Monday, January 31, 2005

Hillary Clinton we love you get up!

She's fine, she's fine, don't worry. But that picture in the article! Hillary, I know you're not feeling well, but find a spa and a new hairdresser, quick!

Bill in Freaks And Geeks

I just finished the first disc and am about to send it back to Netflix, but not before I watch the Halloween episode about a hundred more times, only so I can relive over and over the scene where Bill checks out his Bionic Woman costume in the mirror. "What? I can't hear you. Hold on, let me put the phone up to my bionic ear. There, that's better. WAIT, not so LOUD! I have bionic hearing...."

I'm a new disciple of Freaks And Geeks. Go forth and spread the good news.

Friday, January 28, 2005


I forgot to mention I also appreciate how David Edelstein (see previous post... lest you think I was referring to the Laura Linney/Topher Grace flick) takes Million Dollar Baby to task on the film's treatment of Maggie's relatives:

"Her trailer-trash family is cartoonishly venal: They don't even pretend to offer sympathy. (Couldn't just one of her relatives have been genuinely distraught?)"

I'd extend that critique to include the film's treatment of southern characters in general. I haven't gotten on this soapbox in a while, but to get laughs out of a goofy east-Texas knucklehead innocently calling Morgan Freeman the N-word...and in the first line the little guy utters? It's a tad on the cheap side, no? And not my kinda cheap! Besides, is any white guy from east-Texas dumb enough to use that word anymore? Innocently, that is.... And let's not forget which character's got Freeman pushing a broom across the gym in hole-riddled socks and living in a poorly lit hovel in the back. Doesn't Clint have an extra room in that big dark house of his? An apartment over the garage? Something??

More thoughts on MILLION DOLLAR BABY

David Edelstein -- one of the few movie critics I can find who shares my view that this flick is overrated -- makes some points in his current article on that hadn't occurred to me:

You could argue that Million Dollar Baby is not offering Maggie's fate as a prescription: It's one particular young woman in one particular place in one particular story—which some critics have maintained is an allegory with boxing as its frame. I'm a literal-minded guy, though, and have a hard time getting past the wrong and crudely manipulative notes on the surface.

He's a tad nitpicky about a few of those surface notes, but he points them out to bring up a larger concern (and a valid one, I think) about the pic. And I'm with him on not finding an allegory there...was my "subtext" switch turned off for this one? I only saw an old-fashioned melodrama/boxing picture with an overlong third act. It was kinda good, but no Sideways. Or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for that matter, which my man David E. is also a champion of, which makes me like him even more. Check out his column (and the MDB article) here.

Vaginal Davis on Wonkette

I love Wonkette! What other political blog would mention a story like this?

"On her blog, big black drag queen Vaginal Davis is claiming not just that Condi Rice is a "lesbian virgen,"...but that she is Rice's cousin, and that the newly-sworn in Secretary of State recently called Miss Davis to ask her ("very nicely") to not mention that they are related."

I've seen Vag at the Parlour a couple of times and in A John Waters Xmas (see Dec. 17 post in ARCHIVES), and I'll take her at her word for it, but I think Ms. Davis got the fashion sense. She definitely has better hair.

Link to the full Wonkette post here. Link to Davis' blog and fun post here.

I need Scissor Sisters tix asap!

By Sunday night I might be over this, but I kinda want to see them at The Wiltern on Monday night. I couldn't find anyone to go with me when they played Spaceland last year (can you imagine them in that space?), and now that "Tits on the Radio" and "Filthy/Gorgeous" are playing on my LAUNCHcast at work constantly, I'm starting to wish I went by myself! Unironically retro disco is so refreshing with all this emo-hipster-self-conscious-earnestness floating around. Plus, they have a song called "Tits on the Radio." What's not to like about that?
Here's the L.A. Weekly preview of the Monday show:

Regardless of your taste, no matter what your sonic criteria, even if you’ve heard it all before — and as corny as it sounds — the Scissor Sisters will light up your life. With a grasp of AM rock so sophisticated they can (and do) make Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” as silly as a Pet Shop Boys anthem, this sartorially smart and smart-assed bunch re-imagine the best bits of Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, T. Rex and, natch, Sir Elton as the biggest-hearted, supremely effortless dance music you’ve never cut a rug to: rollicking ivories, elastic horns, all the sonorous histrionics you’d expect from retrofitters of the pop torch-song spirit of ‘75. And, unlike Danish hams Junior Senior, the Sisters’ fluid sexuality is all over the place without being spelled out for you. The lyrics are inordinately purple, you say? Hipster, please — we can’t have the decade’s funnest band getting deep on us. (Andrew Lentz)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Okay, today I'm having an Augusten Burroughs day

Well, it'll probably just be an Augusten Burroughs morning, if yesterday's Frank O'Hara day was any lunchtime I was pretty much totally self-involved again, but we need these kinds of breaks from time to time, don't we?

My friend Jenny emailed me from D.C. to ask me what Augusten's real name was, and I think he even told us in a reading he gave that I attended at Skylight in Los Feliz, but I can't for the life of me remember. Anyone know? A friend of hers gets bonus points in a gay lit class he's taking if he finds it out. I want to take a gay lit. class! Oh wait, that would be called "my bookshelf." Now I just have to get around to reading all that Edmund White....

Anyway, this reminds me of an Augusten Burroughs anecdote I've told several times, but for those five readers out there who aren't close friends, you might enjoy it. At that Skylight Books reading, part of his tour last fall for his new book of essays, Magical Thinking, I approached him with a compliment on the ready, as I wanted to thank him for his writing of Dry, plus I always like to engage the writer at least a little before he signs my book and sends me on my way -- otherwise it's like an assembly line and kind of a wasted opportunity, right? Anyway, I told him that Dry really informed the writing of my latest play, Toils And Snares, explaining that his portrait of alcoholism really opened up the way I was thinking about my own addicted characters. He said, "that's a huge compliment, thanks." He was so sweet and earnest and cute and I wanted to give him a big hug, but I just took my book and left the store, promptly putting it on the shelf with all my other gay literature. Days later I picked it up just for kicks to take a look at it and he signed it, "Love Always." How sweet is that? And how strange? It made me wonder if he was signing in response to my comment, or if he just does that sort of thing! Like what was he signing in all the other books? Thanks for the memories? I'll never forget Paris? We made beautiful children together? Anyway, I think he's the bees knees and all of you, gay or straight, should read his Running With Scissors. It's a demented, unbelievable, and fantastic read.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

More Frank

I'm having a Frank O'Hara morning. He's a hero of mine, so indulge me, okay? Here are a few favorite bits from his poem, "Lines for the Fortune Cookies." I pulled these out of the larger poem...the whole text is here. Imagine opening up a fortune cookie and getting one of these:

Just as Jackie Kennedy has a baby boy, so will you--even bigger.

You will marry the first person who tells you your eyes are like scrambled eggs.

You will write a great play and it will run for three performances.

Please phone The Village Voice immediately: they want to interview you.

You may be a hit uptown, but downtown you're legendary!

That's not a run in your stocking, it's a hand on your leg.

I realize you've lived in France, but that doesn't mean you know EVERYTHING!

You are a prisoner in a croissant factory and you love it.

You eat meat. Why do you eat meat?

You too could be Premier of France, if only ... if only...

That was for me, but also for Jaime St. Peter. Imagine me reading these self-consciously in Studio A before the start of a rehearsal, Jaime. It would also be for Michael McMillan, but he doesn't read my blog, and would make fun of me, besides. And all of this inside, referential name-checking is a blatant tip-o-the-hat to Mr. O'Hara, which you would know if you read more of his stuff, so read it here.

Why did none of you tell me about this??

There's been an audio recording of Frank O'Hara reading his poetry available since MARCH? I'm such a bad devotee....

It's official!

I'm an L.A. Blogger! Thanks to for listing me on their website. This is a great website for checking out all the many and varied local blogs out there. The link is here!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

No Giamatti AGAIN?

I'm sure everyone's saying this, but what the F##*$&^??!!!

The good news is my fave Kate Winslet was nominated for a knockout performance in a knockout film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I just assumed the nod was for Finding Neverland (which I suppose I have to see now) when I heard on NPR this morning, but did a little dance inside when I read the full report. Other than that, the noms kinda bore me. I think the most interesting categories just might be the supporting slots, as so many of the actors nominated were in leading roles, from Clive Owen and Natalie Portman (frankly, one could argue that Closer is Portman's movie) to Laura Linney, Virginia Madsen and, technically, even Thomas Haden Church. This might make for some surprises, since those awards usually go to whoever in the category has the biggest role. Just think back...why the heck else would Mira Sorvino or Marisa Tomei have won? I know I know, Judi Dench, but that was an apology Oscar after snubbing her for Mrs. Brown, so leave me alone. And come on, she lost to Helen Hunt. The entire voting bloc should've gotten down on their knees and begged for forgiveness when they gave Judi that trophy.

The one big thing this means for me is I guess I have to see Hotel Rwanda, Maria Full of Grace, Vera Drake, and Being Julia. I was kinda hoping to skip at least two of those. I might just skip them anyway. Except Being Julia! Annette (ILOVEHER) Bening 2005! Oh, sorry Kate...Annette (ILOVEHER) Bening or Kate (ILOVEHERBUTSHEDOESN'THAVEACHANCE) Winslet 2005!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sweet Sweet Connie

All my Arkansas readers go pick up a copy of SPIN A-sap! Or for that matter, anyone interested in rock-n-roll backstage exploits told by a chardonnay-on-the-rocks-swilling, bong-hitting, tantrum-throwing, white-trashy rock-n-roll blowjob-queen! I am apparently the last AR native on the planet to have heard of Sweet Connie Hamzy, one of the world's most notorious groupies (and an alleged one-time Clintonian make-out did I miss that??), but SPIN has cured me of that affliction by doing a riotous interview and profile with this Little Rock legend. Sample quote:

It’s 10:30 A.M. on a Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Connie Hamzy is sitting at the bar of the Sticky Fingerz Rock’N’Roll Chicken Shack, telling a story to a small audience of busboys and cocktail waitresses. “So I’m out on the tour bus, smokin’ dope and blowing roadies,” she says in a lazy Southern accent. “And who comes into the back lounge? Neil fucking Diamond.”

Genius. And that's just the first paragraph. A link to the story on is here, though you have to subscribe or buy the print issue to read the whole story.

The Big Art Group at REDCAT

Thank goodness I was able to get back to the REDCAT this weekend. It's been too long! Campy and wild, equal parts slasher movie and Dennis Cooper novel, NYC's The Big Art Group performed their "real time film" Flicker for an elated crowd on Saturday. Their aesthetic is rather difficult to describe, but let's just say it involves flesh-toned pantyhose masks and lots of drag and funny wigs. Okay, it's really more serious than that, I suppose, and the technical aspects of the performance are quite astounding; actors perform into video cameras mounted on top of three waist-high screens and their images are projected on the screens below. As a result, audience members are treated to the double narrative of the movie on the screens and the performers creating the images behind the screens and in front of the cameras. Doesn't make a lick of sense? Didn't think so. Here's a quote from the group's website about Flicker:

Two movies collide into each other and bleed onto a single screen. In one movie, Justin searches for a savior from self-annihilation, but can’t be helped by the morbid voyeur Jeff nor the manipulative Vivian; and then he meets Rebecca who speeds him along his path of destruction. In another film, a group of city friends find themselves lost in a wilderness that turns mythic and murderous. As the two films intersect, a dark tale of disjunction emerges, exploring the need to comprehend the irreality of death and the everyday presence of violence. A comedy.

Oh well, guess they gotta get the grant money somehow. The rest of The Big Art Group's website is here.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Mr. Bright Eyes

Thanks to Brandy for sending me this link to a Village Voice article about Mr. Oberst. This guy is everywhere! And based on some of the lyrics in the article (ex: "So you nurse your love/Like a wounded dove/In the covered cage of night." Bleccch!), I think I'll pass his two new discs up for some New Pornographers side-projects. (Long Live Destroyer!) The last line of the review is relevant to recent posts, as gave me a chuckle. The link is here.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Keep the comments coming!

I suppose I should just limit all my blogging to pop music, huh? I shouldn't be surprised; I guess the numbers of blog-reading opera queens and theater nerds are substantially lower than indie music types. I personally take a cue from my blog's namesake, the late great Mr. Frank O'Hara, and consider all of it as grist for the ol' aesthetic mill, but I'll do what it takes to get the activity going in the comments section. I've been thinking of posing a series of provocative statements certain to create serious debate. For example:

The era of the mythic pop/rock behemoth is over. There will be no more Beatles, no more Nirvanas.

The Strokes only had one album in them.

P.J. Harvey's B-Sides EP is a waste of 7 bucks.


Comments, Arcade Fire Updated, etc.

To contribute to the convo going on in the comments section about this band (Yes! Dialogues in my comments section! I feel like a real blog!), I'm still on the fence about Bright Eyes, too. For mopey solo-singer-songwriters-who-give-themselves-self-conscious-band-name-esque-3rd-person-labels, I prefer Badly Drawn Boy to Mr. Conor Oberst, but I can always be persuaded otherwise. Regardless, there's an interesting NYTIMES article about him here. Let me know if you have trouble accessing the link.

As for The Arcade Fire, it's growing on me, too, and I'm starting to wonder if they're not all about their live show. Here's the review of their 1/15 show at the Troubadour from LA WEEKLY:

at the Troubadour, January 15
Every pop-art collective has that one member who doesn't quite carry equal weight, yet perfectly personifies the group's idiosyncrasies -- good and bad. In the live version of this moment's premier buzz band, the Arcade Fire, that person is percussionist Will Butler, brother to singing bandleader Win Butler and, judging from this show, the member most likely to have enjoyed performance classes in art school. Willfully eccentric as he beat the hell out of every surface surrounding the stage, Butler continually lost control, at one point breaking not just his cymbal but also his cymbal stand, which cracked one audience member's skull -- in between songs where he literally did nothing. It was mosh-pit choreography disguised as artistic intensity, a needless side act to a show that did not need one.

Because without all the art-school accoutrements, the Arcade Fire would still offer plenty of tradition-minded tangibles for the New Sincerity seekers. But with a twist. Live, it is a familiar folk-rock-anthem-making outfit, under the spell of Conor Oberst's bright-eyed, big-hearted collectivism (especially evident in Win's voice), with mid-80s U2 as a musical road map, especially in the lyricless melody moans, which offered hope (eight people singing does that), and choppy Edge-like guitar runs, which spelled action. That action comes with beats -- half the octet played percussion instruments over the course of the night -- and it is this love of rhythms, coupled with the audience's desire to move to those rhythms (often disco high hats or tambourine shakes) that separates the Arcade Fire experience from most indie rock. Besides being earnest, Arcade throws a rock & roll dance party. And this too has much to do with Will Butler, whose spotlight-hogging energy did not just aid and abet bonus grooves, but transformed those grooves into an invitation, making him invaluable after all.
-Piotr Orlov

P.S.: I like this Orlov guy. He wrote a fun and clever bit about the closing of The Vice store at Sunset Junction in this week's "A Considerable Town" column. And there's that Bright Eyes guy getting name-dropped in his review! Seems like Mr. Oberst is approaching the hipster-pop-culture-saturation-point!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Arcade Fire, New Pornographers

Are they as good as the hype? I don't know, but I did finally break down and buy the CD the other day. Too bad I couldn't get into the show at The Troubadour last weekend. Not that I tried, but I'm sure if I tried I wouldn't have succeeded. I'm still warming up to The Arcade Fire, frankly (and I put that little nugget of lame wordplay in just for Brandy), and I must admit my favorite thing about the disc is its packaging -- the CD, entitled Funeral, features a slip of paper folded and printed to look like a hand-out from a funeral, and is tucked into an ornately decorated, but rather simple cardboard sleeve. I definitely get the Talking Heads comparisons, and I am interested, but I'm wondering if this won't be another TV on the Radio for me -- a band I appreciate more than I actually like. We'll see. Their website is a bit of a puzzle, but I gotcha a link for it right here.

Right now the big win for ill-advised, bad-for-the-bank-account-impulse-CD-purchase is The New Pornographers' debut CD, Mass Romantic, which has apparently been remastered and re-released, even though it's barely two years old. These folks are off-the-charts brilliant and this album, along with 2003's Electric Version, is smart, varied, powerpop for the ages. Why they aren't getting all the hype The Arcade Fire's been showered with is beyond me. Their website is here.

I was a bit slow on figuring out the whole weblink thing, but I've got it down now! That's for Brandy too, by the way.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Dirty Thirty

So I have joined a group of friends and colleagues in an effort to write a first draft of a script in thirty days. We're working with the intention of presenting cuttings from all the scripts in a showcase of readings in the spring. Kudos to my friend Ernessa T. for spearheading this whole endeavor, especially since I needed the kick in the pants to finally write this Victorian thing that won't leave me alone. I'm in day three of thirty, and I'm a little scared, but I did write a scene last night when I got back from D-Land that I didn't hate, so that's a good sign. I'll keep you posted, because you know y'all oughta come to The Dirty Thirty Showcase when the time comes, dontcha?

Big weekend

I took full advantage of the three-day weekend and got to see and do lots of stuff. Here's the run-down:

Friday, 1/14 -- Million Dollar Baby

Why do all the critics roll over for Clint Eastwood? I certainly liked this one better than Mystic River, but I'll be dad-gummed if that third act didn't feel as long as the first two combined. And by the way, can't he rustle up a budget? Or is it some sort of new Eastwardian minimalism to suggest a London location with only grainy stock-footage before cutting to a sound stage with a Union Jack hung in the background? But wait, you say, what about that extra who walked on, called Hillary Swank "Love," and walked off? Duly noted. And did Morgan Freeman feel just a touch like a house slave to anyone but me? Oh sure, they were friends, Clint felt guilty, etc., but why not get him something better than a cot to sleep on in the back room to go with those worn-out socks? At least some better lighting! I know he has only one eye, but geez that place was dreary!

Saturday, 1/15 -- Renee Fleming at the Dorothy Chandler

So lovely I'll let the weird milky-flesh-colored gown with the feathers slide. Let me just say that the wrap in the second act was quite welcome. Call me country, but could the LA Opera mount a production of Susannah ASAP? The two arias from that were so nice! She is stunning, I have to say. Her voice is so expressive and nuanced, and she engages an audience with minimal effort or pretense. And she's so cute!

Monday, 1/17 -- The Motherland!

That's right, folks, I finally went to Disneyland, Downtown Disney, and California Adventure. A highlight of the day was watching an impromptu game of musical chairs in one of the cafes on Main Street USA hosted by a bunch of Alice In Wonderland characters. Made me wonder how long these performers went to drama school to get these jobs. Plus it was kinda like drag for kids, which was something I never thought of before.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Poor Vitello's

in North Hollywood. It will be forever tainted with the blood of Bonnie Lee Bakley.

My writing group meets every so often at Aroma Coffee in NoHo, which is almost directly across the street from the restaurant, and I have to say that from the get-go I've always gotten a bit of a thrill at being in such close proximity to a landmark of Hollywood scandal. Anyway, last night I was on my way to the meeting, driving down Tujunga looking for a parking space when I noticed a little more activity in the neighborhood than I usually see. The cross street on the other side of Vitello's was blocked off, with motorcycle cops standing guard. My heart jumped in my chest; I remembered that morning hearing on NPR how jurors in the Robert Blake murder case were going to be checking out the murder scene. Could I be eyewitness to the goings -on of a Tinseltown Trashy High Profile Murder Case? The creepy media types with badges, AV equipment and vans parked all over only confirmed my hopes. So tabloidy! So Hollywood! What a score! This was better than when the Sorvinos walked into that Coffee Bean I was patronizing the month after I moved here! Okay, all that said, it was a pretty mundane scene, with lots of wandering around by uninteresting looking press-types, but still, to really be a part of something historic, you know?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Insanity at the Disney Hall

I went to the Green Umbrella concert last night for LA Phil conductor Esa-Pekka's U.S. premiere of his piece, Memoria, a U.S. premiere by Colin Matthews called Continuum, and a 1965 piece by the late Luciano Berio called Laborintus II. The show started out okay with Esa-Pekka and just got better and better and better until it reached the thrilling freak-show Berio piece climax.

Esa-Pekka's piece for woodwinds was interesting, I suppose, but it made me kinda feel like a rube, sitting there thinking, "oh, there's a nice melody...oh wait...." The Matthews piece was actually quite nice, if overlong, although the poor soprano singing was a bit weak for all the noise behind her.

Then there was Laborintus II. What started out as bizarro mid-60s sqawking with ominous Dante text read by a spooky speaker became completely unhinged and spectacular. I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind right along with singer Hila Plitmann when she started twitching and flapping her wings like a duck. Meanwhile, somebody from the Master Chorale was stomping off into the audience to sing this magnificent text into concert-goers' ears. This, delightful as it was, was only a small distraction from my new favorite soprano on the planet, Hila, who decided to take her shoe off and threaten conductor Esa-Pekka with it before banging it on the floor in a rage and then crying over it and collapsing in a heap of orange formal-wear on the stage floor. I suppose you'd expect me to lean in the minute a concert becomes theatrical (Look, she's not just standing and singing, she's crossing down-left while she does it; this is amazing!), but I swear, there were light cues, and brilliant bits of poetry, chaotic loudness...I couldn't get over it! Of course then all that had to stop so the musicians could slow it down and play over some dated taped material full of beeps and screeches, but still, to see that little soprano TAKE OFF HER SHOE AND SHAKE IT AT THE CONDUCTOR! That's a good concert.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Mitsuko Uchida @ Disney Hall

She was so wonderful last night, vigorously performing the first two of five Beethoven Piano Concertos she'll be playing with the LA Phil. I love how she pounds final chords, then rips her hands away with a bounce and clutches her arms, like she's consoling herself. It's almost as if her hands have developed free will and she has to squash their attempt at breaking away. I also love how last night she haphazardly folded (or wadded) her thin sheer jacket up and tucked it under her piano bench. Oh, and she has this completely astonished look on her face when she takes her bows, which is either very well rehearsed, or it makes me want to be her BFF.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Are you all watching Arrested Development?

I Netflixed the season 1 DVDs and am catching up on the episodes I missed and I continue to be amazed that it hasn't become the runaway hit it deserves to be! It's on Fox on Sunday nights and it's silly and shameless and delightful and Jason Bateman is amazing and adorable as Michael Bluth and Michael Cera is such a great teen comic actor as nervous little George-Michael and I have a small crush on Will Arnett as Gob and there are so many priceless characters I can't single out a favorite watchitwatchitWATCHIT!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I thought I might

have a slower January, with only four scheduled events on the calendar, starting tomorrow with the LA Phil (what is it, Beethoven?), then the Green Umbrella concert on 1/11 (Esa-Pekka Salonen premieres at Disney Hall), Renee Fleming on 1/15, and Aida on 1/27, but upon looking in the LA Weekly I discovered three plays I'll have to get to:

Anna In The Tropics, by Nilo Cruz -- Pasadena Playhouse, opens Friday
The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, by Mr. Albee -- Taper, opens 1/29
On The Mountain, by Christopher Shinn -- South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa, through 1/23

And there's Tom Jacobson's new play, too. That's gotta be coming up, right?

Almost caught up on movie-going, having seen Kinsey in Little Rock. Kinsey's just a tad overrated, dontcha think? Alright, alright, I did kinda like it, but what was with all that montage mess in the center of the movie? Suddenly we're in a Michael Jackson video? At least it put out with the Peter S./Liam N. action, as well as a good dose of my Laura Linney so I don't have to Netflix P.S. Who am I kidding? I'm going to put it in my queue right now....

Oh, and I got to Closer on Monday at the Arclight. I kinda liked this one, too, but Nichols and company sure make that source material look a lot better than it is, I think. I still don't understand what we're supposed to make of Jude Law's character hanging out in sex chat rooms, pretending to be a woman, and chatting with strangers. Isn't that a little bizarro to just play for laughs and discard before getting on with the meanfest that follows? Oh well, I guess it gets my favorite rough working-class limey Clive Owen involved. He's so good; it's like he walks right out of a Pinter play and into a fake Pinter play-turned-movie! To paraphrase a certain someone: "It's derivative, but at least it's entertaining!"

Monday, January 03, 2005

Back in LA

Got in on Friday just in time to countdown to 2005. Been running around ever since. Today I'm enjoying my day off just puttering around the apartment, doing laundry and listening to "Morning Becomes Eclectic." Hope to see Closer this afternoon, if I can manage to brave the rain.

Saw The Aviator on Saturday afternoon. That thing is pretty big and messy, but the minute Cate Blanchett graces the screen with her Katherine Hepburn, it all becomes worth the price of admission. There's actually much to recommend about the film; Leo carries it well and overall it's so gorgeous I'll forgive Scorsese for casting Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow. If the movie weren't almost three hours long, I'd go a second time just for Cate, a stunning plane crash in Beverly Hills, and Hughes' screening-room breakdown. The out-of-the-blue Jesus pose Leo strikes -- complete with projector-as-makeshift-halo -- kinda tickled me. Alright, perhaps I knitpick for Christ cross to bear, I suppose.

There's a great profile of Tony Kushner in this week's New Yorker, by the by. You can also check for an online-only piece related to his life and career. You can't read the profile online, unfortunately, but most of the rest of the magazine is there, including the laugh-out-loud funny pan of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Phantom of the Opera by Anthony Lane.