Image Slider

god knows when but you're doin' it again

| On
Thursday, June 28, 2007
hiding the sun

I feel like the Midnight Cheater what Cheats at Midnight (or 3pm, whatever) because I keep making these tiny posts with vacation pictures in them. But I've got all these pictures AND I have these awesome links so really.. it's more of a peanut butter and chocolate thing rather than a Trojan Horse vacation slide show, right?!? Right. So endeth the rationalization portion of this post and so begin the Links To Awesome:

I started subscribing to Willamette Week's music blog Local Cut for a couple of different reasons. 1) They asked if they could use one of my pictures (Wonder Ballroom) in a story. They didn't use it because I didn't read my email in time, but obviously they have discerning taste and impeccable manners.
2) I would read about a band on Fluxblog or Said the Gramophone or elsewhere only to find out months later that said band was from my very own city (Blitzen Trapper, I'm thinking of you). I figured it was my civic duty to be better informed as Portland has a ridiculous number of bands.
3) They are often funny.

Recent Local Cut posts enjoyed by me: Dear and Far (about the strange relief of finding out M. Ward didn't up and move to New Hampshire) and this Menomena tour diary entry The Further Adventures of Menomena (Western USA).

I LOVED this post at You Ain't No Picasso -- it's his special birthday mix titled My 21st mix: Songs No One Should Grow Up Without. It got me thinking about songs that mean a lot to me and how I came to find them. Anyway -- it's a great post.

I'm neutral on The National, but I thought both this concert review and this comparison with Spoon were good reads, ably illuminating each side of The National fence.

the trouble with tuesday

| On
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
road to the beach at sunset
(from last week at the beach. This was monday night, I think...)

Tuesdays are no fun anymore! No new Buffy, no new Gilmore Girls, no new Veronica Mars. I have a weekly (tuesday) requirement for a smart talky feminist show, and now there are none! I watched 30 minutes of Law & Order, SVU and let's just say that it did not meet my RDA for smart, talky or feminist. (Maybe the smart, talky and feminist was all in the first 30 minutes leaving the last half for...well, you know.)

BUT, I can say that last night's Feist/Grizzly Bear show was wonderful! I'll have more on that soon, but I'm so glad I got to see it. Arriving at the venue was definitely the turning point for my bad day -- it switched to pretty good and then to great as the evening wore on. For some reason I didn't get to nearly as many shows last year (and the first half of this one) as I did in 2005 -- I forget how much I like the whole experience of live music. I don't even mind the shoving shovers of shovealot as much as I probably should. (in all honesty they were more shoulder tappers and excuse-me-ers than shovers, but where's the drama and alliteration in that?)

concerts, movies, crazytown

| On
Monday, June 25, 2007
Tonight I am going to see Feist with Grizzly Bear at the Crystal. Woo Hoo! My lovely sister got me tickets as an early birthday present which was so sweet! (I pretended that I didn't know what she was talking about when she would pronounce "I've got the tickets!" over and over for the past two weeks. Since the show is tonight she sent me an email with this scan and the heading "Surprise!" hee hee. It made me laugh, anyway.)

Other than this fun thing tonight I am having one of those itchy antsy days where it seems like nothing (other than going to shows!) will ever go right and I will be miserable (except for two hours tonight!) forever and ever amen. This is no way to spend a lovely June day! What the hell is wrong with me? (and now I trudge again down the WtHiWWM path, with its strangling vines of doubt and the quicksand of insecurity and the overwrought metaphors whapping me in the head. I hate that path! but it's like there is a giant electro magnet at the end of it and I'm wearing a lead dress. [note to self: find something more attractive than lead dress for tonight.] [does lead even stick to magnets?]) (please feel free to submit your own self-pitying overwrought metaphors and analogies in the comment section. It is strangely mood-lifting, although it does NOT help with wardrobe dilemmas.)

And now for something completely different:

I love this top 100 movies list! The new AFI 100 list (AFI link goes to wikipedia with the old list and the new list side by side) makes me itchy ( ooh -- I can blame my itchiness on the AFI! thank god, a villain at last), but the Edward Copeland list makes me want to watch movies. Maybe because I have #72 and #50 sitting on top of the TV waiting to be watched? Maybe because it feels more balanced? I like that he's not considering movies from the past 10 years and is not limiting the list to American movies ( the AFI bent that rule like a pretzel anyway). I don't know. I think it also has to do with it being the considered list of a knowledgeable individual instead of the declarations of a committee. Whatever the reason, it's an excellent, intriguing list and you should check it out!

I'm in a better mood already.

selected vacation facts

| On
Saturday, June 23, 2007
driftwood horse

I'm still so tired! which is weird since I did nothing but relax and hike and ride/drive in a car for 6 days. Perhaps I have developed some mystery vacation ailment, or maybe it's because I've been doing laundry all day today. So much sand, so much laundry! Some quick things (because for less quick things I have to get the rest of my photos uploaded and that's just not happening tonight):

1) All beaches are public beaches in Oregon.

2) this driftwood horse was so cool! He had a seaweed tail and bridle -- someone spent a lot of time on him. He lasted about a day and a half before the tide took him apart. The next day there was a driftwood teepee made with equal care, but that didn't even last 24 hours. Others suspected vandals, but honestly, I think it was the tide -- if it can deposit huge logs right up to the cliffs, it can take apart a driftwood horse.

3) Brookings (nearest town to Harris Beach state park) is considered to be in the "Banana Belt" of Oregon. I learned this on menus in more than one restaurant.

3) Apparently, whenever I go anywhere I can be assured of two things: a) I will be found and vaguely tormented by hoodlum children (in this instance the Chetco 6, whom I determined were running a bicycle chop-shop out of a neighboring yurt, but more on them later) b) I am a magnet for crazy old men with THREE (not two, not four) small dogs on long windy leashes. I don't mean mildly eccentric, I mean the kind of crazy where the neighbors say "I'm not at all surprised" or "what took you so long" when the cops and reporters show up.

4) I love the beach. I wish there was some way I could be there every day and still have access to my city life (such as it is).

5) While left to their own devices the cats found a way to open a nearly full container of cat treats. There were only three lonely fish-shaped treats remaining in the jar (now on its side under the table) when I got home. I don't think I'll be falling for the "but I don't have THUMBS" argument ever again.

summering with sasquatch

| On
Sunday, June 17, 2007
This afternoon (once I am done at the library) I am off to Harris Beach state park with my mom and sister to meet up with some California Relatives. We are staying in a yurt! They always look to me like they should be on the steppes of Mongolia instead of a state park, but I'm not complaining -- there's electricity and I don't have to sleep on the floor. It should be fun, although a loooong day in the car (Harris Beach is within spitting distance of the California border). I can see Washington state if I go to the end of my street and look north, so it's the whole length of the state. (I know this sounds whiny, but it's a big state!)

I, of course, have been aware of this trip for a long time, but kept thinking that it was later in the summer or that I wasn't going to be able to go because surely I would have my act together and be toiling away at some new job by the time June 17 rolled around. (insert packing montage. you can imagine clothes flying through in the air if you like since it sort of happened when I couldn't find the jeans I wanted [they have since been located].)

Anyway, I'll be gone about a week and expect to have a lot fun. I'll have limited computer access (assuming that Sasquatch doesn't have his wireless password protected), so I may be able to check in, but maybe not. In the meantime, here are some random and/or pleasing things to think about:

yellow submarine

June 7th Leslie, Bec and I volunteered again to help decorate parade floats. (we did not decorate this one, but if you happened to see the Reeser's Fine Foods tiger float and think "this should get the Grand Governer's Super Prize for Elegance and Excellence in Shoving Roses in Water Vials Award"... well, I like to think that was in part because of our labors.) We left the parade itself (June 10th) early because our floats had already passed and it was raining like crazy. Bec and I were on our way to the car and I heard the familiar and welcome sound of Beatle music (I think it was Can't Buy Me Love, which is not really Submarine-era, but I didn't care) -- I turned around and the Yellow Submarine was crossing the overpass! We headed back that way and got to see the float up close. We were not the only ones -- it was kind of like catnip. The Float Beatles kept lipsynching and waving until someone shut off the music, even though they were no longer officially on the Parade route. It was the nicest sort of surprise!

his eyes follow you everywhere

Freaky Elvis Under Lacquer portrait from the women's bathroom in a diner in Lincoln City. (his eyes follow you EVERYWHERE.)

Man Ray's Enigma of Isidore Ducasse.

giant spinning bread

Do you know where the giant spinning bread district is in your city? Perhaps now is the time to find out!

You Don't Love Me Yet

| On
Thursday, June 14, 2007
by Jonathan Lethem
I enjoyed reading You Don't Love Me Yet, but wasn't necessarily sorry when it was over. I had fun, but... it's sort of like overindulging on sugar and caffeine (or stimulants of your choosing) then getting on a carnival ride that defies gravity upsidedown and backwards at 700 mph. It's really fun until suddenly you're sunburnt and spent, puking in a garbage can. Which isn't to say I wouldn't do it again. I think some of that reaction is by design though -- this is the novel for which Lethem gave away a free film option to a selected filmmaker (people sent him treatments and he chose among them), on the condition that all ancillary rights would be released five years after the film's debut. (I think it's a really exciting experiment -- read the link for more details.) Anyway, these are characters and situations he's said he's willing to see other people take hold of in some way: write the songs, make the movie, so maybe it's not such a stretch to think they're not as near, dear and personal to him as some of his earlier works. Plus, it's a farce which has a certain built-in remove. I don't love these people (YET! ha -- he's sneaky), but I certainly found them interesting if sometimes horrifying yet hilarious. There's also kangaroo, which should please old-school Lethem fans.

The story is told from the point of view of Lucinda, who in addition to being bassist in a band also works on the Complaint Line -- essentially a performance art piece run by a man she went to college with (and used to date). The city of Los Angeles is covered with stickers that urge complainers to call a number to be heard. She and other temps are directed to take these calls dispassionately "like a nurse." There is one complainer in particular (the Complainer, later Carl) who captures her imagination with his complaints which range from Monster Eyes to Nostalgia Vu to the difficulty of keeping the little Buddhist that lives within us all happy. Quality complaints. A connection is formed. They become involved in a romantic relationship and things start spinning out of control in surprising yet seemingly inevitable ways.

Now here's a quote that doesn't really have much to do with any of the above, but it does illustrate so beautifully the idea of a modern oracle. This is something I relate to as I find myself consulting (especially when I'm feeling mildly to moderately out of control) similar oracles all the time: "Through her kitchen's rear window on Reservoir Street Lucinda could see, over the rooftop of a tire shop and against a background of shaggy palms, the high rotating sign of the Foot Clinic. It depicted a cartoon foot with features and tiny limbs: one side a happy, cared-for foot, beaming and confident, white-gloved hands jubilantly upraised, the other side a moaning, broken-down foot, neglected and weary, grasping at crutches and with its big toe wreathed in bandages. Lucinda's view took in a three-quarters slice of the sign as it turned in its vigil over Sunset Boulevard: happy foot and sad foot suspended in a dialogue forever. The two images presented not so much a one-or-the-other choice as an eternal marriage of opposites, the emblem of some ancient foot-based philosophical system. This was Lucinda's oracle: one glance to pick out the sad or happy foot, and a coin was flipped, to legislate any decision she'd delegated to the foot god."

stupidest sunburn ever (almost)

| On
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I now have a red stripe (well, it's sort of pinkish brown) right above the top of my jeans. Normally, this area is not available for the sun to burn, but today I was toiling diligently in the garden (so diligently!) and my shirt rode up. And lo, my lower back/hip area was exposed causing the aforementioned stupidest stripe of sunburn which will turn into the stupidest stripe of tan in a couple of days. (I should say my stupidest sunburn/tan THIS YEAR since it's nowhere near as stupid as the time I ended up with white hand prints on the backs of my thighs after a Tragic Sunscreen Incident. I couldn't wear shorts that whole summer.)

I'm not complaining about the sun, though!

And now to give this post some content beyond my inability to properly block the sun... How great is this embroidery? I saw it this morning on whipup. The artist's name is Ethel Wright Mohamed, and she stitched scenes from her life on the Mississippi river delta. This one is called "A Dream." I so love the faces on the trees and the dancing bees! (and even the alligators, despite my recurring post-florida alligator dreams which aren't really nightmares, but they're not really fun either.) Click on the whipup link or the picture to see a larger version of the embroidery. I keep thinking I'm going to design this enormous halloween embroidery, but so far it's purely theoretical. The wiser course of action would be to just get stitching. (less thinking, more doing -- yet another thing I could have tattooed on my forehead.)

gershwin advises: keep muddling through

| On
Monday, June 11, 2007
I just applied for a job that I would love to have. I suspect that they'll get ten million resumes and I'll never hear another thing about it, but it still felt good to put myself forward. Drafting a cover letter was so hard! (whine) I didn't want it to be just the same old "blah blah buzzword" cover letter, but on the other hand... what if that is what they're not just expecting, but want? So I had to strike a balance between "mumblemumble KEY WORDS USED IN AD mumblemumble" and "One word to describe my work ethic? Sassafrastacular." ANYWAY. It would be a great job for me, but I'm not holding my breath. The big step was applying, as I am one of the WORST self-promoters in the known universe.

Random Neighborhood Factoid: Just down the street from me is the school where Gus Van Sant filmed Elephant. (I didn't see it because violence of that sort really troubles me and stays with me forever -- even beautifully filmed arty violence.) I should say there is an enormous pile of rubble where the school used to be, since they have been bulldozing it for months. It was a middle school until condemned for radon poisoning! This neighborhood is on a gravel ridge which is great in case of earthquake (not uncommon since we are in volcano country after all), but B-A-D in cases of trapping poison gas. They finally tore it all the way down, which is good because it was looking pretty disreputable and was undoubtedly dangerous -- not just in the poison gas way, but in the giant pieces of glass and concrete may fall on your head way. (although I must admit it would be exactly the kind of place I would have snuck into when I was younger... if it weren't for the POISON GAS.)

ION, I have been listening to Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Songbook (conducted and arranged by Nelson Riddle) lately and it is SO GOOD I can hardly stand it! It's just lovely if I'm already in a good mood, likewise for sad or melancholy. I have been tripping over Gershwin a lot lately. You know how it is; you start seeing or hearing something, like musical whistling, chickens, or ... George and Ira Gershwin and then suddenly they are everywhere! Having this collection stare down from the shelf at me in the library seemed somehow inevitable. At any rate, I'm enjoying it much more than that dark period when Billy Joel muzak-stalked me. (seriously, I couldn't get into an elevator or go to a store without hearing yet again how he didn't start the fire. It was already burning, he insisted ad nauseam. The piano man doth protest too much, methinks. Those are years I will never get back!)

Anyway, I'm hearing lots of fantastic songs that I'd never heard before. This lyric from Stiff Upper Lip (originally sung by Gracie Allen in a movie called A Damsel in Distress) keeps popping up and seems apropos of my current state of mind: "sober or blotto, this is your motto/ keep muddling through!" Good advice, I think -- especially when it seems like a muddle is all that can be managed.

Now this is really unrelated to everything else, but I came across it and thought it was good: Daniel Handler in the NYT Magazine on philanthropy and the responsibility of having a lot of money.

hello, foxy

| On
Sunday, June 10, 2007
hello, foxy

This has been a strange week! More on that soon -- in the meantime, here's a picture of currently blooming foxglove. I am crazy about them so I am spamming the internet (here and my garden blog) with this photo. So there.

And now, to make up for my photo-spamming ways, I shall share the almost magical Helpful Household Hint I learned last week. Brasso metal polish really does work on scratched CDs! A CD I really wanted to hear had deep, deep scratches across the first three songs. This made it unlistenable -- I was mondo irritated but determined to solve this problem. I did some online research and figured I didn't have anything to lose by attempting the Brasso Cure...and it totally worked! It buffs out scratches without ruining the CD. (I know it seems counterintuitive, but it really did work.) All you have to do is put some Brasso on a soft cloth and wax on/ wax off Mr. Miyagi style and voila! listenable CD. MAGIC!


| On
Thursday, June 07, 2007
by Daniel Handler
This book is tricky because there were sections I adored beyond reason (I laughed, I cried, I did not rip it up and feed it to the garbage disposal or set it on fire) and there were parts that I despised and wished there was some simple memory-erasing brain-scraping procedure that didn't involve my imagined and considered DIY solution of a cocktail fork up the nose. So. I'm kind of conflicted. And what makes this even MORE maddening is that the author has a built in defense/excuse against these kinds of conflicting attitudes. His book jacket (which is, btw, hilarious) says "It might sound confusing, but that's love." So, because his book is about LOVE and not something with a single correct answer (like Pi to seven digits or the best singer for the Monkees) he has an automatic criticism deflector. Unfair, but fiendishly clever -- which actually describes many of my problems with the book as a whole. I read this several months ago, and just saw Handler and Colin Meloy "in conversation" at Powell's in Beaverton a couple of weeks ago.

This novel has a rather unconventional format. It's set up in chapters (CHAPTERS! My god! what next, scratch & sniff?) with adverbs as titles: immediately, obviously, soundly, briefly, wrongly, collectively, often, frigidly, and so on. Certain of these chapters read a lot like short stories and there are a dozen or so characters who fall in and out of love with each other, although maybe they're not the SAME characters, maybe they're just people with the same name. It's not always clear, but believe it or not I had no problem with this. (I was surprised in the "conversation" that the things Mr. Meloy wanted answers for were exactly the kind of literary ambiguities I was fine with. Whether or not Joe at the beginning was the same Joe at the end didn't bother me a bit, although there were certainly other things that did.) Alongside the ever-changing but probably the same cast of characters, there is also the underlying theme of Catastrophe, (in this novel it is a volcano in San Francisco. As Handler points out in his self-written dust jacket: "In my opinion a volcano automatically makes a story more interesting."). Time shifts a lot in this book -- there are sections pre-catastrophe, post-catastrope and catastrophe-adjascent. I thought this worked pretty well, not just for the disaster/love metaphor, but because it also poked at the bruise of our national Terrorism Disaster Dread. He had a great quote at the reading about the peculiar kind of arrogance/ fearlessness/ terror that "feels like romance to me!"

During the reading Handler gave some background on how he came to write this novel; basically it's cribbed from the love lives of his single friends. He himself has been happily married for a long time and they were together for a long time before that. Most of these tales of Love Gone Wrong (and mostly it does although sometimes it doesn't) are borrowed and embellished. He did point out that he had to change a lot because The Truth was sometimes just too farfetched to be believed.

I think I was put off a little by that remove; with few exceptions he keeps that distance up, even having an all-knowing (Snicket-style) narrator pop up and drop some Love Profundity on us poor unsuspecting readers from time to time. There were a few stories (I'm thinking particularly of Frigidly) that worked on an almost fairy tale level and there this distance seemed fitting. Frigidly was actually one of my favorites despite having lots of Narrator Love Profundity -- I recommend reading it in a bookstore if you don't buy the whole book. It's short and features a character called the Snow Queen who played Dracula's Daughter in old monster movies, who may or may not actually be the Snow Queen. She drinks a lot of jazz-age cocktails and is very wise if prone to dramatic pronouncements which, when you think about it is completely in character for someone who used to play Dracula's Daughter and is drinking Gene Ahern Gloom Chasers. Here's a quote that doesn't really tell you much about the story, but gives some Snow Queen background (looking in an album): "That was me," the Snow Queen said. "Dracula's daughter. A girl who comes across a terrible secret at her uncle's castle. Look, in this one a ghost falls in love with me and we go to a restaurant. It's a comedy. Here I'm going mad when they're reading the hypnotist's last will and testament, and in the corner a terrible creature is taking me away."

Someone asked Handler at the reading (probably Colin Meloy) did he feel like he used the same voice for his Lemony Snicket novels as he does for his "adult" novels? He said he thought he did, although obviously he went into more detail in the adult novels. (this was when he revealed that he had been sent erotic Baudelaire fanfiction.) I was so refreshed by the honesty of this reply! I think that's one of the things that makes his Snicket novels so popular -- he's writing the way he would normally write, just leaving out the stuff that's not appropriate for kids. Anyway, I like that he does not seem to qualify those books as lesser, which is something I've seen with novelists who write for both kids and adults.

He talked about the process of writing the novel. It was originally SO MUCH longer, by like 1000 pages and he just had to keep hacking away at it. He (and a friend, I can't remember now and my notes don't say) came up with an idea for new legislation on novels: You need a permit for anything over 300 pages, like a gun permit. Anyone who applied would probably get one, unless your last really long novel tanked. He discussed the difficulty of writing short stories/novel about love and how he was afraid it was always on the brink of being a self-help book with fictional examples. (paraphrase) "This is bad because the best case scenario is heartbreak (the romance ends) & death (even if the romance doesn't end on its own, somebody dies first)."

Truthfully, I wish I loved this book. Handler is so charming, amusing and delightfully bent I could listen to him tell stories and cook up schemes all day long. I thought the good parts were very good, but the bad parts were like fingernails on a chalkboard. The thing is, of course, a topic as simultaneously universal and individual as love is going to invite a lot of conflicting opinions. My most hated chapter could be a revelation for someone else. Chacun a son goût, I suppose. Maybe you should read it yourself and see.

sunday things

| On
Sunday, June 03, 2007
flowered dress

Popsicle weather has arrived in pdx! I think it's supposed to be rainy and 20 degrees cooler tomorrow, but today (witness my attempts to live in the now...) popsicles are the shit!

This morning on my way to the library I saw a falcon and an orange cat having some sort of dispute in the intersection. Maybe they hit a snag in planning an Owl and Pussycat vacation. ("You knew I wasn't an Owl when we met, how can this be an issue now?!") It was the weirdest thing. The cat was running across the street, but taking the time to sort of jump up at the bird, and the bird kept swooping down at the cat. They were going their separate ways by the time I got to the stop sign. I hope those crazy kids work it out.

I worked on the paging list today, which is a daily list of requests from users across the system for books at my branch. I like doing it because it's a great way to find new interesting things and to get more familiar with the collection as a whole. Sometimes a title will stand out for any number of reasons -- I'll flip through it and read a random sentence just to see what's what. Today there wasn't much, although Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colorful Despots did grab my attention. It's sort of repulsive, like some new despot version of InStyle magazine. I'm not denying that there's value in knowing what these guys did with their ill-gotten gains, but this was presented in a Dictator Cribs kind of way. Here's what I learned from my 20 seconds inside the world of Despot Decorating: "Mussolini kept a neat desk." I am pleased to say that my desk is lacking Italian fascist flair. The only other title that really grabbed my attention was Making Upholstered Furniture 1/12th scale -- 1/12th scale upholstered furniture is a completely foreign notion to me! Oh what a world that allows for devotees of tiny tufted furniture!

Sunday fashion lesson: if you find yourself asking "should I wear the dress with the giant crazy flowers and maracas?" the answer should be yes.

formula one jazz nutjob

| On
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Thanks to vast and varied collection of DVDs held by the Multnomah County Library (all praise their name!) and the end of the regular network tv season I have been watching movies. I plan on having a Movie Summer. There are so many (SO MANY) movies that I've never seen and so many ways to indulge micro-obsessions (my favorite kind!) that I think it will be a worthy warm weather endeavor.

So, here are some that I've seen in the past few months that were all new to me. Time to warm up for Movie Summer! (note to self: get better catch phrase. note to others than myself: there will probably be a couple of these posts.)

The Lady Vanishes: (1938/ Alfred Hitchcock) The DVD case says it is "the best-loved of Hitchcock's British-made thrillers" and I can see why. It was much fun and actually suspenseful without giving me 1800 cheap jump out of the closet heart attacks. I've seen it referred to as "frothy" and "fluffy" and I suppose it is (especially compared with later Hitchcock), but I enjoyed it very much. It reminded me (even though it came well before) of some of the early Elizabeth Peters romantic suspense novels: adventure, a little romance, hijinx on a train, international intrigue, and a charming and mostly capable central pair of investigators. (they're not professional detectives and often get things wrong.) Unrelated to anything: from certain angles Michael Redgrave and Jason Dohring (Logan from Veronica Mars) do not look dissimilar.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: (2006/ Adam McKay) Honestly, I did not have very high expectations here -- I usually like Will Ferrell because he just Goes For It, no matter how absurd -- however, NASCAR comedy is not an area in which I have a lot of interest. I must say I laughed a lot -- especially at Sacha Baron Cohen as Ricky Bobby's Formula One French nemesis Jean Girard (referred to by Our Hero as a "formula one jazz nutjob"). Cohen employed a ridiculous over the top ball-bearings and peanut butter french accent that made me laugh every time he opened his mouth. I also liked Gary Cole as Reese Bobby, Ricky Bobby's no-good long-lost daddy who gets thrown out of Applebees for kicks.

Paper Moon (1973/ Peter Bogdanovich) For the 1000th time, I can't believe I'd never seen this before! It was so charming to me -- b&w father/daughter confidence trickster prohibition roadtrip adventure! Tatum O'Neal was FANTASTIC. I loved watching the wheels turn in Addie's head as she figured out (as the smartest person in the movie by a long shot) what she had to do to get what she wanted. For all her scheming, she was still very vulnerable. Funny, sweet yet tart and poignant without being saccharine or preachy.

What's Up, Doc?: (1972/ Peter Bogdanovich) I picked this up at the library shortly after seeing Paper Moon. It was the same director and said Screwball Comedy right on the cover. I love screwball comedies! Hooray! was my general thought. I am sad to say I found this very disappointing. Maybe because the central relationship is so closely modeled on Bringing Up Baby that I couldn't help but be reminded of how NOT Bringing Up Baby it was? As appealing as I found Ryan O'Neal in Paper Moon, he's no Cary Grant (nobody is, so I can't really hold that against him, I suppose), and Barbara Streisand did not strike me as a particularly convincing high spirited troublemaker in this role. She made lots of trouble, but I didn't believe her. I really wanted to like it -- San Francisco, mixed up luggage, Madeline Kahn, mistaken identity, over the top set pieces -- these are all things I normally enjoy. But to me it felt like a broad pantomime of a classic screwball and I had a constant feeling of "not quite" while watching.

Black Narcissus: (1947/ Powell & Pressburger) I remember exactly how I came to watch this movie -- I was reading a message board and one of those How Film Snobby Are You quizzes came along -- one of the questions was "your favorite Powell & Pressburger." The first person to respond said "Black Narcissus, no question!" I'd only ever seen one other P&P movie (I Know Where I'm Going) which I liked well enough but it didn't send me rushing out to see the rest. But "no question!" got me surfing over to the library's website to see if it was available. I'm so glad I did!

This movie is an erotic himalayan melodrama with no sex and NUNS. I had no idea what to expect, but it was so good! There's no real high-driving plot but there is an almost palpable murky conflicted atmosphere that is so interesting. A British order of nuns tries to make a school in an Indian palace that formerly housed courtesans. Complications ensue. The moody lighting and the technicolor are visually outstanding, and the film also features one of the best examples of crazy eyes that I can remember seeing. I have to admit I was thrown out of the story a little bit by the super short shorts of The Man in the movie -- I'm sure the intention was for him to be this brazen masculine sexual energy (one more thing for the nuns to battle along with the unforgiving altitude and the unwelcoming local populace), but he just looked goofy to me in his hilariously short trousers. I should watch it again and see if having the surprise factor taken away makes me less likely to break down into helpless fits of laughter. Despite laughing in a couple of places where it was not intended, I don't mean to give the impression that it's an inadvertent comedy. I thought it was very evocative of a particular kind of unsettled feeling when purpose and commitment are called into question.