Thursday, February 25, 2010

Limits To My Bossiness

I opened my email this morning and was greeted by an action alert from CREDO. The subject line read

Tell Chevron: Clean up your toxic mess in Ecuador.

I am sure this is an important problem, that there are many people whose health is affected by the dirty deeds of this corporation. But I just don't have the energy to click on yet another link and sign yet another petition to chastise yet another evildoer for their evil deeds.

As it is, I am losing the will to tell my daughter to clean up the toxic mess in her room. And that impacts me a whole lot more than Ecuadorian messes.

I have to confess that I question whether the petitions that I'm constantly urged to sign -

Tell Starbucks: Offer espresso shots, not gunshot!

Stop the corporate takeover of our government!

Tell the Obama Administration to Protect America's Wetlands!

really make a difference.

I'm still idealistic enough to think that submitting a public comment at a government hearing can have an impact. And an issue like Monsanto's dangerous genetic engineering of crops moves me to take action:

But there is a tiny voice inside that says I can be as activist as I want and it won't matter. That the moneyed interests will always win. I know that's not true; I've worked on enough political campaigns to know that it makes a difference who is leading us because they can prevent some of the bad things from happening. If the bad guys get their candidates into office, it will be so much easier for them to perpetrate their nefariousness.

So I'll remain involved in the electoral process to support good candidates, and endeavor to communicate with them and their staffs when an issue comes to my attention. But I can't split myself in two, and right now, I need to tell my daughter to clean her room. you think a petition would help?

Please add your comments and sign my petition below to call on Daring Daughter to clean her room.

I am writing in regard to the room at the top of the stairs, and I demand that Daring Daughter reject a life of messiness. DD may not believe it matters if her room is a pigsty, but I certainly do.

Homes must be free of the threat of contamination and DD must not put her fellow family members lives at risk. This is unacceptable.

Please do everything in your power to restore the strength of the home's cleanliness - and please do so quickly.

Yeah, I don't think petitions are effective. And I can't just elect a new candidate for daughter...

I'm really screwed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Love Train

Photo by Box of Badgers - click link for a fabulous set of pics!

I've been visiting some bloggy friends lately. I went over to Miss Healthypants' place and read a funny post about her husband, Iwanski, and his obsession with a television program about trains. They are both wonderful writers and have a most lovely relationship.

Then I went over to The Jason Show and read a great post entitled Love Yourself. He makes the point that - well, let's let him tell you himself:
I fully subscribe the the notion that you must make your own happiness, one way or another. You're in charge. If you're not happy, then get happy. Happiness takes work. If you're not willing to do the work to get happy, then don't complain about your misery!
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you have to love yourself. My mom often observes that ultimately, you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and like what you see. She also claims that the most satisfying way to find a mate is not to look for one. Instead, she believes that pursuing the things you enjoy and finding fun leads to meeting someone special to love.

So, oddly enough, my final romantic movie couple isn't really a couple. It's a woman who comes into her own, who thinks she needs a man, but learns to relax and enjoy life and love others without worrying about pairing up.

Diane Lane is outstanding as writer Frances Mayes, whose book Under the Tuscan Sun was made into a movie. There were several liberties taken with the truth of Mayes' memoir in developing the screenplay, but who cares? The message is lovely.

Warning: This clip includes plot revelations at the end of the movie, so if you haven't seen it and want to be surprised, don't watch it. Just go out and rent it. Immediately!

Don't you just love the words in this? And aren't they unbelievably true?

They say they built the train tracks over the Alps between Vienna and Venice before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway; they knew one day the train would come.
Any arbitrary turning along the way, and I would be elsewhere, I would be different.

Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game; it's such a surprise.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Heights of Passion

Julia and Paul Child

Until she fell in love after my dad died, my 5'6" mom had never seriously considered any man who was shorter than her. A woman who was even a little taller than a romantic partner didn't match her image of an ideal couple.

Julia Child was 6'2". Her husband Paul was shorter. But by all accounts, including their own personal letters, they had one smokin' hot marriage.

I LOVE this picture of the Childs from goddessofpurple's journal: Comforting The Disturbed And Disturbing The Comfortable

I'd never really thought about Julia Child until the recent Meryl Streep film came out, and I certainly didn't wonder about her husband; in fact, I'd assumed she was unmarried, a woman devoted to her career.

Streep perfectly captures Julia's unselfconscious joie de vivre. I have long adored Stanley Tucci, the actor who plays her husband. He assumes a refined, urbane manner, but you can tell that there is something very physical simmering just under the surface. I loved Kim Linekin's review on MSN entertainment entitled Memorable movie make-outs of 2009:

Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci – “Julie and Julia”

They may be middle-aged and married for a long time, but that doesn't mean that Julia Child and her hubbie can't get it on in the middle of the day. The sight of Streep and Tucci kissing - first giggly, then passionately, then falling onto the bed together and stripping down - is refreshing in its naturalness. It's also bracing in its rarity.
There are a few wonderful bedroom scenes in this movie, but I really loved the everyday moments - in a park, a restaurant, the kitchen - that showed their deep commitment to each other.

Tucci's performance in this clip chokes me up a little bit. It's so sincere. Wouldn't you love to have a man declare his feelings for you this way? Tucci talks about the Childs' relationship here. Ooh, I love this guy!

It's idealized, of course, being a movie. Perhaps he fooled around. Or they had periods of estrangement and fights. I don't really care. The fact is that they stayed together and had fun. The film recreates some of the more memorable photographs they sent to friends:

I found this at a post entitled The Saucy Sex Life of Julia Child, at the wonderful blog Go Retro! whose motto is
"Preserving the people, places, and things from the pop culture past...because some of us still believe in yesterday."

Here are some fun facts about the film from the fine people at IMDB for my fellow movie buffs:

  • Because of Meryl Streep's height (5'6") several camera/set/costume tricks had to be employed to mimic Julia Child's height (6'2"). Countertops were lowered, Streep wore extra high heels, and forced perspective camera angles were used. Stanley Tucci is actually taller than Streep at 5'8"

  • Eric Powell's quote ("I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by") was originally made by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). Eric explains this himself, immediately after delivering the line.

  • Julia Prud'homme, who plays the bridge teacher in the film, is Julia Child's grand-niece.

  • Paul Child was 10 years older than Julia, however in reality Meryl Streep is 11 years older than Stanley Tucci.

Finally, a tasty treat for you - John Lopez at Vanity Fair made a clever recut trailer for Julie and Julia that makes me giggle every time I watch it.

People who love each other can reach great heights, regardless of their individual heights.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chemical Attraction

It's an odd thing, chemistry. Some movie couples have it; some don't. What fascinates me is when real life couples appear together as romantic leads, some simply don't have it. I've previously posted about how marvelous William Powell and Myrna Loy were as Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series and how, in comparison, his real-life wife Carole Lombard and he didn't click nearly as well in My Man Godfrey.

Of course, even if real life couples are able to make the screen sizzle, sometimes their marriages falter. Consider these examples:

I loved the Taylor-Burton pairing in Zeffirelli's Taming of the Shrew (although the storyline is slightly problematic for me in comparison to some of the Bard's other plays, they made it work).

One of my very favorite couples, Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, had fantastic chemistry in the aforementioned Much Ado as well as the superb version of Henry V.

They also starred together in one of my all time favorite little-known mysteries, Dead Again, loaded with twists and turns:

Chemistry is tricky. I'm reminded of Justice Potter Stewart's attempt to explain "hard-core" pornography, or what is obscene, by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . "

These three couples had chemistry. Sometimes it was like adding vinegar to baking soda, bubbling merrily along; sometimes it was more like adding Mentos ® to Diet Coke ® - explosive. But it was always a blast to watch.

Prolonging the Pleasure

I know I promised you the second five of my favorite romantic cinematic couples, but after the wonderful comments I received yesterday, I've decided to dole them out slowly so that you can savour the sweetness.

The Big Easy is one of my all-time favorite crime thrillers. It's stylish, sexy and smart. Again, the stars are from the same generation - hell, they were born only 7 days apart! Dennis Quaid is a human aphrodisiac. Ellen Barkin is smokin' hot. The film features one of the most scorching clothed sex scenes in the history of mankind.

In this clip, Ann Osborne, an attorney in the DA's office, has been brought by some New Orleans policemen to a party celebrating officer Remy McSwain's acquittal on corruption charges. I love the way they move together as they dance. And I love the way she inspires him to become a better person by the end of the film.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fuggedabout Romeo and Juliet

Screw tragic young love; the sadder but wiser pairing for me. In honour of St. Valentines Day, I offer my top ten favorite romantic couples.

1. Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. Thompson and Branagh were a gorgeous couple. Here's a fun fan vid with some clips from the film.

2. Will Shakespeare and Viola De Lesseps in Shakespeare in Love. Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow are sublime. Here's the wonderful trailer.

3. Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn as divorced couple Dexter and Tracy in Philadelphia Story. Check out this lovely clip of the two of them discussing their failed marriage.

4. Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal as Judy and Howard in the madcap comedy What's Up Doc? I love this scene so much! She is incredible. So high energy and funny.

5. Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson as Sam and Lucy in Maybe Baby. In this clip, he recites Shakespeare's Sonnet 116. Don't worry; he doesn't look like that throughout the whole movie. But his voice certainly is delightful no matter what.

I think I'll wait until tomorrow to share the other five. Now some ruminations:

When I was younger, I adored many different films for their romantic couplings, usually featuring much older men with a young actress. Christopher Plummer's Captain in Sound of Music, Rex Harrison's Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Cary Grant as cat burglar John Robie in To Catch a Thief, and so forth. But as I've gotten older, it's less my ideal. Sure, I'm still nuts about 60-somethings Alan Rickman and Richard Thompson, but I think a maximum ten year difference is optimal.

What do you think? Who are your favorite film couples? More importantly, why?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Describing Yourself

We continue with our series on The Practice of Pigeonholing People: Normal Human Behavior or Evil Plot to Drive Us Crazy?

But first, an update:

Today's Facebook offerings on Super Son included a new moniker by a classmate; he is characterized as "Someone who will always make you LOL."

This struck a nerve, because I was recently given a mug which read LOL.

Let me explain.

I am a member of a secret cabal select few small gang of sassy women who have dubbed ourselves "The Smart Girls Club." (Our unofficial name is too rude to post on my blog.) At Christmas, we had a small gift exchange, and one of the women gave us each cute coffee mugs with text messages imprinted on the sides. One had XOX, another had BFF. I can't remember what the others had. I received LOL. Presumably, she chose them based on our personalities. For one brief moment, I was envious of the other women. Were they more lovable than me?

Then I got over it.

It's not so bad to be known as the one who makes people laugh. It beats the hell out of being the one that makes people depressed or disgusted.

Sure, it's nice to be recognized as multi-talented, gorgeous, brilliant...but I'll settle for being funny. Especially since my friends also let me know that they think I am kind and smart.

High school kids are not typically as good as my buddies at satisfying their friends' need for recognition of more than one attribute. And maybe the need isn't as great in some of them. Some might be very content to be acknowledged in any way, for anything.

I told Super Son that he should be grateful he's considered the funny one. It shows that people admire his wit, and share his sense of humour. There are a lot of professional actors who would kill for his ability to improvise and his clever mind. There are many actors and actresses who agonize about not being taken seriously because they are primarily admired for their looks. Many who are considered sex symbols deliberately choose parts that cast them as plain or even downright strange or ugly characters to shed the stereotype.

Consider, for example, this:
Well, maybe it's not the very best example, since Johnny Depp's Edward still attracts a girl. But surely this one shows the actor's willingness to be utterly unattractive.

His Willy Wonka was just creepy.

I love Johnny Depp, especially in his Jack Sparrow persona, but I'd pick the funny guy who preceded him in the first film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory any day of the week.

How about you? How important is it to you that someone has the ability to make you laugh?