Friday, August 31, 2007

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions


Salon has a sharp article today that gathers the various recent stories of Republican hypocrisy and lays them out in what appears to be a rather straight-forward (no pun intended) position. The author, Joe Conason, has collected a sort of laundry list of all the blathering hate-mongering Republican figures who've been outed in the last several years (including figures like fundamentalist preacher Ted Haggard) and muses on why we keep seeing this strange phenomenon of the Republican closet. He writes of "a conga line of right-leaning queens" that just keeps on coming, Foley and Craig being two of the most recent of these.

The GOP's Crowded Closet (Salon.com)

It's a good start to a question that seems ripe for further analysis. Reading the article, I found it ended much too quickly. This whole pattern seems to me to scream out a few of the key issues in the conservative movement that are long overdue for being highlighted as problematic. The first of these is, of course, the general anti-sex stance of the Republican party. It's not that the Democrats are necessarily any better, but the Right - founded and fueled so intensely by a supposedly faith-based abject fear of sex - roots so much more of its agenda in anti-sex stances: anti-choice legislation, anti-birth control, anti-sex ed, homophobic opposition to gay marriage, etc.

At this point the connection between the mass sexual repression/denial in the Republican party and their bizarro opposition to anything sexually progressive seems too obvious to be ignored. It's getting ridiculous. No wonder these guys are trying to shove through so many ass-backwards laws (such as repealing abortion rights, limiting birth control, etc.) - they are so fuckin afraid of anything to do with sexuality (especially their own) that they just try to stuff it into a corner and time travel back to Victorian-era America.

Get it together, guys. It's one thing to be out of touch with yourself sexually, but it's another when you use that repression to impose fucked up reactionary legislation on an entire country.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

Strange vibe to the world lately. [More] Republican Congressmen getting busted for lewd sex dramas (the hypocrisy never fails to astound!), Owen Wilson, he of the crinkly eyes and dry humor, in the hospital after a halted suicide attempt, and an 89-degree high in the City tomorrow - unheard of here, of course, but especially at the time of year when it's usually foggy and cool. What's going on??

The City's quiet, a good chunk of people having fled to the playa for Burning Man through Labor Day. They're closing the Bay Bridge for construction all weekend and reminders are everywhere you look. My voice is scratchy after an evening of rehearsing and trying to dig deep for the old singing techniques that I haven't used often enough in the last few years. It's a good thing, albeit frustrating, this getting back in the saddle thing. I made a killing out of 12 scores from the music library today and now my piano collection is, ahem, stocked with piles of new repertoire, lots of jazz and blues, some Mancini and Ellington and, of course, Gershwin.

There's been a lot going down in Real Life lately, just enough to remind me that when we think we've got it all sorted out, well, that's when we're reminded that nothing is permanent and life is change and transience is all we can know or count on and everything's related and whaddya know - it's all Buddhism and yogic theory proven true again and again and again.

Blah, rambling; bodies and breathing and crumbling and time passing and what happens in the moments, here and there, in-between.

And I can't sleep, in this one.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste


Jack (Adam Goldberg): "I'm an American. Our religion is private property."

--

Anyone with a heartbeat had to've been mad about Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy after seeing them in the Richard Linklater films, "Before Sunrise" and (especially) "Before Sunset." If you haven't seen them, shame. Two of the best films of our generation. Hawke and Delpy were credited as co-screenwriters in "Sunset," so it's no wonder that Delpy's directorial debut (which she also wrote, edited, produced, scored, starred in, and cast her cat) is equally excellent.

Everything Delpy does reeks of bohemian style and juicy political fervor. I kind of just want to be her. "2 Days in Paris" (not to be confused with the similarly-titled Paris Hilton sex tape) hit theaters here on Friday. I'd been reading a number of previews on the piece after its debut at a few film festivals and looking forward to another rambling walk along the streets of Paris. This one, accompanied by Adam Goldberg instead of Ethan Hawke, feels a little more coarse, a little more chaotic, a little more earthy, and I like that. Goldberg's new to me, and he is surprisingly sexy in a strangely Ben Stiller kind of way - the tattoos and sunglasses and blues and blacks are really working for him. No surprise that I appreciated the consistently polemical anti-Western and anti-American bits in the movie, I suppose; reviewers are comparing it to "Annie Hall" and "Meet the Parents," and I can see both comparisons, but it's a rather more edgy and farcical version of the two, minus the annoying quirks of Diane Keaton and Woody Allen.

Some people might leave the theater wondering what's the point of a film about 2 people spending 2 days in Paris, eating dinner, chasing a cat, going to an art gallery, attending a hip Parisian house party full of ex-lovers and cigarettes. I have to say, I love these small movies; the ones that don't purport to hit on enormous existential truths epic-style, but that sort of slyly hint at those little moments of life, the fights and the accidental run-ins with old acquaintances and arguments with cab drivers, that color our lives.

It's a small film, but it's Paris and it's art and it's Delpy and Goldberg wearing fabulous sunglasses as they argue along the Seine, and Delpy's counterculture father keying cars and her boho mother sleeping with old rock stars, and I'll take it over some overblown three-quel anyday.

Worth a look.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions


Another reason August is my least favorite month is that they dump all the shitty cinema bombs here to die. This year is no exception.

There's been a dearth of anything interesting out there; the theaters are full of holdover sequels from earlier this year and disasters that will hopefully fade away quickly. (Speaking of, have you read the new reviews for Scarlett Johannsen's "The Nanny Diaries?" It sounds positively god-awful. Which is not a surprise to me, since I've never been a fan of ScarJo anyway - so awkward and strangely disembodied, completely monotonic and lacking in joie de vivre.) But anyway...

The upside of that is there's a little film that's been happily hanging out at the indie theater downtown for months now, an Irish musical of sorts called "Once." And since I had a few quiet hours last night and didn't want to fill them with trite pap, I popped in to check out the buzz. And I can't say much more than: it's lovely. Charming. Sweet. Sad. Soulful. Authentic. Not contrived. Full of solid, foot-tapping, head-nodding music. And definitely made by someone who comes from a background as a musician.

Doubt it's playing many places anymore, but if you need to grab a rental in the months to come, I'd definitely recommend it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.


Some interesting stuff in this morning's Times:

* A somewhat mish-mash but well-intentioned article on the increasing influence of religion on food and agriculture: "Of Church and Steak: Farming For the Soul." Religious leaders are slowly starting to emphasize the connections between environmental and social justice issues and the stuff they read in church or synagogue, and it's changing the face of small organic farming. Here's a snippet:

'Joel Salatin, who is considered a guru of organic agriculture, said he has seen a change in the people who visit his Polyface farm in Virginia. “Ten years ago most of my farm visitors were earth muffin tree-hugger nirvana cosmic worshipers,” Mr. Salatin said. “And now 80 percent of them are Christian home schoolers.”'

Hmm. Some of us would say this has been going on for a long time, in the guise of ecofeminist theology...but what do I know. Google "Rosemary Radford Ruether" and you'll get the real lowdown, minus the fundy home-schooling shit.

* Thursday Styles is always reliable for some silly fluff pieces disguised as journalism. Today's no exception. Check it: "Between Poses, A Barrage of Pickup Lines."

It's a riff on the hilarious YouTube clip about Inappropriate Yoga Guy. This dude totally exists. Down to the pick-up lines about goji berries and Nepal and all of it. And his name - perf! Anyway, the article doesn't exactly offer any huge revelations, but it's true in pointing out an especially annoying phenomenon of shady New Agey guys using yoga classes as a pick-up scene. Ugh. Hello, I'm sweaty and exhausted; you're seriously not going to hit on me here!?! Just because we're all kind of naked doesn't mean it's a free-for-all.

Rehearsal last night was mad sight-reading (my fave) and soo much great singing. It's an even richer vocal show than I realized. Pretty psyched.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture


Floods in Minnesota (B's wading through her basement, six inches deep) and hurricanes in the Yucatan, and it's a still, starry night here in SF. Strange to think there's so much tumult out there when everything's blue skies and quiet here, even in the City. The clear days mean wispy fog fingers twisting over Nob Hill once the sun sets.

So the good - no, great - news is that I ended up getting that show. Found out just a few hours after the audition. The soprano role, several good songs that fall right in my sweet spot, just the right range and feel for what I'd like to be singing, and a lot of badass tight harmonies to wail on, as well. It'll be a quick 5-week rehearsal period, banging out the show so that by the first weekend of October it'll be all over. I am less concerned about whether anyone actually sees it, and more just thrilled to get my voice back in shape and solidify some connections in the Bay Area theater community.

(Oh yeah - the show is Jason Robert Brown's "Songs for a New World." Off-B'way run in '96. A solid predecessor to his bigger hits, "Parade" and "The Last Five Years.") All I can say is, it's about goddamned time.

It was a busy weekend here, nonstop going, and today was a breath of fresh air, lots of coffee and reading and quiet catching-up. I don't like August, never have; something about it will always mean humidity and severe weather and sticky vinyl car seats and the looming dread of an approaching school year and the last wheezing days of summer. It's all that ugly 1970s goldenrod color in my mind. Will be glad to move on to September and the opera and ballet seasons opening and the leaves turning (yes, even here) and the excuse to live in cloche hats and scarves again.**

September will bring with it a new revival of "Sweeney Todd" at ACT, and "Avenue Q" at the Orpheum, and "Samson and Delilah" at the SF Opera, and "The Drowsy Chaperone" to follow, and sheesh, endless music. I'm glad to be doing some of the singing myself again now, because it was getting to the point where I couldn't even sit through a show without getting itchy to be doing it. Now I can enjoy these guys without wanting to smack the leads.

By the by, did you see the middling review in the Times for the new B'way cast of "Grease?" Seems the TV stunt-casting didn't do much for the spirit of the performers.

Also, for the random record, what was a burgeoning developing crush on SNL's Andy Samberg has officially reached full-blown status. And no, it's not just because of the big wild curls. Well, mostly, yes. But it's also got something to do with the fact that a) he's from Berkeley, b) he's absurdly hilarious, c) the big wild curls, d) "Dick in A Box," e) the NOW shirt he wore to the Spike Awards, and f) the big wild curls.

Just sayin'. In case you'd happen to run into him. Don't let him cut the hair.

**Oh yeah - and FOOTBALL SEASON!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste



Heading home today after an audition across town - trying to get back in the saddle after a too-long grad school-imposed performing hiatus - I crossed Market St. toward the Powell cable car turnaround and ran smack into a bearded, middle-aged dad type sporting a quiet blue-colored t-shirt.

It read: "Go to hell, I'm reading."

I nearly hugged the guy.





(Picasso, "Woman Reading," 1932)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.


Met up with my two old grad school friends, Kevin and Sarah, who were in town for the day from their new digs a couple of hours down the coast (happy anniversary, guys!), last night at Vesuvio. In case you slept through the part of high school English when you hit up the Beats and dive into some "On The Road," Vesuvio is the bar where it all went down. Right across "Jack Kerouac Alley" from [famously progressive] City Lights Bookstore and within stumbling distance of all the naked-lady clubs on Broadway and Columbus, Vesuvio's a classic, a total relic from days gone by.

I'd forgotten how charming and utterly unpretentious it is. The place still kind of quietly rests in its own little dusty, bohemian groove. Given how much attention the bar gets from tourist mags and international media alike, it's all the more remarkable that it's resisted the urge to Disney-ify and retained that same old comfortable feeling, along with prices that seem strangely low for being smack in the heart of the North Beach bar scene.

Vesuvio's website (www.vesuvio.com) has everything you'd expect - art, history, cocktail lists, etc. - but also offers two links to recent "Best Bar" lists from Esquire and the Guardian where, naturally, it finds itself mentioned. In a time when it seems most bars are stumbling over themselves trying to be hip with their lychee martinis and fresh sage and zillion flavored vodkas, it's refreshing to be reminded there's some place so wonderfully real, close to home, where khaki pants and expensive heels are nowhere to be found.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


This week's Yoga Journal newsletter featured a link to an excellent treatment of the chakras. Now, I know you hear "chakra" and think immediately of California hippies in long tie-dyed robes meditating on a cliff overlooking the ocean reeking of patchouli and wearing Birkenstock sandals. But don't completely disengage just yet. This stuff is actually really useful in making sense of the body and why we get sore, have injuries, or can't seem to kick that upset stomach or that tight neck.

We're talking ancient Indian philosophy here, and it's pretty damn brilliant. Read up on the chakras - aka the different loci of energy in our bodies, the places we carry tension, the centers of energy wherein all of our health problems and healing are based. This article does a decent job of explaining the seven chakras step by step while also referencing related health problems and the kinds of yoga poses you can do to open up parts of your body where you're having a lot of pain or injuries.

On more emotional and spiritual planes, this stuff is equally fascinating. Can't figure out why your shoulders are always so tense? Maybe it's because you're carrying your fear in your hunched up shoulders, and you need to open them up.

I'm gonna shut up before I start sounding really wanky. But this is worth a read, especially if you're interested in holistic health and the way the various systems of the body line up. You'll notice the chakras are based roughly along the spine; it is no coincidence that Bikram yoga (and others) are primarily focused on opening up and healing the spine. We're talking the nervous system here, all the endocrine glands, your thyroid, your heart, all of it...yeah. Keep it in mind next time you settle in for a little Cobra pose - you're opening your "truth and communication" chakra at the same time you're strengthening your back and stretching your chest. Pretty wild.

Seventh Heaven (Yoga Journal)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture


PET PEEVE: Overplucked Eyebrows

Who went and decided that looking like the kind of fake porcelain doll you buy at some shady corner shop in Chinatown is hot? Everywhere I turn these days - sitting on the bus, walking through a shop, chatting with someone at Jamba Juice waiting for my wheatgrass - I'm bombarded with these plastic-looking ladies whose anorexic eyebrows are screaming, heartbreakingly, in these teeny-tiny little voices that barely squeal out: "FEED ME!!!"

Jesus Christ. Seriously. I have never understood this. I remember being a little girl and getting Christmas pictures from families we knew once December 1st hit and staring with odd wonder and disgust at the grotesquely bizarre middle-aged women who had completely obliterated their eyebrows and drawn in little pencil line things. Really? Who went and said that's attractive?

I mean, what is more fucking vain than standing in front of a mirror plucking your eyebrows out every week? This, for me, is right up there with frying yourself up in tanning beds at the top of the Vanity List. There are children starving in Ethiopia and the planet's going to shit and you're wasting minutes a day, hours a year, shaping your fucking eyebrows?!?? I just don't get it. And the weirdest part is, they look SO BAD when overdone, which is how they usually are. No better way to say: I AM FAKE. I AM ARTIFICIAL. CHECK OUT MY FAKE-ASS EYEBROWS THAT I WAS SO CONCERNED ABOUT THAT I SPENT AN HOUR STANDING TWO INCHES FROM THE MIRROR PLUCKING THEM OUT ONE BY ONE.

I know I can be plenty girly and I do rather enjoy doing so, I'll admit; the big dresses and the red toenails and shit, oh yeah. But jesus. I don't understand the aesthetics. "Beautiful" to me is Elizabeth Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo; "beautiful" is not Tammy Faye Bakker, rest her tired and recently deceased soul. Because when I talk with one of these overplucked women, all I can think about is how fake she looks and how sad it is that just talking to her I know so much about how she spends her time. Plucking strays here and there, sure, no probs, I get that; but seriously? These beauty-queen brows are so cold and dead-looking. A total turn-off.

And, of course, another opportunity to make a buck. Check out Nu-Brow. Fucking REMOVABLE EYEBROWS. Unbelievable. www.nu-brow.com

I'm gonna go cry now. Or vomit. Or maybe both.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Random shit I wanted to post that has no feasible connection whatsoever to any definition of "rawness"


So the morning news says Rove is stepping down. Let the lame duck period of the Bush regime set in.

Saturday marked the 4th anniversary of my move to San Francisco. Aww, sentimental. Feels like no time has passed since hauling out my little Ford Festiva loaded down with all my worldly possessions and chugging slowly, lumberingly, up Nob Hill for the first time.

The sparklingly sunny afternoon at AT&T Park yesterday didn't help the Giants avert a sweep from the Pirates. Zito was off, in spite of being oh-so-on in his little black socks and furrowed brow, if you know what I mean. He must've been distracted by my presence. Yeah, that's it, definitely. Bonds hit a foul ball and it landed smack...on his mother's head. Now that's aim.

"Avenue Q" opened here over the weekend. Looking forward to catching it, even though I'm a few years overdue.

Friday night found a few hammered D-list stars from the old TV series "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" at my bar. Wikipedia tells me one of them "voluntarily entered rehab in April 2004." Oh god. Guess that double Patron margarita wasn't on the 12-step program, eh. I'm glad I'm not famous, or a drunk. Dude was weeping over his tequila. Maybe fame isn't all it's cracked up to be.

My yoga studio's having a visit this weekend from one of the top raw gurus, Brian Clement, based in Florida. I'm hoping to learn a few new things. Next on the list: getting better about raw "uncooking," aka preparing foods like lasagna, enchiladas, etc. minus all the cheese and oil and flour and shit. Cupcakes over the weekend reminded me how much I love baking...but I'll be damned if they aren't so awful for you. Time to learn how to "bake" something good and rich - you know, kale and jicama and flaxseed and all that good shit.

Melons and heirloom tomatoes are so in season right now. I'm swimming in them. Buy some. Eat with the seasons. Your body will thank you.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound.


I'm feeling pretty Sporty Spice right now.

Embarked on a month-long yoga challenge starting August 1st; vowed to see if I could practice 2 hrs of yoga for 31 days straight. I'd been hitting a plateau and after a July full of travels and visitors, my practice wasn't feeling as smooth as it should've. So today's the 9th, and I am sooo excited to say, I've got 9 practices under my belt for August. And I feel like a fuckin rockstar.

Today was the icing on the cake; I practiced for 4 hours, count 'em 4, and yes, my back is rawer than raw, and I'm pretty sore, but I feel about 2 inches taller already and am waaay blissed out. The energy snowballs once you get going; it feels so much easier now to make day 10, and day 11, now that I've got 9 under my belt.

My friend Nielsen is training for a triathlon. She went to yoga with me for the first time tonight, and I've decided that I am definitely going to train with her for the next one. It can't be that hard; I've got the running down, and the swimming from all those years as a lifeguard and, ahem, a water aerobics instructor (ha - betcha didn't know about that, eh?). The cycling will be a challenge, especially training in these hills, but I'm so feeling it right now. And the whole thing folds in so nicely with eating raw and eating well, too - both fuel one another, and you end up being a person who's suddenly happier and healthier and, I'll be damned, it's even helping my writing.

On another note, my co-worker Sammy just had a beautiful little girl on Wednesday. As much as my politics say to scramble the binary gender constructs of pink/blue/blah blah blah, everything about it screams "pink."* Tomorrow morning I've got hot plans to bake up a whole mess of pink and yellow cupcakes - strawberry icing, natch - to take in to celebrate the new little one. Not so raw, but whatever.

Yeah Sammy! And yeah, cupcakes. And yeah, mad workouts. I feel good.

*Hence, the picture above of a random-ass pose and cheesy lady all in pink. Bet she ate some kale today.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air

Wow wow. This is pretty sweet.

So you might know that The Gap (along with its subsidiaries, Old Navy, Banana Republic, etc.) is based here in SF, right down on the water under the Bay Bridge by that fantastic bow and arrow sculpture. Turns out there's a big news conference scheduled for this morning because the dude at the top there, Donald Fisher, is planning to build a huge new museum in the Presidio to display his massive and totally sexy-hot modern art collection.

Looks like the timeline is short, too - only three years and then you, too, can see these gems in person. Check out the pics with the article: lots of Lichtensteins, Warhols and Closes. The guy's collection reads like a list of all the artists who've been featured at the SF MoMA in the past several years. Just might be enough to make me overlook the fact that he's a Republican. Oh, and that little thing about sweatshops, too...

Anyway, exciting. And did you see Barry whack the big one last night? How great was it that Hank Aaron did say a word after all? I'm just glad that it'll be easy to get tickets again, now that the big event is over and the Giants can go back to being last in the league.

SF Chronicle: "Art for Our Sake"

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions




"When we emerged from the trees and I saw the sky above the shoreline, I knew that sadness is inevitable. It was the sadness I always feel in the presence of beauty or, at least a certain kind of beauty."

-- Ernesto Sabato, "El Tunel"







(Mark Rothko, again; No. 14, White and Greens in Blue, 1957)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Random shit I wanted to post that has no feasible connection whatsoever to any definition of "rawness"


Yo.

Sitting here at home watching the Giants play and waiting for Barry to hit #756. Gotta say: it's so great to be home in the evening, I can't even describe. If I'm not bartending at night, I'm usually out for one thing or another, and wow, it feels weird to be here.

Did you know:

* that David Duchovny has a new series on Showtime this fall? We're somehow still managing to get illicit free cable, but I don't think Showtime's included in that. B, I know you're feeling this career return, too. Too long since Fox Mulder graced the small screen, fer sure. Be still my heart.

* that Tim Lincecum is, like, 12, and he's completely rocking it for the Giants right now? Little Big Ears pitched 7 innings tonight and was damn solid.

* that Rudy Giuliani's kid is a democrat for Obama? Is that dishy or what?! Almost as good as Cheney's kid being a lesbian. Funny how these Republican daddies turn their kids off from the elephant party. You don't see Chelsea voting for McCain. Just sayin'.

* anything about the composer Jason Robert Brown? Apparently I'm late to the game, because I just picked up the score and the original cast recording to "Songs For A New World," and I like what I hear, so far, at least, even if it is a little bizarrely Christian folk rock-ish at points. B's told me good things about "The Last Five Years," and I know "Parade" is supposed to be good, but this guy's only just come under my radar.

* that I should get a crystal ball? Don't know what the buzz is in the universe right now, but I've been mad psychic lately (don't ask, just go with it) - moreso than usual. I've always been my own little Magic 8-Ball, but don't usually mention it because it makes me sound craaazy. Something up with the moon er what?

On top of that, my bar was graced by a couple of smokin' hot Giants pitchers Who Shall Not Be Named (but whose progeny I would definitely bear) as well as the former mayor of SF, Willie B., always a pleasure to run into because he is just so unapologetically himself. Hopped on the #1 California bus up Nob Hill one day a few years back and was shocked to find myself face to face with him. Gotta give the guy props for making an effort to at least look like he's hanging with the little guys, even if his driver is waiting at the end of the line.

Um, and that's my wildly scattered, pointless but obligatory post for the evening.

Game's still tied 2-2, bottom of the 10th. Come on, Barry.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions

Been seduced again by that late-afternoon stopover at Borders to pick up some bit of minutiae - a Theatre Bay Area magazine? An overpriced scone? Don't recall. Point is, I came home late last night loaded down by several more pounds' worth of books than I carried when I left the house.

Susan Minot's beautiful 1998 novel, "Evening," has recently been made into a movie and, as of yet, is slowly fading from theaters as a bona fide flop, especially considering its pedigree of major Hollywood players. And that's a good thing, in spite of the cast, because it's pretty much a piece of shit film with a lot of famous names, striking scenery and charming costumes that remains blank and cliched. My man Patrick Wilson plays this dude who, for reasons pretty unexplained and unexplored, carries along most of the main characters in his wake without realizing they're all in love with him, and Claire Danes is the woman who meets him for a brief weekend, and whom we later see in elder form as Vanessa Redgrave, dying in the comfort of her home as the last stages of cancer set in and the morphine drip grows ever stronger.

There's death, tragedy, lost love, regret, memory, beauty, sorrow. And, of course, lots of hard liquor and repressed WASP-y family drama. And Michael Cunningham, one of my favorite authors and one of the most lyrical writers of the time, adapted the screenplay for the film. So you'd really think it should work, eh? But no. It's still a glossy empty blank slate of a piece of shit.

But then you have Minot's novel itself, which is so glowingly fluid that it takes your breath away, so true-to-life in the wasting sorrow of a lingering death and the strange waking dreams that accompany it, which left me standing in a Union Square bookstore amidst tourists barking about maps and cable cars and homeless dudes curled up in the corner reading Tolstoy, completely sobbing there in the middle of the floor only two pages in. And here again is that classic irony: that the most mindful stream-of-consciousness writing, the most accessible and honest and true, translates only as trite pap when taken to the big screen, even when your screenwriter is Mr. Pulitzer Prize Winner himself and he's thrown in a bisexual love triangle for good measure. And when Meryl and Vanessa share the screen with Toni and Natasha and Glenn.

Point being: read the book. It's heartbreakingly gorgeous. Skip the movie. Unless it's for pure Patrick Wilson appreciation alone. Because the rest of it is pretty damn shite.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste

Oh god. More evidence that the Red States are going to take over the world.

This Arkansas family - patriarch by the name of "Jim Bob," naturally - just had their 17th kid. Yeah, 17th. Which means that the mother has spent, count 'em, 10.5 years of her life pregnant. Even better, their names all start with the goddamned letter "J." Seriously, folks. You cannot make this shit up.

I was going to try to write this whole thing in "J" words, but sorry, it's Friday morning and I'm lazy and it's too hard. But seriously, what is it about the letter "J" that it's the one people always choose to punish their families with by naming all the kids after it? I don't get it.

Someone needs to make an anonymous donation of some serious birth control pills here. And then fill them in on a little thing called "overpopulation."

(Oh, wait - that's something we're only concerned about if the people are brown and/or Third World. If yer white and Christian, bring 'em on! Building the army of God, baby!)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

Came home last night to news of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. What a jarring way to settle down at the end of a long day. I've been watching the updates with interest, as both of my sisters live(d) in the area and have huge networks of friends and families in the Twin Cities; we've got a lot of old family friends still there, too, since living there when we were little girls. M wrote this morning that that's the bridge she used to take daily as a student at the U. We had the same feeling here when the bridge meltdown happened a few months ago, albeit to a much, much lesser degree; the difference between the two being, of course, that that was at 4 am on a Sunday, and this was (scarily) at mid-week rush hour. Can you imagine being at that Twins game and trying to play or pay attention knowing what was going on outside?!?

Amazing how things like this, or 9/11, make us feel small and vulnerable and so not in-control, so at the mercy of nature and chance, and we sail along on that heightened awareness for awhile, and then slowly, surely, we creep back to feeling invulnerable and in-charge, per usual.

Over the weekend the boys and I took a winding tour along Highway 1. If you're not familiar with the Great Highway, it's the one clinging to the hillside overlooking the Pacific, the one you should ideally drive in a top-down old Mustang convertible wearing movie star sunglasses and a scarf wrapped around your head singing showtunes. (Well, maybe the showtunes part is just my addition.) It twists and turns and you feel like, especially at dusk as it was when we finally curled around the edges of the Marin headlands past Point Reyes, you could easily, at any moment, veer off the cliff into the water below and disappear forever, without anyone on that desolate strip of highway knowing you were gone. We pulled off by Wright Beach and rolled our pant legs up and walked the rocky beach a little; Tom and the Bro wandered southward and I did some Warrior and Standing Bow poses and felt the wind and the late afternoon sun setting and the rocky sand and the high tide crashing in, and felt small, so small, so quickly capable of being caught up a wave and washed out to sea the same way that cliff could've come out of nowhere and that would've been it, too, on the heels of the tune we were wailing as we rounded the bend.

So I guess the point is: make sure you're singing Sondheim when you hit the hairpin turns, and definitely not anything Andrew Lloyd Webber, because you SO do not want to go out singing "Cats;" and if you're doing Standing Bow on the beach, plant yourself far enough back that when you fall out of it (and you will) you don't fall into the high tide.

Because dee-amn, we are small.