Friday, 21 November 2008

Susan Sarandon Angst

Every once in a while, I get sucked into the evil vortex of totally flat, ostentatious displays of schmaltz so syrupy you could attach a spigot to it and use it to dress your waffle. Stepmom. First of all, Stepmom isn't meant to be a tear-jerker. It's meant to be a tear-RAPER. And “I’ll remember always always!”, which is supposed to be the emotional climax of an exasperatingly melodramatic film, actually made me burst into laughter. Sorry. I just don’t know how Susan Sarandon managed to keep a straight face. And when Julia Roberts calls up Random House (just in general) and asks for Jackie, and the voice at the other end says, “This is the editor at Random House. I haven’t seen Jackie since she quit eleven years ago”, I face-palmed so hard it left a mark. What kind of puppy-torturer must she have been in her previous life to warrant that level of occupational karma? The only editor at the headquarters of a huge international publishing house, and not even a secretary to answer their single phone line! You’d think she’d be too busy eating potato bugs and talking to the bathtub to dispense sensible advice about looking for the house with balloons, but she is clearly a remarkable person (as evidenced by her savant-like memory as she recalls, without a moments' hesitation, exactly who an ex-colleague was even though she hadn't seen her in over a decade. What a trooper.)

Also, it totally re-affirmed my Susan Sarandon angst, which goes hand-in-hand with my Robert De Niro angst. You guys…IF YOU CAN HEAR ME…nobody is going to remember Thelma and Louise or Bull Durham or Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy if you keep this shit up! You’re legacy is going to be Meet the Fockers and The Banger Sisters…is that what you want? IS IT?? I mean, sure, the subject matter of The Banger Sisters prohibits me from hating it totally, but Susan? It’s a terrible movie. Curiously magnetic, but terrible. And I want to be as hardbodied and hot as Goldie Hawn when I'm in my mid-fifties, but again...terrible. And I do appreciate that someone finally attempted to immortalize Pamela Des Barres, but yes...terrible. And fine, I admit I own it on DVD, but only because it was reduced to £2.99 in the bargain bin. But nevertheless...terrible.

Friday, 22 August 2008

You take the good, you take the unbelievably bad...

I'd say that I'm a big fan of everything through Edna's Edibles. When it burned down and became Over Our Heads, the show started to lose me. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was no longer ten, but it suddenly seemed that there were too many tertiary characters appearing out of nowhere, and Mrs. Garrett's presence got more and more confounding, and the homoerotic tension between Blair and Jo went from charming to FREAKING DO IT ALREADY, and then, out of nowhere, Cloris Leachman. The whole premise of the show suffered major suspension-of-disbelief problems after the first two or three seasons anyway, since no 18-20 year-old women I know would voluntarily share a bedroom unless the circumstances were very, very not what you would base a 1980's network sitcom on.

Of course, The Facts of Life as most of us think of it--Blair and Jo trading barbs, Natalie and Tootie gosh-golly-gee-ing around in pigtails--didn't actually come about until season 2. The FIRST season was thirteen episodes of pure bliss, and it stands alone in its unintentionally Felliniesqueness. Don't get me wrong, the first couple of Jo seasons are great, but nothing--NOTHING--out-camps the the houseful of superfluous girls hilariously overacting some of the most appalling dialogue every written. Sue Ann smokes pot! Is Cindy a lesbian? Blair wants to do the headmaster! Natalie finds her birth mother! Nancy loves Roger! Mrs. Garrett's ex-husband teaches the girls how to gamble! Blair's mom is a slut! Tootie, the original Rollergirl! Natalie buys a bong from a record shop to put jelly beans in! Plus, you have the sleaziest, 1970's-jailbaitiest costuming imaginable(one false move and we would have been able to see Lisa Whelchel's virtue for ourselves), you have Molly Ringwald as an 11 year-old, you have the Drummonds constantly popping up for no apparent reason, and nothing makes any rational sense whatsoever. It's a hot mess made in heaven.

The clip below is what started my lifelong girl-crush on Lisa Whelchel. Not even her descent into blithering, fundy psychosis can shatter my love completely (although it has facilitated significant erosion), because freaky-for-Jesus or no, she took my breath away--especially when her character was still vaguely skanky and chilled and kept a joint in her lipstick tube. The uptight, overachieving heiress Blair Warner of post-season 2 still bewitched me, but I clearly remember thinking that, when I got to be a teenager, I wanted to run around in purple satin hot pants and have long, luxurious, golden hair. This was before I was old enough to understand the cruel genetic lottery, of course.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Bloody Pagans!

I walk through the St. Giles cemetary every morning, not because I'm like TOTALLY goth right down to the route I take to work, but because it's the most direct shortcut between the bus stop and my desk. In the summertime, all the homeless people set up their tents amongst the tombstones and trees; I don't know if the cops hassle them less or if it's just generally nicer or what, but you walk through there in early-morning July and it's like Glastonbury sometimes. Today I was talking to a guy called Kevin and he told me this:

At the end of one particularly intoxicated evening spent ambushing theater-goers with the standard "can you spare 50p so I can afford a cup of coffee" routine shouted at full auctioneer's tempo so as to get in a heartstring-tugging plea before the subjects managed to hurry out of earshot, Kevin crawled back to his tent in the cemetary to pass out. He had just about managed a full exit when he was suddenly jarred into confused, panicked consciousness by some loud chanting right outside his door... "Bloody Pagans, dancing round a tree and chanting at FOUR IN THE FUCKIN' MORNING!" he told me, completely appalled by utter the lack of decorum. "Well, I come runnin' out with my fist, an' I shouted 'You bloody Pagans! Can't you see that people are TRYING TO SLEEP!!" Despite his initial bravado, however, in the cold, hungover light of the next day, Kevin decided it was best to move on, because "Fuck that spooky shit."

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Also, my humming improved.

What a bizarrely chipper mood cycling puts me in! I loathe to imagine that I'm on the road to becoming one of those hardcore enthusiasts with the neon spandex and special gloves, but who knows. I might be. I made pretty good time this morning, too. I would have arrived even sooner had the bike not tipped over while I was wrestling with the front door on the way out. The basket on the back, into which I stuff my work clothes, lunch, purse and all of the zillion items those things entail, snapped completely off and I couldn't figure out how it had been affixed to the back in the first place. I stood outside, still half asleep, staring at the fallen bike for a while before I managed to get it together enough to go back in the house and find some bungee chords. I probably could have made it in by 7:30 had I not been forced to faff around and conjure WAY too much problem-solving, analytical brain power for that hour of the morning.

Oh, and I swallowed a bug. It was on Five Mile Drive. That doesn't happen as often as you might think, especially when you consider that I have to go through some areas that are positively rainforestesque in their insectiness. In fact, it has only happened one other time--a couple of years ago, but I will never forget that day because I was cruising down Jordan Hill, which is the only truly fun part of the trip (a very long, steep decline--very "WHEEEE!" and welcoming, especially on a hot day) when a bee...a freaking BEE...slammed into my tonsils with such force that the impact killed it instantly. At least, that's what I choose to believe. I swerved madly, sputtering and gagging and amusing the passing motorists, screeching to a stop on the overpass and desperately trying not to swallow, but it was too late. I ate the bee. I was totally disgusted and shuddery for the rest of the day. However, I did not suffer any negative gastrointestinal consequences, so there's a survival nugget for you--if ever you find yourself starving in the jungle, feel free to eat bees.

This morning's bug wasn't as big of a deal. It was a little gnat or something. It wasn't actually that disturbing. I think the bee incident made a woman out of me.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Awesome House of Big, Happy Fun

He's been on my blogroll forlikeever, but I wanted to give a proper shout-out to the Bighappyfunhouse today because it's one of the best dern destinations on this whole confounding internets. Apart from my own lifelong fascination with vernacular photography (which,until Ron came along, I thought was just some weird and possibly unhealthy voyeurism issue involving other peoples' old pictures--who knew it was an actual thing!), what I love about this site is its simplicity. It's totally without prentention or wizardry of any annoying kind. They way he assumes that his hypnotically beautiful found art will showcase itself proves that he is, on a very crucial level, a true genius.

I could (and do) spend hours rifling through his treasures. It's impossible for me to comprehend how anybody could let go of their souls like that. At the same time, though, it warms my heart to know they've found a loving home.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Thing I discovered on walk today:

There are certain items on my iPod that I have no choice but to skip over if I am in a public place. Added to that list today is anything off of Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" album.

I was meandering down one of the (normally deserted) residential streets, running a finger along the low stone wall separating the houses from the pavement when, convinced of my solitude, I gave in to the unbearable temptation to (ever-so-softly) sing along with Jimi when he got to the "some people say...daydreamin's fo-hor the...lazy minded FEW-EW-HOOLS" part in 'May This Be Love'. I had my earphones blasting, though, so it was probably more like a moderate and hideously off-key shout, because I looked up from my reverie just in time to see a guy sitting in his parked truck, eating his lunch and laughing his ass off at me. Then he gave me a thumbs up. I can only hope that meant "Right on, Hendrix girl!" and not "Your assery on my behalf is much appreciated!"

Eh, either way. Let them laugh, laugh at me. Right Jimi? I wove you.

What the fuck is "workflow"???

The fact that I was born missing the soft chunk of gray matter essential for allowing me even the most rudimentary understanding of corporate politics is something that I've always been proud of. Even after jumping ON the corporate bandwagon, which I was too mired in the muddle and existential panic of the mid-20s to properly think through, I always approached meetings and seminars and those infernal obligatory-by-implication, let's-everybody-get-wasted-and-sexually-harrass-each-other office social outings with a dismissive wrist-flick and the conviction that my ignorance simply illustrated the purity of my soul or some such dude-man bullshit.

Now thoroughly ensconced in the early-thirties rite de passage of receiving a daily skull-thwack from the crowbar of reality, however, I am growing ever more alarmed at my overwhelming ineptitude. My plaintive battle cry of "I will never understand you people!" has gotten less haughty and more panicked with each passing year, and I've come to realize that I most likely will never understand it, and not because I can't be bothered with spiritual mundanity of it all. I will never understand it in the same way that I will never understand nuclear physics or organic chemistry, and that might even be all right because lots of people don't understand those things, but that's why said people leave the nuclear physicsing and organic chemistrying to those with the capacity to deal with it. Right? One doesn't flunk basic chemistry in high school and then think, "Hey! This could be a career path!" Right? Of course not! Usually.

It's not that I simply disagree with corporate philosophy but, like so many of my colleagues, recognize that 99% of people in this world do what they gotta do and that's life, baby. My lack of understanding goes so, so far beyond that. I mean, that is what I aspire to. That's the physics. I can't even clearly define what it is about the corporate environment that I so strenuously disagree with, apart from the fact that it sucks the soul right out of my body and vomits it 40 hours per week closer to death. But doesn't it do that to everybody?

It's all very well and good to heroically suffer the indignities like a line-toeing martyr until you realize that you've been doing the same job for five years and people far stupider than you are making a lot more money and hey! Let me try that! and you come out of a meeting with Production Department upper management feeling like you've been listening to Ronnie Wood recite Japanese poetry though a voice modulator and all you can wonder is who, in fact, is the real member of the idiot masses.

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Shat In the Hat

Because I'm currently struggling to produce more substantial wordsmithing and yet I still long to share my innermost being with you, I embed a Youtube treasure that is particularly close to my soul.

99.89996% of everything I love about life is contained within its five minutes and two seconds, not the least of which is The Shat himself.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Monday, 19 May 2008

Why can't I own Canadians?

I'm currently watching a thoroughly depressing episode of Dispatches that spotlights the importation of fundamentalist Christianity from the U.S. into the U.K. It seems that a growing number of Brits have got the whole schtick worked out to the letter, right down to the goldmine of fundy wisdom that includes "I have 20 grandchildren. I don't want my grandsons to think it's okay to get shit on their penis." (I'd kill for a Youtube link to insert here, but it's only just now airing. I'm sure it will come in time. For now, as hard as it may seem, you'll just have to take my word for it.) Sigh. For fuck's sake. Why, with a wealth of import-worthy fabulousness including 3 Muskateers bars and washing machine technology, does the U.K. keep scraping my homeland's colon for cultural inspiration? And, I mean, yes, thank you, Dispatches, for giving the whole thing the circus side-show Louis Theroux treatment it so richly deserves, but still, British people? I beseech you. Please. Stop it. Stop it now. And stop it good. And FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SACRED (mit irony), don't elect them to public office. The world has been through enough.

The shining paradigm of godly virtue can be found at 1:35.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

The problems with today, in order of suckiness:

1. Rainiest, coldest, most minging day in recent history

2. Leaving magnificent bag of Manchego cheese, mortadella and fresh Medjool dates--purchased from the swank deli down the street expressly for my gastronomic pleasure since I knew I'd be dining solo tonight--in the fridge at work

3. Gym closed for "renovations" which, most likely, will not include the chiseling of six months' buildup of encrusted body fluids from the surfaces of the equipment

4. Perky, adorable and innovative personal trainer who thinks it would be a GREAT IDEA to do circuit training in the adjoining field in full view of the junior high rugby team (because nobody is more courteous and able to keep their opinions to themselves than thirteen year-old boys)

5. An hour and a half of progressively gustier winds and sandblastier rain whilst jumping through the mud trying to negotiate said circuit

6. The kind offer of the gym-renovation staff to let me use the stankiest toilets in the history of stank toilets to briefly mop my hair and "waterproof" mascara-streaked face with .0005-ply toilet paper before venturing back out into the monsoon to wait a further 30 minutes for the bus.

Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow...cannot possibly suck so much.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Screaming Fans

I've always been a freak magnet. As far back as I can remember, I've sported some kind of irresistible forehead tattoo only visible to the criminally insane, and no matter how I've tried, I can't seem to shake it. The pants-wetters, the booger-eaters, the inappropriately tactile, the uncomfortably direct...I am their queen. Once, as a teenager, I sat on the Spanish Steps in Rome and endured a particularly brutal string of increasingly disturbing propositions from a Dutch junkie who's name, I still remember, was Yoopie. Brimming with seventeen year-old gumption, I said to him, "Yoopie, let me ask you a question. What is it about me that makes you think this is okay?" and, after a few seconds of honest thought, he answered, "I don't know. Perhaps you should just go with it." And honestly, I thought that was fair enough. Sound advice coming from source. I wanted an answer, and I got one. So I've tried. Through the years, I've tried to train myself not to freak out when people lurch toward me reciting street poetry, dribble a-flying. I've made an honest, valiant effort to allow for the off-kilter logic of the reality-challenged. Honestly, I have. But no matter how I try, and no matter how much of a compassionate Zen master I tell myself I truly could be if I only tried HARDER, I can't seem to stop my innards recoiling in horror when the old man on the bus rubs up against me and yells "UNCOMFORTABLE?UNCOMFORTABLE?" In fact, it seems that the more it happens, the less used to it I get.

Today, I stepped out of my office for some...fresh air, and a man lunged up to me and asked if I had an extra cigarette. I said no because I'd only brought the one out with me, and he said thanks anyway and continued up the sidewalk. I knew it was too easy to be over that painlessly and, sure enough, when he got to the other side of the street, he turned around and started screaming "YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL...YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL IT'S TRUUUUE..." all James-Blunt-on-crack-style and would not stop. I couldn't really do anything but stand there awkwardly and feign confusion as passersby gave me WTF-eyes. I finished my cigarette in three long drags and hurried back toward the main gate as he trotted after me on the opposite side of the street, declaring his admiration for my silhouette in supersonic, pornographic detail. As I pawed desperately around my purse for my swipe card, the security guard said, "Looks like you've got a fan!"
And my reign continues.

Monday, 7 April 2008


I’ve been quietly digging Eugene McDaniels for several years now, and it has recently exploded into full-blown obsession. Only the best music creeps up on me like that. When the roots are there and suddenly the flower blooms and fills my soul with colors, that’s when I know it is real love.

Eugene McDaniels has a voice that is clear, mesmerizing and completely without trickery, which is the rarest, most wonderful musical talent that can be bestowed upon a human being. Look for it sometime. It’s a lot more difficult to find than you might think. That he gels with deceptively gentle funk and biting, hilarious, intelligent lyrics that are classically timeless and timelessly profound is just a happy coincidence. The magic tumbles out of him and into me, closing a 38-year gap in time like it’s nothing extraordinary and he just happens to be standing right behind me with his finger on my spine. Mostly, though, it just makes me so butt-shakingly happy I could kiss my iPod.

Quintessential “Cherrystones” below. I recommend it loud, and with adequate boogieing space.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Italians do it better...usually.

I've been a hatin', non-updatin', procrastinatin' gutter wench. Consider your forgiveness begged. And just to prove how much I still love you, please enjoy do you say...hilarious monstrosity.

Also, please know that my 'draft' posts are too numerous to count. And, unlike Alberto Camerini after making this video, they will be coming soon and often.

Friday, 8 February 2008

King Yellowman

When I moved to Naples at the age of fifteen, my intake of American pop culture was virtually severed at the carotid artery. Every once in a while something would trickle through but, for the most part, my perception of what was legitimately cool and cutting-edge trailed off somewhere around Sam Kinison. I know.

At the time, I felt like my human rights were being sadistically violated, but you make do. And, for the most part, I’ve found that my complete and utter lack of cultural reference points between 1990-1997 seems to disturb others more than it does me. I've made it this far without collapsing under the weight of cruel deprivation brought on by never owning a Pearl Jam album, so I doubt it had any lasting ill effects. I'd even go so far as to say that can only thank my lucky stars, musically speaking, because Italian pop was strictly of the Eros Ramazzotti School of Metaphysical Crap, but there were two pretty good vinyl stores in downtown Naples—this was a couple of years before CDs really took off, and southern Italy seemed to have mysteriously bypassed the whole cassette revolution completely—and I spent many, many productive hours clopping through the cobbelstones, sniffing around for something new.

My strategy for finding a record to buy consisted of flipping through the stacks until something stood out, either because the band name was so stupid (The Dentists—Heads and How To Read Them), the album cover was cool (Death In June—The World That Summer) or it just sounded titillatingly evil (Bad Religion—Suffer). This method was pretty hit or miss, as one can imagine, but when it worked, it worked like crazy and oh, how my mind dipped and swayed! By far the most awesome of these sound-unheard purchases was Yellowman & Fathead—Bad Boy Skanking. Everything about the album--the title, the cover photo, the names of the songs--radiated awesome. There was NO WAY this wasn't going to be good. I remember sitting on the train as Mergellina and Montesanto whizzed past, gazing happily at my 11,000-lire purchase and dying to just get home so I could listen to it.

Having just digitally re-visited the album fifteen years later, I'm struck by the debt to late '70's, early '80's Jamaican dance-hall music. Yellowman's first major, 1982 release sounds like it could have come out last week and won a Grammy. Innocent, simple, uncomplicated. What a lot of hip-hop would be if it learned to let go and stop being so self-conscious. But twenty-odd years before hip-hop charged its way to the foreground and started making wealthy, Western youth overcompensate for their lack of street cred, Yellowman was turning his own gravely disadvantaged youth and outcast status into a profound artistic statement. I didn't know any of that at the time, though. I just remember sitting in front of my parents' rickety turntable, transfixed, amazed, delighted, head-bobbing myself into whiplash, wondering where Yellowman had been all my life, and how ignorant I really was about heaven and all of its treasures.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

An opening.

This morning, I got an e-mail from a friend that started like this:

Ok. Am I such an idiot that I never responded to this? Probably. Lo siento. You can't begin to imagine what a mess I am.

Maybe it's the insomnia talking, but I just kept thinking, "Beautiful, man, beautiful."