Archive | November, 2008

Dear Woody Allen Movies

29 Nov

Dear Woody Allen Movies,

Okay, well, I hate Annie Hall, and I don’t really want to talk bout it beyond that. Diane Keaton drives me crazy. She’s this strange amalgamation of helpless and indignant that results in a continual shrill expression of white woman, neurotic victim-ry. And she does it in all her movies, so I can’t really blame Woody Allen, but I can try.

And I think Woody Allen is a dirty old man (obviously). Actually, he’s kind of a continually shrill expression of white man, neurotic victim-ry.

I don’t think he’s funny.

Though I do like Everyone Says I love You, possibly due to the fact that my sister made me watch it over and over again as a child. To be fair, I also didn’t like Dirty Dancing until something like the tenth time I saw it (as she also ensured).

But it’s hard not to love Everyone Says I love You, because well, it has everyone in it, kind of like The Outsiders, and they literally are all saying I love you. While singing. Pretty poorly. And dancing. Pretty clumsily.

Plus, almost everything seems to end in exclamation points. And the lines include these gems:

Goldie (of course Goldie Hawn is in it): You couldn’t decide if you wanted to be a psychoanalyst or a writer!
Woody Allen (with a little too much truth): So I compromised: I’m a writer and a patient!

And: I haven’t touched my treadmill in weeks! 572 weeks! That’s eleven years.

Goldie, of course, is a wealthy, guilty, liberal Democrat who gives speeches about how she thinks we should have open prisons! And the inmates should be allowed to do their own cells with their own personal decorators!

But of course it’s creepy as hell, because Woody Allen seduces Julia Roberts—which, first of all, are you kidding me? But also, he manages it because his daughter is best friends with Julia Robert’s psychotherapist’s daughter, and has been spying on her sessions. So DJ (daughter of Woody Allen) fills him in on all of Julia Robert’s favorite, unfaithful, romantic fantasies. Like, “don’t forget to blow on her back, between her shoulder blades, it makes her crazy.” Gah!

Anyway, it’s hard not to kind of love a movie with Natalie Portman, Edward Norton, Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Drew Barrymore, Natasha Lyonne, Gaby Hoffman, and entire lists of people whose only character title is “Groucho Party Dancer.” Yes, that’s right, I know how to look things up on IMDB.

So mostly because of Everyone Says I Love You, I gave in and went to go see Vicky Cristina Barcelona this year. Mostly, I think that Penelope Cruz was absolutely beautiful. And Woody Allen is a creepy old man, and I don’t get the obsession with Scarlett Johansson. Okay, I get it, and I don’t understand it. I really just think it’s a fixation on her lips. And her boobs. And butt. Like I said, I get it. But I don’t understand the claim that she’s a good actress. I did like that David Denby in his New Yorker review said her sexuality is more developed than her personality.

What can I say? I’m not into you, Woody Allen movies. I get enough white liberal neurosis served up hot daily. (Except for Everyone Says I Love You. Excuse me, Drew Barrymore is about to cheat on Edward Norton with the criminal Goldie invited to her birthday– “he’s rehabilitated!” In case you were curious, Drew Barrymore says, “Very interesting. I’ve never been kissed by a sociopath before…”)




3 Letters

28 Nov

Dear Mr. Postman,

You’re kind of a gray, weasel-y man, and I’m never quite sure what you’re saying to me, but I do enjoy our visits.

Like last week when you were shuffling my papers around and saying, “Howmanyhowmanyhowmanysheetsgoingoneway, whichwaythesesheetsgoing?”

I was pretty sure I was at an auction, with you as my highly effective if under-articulate and very-specialized auctioneer (“stamps, stamps for the mail, get your stamps”).

“Hey, you wanna some runaround money?” you asked me.
“Excuse me?” I asked you.
Cash back. The post office now offers cash back.

“Go get ‘em tiger!” you say.
“You too! …I mean, have a good day?” I say.




Dear Lady,

So, you are standing behind me in the coffeeshop, and you are talking to your friend who you are visiting from out of town. And you are telling him this story:

So it’s 4:30 in the morning, I’m plastered, and yelling at Jerry in the middle of the street in downtown Manhattan.  I kept yelling at him that he didn’t love me, and why didn’t he love me, and all of a sudden this homeless man wanders over and goes,

hey lady! would he be standing here fighting with you at 4:30 in the morning if he didn’t love you?

I shut up.  And the homeless guy looks at Jerry and says, Can I have five bucks?

… your friend says, “I think he deserved it, for that good deed.”
And you say, “Yeah, probably. Jerry just started yelling at him until the guy backed away.”

First Thought: The homeless guy definitely deserved five bucks, and I don’t think much of Jerry for refusing to give it to him. But he was probably plastered too.

Second Thought: Somebody overheard me telling this story as he walked in, and asked if I was talking about an episode of Seinfeld. I could have been, yeah?

Third Thought: I mean, I know the temptation to fight when you’re plastered at 4:30 in the morning is strong, and I know that sometimes it’s hard to believe that he loves you…but girls. Ladies. Gentlewomen of this world. Oh my. We should stop starting that fight. Though I like doing almost anything in the middle of the street.

Fourth Thought: Who names their kid Jerry these days?


Dear Barista,

A customer asked you what was on your finger.

“Oh, this?” you said. You looked at your index finger, pinky-side. (Hold your hand up, it’ll make sense).

There was a curvy black line on it. “It’s a tattoo,” you said.

“A tattoo?” the customer asked. A tattoo? I thought.

You held your finger up to your top lip. Yep—a perfect handlebar moustache.

You wiggled your finger a little, and the moustache dipped and danced.

The coolest tattoo in the world.

“I got tired of always drawing it on,” you said with a shrug.



Dear Religion, Bill Maher, and My Mother

25 Nov

Dear Religion, and Bill Maher, and My Mother,

I really enjoyed Religulous.  It was interesting and certainly relevant, and captures a certain moment in time (this one, in the broad sense).  I kind of place it in the same category as Planet Earth, except not nearly so pretty to look at, Bill Maher’s voice can’t hold a candle to Sigourney Weaver or the British dude, and Planet Earth’s factual, while Religulous is kind of Bill Maher’s version of stand-up.  Anyway, I really love Planet Earth, and I had a brief moment when I thought, maybe I’ll buy Religulous, and I very rarely think that about movies.  Mostly I thought it’d be an interesting thing to save from this year, maybe in a box with the November 5th front page, that whale-themed party invitation and CD from a friend, my new fried chicken skills and the mental image of Jon Stewart pointing a finger in the air and trilling, “Nailed it!”  Among other things I will find under my bed and on my bookshelf and place in a box when I move.

Anyway, like so many things, for those who agree with Bill Maher about religion, Religulous confirmed their opinions and made them feel validated in their beliefs.  For people who don’t agree with him, well, most of them didn’t go see it.  And for those who don’t think much, they probably just laughed really hard when the leader of the marijuana church in Amsterdam leaned into a candle sitting behind his head and set his hair on fire.  (It was funny.)

The movie also captured some truly wonderful moments, as when a Vatican bishop stopped to talk to Bill Maher just outside the Vatican gates and told him that the Bible is not literal, should not be read as if it is, and of course the Church itself has major moral issues.  And a few other things.  I think he rolled his eyes at one point.  Towards the Vatican.  Where he works and studies and supposedly worships.  So he was a very nice and human man.

Of course, other people interviewed were very dogmatic, and I’m pretty sure Bill Maher chose the most ridiculous examples he could find.

He was, after all, out to point out that religion is destroying the world.  He claims in the beginning that he wants to understand why people are so sure of things that can never be proven– that being the entire basis of the concept of faith– but by the end, he’s standing alone in the screen, looking at the camera and earnestly shouting about how it is time to change before we tear ourselves apart any further.  He stands there, yelling that religion must go or else we will annihilate ourselves.

Now, in my expert opinion (I took one Comparative Religion class in college, and read at least half the articles, so…. plus I grew up Catholic and I still practice guilt) you could say that religion causes violence.  Or you could say that people cause violence and often use religion to rationalize it.  See how I took a stand there?

That was purposeful.  Because while I would like to think I am one of those sitting in the theater who thought as I watched Religulous (I also laughed, but that’s beside the point), I was also horrified at different points throughout the movie.  By both what the interviewees were saying and by what Bill Maher chose to show or extracted from what they said.

Partly because I went home for dinner the next day, and my parents are very liberal, thoughtful and pacifist-oriented people (Maher’s target audience), and when I thought about it, I knew that at least my mother would not like the movie.  And I still have trouble not listening to her (Hi Mom!).  She’s of the “people cause violence” thought camp.  She thinks faith can be used or misused by people, like most human cultural and social forces.  She taught us that being Catholic is important because, if for no other reason, it’s an important part of our family history (hellooo potato famine).  She thinks faith can be sustaining, and saying the rosary at night can help you sleep, and that no matter where you are in the world, you can walk into a Catholic church for Mass and be a part of something familiar, and other nice things that make a lot of sense.  Also I’ve sat through a lot of services that I couldn’t understand.  It is soothing (right to sleep).

So I might buy Religulous, but I don’t buy all of it (see that?  see what I did there?) and probably I will not give it to my mother for Thanksgiving.  Since I don’t usually give her anything.  It not being a gift-giving holiday and all.

Anyway, I hope you all (Religion, Bill Maher, and My Mother, since that is who this is addressed to) are doing well.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Pray for surf.


PS- I know Religulous came out all the way back before the election and now the world has changed and there is hope, I got the memo, I just sometimes need to think about things for a while.

Dear Animal Print

22 Nov

Dear Animal Print,

I have to admit, I was overwhelmingly pleased with your appearance in my life last night.

It’s been a long time since I was that close to a cheetah print fur coat, and I was pleased with your decision to go all the way to the knees and pair yourself with a fedora.  The understated black jeans, boots, and gray shirt you wore underneath kept you just this side of the tracks of the classy train.  A bold choice paired with an understated base—it’s just so lovely to know that it can still be done, and done right.  Have you been watching What Not to Wear?

Also, the Shiny Shirt standing next to The Coat at the bar provided such a beautiful example of how to go a completely different direction and end up in the same great fashion place.  Leopard print!  Next to cheetah! A fine distinction, but one worth making.  I was speechless with joy.  I have to admit, it took a little while to verify that I was looking at any animal print at all, given the sheen and stretch of the shirt across the girls, but through diligent examination conducted from across the bar and some help from my friends, was able to definitively confirm the spots (I don’t know where you learned your scientific research methods, but I was ace in high school chemistry).

I guess I just wanted to say thank you.  (And Shiny Shirt—your ass did look great in those jeans.)

And a shout-out to the band, who really were funky (meaning groove, not smell).



Dear Seattle

21 Nov

Dear Seattle,

Today, you are cold and crisp and bright. Today, a friend made me lunch with the contents of his refrigerator, creating a creamy, soft and cheesy tomato sauce and spaghetti, and his Queen Anne windows looked out over the meeting of Lake Union and Lake Washington. We could see parts of University of Washington, and parts of the Cascades, and parts of downtown, and parts of trees losing their leaves. His Queen Anne roommate wore a plaid shirt and played the guitar as I did the dishes, and I had a chocolate for dessert.

Today, Seattle, I went to Bauhaus, an old bookstore turned into a coffeeshop, and they have good coffee, and Top Pot doughnuts, and floor-to ceiling windows. I was meeting a new friend, for the purpose of confirming that there were reasons we couldn’t stop talking the first time we met each other, and we sat for hours. I can see the Space Needle, and we traded names and poems and books and places to drink coffee. We sat at the intersection of HipsterVille and YuppieTown, and it got dark. The man in a sparkly leopard print cardigan leaned across the table towards his boyfriend in a white prep-school pullover (two stripes across the left arm) and the one at the next table over eavesdropped when I mentioned authors. I couldn’t turn around without meeting someone’s eyes, and no one looked away. The lights changed and the bus numbers stayed the same. A pit bull came in and stayed for a while. I could look down from the second-floor loft and see into the pastry case.

That’s really all it takes.



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