Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oscar post

I seem to be less and less interested in The Oscars with every passing year. I just can't make myself care about them like I used to. When I was in high school and college, I had memorized trivia about them and could give you Best Picture winners from any date you asked for, but this year I have a worship service to sing and theater tickets after, thereby ruining my chances of even seeing the broadcast. And I don't really mind. The only thing I'm concerned about is that Annette Bening is going to make the understudy go on so she can go to the Kodak with Warren and the rest of the Hollywood royalty. Don't do it, Annette!

One thing I can count on, though. My favorite movies of the year might get snubbed in the biggest of categories, but they always show up in the screenplay noms. Last year's glorious Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for example. This year we've got Match Point and The Squid and the Whale up for the writing awards. Too bad they have to compete. Although I've got this feeling Squid might be a dark horse.

Of course, I wouldn't be too disappointed if Good Night, and Good Luck won Original Screenplay either. It's a really smart script, even if I do think it's a bit flawed. Heck, I think Match Point is flawed too, but it still worked like gangbusters on me.

As for Squid and the Whale, I couldn't even tell you anything about the script, except that I loved it and I love Noah Baumbach for casting my Laura Linney because SHE IS RADIANT!

Coachella line-up announced

It's here.

Thanks to Brandy for the link. Even if she thinks I'm a snob.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Audra!

She is so lovely I can barely stand it. JW and I saw Ms. McDonald in concert last night at Disney Concert Hall and had great seats to enjoy her with all of her beauty and bubbly-ness. I must say I was a bit caught off-guard by her lack of onstage divaliciousness; seeing her at the Bowl last summer sing just a few songs with no between-song patter, she seemed like the kind of serenely poised, smooth, pop goddess that would make me cower with intimidation at sittting so close to her as we were (last-minute right terrace seats -- thank goodness for cancellations). She is quite a charming, easy, slightly self-conscious stage presence...very human and so so pretty!

That is more than I can say for the woman sitting behind me, though. About halfway through the concert I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, wondering if I was sitting in front of a friend who's just now realized I was in front of him or her, when I was greeted by a gray-haired bowl-cut and a tacky fire-engine red quilted jacket. Somewhere amongst all this garishness was a voice that asked, "Excuse me, would you mind leaning back in your seat, please?"

Now, in theory this shouldn't bother me at all, right? We all want to see the show; she asked me politely enough, etc. The problem is I spent the next hour of the concert hyper-aware of myself, tense in the neck and the shoulders. I was totally taken out of the show and made to sit there and worry about whether or not I was blocking this hag. I know, you probably think me selfish and insensitive, but have you sat in the terrace section in the Disney Concert Hall? Instead of enjoying the remainder of the proceedings I spent my time examining the row in front of me -- which is a good 3-5 feet below my eye-level -- trying to figure out how in the world this red-coated-buzzkill could possibly be that disrupted by my interference in her sightlines.

And then my Audra sang "Tomcat Goodbye" by Laura Nyro and I forgot all about that mean old lady sitting behind me. That song kicks ass. In fact, I was pretty well oblivious to red-coat until the standing ovations, when I heard animal noises erupting from the row behind me. The woman was crowing like a damn macaw. I moved out of your way so you could behave like that??

Sunday, January 29, 2006

In Earnest

Saw Sir Peter Hall's The Importance of Being Earnest last night at the Ahmanson with Lynn Redgrave and company. She made a fine Bracknell, but I was most amused by Miriam Margolyes and Terrence Rigby as Prism and Chasubule. Very cute. The production's solid -- I was neither blown away nor disappointed by it -- but it was most fun just listening to the play, hearing funny lines the actors threw away or just blew (ex. Why did she breathe in the middle of that line? She would've gotten a laugh if she'd said it in one breath! etc.). And I love when Cicily explains her courtship with Algernon to him.

I have to say, though...as much as I admire that play, the cucumber sandwiches make me want to climb the walls. The muffins are much funnier.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

LA OPERA's new season

has been announced!!

Renee
Audra
David
Frederica
Susan
Anna
AND MY ROLANDO! TWICE!

Vetiver and Devendra

Brandy won free tickets to see Vetiver at The Echo on Monday night, so we braved the hippie types and fake hippie types and made it there in time. I don't really follow the band or any of this new folk stuff that seems to have such a following right now -- seriously, the only place I'd heard Devendra Banhart was on Antony and the Johnsons' I am a Bird Now, and I only have a vague notion of what the heck he sings on that thing (I've never been one to study liner notes, etc.).

I did enjoy Vetiver; especially the last two songs that Devendra joined them onstage for. There was another song that started out in such a breathy, lovely way by the lead singer -- it kind of reminded me of Iron and Wine -- and then the bass and drums kicked in and I wanted the acoustic guitar and gentle vocals back. Still, it was a nice song.

In spite of all the fine and mellow music, I think the highlight of the evening (besides running into Alex, which is always enjoyable), was when one of the musicians requested that whoever stole his good-vibe=generating crystal be returned to its rightful place on the stage so the bands could take advantage of all that positive energy.

What's next? Are we going to have to start keeping our sandlewood cones under lock and key now too?

Monday, January 23, 2006

First day

at the new job was today. So far so good!

It's almost as if today was New Year's Day for me. I had an inkling I was going to end up in this job before Christmas, but I went back to Arkansas for a week without an offer, then came back and worked for a couple of days before I finally got it and could put in my two weeks' notice. So that whole time I was in a bit of a holding pattern. But today I started, tomorrow I'm going to start a morning gym date with my friend Brandy (I've published this online, Brandy, so we have to make good on it!), and I'm also going to attempt a more consistent writing routine. I'm not required at my new job until 9am, and today I was shocked at what a difference an extra 30 minutes made. I'm hoping I can maximize productivity in the mornings as a result. Now I'm not necessarily holding my breath or anything, but who knows? Maybe in a month or two I can compete with Adam for the "committed writer with a day-job" awards!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Circle X's Brothers Karamazov at Inside The Ford

Such a handsome production this is! It's long, so be prepared. My interest didn't flag, though. The show is smooth, sharp, beautifully acted, designed, directed, and lit. Go see it!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Is it worth the money

to see a Mamet-directed Boston Marriage with Alicia Silverstone, Mary Steenburgen, and (try to conceal your shock at this one) Rebecca Pidgeon? I'm willing to support my fellow former Arkansan and Hendrix alum Ms. Steenburgen, but I tried reading the play once and I got bored and didn't make it very far. AND I think this show is going to be the kind of production that I might aggressively hate. And while I know that aggressively hating a play or production is often quite entertaining all by itself (and fodder for the blog, of course) it's harder to justify when I'm paying a fair amount for the tickets. And The Geffen ain't the cheapest show in town.

So is it really such a good idea to pay good money to see a Mamet play directed by Mamet in the Mamet style? I mean, isn't the Mamet style "stand still and say my lines?"

I stole that joke from Milan, I think. I did, didn't I? Should I see it? Milan, if you're reading, would you fork over the dough for this one? Anyone else? Thoughts?

I have a new job!!

Starting Monday, that is. This week's been a bit busy, what with training the temp, prepping for the temp training, etc. I'm rather exhausted tonight, but I haven't checked my blogs in two or three days so I'm sitting in front of the laptop with droopy eyes getting caught up.

Not much to report, other than the fact that I HAVE A NEW JOB! Did I mention that?

Oh, and, uhm, I have a new job. Thanks.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pictures of the Getty Villa

The Getty's newly remodeled Villa in Malibu, now home to its antiquities collection, isn't open to the public until January 28. Because I have my ways, I was able to check the place out on this most gorgeous of Martin Luther King birthdays.


How great would it be to see an Antigone here? My friend Michael suggested Evita, too.


This turned out to be one of my favorite photos of the day.


Here's another favorite.


Somewhere around the two-hour mark I decided to stop being chicken and find out if I could take flash-free photos inside the galleries.


The answer was yes! This was our favorite of the muses.


The scenery won out in the long run, though.


In short, The Villa's gorgeous; who cares if half the stuff's looted?!

I'm just teasing; only a few pieces are allegedly looted. Like this one:


JW wishes to report to the Italians who want it returned to their country, "Take it! It's hideous!"

Friday, January 13, 2006

More on The Strokes

LAWeekly has a really funny review by Chuck Clayton of the new album with the shitty deluxe packaging. It's full of great lines and mostly true, although I'm really really fond of track 12 right now. This review tickles me so much that I'm not even sure what to quote from it, but I like these paragraphs below:

The most hummable melodies, however, are “Razorblade” and “On the Other Side.” Respectively, these two melodies are usually recognized as “Mandy” by Barry Manilow and “Camptown Races.” And you decide that’s all right, even fun. So cheeky! There’s that “You Belong to the City” reference in “Electricityscape”! That Julian can be such an enigmatic little shit! :)

Later, you go to the Souplantation for dinner with your mom and your pregnant sister. In the bathroom, they’re playing Manilow’s “Mandy,” and it’s damn good — nearly heartbreaking — though you’re generally not much of a Manilow fan. During your meal of gelatinous goo, you get to thinking: What are the odds, 30-something years from now, they’ll be playing the Strokes in the bathroom of a Souplantation or KooKooRoo or any restaurant? Is there anything about this band that is genuine and real and rock and bitchin’ enough to even halfway compete with the longetivity of a cornball like Barry Manilow?


There's also a review by Kate Sullivan of the "semi-secret" show at the Troubadour here. You know I tried to score tickets and failed miserably ... which I think would tend to happen when you sell tickets by FAX ONLY. Anyway, here's a funny excerpt from that review:

In fact — drummer and singer notwithstanding — the Strokes are becoming a guitar band, more than ever. And that’s good.

They’re also becoming a reggae band — and not just via Television. (I mean, when Brandon Boyd of Incubus is genuinely bobbing his pony-tailed head to your music — “On the Other Side,” specifically — you know something’s crunchy.) That’s okay, too.

They’re also becoming Yes.

Your mission for today: Try and name five bands it's acceptable to treat with amused dismissiveness even though you still kinda like them. Consider The Strokes your free space. Don't forget to shout ROCK BINGO when you post your comments!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

EMYWINR

I was driving back to work today after my lunch with my friend Kevin (that's L.A. Kevin, not NYC Kevin) at Bob's Big Boy in Toluca Lake when I was stopped at a red-light at Olive and Riverside right behind a convertible with a personalized license plate that read EMYWINR.

I was mildly nauseated by this, and then I noticed the novelty plate-holder. It came from Magic Castle.

Then I was mildly amused.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I had to wait

until 2006 to see two of my favorite movies of 2005. It's all too tragic, I know.

Breakfast on Pluto

I'm so glad I can still count on Neil Jordan to delight me and strenghten my ability to understand thick accents. And forget Heath Ledger (well, don't forget him, but still), Cillian Murphy as Kitten gives the Queer performance of the year. Okay, he's tied with Joesph Gordon-Levitt in Mysterious Skin. Regardless, Murphy's like Tim Curry's Frankenfurter without the lechery ... or the weird teeth ... he's just stunning in about every way you could imagine, and you could cut glass with those cheekbones! Pluto is wonderfully picaresque, ragged, and messy -- daring in a way Ang Lee could never allow his films to be. Don't get me wrong, I love both filmmakers (I even liked Brokeback, with some misgivings), but if I had my choice, I'd visit Pluto over some old mountain in Wyoming any day.

But please, Arclight, screen this thing! The speech in this film is challenging enough to get without the bad sound at the Regent on La Brea!

Match Point

What a nasty, NASTY little movie this is. Match Point is a gripping thriller, a vicious indictment of class prejudice, and a fatalistic spit-take at the audience. Even with the bizarrely awkward, perfunctory opening scenes (oh, but just you wait), and the structural hiccups (Old tennis pro friend, Woody? Sorry, but you should've named the character Mr. Easyand Mechanical), this movie WORKS. And not to give anything away, but should I feel the slightest bit guilty that I rooted for Jonathan Rhys Meyers almost to the bitter end? And did I mention that he's just gorgeous in a suit? As is Matthew Goode, who is so watchable you start to wonder why he wasn't cast in the lead. And then Rhys Meyers starts to kick ass and it all makes sense. And did I mention Scarlett Johansson didn't make me crazy for a change? She's quite good; neither stridently unhinged (although she does get noisy a couple of times, and with good reason) nor weepily sentimental. The whole thing just worksworksWORKS!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Did I mention J.T. Leroy is a

FRAUD??

Yes, I did! Here's a little bit from today's NYTimes article (linked above):

Mr. Leroy gained the friendship and trust of celebrities and noted writers, who supported his career financially and offered him emotional support when he declared that he was infected with H.I.V. Sales were good, and his books were published around the world. Shy and reclusive, Mr. Leroy, now 25, appeared in public often disguised beneath a wig and sunglasses.

But the young man in the wig and sunglasses, it turns out, is not a man at all. The public role of JT Leroy is played by Savannah Knoop, Geoffrey Knoop's half sister, who is in her mid-20's.

A photograph of Ms. Knoop at a 2003 opening for a clothing store in San Francisco was discovered online. Five intimates of Mr. Leroy's, including his literary agent, his business manager and the producer of a forthcoming movie based on one of his books, were shown the photograph and identified Ms. Knoop as the person they have known as JT Leroy.

And now even his own literary agent is making disparaging statements:

"That's JT Leroy," said Ira Silverberg, Mr. Leroy's literary agent, upon seeing the photograph. Mr. Silverberg said he had met Mr. Leroy a number of times in person....

"To present yourself as a person who is dying of AIDS in a culture which has lost so many writers and voices of great meaning, to take advantage of that sympathy and empathy, is the most unfortunate part of all of this," Mr. Silverberg said. "A lot of people believed they were supporting not only a good and innovative and adventurous voice, but that we were supporting a person."

Friday, January 06, 2006

It ain't Karl Rove....

But still.... Sorry for being a little delighted by it. Thanks to Troy for the link.

From Planet Out:


The Rev. Lonnie Latham, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality and a national figure in the Southern Baptist Convention, was arrested Tuesday in Oklahoma City and charged with propositioning a male undercover police officer.

"I was set up," he protested while leaving jail. "I was in the area pastoring to police."

Latham was in the parking lot of the Habana Inn, an area not known for police officers but rather for male prostitutes who flag down cars, police Capt. Jeffrey Becker told the Associated Press.

Becker said Latham asked an undercover officer to join him in his hotel room for oral sex.

Police arrested the pastor and impounded his 2005 Mercedes. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of offering to engage in an act of lewdness and was released on $500 bail Wednesday afternoon.

Latham could be sentenced to a year in jail. He also faces a $2,500 fine.

Latham will also face a puzzled congregation at South Tulsa Baptist Church, where he is the senior pastor.

Latham, a member of the Southern Baptists' executive committee, has spoken out against same-sex marriage and has supported a Southern Baptist convention directive aimed at converting gays into heterosexuals.

Southern Baptists are urged to befriend gays and lesbians and try to convince them that they can become heterosexual "if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their 'sinful, destructive lifestyle.' "

His church has posted a note on its Web site that reads, "We are deeply grieved to hear the news about our pastor, Lonnie Latham. Our first concerns are with Lonnie, his family, and our church family. We will be focused on doing what we can to minister to everyone in this difficult time. Our church has a great history and a great future of ministry in this community. We would appreciate your prayers."

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

The Rev. Robyn Murphy, a spokeswoman for Soulforce, an organization devoted to changing the hearts and minds of religious leaders who engage in anti-gay campaigns, was sympathetic to Latham.

"The anti-gay bias has now claimed another victim," Murphy said. "Now he will be ridiculed for being gay."

"What he needs some is some sanity and grace, and that's the message he should have been spreading all along," she said. "We wish him well, and we wish he didn't have to be outed in this fashion."

Matt Foreman, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, suggested that Latham's arrest was indicative of a larger pattern.

"This is just another example of people who are the most viciously homophobic and at the same time are clearly gay," he told the PlanetOut Network, adding that he suspects the same is true for many anti-gay leaders.

"It's nearly impossible to explain the irrational hatred of our opponents, other than to think they have internal conflicts about their own sexuality," Foreman concluded.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A little tip

on maximizing blog stats. Misspell the title of Brokeback Mountain somewhere in your post -- try Brokeback Moutain, for example -- and don't notice it or correct it for a couple of weeks.

I could not figure out how I was getting such consistently good numbers (for me, anyway), and why my thoughts about that movie were so sought out. I was beginning to think I might be weirdly brilliant or something. Then I took a closer look....

I've corrected it now, but seriously, type Brokeback Moutain in a Google search bar and see what you get. Maybe I should misspell popular titles more often. How about Chronicals of Narneea, or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Ass-Cabin? Yeah, I like it!

Now I'm going to sit back and watch my numbers soar!

Not to brag, but...

I'm apparently "weirdly brilliant." Just ask Ernessa T. Carter:

Weirdly Brilliant Quotes from Weirdly Brilliant People:

You should take all [that bitterness] and put it in a play. -- Kyle Wilson

I think I also told her to write about the fact that her ex-boyfriend has a small penis, but I stole that from Anne Lamott.

Also worth reading "on the etc." is a transcript of a Carter Family Phone Conversation. Half the fun is in the pictures. Enjoy!

saved me....

...without fear of staining my new Sharpie polo because my personalized Sharpie is RETRACTABLE!

Oh ... the difference ...

And then I'll clip it to the collar of my new Sharpie polo....

Suuccch a little thiinnng....

I'm thinking of having my Sharpie personalized!

Such a little thing....

A co-worker just gave me a retractable Sharpie!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The new Strokes album

I've gotten through it once on my commutes from and to work and I think it might be a good one. At the very least, it's less boring than Room On Fire. I get a little nervous because every so often they pull some weird crap that reminds me of The Cars. Don't get me wrong; The Cars have their moments, but I don't think Mr. Casablancas and company would be wise to go for a retro-Rick Ocasek sound. They seem to keep that to a minimum on this one.

My one beef with the album is the "deluxe edition" packaging. It's not worth the extra dollar, folks. What a sucker I am!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I'm back

in case you hadn't noticed. Frontier Airlines is my new best friend, and please don't post a comment telling me that they hate gay people or give money to Republicans or have third-world nine-year-olds chained up in cargo holds in the bowels of the plane running the engines with their feet. I don't want to hear it. My planes arrived on time and that is all I need to know!

Monday, January 02, 2006

El Nino

John Adams' attempt at creating a Messiah for the modern age had its first Los Angeles performances in March of 2003. I had been in the city about six months, and although I was constantly concerned about money and left with no job security due to my uneven temping stints, I ran down to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and snapped up cheap seats to see the final Sunday matinee of the work.

Frankly, at the time I was more interested in the directorial efforts of Peter Sellars than the music itself. I had the opportunity to hear Sellars talk about his work and his ideas about theater when I was in grad school in Pittsburgh, and he seemed a bit like a mad genius to me. His ideas were intensely political and frustratingly cluttered with his agenda. Although I sympathized with his views, I was too immersed in "being a playwright" to get behind the idea of manipulating a classical text to investigate modern woes. At least not in the aggressively unconcerned way he described. I specifically remember a description of a production of a Shakespeare he was either planning to stage or had recently staged, and not once during his conversation did he actually talk about the play.

I'm less conservative about such matters than I was then, but Sellars still has the power to make me crazy. JW and I saw a production at REDCAT last season of his For An End to the Judgment of God/ Kissing God Goodbye which began with him standing in front of the set and explaining the production to us. We were then presented with a high-concept dramatization of a manic Artaud text and an indignant June Jordan poem, and, because we'd been instructed by the director on how to think about it before it began, its impact was sadly reduced. As unusual a performance and pastiche as it was, it was made small and simplistic by the pre-performance lecture.

Still, as mad -- and maddening -- as Sellars seems to be, there's also that "genius" impression he left, and I felt I had to pounce on the opportunity to see a work he'd staged. My memory of that performance is a fond one, but I do recall being confounded by the synthesis of elements. The music, with its churning minimalism, lyric arias and strange, apocryphal, digressive take on the nativity story; the stylized, abstracted staging; and the attractive, modern film were all engaging on their own, but I had no idea how to put the pieces together. My attention flagged on occasion, I wanted to be riveted, but found myself only intermittently moved.

This is why the concert performance of El Nino last month was so powerful I had to see it twice to absorb it all. Aside from the gratefulness I felt at getting to enjoy the music uncluttered by Sellars' ideas about it, I took great pleasure in the intimacy that The Walt Disney Concert Hall provided to the experience of the piece. There isn't a single seat in that space that is as detached from the performance as my nosebleeds at Dot Chandler were. Adams' oratorio -- again, a take on the Christ story constructed with apocryphal texts and modern Latin American poetry (Sellars contributed to the choice of texts, to his great credit) -- manages to open up the story, removing it from the reverent retelling found in the traditional Christmas music and Advent services that has formed my understanding of the nativity. Through Adams' choice of texts, he places the story boldly in the realm of myth -- a realm in which the story surely belongs -- and by doing so, he emphasizes the beauty and the poetry of not just the myth but the Christian faith...and by extension all faith and the very presence of faithfulness in the human animal. Hopping from unfamiliar stories about the baby Jesus calming ferocious dragons to a stunning conclusion consisting of a children's choir repeating the phrase "alone, poetry," El Nino contextualizes the Christian faith in such a way that one might call dismissive if it weren't so emphatic, so caring, so poetic.

As for Adams' score, it's so marvelous I don't even know where to begin. LAWeekly's Alan Rich takes a stab here, and Mark Swed does the same here and here.

Listen to excerpts here, if you like. I recommend you purchase a copy and listen to it ASAP, and uninterrupted. Perhaps with headphones. And turn the volume up, too. The crescendo from "The Annunciation" into "For With God Nothing Is Impossible" alone will make you shiver.

Now do you understand why I made JW sit through it a second time with a broken wrist? And believe me, he did so happily!

Unica.... Poesia....