Monday, February 27, 2006

Wedded B.S. ...

So there I am, on the couch at the end of a busy day, munching on my Wendy's grilled chicken sammich and side salad with lite honey-mustard dressing on the side and a diet Coke (which is only palatable as a fountain drink; I don't know how people drink that stuff out of cans) when I see a promo for the Barbara Walters' pre-Oscar interviews, and in this particular promo she asks the always-fetching George Clooney, "So you just haven't met the right one yet?" or some variation on that question. I was too busy drooling to pay attention to Babs. (Honestly, is he just about the most attractive man on the face of the planet or what? He's the closest this generation will ever come to having its own Cary Grant.)

But the moment the question was out of her mouth, I got a little miffed. What the hell? I know Babs is there to ask the questions that are on people's minds, but can we just leave George and his bachelorhood alone? He was married once. He says he doesn't want to get married again. Why does everyone else want him to tie the knot?

He's not only handsome, he's not only filthy rich, he's also fabulously talented (CALM DOWN, people, I'm not talking about the politics of his films; he's just a really good filmmaker and actor), he gets behind causes he believes in and lends his celebrity to affect change (again, I'm not applauding his politics one way or the other, just that he doesn't exclusively lie about his villa on Lake Como and count his money), and from what I've read that others have said about him, he's a very loyal man to those who have earned it.

So he has plenty of women lining up to be his girlfriend, and if they know that George ain't about to settle down, why can't people just be OK with that? He's very open about his disinterest in marriage. He's not stringing these women along. If each of them is getting involved with him thinking that she'll be the one to change his mind, well, good for her, but when the relationship doesn't end with a trip down the aisle, she can't say she was duped.

Why is marriage supposed to be the state to which all singles should aspire?

Sure, I hope to get married some day, but it's not on my list of things to do before I die. I want to go to Australia, I want to publish a book, I want to record an album, I want to do a lot of things, but those are all things over which I have sole control. I can buy a ticket to Australia, I can sit my butt down and write a book, I can get in a studio and lay down tracks. But marriage takes two, and if I don't find another party who's willing, well then, single I'll stay.

One of the Davids and I were chatting on IM earlier today, and I mentioned my friend Marlea, who is stunning and has the sexiest voice and sings and has the best laugh ever. I am BAFFLED, I wrote to David, as to why she's still single.

David, the cute thing, replied, "I know someone like that."

Aww. I love my friends.

"It's too bad we're not lesbians," I wrote. "We'd make a FABULOUS couple."

But we're not gay. We're single.

At least that gives us some rights.

(Oh, like you thought you'd get through an entire post without me saying something to piss a few of you off? : o ) )

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sociability ...

The first day of February marked the end of one chapter of my life and the beginning of the next.

If my life was a novel, this month would have been a really dull read.

Not for a lack of drama - the end of a relationship and a loved one in the hospital provided plenty of that - but because, socially, I was about as much fun as, well, actually, I'm hard-pressed to think of something in nature as boring as I've been for the past month.

Until yesterday. Yesterday, I had a reason to wear eyeshadow.

It's been years since I've seen my friend Dick. Years. Isn't that ridiculous? He splits his time between Florida and Chicago these days, and this weekend, he's in town. So we decided to get together for lunch.

The doorbell rang. "Hello, handsome," I said as I opened the door. I gave him a brief tour, we stopped to consider the art hanging in my dining room, and then headed off to lunch.

Settled in at a quiet table at a favorite Italian joint, we each ordered a glass of wine and had to ask our server for more time to decide at least twice. We clearly had a lot of catching up to do, and we couldn't wait to get started.

But we did finally decide on lunch - he ordered the scallops I recommended (that come on a plate napped with roasted garlic mayonnaise - pure heaven) and I ordered the roasted lamb shank that falls off the bone and is the definition of "succulent" - and then returned to our tales.

In social settings, I tend to hang back, let others talk. But when there are only two people involved, it's not fair to make the other person talk constantly, otherwise they don't get a chance to eat. So we languished over lunch, swapping stories. We had another round of wine. We split a tiramisu and drank coffee. Lunch lasted nearly three hours. Now there's a decadent way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Somewhere in the storytelling, I asked Dick how old he was. I'm sure I knew how old he was at some point in our relationship, but I've forgotten, and he hasn't changed a bit, so it's hard to tell.

"I'm 69," he said.

"Really?" I asked. "Have you sold your soul to Satan or something?"

He wasn't sure if that was a compliment or an insult. I assured him it was the former.

He dropped me off and headed for home, and I thought about how tremendously lucky I am, what an interesting life I lead. I have friends of all ages, gay, straight, black, white, Iranian, Jordanian, actors, writers, musicians, creatives and savvy business minds alike.

And they all have something to teach me, about the world and about myself. I need to see them more often.

Working from home, some days it's hard to get out of the cocoon. If I need to run to the post office, I can just wear my sweats. There's no need to get dressed to buy stamps. If I'm going to go through a drive-thru to pick up a salad for lunch, I might make the effort of eyeliner just so I don't look too wan. Most days, my hair is pulled back in a twist. I might or might not put in my contacts.

So to have a day, an event, for which I actually put on my makeup and style my hair, to put on my favorite shoes and my long black coat, perfume, even!, is a very welcome day indeed.

Tomorrow, I will make more plans.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Work Is Play ...

Can't get enough of your office? Wish you could spend even more time living the day-to-day banalities of corporate life? Now you can!

Introducing "The Cubes": It's like Playmobil for grown-ups.

"In this office, you're the boss!" goes the site's tag line. Oh boy! But why don't I let the site do the talking for a moment:

"Finally, the drudgery of corporate life has been captured in a play set for adults! The Cubes™ spend eight hours a day, five days a week, at tiny desks in tiny cubicles in a giant room packed with countless similar cubicles in a giant building filled with countless similar rooms.

Each set has one 2-3/4" posable plastic figure and all the necessary plastic parts to build a classic corporate cube: four walls, desk, chair, file cabinet, in/out box, phone, and computer. Comes with a sticker sheet of decor for your cube, complete with graphs, charts, screens for the computer and pithy office posters. Also includes a job title sticker sheet so you can create a convoluted and meaningless position for your employee.

NEW! Now available are two new Cube Sets, Set 5 - the Break Room and Set 6 - the Copy Center as well as four individual, non-employee sets, Sam the Delivery Driver, Tom the Motivational Speaker, Eve the Sensitivity Consultant and Guy the Corporate Protester."

Eve, whose skirt is at an approriate knee height, comes with a pointer, an easel, and four training cards, including illustrations of improper office behavior, such as saying to your co-worker, "Would you like a massage?" or "That dress is hot!"

Guy, a fruitarian, comes with a soapbox, a sign post, seven protest signs, and one blank sign so you make Guy protest your own personal corporate beef.

Tom comes with his own GigantaMegaCorp podium and a headset permanently printed onto his head.

Sam is the only Cube of color (unless you buy the expansion set, featuring four Cubes and accessories), which I think is pretty bad form.

If you're itching to put some personality and functionality into your gray little block in Cubeland, you can print out PDFs of carpet, dry erase boards, safety posters, desk blotters, and chair mats.

Now you don't have to feel so lonely on your days off. The next time you're sick, you can comfort yourself with a model of your cube and your blockheaded coworkers.

Well? What are you waiting for? Click the title of the post to get started!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Liberal Diatribe ...

Nah, it's not really a liberal diatribe.

I just thought I'd be funny and title a post that way, cuz one of my faithful readers, who happens to hate my politics, posted a comment tonight and thanked me for my recent dearth of "liberal diatribes," so the next time Mr. Anonymous visits, he'll see the title of the post and maybe his breath will catch in his chest (I get the feeling he's a he) and he'll brace himself for me to say something chock full of liberal goodness, but no. That's not what this is.

I just like writing long sentences tonight. I'm in training to join The Faulkner and Joyce Liberal Diatribe Society.

; o )

'Just Like Heaven' ...

Ah, geez.

Tonight I watched "Just Like Heaven," the Reese Witherspoon/Mark Ruffalo 5-pound bag of sugar. Yikes.

There is one moment of such extreme sappiness in this film, I actually groaned. I think I'm going to write a pedantic comedy. Badump bump! Goodnight, everybody! I'm here all week! Tip your waitress!

But this post isn't really about the movie.

Toward the end of the film (a film whose music supervisor made some questionable choices, if you ask me), one tune made me sit up and take notice.

After the movie, I scampered - okay, I didn't actually scamper - into my office to find the track on iTunes.

The tune is "Colors," and the artist?

His name is Amos Lee and I really dig him.

Of course, the track is only available as part of the whole soundtrack, which I wasn't of a mind to buy, so I looked for other albums by Amos. He has a few, and "Colors" is on 'em, but the version from the movie is piano-based, and the other versions are guitar.

So I bought the soundtrack. It's not bad. It's just not great. Though it also includes some score, and I did get 18 tracks for $9.99.

Amos Lee. My new favorite music guy. If you don't already know him, look him up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

'The Weather Man' ...

Watching Nicolas Cage suffer through this movie was about as much fun as stepping in an icy puddle of slush.

Interestingly, Roger Ebert gave it 3 1/2 stars. And his review makes salient points. Maybe I was too distracted because the location shots were too familiar. WGN is turned into WCH. Whenever a movie is filmed in Chicago, I'm distracted, trying to identify what was shot where, how accurate the editing is from place to place, scene to scene. I wanted to call the screenwriter and say, "Hey, we don't have Kenny Rogers chicken in Chicago."

In what I believe was an attempt at visually conveying the realities of Dave Spitz's worlds, sometimes scenes were super snowy and gray, other times they were sunny and sparkly. Dave's everyday world is glum, Dave's former life and former wife in Evanston is sunny and grand. "Look at that house," he says in voiceover. "People should be happy in that house."

Except that if it's snowing wildly in downtown Chicago, odds are that the sidewalks won't be perfectly clear and dry in Evanston in the time it takes him to pick up his son at a mall and drive him home. So the visual device left me wondering if it was intentional or if the crew just happened to shoot on sunny days in Evanston and snowy days in Chicago. I'm sure it was intentional - you know, arty - but on a literal level, it was distracting.

And let's talk about voiceover for a minute. Cage was brilliant playing the Kaufman brothers in "Adaptation," in which Brian Cox plays Robert McKee, screenwriting god, who practically spits venom as he tells his seminar attendees that voiceover in film is a screenwriter's biggest copout.

What feels like half of this film is told in voiceover. Charlie Kaufman would know better. Of course, "Adaptation" is full of voiceover, but Kaufman's in on his own joke.

L.A. Dave and I, when discussing films, often ask, "Who was this movie made for?" Given that this movie made just more than $12 million, the answer, apparently, is "Not enough people." It's bleak. It's depressing. It's gray. Cage plays pathetic well. But do you want to spend 101 minutes watching some poor schlub desperately grasping for a marriage that's long gone, searching for any glimmer of approval from his famous father, and taking Big Gulps to the head from passers-by?

No. Because with the exception of the Big Gulps, that pretty much describes a lot of people's real lives. No need to pay $9 to look in a mirror, nevermind the price of popcorn.

So the best thing about the movie, besides Hans Zimmer's decidedly un-Zimmer-like tracks, was a 10-second scene toward the top of the film. A couple was sitting on their couch, watching our anti-hero on TV. The man announced that the guy on the screen is "bullshit." The woman countered that she likes him because he's handsome.

The woman is the mom of one of my friends from high school. I recognized her instantly. I used to hang out at her house watching movies with her and her daughter, Debi. I always dug their relationship. It was the precursor to Lorelai and Rory in "Gilmore girls." She was an actress then and she's an actress now. I stopped the movie and skipped right to the credits to be sure. Yup, Joanne Sylvestrak. Go Joanne!

Her two lines were the best part of the movie.

I Write, Therefore ...

Anne, someone I do not know other than by her comment to one of my previous posts, commented on a comment left by L.A. Dave.

"Sorry Dave. Unlike you 'writers', I have a real job. I have a life, and have better things to do write a blog. Maybe it's because you have no life or real relationships with real people that you write these things," she wrote.

Now, some of you may say that I'm playing right into Anne's hands here. That people who post pissy comments that belittle other people are just starved for attention and want to feel better about themselves by acting superior.

Eh, maybe.

But this post isn't about Anne, it's about writers, of which I am one.

One of the axioms of the writing world is "Writers write." Deep, huh? But it's true.

Writers write for the same reasons painters paint and actors act. It's what we do. It's our means of expression. And some of us are lucky enough to get paid for it. (If I had written Anne's quote above for one of my clients, I would have made $20.50. Dave, who has some good clients!, would have made $41. Not too shabby, eh?)

But it's really not about the money. Words are our life. We edit everything we see because we've been trained and because bad grammar makes us shudder. Because there's order to language, but there's also art.

Do you have a favorite book? Of course you do. Everyone does. And if you've ever read something that's really moved you and thought, "I could do that," I invite you to try. It is much harder than it seems.

Words entertain us, words inform us, words are the lifeblood of civilization. If you can't read and write, life is exponentially more difficult. My friend Henry's father couldn't read. I never really considered the implications of illiteracy until Henry called me one day on vacation, upset because he father had been missing for a day. Turns out, after dropping Henry off at a golf course, he'd been unable to find his way back to his host's home because he couldn't read the street signs.

But I digress. (We writers sometimes do that.)

Blogs are an outlet for writers. Everyone has their favorite blogs, just as they have favorite books. And if you visit a blog on a regular basis, you do so because you like the writing. There's no other reason to visit. Sure, you may agree or disagree with the views of the writer, but if the writing sucked, would you even bother?

Nope.

So, to answer Anne's accusation, I do have a real job. I'm an editor. But I write because it's important to me. And I blog because it forces me to write every day. The Annes of the world are welcome to read what I write. And they're even welcome to post their views. But just because I write it doesn't mean that you have to read it. Or like it. You just have to respect my right - my need - to do it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Don Need No Steenkin' Locksmith ...

Part of having too much space to call one's own, in my case, means having French doors leading out to my deck.

Sometimes, the lock gets testy. Sometimes, the lock doesn't want to lock.

Saturday was one of those sometimes.

I opened the door for a reason that escapes me now, and when I closed the door and tried to lock it, nothin' doin'.

So I did what any self-sufficient, 36-year-old woman would do: I wedged a chair underneath the handle and figured I'd do something about it Sunday. Maybe the lock would fix itself. I like problems that fix themselves.

Fast forward to tonight. Figuring I had tempted fate for long enough with my door-wedging approach, I got out my Phillips-head screwdriver and took apart the handle and lock assembly to see if I could see what the problem was. Might as well take a look-see before calling the locksmith, right?

Everything looked OK, but the part that was supposed to turn wouldn't budge.

Hmm. I needed a flat-head screwdriver. And pliers. Check, check.

I tried taking off other parts on other parts of the door. Nope. No help.

So I thought I'd check the Internet. Surely someone had had the same problem.

"Try WD-40," suggested one poster to a DIY forum. Right! WD-40 is the wonder carcinogen! (OK, I don't know if it's really a carcinogen, but it can't be good for you.) Spritz, spritz. Nothing. Spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz. Nothing. Crap.

I continued surfing. Found a post about someone with a similar door who ended up needing a bushing replacement from Peachtree. That must be what my problem was. Evil plastic bushing has broken, I thought, and I need the replacement metal bushing. The poster wrote that it was a tricky installation. Maybe I'd call the locksmith in for expertise.

But for tonight, I'd just wedge the chair again, tempt fate one more time.

So I put the lock back together and checked the three deadbolt protrusions. The bottom one seemed kinda stuck. Nudged it with my shoe. Then it seemed really stuck. Shut the door. Tried the lock.

Click!

I love problems that fix themselves.

But I'm not going to open the door until spring, just in case.

Monday, February 20, 2006

My Brain Hurts ...

OK. OK, OK, OK, OK, OK.

For the record, I have not been living under a rock for the past 48 hours. I have spent most of that time on my couch, feeling a little crappy, not wanting my bronchitis to return for an encore performance.

So it is just this evening that I've become hip to the story about Dubai Ports World taking control of ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami, and Philadelphia after buying the British company previously responsible for said ports.

This isn't so much about an Arab company having control of American ports. We count the United Arab Emirates as one of the chummier Middle Eastern nations.

No, my overarching question - and one that I will put in a letter to my senators in the morning - is why the hell control of U.S. ports was EVER handed over to any other nation?

Britain is our ally. BFF, the U.S. and the U.K., right?

Don't care.

Don't care if "security" is, and will continue to be, handled by us. Our port security sucks. Inspect containers? Why do we need to do that? Oh, maybe for the same reason we should be inspecting the cargo on planes that we're not inspecting either.

I have to take off my shoes to go through airport security, but once on a plane, I'm sitting above tons of cargo that no one's bother to screen, because it doesn't make economic sense.

Oh, well. if you put it that way ...

EXCUSE ME?!

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Bush, but I thought, "Well, maybe this is something he adopted with the office." In part, that's true. The deal to give control to the British company happened in 2000. That was still Clinton's watch. So I'll tell Bill it was a bad idea from the get-go.

But I think Congress is right on by saying to this administration, "Whoa there, bub. Maybe this ain't such a good idear, neither."

We're so hell bent on erecting walls, fences, moats, whatever, to prevent Mexicans from crossing into this country, to, let's be honest, do the jobs we don't want to do, we're so hell bent on shipping Cubans found on the open sea back to Fidel where their lives become even shittier than they were before, all because they were trying to make their way to a better life (not that I'm saying our borders should be 100 percent open), but we hand over control of our nation's ports?

What am I missing?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Least I Can Do ...

I need to give more.

The last post ended with the words "I need to live more," and that's true, I do.

But part of that living will be giving.

I used to volunteer on a weekly basis. I've gotten away from it. There is no good excuse, really. Inconvenience? That doesn't count.

I just watched "The Constant Gardener." It is an amazing film based on what must be an amazing book with an unfortunate title. It makes sense, in the context of the film, but I fear that the title has done little to draw an appropriate amount of people into theaters. It cost $25 million to make. It brought in, domestically, just under $34 million.

Rachel Weisz, well-deserving of her Oscar nomination, plays Tessa, a wealthy British woman who chooses to work with world humanitarian agencies and travels to Africa where she embraces the local children and asks questions about AIDS testing.

By the end of the film, I actually said out loud, "I need to volunteer more."

Throughout the film, Tessa wants to help anyone within reach. Ralph Fiennes, as her diplomat husband, Justin, tries to remind her that there are millions of people in Africa who need her help, but she can't help them all. By the end of the film, Justin, of course, wants to do whatever he can, if only to save one child.

Call me a bleeding-heart liberal, but I often feel embarrassment and guilt over all that I have. I'm not suggesting I should sell my home and donate the proceeds to charity. I don't have the courage. And surely I can't end the AIDS crisis in Africa. I'll leave that to the Bonos of the world. You need a global presence to affect global change. (Though I can support The One Campaign, and I do.)

Tonight, it is bitterly cold. There are those who have nowhere to go to simply get warm , and I sit here, with so much more than I need. The least I can do is give back in some way. I don't have much money to spare, but I do have time.

So it is time I will give.

Resonance ...

Today is one of those days.

I don't know if has something to do with the position of the moon or the fact that it's -2 outside and I'm feeling very cocooned and grateful in my warm, little home.

But as I poke around the Internet, my morning routine, reading the blogs in my blog bookmark, so many of the posts that I'm reading this morning (and thanks to all the bloggers who post on a regular basis, so I have something new to read when I visit, and I visit every day) and striking a deep, soulful chord.

Like how our jobs define who we are. Not because we necessarily define ourselves that way, but because that's society's way of sizing us up. "What do you do?" is always the first question after an introduction. Maybe it's just rote. Like saying, "Nice to meet you" after you've met someone, whether it was truly nice to meet them or not. But why can't we ask another question? "What's your favorite cuisine?" or "When you were in school, did you like math?" ("Greek" and "It depended on the teacher," by the way.)

Or like how many of us - most of us - don't really live, we merely survive. Steff quoted Ayn Rand: "Avoiding death does not equal living life." (I've never read Ayn Rand. I have "Atlas Shrugged" on my bookshelf because I feel like I'm supposed to. I've never read "The Fountainhead." I have no inclination.) One of my mom's favorite quotes - as she always said it - is from the Rosalind Russell movie "Auntie Mame": "Life's a banquet and too many poor bastards are starving." The actual quote is "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" But she always had the spirit of it.

Problem is, most of us don't really live, most of us merely do survive. We get through every day. We have obligations. Maybe we hate our jobs. Maybe we hate our relationships. But inertia is a powerful force. Or the ruts are too deep to rock out of.

My God, that's sad. So many people, myself included, put life on hold. But like Lennon said, life is what happens when you're making other plans.

Last weekend, someone very close to me went into the hospital for a routine procedure, and as that procedure began, her heart stopped. Doctors revived her. And her heart stopped again. After emergency open-heart surgery, she made it through the critical period that night in ICU, only to face more complications the next day that necessitated another trip to the OR.

We all held our breath for two days. I tensed every time my phone rang.

She might come home from the hospital tomorrow, or maybe she won't come home until the middle of the week, but all of it has made me marvel at how quickly everything can change.

In "Tuesdays with Morrie," Morrie talks of the metaphorical little bird that he asks, "Is this the day I'm going to die?" Because if you ask that question, you'll live your life differently. We all take too much for granted, as if we have limitless time. We don't contemplate our deaths, because what if thinking about something hastens its arrival?

But in the meantime, we don't really live, either.

A few years ago, a friend of mine passed away very unexpectedly. He was on vacation. I'm still not sure exactly what happened. I don't know if the family knows.

It was a shock, because he was in his 40s, but personally, it was made worse because we had had plans to see each other a couple weeks previous. I was going to head out to L.A. for a couple days, but he found out at the last minute that he had to work an event in New York, and we would have only had a Sunday night to see each other. We scrapped our plans with a mutual, dismissive, "Let's just do it another time."

If I had known that was going to be my last chance, I would have flown to LAX to see him for five minutes.

There are so many places I want to see, so many things I want to do, so many things I want to say. I don't tell the people in my life often enough that I love them. I let fear hold me back from too many things. I let perfectionism win, instead of pursuing the sheer joy of an experience.

I need to live more.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Flashback ...

I am a sap.

I've said it before (and I'll say it again): I'll cry over a well-made commerical for soup.

Soup. Coffee. Greeting cards. Whatever. Pour on the schmaltz and I'm a puddle.

I'm also fascinated, as you know, but the link between music and memory.

Tonight, I watched "Elizabethtown." Early on in the movie is a flashback, backed by a tune by Helen Stellar called "Io."

And instantly, it was cold and snowy December. My dad was in the hospital. Mom was at her wit's end, trying to keep it all together. Christmas was coming. They were finalizing the sale of their business. She needed to be at work but she needed to be at the hospital, but all the while, life was still happening and she needed to tend to that, too. I tried to help where I could. Tried to get to the hospital every day to see dad. Things were still rather new with G. I was still finding my way with my new job. I was baking far too many cookies, a mostly vain attempt at normalcy.

One night, Dave, the love, sent me the Helen Stellar tune with this note: "I offer you this fab tune from my new faves Helen Stellar. Dim the lights, crank it up and let this tune take you. It will calm you."

I did. And it did.

And that's what I thought of tonight when I heard it in the movie: Small, seemingly insignificant gestures of kindness that, unbeknownst to the gesturer, are never forgotten by the gesturee.

I thought of him, and his kindness and concern, and I cried.

Ah, Practical Fashion ...


As my friend Marc just wrote: "Fashion designers have ceased to have any relavance or use to modern society."

I suggested that by all of us dressing as balloon animals, we could put an end to racism. But then, we'd probably become specists, if that's even a word.

Fashion designers ceased to have any releveance or use in modern society a long time ago, if you ask me, but this does indeed take the cake. And it also sets the bar. What could any designer possibly come up with to top this?

Tuneage ...

Ah, iTunes and the Music Store.

I love that the days of having to actually get in the car and go to a store to buy a CD are over. Any day, any time, I can have any music I want in seconds. When I became a member of the DSL community, I feared for my credit cards.

When I was a dial-up girl, grabbing a song took 20 minutes. The most damage I could do was $3 an hour. But with DSL, a song downloads in about 30 seconds. Oh dear. This could be bad.

As many of you know, I own a lot of CDs. But lately, I've been feeling my age. I have little idea what the "kids" are listening to. I recently bought CDs by the Gorillaz, Killers, and Fall Out Boy just to see what my nephew keeps talking about. Happily, he likes my Franz Ferdinand discs - some common ground, seeing as how, as Tom Selleck as Richard Burke on "Friends" said: "I'm a whole person who can drink older than you."

But perhaps the best thing about iTunes and the Music Store are the free downloads. Every Tuesday, a cool new tune by a band I never would have heard of otherwise. Some weeks, I skip it. But that's very rare.

So the other day, I made a playlist in iTunes of all the weekly freebies. Wow. It makes for a great collection. I burned a CD of 'em, which is on my stereo right now, loud. (I don't have the adapter yet to play my iPod through my stereo. I'll get around to it.)

To date, I haven't bought any of the albums by any of these featured artists, so in that way, Apple is not achieving its goal in this household, but it does have my undying loyalty, not that my allegiance to Apple was ever in question.

(I have been, and always will be, a Mac girl. I use a PC for work because I have to, but it's an inferior machine. Yeah, you heard me.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Toast ...

Pat, who authors one of the blogs on my must-read list (click on the title to go to one of my favorite posts), was on my mind this morning as I made toast.

And Pat just posted a comment to the Paris item below.

I like that as I was thinking about Pat and toasting toast, Pat was reading about Paris and posting a post. Ah, happy synchronicity!

It is worth noting this particular entry on Pat's blog elicited a lot of comments.

Clearly, it is a topic about which people feel great passion.

My toast was made with bread that I bake that is lovely as bread, but is awesome as toast. It is also awesome as French toast, though French toast is not really toast. It's fried, egg-soaked bread and lacks many of the qualities of toast greatness which Pat identifes.

Toast. When bread meets fire.

I believe I feel a haiku coming on:

Toast, warm and lovely
Crispy and spread with butter
Eat it everyday

And in case you're wondering, yes, I *do* think I might be going insane.

WHAT?!


From the World Entertainment News Network:

"Socialite Paris Hilton has reportedly been asked to play celebrated humanitarian Mother Teresa in a movie biopic. Indian director T. Rajeevnath has contacted the hotel heiress about taking the lead role in his new film, which will chronicle the late nun's life. He tells MTV.co.uk, 'My agents in California have contacted Paris Hilton. Although there are several actresses willing to play the role of Mother Teresa, the most widely respected and loved person, the history of the actress who is finally chosen for the role would have to be analyzed thoroughly before she is chosen.' "

HUH?

Deep Thought ...

So, I was cleaning out my linen closet the other day (you know you're a grown-up when you have a linen closet) and I ran across a fortune from a cookie I ate on New Year's Eve.

Why, you're asking, was my cookie fortune in my linen closet?

Well, my linen closet is right outside my bathroom, and in addition to linens, it also holds all my extra bottles of shampoo and spare toothbrushes and such, so it's not just sheets and towels in there. Anyway, I'm sure I must have found the fortune in my pocket one day when I was going to take a shower and set it down on the sink, but then wanted to keep it (so I could blog about it someday, apparently) and, as I have no designated fortune-cookie fortune storage space in my home, it got tossed in my linen closet one day when I cleaned the bathroom.

But now, here we are.

And it says: "There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Than Words ...

Last night on "Sex and the City," Carrie had a fling.

Trouble was, the boy didn't know that's what it was.

"If I had known you were just using me," he said, angry on the front steps of the church before Charlotte's wedding, "I wouldn't have made love to you like that."

Nevermind that Carrie had already reported to Stanford that it was bad sex – jackrabbit sex. I blanched at the phrase "making love."

I'm always amazed when men use it. It seems more emotional-filled than most men can handle. But more than that, more and more, I wonder if men understand what it means to women. I'm not talking about married men, here. I'm talking about men in the earlier stages of dating.

There are plenty of ways to describe sex, some more crude than others. But "making love" connotes a connection beyond just sex. "Sex" can happen between any two anyones, anywhere. "Making love" is sex elevated to a higher emotional plane. It's not just a synonym.

Of course, I shouldn't be so biased. Women may use the phrase when they don't really mean it, either. Maybe they think it sounds more civilized, more refined.

But I also think that women are more sure of their feelings sooner than men, so if they use that phrase, odds are, that's what they truly feel: love.

The Horror, The Horror ...

File this under: Things That Should Not Be

Some days, Marc, a friend from my Thomson days, directs my eyes to some truly excellent Web content.

This is not one of those days.

Clicking on the title of the post will take you to Disney's Dev2.0 site, and if you're around my age, you'll think, "DEVO? No, wait. Oh, thank God. That says Dev2.0."

That's just the Disney machine trying to be clever, because indeed, these teeny-boppers are in fact performing DEVO tunes. Audio will launch automatically, so if your computer has speakers, be prepared for the aural onslaught.

The album is due in March. There will be a tour. There are videos and downloads on the site, buddy icons, wallpaper. Games are coming soon.

But lest you think the members of DEVO are spinning in their funky red plastic hats, I quote:

"DEVO, one of the '80s most innovative and iconic bands, has partnered with Disney Sound to bring their hits to a new generation with DEVO 2.0, a combination CD/DVD package set for release on March 14th. The original members of DEVO rerecorded ten of their old songs (some with revamped lyrics) and two brand new ones with DEVO 2.0, a group of five talented kids aged 10-13.

" 'The concept is about the energy and aesthetic of DEVO being passed like an Olympic torch to a new generation,' said DEVO frontman Gerald V. Casale, who directed all 9 newly created music videos on the DVD.

"The platinum-selling band handpicked the kids Nicole, Jackie, Nathan, Michael and Kane to don the famous 'energy domes' and become DEVO 2.0; unlike the original DEVO, DEVO 2.0 is a co-ed affair, with lead singer Nicole and keyboardist Jackie lending diversity to the DEVO chemistry. 'I'm honored to be the new Mark Mothersbaugh,' declared Nicole."

From the About page, we learn of Nicole: "She would like to be a famous singer, but would also like to be a doctor." Nicole, you might want to start studying for the GMAT now.

A bit of my adolescence just died.

For The Record ...

I'm not cynical and bitter about Valentine's Day. I'm neutral about it. It doesn't register with me. Really. I didn't wake up thinking, "Oh, sad. It's Valentine's Day and I don't have anyone to share it with."

I woke up thinking, "Ah, crap. I have an 8 a.m. call for work."

So, Valentine's Day, Schmalentine's Day.

I just thought the art below was funny. And if you click on the title of the post, you'll be able to read the hearts more clearly.

And, as I read in Entertainment Weekly this morning from Michael Bublé: "It's really sad if just because you're single on Valentine's Day that gets you down, because I bet there's a lot of people who wish they were single on Valentine's Day."

Excuse My Language, But ...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Hope Things Last ...

The title of this post is linked to an AP story about the obsession in China with plastic surgery and a couple in Shanghai getting matching noses.

Yikes.

What if things don't work out?

You can get a tattoo lasered off, but would you get another nose job to replace the nose that reminds you of your ex?

Have we learned nothing from Michael and LaToya Jackson?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Innocence Lost ...

Oh my.

My nephew was here today, poking around iTunes, when the conversation turned to funny things to put on your pod.

There's this dialogue, he was telling me, between Big Bird and Kermit, but they're high.

Knowing that you can find anything on the Internet, and employing my hyper-keen search sense, I Googled "Kermit + Big Bird + Stoned" and if you'll click the title of this post, and then click "Watch This Movie!", you'll see what we were talking about.

It's very wrong. And very funny.

Here's the opening line, from Kermit, bong in hand:

"Hello, Kermit the Frog here, and welcome to Sesameyah Street. I'd like to tell you what today's letter is, but I am really f***ed up."

This ain't your toddler's Sesame Street ...

Friday, February 10, 2006

I've Been Throttled? ...

Well, what a crock.

According to an AP story (linked above), Netflix, my beloved Netflix, is being a bit of an ass.

Apparently, if you're a Netflix customer who turns discs around quickly (that'd be me), you're subject to not-so-nifty Netflix algorithms that limit what movies you get when. It seems that Netflix would much rather get the latest releases to new customers and customers who rent the fewest DVDs to make and keep them happy, because the profit margins are bigger.

Here's language right out of Netflix's Terms of Use:

"In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service. As a result, those subscribers who receive the most movies may experience that (i) the shipment of their next available DVD occurs at least one business day following return of their previously viewed movie, (ii) delivery takes longer, as the shipments may not be processed from their local distribution center and (iii) they receive movies lower in their queue more often than our other subscribers."

I've always joked that Netflix loses money on me. Turns out, I might be right. Those of use who take the word "unlimited" literally and send discs zipping back to Netflix within a day or two of receiving them cost more money in postage, especially with last month's rate increase.

(Some will say I can watch so many movies because I have no life. No, I say to you. I can watch so many movies because so much of what is on TV is crap, and watching movies is research when you're working on a screenplay, which I am. Got a vice you need rationalized? I can help.)

Ever since becoming a member, I have sung the praises of Netflix far and wide, but knowledge of this practice gives me pause. I often have "short wait" assigned to discs at the top of my queue. But now I learn that this has less to do with an actual shortage of discs and more to do with the fact that I turn around a greater number of discs in a month.

This does not make me happy. Still, I'll stick with Netflix. Blockbuster has pissed me off one too many times.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Then, And Now ...

Reruns? On a blog?

Yes.

I wrote this four months ago, at the beginning of November.

It is even more true today.



Love is a bitch.

I was just sitting here, thinking, "I really should write a blog entry," and then that sentence popped into my head. Maybe it's because I just watched "Everwood," which is about nothing but relationships. Treat Williams' character, Andy, is in love with his neighbor, Nina, but Nina is living with Jake.

Of course, anyone with eyes can see that Nina and Andy belong together, so her relationship with Jake is just a device. We want TV characters to get together, but if they get together too soon, the sizzle fizzes and you're left with nowhere to go. But if you keep them apart - ah, tension. That's what keeps us tuning in every week.

But it's not just romantic love, though romantic love is a bitch above all other forms of love. No, love in general, so coveted and so prized, is the source of great joy but also the source of great disappointment when expectations go unmet.

I learned a valuable lesson about that this week: I need to accept people, fully, for who they are. I need to accept what they are able to give, and accept what they are unable to give. I have expectations, I have ideas of how I'd like people to be. But that is rarely who they are.

I live in a quiet world, a solitary place where I sometimes believe I have too much time to think. A fantasy realm, really, where I concoct perfect worlds and perfect words and perfect moments. It's part of being a writer. Sometimes, I just start talking out a scene in my head, holding both sides of the conversation, and occasionally, I am astonished at what comes out of my mouth - a perfect piece of dialogue - and I run to my office and pull out a piece of paper and scrawl it down to put into the screenplay later.

But my life is not a movie. I only get to control everyone's behavior on the page. When my hands leave the keyboard, all bets are off. People will say things - or not say things - and I get riled, because their words are their own, not from the daily script that runs through my head.

My mom and I often joke, "If only the rest of the world were like us ..." but I'm not really joking, am I?

And the thing about love is: Love ends. Some love is forever. But some love ends. And it ends whether we want it to or not. Love is its own master. Love is a guest in our lives, and sometimes it doesn't stay.

We can fool ourselves and think that if we don't say anything, love won't leave. But love always knows, and it moves on, and sometimes it takes us a while to realize that it's gone.

Who can blame us? Love fills us, and when it goes away, it leaves an enormous void that we're sure we'll be unable to bear. So we hold on to avoid the pain. But eventually the day comes when we make our uneasy peace with the reality that there's nothing left to do but go through it.

And we know, deep down, that we'll find a way to bear it. That in time, we'll uncurl and sit up, our heads feeling heavy, and slowly move on, slowly leaving the pain behind. And we know it's necessary, and that the life we were living before wasn't enough, that we're worth more, and we leave friends and lovers in our wakes, and they leave us in theirs, and this journey is the only way to find it, love.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Umm ...


... what was Madonna wearing during her Grammy number?

The half-hose, they disturb me.

Eww, Eww, Eww!

No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is this what it's come to? Star Jones Reynolds hosting a virtual workshop on how to tell if your man's The One? (Click on the title of the post to go there.)

Of course, what she's really doing is stumping for her book, "Shine: A Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Journey to Finding Love." You can buy the book on the site, but you can also "Make Star your SuperBuddy"! I am *dying* to know what this is! Alas, when I click the link, I get an error message. Dammit.

I've never had a SuperBuddy. Do I want one? I'm sure I do. But I don't think I want it to be Star Jones. Ever since she's lost all her weight, her head looks unnaturally big for her body, and not in the Tootsie Pop way that most girls in Hollywood look disproportionate. Star looks like her head's about to whump down on the table in front of her on "The View."

I "took" the entire workshop, all eight steps. I'll save you the time and clicking:

Know yourself. Know what you're looking for. Then you'll be able to recognize it.

RADICAL!

The most alarming thing about the workshop was the quiz, "Are There Any Deal Breakers?" Specifically, the first question:

"What should you do if your man doesn't have a credit card?"
A) Don't worry about it
B) Run

Those are your only two options. I thought B was ridiculous. So I clicked A, to see what I'd learn.

"Incorrect. This is a serious red flag that almost definitely means your man does not have his financial houses in order."

"Almost definitely." Nice. Nothing like a little hedging.

But "Run"?!

I'm sorry, but doesn't that seem just a wee bit shallow?

I'm not saying I'm itching to date a guy with bad credit, but is that really the first and foremost reason to write him off?

But also on the financial topic, Question 6:

"How should you react if your man's insisting on a prenuptial agreement?"
A) Disagree with him
B) Agree with him

The correct answer, ladies, is B. Because we should all expect to create a prenup to protect us and our relationship.

By the by, if you're a nervous test-taker and you want to be sure you don't get any wrong, you can get hints along the way to help you make the right decisions.

With a little help from Star.

Who married a gay man.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Healthy Schmelthy ...

"The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect," according to the New York Times, citing a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Woo hoo! Put whipped cream on your fried chicken!

(OK, maybe not. But Dave, I think this means that you can have more than one French fry at my birthday lunch this year.)

Feeling A Song ...

I love music.

I own a ton of it. My friends and family marvel at the size of my CD collection.

But very, very, very few songs really get into my blood.

"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" is in my blood.

The first time I heard the song was at G's, actually. He had a German radio station streaming and we were both struck by this song. He wrote down KT's name to investigate further.

So now her album's out in the States and I bought it last night.

I love the energy of this song. I love the simplicity of it. I love that it is impossible to be still while listening to it.

I love that the last line of the chorus, amusingly, is "You're not the one for me."

I stayed up for until 1 a.m. listening to this one track, over and over and over again, singing along most of the time, sure I'd be hoarse when I woke up this morning.

I'm not, and I've been singing it again all day.

Brian, my genius recording and mixing friend, has been prepping a couple tracks for me to lay down one of these days, but this song, clearly, has to go right to the top of the list.

Monday, February 06, 2006

KT Tunstall ...

If you haven't already heard about this chick, you will.

Click on the title of this post to go to KT's site.

Tuesday is the day her album, "Eye to the Telescope," will be released in the States.

The single you won't stop hearing for the next several weeks is "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree." The sounds in the song are all created by her in real time. She's looping herself while she plays. You can watch her do this by going to iTunes and downloading the free video of her on the "Today" show.

She's adorable.

She's Scottish.

She's cool as hell is a very unassuming way.

She's gonna be a big star on this side of the pond, as she already is on the other, though it took awhile. Her album was released a couple years ago and crested at No. 73. It was rereleased after she filled in, last-minute, on a telly show and it zoomed up to No. 3.

She's more than just another chick with a guitar.

Next year, the Grammys: She'll win Best New Artist if there's any justice in the world.

------

Such a deal: I just grabbed her album from iTunes (a bit before midnight). Twelve tracks, plus the "Today" show clip, for $8.91!

'Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction' ...

OK, so I just watched a trailer for "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction."

Let's ask the obvious question: Why?

"Basic Instinct" bowed in 1992. My calendar tells me that this is 2006. Fourteen years? Shouldn't there be some sort of statute of limitations on sequels? Shouldn't a sequel appear as soon as you can get it made? Three years between "Shrek" films is acceptable because it takes three years to make a "Shrek" film. But 14 years? Then again, "Bambi II" is being released on video tomorrow, and "Bambi" first traumatized children in 1942. So I guess the record is 64 years. Nevermind.

Let's ask the next question: How old is Sharon Stone these days anyway?

IMDb tells me that she's about to turn 48. Well, good for her and her personal trainer. She has a great body, and you see a lot of it in this movie. I hope she was paid a bundle to strip for this flick, cuz it sure ain't gonna do anything for her acting cred.

(As I signed into Blogger to write this, I fired up iTunes and the song that came up was U2's "Desire." That amused me.)

Toward the end of the trailer, the "pasty guy" (as he's refered to on Defamer) says, if you'll excuse my language, "This is fucked up." Well, yeah. Didn't he see the first movie?

Apparently, to prove that this movie is different, the writers radically changed the central conceit. So in the sequel, Catherine Tramell abandons her unhealthy relationship with an ice pick and takes up with a letter opener instead.

And yes, she's still bisexual. And yes, there are still cars flying through the streets at high speeds, this time in London.

March 31, if you care.

(Michael Douglas is not in this movie, of course. He's too busy being married to Catherine Zeta-Jones.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Process Of Processing ...

G just popped up on my screen.

I've taken him off my IM list. It's just too weird to see him online and not hear from him.

But he popped up to thank me for my recent mail and e-mail, which was nice of him. Good manners should supercede what's transpired between us recently.

We very rarely talked on the phone. Almost every conversation we ever had, if it wasn't in person, was on IM. But this was our first post-break up contact. Interactive contact, that is.

He mentioned that he still has my copy of "The Girl with the Pearl Earring."

"Should I send it to you?" he asked.

Oof. Why did that feel so weird?

I told him to keep it, that he'll like it. I left it there, when we were dating, because I expected us to watch it together sometime. I'll pick up another copy one of these days. It is one of my favorite movies, but to have him send it to me just smacks too much of divvying up posessions after a divorce or something. Not that I'd know what that feels like.

"This all feels so weird, like going from 80 miles an hour to a sudden stop," I wrote.

And that's the thing about break-ups, isn't it? The abruptness of it all.

On my penultimate visit to his place, I'd spent the night. When he was getting ready to leave the next morning, as I stood in the foyer in my PJs and he put on his coat to head to work, he kissed me goodbye, stepped into the hallway, turned and looked at me and seemed to consider something, then stepped back inside and kissed me again.

It seemed so sweet. So, well, loving.

The last time I was at his place, just a week later, well, we all know what happened.

There was no love there. There never was. Not that he ever said "I love you." It's not as though he lied. But his actions over the couple months we were together seemed to belie what he told me that night, that he didn't feel a connection to me.

"I just feel like I have all these things to say, yet none are coming immediately to mind," I wrote. That's a phenomenon everyone can relate to: You almost never think of the thing you want to say when you have the opportunity to say it.

He still reads this blog. He made a reference (along with a wink) about not realizing that I had hoped for the feather blanket. So he'll read these and understand what I'm feeling, what I'm unable to say in those IM moments.

"Check in sometime if you want," he wrote as we wound down.

Maybe. Maybe that would alleviate some of the sensation of whiplash.

Or maybe not. Maybe, as he said tonight, I just need to "give it a bit more time."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Love, It's A Numbers Game ...

I have the most amazing friends.

Everyone has been so supportive over the past few days. I've logged many hours on the phone and had numerous IM conversations. There's a lot of love in my life, and I'm grateful.

Some of my friends are angry, and I find that interesting. I'm not angry. Have they somehow assumed my anger from me? Or are they just angry because they don't like to see me sad?

Some of my friends are sad for me and I appreciate their commiseration. Misery loves company, right?

Except I'm not miserable. I'm fine. And not Meg-Ryan-In-"When Harry Met Sally ..." fine. There will be no future meltdown. And I'm gonna be 40 sooner than Sally.

Dave called yesterday to check on me and after I said all I wanted to say, he remarked on my good perspective. But perspective is what's called for in situations like this.

Not just perspective, of course. Ice cream should be involved as well. But why wallow?

Love is a numbers game, right? Ultimately, ideally, we're all looking for The One. Some people seem to find many The Ones, but when it comes to marriage, my intention is to only do it once. I understand that circumstances change in a marriage and sometimes divorce is inevitable, but I also think that too many people are too cavalier about marriage, with a mental shrug of "Well, if it doesn't work out, we'll just get a divorce." Not me. I want to be more sure. As sure as anyone can ever really be.

I've had two men in my life who wanted to marry me. I never married either of them, obviously; the first because, well, because he never formally proposed (though I wouldn't have said yes), and the second because I knew it wasn't meant to be.

So there's the salesman's adage: Every no brings you closer to the yes. And the fairy tale-inspired saying: You've gotta kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.

Maybe the number is preset. Maybe every person is required to date a certain number of people before finding their mate. So for every relationship that ends, I've just moved myself one space closer to the end of the game.

And, ideally, I learn something along the way. Every relationship has something to teach us. Everyone in our lives is there for a purpose.

There are no mistakes. Everything happens for a reason.

In the end, all that the end of a relationship really means is that the other person wasn't the one.

Maybe I'll find him. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'm meant to go through this lifetime alone. I have no way of knowing.

All I can do is wake up every day and be a good person and live my life and help other people when I can. If someone comes along who's meant to share my life, I'll be ready.

And if he doesn't, well, I have the most amazing friends ...

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Next Chapter In The Story Of G ...

The other night, I made the decision not to write about what happened with G. He reads this blog (or used to read this blog; not sure if he still does) and I wasn't sure if I wanted him to read what I'd have to say.

Still, this blog is, in part, a serial, and I feel some sense of obligation to let readers know how the story ends.

What follows was written the night I got home from his place. Today, I wrote a letter to him and sent it (as a PDF - ah, technology). That night, he wanted me to stay and talk. I couldn't. So the letter is my half of the conversation. We'll see if he chooses to continue our discourse.

In the meantime, this is what happened.



I knew it was coming. I’ve known.

My intuition is keen.

I knew when I mentioned him in my Christmas letter. “You’re tempting fate,” the voice said in my head.

I knew when I found the perfect Valentine’s Day card for him, weeks ago. I didn’t buy it. “You won’t be together by Valentine’s Day,” the voice in my head said. I went back the next day and bought it anyway. I just won’t listen. Even to myself.

I knew today. The signs were everywhere. I knew. I knew the title of the last post before I drove to see him tonight.

He was more distant than he’s ever been. Stress, he tried to tell me. But I knew. We went to dinner. Conversation was more strained than ever. We walked back to his building. Technically, he held my hand, but he wouldn’t really hold it. His grasp was weak.

So tonight, as I lay on his couch, reading, while he did some work on the computer in the bedroom (or avoided me or mustered up the courage to say what he had to say), I knew. He came and laid down beside me. I turned off the lamp. He asked me what I was thinking. I told him, “I’m thinking that I wish I could do something to help you, but you guys like to just go into your caves until you figure it out.”

“Under normal circumstances, your theory would be correct,” he said.

Wow. Then I really knew.

He was quiet. He tried to decide what to say. “I’m not very good with words,” he said.

“That’s not true,” I said. And I waited.

The gist of what he told me - and I’ll presume it’s the truth because he told me once that he doesn’t lie (though I know he could have been lying when he told me that, but I believe he was telling the truth) - is that he doesn’t feel an emotional connection to me.

I sat up. I folded the blanket that covered me and put it back in its place. Picked up my book and walked into the bedroom to get my things.

He followed me in a moment. Stood next to me.

I looked into his eyes. “I hope you find what you’re looking for,” I said.

He said, “I don’t know if I know what I’m looking for.”

“You’ll know it when it comes along.”

I didn’t stick around long. He kept hugging me, wanting me to sit and talk. I didn’t see the point.

So within 10 minutes, I was standing at the elevator.

And I didn’t look back.

Relationship Fallout ...

Since more than one person has brought it up:

G retained custody of the blanket. He bought it for me, for my comfort, but for his bed, which is where it stayed.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

'Cinderella Man' ...

That little Ronnie Howard, he can make a movie, can't he?

Last year was a so-so year for me and the movies. I saw some of what I wanted to see in the theaters, but I missed a lot of movies, too.

So "Cinderella Man" has been in my Netflix queue since before it was even released and it finally arrived today.

Russell Crowe may be a petulant man, but if he throws a phone as well as he throws a punch, well, maybe the whole phone-throwing thing was part of his method acting. Maybe he was stuck in character.

I think boxing is the most absurd activity on the planet. I refuse to call it a sport. Two people trying to beat the living hell out of each other isn't a sport. It's stupidity.

But in the '30s, when America needed a hero, James Braddock was there, a principled man, good husband, loving father. The scene in which Crowe literally has to hold out his hat broke my heart.

I haven't seen all of the Best Film nominees, but this one, no pun intended, surely should have been a contender. I think it was indeed released too early in the year to seriously vie for Oscar, but it's terrific. Definitely one to add to the DVD collection. I love Ron Howard's commentaries. They're like a day in film school.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

G Is For Goodbye ...

It's over.

'Vision Monthly' Is Here ...

Click on the title of the post to download the current (inaugural) issue.

Vision Monthly is a 'zine produced by my blogger pal Ethan.

We've never met, Ethan and me. He found my blog one day because the word "flowchart" popped up in whatever it is he has looking for the word "flowchart." Enigmatic David had created a romantic-comedy flowchart and I'd written about it, and now, many, many months later, Ethan has created this very cool thing (there's a piece on flowcharts in it, in case you were wondering) and I'm plugging it.

And not because he asked me to, and not because I'm in it (he liked my chutzpah post and repurposed it with my permission), but because I think it's awesome that a man would have this kind of initiative and branch out and do something somewhat far removed from his everyday and I'm proud of him.

As I scrolled through it last night (he let me see it the day before its official launch), I smiled at one author's inclusion of a quote by Goethe: "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."

That doevetails nicely with several of the posts here in recent days. And echoes the Goethe quote I have up on my office wall: "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."

There's also a piece titled "What Makes You Come Alive?" which resonated with me because for the longest time, I didn't think I had an answer to the question, "What do you really want to do?" And then I realized I had lots of answers. And then I thought I had to pick one. But I don't. I can do many things. I just have to start doing them. And I am.

Ethan, bless his heart, wants to pay his contributors. He knows he won't be able to pay them much at the outset, but I admire and applaud him for his intent and the gesture. Many, many, many sites out there solicit writers to supply content, and what they offer is appreciation and "maybe money someday if this thing gets off the ground."

Uh, no. Writing is a commodity. It is not free. It's free if we choose to give it freely. I'm happy to write for Ethan because he's a friend and I admire what he's doing, and I'm even happier to do it for free, paradoxically, because he's willing to pay me. It really is the thought that counts.

So Ethan is expecting the people who read his 'zine to contribute to its continued existence. It's the public-television model: You don't have to pay for it. You pay for it because you think it's worth it. Some will pay, others won't, even if they all find value. But, ultimately, his readers/contributors will decide whether there will be an Issue 2.

Check it out, and throw a couple ducats in his bucket if you like what you see.