Wednesday, May 24, 2006

True 'Dat

From Kevin Drum:

CONGRESS WAKES UP....I'm a little late on this, but let me join the bandwagon of mockery directed at members of Congress who have finally decided that the executive branch has overstepped its congressional boundaries. After six years of signing statements, domestic surveillance, habeus corpus violations, torture of prisoners, and secret overseas prisons — all done with no oversight from Congress — what finally woke them up was a raid on a congressman's office. That can't be tolerated. Not for one second.

Well, maybe not. But at least the FBI got a search warrant signed by a judge. Congress should feel lucky they were treated with such sensitivity.

Could you imagine what dirt lies under all those Congressional rugs?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Now We Send Flowers

Back in the yonder halcyon days known as the mid-70’s (the Ford and Carter years for those of you using Presidents as the preeminent distinguishable feature on the time line) I bought my Mom cheap perfume for Mother’s Day. My best friend and I had each been given $5 to purchase gifts that declared our budding recognition for all our moms had done for us. But then we eyed a frisbee we both decided was very important to have. The perfume was $2.95 a bottle and smelled vaguely of Formica. With what money remained we were able to pull our resources together and purchase the frisbee for ourselves. This is how Moms sometimes continue to make sacrifices for their children without ever knowing it.

For many years this bottle of perfume remained wisely neglected in my parent’s medicine cabinet. Then it disappeared.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom and my baby’s Mama and to Mom’s everywhere who are unknowingly giving even when they’re receiving.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Eternal Feminine Is In Opie’s Hands

As the ads for Opie’s big screen adaptation of Dan Brown’s bewilderingly popular The Da Vinci Code become more conspicuous, I recently found myself feeling unmistakingly squirrelly (which is to say nuts) concerning my failure to read a book, no matter what its merits, over 30 million others already have. There’s an odd anxiety that comes with being unenlightened by something dominating the best-seller list for so long. Cathy, too, had read it back when we lived in Berkeley after a professor recommended it. “I couldn’t put it down,” he enthusiastically blurbed to her. So she bought the hardback at Cody’s for 30% off. And it seems like oodles of folks in my orbit have read it. Its ubiquity was/is disquieting. So I finally picked up our copy the other day and am currently half way through. It’s awful. Not such a surprise. But I’ll finish it because it asks so very little. (And seeing as how we are, as a country, decidedly estranged from books, especially books that ask for reflection, this may be the crux of its popularity.) I also keep wondering how Opie, competent Hollywood hack he is, will make it better. Well, for one, she’s in it. We’ll gladly pay $9 to watch Audrey on the big screen and sigh.

But really, what’s with this book? It’s all Chiclet chapters, warmed over Golden Bough (though all this talk of the sacred feminine makes me want to pull Camille Paglia’s swaggering Sexual Personae from the shelves and see how it holds up 16 years after it hypnotized me), hackneyed scenarios and gems of heelarious dialogue such as this:

(Note, if you haven’t read it, this excerpted scene joins our hero, the eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, as he dishes on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with a group of inmates as part of one of those ever popular prison outreach programs.)

“…Because Da Vinci was a big fan of feminine principles, he made Mona Lisa look more majestic from the left than the right.”
“I heard he was a fag,” said a small man with a goatee .
Langdon winced. “Historians don’t generally put it quite that way, but yes, Da Vinci was a homosexual.”
“Is that why he was into that whole feminine thing?”
“Actually, Da Vinci was in tune with the balance between male and female. He believed that a human soul could not be enlightened unless it had both male and female elements.”
“You mean chicks with dicks?” someone called.”

Ha Ha! Whoa, Daddy! Here’s hoping Opie had the good sense to keep the script churning with dick jokes aplenty! In the very least, we’ll have that. I’ve heard that in the film this scene ends with Langdon, played by Tom Hanks, and the inmates kicking back with some spud juice and tossing the old salad. Just squeaked by with that PG-13.

I’ll let you know when I’m done.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Surprise Kiss On Demand

Watched way too much tv yesterday. It’s all this on-demand magic I’m finding on my in-law’s cable. Since they subscribe to HBO I can dip into big taster displays of the on-demand content the network makes available for those occasional afternoons Abby and I come to the Heritage (I love that name, so regal and old world refined) and she takes 2 hour naps on my lap. Most of the movies HBO offers aren’t ones I’d want to spend any more time with let alone watch a first time (She-Devil, anyone?) though I did watch Vacation again a couple weeks ago and found myself almost waking the peanut up numerous times with ripples of suppressed laughter. (When Clark falls asleep on the road…the camera pans from the Griswald kids asleep in the backseat to mom snoozing in the passenger and then pauses just ever so slightly before panning over to Clark with this head thrown back over the seat happily snoring away. This is sitcom goofy, but Ramis was slaying with this stuff back in the late 70's and early 80's.) And watching Rear Window again early last month came with the revelation of Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart’s first kiss, one which happens unexpectedly--in Hitchcock’s celebrated interviews with Francois Truffaut he called it a “surprise kiss.” The first time we see Kelly’s face it practically blooms onto the screen while moving languorously in slow motion downward to Stewarts awaiting lips. She’s like some enchanted current drifting onto the screen and offering the surprise of something unexpectedly sensual.

Yesterday I watched the first 6 episodes of HBO’s Entourage and really enjoyed it. It’s got a sweet harmless center surrounded by a white noise of fatuous dick jokes, rabid pussy philosophizing and copious smoking of the herb. Jeremy Piven’s rapacious agent, Ari, is the scene stealer so far, but I also have a soft spot for Kevin Dillon’s sweetly dumb and desperate Johnny “Drama.”

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Listening To Arthur Lee Records

As if I didn’t already want to carry Tracyanne Campbell’s books home from school, she’s gone and named the lead single from the upcoming Camera Obscura album, Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken. This, of course, a perfectly coquettish homage to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken, only one of my most favorite songs ever from the still utterly awesome Rattlesnakes album. An album that's all of 22 years old at that! Sheesh! You can hear the Camera Obscura song here. If this is any indication, Camera Obscura just keep getting better and better. Gives me that old teenage feeling.