Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tails From The Dog Park

One thing that five inches of fresh snow does--it refreshes the dog park.

All that melting and refreezing made a circuit through the park nearly impossible for quite a while. The paths go up hills and along eroded ridges, and it's taking your life into your hands to try to track across a good portion of the park.

But fresh snow covers up the ice, and fresh snow a couple of days ago means that many dogs have re-carved the pathways, and pushed down the snow into a packed layer that safely covers the ice. So no more booby-traps walking on hidden ice and ending up on your tailbone.

So Bermondsey got to go to the dog park today, and run in the snow.

Weekends are a little hard for him, though, as most of the dogs out on a weekend day are big dogs who need to burn off a LOT of energy. This makes Bermondsey nervous, as he has learned about comparative sizes, and has realized that he is usually the small one. Comparatively. He's been run over, knocked over, and lifted off his feet by a nose between his legs, and he's not enjoyed any of that, thank you very much.

Today was much the same, although with a bunch of dogs I haven't seen before. It is truly amazing what different shapes and sizes they come in, and what their owners have named them. "Rocky" and "Lainie" were having a contretemps--although they both looked anatomically female. Who says "Rocky" has to be only a boy's name anyway? There was a huge Newfoundland, and his companion who was an entire standard deviation smaller, and with a smooth head that looked like there was some Laborador in him as well.

The dog who left just before we did looked like a white Golden Retriever, although both bigger and taller than a true Retriever. His name was "Howard."

Who names their dog "Howard?" Why would you name a dog "Howard?" I can't think of any Howards who seem like the kind of person you would name a dog after. There are just no associations I can think of that would lead to someone saying "Hey! What a great name for a dog!"

Howard Cosell. Howard the Duck. Castle Howard. Katherine Howard, married and beheaded by Henry VIII. Howard Johnson's. Nope--not a dog-worthy connection.

Just before we left, Bermondsey was sniffing along the entrance gate, where many dogs leave their calling cards to announce their arrival. As he was pacing the length of the chain-link fence, a much larger dog was walking the other side, lifted his leg and left his signature in the snow. AFTER hitting Bermondsey in the ear and down half the length of his body.

So now we are both sitting in the parlor, drying out from the resulting bath.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bitch Gets Served

Man, I gotta be careful what I grouse about. I posted this series of complaints (poetic, yes, but still complaining), took a shower and came out to near white-out conditions. It's like God said, "You complaining about monochrome? I'll GIVE you monochrome." The snow had been drifting down like someone sifting flour, but 20 minutes later, it was filling the air nearly solid.

It was so snowy that even the dog--who usually is willing to go as many more blocks as he can get away with--didn't make it all the way around one. Tonks and Sursels remember only one snow day in the 10 years of attending their school, and school closed early.

Driving to pick them up, the snow was so heavy that I could see maybe 200 feet in front of me--that means that I couldn't even see traffic lights until I was 4 houses away from the intersections. At least one car got stuck on the piled up snow IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET. I watched an SUV fishtail its way around a left turn and nearly end up facing the direction it came from. That weather was nasty!

So today? Brilliant cloudless blue sky. Light so bright you might be fooled into thinking it's summer already. A good 5 inches of snow, which even now is starting to melt off the roofs.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hand Jive Maximus

Because this eased the grumpy slightly, I am sharing it with you. Because I won't share my tequila, which also helps with the grumpies.

Weather Report--Snow, Dammit.

Can I just say that this freeze and thaw cycle we having going here is playing merry HELL with my mental condition? Yesterday it was so warm, that all the new snow that fell over the weekend has melted entirely, leaving deep puddles around the place, since the ground is still frozen solid so none of it gets absorbed.

Then, of course, the temperature drops significantly below freezing, and we get ice slicks everywhere.

Kids come out of school mid-afternoon, their coats slung over their arms, as it is far to warm to wear them, the sun shines, and we all get a glimpse of what spring looks like in other parts of the country. We wear waterproof boots--unlined, because of the warmth, then our footprints freeze into the slush overnight, and we trip and slide over our own tracks.

The sun melts the snow off of cars, leaving the encapsulated dirt behind, covering the paint with an encrustation like acne of the particulate matter from the atmosphere. The snow runs off, forming stalactites, which eventually reach the ground, forming a colonnade of ice immobilizing the car into place. When one's car has been literally frozen to the ground, it takes the driver by surprise, and cannot possibly be good for the tires either.

When the melt happens, certain plants are uncovered, flash frozen in their chlorophylled greenness, tricking the eye into believing that the pachysandra is growing again! And then, it snows.

The sky is a uniform murky gray; so opaque that any sunlight is evenly diffused across the landscape with a dully indistinct light as if even God has switched to compact fluorescent lighting to save on energy bills. The trees are starkly black, the profusion of tiny branches brutally distinct against the scrim of the sky, looking like wild haired witches with uncombed locks. Everything out my window is weathered and monochrome--the wooden fences turned silvery gray, the beige of the cement foundation and unpainted wood of the garage, the lightless windows that pierce the gloom inside where the cars sit cold and silent. The sky, the dingy white car parked on the street, the unfaced masonry of the apartment building across the way, the husks of whatever weeds volunteered themselves on the construction rubble around the new garage. Gray and dreary and gray.

The dead brown of winter lawns is slowly filling with new snow, the hollows among the clumps of plants only accentuating the dreary color of dormant gardens. Except where the snow falls, smooth and deceitful over the slicks of frozen water that have turned in the cold to dangerous ice. Snow that will continue to fall until it forces us outside to shovel and blow its accumulation off our driveways and sidewalks, then scurry to move our cars out of the way of the snowplows, that close off the ends of our drives and walks so we have to shovel and blow them out again.

Thank god I'm getting out of here in three weeks. It's this sort of weather that makes Scandanavians so dour, and keeps the population of Greenland suicidal. At least I have the promise of desert warmth in March to keep me going. Eventually this will all go away, just not soon enough for my taste.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just Because

Found this, courtesy of Cakewrecks, and it's just so beautiful that I thought I'd share it.


FanGirl, Part 2

So, the new U2 album comes out on Tuesday. Do you suppose that explains Philip Seymour Hoffman's knit cap at the Oscars on Sunday?

A tribute to The Edge?

Works for me!

FanGIrl Says "SQUEEEE!"

I am informed that the whitest thing to do in the world is to listen to U2. So sue me.

The new album, "No Line On The Horizon" is available to stream from, and I'm just paying it over and over.

"Get On Your Boots" has been out for a couple of weeks now.

Official, un-embeddable video is here.

Much of the rest of the album is similar--a mix of elements that are practically proprietary with stuff unlike what we've heard from them before. The more I listen, the more addicted I'm getting!

Just as fun, my boys will be on David Letterman ALL WEEK next week. As if they have to do anything to promote an album. But no doubt, I'll be up late and glued to the TV from 10:35 until Craig Ferguson starts interviewing guests.

Not that U2 is going to be on Ferguson; I just love watching him too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oscars Fashion Smack Down!

Yeah, you know you want it. You know you've been waiting for it.

So, here it is, in alphabetical order.

Adams, Amy

This, I love. The dress is unusual, the jewel tones go well with her skin, but the NECKLACE is da BOMB. It's huge and NOT made of diamonds. The multicolored cabochons play off her green eyes and red hair, and make her good looks more striking than ever. Adams's coloring can look pastel, or even faded, her hair tending toward strawberry blonde rather than red, and her eyes going gray rather than green. Sometimes it's hard to look at her and see her as a Hollywood star, compared to the more vivid looks of actresses like Penelope Cruz or Anne Hathaway.

But with this outfit, she claims her own good looks and projects them to the back of the theater. I love love love this daring look.

Anniston, Jennifer

Love the dress, hate the hair. While white does nothing to dispell the persistent impression that Aniston as actually allergic to color, it's at least a chance from the endless black. The hair looks like a style I wore back in 8th grade to keep it out of my face during gym class. But even as bad as the hair is, the date is worse.

Is it just me, or does John Mayer give other people the creeps?

Berry, Halle

Another genetic experiment gone horribly, horribly right. Sometimes it's hard to believe that human beings can really look this good. The same species that brought us Howard Stern brings us Halle Berry? Are we absolutely certain about that?

Unusually for Berry, her dress didn't pick up a lot of attention this year. She's lovely, it's perfect, blah blah blah. . . More daring this year is her hair, which is as long as it's been in recent memory. I love the way it frames her face in close-up, while not being overwhelming at a distance.


Another in the endless supply of metallic gold mermaid gowns presented by the House of Knowles. This one is unusual in that the gold is (at least technically) not the fabric, but only the detailing. While I totally applaud Beyonce for acknowledging and flaunting her curves (a lesson rejected by so many lollipop starlets these days, Kate Bosworth), this one might have been better with less gold and more black. I would personally have not added the gold-trimmed panel to the back of the gown as well as the front, but for some reason, she didn't ask me. I wonder why?

Still, however garish she ended up looking, she's still one amazingly beautiful human being, and it was far better than the red sequinned leotard she had to wear on stage, right?

Cotillard, Marion

She's French. Nuff said.

Cruz, Penelope

Dress, we are told, is a 60 year old vintage Balmain. We are not told if it was originally worn by Cruz's grandmother to her own wedding. Do I like it? No. Is it heinous? No. Could it be worse? Yes, except that whatever is wrong with the dress is more than overshadowed by the bangs.

Everybody's mother has, at one time or another, said "You are such a pretty girl. Why do you hide it with the ugly hair?" Penelope Cruz's mother was apparently not available pre-Oscars. I never realized that you could be a perfectly beautiful as Penelope Cruz and still mess it up so easily.

I insanely covet the necklace and earrings, however.

Cyrus, Miley

While not literally a Disney Princess, she is clearly channelling the Little Mermaid Goes To Hollywood, with the fishscale tiers and oyster (complete with pearl) on the belt. Is it a bit much? Yeah. A bit. It's not the ugliest Oscar gown ever seen, but no the best either. In fact, it kind of looks like the kind of gown a 16 year old girl who has never been to prom might choose--

Oh. Well. Never mind.

Hathaway, Anne

I love this dress. It's got such shimmer and shine, without being overwhelming. Not many dresses pull off this much crystal without looking completely costume-like. *cough* sarajessicaparker *cough* She looks tall, slim, elegant, and totally comfortable. Hathaway has an unconventional beauty, and her large features can look too big for her face sometimes. Here, she balances her strong features, her pale skin, and her unusual look for an absolutely wonderful presentation. You can't even see any nerves about her upcoming stage stealing number with Hugh Jackman!

Henson, Taraji P.

Why the "P"? Are there that many "Taraji Hensons" in Hollywood that we need to differentiate between them? If there are any others, they may as well retire their names, as this one totally dominates. She looks young, fresh, lovely in white, which so beautifully compliments her skin tone. (Are you taking notes, Nicole Kidman?) The necklace has the dark brilliance of vintage jewelry, and the dress has structure and interest, so it doesn't look like she took the wrong turn to the altar.

Best of all, none of it overwhelms her eyes, her smile, and those adorable dimples. The question is not who is Taraji P. Henson wearing, but who got to dress Taraji.

Jolie, Angelina

You know, she's come a long way since making out with Billy Bob Thornton in the limo on the way over. She looks graceful, elegant, menacing. Somebody on line called her the "perfect Disney villain" to follow all the Disney princesses. She's even got the green covered, with her ginormous earrings and ring. She looks cool, remote, and like she's not even trying very hard. Like a black hole, she swallows all the attention and light pointed her way, and doesn't let any of it get away.

It's not even a look you can really analyze. Does it work? Absolutely. Why does it work? Who knows? It's almost not fashion any more, but pure icon status. Does anybody really analyze what the Statue of Liberty is wearing?

Kidman, Nicole (a/k/a The Botox Kid)

She's lovely, of course, but in a "extruded plastic from Mattel Oscar Barbie (TM)" kind of way. The dress does nothing for her, and while I hope she's happy and has a happy life, can we just not see her for a while? Please?

Leo, Melissa

Love the bronze color on the dress. The spider necklace is a bound to have a story behind it--it's a whimsical touch the Oscars don't see much any more. The hair? The hair is straight out of 1983, when Princess Diana grew hers out and was much mocked as "Dynasty Di." Someone should fire that hairstylist because the Do makes Leo look like a bad flashback.

Portman, Natalie

Okay, she's stunning. She's got the carriage of a ballerina, and the brains of Albert Einstein. So why is she wearing Evan Rachel Wood's dress, only in little girl pink, with sparkles? She carries it off, because she's Natalie frickin' Portman, but I don't like it. On screen, the color made her skin look like she'd spent too much time in a convection oven, and her hair is too tight--it looks too much like she's wearing a net over her head but forgot to put the wig on over it.

If you needed any more proof that Debbie Matanopoulos is a waste of airtime, this is it--she declared Portman the Best Dressed at the Oscars.

Parker, Sarah Jessica

Hidden in the deepest, darkest corner of her shallow fashionistia heart, lies the desire to be nothing more than a pretty, pretty princess. With a belt. I guess the SATC version of New York really is Disneyland.

Rinna, Lisa

Huh. What can you say? Dress and earrings are fine, more like a "Daytime Emmy" standard than an Oscar one, but really, who is looking at the dress? Girlfriend is 45 years old, and only about 5 days older than Phoebe Cates. Let's go to the close-up of Cates for comparison:

Cates looks beautiful--happy, healthy, and 15 years younger than her age. Rinna, on the other hand, looks increasingly like Catwoman. No, not Halle Berry. Jocelyn Wildenstein.

Brain bleach!

Tomei, Marisa

This one is such an interesting dress, and could have so easily looked like a pile of folded napkins fresh from the restaurant laundry. But it doesn't! Instead, it looks like Tomei is delicately folded inside an elaborate origami package, like an expensive gift from a luxury Japanese store. The millions of tiny pleats compliment her tiny frame, while at the same time allowing her to look strong and confident, rather than tiny and fragile.

Sure, she's got the asymmetic Golden Globes thing going, but the dress itself is engineered so that the uneven elements are balanced out in a complicated and artistic way. The bust of the dress is not overly complicated (I'm looking at YOU, Kate Winslet!), and serves to frame Tomei's gorgeous hair and make-up, before flowing into the more elaborate pleating below.

Very very well played!

Witherspoon, Reese

A darling woman, and I love the cobalt and black combination. She is so fair, that the dark combination of colors is really rather daring, and wouldn't work except that the blue makes her eyes stand out.

That said, I just want to run up and adjust the fabric over her shoulders, so it lies flat and even on both sides. And maybe so it covers the sheer stuff that is actually holding the dress up. And the dress itself is a confusing mess of lines--why does the black sheer fabric stop and start all over her body? And can somebody do something with her messy hair?

Winslet, Kate

Love the hair--very Grace Kelly, don't you think? Elegant, clean, let's us see that amazing face. The dress? Not so much. The color is fabulous, looking like a gun metal gray on screen, but it's just too busy! The asymmetical thing is already overdone--was over done back at the Golden Globes, IMHO. And a belt too. Also a GG meme. I'm not fond of the left boob pleating and the right boob hammock of fabric, either. It's like her dress is trying to cop a feel under a blanket or something. Add that distracting lacy panel down the left side, and the cool sophistication of the color has been overwhelmed and cheapened. I'd have rather seen the dress just be a one-shouldered toga at the top, and some minimal pleating at the bottom. She looks strong and beautiful from the neck up, and like she has to ignore what is going on underneath her chin.

Maybe it's a metaphor for her role in The Reader?

Wood, Evan Rachel.

Again, making a fashion statement of independence from the schlock Goth of Marilyn Manson. Pale skin, soft make-up, blush colored gown. The kind of look a vampire wouldn't be caught dead in, right? Okay, so maybe the eleborate cris-crossed pleating hints at a sort of "kinder gentler bondage"-- at least you can be sure that no blood would be drawn, because that's a stain that would never come out of that dress.

Honestly, she looks lovely, elegant, self-assured. So why is she back with MM?

Oscar Fashion Pose Off

This game is from E!Online, and asks you to pick a fashion winner through brackets to a winner.
As you can see, I ended up picking Marisa Tomei.

Give it a shot, and report your winners here in the comments!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Surely, Knave, Thou Jests

Of course, I'm reading Oscar broadcast coverage, when this bit turned up from Salon's indie/alt movie reviewer, Andrew O'Hehir, on the "failure" of a Best Picture nomination for Dark Knight:

Time was, a movie that combined that degree of artistic ambition and popular success, from "Lawrence of Arabia" to "Titanic" to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, would have been a shoo-in for a best-picture nomination.

Wait--are you serious? Seriously? Are you saying that just because a movie with poor characterization, lazy plot, appalling dialogue and no reason for its existence other than its special effects won a Best Picture award, (yes, I'm looking at you, Titanic) that it's a travesty that another one also didn't win?

You can't mean that, O'Hehir. Really, you can't. Just because a movie makes a big BOOM sound with a ton of money and special effects does NOT mean that it somehow deserves to be a Best Picture nominee. Titanic, as bad as it was as a movie, at least felt like a "Big Night At The Movies" when you saw it. It was a period costume drama, with the ability to be pretentious because it was about True History, even if the Jack and Rose story was just made up. It pushed all the right buttons of a Best Picture: old fashioned costumes, doomed True Love, big stars, elaborate sets, historical "insight," and a 3+ hour running time. All of which managed to combine with a well timed Oscar campaign that ended before the backlash hit.

Which is to say that Titanic is probably NOT the movie that will be admired as the best of that year--just that it had the ingredients and timing to win the balloting at that particular moment. It does not serve as a justification why Dark Knight "should" have been nominated too. The argument would be more persuasive if you were able to point out how Dark Knight was better than Titanic, not how similar it was.

The argument that Dark Knight and Slumdog Millionaire are similar also doesn't do the job. Dark Knight, however brilliantly filmed and tricked out in special effects, suffers from it's roots. It was a comic book, for god's sake. Lowbrow from the word go. The last comic book story nominated for a Best Picture award was probably Beauty and the Beast, and that was such an anomoly that they created a new category so it wouldn't happen again.

Whatever validity the Oscars have for their own existence may be debated, and maybe there is no reason for them to exist. But they are what they are, and they are not there to celebrate their lowest common denominators. Isn't making billions at the box office enough for you? Can't you spare a little love for the movies that only people wearing tuxedos and dancing with top hats love too?

Name Changes?

While watching the Oscars last night, I was informed that Cpt. Sweetie had cast a hypothetical story of the kidlets' lives. Sursels, he decided, would be best played by Drew Barrymore. Tonks agreed. So, who would play Tonks? I thought perhaps someone like Diane Lane or Diane Kruger--elegant, smart, strong, lovely. Cpt. Sweetie more or less settled on Charlize Theron--same criteria, higher cheekbones.

My favorite moment? Was when the camera cut to Kate Winslet, and Cpt. Sweetie said with some surprise "She looks just like you!"

How can I not love that man?

So, should I change their names again? Drew and Charlize, or keep Sursels and Tonks?

Short Takes From The Oscars

From the top of my head:
  • The "Slumdog Millionaire backlash" apparently didn't happen until after the ballots were in.
  • Hugh Jackman (and his huge ackman) proved that the Oscars don't really need a host--just a voiceover announcer and a traffic cop backstage to run the presenters out in order.
  • After the medley of Best Songs, it becomes clear just how bad Debbie Allen's choreography was for all those years.
  • Sweetest moment: Kate Winslet accepting for Best Actress asking her dad to "whistle or something" so she could find him, and then a sharp whistle coming out of the dark and her excited reaction to the sound.
  • Funniest moment: Hugh Jackman's opening number, an allegedly no-budget tribute to the Best Picture nominees--"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Craigslist Dancers!"
  • Worst Fashion momen: Every damn ad by JCPenney.
  • Most Enthusiastic nominee: Anne Hathaway, sitting in the front row and cheering and hooting through the 3.5 hour show. I just love Anne Hathaway.
  • Two moments when I walked away from the TV: Bill Maher as presenter--smarmy and completely missing the light touch he needed to pull off his references to his own (unnominated) movie; and everything that had to do with Jerry Lewis.
A good show--it ran tightly, it managed to be a bit more educational to those of us who have no idea about what the various more technical awards are about, nobody looked heinous, no real surprises (except maybe Sean Penn being humble while accepting his award), and no disasters.

More later.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are You Scared Of Buttons?

We saw Coraline a week ago, and everybody liked it immensely. We are so used to CGI these days, that even when watching a stop action animated film, we had to keep reminding ourselves that everything that we saw on screen actually exists.

Last weekend, I got to spend a day in SF, and went to the Museum of Cartoon Art, which had an exhibit of Coraline drawings, props, puppets, etc. from the making of the movie. It was very interesting to see the puppets--Coraline was only about 7 inches tall; by contrast, the final version of Other Mother was probably twice that. There were actual figures of Coraline and both her Real family and the Other family, both the old and young Spink and Forcible, the Other Mr. Bobo and several of his circus mice, and even the mantis/garden machine/helicopter.

However the most eye opening items were the short videos, showing several artists who contributed to making the film. The most amazing one was the woman who actually knit tiny sweaters and gloves for Coraline. Her knitting needles were no larger than safety pins, and the tiny stitches are completely unbelievable even as you watch her make them.

The official movie website is one of the best I have come across, and the videos are accessible from there as well. The above picture is from the Other Mother's Workshop, where you can add buttons to pictures from your computer or webcam.

Maybe buttons are scary, but on the puppy, I think they are pretty darn adorable.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Change I Will Believe In

So, I am literally sick to my stomach that the Obama DoJ is continuing to claim that national security secrets are at issue in a lawsuit challenging rendition. The case was brought by five men against the airline that the US used to fly them to foreign countries, where they were tortured in connection with the "war on terror." If I had wanted this kind of legalist obstruction to continue, I'd have lobbied to put Dick Cheney on the ballot.

Sure, Obama called for the closing of Guantanamo, but this continuation of Bush legal positions makes me dispair. Are we really not going to get the change I (for one) hoped for?

So, here's my suggestion for the Obama White House--do something to let us know that things are going to be different. An easy first step? How about changing the security threat level occasionally?

Every time I drive past or enter an airport, I get signs and voice messages telling me that the "security threat level is Orange." It's always orange. I mean ALWAYS. It never goes up, it never goes down. I still have to take off my shoes, I can only carry a few liquids in carry-on luggage, and the threat level never ever ever ever changes.

So, throw us a bone, Homeland Security. Switch it up a little. Then let us know. Couldn't there be different levels at different times of day, or seasons, or airline, or day of the week, or something? It's hard to take the idea that anything is any safer than it was on 9/11 if the threat level is exactly the same. Why can't I carry on my diet Coke if flying is no more dangerous than it has been over the last seven years? Why can't I take all my cosmetics and facial cleansers in my carry-on bag if limiting me to what fits inside a single quart bag hasn't changed the equation?

Change. Dudes. Look into it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Cpt. Sweetie more than earned his nickname tonight, when he brought home a dozen pink roses.

"Well," he said. "Aren't you going to ask why I brought home roses?"

"Why," I asked, "did you bring home roses?"

"Because," he said, with a charming smirk, which he totally earned, "this is the 28th anniversary of our first date."

And it is! And I had totally forgotten it!

But 28 years! How can that be? And what kind of sicko lets 4 year olds date?

Never mind.

Things To Get You Through February

February can be such a loooooong month. Christmas has completely lost whatever magic it once had, and now fresh snow means shoveling the dang sidewalks. Again. Whether or not the groundhog has seen its shadow on February 2, up here in the cold north, six more weeks of winter is actually a fairly conservative estimate. Only six more weeks? That would be a nice change!

January has been a deep freeze, with morning temperatures in the negative double digits, and even having the temperature go up by 40 degrees only means that the snow melts into ice, and then freezes again overnight, making driving and walking into Extreme Sports.

Of course, at least January had New Year's Day, and the Obamarama Inauguration. (Hey W., don't let the door to the White House hit you on the ass as you leave. On second thought, do.) But what does February have? Groundhog's Day, which is only celebrated in Pennsylvania, and Presidents' Day, which is only celebrated by car dealerships and mattress stores. Sure, there is Valentine's Day, but what is that all about after elementary school? Premium pricing on roses, and a great deal of stress placed on men to come up with the Perfect Romantic Gift and Date.

But these are not real holidays. Do you get the day off for any of these days? No. Do you set up and decorate a tree, or send cards, or sing special songs? No, no, and no. February is just day after day of trudging through the slush and cold of winter, forever and ever. You say February is not the longest month of the year? Well, it certainly feels like it.

So, friends, gather around, because this year there is hope. This year, February has brought some joy into the frozen hearts of the people. Behold, I give you Hershey's Cheesecake Kisses.

Okay, so there are still no traditional meals and family gatherings in February, but don't these make things just a little bit better?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Name Is Macbeth

Tonks' English teacher played this in her class--because Shakespeare was the Eminem of the 16th century.

And, thanks to the creator, Mitch Benn, here are the lyrics:


I wanna tell you a story full of blood, murder and death
(My Name is) Macbeth
I was the baddest motherf- in Scotland
Whichland? Whereland? Wholand? Whatland?
I won a battle at the head of my legions
Showing my allegiance, slapping down Norwegians
Bearing a grievance, they came to attack
But ain't nobody gets to f- with Big Mac
On my way home I ran into these three mystic bitches
Of a kind that in those days were commonly referred to as witches
And they gave me some big news I had not been seeking
They told me that one day I would eventually be king
They got the other part right about being Thane of Cawdor
And I started thinking thoughts that I knew I didn't oughta
I shared the good news with my good lady
I was getting kinda scared but she stayed slim & shady
She said "What do you owe this king? Why you wanna be so nice to him?"
"If you'd left it up to me I already woulda iced him"
She was going on and on, frankly it was starting to bore me
And i think it was about then I saw a dagger before me
If there's one thing I just can't stand, it's naggers
So I done the deed and she ditched the daggers

(My name is, my name is, my name is)

Hi (my name is) What? (my name is) Who? (my name is)

Now I had the crown but I didn't feel like no winner
Whacked my best buddy Banquo, guess who came to dinner
Went back to the witches, this time they did not expect me
Some spirits gave me some knowledge they said would protect me
They said "You're cool till the trees come attackin' your castle
"And watch out for Macduff", man, I knew he was an asshole
"Though your deeds may be dark and your doings despicable,
By man born of woman, yo' ass is unkickable"
I came swaggering home with my new information
And had Macduff's family murdered by way of celebration

Hi (my name is) What? (my name is) Who? (my name is)
Hi (my name is) Hail! (my name is) Avaunt! (my name is) See you!

Now Malcolm was the name of the old king's son
And on the day I done his dada in, to England he had run
And ever since then, well I hadn't heard jack
But now he was back to attack and harrass the Mac with a pack of Sassenachs!
My knees were knockin' my head was hurtin'
My defences were down, my troops were desertin'
I strapped on my armour, my mood was improvin'
Till some kid said "check it out, dude, the trees are movin'"
The thanes were a strain on my brain, they were feeling the pain, they
decided they didn't haveta
My lady went crazy and done herself in, she shoulda died hereafter...
There mighta been a time to feel some pain or sorrow
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Hey Macduff what is your problem man, where is it that you get off?
You break into my castle tryin' to cut my -kin' head off?
Yeah give it your best shot, Lay it on, you nut
No man born of woman can kick this butt
Turns out my charm didn't offer no protection
Motherf- was delivered by caesarian section...
That's the last you'll hear from me, all things being equal
Unless some dumb motherf- decides to write a sequel.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Grammys 2009!

I know you are all just dying to hear my take on this year's Grammy Awards. I have promised myself I will not go full metal geezer about all the musicians I've never heard of before, because why? Because you already know I'm old, with a cold, dead heart, so why beat a dead horse.

Unless it's for fun.


The Famille Evil was out doing stuff yesterday afternoon, and suddenly-there, on the large screen TV in the sports bar/restaurant--were my boys! U2! World premiere (so far as I know) live performance of "Get On Your Boots." Album isn't even out yet, but who cares? If you can open your show with U2, you do!

By the way, it's an awesome song, and the album comes out just in time for everybody to buy it for my birthday.

I left the table and went across the restaurant to get the best view I could, and Cpt. Sweetie joined me, leaving the Jeune Filles Evil to their own evil devices. However, the restaurant still stands, so it's all good.

After that, I missed a lot, what with the travel back to the castle on the mountain top, having to stop and destroy a couple of lives on the way--Evil travel sometimes takes extra time, so here are a few pictures swiped from the Internets, along with the snarky comments as I remember them.

Got home in time to see Carrie Underwood performing in a golden bathingsuit with matching wrapper, topped off with a drag queen's idea of a bondage harness.

How else to you explain the big sleeves, the see through "skirt," and that black thing, with the sequins and the boob mashing? Was this her bid to look rock 'n' roll? Did she think it took her pretty little blonde self out of sweetness territory and into Woman To Be Reckoned With? Or was is just the only way she could attach her mic power box to her back?

She did have the shiny sparkly gold thing going on that we usually see on Beyonce--skin, hair, clothing all the same golden hue. I don't know the song, but her voice sounded like it was the Dangerous One.

Red Carpet Picture Randomness:

I don't know who Samantha Harris is, but has anybody seen Celine Dion recently? Have they ever been seen together?

Kanye West and Estelle performed "American Boy", Estelle wearing a sack from the Jetson Collection. They then went on to present the awad for best new artist, which Kanye took pains to point out had never been given to him. Dude. You have a career. Be glad you got that and STFU. Baby.

The award actually went to an English singer named Adele, who I wanted to love just because she was Carnie Wilson pre-bariatric surgery. However, Adele had her hair in a pony tail that was messy in a way that didn't say "carefully styled for casual" so much as it said "I got some in the limo on the way over here, and didn't have anybody who could fix it for me afterwards."

More Red Carpet Randomness: Is it just me, or does Barry Manilow look more like a bad Martin Short character than a real human being?

Also: Lisa Rinna. Girlfriend clearly works hard on the body, and wants to be sure that we all get a chance to see just how hard she does work. I have to admit, the big hair and the skin colored lips fooled me, and I didn't recognize her at all. Her interview technique for TV Guide Channel could use some work. Interviewing Boyz II Men, she offered the ever soigne "A lot of babies made to your music, I'm just sayin'." Ah--makes one almost nostalgic for Joan Rivers.

Sir Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl and some other guys do "I Saw Her Standing There," which holds up incredibly well for a song that has to be 40 years old. As Cpt. Sweetie pointed out, it's like somebody in 1975 coming out and singing the big hit "Twenty-three Skiddoo!"

This performance wins the coveted MAE Mosquito With A Ballistic Missile Award, for bringing in Dave Grohl--Dave frickin' Grohl, people--to play a Ringo Starr drum line. Talk about overkill.

How do we feel about this?

Do we really want to allow members of the Stridex Generation to pose around a National Treasure like Stevie Wonder? Singing his song when he is RIGHT THERE and could DO IT HIMSELF thank you very much it's not like being blind has held him BACK any.

Oh, and Kevin? Stop with the man perms.

Katy Perry. Katy Perry. What can we say about the Per-ster? "I Kissed A Girl" was a fun song, mostly because of the great rhythm section drive it had. It did not improve by seeing it performed by somebody descending to the stage in a giant banana.

I do not kid.

Points for performing in ballet flats, though. K.Per. was able to skip back and forth acros the stage and walkways without breaking tarsals, which seems like it's an idea that ought to be more popular. If you aren't already completely over this song:

But what happened? Remember all those "My Grammy Moment" ads run ad nauseum before the Grammys, and even the shilling for votes to "join Katy Perry as she performs" for the people who sent in video clips of themselves lip syncing to the song? What happened to them? As near as I could tell, the "winners" ended up being shown as video clips on big TVs at the back of the set. They could all have been "winners" at that rate--I'd feel cheated if I were them. Heck, I do feel cheated.

Anything else? John Mayer still skeeves me out; Coldplay are over-rated and over-rewarded; Lil' Wayne and the "Rap-estra" was still less heinous than all those old "Rockestras" from back in the day; MIA was incredibly pregnant and still performed--I wonder who they had in the wings to back her up if the baby actually decided to arrive on its due date.

What were your high and low moments?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Get On My Boots

Sursels spent the last week up in Northern Minnesota at a Y camp, where they spent much of their time outside, hiking, playing, learning. So I sent my super warm Sorrel boots with her. Which meant I had to find something for me to wear for that week.

I found a pair of black, waterproof ankle boots. They are in no way lined, but the waterproofing seemed to work like some insulation, and as a whole they were quite effective through the cold and snow.

However, the first day I wore them, I stupidly put on a pair of crew socks before heading out, and soon found that having those boots hitting my bare legs was cold and extremely uncomfortable. So before I went to where I was headed, I picked up some knee socks from Target. Funky knee socks. A pack of three, one with strawberries scattered across them, one plain pink, and one black and white striped.

They served to keep my feet warm enough, but for some reason, every time I wear the striped ones, I have this uncontrollable urge to drop a house on myself.

Waiting for Godot

This has been a weekend of theater here at Chez Evil. Tonks is performing in the One Act Play competition, which started yesterday. The night before, the school showcased the competition play ("Under Milkwood," by Dylan Thomas) as well as 4 one act plays directed by seniors. And man were they good!

Two of the one acts were the two acts of "Waiting for Godot," by Samuel Beckett, directed by students who independently directed the acts without talking to each other. Costumes, stage sets, props--were all independent from the other.

And I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. "Waiting for Godot" is an odd play, and quite a few times during the performance, I wondered if I was "getting" it.

After all, not much happens. Two men, Vladamir and Estragon, are sitting near a road, waiting for Godot. They never say why they are waiting for Godot, or who that is, or what they expect to happen once Godot appears. They talk, they resolve to leave, but they never do. And in the second act, they once again resolve to leave, but don't. In both acts, two other characters pass through: Pozzo and Lucky. As one critic famously said, this is a play in which nothing happens--twice.

So what is this play about? Go ahead and read the Wikipedia entry, as it is quite usuful in laying out several interpretations, as well as setting out many things Beckett said about it.

However, I did not find many of these interpretations persuasive, except for one (which of course I can't find to quote)--the idea that life is a process of waiting, and that something better may come, if not today, then tomorrow.

Now, I am well aware that biography is not literary criticism, but I can't help but be affected by the story of Beckett's life. Born in Ireland, he was living in France during WWII, married to a French born woman. He did not leave when the Germans occupied France, but worked for the underground resistance until he was forced to flee with his wife. They spent two years in hiding in a small village in southern France. "Waiting for Godot" was written soon after the end of the war, in 1948-49, although it was not performed until 1953.

But, I have often wondered about how human beings survive in such circumstances. What must it have been like to hide for two years? Every day spent hiding is a day not living one's life, a day where nothing really happens, a day in which one simply waits for things to get better--somehow. Something is bound to change, eventually, but there is no way to know if the change will be for the better or not. Maybe the Allies will liberate France, drive out the Germans, and Beckett and his wife will be able to resume their lives. Maybe the Germans will show up instead, find Beckett, and execute him. What can he do? Nothing he can do will influence which one of these futures occurs.

So, while in hiding, Beckett is forced to merely pass the time. Perhaps he had only his wife to talk to, like Vladamir and Estragon (which has always reminded me of "estrogen" although I've not seen anyone make that connection). Maybe there were occasional persons who passed through, like Pozzo and Lucky, frightening and diverting, living their own tragedy that only crossed but did not affect the tragedy of the two protagonists.

And what is Godot? God? Perhaps, but also anything that would lead to a change of circumstances, a catalyst that allows the characters to have some control over their own lives. If I were in hiding with one other person, waiting for an army to arrive to either liberate or execute, my life might very well feel like "Waiting for Godot."

Certainly, we in the 21st century should be comfortable with the idea of a play in which nothing happens, and which has no "meaning." "The Seinfeld Show" for example, famously stood for nothing happening, no lessons learned. We simply experienced the lives of the characters, learned their strengths and weaknesses, felt connected to theim. Why is it so hard to treat "Waiting for Godot" the same way? A sort of character study, in which the two characters are not able to leave their situation, but can only wait and hope that things will be better tomorrow.
At any rate, I am happy with this approach for now. Vladamir and Estragon show me what life is like when control is out of your hands. I felt much that way when struggling with the worst of my depression--would the meds start working? Would they work well enough? Would I be able to function as much as I had to? If I didn't feel better today, it was possible I would beel better tomorrow, and that thin thread of hope is what keeps Vladamir and Estragon from hanging themselves to put an end to their situation.