Friday, January 20, 2006

Things to do with "kinda Buddhist showtunes."

- My green-haired, twentysomething, film student bookstore co-worker Liz mentioned last night that, because of a recommendation from a friend of a friend, she was going to see "some sort of Buddhist showtunes" 8 p.m. tonight at Eyedrum, which specializes in performance art and experimental theater. When she mentioned this, I said to her, "Oh, my friend Andy Ditzler's on the board of Eyedrum. Usually he alerts me to stuff going on there." Of course, that was before I made the connection that the "Buddhist showtunes" concert Liz was talking about was actually my friend Andy's concert and CD release party. Andy's new album SONGS FROM YES AND NO, which he's been developing from a one-man show that I saw at Clayton State back in 2002, has already gotten good notices in the AJC and Creative Loafing, and, beyond that, Andy's cute, smart, talented, well-read, soft-spoken, calm, interesting, hosts great parties and can talk extensively about experimental film. I kinda love him, even though he thinks I'm nuts. So I suggest you head to Eyedrum tonight and see his show. And buy the CD.

- TRANSAMERICA, which is apparently just a pretty good movie with a really good performance in it, opens today at Garden Hills, the cinema across the street from my bookstore. Felicity Huffman, who won a Golden Globe for her work in the movie earlier this week, stars as Bree, a pre-op male-to-female transsexual who discovers a week before her operation that, back when she was known as "Stanley," she fathered a son. Now, the son needs bailed out of jail, and Bree is coaxed into helping him. I love Felicity Huffman. I love her in DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, where lately she's been the primary actress to watch. I loved her in SPORTS NIGHT. She'll probably get an Oscar nomination for TRANSAMERICA when they're announced January 31.

- Woody Allen's MATCH POINT also arrives in town this week, playing at the Landmark, and it's been generating some Oscar buzz as well. Jonathan Rhys Meyers has gotten some good notices for playing the lead. Scarlett Johansson, who didn't get a nomination for LOST IN TRANSLATION years ago, stands a chance at one here. Every year, I try and act like guessing the Oscar nominations isn't fun for me, and, every year, I attempt it anyway.

- The Masterpiece Theatre production of BLEAK HOUSE, based upon the Charles Dickens novel, begins airing Sunday night on PBS. It was adapted for television by Andrew Davies, the same guy who did the Colin Firth version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and stars THE X-FILES' Gillian Anderson as a mysterious character named Lady Dedlock. The reviews, of course, have been excellent. I'll probably wait to catch the show on DVD when it's released, but I've always found Anderson to be an intriguing actress partly because she picks such random, prestigious projects. I mean, in the middle of doing THE X-FILES, Anderson chose to do a feature film version of Edith Wharton's novel THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, and she played a troubled, alcoholic mother in the little-seen film THE MIGHTY. Now, she's got this Andrew Davies miniseries while David Duchovny makes drivel like HOUSE OF D and CONNIE AND CARLA. This is a woman who likes smart challenges and takes chances, someone who could've become a 'celebrity' but chose to stay an 'actress.' And that's gutsy.

- The Center for Puppetry Arts opened the latest show in its New Directions series on Wednesday. The work by puppeteer Bobby Box is called ANNE FRANK: WITHIN & WITHOUT, and it dramatizes both the situation Anne Frank faced while living in seclusion from the Nazis in Amsterdam and how she used her diary, her optimism, her daydreams and her imagination to escape the horror and tedium that became her day-to-day life. The show features puppets to represent both the girl Anne was and the grown woman that she never became. The show's angle on the story sounds ambitious, original and interesting, and I'm very, very interested in seeing how this show turned out. The Center's had terrific shows this year, and this show sounds risky and daring. (An aside: My friend Kim e-mailed me this week to thank me for recommending the Center for Puppetry Arts to her. She went with her niece to one of the children's shows, then apparently got to build her own puppet. She said it was great.)
- Oprah's latest pick is NIGHT, the Holocaust memoir by Elie Wiesel. I haven't read it, though I know that every high school sophomore probably has been assigned it for the last decade.
- Yesterday was awful, awful, awful for me. It wasn't so much because of anything that anyone did to me. I mean, there were outside influences, but I reacted to them all negatively and basically ruined my entire day with unnecessary anxiety and stress. That was my fault. I let my thoughts go ridiculously crazy, I overanalyzed everything and turned my whole workday into a worst-case scenario. Then, last night, a customer told me that U2's Bono had made him aware of his own role in the world and helped him discover that he can change the world for the better. I don't know if I'm capable of Bono's optimism, but perhaps I would help myself if I tried. Someone once said to me that the most realistic way to look at life wasn't always the most pessimistic view, that it wasn't helpful to be perpetually jaded. Of course, it's hard to do. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Are you more "glass half-full" or "glass half-empty"? And do you really think it's possible to change your world for the better? Is an optimistic perspective ever realistic?

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