Monday, February 25, 2008

At last, my love has come along

Nolan was finally able to consummate his relationship with Jake...

I think Jake probably just got tired of running, poor kitty. Nolan's jazzed, though. All he wants to do is follow Jake around and wait for him to stop so he can pet him. I told Nolan he wasn't allowed to bother Jake when he's eating or using the litter box, but considering how much "privacy" he gives me when I poop, I'm gonna have to keep a close eye.

Yay! Now we gotta work on Lola...

Thanks for reading.

You think you're tired now, well wait until 3

Hey, how about them Oscars, huh? Were they long, or what?

But seriously, folks. Did anybody watch the whole thing? Really? I told myself I was going to watch everything, just because I could (KB had no interest and I managed to get Nolan in bed by 8, so I was free to sit there and tube out for four hours) but in the end, I had to skip some of it, it was just so tedious. I found myself flipping back and forth between the Oscars and something on the BBC America with Michael Palin and a flimsy excuse to show all his favorite Python skits. Even when I wanted to want to care (like when the 98-year-old Production Designer/Art Director dude was giving his speech) I just couldn't.

Although I did find some serendipitous moments of switching back and forth between the two, such as clicking to the BBC and the architect/abbatoir/block of flats sketch with John Cleese screaming, "You sit there on your loathsome spotty behinds, squeezing blackheads, not caring a tinker's cuss about the struggling artist..." and then back to the Oscars to see Cameron Diaz trying not to yawn while listening to Robert Boyle (the above-mentioned Honorary Oscar recipient).

I was surprised by a number of the winners: I had thought Julie Christie would win Best Actress and Ruby Dee Best Supporting Actress, simply because the Academy likes to give Oscars to the older long-haul actors who've never won (or, in Christie's case, who won so long ago it was like a different career). Funnily enough, I thought Marion Cotillard's and Tilda Swinton's acceptance speeches were two of the best of the night - perhaps because they weren't really expecting to win and were able to be more spontaneous in their remarks.

I was dismayed to see Diablo Cody win for Juno - it was a cute and funny film, but there's no way in hell that was a better-written screenplay than Michael Clayton. (Plus I find her tremendously annoying personality-wise. Note to "Diablo" [I know that's not her real name]: You are not Bettie Page. Nor are you Louise Brooks. If we all just agree that you're a bad ass, will you please stop showing us your tattoos?) I was betting on Paul Thomas Anderson for director, too, mostly because There Will Be Blood seemed to me to be more the quintessential American picture (Corporate Greed versus Religious Fervor - hey! It IS America!) than No Country For Old Men. I thought the Messers Coen would get the Adapted Screenplay nod (as they did) but that Blood would win for Picture and Director. Shows how much I know.

And now I have two more movies to add to my Netflix list - The Bourne Ultimatum (which won in both Sound categories), because I didn't realize it was directed by Paul Greengrass and had dismissed it as another money-sucking sequel (even though the first two kicked ass, I have to say), and Enchanted, which looked to me from the previews I saw to be another sappy Disney princess-in-peril schlockfest, but which after hearing the three nominated songs I might have to reconsider, as they seemed just snarky enough to make for a fun movie (particularly for those of us who had a seriously Little Mermaid-influenced adolescence).

And Jon Stewart was great. I like that he's not really a Hollywood guy - he does his thing and then gets out of the way of the awards and winners and lets them do their thing. If he comes up with a funny quip spontaneously, he'll throw it in there, but he doesn't force it (a la Billy Crystal). Plus he gave that Czech singer a chance to give her speech, which I thought was very sweet. (That movie, Once, is on the list for my Movies with Geriatrics course, so I don't have to Netflix it.)

But why wasn't Roy Schieder in the "We're Sad They're Dead" montage with Heath Ledger? Did he not make the deadline?

So anyway. What'd you guys think?

Thanks for reading.

P.S. I'll announce the poll winner once I finish tabulating all three of the responses I got!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Is your bed made? Is your sweater on?

So my new favorite album is Vampire Weekend, by Vampire Weekend. I'm not linking to anything of theirs (videos, websites, etc.), because I haven't seen anything. I'm trying to keep myself uncorrupted by hype to see if I really like them as much as I think I do. Does that make any sense? I feel like I came to their music legitimately (whatever that means) because I heard them on the radio first, and responded to their music and nothing else.

I was in the car with Nolan coming back from our music class, and I heard this song that was a crazy schizoid mish-mash of genres - it sounded like some sort of Afro-beat funk combo, but then the singer came in like your traditional semi-whiney alternative white dude, and I was all, "Eh?" Nolan said, "What's this song called, Mommy?" And I was like, "I have no idea, but I like it." And of course the DJ never tells you the name of the song when you want them to, so I made a mental note of the time (Saturday, 11am) so I could look on the XPN website's playlists and find out who it was. It takes a few days for them to get their lists up on their site, so I had to keep checking back. Then when they finally had Saturday posted, I couldn't tell which order the songs were played in, so I didn't know if the top of the list was the end of the hour, or vice-versa. So I ended up going through the list looking for all the names of bands I'd never heard of (which is 90% of them, since I'm such a clueless dork), finding that band/album on Amazon and listening to the sample to see if it matched up with what I remembered of the song in my head.

It took me a while, but I finally found them. Part of the reason it took me so long was the name "Vampire Weekend" sounds to me like a Jesus and Mary Chain knock-off - some sort of Goth wannabe band - so I didn't even try them until the end of the list.

So. The album. Vampire Weekend sound like Paul Simon and David Byrne had a musical love child, and then hired the Shins to be their nanny. Paul Simon and David Byrne happen to be two of my favorite musicians EVAH, and then VW also name-drop Peter Gabriel in one of the songs, thus completing the triumvirate of Angsty White Guys Who Incorporate (Some Might Say Co-opt, Or Even Steal) World Music Into Their Sound And Also Have Excellent Lyrics. The guitar sound is quite reminiscent of Simon's Graceland album, while the beats and riffs are not what you typically get on an "alternative" album. The only place I find the album to be kind of so-so is in the lyrics. They're fluffy and light and silly in places. Some of the songs are better than others (Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, Oxford Comma), but they're all short and inventive, and the album as a whole is fun and energetic and fresh - makes me want to find an excuse to go on a road trip, if only so I could zoom along and blast it from the stereo. (I know, I'll never be a music critic.)

I immediately downloaded the entire album, and then did that embarrassing thing where when you like something so much you pretty much force it on your friends/lovers/roommates just to gauge their reaction and see if they love it as much as you do. Poor KB. Ten o'clock on a Wednesday night, he's trying to go to bed, and I'm shoving my iPod at him going, "You have to listen to this!" (He was very diplomatic in his response - he listened to one song, said, "I can see why you would be into this," turned over, and went to sleep.)

I understand they're quite the media darlings at the moment, or that's what I gathered from reading some of the reviews on Amazon. I wouldn't really know - I haven't watched MTV in years, and I stopped subscribing to Rolling Stone when I left L.A. I guess that's why I feel that my experience of them is somehow more authentic, because I only know them from their music - I have no idea what they look like, how old they are, what country they're from, any of that. I know I could find out quickly enough with a search on YouTube, and probably will eventually, but for right now I just want to keep my infatuation pure.

Now I must go listen again.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I used to love her, but I had to kill her

Argh. Can't sleep (clown'll eat me!) so I'm writing.

Why does my brain wait until I'm all ready for bed - teeth brushed, face washed, prayers prayed (Ha! just seeing if you're paying attention) - and I've gotten snuggled into my warm bed before going into Hyper Creative Drive? Is it just that my sense of what is actually worthy of being written down is skewed by my tiredness and everything seems like a brilliant idea? (kind of like when you're stoned and everything you think seems REVOLUTIONARY!) Or does my brain just like to torture me by waiting until I'm all snuzzy drowsy cuddly with KB before it goes, "Psst. You know what would be a great way to introduce the FBI agent in that horror script? Here listen, I'll tell you..." and I find myself laying there arguing with myself:

Me: "I'll write it down in the morning."
My Brain: "You'll have forgotten it. I promise you."
Me: "No, this is too good. I'll remember it. I know I will."
My Brain: "You won't get all the detail. You won't get the feeling of it. You'll get some vague outline and most of the facts, but it won't be as meaningful and good as it is now."
Me: "God dammit."

And I get out of bed and go into the office and turn on the blinding light and write it down. And it's true, My Brain is right, because it's happened before - I tell myself I'll remember it in the morning, turn over and go to sleep, and then when it's the next morning (or afternoon when Nolan's napping, as is usually the case) and I do try to get it down on paper, I find myself going, "Now what was that great line? Shit."

I have, since the great The Wind That Shakes The Barley tragedy of Ought Eight, been given a virtual kick in the butt, writing-wise. I am simultaneously trying to work harder at writing at least something every day, and also giving myself a break for not being able to be Superwoman and do it all plus be a great writer. KB has said to me many times that this is just one phase in our lives, the stay-at-home-and-raise-your-kids phase, and there will be other phases (hopefully the write and sell and make movies phase) in the future, and I know that's true. It's just so hard sometimes to cut myself slack.

Which leads me to my next thought.

Nolan and I were at the library today, because we've been staying home entirely too much lately, being all homebound and cocoony with no appointments or playdates and I really felt we just needed to get out. It's hard to convince Nolan to change the status quo most of the time - if he's happy playing Constructables, he doesn't want to get a coat and hat and shoes on and go out in the cold and get in the car. So I usually defer to him and we stay home and play on the floor until I'm drooling with ennui.

But not today! Today, I forced him into the coat, etc. and we went to the Library for some interaction with other human beings.

And in the lobby, we ran into this woman, let's call her, um...Heidi. Nolan and I have run into Heidi and her kids numerous times in the past at various playgrounds in Princeton, mostly last fall, just after she had had her third child. She's a pediatrician who works part time, and did I mention she has three kids? When we first met her last fall, the baby had just been born and she was on her six-week maternity leave from work. (And she was completely free of any leftover baby weight that I could see.) We met for a couple playdates (her middle child, a girl, is Nolan's age) and lunch and whatnot, and I wish I could think of a bad thing to say about her, because...there isn't one. The woman's perfect. She has three kids under the age of 5, she works part time as a friggin' doctor, and she's totally cool. About everything. She makes homemade cookies. She knits. She wears Chuck Taylors in a completely un-ironic way, and she gets away with it! And she's not that annoying kind of holier-than-thou mom who let you KNOW that she knits and makes homemade cookies and doen't give her kids any food with high fructose corn syrup. She just does those things. And is totally self-deprecating and slightly goofy and doesn't wear makeup and I hate her.

I have one kid and am home full time with him, I don't knit or bake or do anything crafty, and all I do when KB comes home from work is bitch about what a tough day I had and how difficult Nolan was to deal with. Sometimes I think I just need to turn in my Parenting License to the Parenting Agency and say, "Sorry, I really thought I could handle this, but as it turns out, I cannot. I am a complete wimp and am totally incapable of dealing with adversity in any form, especially as it pertains to my child. Sorry about that. Better luck next time!"


So anyway, we met this woman in the lobby of the library, and we chatted and I invited her and her husband over for dinner. Because I'm an idiot, and apparently a masochistic one at that. I'll get to know her even better over dinner, I'm sure, and it will turn out that she volunteers for Save the Children in her spare time, knits afghans for elderly Katrina survivors, and that she once rescued a litter of puppies from a burning building. While wearing her Chucks. Sigh.

So I'm looking forward to that dinner.

But, and I have no smooth segue here (alas), the real thing I wanted to write about when I sat down was...Paul Haggis. KB and I just watched "In The Valley Of Elah," and I have to say, that's the first Paul Haggis film I've seen that didn't make me want to retch. Or hoot. Or both. Repeatedly. It was actually quite good - some clunky dialogue and some rather obvious foreshadowing of plot points, but on the whole very balanced and subtle and...mature.

I guess it's surprising to me, because when "Crash" won Best Picture in 2006, it really just hurt my brain. I couldn't fathom that anyone could think that trite, preachy, poorly written, hammily acted, obvious, treacly, ponderous, mish-mash of cliches could be on anyone's list of Not Too Awful movies, much less the Best Friggin' Movie of the Year. I laughed when it was nominated, it seemed like such a joke, and when it won I was just flabbergasted.

Not to mention "Million Dollar Baby," which was slightly less painful due to the mollifying presence of Morgan Freeman (he can make reading the phone book seem like Fine Art), but in which I was still able to predict the "big" moments, right down to almost getting the dialogue word for word in some scenes. (My mom hates watching movies with me now - she says I've gotten too snobby - and this was a particularly bad one. We were watching it at her house, since she has the pay cable and the big flat screen TV, and when I started guessing what the lines were going to be, out loud, to KB, she got up and left the room she was so annoyed. Sorry, Mom!)

So with those two movies (plus the screenplay for "The Last Kiss!" Yecch! Now there's a winner!) comprising the entirety of my knowledge of Paul Haggis's, how do you say, oov-rah, I did not have high hopes for Elah. I guess when you go into something with low expectations, it's not too hard to pleasantly surprised. I don't want to be damning the movie with faint praise, because it actually really was quite good. My theory (espoused to KB, my current sounding-board/victim for theories) was that Haggis had written and directed Crash, but only written Elah, and thus had another person (the theoretical director) to reign in his worst impulses and sort of balance him out.

Buzz! Wrong! Thank you for playing, Caroline! Take your year's supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Franscisco treat, and leave quietly, won't you? He wrote and directed both of them. Huh. What do you know. Maybe he's growing and learning as a director and writer? That was the thing about Crash, it was so...juvenile. All the ideas were on the surface, nothing was left for the audience to understand. He might as well have just bought one of those giant billboards on Sunset and wrote "Racism and stereotypes...BAD. Caring about people as individuals...GOOD." and saved us all two hours.

But then, he's the one with the shelf full of shiny gold statues, now, isn't he?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oh I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner

C'mon, y'all! The Oscars are six days away and I have exactly ONE returned ballot! Get on the stick, people!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Rocky Road to Dublin

Well, shit.

I have just had one of the strangest, most frustrating experiences I think I've had in my whole life.

I signed up for a course called "Second Chance Cinema" with the Princeton Adult School, which basically means me and 68 senior citizens in an auditorium on the Princeton campus getting a chance to watch films we didn't get to see in theatrical release. Eighty bucks for 13 films, only two of which I'd already seen. A good idea, yes? Monday night = Caroline's night to go see a flick and have some Caroline time. Yay!

Except today, the first film, "The Wind That Shakes The Barley." I don't even know how to describe it, what happened.

The curator/emcee got up and described the movie, did his intro, gave the proles and droolers a little background on Ken Loach and his style of filmmaking. All very standard.

The lights went out, the movie started, and the first scene was like Paul Laverty broke into my house two years ago and cherry-picked scenes from one of my scripts, inserted them into his screenplay, and made the fucking thing with Ken Loach.

I thought, "This is my movie. Fuck! Fucking Ken Loach made my movie!"

But he didn't, really. It's a very different movie. It just happens to have some of the exact same scenes I wrote in my script The Long Black Veil eight years ago at USC. This has never happened to me before - it was the strangest thing, sitting there, watching scenes unfold almost exactly as I'd imagined them in my head (and wrote them in my script). It was partly exhilarating - like, "YES! That's exactly how it should look!" and "Oh, perfect! That's it! That's perfect!"

It wasn't until I really thought about it a little bit that I was overcome with the "Oh, fuck!" feeling. I can never make my movie now. Or if I do, I'm going to have to drastically change several key scenes.

It's not plagiarism, obviously. It's just a case of two people having very similar ideas. And, the Big Fucking Difference, of course, is that Ken Loach actually went out and got the funds and the actors and the equipment and Made The Goddamn Movie, whereas, what have I been doing for the last eight years? Oh, sitting around with my thumb up my butt, thank you very much. And they're not really the same story, at all. TWTSTB is more of a political polemic (a Ken Loach film, in other words) while TLBV is a romance. A period Irish historical romance. Gah!

I guess I should be glad that it was a Ken Loach movie and not a fucking Ron Howard movie or something like that. Jerry Bruckheimer, worse. At least I like Ken Loach's movies. Mostly.

I'm so angry with myself. I worked so hard on that script, and it's been sitting in a fucking Staples filing box for six years, being carted around from LA to New York to Boston to Princeton. And now it's toast. It's dead. I might as well burn the fucking thing.

But you should see these scenes! See the movie! Go see it! Rent it! The hurling scene at the very opening - the whole idea of sport as a metaphor for war, for the stupid games men play. The scene at the ceilidh dance, with the fiddlers! The couples whirling around, and the camera picking out the couple we're really interested in, seeing their shining faces as they spin because they think they've really got something to celebrate, when in fact it's all going to crumble soon, and only we know how fragile their elation is, because we know what's coming. Those scenes. Those scenes are right out of my head.

Arrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhh. I'm going to go kill myself now.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids

Inspired by this thread on Fark. (WARNING: Don't read the thread unless you are prepared to spend about an hour giving yourself lots of new things to be afraid of and a massive case of the heebie-jeebies.)

Things I am irrationally afraid of:

-Spiders and roaches and silverfish, oh my! Anything with lots of wiggly legs and a tendency toward fast, jerky, unpredictable movement. Mice, fine. Lizards, great. Snakes, cool. I have no problem with any of them. Flying 3-inch roach skittering up the wall in my bathroom? Kill me now. *shudder*

-Those cans of biscuits/pizza dough that you peel the paper off of and they POP open. I hate those! The suspense! The weird, doughy, sploot noise! The worst is when they don't pop even when you've peeled off all the paper and then you have to go find a spoon to "press at seam" to MAKE it pop. *shiver* I usually make someone else do it for me, and even then I have to leave the room or cower in fear with my hands over my ears.

-Injury to my eyes, specifically having a paper cut on my eyeball or having someone (who? who would do this? I don't know, that's why it's irrational) pull out my eyelid and use a hole punch on it. I distinctly remember the first time I thought of this - it was in Mr. Smith's literature class in high school and we were reading 1984. There was the whole thing with Winston's worst fear being having his head stuck into a cage full of rats, and that made me ponder what it would take for me to confess to the government torturer things I hadn't done, and the dark recesses of my brain came up with Hole Punch In The Eyelid. *flaps hands around and whimpers*

-I also, since seeing 28 Days Later, have a horrible fear of being unable to protect my defenseless son from zombies or any other huge natural-disaster type occurrence where humanity's dark side is revealed, people go feral and run amok, and you can't trust anybody. I am seriously thinking about training to use a gun and taking a wilderness survival kind of course in an attempt to allay those fears. This one doesn't strike me as irrational (well, maybe the zombies part) so much as Highly Unlikely But Still Definitely Possible And You Should Cover Your Ass Just To Be On The Safe Side.

Brrrrrrrr. I have to go hug Nolan now.

Thanks for reading.