January 31, 2011

Trash Talkin' in Chicago

So, if you're a candidate for mayor of the city of Chicago and someone asks where you've been and what you've been doing for the past twenty years, here's how you respond: “The reason you didn’t know where I was for the last 20 years is because you were strung out on crack.”
This from the classy Carol Moseley-Braun to Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins (whoever she is, although now I hear she's also a mayoral candidate). Never heard of her before the crack-addict allegation but hey, this is Chicago so any publicity is good publicity, right?
Moseley-Braun has a few skeletons in her own closet (covering up sexual harassment allegations against her "fiance," misappropriating campaign funds and the like) but you don't hear Watkins trash-talking and name calling, do you? Well, at least it hasn't appeared as a sound-byte. Not that that means I would ever vote for this Van Pelt-Watkins person. What kind of name is Van Pelt-Watkins, anyway (is it mandatory to have a hyphenated name to be in this election?)?
I don't know about you but I get enough of that kind of mud-slinging, name-calling in national politics.
So I'll vote for the guy who hasn't lived in Chicago for two years but still proved residency. That's a good thing cuz who else would you vote for? Maybe that Gery Chico guy, if he could spell his own name.
You have to love Chicago politics. It's never dull around here, is it?

January 29, 2011

Movie Review: No Strings Attached

Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher have great on-screen presence. They're both beautiful and fun to watch. That's the only thing this movie has going for it. Here's my review: Stupid.
One star our of five.
And here's just one more example (do we need another?) of how opposites attract: Read Mikki's review

January 27, 2011

Sophie Tucker, The Plus-Sized Model

Welcome, to my new rescued kitty: Sophie Tucker, the plus-sized model. She's just a tad bit on the chubby side but she's oh, so beautiful and very sweet.
I told her we were going to do kitty-calisthenics and then she could eat her Science Diet Light, and here's how she responded:

January 16, 2011

Call Me Cynical, But...

Pope John Paul is on the fast track to sainthood because a nun prayed to him (after his death, no less) and he cured her of Parkinson's. Okay, am I the only one who's a bit skeptical here?
Sorry, I know I'm offending every Catholic in the world but really...someone says she prayed to you and you performed a miracle and poof! you're a saint? Well, actually not poof! because he needs another miracle before he can be sainted.
If I said he performed a miracle for me would it count? Well, undoubtedly not since everyone knows I'm not a praying person but is it because she's a nun that she's automatically believed? Any way we can verify this? Can we call the Miracle-Verification Hotline and make sure she has a direct line to Pope John Paul?
There are many intelligent Catholics, I'm sure, but this kind of thing makes me wonder. Can they not see there are some missing pieces to this puzzle? Religion, by definition, is based on faith (of which I'm generally lacking) but this just really pushes the limits.
So who will step forward with his second miracle? I can't wait to hear what it will be.
I prayed to Kahlil Gibran once to make me more tolerant. Can we saint him? Oh wait, that didn't work, did it?

January 14, 2011

So Long to My Buddy, Kobe

My beloved Kobe died today and my heart is breaking. Kobe was my buddy, my shadow, the most wonderful cat I've ever had. He wasn't so friendly to other people until he knew them for a while. He knew my Bill for more than seven years and only sat on his lap a couple of times (one being just last week), although he slept on his head once (photo below). So cute.
But he was madly in love with me, it was as if he wanted to be attached to me. As soon as I sat, anywhere, he'd jump into my lap. I'm not a person who sits in one place for very long but he'd stay as long as possible (forever, if he could) and when I'd start to get up he'd whine, and then as I walked by him he'd bat at me, as if to say, "Hey, I'm not done here."
After I lost my last cat Benson twelve years ago I thought maybe I wouldn't get another cat, I thought it might be nice not to deal with all the cat hair and the litter tracked everywhere. But it felt so lonely in my house that after a couple weeks I went to the shelter looking for an older cat, at least a year old, because that kitten stage can be so trying, even though there's nothing more irresistible or adorable.
I wandered around the shelter, talking to the people who worked there and listening to their descriptions of the various personalities. And then I walked by a cage with a little black kitten who meowed and put out his paw to me. "Hey, here I am. Take me."
That was my Kobe. So much for getting a year-old cat.
Until about a week ago he stood on the bed every morning when I got up and meowed and put out his paw to me, just like he did when he was a baby.
To people who've never had cats and who think they're very snooty and aloof I can tell you they're not. They're independent, yes, but they're loving little buddies. How could there be anything better than a cat curled up in your lap, purring like a lawn mower?
It's very sad and empty in my house tonight and my heart is breaking.

January 9, 2011

Movie Review: True Grit

I have to preface this by saying that the original True Grit is the first movie I ever walked out of. Now, that was in 1969 so the details of that film aren't exactly crystal clear but after seeing this one I remember that I left right after the scene where John Wayne puts the reins in his mouth and rides full force toward the enemy, a gun in each hand, and blows them all away. Oh, please. The whole film seemed pretty stupid, almost slapstick, and I pretty much hated Kim Darby as Mattie Ross. John Wayne was never one of my favorites, either. Hmmm...I wonder why I went to see it in the first place.
So, with that ringing endorsement I went to see the Coen Brothers' version (also because my Bill wanted to see it) and it is, thankfully, a different film. It has the Coen Brothers' edge, which is always a good thing, and it has Jeff Bridges which is always a great thing. Good performances all around. The humor this time is more sardonic than slapstick and Hailee Steinfeld is more appealing than Kim Darby so there's more to recommend this version. Even the reins-in-the-mouth scene works better in this one. Still...it's an okay film, a little boring, lacking in emotion.
Two nits to pick: the scene where Rooster and Mattie come across a guy hanging from a tree and the guy's about 50 feet in the air. How the heck did they get him up there? With an old West cherry-picker?
And then there's the scene where Mattie fords the river on her horse and when she gets to the other side and confronts Rooster and the Texas Marshall she isn't even wet. Hmmm...what happened there?
Anyway, there's lots of talk of an Oscar for Steinfeld and I'm sure she'll be undeservedly nominated. The Academy loves newcomer kid performances and while her performance is fine it's not Oscar-worthy. Jeff Bridges', on the other hand, is.
3 stars out of 5 for a grittier True Grit.

January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

My favorite thing that happened in 2010 is the publication of my novel, Mr. Right-Enough. If you've read it please write a review for me on Amazon.com. And if you haven't...why not?? Get a copy today!

Some other news items of note:
  • The rescue of the Chilean miners
  • Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup (no, I'm not a big hockey fan but it was very cool)
  • Mayor Daley's announcement not to run again (shocking!)
  • Of course there Hef's engagement to a woman 60 years younger
And then there's my personal favorite:

A Letter to Steve Martin

Dear Steve Martin,
I love you. You're so smart and creative, talented, clever, accomplished, ingenious...I could go on but you get the idea...I'm a huge fan and always have been. You're one of the funniest people alive, a wonderful actor, an award-winning banjo player, and... an author (I use the term loosely).
I'm currently reading your latest novel, An Object of Beauty, and I have to ask you a question: really???
I know you're an art collector and you obviously have an immense passion for art but this book just feels like a vehicle for you to show off. There's so much extraneous detail about art and artists that doesn't move the story along and a little of this kind of thing lends authenticity but too much of it is self-aggrandizing.
I have to admit I haven't finished the book yet - I've only read 90 pages so far - but I rarely give a book more of my time than that. A story that hasn't engaged me by that time is not worth the effort. For some reason, tho, I'm slogging through. Perhaps just to see how bad it can get. Okay, sorry...that was mean. But tell me about the scene where Lacey's on a train taking some art to a client and an older man comes by and asks if the seat across from her is taken and she says, "Sit down, father figure."
Who talks like that?
So they discuss art (to an excruciating degree) and then they part. And that's the entire scene. Except for the last two sentences: Lacey never knew the man's name until a month later when she saw his photo on the inside of the book's dust jacket. It was John Updike.
What??? What was the point of that? Is John Updike a friend of yours? I hope he shows up later in the book because if he doesn't I cannot imagine what is the purpose of that scene.
(I'm almost finished.)
So then there's the sex scene that prompted me to write this letter. The scene just made me laugh. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be funny. Here's how it goes:
They stood at the window, in the darkened room, in the same posture, without an instinct to relocate, Relocate??? her hand exploring him, unzipping, reaching in, to which he responded by lifting her skirt and pressing the back of his hand against her.
Really? He responds by pressing the back of his hand against her?
...He moved her underwear to one side and his fingers slipped in effortlessly, as though they were being drawn up by osmosis.

Did you have an editor?
Steve, Steve, Steve. You're so smart and creative, talented, clever, accomplished, ingenious... but you do realize the only reason you're getting published is because you're Steve Martin and people like me who (still) love you will buy your book, but if you were John Smith you wouldn't have had a prayer. You do realize that, right?

January 2, 2011

Movie Review: The Rabbit Hole

As far as dead-kid movies go this is a good one with honest performances and a realistic, relatable story. Aaron Eckhart's performance is Oscar-worthy and Nicole Kidman's might have been as well if only her face moved. It was hard not to be distracted by her collagen-stuffed lips, and I couldn't help wondering why the hell she would do that to herself.
But I digress.
The Rabbit Hole is an absorbing story about a couple living a seemingly comfortable suburban life but struggling to deal with their own guilt and each other, as well as the void left by the loss of their son.
Good script, good performances.
4 out of 5 stars for The Rabbit Hole.