Musings and Mirth

About Me

I spend way too much thinking about me. This is the blank space where that paragraph should be.

So You Wanna Be a Blogger — Everybody is Going to Hate You

Ugh. This has not been a great week. If you want to blog, know this: the more successful you become, the more people are going to hate you. I am unfortunately an Oscar blogger, an invented genre, an invented profession and one no one respects. It is like uttering a dirty word in a crowded room of nuns when someone asks you what you do. I usually just say “I run a movie site,” or “I run an awards site.” It almost always requires further explanation.

The great thing about the internet is that people don’t often rely upon one site or one voice. They can hop around from site to site getting their daily fix. There is competition, always. And there is usually a winner. Everyone else scrambles to either top the winner or eke out a little piece of the pie on their own. I’ll let you in on a secret: it all kind of makes me sick and any day now I’m ready to jump ship and go teach elementary kids.

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Watching Movies with Emma

One of the things I’m most proud of about the kid is that she loves movies like I do. I can’t believe that she can quote them better and with more precision than I can. The movies we quote back and forth now are Shakespeare in Love, A Fish Called Wanda and Burn After Reading. We seem to get no end of pleasure from Burn after Reading. There are so many great quotes:

“I’m writing a sort of a …. memoir.”
“Did you get the cheeses? Oh, for fuck’s sake Ozzi.”
“I have a drinking problem? Fuck you, you’re a Mormon! To you we all have drinking problems.”
“It was just lying there. On the floor there. Just lying there.”
“In many ways, I’m much happier now.”
“I have a ginormous ass and a gut that swings back and forth in front of me like a shopping cart with a broken wheel.”

And on and on it goes. My daughter kindly omits the curse words — she says “eff” for fuck. And with the Coens, you know, fuck is almost every other word. We can’t hide curse words from our kids forever, though, can we? Hell, not a trash mouth like me.

The movies we recently watched: All About Eve, Strangers on a Train and Sleeper. I don’t think much got Sleeper but I did the chance to explain to her what slapstick comedy was. Sleeper is so much better to me now than it used to be. I especially enjoy a young and not fully formed Diane Keaton. She is so naturally funny – her gestures, her way of delivering his jokes, and even her shallow poetess-turned-revolutionary who gets to do a Brando impression and an old Jewish grandmother. Woody is cute, and still have the remnants of the “earlier, funnier” Woody, where the jokes were on him. That stopped being the case later — he stopped making fun of himself as much and started taking himself more seriously.

Emma laughed a few times at Woody’s jokes but for the most part if you aren’t a Woody fan already you might not be that into Sleeper. The orb is always funny.

Strangers on a Train fared a bit better because it not only has so many great characters, but it’s Hitchcock. And no one can hold an audience better than Hitchcock. She even proved the Hitchcock theory that the audience is “with” a character, even if the character is “bad.” She wanted Bruno to get the cigarette lighter that fell down the grate. Strangers on a Train is a near-flawless film. Emma has already had a few doses of the great Hitch with The Birds, Psycho and Vertigo (although that one requires a longer attention span, as does Rear Window). Strangers on a Train anyone can watch and be enthralled by.

Finally, All About Eve was the biggest success of all. That is due to Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn, because Emma is already ruminating on this idea that Marilyn is considered one of history’s great beauties. Who hears Marilyn’s story and doesn’t fall in love with her? But she’s great in All About Eve – it’s her best role probably, next to Niagra perhaps. She has some great lines and she delivers them so well one would never know she would have so much trouble acting later on.

But Bette Davis – every line of dialogue is a zinger. What a great character. The kind you’d never see on screen today. They don’t make movies like this and they don’t build stars like this. Stars now are either forced to sew up their faces to make them look like swollen puppets, or else they do it on their own because they can’t stand to age. Either way, how sad. But Ms. Davis, she lets it all hang out.

All About Eve is a movie about an older stage star whose position is threatened when a younger, very ambitious actress injects herself into their lives. I told Emma that this is a prototype film – the kind that just got made over and over again in various other films and TV shows. It is iconic and forever imprinted on our psyches. Everyone knows or has dealt with an Eve in their lives and they don’t necessarily have to be female. They come along all admiring at first. Then they study you to become you and eventually they overtake you.

What makes All About Eve great is the writing and the acting — George Sanders is fantastic, especially in the last scene. But the film belongs to Ms. Davis.

La Cote D’Azur

I am going to the Cannes Film Fest in the middle of May. This is terrifying news. I’m going to cover the films, the fest, the goings-on, the haps. It will be my first time ever covering a film festival, but something I’m going to be doing a lot more of if I plan on doing this job (“Hey dad! I think I can really do this job!” – Broadcast News).

It breaks my heart that I can’t bring my little kid traveling pal along but she has school and testing and all of that. This will be our first extended time apart since she was born. I remember after she was born I held her to my chest and I swear I didn’t let go for two solid weeks. She is almost taller than I am now so it’s hard to imagine her a tiny tot, but a tiny tot she once was. I think her birth was fairly traumatic for me, being that I’m an alarmist, a hypocondriac, a fatalist and an atheist all rolled in one – so you can imagine.

The worst was that they kept insisting upon bathing her before giving her to me. I took upon myself, 18 hours in, Memorial Day, 1998 to shout at the nurse, “humans are primates and primates have to bond with their young! I need you to bring her to me!” The nurses wanted her all cleaned up and ready to be held in that picture perfect way we’ve become accustomed to – I wanted her as is, uncut cord and all. I’ll spare you details of the ripping and the sewing back up.

Needless to say, that kid didn’t leave my arms for weeks. There is something very scary about knowing you are responsible for the life of another human being. I know this is partly due to being a single parent — I simply didn’t have the man around to make it all better. There were a few here and there but for the most part, it was me. The thing that really brought it home to me was putting that carseat in the car and dealing with the stroller.

Something about the mechanics and every-day aspect made me want to drop dead on the spot. Eventually it all becomes second nature. The first thing one has to do, though, is abandon those ideas about the perfect baby and the perfect life. There is a conspiracy of sorts in the media to make it seem like having a baby and raising a baby are easy. But they aren’t. Having a toddler who just wants to test the boundaries constantly will leave you in frothy panic day in and day out. That sweaty panic it pretty tough to take. We have a lot more to fear now than we did oh, say, 4 million years ago.

Anyway, off to the French Riviera I will go. I promise to take lots of pictures and report back. I told my sister that it’s going to be like, “okay should I see this movie I’ve never heard of or that movie I’ve never heard of?”

Why I Choose Life in Twenty

I came across this story from New Scientist about what makes life worth living if you take away religion. From a brain perspective, there ought to be a good reason why a person feels like bothering with this life. It ain’t easy. It ain’t pretty. And it feels like it goes on forever. Beyond that, there is much suffering in life. I thought briefly about what it would feel like to have a son travel to Iraq and die in some useless, futile IED explosion. How would I go on living? Moreover, a recent memorial of the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing showed mothers who lost babies in that pseudo-patriotic, mind-numbingly senseless terrorist act.

As a sidenote, isn’t it ironic that we reacted to the terrorist bombings of 9/11 in quite a different way from Oklahoma City? Why didn’t our National Guard descend upon the psychos in America with their radical views of our government? Because we are a so-called free country. Free to bomb a Federal building for the very same reason our towers were bombed: to make a political statement. To take lives while doing so. And to either run and hide to continue fighting, or get caught and die by the state, as Timothy McVeigh pretended to foresee. In his taped confession he actually says to the victims’ families, “get over it.” He wouldn’t show fear when he was put to death by the state. He pretended he not only saw it coming but welcomed it: that was too easy of an out for that puny tyrant.

And then, last night, Frontline brings the report of the boys are used for sexual favors in Afghanistan. They are made to start when they are very young.

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Twitter – Very Weird Where Celebs Are Concerned

Not all celebrities can do everything well. Some celebrities can Twitter, for instance, and others can’t. Having an online tete-a-tete with anyone is usually either successful, or a total disaster. Some people can be more easily squished into the online world, while others need the vibration of real life around them to be totally understood and absorbed.

I really think some people come off better online than others. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. I prefer my own online persona, for instance, than my in-person one. I think I’m nice and all, and I’m sure people like me (really really like me) better in the flesh. But me, I like me better in the non-flesh. I like me better with words and words only at my disposal.

The celebrities I think that come off better on Twitter than one could ever imagine have managed to use the medium to raise their careers are step higher. Those would be Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher – the two most commonly associated with Twitter. They’re fine on Twitter. Demi Moore is more than fine. She’s cute and gracious and non-overbearing. Just a lot of nicey nice with exclams.

And for some reason it makes me like her where before I maybe didn’t think much about her at all. Well, let’s just say the irritating Demi is long, long gone – the Disclosure/Indecent Proposal/Striptease Demi. In her place is this pocket rocket activist cougar.

So that’s the good.

A few others I’ve been following I really like more now than before BECAUSE of their Twitter. And those would include Errol Morris, David Lynch, Diablo Cody, Ben Stiller, Jason Reitman.

The bad is that I was crushed to discover complete and total despair over Jim Carrey’s Twitter. Here all of this time I thought he was a nicey nice guy with vast intelligence. But I’ve discovered him to be self-centered, self-absorbed and not that witty online. I think he must be surrounded by a lot of yes-men, yes-women who make him think he’s all that. And then there’s the money.

One of the disappointing things about him is that he only follows one person. With so many brilliant people out there saying brilliant things and pointing out links, not to open yourself up to that part of Twitter is to miss the whole thing.

I need to follow more celebrities on Twitter so that I can judge them bitterly from afar. And here is the perfect site to do just that.