Friday, March 31, 2006

Things to do after bumming a fag.

- Aaron Eckhart is a genius actor, someone who deserves to be a huge star. Since his breakthrough role as a sexist, evil jackass in Neil LaBute's vicious, cool, controversial, cruel, funny yet not-for-the-meek IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, Eckhart has been in some big titles, like ERIN BROCKOVICH, and given some good performances. However, before this weekend, he didn't get a chance to shine like he did in LaBute's sick masterpiece. This weekend, though, Eckhart stars in THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, and early reviews suggest he's fantastic in it, making you once again love a character you shouldn't even like. The movie, based upon a Christopher Buckley novel, has a lobbyist for the tobacco industry as its hero. His sole motivation is to addict people to smoking, to lead them to believe that smoking is good and that everyone should be doing it. The previews look hilarious, and friends who've seen it tell me it's worth a look.

- I have a crush on Nathan Fillion ever since FIREFLY and SERENITY. However, since it's unclear whether we'll see him play space cowboy Mal Reynolds again, I'm inclined to support him in other movies. His latest is SLITHER, an alien-slug monster movie that just looks really, really gross ... and yet funny. Elizabeth Banks, a beautiful, funny actress who appeared in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, co-stars and apparently has to make out with an oozy, green, mutant, alien version of her husband during the film. Besides, this photo is kinda awesome. This lady looks worse than Violet from CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.

- I saw the first ICE AGE, and it was OK. I mean, Scrat the squirrel is really funny. But the rest of the movie, with Ray Romano voicing that woolly mammoth, just didn't grab me. ICE AGE 2: THE MELTDOWN opens this weekend, and Scrat is still chasing down that acorn. Of course, when the squirrel's not onscreen, I suspect the sequel will also be shot to hell.
- Sometime this week, while trying to play a particular CD over the loudspeakers in my bookstore, I fear I broke the store's ancient multi-disc player, which used a six-disc-holding cartridge. At the point where I put the cartridge back into the player after checking the CDs, the player wouldn't read the discs, so I called a co-worker to see if he could fix it. He shoved the cartridge in there, and now it's jammed and won't play any music at all. So the bookstore is silent, and it's somewhat my fault. Anyway, the CD I was trying to play at the point where the damn machine broke was Sia's COLOUR THE SMALL ONE, which is a terrific album. Sia's voice is really smooth, her music is usually quality, and one of her songs, "Breathe Me," was used over the final scene of the SIX FEET UNDER finale.
- THE DA VINCI CODE is finally out in paperback, just in time for the movie, and I must admit that I bought myself a mass-market copy of it because I'm the last person on Earth who hasn't read it. And I was curious. (Truth be told, I bought it years ago in hardcover, but I bought it for my mother and never touched the thing.) Besides, I've not read anything in MONTHS, it feels like. If this is the book that gets me back in the habit, so be it.

- BASIC INSTINCT 2, which I'm really looking forward to seeing ... because it's gonna suck, opens today in theaters. If you're interested in seeing this with me, just to see if we can count Sharon Stone's wrinkles, let me know. The movie co-stars some guy named David Morrissey (who?) and the brilliant Charlotte Rampling (why?), and it mostly deals with Stone's character Catherine Trammell seducing her shrink in London and maybe killing people. (It's up in the air whether she was the killer in the first movie, even though the last shot of that movie featured her holding an ice pick while making out with Michael Douglas.) I saw the first movie with my parents, which is one of the reasons I ended up in therapy, so I'm kinda hoping this viewing experience will be more enjoyable.

- ASK THE DUST, directed by Robert Towne, has been playing at the Garden Hills Cinema for about a week now. It sounds like a boring movie, but, gosh, aren't Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek pretty?
- Hey, look, it's Friday, and Parker Posey's new movie ADAM AND STEVE, a gay romantic comedy with gross-out humor that also stars Malcolm Gets and the horrid Chris Kattan, is opening in Atlanta at the Landmark. Wow. I didn't see that happening at all. I've come to the conclusion that Posey only criticized me last week because she was drunk, high, elitist and crazy. Ooh ... hostile!

- The city's "Every Day Is an Opening Day" campaign is bound to get a huge boost this weekend because, har har, today is the opening day for ATL, the urban drugs-and-roller-skating drama starring rapper T.I. I suppose New York didn't fare much better, for its namesake movie featuring its theme song was a Liza Minnelli musical. But, hell, that one was directed by Martin Scorsese. Of course, since Atlanta now has a theme song, a logo, an ad campaign and a namesake movie, I guess Mayor Shirley Franklin's branding attempt has worked, for the time being. Nonetheless, who decided that the City of Atlanta's airport code should be its trendy nickname? I mean, if I were going to Dallas, I wouldn't be headed to "The DFW." I go to L.A. if I'm going to Los Angeles, I don't go to "The LAX." I can't call our city "The ATL" because, when I say it, I sound about as hip as a DJ on Star 94.
- Speaking of Liza, a restored print of her 1972 concert special LIZA WITH A Z, directed by Bob Fosse, is airing this weekend on Showtime and will be released on DVD the following week. From what I understand, the show is fantastic, trippy and very, very '70s. It, apparently, showcases everything good about Liza Minnelli, the voice and talent, the sort of thing you forget about her after reading about her alcoholism, her health problems and that marriage to the rich gay guy she beat up. And, yes, I'm gay, so I want to watch this. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: So, if you could resurrect the career of some forgotten, where-are-they-now has-been star, who would you pick? And how, exactly, would you have them recapture the limelight?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I don't care.

My ex Ash came into the bookstore tonight with his new boyfriend, a rather nice 19-year-old undergrad.

I told him when Ash and I had met and started dating.

He said, "Wow, I'd just started third grade that year."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Parker Posey hates me.

So Brad and I headed to Athens for Robert Osborne's film fest screening of BEST IN SHOW, hoping to see Parker Posey in person and maybe get a good anecdote out of being in her presence. And I suppose we did get that.

During the post-screening Q&A, I'm fairly certain that, for only 10 seconds, my favorite indie film goddess thought that I was a harsh, aggressive asshole, even though those weren't the words she used to criticize me. (Make no mistake, though, she did criticize me.)

Oh well, at least I made an impression. And it wasn't the only odd, fabulous moment of her Q&A, one of the greatest, most hilariously random showbiz things I've ever witnessed. Hopefully, some of Brad's digital video will be available as evidence. We were sitting in the fifth row, the best to bask in all the Posey glory.

I suppose I spoke to Posey about three times during the Q&A, which probably justifies what she said about me, but I honestly didn't mean her any harm. I just tend to ask questions and participate at a Q&A.

When she came out on stage, she was enthusiastic, funny and seemingly buzzed off the bottle of Stella Artois that she kept either in her hand or between her legs during the questions. She described the improvisation involved in making Christopher Guest films. Then, someone in the crowd went ahead and asked her about it again.

Turner Classic Movies' Osborne, the host of the festival, facilitated the conversation and remained complimentary of her, even though Posey occasionally resorted to deadpan answers.

Microphones were distributed throughout the crowd, but some people just went ahead and shouted questions at the stage. Osborne, of course, pleaded for people to wait for the microphones so that they'd be heard in the back of the room.

During one such moment, I was handed a microphone, and I proceeded to ask Posey a question. But Posey and Osborne couldn't figure out where my voice was coming from, even though I was five rows in front of them. They thought I was in the back of the room.

So my question went like this: "I just wanted to say that I love your work, PARTY GIRL, HOUSE OF YES, PERSONAL VELOCITY ... I'M IN THE FRONT, I'M IN THE FRONT!!! ... Oh, cool, hi. Um, yes I wanted to ask you if you were excited about SUPERMAN RETURNS or if you could tell us what it was like to film that."

"Am I excited about SUPERMAN?" she asked, deadpan again. "Um ... no. Not really. Which movie was that?"

People cheered and laughed, and I pumped my fist in the air at her. I thought the answer rocked, but I wanted her to talk more.

So I said without microphone, "OK then, well, what was your favorite role?"

"Well, there's something about all of them," she said. "But I'll talk about SUPERMAN because that's what you first asked about. It was a $200 million movie that filmed for nine months in Australia, and it stars Brandon Routh. And he is Superman. And I got to fly with him."

Then, Posey talked about how they averaged four shots a day, how the flying harness is painful to fly in. She called it "pain in places where you didn't realize it was possible."

Later, someone was asking her about her next Christopher Guest movie, FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION, where she plays an indie film actress who stars in the movie-within-a-movie HOUSE OF PURIM. In the middle of this answer, something distracted her.

"HOUSE OF PURIM is about an Orthodox Jewish family living in Valdosta, Ga., in the '40s, and I play the lesbian daughter who's brought home her lover to meet her sick mother, played by Catherine O'Hara ...," she stopped, then looked at Osborne and enthusiastically shouted. "OOH, you have a ladybug on your coat!!!!"

Then, crossing over into the surreal, Posey reached over, picked the ladybug off of Osborne's coat and then let it crawl on her hand. While answering other questions, she would regard the bug on her hand in front of her and give updates on its progress up her sleeve.

I overheard some people behind us, not realizing that the ladybug was still on Posey, wonder why she kept staring so intently at her hand.

"I dunno what she's doing," one girl behind me whispered. "Maybe she needs a manicure."

Another attendee asked Posey what her new projects would be, and I wondered to the people behind me, "Why can't they just check IMDB?"

Still, Posey answered the question, saying that her next movie is an indie comedy called ADAM AND STEVE, directed by a friend of hers. (And, this, unfortunately, led to the moment where Parker Posey regarded me with annoyance.)

"It's a gay movie, and it's coming out in select theaters in a couple weeks, though I'm not entirely sure when," she said.

"Friday in Atlanta!" I said helpfully toward the stage, for a friend of mine is doing promotions for it.

"It's Friday in Atlanta," Posey repeated after me.

Then, my favorite actress looked in my direction and said words that will live with me forever.

"Oooh ... hostile!," she said.

Thankfully, Osborne muttered a defense of me into the microphone, "No, I don't think so. It's fine." Then, he changed the subject.

At that, I looked at Brad and said, "Did Parker Posey just call me hostile?"

"No, I think she was just talking about the atmosphere," he said kindly.

"No, she wasn't," I said. "Parker Posey just called me hostile."

And Brad laughed and said he wished he'd taped it. (On the ride home, he would just mutter things like "Ooh ... hostile!" or "Parker Posey hates Benjie!" and start laughing.)

The final bizarre Parker Posey moment occurred during the last question from the crowd, given by a woman who admitted that she was from Valdosta.

The woman started praising Osborne, saying that she watches his show every night.

And, as the woman fawned over the silver-haired movie host, Posey exclaims to Osborne, out of nowhere, "OH, THAT'S WHERE I KNOW YOU FROM!!! YOU'RE THAT GUY ON TV!!! I thought you were good at interviewing!!!"

Posey'd been sitting next to him for a half an hour at that point, beer bottle between her knees and his ladybug on her arm, and that was the moment she seemed to most realize where she was.

It was a terrific event. And I'm just happy that I got to speak to her, no matter what she thought of my tone. Besides, she probably didn't keep me in her head any longer than 10 seconds.

I mean, because I told her when her movie came out, Parker Posey thought I was a jerk. How cool is that?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Things to do with your favorite party girl.

- So I've already mentioned that tonight I have a date with Holly Golightly (or, as the Asian-style Mickey Rooney says, "Gorightry") in Athens, but I'll hopefully head back to Athens on Saturday night, too, to see someone else just as charming - the brilliant Parker Posey. This weekend, Athens' Classic Center and UGA's Grady College, of which I am an alumnus, will play host to Robert Osborne's Classic Film Festival 2006. Posey is scheduled to attend, for her film BEST IN SHOW is set to play Saturday night at 8:30. And I want to be there because I LO-O-OOVE her. Also scheduled to appear at Osborne's fest are Oscar winner Patricia Neal, who was in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, and Ann Rutherford, who played one of Scarlett's sisters in GONE WITH THE WIND and probably had to fight off that damn Mickey Rooney in a dozen ANDY HARDY movies. Other movies scheduled include THE THIRD MAN, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, ON THE WATERFRONT and ED WOOD. GONE WITH THE WIND closes the festival on Sunday. Tickets are available online through the Classic Center website. Oh my God, I want to see Parker Posey. I love PARTY GIRL almost beyond reason.
- Remember the band Harvey Danger? They were, like, famous for about three seconds in 1997. They did that song "Flagpole Sitta." You know, "I'm not sick, but I'm not well ..." They're really, really good, and they have a sort of angry Weezer vibe. Anyway, Harvey Danger's first studio album in years, LITTLE BY LITTLE, is available as a free download off of the band's official website, and the album's first single, "Cream and Bastards Rise," is fun and catchy.
- Fanboys galore called the store this week because the complete first season of JUSTICE LEAGUE came out on DVD Tuesday. Breathless Georgia Tech grad students, wearing fogged-over glasses and ironic-sloganed T-shirts, kept running into my section of the bookstore and asking me if we'd sold out of the set. And we had. I've not actually seen the show. However, given the fervor and the age of the inquiring customers, I'm assuming that it must be considerably better than SUPERFRIENDS. I would probably watch all of JUSTICE LEAGUE, then get pissed because Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins, never show up with their damn monkey.
- Premiere Magazine, which I've not read regularly since I was 15, published their list of the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time, showcasing great actors in their arguably best roles. Reese Witherspoon's performance as Tracy Flick in ELECTION made it on the list. Also, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. The top performance, according to the magazine, is Peter O'Toole's take on T.E. Lawrence in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. That seems about right, actually. It's a very good list.
- IN COLD BLOOD is, once again, a top seller, thanks to the movie CAPOTE. Still, because of the movie I'm seeing tonight, I thought about reading Truman Capote's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. Apparently, it and the film bear little resemblance.
- Is it time for me to arrange a group trip to the multiplex to see BASIC INSTINCT 2 yet? I half expect the poster of Sharon Stone's legs in a miniskirt to use the tag "Opening Soon." The surefire disaster strikes on March 31. We all need to get drunk and go see it one Tuesday when the theater's practically empty, allowing us to yell Sharon Stone jokes at the screen.
- So Robert Osborne is, I suppose, a celebrity journalist for The Hollywood Reporter and an honorary film historian, even though I only know him from his skits introducing a film on Turner Classic Movies. Because of that cred, Osborne gets to host his own personal film festival, paying tribute to stars he loves. Pretty good job. Still, it makes me wonder what my own personal film festival would be like. What movies would I show? What stars would I pay tribute to? Would I give awards to them? I figure I would have Reese Witherspoon attend and host screenings of ELECTION and FREEWAY. And I would want to talk to Meryl Streep about ADAPTATION. And Jason Statham would attend a clothing-optional screening of THE TRANSPORTER. Oh, and I'd wanna meet Robert Altman. For the fun of it, though, I may have Britney Spears and "her long-lost movie mom" Kim Cattrall host a Q&A on CROSSROADS. My first question would be, "Hey Kim, why are you dressed like a park ranger in the scene where Britney finds her long-lost mother?" Of course, I imagine she'd throw something at me. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Imagine you're in charge of your own film festival. What stars would you invite? What movies would you show? What questions would you ask the stars? Would you give out any awards? Would you want to make fun of any stars?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Did I tell you how divinely and utterly happy I am?"

On Friday night, I'm heading to Athens to catch a special screening of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S with Vickye and a selection of other friends. Vic found out about a month ago that the Classic Center was going to be having a classic film festival. She loves that movie, and she wanted to turn a chance to see it on the big screen into an occasion. And I'm really looking forward to seeing it, not just because the movie is great. Seeing it with Vic is going to be special.

Vic was the one friend I could actually talk to in high school, see. Other people were my friends. Other people would enjoy talking to me. Other people thought I was funny and nice. I am still very close to a number of them.

But Vic was the one I clicked with the most. Vic was the one who played Hangman with me when we were both bored freshmen in French class. When I suggested we start writing a soap opera, Vic was the one who didn't immediately dismiss the idea as silly.

Instead, swear to God, Vic helped me come up with a pair of warring airplane magnate families in an imaginary town called Horizon, Pennsylvania. (The show, HORIZON, was written on notebook paper over the course of my high school career. It's four "seasons" and 400 pages long, sitting in a folder in my apartment. And it's terrible. Character names include Allegra Burke, Dorothy Von Marshall, Susannah Allan and the evil Chico Perez. Dialogue includes overly punctuated lines like "Dr. Tracy, put down the knife!!! LET'S ENJOY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!" To my credit, I've gotten somewhat better.)

Anyway, when Vic learned to drive (a full year before me, even though I'm older than her), she and I would take her red Raider out on weekends, going to the Lakeshore Mall merry-go-round after taking the SAT at Gainesville High, hanging out on the swingsets of several Lake Lanier parks or running to video stores to peruse whatever classics happened to be on the shelves.

I remain convinced that, at age 16, Vic and I were among the three sets of people in Gwinnett and Hall Counties who actually rented classic films. She's the one who thought it would be cool to watch ROPE, even though it was a Hitchcock movie I'd never heard of, and she was right about it. We caught Billy Wilder's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, with Marlene Dietrich, just because we couldn't figure out what else to rent one night, and we both sat with our mouths open in shock at the end of that movie, letting all its twists take us in further and further.

Sometimes we went to the movies, sometimes we went to the romance novel aisle of Wal-mart and read the backs of the Fabio-embossed books aloud. Sometimes we babysat her nephew Wade, pulling him away from episodes of BARNEY and taking him to see THE LION KING.

But I'd rather watch classic movies with Vic than with anyone else in the world. I'd rather she get her Jiffy Pop, while I make my S'mores in the microwave.

She gets the movies. They mean something to her. She knows how to read a movie like a book, and not many people can really do that. She and I both learned how, watching the same movies and taking different things from them. We learned that together. We wanted to find something challenging. We felt we were outcasts, so we decided to embrace our status, mostly, and spend our time on things we wanted to do. Thus, we rented classics, we rented old horror, we rented things we'd read about, we rented independent movies, and we once bought tickets to ASPEN EXTREME and snuck into THE CRYING GAME.

I know now we weren't the only ones, but we felt like we were. We just hadn't found our community yet.

Vic knows that nobody does suspense like Hitchcock. Vic and I made her mother watch DEAD-ALIVE once. Vic knows that I'm still afraid I might hug Freddy Krueger. Vic knows that Rosebud is more than a sled, that Manderley is a lovely home, that Kate Winslet was great as a teenage lesbian murderer, that Katharine Hepburn is the sharpest, that Audrey Hepburn is the most superb, that Dietrich is the most startling ... and I was there when she found out most of this. I was learning it, too.

So Vic thinks it'd be a good idea if we met in Athens and watched BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S on the big screen. It means something to her. It's one of her favorites. And I wouldn't miss the opportunity.

See, I love her, and Vic and I haven't watched a good, old movie together in a while. We haven't broken out the Jiffy Pop and the S'mores in about a year.

She asked me if I understood why she wanted to go. And I do.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

3 til 30.

I turn 30 years old in exactly three months. I guess that makes me 29-and-three-quarters years old, but who's counting? My birthday's the summer solstice, and this is the vernal equinox. I am not concerned with turning 30. I am not concerned with turning 30. Rinse. Repeat.

I've gained weight. I think my forehead is larger than it used to be. There are half-naked men and women in maid's costumes on my blog, and I was talking to someone today about impotence. I apparently have regular, older bookstore customers who like me. And I realized that I'm attracted to cute, bald guys. I remain focused in certain areas, unfocused in others. My reading is coming on Good Friday. My reading is coming on Good Friday. I'm turning 30. But I'm doing something key with my life first, and I think a lot of my friends might actually be there for it.

Tonight I worked at the bookstore, even though I wasn't originally supposed to, and, as a result, I ran into a lot of cool people, got to relax a bit more than usual and feel like I could treat the whole shift like I was doing someone a favor. Turning 30, keeping busy, turning 30, and it's not on my mind. And, hell, I didn't much like my 20s anyway.

I mentioned I was turning 30 in three months to three people today, I think. I asked Shalewa to buy me a nice, wooden cane with a good handle for my birthday, for I seriously believe my legs are failing me because of the way I use, then don't use, then use them. I'm old, and my body is failing me. I'm 29, and my already disabled body is failing me. But I'm not about my disability. I don't even notice it. It's not a problem. My goddamn right leg hurts like hell. But that's just the weather. Even though Shalewa helped me tonight by literally pulling on my leg while I lay down on some steps in an attempt to stretch. I do not need a doctor, who'll only tell me to quit my job. I do not need a doctor. I do not need a doctor, even though I will never likely run again and know it. Ah 30, you fickle friend.

I also mentioned it to my supervisor Kelly, who helpfully told me that she thought I was already past 30. She's 27, and she's getting married in a month. A couple days ago, a cute baby was in the store, and his big blue eyes just followed me back and forth, smiling while I walked funny. I've become acutely aware of several friends' pregnancies lately. Could I get married? Could I have a family? Is that something I want? Is that something I could want? Will 30 signal a pleasant changing-of-the-pace? Or will it just be more of the same? Isn't that up to me? And, if nothing changes, why exactly would I be disappointed?

The third person who I told was this bookstore clerk kid named Alex, who is 23. And he told me that turning 30 was better than the alternative. I asked him how he was so sure. "Experience," he said to me. Actually, I always thought 30 might fit me well. I think I already am 30. On my 29th birthday, wasn't that actually the first day of my 30th year on Earth? Won't my 30th birthday mark the beginning of my 31st year? We don't count from one. We count from zero. I've come up from zero. And I'm here. So I'm sorta 30 already. And it really doesn't make a difference. Tell yourself that. Tell yourself that. Believe it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Things to do with Natalie Portman's V.

- Tonight, I'm seeing V FOR VENDETTA on IMAX with my friend Vic. The film, featuring a masked Hugo Weaving and a bald Natalie Portman taking on a futuristic, totalitarian Britain, is based upon the Alan Moore graphic novel, which I've heard is very good. (Moore, apparently, has disowned the movie because it didn't fit his vision, but ah well.) I've heard mostly good things about the movie, which is being produced by the Wachowski Brothers, makers of THE MATRIX and the fantastic BOUND. V factors in violence, anti-government protests, kickass special effects and a complicated story that makes reference to the British occasion of Guy Fawkes Day. It sounds like part-fun/part-term paper.

- This is Channing Tatum. Even though his stage name is pretty damn terrible and even though he is the latest in a long line of underwear-model-turned-actors, I think he is keen. So I'll be seeing this guy in the Amanda Bynes cross-dressing/high school soccer comedy SHE'S THE MAN sometime this weekend, pretending that I'm in the theater because the movie is based upon Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT. Really, it's not just a remake of JUST ONE OF THE GUYS. Anyway, I love it when 25-year-old underwear models play average, 16-year-old high school students. Ri-i-ight. (This guy has another, well-received independent movie that's coming out later this year. It's called A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS. It's bound to be better than SHE'S THE MAN, anyway.)
- Happy St. Patrick's Day, by the way. Don't drink and drive. Or whatever.

- I keep going to VH1's website to watch that awesome spit-catfight scene between women nicknamed "Pumpkin" and "New York" from THE FLAVOR OF LOVE, a dating reality show that has rapper Flavor Flav trying to find true love THE BACHELOR-style. It's fantastic, like a car wreck.
- My friend Shalewa came by and cleaned my apartment this week, which reminded me once again that I have entirely too much damn stuff. To catch up on all the reading I've intended to do throughout my life, thus, I should probably start reading two or three books a week. If I live until I'm 150, I may finish them all. I've not actually finished a damn book in ages. This weekend, thus, I really ought to read something. I just can't decide what.
- The Center for Puppetry Arts, one of my favorite, oft-mentioned local landmarks, holds regular classes for kids that teach them how to make their own puppets. Looking over their website, though, I see that one of the staff there is teaching a Simple Sock Marionette Construction Workshop for adults on April 20, and, forgive me, but I think this would be a really fun, really different way to spend an evening with friends. (Of course, my friends once followed me into a corn maze for fun. Maybe we're just an odd sort.) I mean, some people do scrapbooking workshops. Why not learn to build your own sock puppet? I've got a lot of old, tacky socks with lost mates. Maybe this is a way to put them to use.
- Some of my friends were surprised that I splurged and paid someone else to clean my apartment, wondering why I just didn't do it myself. In reply, I read them the memo this Shalewa left me on her receipt for the cleaning:

* Okay, so your place is an all-day job. Done by two people. On meth. But I did what I could before I had to leave. I didn't get to the dishes, and I didn't get to dust the way I would've wanted to, but I think you'll be okay with it. If not, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! THANK YOU SO MUCH! - SNS

P.S. I couldn't get all of the trash bags in my car. Uh, you didn't want those old, old pork loins in your refrigerator, did you?


Still, some people consider what I did a luxury, even if it was required in some way. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: If you could pamper yourself with one luxury to ease your everyday life, what would you get? A cleaning service? A butler? A secretary? A chauffeur? Dog walker? Any chores you would pay someone else to do? Care to name any luxuries you give yourself right now?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Best in show.

The website for THE SHAGGY DOG actually allows you to turn yourself into one of those horrible, horrible dog-human photos, like their awful poster with Tim Allen.

Thus, I did this.

Great, now I'm a dog named Benji, essentially. How clever.

Things to do with a euphemism for impotence.

- The way I justify it to myself, there are a handful of legitimate reasons to watch the likely-awful, badly-titled romantic comedy, FAILURE TO LAUNCH. It has Matthew McConaughey, frequently without his shirt. Granted, McConaughey unfortunately speaks and "acts" in the film and unfortunately has to spend the entire movie pretending that Sarah Jessica Parker is sexy. (OK, I love SJP, but, come on, she ain't sexy. At all.) It has scene stealers Zooey Deschanel and Kathy Bates in it. It also has Bradley Cooper from ALIAS in it, and he's adorable. So I'll probably be at the multiplex this weekend, indulging in yet another guilty pleasure movie.

- This week, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES star Teri Hatcher admitted in a VANITY FAIR interview that she was molested by an uncle when she was 5. She also admitted that, upon finding out that her uncle was continuing to molest girls and that one of his young victims committed suicide at 14, she helped state prosecutors send her uncle to prison by testifying about her abuse, strengthening their case against the child molester. As a direct result, her uncle was convicted on four counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Hatcher says that she was afraid people would think she was testifying to generate publicity for herself, but she did it anyway because she felt it more important to stop an abuser. A lawyer in the case said this about Hatcher, "This is a person who had nothing to gain and a lot to lose. But she volunteered to talk about the most heinous thing that could happen to a child, with no upside for her. It takes a person with a lot of emotional fortitude to do that; heroic is a word that doesn't even do it justice. She is a damn good person, and she knew what the right thing to do was." Other than suggesting you read the article, this isn't really a "Thing to Do ... " It just makes me want to give Teri Hatcher a hug and thank her.

- I've not seen the low-budget Wes Craven original, but this weekend's remake of THE HILLS HAVE EYES looks gross, twisted and creepy as hell. An evil family of deformed, crazy, axe-wielding cannibals stalks and terrorizes a nice, sweet family who happens to drive through a nuclear testing site while on vacation. This sounds a million times worse than what happened when the Griswolds went to Wally World.

- Look at this damn photo. THE SHAGGY DOG looks creepier than THE HILLS HAVE EYES. Worse than that, the great Kristin Davis is in it, playing Tim Allen's wife. Somebody get her a better agent.
- I bought Pat Conroy's THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE a couple months ago, but I've not touched the book. Has anyone read it? Is it good?
- The first season of KNOTS LANDING, the greatest prime-time soap opera ever made and a former obsession of mine, is getting released on DVD later this month, so I'll finally be able to see exactly what happened when Valene Ewing met Karen Fairgate for the first time. This is cause to rejoice. For those of you who don't know, the show is a spinoff of DALLAS, and it focused the lives of four families from a seemingly normal California cul-de-sac.
- A couple years ago, after my fantastic trip to London, I decided rather abruptly that I wanted to live there, and I still entertain the notion fairly frequently, particularly when life in Atlanta starts to wear on me. When this happens, I have to remind myself that going to London on vacation is vastly different from the life I would have to adopt to actually live there. I would still have my same stresses, still have to work for a living, still have to find a way to pay my bills. Even though it would be London, it wouldn't be an ideal escape. Still, it is, at one point, some place I want to be. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: If you could live anywhere but here, where would you live? Why there? And how would you make it work and keep it fun?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

He's got the swagger thing down.

At one point during the show at the Fox, Michael Buble apologized to every man in the audience dragged there by his girlfriend/wife. Then, he said he was gonna get the wives so hot that the husbands would be able to "ride that all the way home." Then, he referred to himself as "that goddamn Clay Aiken."

I think that was my favorite moment. Or when he kept cursing lightly onstage, while still maintaining wholesome cuteness and vague sexuality. At one point, after saying something legitimately frank and crass - yet still charming, he had to apologize to the parents of a six-year-old girl who was sitting in the front row.

At another point, he jumped into the audience, grabbed other people's cameras and took photos of himself. He was, of course, mobbed during this "spontaneous" act, which even had cues for music and lighting. Then, jumping back onstage, he thanked the "guy who just grabbed my ass ... you know who you are."

Buble also insulted the LAMEST OPENING ACT COMEDIAN I'VE EVER SEEN, calling him a "dick."

Buble, a 30-year-old from Canada, seriously cannot dance at all but doesn't have to. He's got swagger and slippery shoes that make it look like he's choreographed, even though he's just wiggling his feet with every step.

Watching fortysomething yentas go CRAZY while mobbing the stage and jumping up and down wild mad in an orgy of dance to, of all things, a soft rock version of "Save the Last Dance for Me" was hilarious. During the song, he let the mob of women reach up on the stage and grope him. Oh, and he shook hand of the one balding queen who broke through the mob.

Of course, I wished that I'd had a date. Or someone else there who would've both helped me enjoy it more while openly mocking it.

The stage was made up like a Bobby Darrin nightclub wet dream. So ridiculous. Yet part of me wanted to jump onstage in the middle of it and do my own schtick-and-swagger-and-standards bit in a Hugo Boss suit. (Buble wore the suit the entire time, never even taking off the jacket. I wanted an idea of what he looked like under the suit. Best I can tell, he's fit, about 6'0, probably-straight-but-not-about-to-say-so. He's got the swagger thing down.)

Buble is clearly Branson-bound and knows it, but twas fun. The crowd was 95 percent Buckhead yenta and disgruntled husband, 5 percent gay.

And the star was very "I can't believe these chumps are buying this shit ...," laughing all the way to the bank. And whatever his sexual preference is, dude is getting LAID.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ac-cen-tu-ate the positive.

The week is starting to look up for me. They've changed some of my work responsibilities. I'm trying to "dress for the job that I want" more often, which means my shirts are now tucked in. Beyond that, hurrah, I'm going to see Michael Buble tonight.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Somebody send those cops a gift basket.

The Palm Beach Sheriff's Office arrested Yanni on Friday!!!!

Unfortunately, he was not arrested for crimes against music.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tie a giant green ribbon.

My 12:30 a.m. post-Oscar chat with Steven Igarashi

Steven: Yep
I saw NIGHT WATCH today
me: Rather than watch the OSCARS???
Steven: No!
I saw those too
I went to the movies in the afternoon
me: CRASH won, just like Lupo said.
Steven: I know
I was a bit disappointed
me: He and I tied in my online contest.
What did you want to win?
Steven: Gays just can't catch a break....LMAO
BROKEBACK, of course
me: Since Lupo got Picture, I figure he broke our tie and won.
Steven: I still need to see CAPOTE
It's still at the Tara
me: Reese Witherspoon, I thought, gave the night's best speech.
Steven: I agree
Who'd you think looked the best?
me: The most unintentionally hilarious moment occurred during the CRASH song's dance number with the burning car and the slo-mo people of all races reacting in horror. I wanted to be "Hispanic holding a baby" or "sad Asian man."
Steven: That was pretty funny
I can't believe 3 6 Mafia won the Oscar
me: The gigantic bow on Charlize's dress looked like the sort of thing you'd put on a brand new car.
Steven: LOL
I loved it~
She was working full on Dynasty glam
I think Uma was my favorite dress though.
I wish Reese had worn a different color.
me: Best dress was maybe Felicity Huffman's, though she didn't have the boobs for it.
Steven: She looked washedout.
ICK! Felicity Huffman was like Chili's -
me: Uma looked good. I was so happy she didn't wear that swashbuckling pirate garb again.
Steven: All about the RIBS!
I thought Rachel Weisz looked good, too
And loved Jennifer Aniston....
me: Rachel Weisz looked really good. Jennifer Aniston looked good.
Steven: I wish there were more colored gowns...too many goldtones and neutrals
me: I wasn't hot for Michelle Williams' orange thing.
Steven: Gross
Michelle Williams looked like a creamsicle
me: I was totally hot for both Jake Gyllenhaal and George Clooney. I wanted to throw down George Clooney and make a baby. He looked like Cary Grant.
Steven: He did look excellent
I wish Jake G had been more cleanshaven
It's a formal event, you know?
me: Oh, and when he had his hair mussed during the opening bit in bed with Jon Stewart, George twas yummy.
Steven: What was up with Meryl Streep?
Put the girls away!
me: Yeah, but it's a formal event with Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Scruff was acceptable this year.
Steven: I think Paul Giamatti is adorable
Lily Tomlin totally stole it.
me: The choreographed pimps-and-hos dance number stole it. Did Debbie Allen do that? Also good were the campaign ads.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Things to do as the Oscar goes to ...

- Sunday night is, of course, the night of the Oscars, hosted by Jon Stewart, and I've seen most of the nominees in every major category. (Last I checked, the only major nominee I missed seeing in the theater was NORTH COUNTRY, which garnered nominations for Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand. Other than that, I'm covered. I think I know what will win and what I want to win. I favor BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN for Best Picture, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Actor, for instance.) As usual, I'm doing an online "Pick the Winners" contest among anyone who wants to participate. E-mail me if you want to take part in the contest, and I'll send you an invitation to join my private group.

- DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY chronicles the comedian's efforts to stage a gigantic, surprise rap concert in New York where everyone would feel comfortable and welcome. This is the concert Chappelle staged just after signing the $50 million contract with Comedy Central and, I think, sometime before he went to South Africa. (Somebody correct me on my timeline, if I'm wrong.) The film was directed by Michel Gondry. Musical acts include The Fugees, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Kanye West, The Roots, Jill Scott and Talib Kweli.

- Comedian Steve Coogan's latest movie TRISTAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY is based upon some quirky, supposedly unfilmable historical novel I'd honestly never heard of before this movie came out. In the book, apparently, the narrator starts telling his life story, but other narrators come in and start interrupting him. During the course of the film TRISTAM SHANDY, the actual story of the movie gets interrupted by people coming in and stopping the film crew from telling the story of the book. This approach could be good or awful.

- AQUAMARINE, starring Sara Paxton from the Discovery Kids show DARCY'S WILD LIFE (and, yes, I've seen it), looks like a kiddie version of SPLASH. Ah well. It's based upon an Alice Hoffman novel, and Hoffman wrote the excellent, excellent PRACTICAL MAGIC, which was later made into a horrible Sandra Bullock-Nicole Kidman movie.

- 16 BLOCKS, starring Bruce Willis and Mos Def, opens in theaters this weekend. What's with Bruce Willis and movies with numbers in the titles? He's been in THE WHOLE NINE YARDS, THE WHOLE TEN YARDS, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, 12 MONKEYS, THE SIXTH SENSE, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S LOADED WEAPON ONE and FOUR ROOMS. He's also been in LAST MAN STANDING and THE LAST BOY SCOUT. And, according to IMDB, Willis's first movie appearance was an uncredited walk-on in something called THE FIRST DEADLY SIN. His next movie is called LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN. What is Bruce Willis counting toward? Is this some sort of freaky conspiracy?
- The excellent Masterpiece Theatre miniseries BLEAK HOUSE is now on DVD. Watch it. It's really, really good.
- Also new to DVD is a box set for THE ELECTRIC COMPANY, which I watched religiously on PBS until I was about 6. It was like SESAME STREET, except it was for kids with larger vocabularies and helped them learn more about reading and grammar. It also starred Oscar winners Rita Moreno and Morgan Freeman.
- Finally, returning to the main topic of the day, I've been reading some articles listing the worst films to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. (Scroll down here to find a list of all the Best Picture winners, if you want to refresh your memory.) Personally, I was annoyed when BRAVEHEART won. BRAVEHEART sucked. I was also surprised that year Marisa Tomei won the Supporting Actress Oscar over Judy Davis. I still suspect that presenter Jack Palance misread it, and nobody wanted to correct him and/or rip the Oscar out of Tomei's hands on live TV. And I still remember when Rob Lowe danced with Snow White during that one disastrous musical number. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What's the worst movie to ever win the Best Picture Oscar? Any other Oscar wins that you'd consider mistakes? Who, in the past, was robbed of an Oscar? What's your favorite moment from the Oscars?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Momentarily from my hometown library.

Written on Buford Library's Computer Terminal #15.

Garage told me my car was fixed, so I headed down to my hometown of Buford to pick it up. After dealing with the rental place, I called my friend Vic, who was herself in sorta-nearby Gainesville, to see if she was available to hang out. I'm already sorta-nearby, I figured, so I thought I would see her. It's 6 p.m. now, and Vic said she'd be available after her nephew's concert if I was willing to wait.

I'm feeling nostalgic, because getting stuck here yesterday made me a little nostalgic, so I told her I'd stick around. Now I'm at the Buford Public Library, where I was shocked to find that my library card - gotten when I was probably 9, renewed last when I was likely 16 - had expired.

I still had it in my wallet, even though I no longer live here. The card was faded to the point where you couldn't see the barcode at all. The librarian on duty just threw it away and got me a new card. I didn't protest. It makes me feel like part of me is still welcome here if my library card's active, which I was surprised that it wasn't. (I think I'm technically still a member of Buford First Baptist, too, even though I've not set foot inside there since they changed buildings maybe eight years ago. And I still am registered to vote here.)

I don't change these things, maybe even though I should, because I don't really use the library, anyway, and can make it down here on Election Day to vote. My church membership may still be in effect because I don't think the Baptists give up on you, strike your name off the list or send your official membership anywhere, even if you're an acknowledged non-believer. (They're stubborn like that. Frankly, so am I.)

Storytime's going on in this library. The librarian's reading THE CAT IN THE HAT in Spanish. With a high-pitched squeal, she's making the talking goldfish from the book sound like Elmo as he berates the "gato."

I remember when this building opened. I was in middle school. Prior to this stand-alone library, the Buford library actually shared a building with Fire Station #14, which always confused me. During storytime at that old library, the librarian would stop reading the book everytime the sirens roared next door.

The insisted-upon silence on one side of the building, the roaring alarms and men in suspenders sliding down poles on the other side - it made for an amusing irony.

The new building, when it opened, seemed massive. But now, having seen other libraries, grander libraries, I realize that the Buford Library is still really, really small.

Buford was a quirky small town during my childhood. It felt then like I was growing up in a slightly less interesting version of Mayberry.

It's a quirky, bigger town now, like Mayberry with a mall.

Part of me is happy I left. Part of me will never leave. Part of me hates it. Part of me loves it.

So I let the librarian renew my library card. I felt like belonging here again.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The day I've had.

The alternator on my car finally blew out last night, so this morning, instead of going to work, I called around to Atlanta-area garages and tried to get a towtruck. Of course, in the middle of making that decision, my car started, and I was able to drive it to my usual mechanic ... in Buford, 30 miles away.

At one point this afternoon, because my mom did her "overreaction intervention" when it came to me getting a rental car, I found myself with my lunch bag in my lap, riding in a pickup truck with my redneck stepfather to the rental car office. Behind us, he towed a 40-foot fishing boat.

Now my car, worth about $50, is having an $800+ repair done on it, which, for some reason, has given my mother, of all people, cause to yell at me about buying too many DVDs, of all things.

I hate today. I hate hate hate hate hate today.