Friday, February 27, 2009

Is it too late to be blogging about Britney Spears?

So, those of you that know me (which is both of you) probably know that I've spent an inordinate amount of time over the past 10 years, thinking about Britney Spears.  I think it's fair to say that Britney had probably more to do with the let-loosening of my inner feminist than anyone else.  

When "Hit Me Baby, One More Time" burst onto the scene, Britney Spears was 16.  The video for that song (and a series of songs after) spotlighted Britney's nubile fuckability despite their little pitiful patina of sweetness.  And that girl was 16 years old.  16 years old with middle-aged men leering at her and the entire American media ob-fucking-sessing over the state of her hymen.

Let's take a look:

Have I mentioned that the girl in the above picture was. a. child?

And we were shocked SHOCKED when she turned into a mess of an adut?

But beyond the ka-duh factor of her failing to thrive as a young adult, what was really disturbing was how happy we were to see her fuck up.  How giddy we were to mock her doritos habit and scold her bad parenting.  In retrospect (and, honestly, I think tomes should be written about this), we were punishing her for something. The feminist in me thinks it was for failing to remain as virginally fuckable as she was at 16.  The hipster in me thinks it was for being more popular the Ben Folds. I'm pretty sure the feminist is right.

I worry about Miley Cyrus.  Her Britneyization seems imminent.  We want our teenage girls to be simultaneously sexy and untouchable.  Fail on either end, and we will lay a hurtin' down.  I think it's going to be one of my hardest jobs as a parent helping Laney navigate the morass of misleading morality that is exclusive to teenage girls. But, that said, I feel pretty equal to the task.  I am, after all, pretty good at saying "that's a big pile of bullshit."

Oh, and now that Britney is a great big, grown-ass woman?  I'm rooting for her.  I hope she does just great.  

Ladies and Gentlemen: Your Modern Conservative Movement

The conservatives have gathered for their annual convention and they've really been showing off their comedic chops.  I thought this morning it would be impossible to top batshit crazy (and lily white) Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachman telling Michael Steele "you be da man."   But then John Bolton showed me that there's a funny guy behind that funny mustache:


See, it's funny because Obama is from Chicago. Get it? 

Later on at the same forum, Joe Scarborough said "We're not going to win votes, we're not going to win elections by calling Obama a communist."  I wonder if that was an applause line?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Paen to Michelle Obama

I love Michelle Obama. I make no bones about this. I think I fell in love with her when I read this article about her during the campaign. She was in Iowa and tasked with reading a story to some kids at a school. She tossed aside some patriotic pablum called "Our National Anthem" and instead read Skippyjon Jones. Now, Skippyjon Jones is hard enough to read... but reading it while you're campaigning? That book requires you to do a voice, and the voice is like a Speedy Gonzales style Mexican accent.

That choice struck me as so game and fun and brave.

But mostly I love her because she speaks to me as a working mother. A lot of feminist writers have deplored what they call the Momification of Michelle Obama. But that's the thing about her that appeals to me the most. Her Mommy-ness doesn't detract from her professional accomplishments. Instead, it's remarkable how she managed all this awesome professional achievement without relinquishing her Mommy identity. I think that's extraordinary. And the thing I admire about her the most.

Last night during the speech the president (still love saying that) got to talking about Ty'Sheoma Bethea, the eighth grade girl who wrote her congressmen about the crappy conditions at her school, and the camera focused on that little girl. And she knew it and was so nervous! Michelle Obama kept looking down at her, and touching her, and I swear, it was palpable that she knew that girl was scared and overwhelmed and she really wanted to give her a hug and tell her she was doing just great.

And then she did and the smile on that kid's face was a thing of beauty. It was a lovely moment.

I know a lot of my fellow feminists will take issue with this... and I get the arguments they're making. But, it's not just that I love being a Mommy. I love my Mommy Identity. And I love this six foot tall lady showing up on my TV every day and being this loud and proud example of how we can have that identity without sacrificing the other stuff. Well, some of the other stuff. I mean, I do have to sacrifice my sense of calm and order... but that's pretty overrated anyway. Also my hair almost never looks good.

Meeting the New Boss

After my post of couple of days ago, I got a couple of responses of the Meet the New Boss variety.  Aside from that being a depressingly cynical outlook on politics, let's just take a look at the new president's first month (month!)

From Rachel Maddow:


- Announced strict new rules for lobbyists

- Paycaps for White House staff

- Hilllary Clinton confirmed Secretary of State

- Signed an Executive Order closing Gitmo and Secret CIA Prisons Overseas

- Named George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke Special Envoys to the Middle East

- Made first visit to the State Dept, symbolically reviving diplomacy

- Appeared on Arab TV network

- Signed Lily Ledbetter Act

- Eric "waterboarding IS torture" Holder confirmed

- Signed S-ChIP legislation

- Canceled 77 land leases around Arches National Park

- Signed the Stimulus Bill

- Announced home forclosure prevention plan

- Took first foreign trip

- Banned budget gimmicks, like emergency funding for Iraq

- Met with mayors

- Signed Executve ORder for Office of Gulf Coast Recovery


"Meet the new boss" is empirically, evidentiarily untrue.  That much is obvious within a month.


I don't want to be obtuse, though.  These cynics aren't saying that Obama=Bush.  I think they're saying that politicians are inherently untrustworthy and smart people don't put any faith in them.  Let me be clear here: Barack Obama is not Jesus.  He will not make the world perfect. He will screw up and disappoint us.  Shoot, he already has!  But, by and large, he's showing signs of being the guy who can lead us out of this morass and back into our normal state of fuck-up-edness.  


And politics, dammit, are too important for us to descend into unadulterated cynicism.  


In the inimitable words of the late, lamented Molly Ivins:


Your entire life—the warp and woof of your life—is going to be bounded by political decisions made in city halls and state capitals and the White House, and the Capitol in Washington. How deep you will be buried when you die, the qualifications of the people who prescribe your eyeglasses, whether or not the dye you use on your hair will cause cancer. All of those, and many, many more things that touch your life everyday in a thousand ways. Whether or not your car is safe when you get into it, all of these things are affected by government. You are involved, whether you like the picture or not. And if you don't like it, you really have an obligation to change it.





Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Laney is reading.  It's just the most amazingly exciting thing.   It's not something she does like we do yet.  She still has to struggle to make sense of the words.  But, watching this world open up for your child is honestly, actively thrilling.


It can be so sad thinking about that little round baby that's gone away; that sweet smelling little something curled up in a crib.  But, so much is exciting about this long, lanky girl!  She's reading now.  Isn't that wonderful?

(By the way, I know this isn't all that exciting for people who are not actively involved in the raising of the child... but there's a pretty good payoff at the end of the video.  Check it out.)

There's a New Sheriff in Town

The great thing about being a liberal is that even when your leadership disappoints, you can embrace that disappointingness as a salve to your ego. We expected to be disappointed.  That's what we do.  Once disappointed, we can roll our eyes, toss back a cocktail or a coffee and move on knowing that the firmament of the earth remains as expected: no one is as smart or as moral or as honest as us liberals; our leadership, therefore, (who has sullied liberality with political ambition) is bound to disappoint.

And, then along comes President Barack Obama.  Faced with an unprecendented economic crisistm, a particularly nasty little intransigent opposition party, and an all around scary fucking global situation for anyone who's turned on a TV or read a blog in the past couple of months, and he continues to remind us of why we were so passionate about getting him elected in the first place.

Watch as he remind us that while his efforts to reach out to Republicans were made in good faith, he's no dummy and will not hesitate to point out how petty, small and out-of-touch the opposition party is, especially if they're going to make it this fucking easy.  Poor John McCain.  It seems like he almost doesn't want to be asking this... like he knows it won't go well...

Now watch as his surrogate in New York politely tells grandstanding governors to go fuck themselves.  Can't wait to see Bobby Jindal's next appearance on MTP.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is NOT your mama's democratic leadership.  And, I gotta tell you, I like badass democrats. A lot.

Monday, February 23, 2009

And... I'm Out

I hit this blog from time to time by this guy who's a really good writer.  He's funny and smart and tells some pretty amazing stories about grappling with his demons.

He has shown glimmers of the "Hey, my wife is independent and I'm crazy about my daughter, and have never had any problem working for women, so there's no way I'm a sexist" brand of sexism, which is kind of a drag. 

But, whatevs.  The guy is funny and he is smart and he does make for a really prescient media critic.

But then today this lovely little nugget shows up:

Jayne: "Beyonce's such a lightweight. She's so desperate to be taken seriously." Chez: "(Groans) Where's Chris Brown when you need him?" 

And, that's it: I'm out. 

Deleted bookmark.  

Moved on.

I mean, not so moved on that I'm not writing it down... but moved on nevertheless.  And, so, to Chez of Deus Ex Malcontent, I can only say: Smell ya later, dude.

Some More Books I Read

My awesome cousin and dear, dear friend keeps track of all the books she reads.  So, I thought I'd try to do that this year myself. It does seem like a pretty cool way to keep track of the year.

There were these and these.

Since then, here's a quick list:

Savvy, Ingrid Law - A YA book and a pretty good read. I bought it on impulse after reading a review in the Trib.  I didn't think it was as great as the reviewer did.  But I liked it a lot and don't regret the impulse buy.  

Coraline, Neil Gaiman - Awesome.  But SCARY.  Dudes. This book scared me.  I really want to see the movie now, but having read the book - there's no way I'd ever take Laney.  Or maybe I should. Maybe I should start routinely scaring the frak out of her and she could grow up all damaged and tough like Starbuck.  Or not.

Away, Amy Bloom - The aforementioned cousin gave me this book, and I just loved it.   I put it on the highly recommended list.

OK - right now I'm in the middle of a Cory Doctorow book that I totally swiped from one of Laney's friend's Dads.  But, so far I love it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Ain't Really Caring If You Say It's So or Not, A Rod

I'm sitting here at my computer doing a little work work, waiting for things to download and upload and, as is my wont when I'm waaaaiiiittttiiiinnnnnggggg for the slow slow intertubes, I like to have a little Keith Olbermann on in the background. For like the 50 kabillionth night in a row, Keith is really upset about A-Rod.  Really really upset.

Meh.  As much as I enjoy a little Olbermann-esque outrage, I can't work up even the teensiest little care.

I confess the 2003 Cubs broke me and I lost my big passion for baseball. But, that said, it irks me when people get all judgey about steroids and baseball. How many homeruns would Babe Ruth have hit if he'd been juicing, they ask. How many homeruns would Babe Ruth have hit if he'd played against black people, I might ask. And, let's be honest, to what heights would those golden age baseball stats have soared if there'd been juice around to be had?  

That last was a Donbon point... and an excellent one, I might add.  And since I'm stealing the points of my husband the smarty, I'd like to mention another thing he said: when he was having leg issues, his doctor prescribed steroids. And they made him feel better. They made his leg hurt less.  But, he could take all the steroids in the world and still not expect a call from the show. 

Steroids take exceptional athletes and make them more exceptional.  But let's not forget that they begin exceptional.  And teenage.  And we throw piles of money at them.  And then we get shocked SHOCKED when they turn out to be opportunistic adults.  

It seems to me that if we're going to be sensible, reasonable adult fans it might behoove us to remember that baseball is a game and not some lofty, bullshitty George Willesque metaphor for the moral health of the country.

A Rod's juicing isn't going to affect my day at the ballpark, one way or the other. Then again, I really hate the Yankees.

Entrenched Family Values

Post-post yesterday, I've learned that this notion of father-as-daughter-protector is pretty entrenched (and pretty precious) to loads of the dudes I know. I was assured that these guys aren't trying to take their daughter's sexual autonomy away. Rather, they feel this way because they worry about rape; e.g., their daughter will say "no" and the boy will force himself. Evidently, though, if he's scared of her Dad he won't.

I am boundlessly dubious about all of that, but for the sake of argument, let's just take it at face value and move on from there.

Here's my problem: If you act like an asshole to the 15 year old boy with the cracking voice who shows up at your door with his adorable little boxed wrist corsage, you will not make your daughter feel loved and respected. Instead, you're just giving her an example of another guy who thinks it's his right and obligation to completely disregard her wishes and behave outside the bounds of common courtesy.

Stop being an asshole (and, for crying out loud, stop feeling you you're SUPPOSED to act like an asshole). Instead, let's try this crazy idea and teach our daughters not to tolerate assholes.

Quite a few of the guys your daughter, let's say, finds herself in situations with, are going to be guys she meets in dorm rooms or at parties or at the myriad places she'll be in that are entirely outside of our control as parents. A young girl who is ingrained with a sense of self-worth, with the idea that her wishes are taken seriously, and that she does not have to suffer assholes gladly, is a much more formidable opponent to a horny teenage boy than any scary, gun-cleaning dadddy.

And, seriously guys, let's drop the "gun cleaning" metaphor. It's just too fucking Freudian for words.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Maybe I Should Just Stop Listening to the Commericials in the Morning...

Is it just me, or is the overprotective Dad showing up an awful lot in cell phone ads?

This particularly irksome trope stems from the most pernicious bit of sexism of all: men cannot control themselves sexually, therefore, women are responsible for not only their own sexual behavior but also the sexual behavior of the men around them. And if we change those nouns to "girls" and "boys", then it becomes Daddy's job. And, in short: ew. Or, if I may rephrase: gross.

And, let's face it, frankly unfair. I know plenty of people raising boys. And I know that they teach those boys to treat all the people in their lives respectfully. Even if it's a cute girl. Even if it's a cute girl in a belly shirt. In other words, all men are not pigs. And if you are a pig, don't blame your penis or that Y chromosome. Just, you know, stop being a pig.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Feminist Musings

I heard a commercial this morning on WXRT in which the announcer brags on how safe their car model is and then bemoans that safety isn't likely to "get you the girl of your dreams."

Ah, that old pernicious sexist stereotype. Girls are shallow and materialistic and if you want a pretty one, dangle something pretty and pretty expensive in front of her. Hell, one pretty thing for another, right? Seems fair. Sigh.

This is such a tired old chestnut and one that I really don't get. Then again, I may be particularly un-car-y. I think my car is cute, but mostly I like it because I can sit up high without being in a big old douchey SUV and I can park that fucker anywhere. The fact that it's scratched on one side and is missing a hubcap doesn't really phase me.

Anyhoo, I can extrapolate and will. In the interest of gender detente, allow me to demystify: getting a nice car will not make pretty girls like you, it will make pretty girls like your car.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Michelangelo's David and That Lady on the Airplane

We have one of those old magnet toys of The David on the fridge at our office. You know the ones. Laney loves to play with it and calls him "Magnet Man." So,I decided to take this as learning opportunity (I worry that I'm raising a little cultural retard since we don't take her to church, so how the hell does she know who David and Goliath are?). We got to looking at pictures of The David on the internet. We talked about how The David is a representation of ideal male beauty.

Which got me to thinking (as it does) about that lady that's in a bikini on the side of the airplane. It's a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue thing. I find the whole Sports Illustrated swimsuit magazine thing kind of creepy in general, and this especially so.

Which got me to wondering: what's the difference between these two things. Why is it OK for Michalengelo to extol artistically the beauty of the male form while I think it's creepy for SI to extol commercially the beauty of the female form? And then it hit me that that question is so stupid and shallow and obvious that it sounds like something plumbed from the depths of Bill O'Reilly's murky, nasty, willfully ignorant little cellar of a brain.

Women's bodies are used as marketing ploys. PETA, for example, evidently thinks that the female body has less intrinsic value than a rodent's (and I fucking HATE fur coats and haven't eaten meat in 10 years). Women's bodies are devalued, commodotized, bought and sold. This is obvious. So, what was UP with that whole David/SI thought process I was working through?

And, man, this is sad:

I was afraid of sounding strident, angry, man-hatery. I have been successfully indoctrinated in the philosophy of the cool girl. I was trained by a young age to think that male approval means more than female approval. That it's only ugly girls who complain about men honking at pretty girls from their cars. That it's somehow empowering when gross, middle-aged men drool over you in magazines (or from an airplane seat). Here's an anecdote: I was a 23 or 24 year old bartender working the day shift when one of my 40-something customers looked up from his third lunchtime beer and commented on how great it looked when I turned around and the bottom of my shirt cupped (his word, complete with HAND GESTURES) my ass. And, I. Felt. COMPLIMENTED!

If I could, I would drill a hole in my head and tweeze that fucking memory out of my brain.

And, now I look at my little daughter and her perfect, perfect little body and I think I will, by hook or by crook, teach that child that her body is HER body. The only approval she needs for it is her own. And, for crying out loud, when gross men say gross things about that body, she should make sure that guy knows he's gross.

Now, I'm off to watch Dollhouse. Yeah... I get the irony.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bill O'Reilly

I know this is a stupid question, but I'm asking anyway. I was listening to an exchange between O'Reilly and feminist activist, Courtney Martin, and marveling at the paucity of his emotional scope and tone (rage or condescension... nothing else), and it hit me: his is the most vile, damaging voice in the American media landscape, and there are some pretty vile, damaging people out there.

He is an adolescent, vapid, self-aggrandizing moron. Why is he famous? Why is he popular? Who enjoys Bill O'Reilly? For a glimmer of his fandom, I invite you to review some of the emails Martin got after her appearance on his show.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Seafarer

I saw The Seafarer at Steppenwolf on Saturday and liked it so much I actually got on my feet at the end. I hate it when people stand up for plays that are only pretty good or and especially hate it for plays that are out and out crap (I'm looking at you One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Standing ovations are for exceptional theater events only. ONLY! I have spoken. Moving on.

Conor McPherson really seems to get how powerful and immobilizing the force of regret is. And yet (hi, Dave!), he also seems to believe that redemption is always at hand, no matter how great our sins or how wasted our lives. There's an exchange at the end between Sharkey and Richard that I swear to the gods actually made my heart sing. Seriously. Four days later, it still does.

And besides all that deep stuff, his plays are such a good ride. With a cast to do them justice (and this one does), the two hours fly by. You are in the palm of this play's hand. Also, one of the characters is Satan. And Satan gets drunk! This play has a drunk Satan. It's awesome.

Quick anecdote: this is an Irish play about drunk Irish men, so obviously around 2/3 of the lines in it including the word "focking." John Mahoney, for example: "I'm trying to focking use the focking toilet!" So, when the play ends, I looked at my friends and said "That was so focking good!" The lady in front of me glared at me and gave me a "tsk." Seriously. Hee.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Moving away from maudlin ruminations on my age and tempus fucking fugit and all that, I enjoyed this post a lot and especially this:

I hear Republicans say why would you weatherize a building when you throw that money out of an airplane in a foreign country

Excellent question!

Tempus Fugit. It So Fucking Does.

I went down to the basement to clean up the wreckage of Laney's last playdate when I decided to confront this box full of papers that I'd been studiously ignoring for the past couple of weeks. I'd figured it was full of some boring financial papers, ancient bank statements or long defunct insurance policies. But it wasn't. It was mine. It was a box full of all my writings from the 90s: fiction, journalism, academic. There were bar reviews and columns I'd written for Barfly and the boring town hall meetings I'd covered for The Daily Southtown. There were deep, dense papers I'd written in grad school. And I just fell into that box.

And, oh, I miss that girl.

There's something about sitting here on this cusp of 40. It looms and threatens. This knowledge that I am in the middle of my life, and while much is ahead, there's a whole lot behind. There's a whole lot that is unrecoverable and distant. And it's sad. I'm mourning that carefree kid who had such fun chewing on literary theory and deconstructing bar traffic back in those carefree 90s. I mourn her. I mourn her even though I'd never trade being this woman who sits alone at my computer at night, listening to the rain on the roof, secure in the knowledge that my child is safe and happy, that my husband loves me and is my partner in this whole, scary, enormous project that is life. But I mourn her nonetheless.

I suppose 40 is like most things: the anticipation is a lot more intense than the actual. I reckon I'll be ruminating on this for a few months and then it will be over and I'll say "This wasn't so bad, this turning 40." And yet (Hi, Dave!), I think that to love being alive is inextricably intertwined with being really sad that it passes so quickly. And, you guys, I really love being alive.

Oh, shit, let's just leave it up to the professionals (read it aloud. I'm not telling you again: you read poetry aloud):

In the Middle
Barbar Crooker

of a life that's as complicated as everyone else's,
struggling for balance, juggling time.
The mantle clock that was my grandfather's
has stopped at 9:20; we haven't had time
to get it repaired. The brass pendulum is still,
the chimes don't ring. One day you look out the window,
green summer, the next, and the leaves have already fallen,
and a grey sky lowers the horizon. Our children almost grown,
our parents gone, it happened so fast. Each day, we must learn
again how to love, between morning's quick coffee
and evening's slow return. Steam from a pot of soup rises,
mixing with the yeasty smell of baking bread. Our bodies
twine, and the big black dog pushes his great head between;
his tail is a metronome, 3/4 time. We'll never get there,
Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach, urging
us on faster, faster, but sometimes we take off our watches,
sometimes we lie in the hammock, caught between the mesh
of rope and the net of stars, suspended, tangled up
in love, running out of time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Regret, Remorse... You Know, the Usual

I'm so embarrassed by my last blogpost. Not just that I made that stupid mistake, but that I fell into the panic trap. It's like I'm on my way to wingnutville, circa 2008: quick to panic, quick to feelings of betrayal, short on fact, short on cool.

But, look, I'm going to try to do better. I'm going to try to have a little confidence in the man who's been president for, what is it? two weeks now? And, above all else,I will remember the advice of my husband and my old-now-new friend Mo: Don't Panic.

I am not panicking.

I'm cool like the other side of the pillow, man. I am cool like Fonzie. I am coooooool.

(I'm so not cool)

Well If That Just Doesn't Beat All

Here's the new head of the GOP, Ken Blackwell:

But most federal employees, that are not political appointees, vote Democrat. Since Washington, DC is the seat of government, whenever new federal bureaucrats are created many live in Maryland and Virginia. In 2008, Virginia went Democrat for the first time since 1964, and Mr. Obama won it by 130,000 votes. Creating 600,000 new jobs might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House.


I want you all to just take a minute right now and imagine what the news cycle would have looked like had Howard Dean (or ANY democrat) been that cravenly political. These are the people controlling the message right now.

Lookit: Obama's economic recovery plan is a good plan. It's not a perfect plan. But, it's a good plan. It needs to happen and it needs to happen now.

I am, therefore, demanding that you call your senators (or fax or email) and you tell them the Rush Limbaugh branch of the American right is not calling the shots anymore.

And, let's be very clear about who is controlling the message right now. Ken Blackwell is also the dumbass who said:

Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.

And this is a guy who got PAID by the government.

Call, fax, email.

*EDITED TO NOTE: Ken Blackwell is not the head of the GOP. Michael Steele is. Basically, I got my black republicans confused. This makes me a dumbass. Fortunately, not as much of a dumbass as Ken Blackwell. Please continue reading my dumbassery. Although, really, the main point still stands.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Old Man's' War

So, in January (as mentioned before), I was bouncing between a couple of book series. The first was the charmingly tony 44 Scotland Street Books, and then, for something completely different, some good old shoot 'em up scifi: Old Man's War.

I've made no secret of the fact that I am a big scifi fan. Among the many things I love about it is how familiar the outlines are; there are people who fight wars and fall in love and suffer through ethical dilemmas, etc. But right when you get comfortable, the details rock your world and make you question some of the fundamental assumptions about life. Like, the whole concept of time. If we're not here on this planet, then there's no hour or year. Isn't that crazy? I mean, I'm torn between thinking that that means time is a total fabrication or that that means time is the foundation of our whole reality.

Anyhoo, enough of that. Old Man's War is good. It's really good. All three books. Most of the reviews said the second book, The Lost Colony, lost steam. But I didn't find that. I was in those books for every page.

An another note, one of the wonderful things about the fundamental interconnectedness of the interwebz is that in shouting reviews of scifi books down the well, you can discover that the dude you're writing about keeps a really cool blog!

Oh, New York... You're So Cute When You Condescend

I was listening to the radio this morning and they were chatting about some of the fine work up on the Chicago stages these days. They got to discussing a particular review in The New York Times of the Goodman Theatre's Desire Under the Elms, which I'm going to see in a few weeks.

Mary Dixon (who, seriously, I love; she's wry and warm and a perfect counterpart to Lin Brehmer) pulls out this quote from the review:

...courtesy of two of today’s foremost young stage actors, Carla Gugino and Pablo Schreiber, whose performances here transcend by some measure even the excellent work they have done in New York

Hee. They can still act... and they're NOT IN NEW YORK!

Anyhoo, I'm really looking forward to this play.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

44 Scotland Street

You know how people say they love cracking open a new book? I am not one of those people. I love to be IN a book. But I hate to start a book. It's so much work getting to know the characters, the setting, the time. It's much better to just be there with them.

Which is why I love a series. I love to open a book and be welcomed into a familiar world but a new story.

I spent January back and forth between a couple of them, alternating between John Scalzi's Old Man's War trilogy and Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street books

It was weird bouncing back and forth between these two really really different kinds of books and I can't quite reckon now why I did... but, no matter. In the end, I had an awfully enjoyable month of reading in January.

Let me start here with 44 Scotland Street.

Imagine Evelyn Waugh didn't hate people, and you get close to these books. You get the wit and the atmosphere and this world of people with more money and more education and better conversation than you. But there's no cynicism or schadenfraude. Instead, you'll just want to head off to Edinburgh, take a long walk and look around and then have dinner with almost all the characters (others you'll want to smack upside the head... only George Eliot can get away with no bad guys).

There's an anthropologist who always knows the right thing to say. And a character who spouts off the most wonderful extemporaneous poetry. And he has a dog... named Cyril! Who not only has his own internal narrative, but he drinks beer! And manages to do both those things without being cutesy. Read the books and you get the idea that Smith really likes people and he really likes being alive and he likes writing. And, probably, he'd even like you. Check this out:

People said he had a tendency to go on and on, and I suppose he did. But those long stories of his, sometimes without any apparent point to them, were stories that were filled, yes filled, with an enthusiasm for life. Ramsey found things fascinating, even when others found them dull. In his own peculiar way, he celebrated the life of ordinary people, ordinary places, ordinary things.

Sigh. I love that.

OK, I'm heading off to Amazon to buy the two I have left in the series. So far!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Am I This Irritable Every Morning?

I've been, as the English say, full of cold for a few days now. But I'm feeling much better and ready to take on the world. Or so I thought. This was in my email this morning:

And I thought "Oh, fuck off, Paul McKenna." And then I wanted to go back to bed.