For example, last month a resident of my apartment building had a mental breakdown and stabbed himself dozens of times. Being that he was a paraplegic, he did not feel the pain of the multiple stab wounds he inflicted upon himself. Sadly, this man had a service dog that witnessed the entire event and no one in the building seems to know what happened to the dog. Well, that’s a jumping off point for a something. It’s fodder. I don’t think I’ll be typing from this, so feel free to run with it. Anyhow, even if I do utilize the above in something, the odds are it will be quite different from that which you might do. I’m constantly amazed at how various people can begin with the same prompt and write all flavors of different stories.

So find a prompt and write from it today. Anything will do. Look around. I daresay there’s something within a yard from where you’re reading this that you can use. You know you want to.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Twelve for Tuesday

Places I traveled to on the interweb during the last few days:

3.  Gawker

6.  National Hurricane Center                                                                                                  

9.  BBC

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Mad Men Mania

Mad Men was pretty good last night. I could have done w/out Faye and Don's relationship developing further, but I think it's due to the fact that Faye is such a useless character. I don't care. I'm not interested. But honestly, their interactions were the only things lacking in the episode.

Now then....

THEY KILLED IDA! Damnation and hellfire, Weiner! I wanted to slap you silly for that, man. Randee Heller was brilliant in the role, and while I admit it took me a couple of episodes to love Ida, to have her taken away so soon? Gah. As Cooper said, Ida, you were an astronaut. I miss you already.

The part where they "get a man" (Pete) to move Ida's body, with the whole scene playing out behind the clients from the racist tool company with the added cachet of Harry crying out, "My mother made that blanket!" made for genius, hysterical TV. And then, to have Megan clearing off the desktop while wearing white gloves? Whoever thought of that bit of business needs to be given a really big present today. As that English fellow I worked with in Wisconsin who had spent time in Alabama used to say, "I laughed so hard I peed a bucket."

More seriously, Kiernan Shipka's Sally Draper was heartbreaking. Not only is the child getting more gorgeous with every appearance, she is gifted way beyond her years. I swear, if her parents let her become another Lohan, it will be completely tragic. And they'll have many enemies. That child sold Sally's desperation and angst so utterly last night that people all over the interwebz were immediately typing about how they wanted to save Sally from her terrible, ineffectual, damn near apathetic parents. I was so grateful that all those women came into Don's office and watched him turn Sally over to her mother. Betty's careful control was, I'm certain, short-lived as soon as she was out of range of those judging eyes and ears, but for that moment Sally was safe and Betty was smart enough to realize that people were holding her responsible for Sally's distress even if Betty didn't accept responsibility for it herself.

"Read the label!" Rum on french toast. Gag. But then I never liked rum. That was a nice scene, though, between Sally and her dad. Once Don stopped being angry, and he was angry because the thought of his baby girl being on that train alone and unwatched freaked him out beyond belief and not because she was inconvenient, his affection and love for his daughter were evident. I tell you, that Jon Hamm is more than just a pretty face. Man has range, he does. He's an utter goob too and that is always a good thing.

Peggy and her lesbian friend are great together. I like that friendship. It feels real to me. Ape, on the other hand? Oh wait, that's a typo. I like it, however, and I shall leave it. For a dude what's supposed to be an enlightened artist, he's clearly a bloody eejit when it comes to properly valuing women's roles in our culture.

Oddly, Stan the art guy wasn't so peeving in this episode but actually amusing. The same cannot be said for Cosgrove, however. Damn, that character is a real jackass so far this season. Feh.

As for Joanie and Roger? Oy. Not feeling the plot device of having them mugged so they could vent their emotions with sex under the stairs. It was a cop out and disappointing. Sure, I expect such of Roger, but not Joan. Granted, this season Joan is someone I find irksome more often than not. I look forward to her rapist husband getting killed sooner rather than later. Heaven forfend he be permanently damaged in some way so that she's stuck with him forever. Joan's nothing if not loyal and she'd be eejit enough to stay with the rapist if he returns all maimed. What I'm really hoping is that he turns yellow and runs off to Canada. Joanie would hopefully then lose all regard for him and find a way to divorce him.

No Jared Harris this time around. Perhaps next week we'll have him back. Until then, keep watching those ads, kids!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Boca Java, Stash Tea, Saturday Movies, and Sunday Night TV

I budgeted this month to get a rare reward, some Boja Java coffee. I LOVE this coffee! Boca Java offered their employee discount, 25% off + free shipping, last weekend(ish) which meant I could get four for the price of three. I ordered Surfing Safari and Double Dark. Surfing Safari is my favorite mellow light roast flavored coffee at the moment. It's like dessert in a cup and satisfies my sweet tooth with minimal added organic sugar. Double Dark is perfect when I want something bolder and with more body. It's a dark roast  of beans from Brazil and Colombia flavored with dark chocolate and it's a great way to start your day if you're feeling bleary, which I often do with my nutso sinuses. I found Boca Java last year and of all the coffees I've tried recently, it's my favorite. It's not the least expensive around, but it's not the most expensive either. They roast the beans less than 24 hours before shipping your order out, so the coffee is always very fresh which makes it oh so much better. I've never had an issue with shipping time or packaging, and if you follow @bocajava on Twitter, you'll have some giggles because their roaster guy is a hoot. One day I shall try all their coffees, but while my budget's so tight, I'll stick to my tried and true favorites. I will keep getting it when I can, though. Coffee is my only real vice, but I can live with that.

Don't get me wrong, now. I love tea too. All kinds of teas and tisanes. At the moment I figure I have about ten different teas in the cupboard. Plain Lipton. A couple of different green teas. A couple of herbals and several imported English teas I got for a real bargain. My most recent acquisition was the result of a sale at my local grocery store which has an amazing array of teas considering it's an inner city store. I found Stash Tea's Raspberry & White Decaf Tea on sale for $1.49 a box and I grabbed the last two. I really enjoy iced white tea flavored with raspberry too, so finding it was a real boon. The fact that it's decaf is a good thing because I can drink it after noon and not be over-caffeinated which is not a good thing at all. I discovered Stash Teas ages ago, but only have tried them in the last couple of years when my main grocery store began stocking them.

Last night I grew weary of watching Chevalier movies on TCM and started poking around the other movie channels. I ended up watching Pan's Labyrinth and The Notorious Bettie Page. Talk about two movies that are vastly different from one another. Wow! But I really liked them both.

I now fully understand all the buzz about Pan's Labyrinth, which I found to be a hard movie to watch at times because of the chauvinistic brutality and warrish bits, but the story is pretty good and the melding of things mythical with realism works fairly well. The lead character is portrayed by Ivana Baquero who showed impressive depth. I have no way of knowing if she had any sort of internal monologue going or what, but I found her performance quite compelling. I was disappointed by the end of the film to a degree, I admit, because I'd figured it out by the end of the first conversation with the faun. I do that. It's very irksome at times. I highly recommend this movie if you haven't seen it. Honestly, I stopped reading the captions and just watched the story unfold, so if you're peeved by subtitles, try it anyhow. Incidentally, the make-up, art direction, and cinematography Oscars were well-deserved. Let me put it this way, one day I aim to own a copy of this film.

The Notorious Bettie Page is another film I want to own. I was very skeptical about the choice of Gretchen Mol for Page, but she did a fairly competent job. I caught her "acting" a few times and that made me want to toss something at the TV, but she was okay. If you're a delicate flower, and I know a few of you may well be, you may need to give this film a pass. While not explicity shown, there are instances of child molestation by a parent and the preamble to gang rape. Both those events occurred before Page became a photographic model, and eventually a kinky one, but that which is left to the imagination of the viewer is pretty brutal. Regardless, the film is pretty light and that surprised me. As the female photographer who shoots Bettie nude says, and I'm paraphrasing, "When Bettie was nude, it was as though she had clothes on." What's meant, of course, is that Bettie was natural in her own skin, perhaps moreso than when wearing the clothes or masks others require of her. The great surprise of this movie was the appearance of Jared Harris as John Willie, the photographer who put Bettie into bondage gear. After seeing him as Lane Pryce on Mad Men, it was quite bizarre. And then when I looked him up on IMDB, I felt an eejit for not having realized he'd been on The Riches (which was canceled much too soon) as yet another creepy character that was altogether different than John Willie. Far more brutal too.

Typing of Mad Men, it's Sunday night and there's another new episode airing on AMC. After the previous two, I have low expectations, for I cannot imagine Weiner being able to produce another episode of similar caliber for a third consecutive week. I've loved this show from its onset, but damn, it's been phenomenal these last weeks. If you're not watching this show and have access to it, you're truly missing out.

Rubicon's on too. Now there's a freaky-deaky show. It's about intelligence analysts and it's very slow-going. The actors, though, are decent and I find I'm hooked on the storylines. I admit, I have to watch each episode at least twice with captions because I miss stuff if I don't.

PBS is showing another episode of Inspector Lewis on Masterpiece Mystery! I really, really miss John Thaw's Inspector Morse, but I'm fond of the Lewis character. It is true, though, that I was taken aback last week when I ran across the Masterpiece version of A Room With a View and found Lewis' sidekick as the shortlived fiance to the ingenue of the tale. I like him as a police detective, but dang that guy played the icky fiance character really well.

HGTV is featuring All American Handyman again tonight. It's a reality competition and because actual skills are required, I enjoy it. The personalities are a tad blah, but for the host/judges, but I'm learning stuff so I'm happy to watch.

Sundays on Food Network means Iron Chef America and I'm always ready to watch that insane competition so long as they're not butchering suckling pigs or throwing live critters into boiling water or somesuch. There's a point where I simply have to stop watching, you know? Oh yeah, I won't watch the coconut one either. Just thinking about it makes my tummy ache and gets me itchy.

BBC America is showing Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves tonight. Yes, it's ludicrous in many aspects, but the cinematography is good, the locations are gorgeous, Morgan Freeman is a Moor, and the wonderful, glorious, amazing Alan Rickman is the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. When I was doing environmental theatre in Newport, RI, a fellow castmember and I saw this movie in the theatre six times. No. Really. It's true! It's because of Rickman. I loved him in Truly, Madly, Deeply and have been a fan ever since.

Eep! Look at the time! Must make fast dinner. Ta!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'm Not Much for Football

What's funny, though, is I can see it happening now. I follow the teams of the ACC, CUSA, and SEC with casual interest. I find my loyalties follow old ones related to basketball since that's really my sport of choice for which to be a spectator. And there's tennis, of course, a sport I've been semi-avid about since I learned how to play it at camp one summer a million years ago. (Okay, okay. I got hooked in the era of Bjorn Borg. I have no idea why now beyond admiring his tennis, but I really crushed on him when I was pubescent.) I'm an Olympics junkie too. No question of that. I love having them alternate the Summer and Winter games so I only have to wait a year in between games. What I really find amusing about myself is how I'm now into minor league baseball to a small degree because I've lived in two cities with ballparks just a few minutes' walk away. After a while the news about the Bulls and the Redbirds started to creep into my awareness and I started paying attention.

Granted, the fall of Tiger Woods pretty much killed my interest in golf. It may return since I seem to live in areas with interesting tournaments. I began watching the PGA after running across Woods' last National Amateur Championship match one day. That young man from Stanford really impressed me with his focus and mad golfing skills. The female in me, however, is thoroughly disgusted with the man he is now and it has tainted any enjoyment I used to have for the game. It's not so much that he disrespected and betrayed his wife and kids, but that he demonstrated a blatant disregard for their well-being by sleeping with dozens of women sans condoms. Perhaps he's never known someone personally who is HIV positive who takes huge numbers of pills a day in an effort to stay alive or someone who's died of AIDS. I have and do. Because of that, I find his irresponsible choices abhorrent and downright ignorant. He graduated from Stanford for heaven's sake! This is not a stupid man. You know he had to spend time in San Francisco occasionally and he's certainly been around people in show business. It's just so idiotic. And now? I don't give a frak about golf any more.

Oof. I'm supposed to be typing about football. Sorry. I'm about as disgusted with Tiger Woods as I will always be with John Edwards, but that's another post entirely.

When I was in high school, I was in marching band. The only reason I did marching band, or so I told myself, was because I was the fat girl who found the idea of taking a gym class nightmarish. Marching band fulfilled my PE requirement and thus it was a no-brainer. In the end, however, I came to love the 6 A.M. practices on the wet football field and playing during half-time for our pitiful home games. For me, football is inexorably tied to marching band, and to my dad, of course. He was in marching band from high school through college. Granted, he was a trombonist and I a flutist, but we both marched in Southern summers' sweltering heat and also wretched rainy Christmas parades in wet uniforms and soggy shoes. At least neither of us had to march in snow. I've seen folks do that and I just bless them and shake my haidbone in gratitude that I've pretty much always lived below that ol' Mason-Dixon Line.

I digressed again, didn't I? Ah well. You see, when I lived in Oxford, Mississippi, I lived near a high school and one of my greatest pleasures was sitting on my front porch in the mornings, listening to the marching band practice. When I drove by the school during the fall, I would see the band practicing on the flat front lawn of the school because the football field was being used for, um, football practice. Imagine that! On Friday nights, I'd go out on my porch and listen to the football game being called on the loudspeakers in the stadium. I always meant to go to a game when I lived there, but I never did. I suppose since I didn't have any direct ties to the school, like a kid or a teacher friend or somesuch, that I felt like I would have been an interloper. That was silly, of course, since I paid taxes and whatnot to help support that football program and that school, but I have weird pockets of shyness that appear in silly ways.

As to my current interest in college football? Well, it's because I went to college in Mississippi at an SEC school and because of Seth Greenberg, men's basketball coach at Virginia Tech. I spend every football season now rooting against my alma mater for rather complicated reasons. (I used to root for the basketball team, but I despise Andy Kennedy, but like Edwards, that's another post.) In the SEC my loyalties are to Mississippi State because of their truly awesome Ag school that teaches people to make cheese and grows the bamboo for the panda bears at the Memphis Zoo. And yeah, they usually have a good football team too. As for the influence of Greenberg? Well, I love that man. I have for years now. I just think he's the most lovely man and great coach. Anyhoo, Seth (I call him Seth in my mind, but on Twitter I call him Coach if I type at him) is such an enthusiastic fan of all Hokies sports. He was completely bummed by the first two losses the Hokies had this season, but he kept on Tweeting about how they'll rally because that's what Hokies do and, well, I find his passion for all things Hokies a real delight. So today when the Hokies beat ECU? I was thrilled!

And yes, I really enjoyed the whomping of Duke by 'Bama too. Duke has for their football coach the dude what left Ole Miss in the lurch when I was still living in Oxford. Child, those Rebel fans were ticked off and that guy must still have all kinds of bad juju pointed in his direction at any given time. Duke's massive loss to 'Bama, an SEC team, made a lot of Rebels' fans very happy today. I guarantee it.

There are good football games on tonight, by the way. If I weren't watching TCM's homage to Maurice Chevalier and pleasing my inner Francophile, I'd probably have football on the TV. Really.

Lordy, I'm odd.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The End of As The World Turns

To Les Moonves and the eejits @CBS Daytime:

Last year you retired Guiding Light shortly before its 75th anniversary. Today you did the same to As the World Turns before its 55th one. How stupid are you? If your PR and marketing people and net execs had bothered to think things through, you could have taken advantage of those anniversary years and made a year-long production number with much ballyhoo and reflection that would have garnered you more viewers than either soap had seen in a very long time.

Please know that I no longer watch CBS. I am still in your preferred demographic, but I refuse to watch the CSI or NCIS franchises live ever again because you'll figure a way to destroy them soon enough. And I'll be giving the new Hawaii 5-0 a pass even though I grew up on the original and even played the theme music when I was in the high school pep band. You know, we played that music at Duke during Coach K's first year as the men's basketball coach. So while my emotions run deep in relation to Hawaii 5-0, I won't be watching, no matter how swoonworthy I find your lead actors.

Pfui to you, CBS. You were once the network I watched most. I was loyal many years past the advent of cable and the increasing number of channels. Tell Harry Smith I still adore him, but that I can't ever watch him again. My blood pressure goes up every time I inadvertantly land on my local affiliate's channel.

To the actors of As the World Turns, and also Guiding Light, know that I appreciate your skills. The amount of dialogue you dealt with on a daily basis was astounding and even though I despised some of your characters for decades, it was you who helped give me my fire to become an actor, and now a writer. Thank you for the laughter, drama, and tears. Thank you for the times I screamed at the television and even for the ones when my eyes rolled so much that it's astonishing that they didn't pop right out and land on the floor.

Soap operas, particularly Guiding Light and As the World Turns, provided me with an extended family and company during some of the worst times in my life. You got me through cancer. You got me through my parents' divorce. You enabled me to experience my feelings via your work and that is a gift I do not take lightly.

But the best thing of all, As the World Turns and Guiding Light, is you taught me the value of a really good villain. Villains so vile they could not be killed. Villains who rejoiced in their villainy and actors who thoroughly enjoyed playing them. Michael Zaslow's Roger Thorpe will be the penultimate dramatic villain for me until my light goes out. A close second is, without question, Anthony Herrera's James Stenbeck on As the World Turns. Even when the writing was crap, those two actors gave the viewers amazing performances. And don't think I've forgotten about the shabby treatment you gave Zaslow, CBS and then P&G. I can but hope that Karma was swift for the idiots in charge who shafted him when he became ill. My loyalty to the L&O franchise is in part due to their hiring of Zaslow when you cast him aside.

In closing, CBS, I'm shed of you now. A network that gets rid of fine actors and characters populating two venerable soaps yet employs the likes of Charlie Sheen is not one I care to watch any more. Fortunately USA, Syfy, HGTV, Food Network, TCM, AMC, and more, fill the void more than amply. And really, I can catch reruns of your line-up elsewhere. I don't need you at all.


TV Tonight

Since Eureka's on hiatus, it looks like I'll be watching movies tonight. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is having a stellar night. The Moon is Blue, 1953, is a rather talky film, but features one of the first, if not the first, uncensored mentions of the word "virgin" in a non-religious usage since the onset of the Motion Picture Production Code. It stars William Holden and David Niven and was directed by Otto Preminger. I first saw this film when I was a teenager and found it fascinating. I've seen it a few times since, but it's been years. The themes may be a bit dated to modern viewers, but really, men and women haven't changed all that much.

The Moon is Blue will be followed by The Man With the Golden Arm, 1955, also directed by Preminger and starring Frank Sinatra in his Academy Award nominated role as a junkie drummer in thrall to various unsavory characters after a stint in jail. It also stars Kim Novak, Eleanor Parker, and the original Night Stalker himself, Darren McGavin. The Man With the Golden Arm is in black and white, which gives it a definite noirish aspect. It's a brutal, difficult film to watch in some ways, but it's worth the effort. If you think Sinatra is only a singer, this film will change your mind. The man could act. I can't remember when I last watched this film, but I well remember its impact.

Baby Doll, starring Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, and Eli Wallach, is next in the line-up. It's sure to be a trippy flick as Baby Doll is based, more or less, on Tennessee Williams' play, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, which is pretty much on the bizarre end of Williams' repetoire. I've never seen this film, but have wanted to since the mid-80s when I first became aware of the play. I used a monologue from the one-act for auditions when I was still working as a regional theatre actor, and once I was at the U of Mississippi earning a degree in Southern Studies, my understanding of the story was greatly enhanced. I'm not thrilled with the idea of non-Southern actors playing the Southern roles, but the actors are ones I respect. And really, Malden was brilliant in A Streetcar Named Desire, wasn't he?

I figure I'll be done in by the end of the evening. Honestly, I haven't looked forward to a night of movies so much in a long time.