Sunday, September 30, 2007


I just finished a practice test for the GRE, and you know the saying "there's noplace to but up?" Yeah, erh, hehe, I have a lot of upping to do. aaargh.

Anyway, I wanted to write about a production of "Phantom" that I saw last Friday. This is the Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston version. I wanted to see it because I love "Nine" by the same authors, and because it's the Porchlight Theater Company again, the compmany that put on Ragtime, and I want to support anyone who does musical theatre. This version of it was very diferent from the one I'm sure you're all familiar with--it's much less gothick and much more, uh, musical-theater-y. As in, Christine Daae turns into Laurie from Oklahoma, and the Phantom could pretty much sweep her off her feet without any problems, except he's hung up on his face. The count in this version is even lamer than the other one--how he manages to fall in love with her after only a few haphazard scenes together defies even the laws of musicals. Even Carlotta gets a makeover--she's a villianess in this one, scheming to keep everyone else off "her" stage.

The biggest problem I have with this show is the problem I have with all Phantom interpretations, namely, that the Phantom's face can't be THAT bad. I mean, sure, having to face down stares day after day after day might get tiring and cause one to retire quietly under the Paris Opera, but if the woman who loved you truly loved you, wouldn't you have some dialogue about how "it's really bad, and I'll understand if you're scared, so we'll just go slowly" instead of this screaming and fainting? I was especially disappointed in this version, since Christine is so much more levelheaded and open-hearted. I mean, if a woman can stick by her man after his face has been eaten by flesh eating bacteria, how bad could Erik's face be? Seriously.

The Porchlight production was okay. I think there were too many problems with the pacing and the script for them to adequately cover it all gracefully. I also had a problem with the scenery and costumes--there were too many scene changes, and the costumes were ill-fitting and not period. Or, to use one of my vocab words, anachronistic. Everytime the phantom came stomping out in his pirate boots I wanted to stand up and say “am I the only one who’s bothered by this?!” Apparently. The theatre was also filled with a group of AP-high school students who obviously hadn’t been to the theatre that much. I sat in the front row with an elbow in my ribs most of the night, and at one point I was tempted to lean over and say “shut up—they can HEAR YOU” but I clenched my teeth and let the drama distract them.

The best part about the show was the singing. Really, I don’t know where the Porchlight finds these people. The woman who played Christine should be on Broadway, and the man who played the Phantom could hit the high notes with the best of them. (he could also enunciate more, but I digress) I think the Porchlight needs to spend less money on fancy sets that don’t really work anyway (the chandelier falling was just…hokey) and concentrate on tailoring costumes so their fantastic actors shine. Three days later I still have “You Are Music” stuck in my head, which isn’t bad considering I’ve never heard the score before. And I’m quite grateful the Phantom never took his mask off in this production—judging from his headshot he’s actually quite hot, and the suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Madison (or, There and Back Again)

Madison is just as the awesome as I remembered it. I woke up early on Thursday, took the L out to O'Hare and picked up my rental car, then drove up to Wisconsin. I bloody love Wisconsin--truly, the most beautiful place on earth. And Madison is an amazing city, with an amazing campus. Despite the fact I discovered that my driving skills have deteriorated so much I probably wouldn't pass the test, I made it there in one piece.

The "interview" started off by me attending a class on international children's theatre, and then meeting with three professors in rapid succession. After that, I went out to lunch on State Street with another grad student who's in her fourth year there. Talking to her, I really got a sense of what I was in for as far as a graduate program. It's quite intimidating--the classes are intense, and there's teaching as well as the constant encouragement to publish and be involved in symposia and conferences. Far from being overwhelmed, however, I started to feel like "yeah! bring it on! I love to learn--I want to be challenged! yea!" Then after lunch I met briefly with the dean of the program and another grad student. Everyone was extremely friendly and--while not downplaying the difficulty of the program--very encouraging. So now I'm even more psyched to apply. My only worry is that I don't have enough credentials. I don't have a master's thesis, only a play, and while I've done research and academic writing, certainly not to the extent that some of these people have. So that's my paranoia. But I'm going to apply, because I know I would be a good candidate, and we'll see what happens. One of the profs suggested applying to the MA program and then matriculating into the PhD program, but I can't afford to pay for two years of another degree. Everyone who asked seemed surprised that I was only applying to Madison, but, to quote a far better playwright than myself, "why would I want to apply somewhere I don't really want to go?" Half the reason I want to attend Madison is because it's MADISON.

These are the thoughts currently swirling around in my head. If I don't get in...who knows what will happen. Possibly I'll become even more powerful than anyone ever thought. When I returned home, I had an email from Teach for America, politely informing me that I had not made it to the interview round. After the long drive, I was pretty tired, and this upset me a great deal. My poor journal got it all over--whinge, whinge, whinge--but I went to bed, slept for about eleven hours and then woke up and put out some more applications for jobs. Christmas is coming up, after all, and everyone needs playwrights-come-shopgirls.

The thing I enjoyed most about the trip was the freedom of the car, actually. I forgot how nice it is to go tooling off the highway every now and then. Before I crossed back into Illinois I had to find a bank to get some cash for the tolls, so I turned off the highway in Beloit. I stopped at a gas station, stocked up on petrol, also cookies and a pumpkin-spice cappucino and was politely informed that I couldn't get cash back on my my purchases, but I was free to use the ATM. The ATM cheerfully told me that to get my money out of my bank it was going to cost me $3.50. Being so close to the interstate, I figured this was the new form of highway robbery, so I decided to head into Beloit and see if I could find a bank. (briefly considered buying a bottle of water at Wal-Mart--Sam Walton would let me get cash back, but the thought of having to explain to my children how I once supported a huge money-sucking corporation deterred me.)Beloit is nice. A fairly smallish town, well-hid amongst trees and curvy roads. Not real big on banks. I drove for about fifteen minutes, enjoying the scenery before I found an ATM ($2.00 fee--aargh). Briefly considered winging it back to Chicago off the interstate. Remembered that Illinois also had a deer problem and my driving skills were not up to evasive manouevering. Noted for future reference that Beloit has a road named Nelson Ave., decided it was probably named after some Norwegian immigrant who was unaware of the great sacrifices the admiral had made. And got on I-90 again. The drive home was uneventful, even getting into O'Hare. If I had more money, I'd rent a car again and drive back and spend an afternoon at the local eatery.

But, for now, more of the same. Work, study, read, applications, sleep. Ah, well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Tomorrow comes the next step in both paths of the Plan, outlined previously. I will find out if I progress to the "interview" stage of Teach for America, and I will also be visiting Madison to visit/interview/dazzle the Theatre Department. Needless to say, I'm slightly nervous. Nervous firstly because I'm driving and, let's face it, it's been a while. Nervous also because the more I think about attending Madison as a PhD student, the more I realise that's what I want to do more than anything in the world. (the only exception possibly having "UK" at the bottom of my address, but I digress) I don't want to put too much pressure on tomorrow since I'm already stressed out, but the people I'll be speaking with tomorrow have the power to determine what I'm going to be doing with the next five years of my life. And if THAT's not a dramatic statement, I don't know what is.

I still don't understand how people do this whole life thing. How do you not stop and change your life every few years? Aim for a graduation ceremony or the end of a contract and then make new plans? Which is what I've been doing, I guess, only perhaps I've foundered a bit more than some people I know. But it would be a relief to have the next few years planned out--not planned, but with a clear goal in mind. Of course, there are several steps to go still. Before I'm accepted I have to take the GRE, then actually apply, and then it will be all for naught unless I can get some fabulous financing going. Ah, yes, but if all the dreams come true I look forward to *finally* ensconcing myself in a fabulously boho apartment, complete with dog, and having room to stretch out ALL my Nelson stuff. Also, safely back at school which is clearly where I belong. Who would have thought?! Me. A scholar. tee hee.

Part of me still wants to be selfish and run off to London--part of me is so happy to be back in the US. I guess that's part of the nervousness as well. Two years ago I was happily wandering around London--well, not happily, after all, it was only loneliness that drove me to explore Greenwich and stumble across Lord Nelson--but the point is I was THERE. And now I'm here. I never would have connected the two places, but when I sit down and write my memoirs seventy years from hence, o what a wonderful story it will be. That's me--often given to dramatics, morose, ebullient (it's a vocab word!), capricious (ditto!), but never boring.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

talking points

President Bush is currently lurching through another speech at the UN. My roommate is watching it, and I'm in the office wincing at every ill-timed pause. The short bursts of undeniable statements ("The world knows how to stop malaria! Mosquito nets! Medicines! Spraying for insects!") that work so well when appealing to American voters sounds positively idiotic when delivered in between a beautifully crafted rhetoric delivered by leaders of other countries. I'm only tuning in occasionally--I learned long ago that in order to prevent myself from pulling my hair out I should read Prez Bush's speeches online instead of watching them--but I'm really struck by how bad his speaking abilities are. Just listening to the sound of this speech is hard.

I also find it interesting that President Mahmoud Amaninijad (I know I misspelled that, but there you go) of Iran was invited to speak at Columbia College--the dean of the college defended his position by saying that "Just because we are willing to listen to opposing or distateful viewpoints does not mean we condone them." Again, I paraphrase, but that was the sentence that stuck with me. It sounded perfectly reasonable to me--but apparently not to everyone. My roommate is confused why Amanidijad was allowed to speak at all--surely he should have been sniped on the way into the press conference. And a woman who graduated from Columbia tore up her diploma because she was so disgusted with the college. I was really started by that particularly--surely you would be PROUD that your university was encouraging differing viewpoints and inviting challenging speakers? After watching the news coverage of Prez. A-jad, I was actually pretty glad he spoke--all of the attention merely held up a spotlight while he proved to the world what a scary psychopath he really is. Students laughed when he said that he didn't believe in the Holocaust, but it's statements like that that will focus the attention on what a delusional dictator he is. How can we believe him about his nuclear intentions when he is convinced that 10 million people weren't systematically killed by the Third Reich? (altho--there are some schools of thought that are trying to coinvince us that nuclear power is a "green" alternative to oil-based fuels, so perhaps Prez. A.M. is merely trying to lessen depence on foreign oil...) Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is, is does us no harm to listen--after all, he wasn't persecuting women up on stage in front of the cameras.

I'm just worried that we're going to get provoked into a war with Iran. As opposed to Iraq, where someone made up a reason and we got all het up and charged in there. Now the attention is on Iran, and Americans are going to start asking why we aren't in THERE kicking some dictator butt. And I feel like the Iranian gov't understands this, and is going to continue to provoke us until we either have a military strike or invasions or something military. (Alas--my knowledge of military tactics peters out somewhere around the last cavalry charge at Waterloo.) Already there are stories about Iran closing their border with Iraq. It's very worrying. I'm listening very closely, and I'm not too happy about what I'm hearing.

Monday, September 24, 2007

dulces donnas!

After talking to Laura for six hours I decided I needed a Sweeney Todd fix. This is what I found--Sweeney en Catalan. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

if a person could ever love a person

I went to the Adler Planetarium yesterday with an auld friend from UWSP, which was terrific fun. Usually I try to go to museums alone, since I'm the annoying person who has to read every plaque, but it turns out that so is Peter. It took us a couple hours to get through every thing, and by the end of it my head was spinning. I like science, but I like historical science, the kind where there is an end to the story: "And THEN Galileo looked through his telescope and discovered Jupiter had four moons!" Not, "and THEN Einstein theorized that maybe there were black holes, but where did they go? Who knows? And time? Totally able to be sucked into black holes. Or did I just blow your mind?!!" Science is very cool, but once you move beyond nice safe textbooks and into the realm of quantum mechanics, my mind slowly starts to shut down. But, I definitely recommend the Planetarium, there are lots of great hands-on exhibits and a TON of information, all packaged in a lovely historical building.

So I have a busy week coming up. Tomorrow I have to clean my room--you may think this is not such a big deal, but then again you haven't seen my room. also, I haven't seen my floor for a week. Tuesday and Wednesday I am working (just a part-time thing, heleas, but it's something at least) and studying for the GRE, a graduate school test I have to take for when I apply for my PhD thingy. Then Thursday I'm going to Madison to meet with the theatre department there, which is quite nerve-racking. I hope it goes well, but I have no idea how to prepare for it other than to get my stuff figured out. And then working next week and and studying and at some point I'm going to find out if I made it to the next step of Teach for America.

In the meantime, I've got to check every five minutes to see if the new Sweeney Todd movie has a trailer yet and eventually get around to emailing you.

Friday, September 21, 2007

When I am old, I shall continue to wear purple...

I guess I'm one step closer to being old and crochety (as opposed to mom, who is fabulous) because today as I was walking behind three hooligans, one of them casually tossed an empty water bottle into an alley, prompting me to call out "Nice! Save the planet! Nice!" And to wave my cane at them. Seriously though, where the hell is Captain Planet when you need him? The juvenile delinquent favoured me with a glare, but kept walking, probably put off by the demonic glint in my bifocals. God I'm getting old.

I also saw a picture on the back of the Red Eye (free newspaper=not as good as the Metro)of a "America's Next Top Model" contestant who probably weighed as much as my arm underneath the caption "Plus-Sized Debate!" The accompanying article said this woman was causing controversy because she was being touted as a "plus sized model" even though she was only a size four or something. I didn't really read the article. I also don't watch "America's Next Top Model" but I do have an opinion, and therefore feel qualified to blog about it. What is the debate? there is no debate. Size 4 (or eight, or ten or 12 or fourteen!) is not a plus size. End of debate. Fin.

Tomorrow I'm going to the planetarium, and I hope they have some sextants on display. I dearly love a good sextant.

PS Sam!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nicki Buys a Suit

I finally had to buy a suit, so I wandered down to Sears today and found one on sale (woo). I was extra excited because the coat was only a size 18, but the shirt I tried on was a 16/18 which means that I am officially the smallest I've been since I was about, oh, thirteen. I would be more excited, but I'm exhausted because I have been exercising every day for the last week. (not in a compulsive anorexic way. In a "I paid a lot of money for a one-week gym membership and I'm going to feel really guilty if I don't use it" way)

My friend also pointed out to me that I'm walking like a duck, so I finally admitted that my awesome Gola shoes were little better than pieces of construction paper, support-wise. Even if they are trendy and European. I am sad to see them go.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Booty Call

The paper informs me that tomorrow is national Talk Like A Pirate Day (or, as I like to say in my snobby, pendatic tone) Talk Like a West Country Person Day. The paper also encourages me to go on a Pub Crawl, with free drinks for dressing up like a pirate. However, as much as I like to drink, also to dress up, I won't be partaking because The British Royal Navy certainly doesn't condone pirates, and What Would Lord Nelson do? He would clap them all in irons. So until they have a National Lord Nelson is Awesome Day, I will be primly sitting this one out.
Speaking of the awesome, check out this contemporary painting by Mark Churms I know, I know, I have enough Nelson stuff, but I really like this painting. The technique is incredible.

Well, I am off to study. I have to learn a bunch of vocabulary for the GRE--luckily I already have a leg up, since JK Rowling tends to use a lot of their words in her books. Stupefy! Enervate! Obliviate! wait--no, don't obliviate...damnit...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Change Yer Mind

So I've done a 180 and have decided to stay in Chicago, although I am still Planning on applying to Madison and Teach for America. I would like to teach in the future, but in the meantime, I'm a big girl and I should be responsible for my own life.

Anyway. I'm also mad about Facebook, which some of my loyal readers are on. It's a fun diversionary tactic, but I don't understand why people email me on there, then get upset when I don't email them back, EVEN WHEN THEY HAVE MY REAL EMAIL. This hasn't happened recently, but I don't understand why people suddenly start facebooking me even when previously we've conversed via regular email. Possibly because I tend to write a novel every time I sit down at the computer.

Arg. I like my roommates, but this week there is a set of parents living here as well. The TV is on very loud, the kitchen is full of old newspapers and weird Swedish baked goods, and I'm about to join the cats hiding in the closet.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

working hard

I'm staying at Lennie's again this week. She talked me into buying a one-week pass to her local gym, so we've been going there every morning and working out. I've learned I can do 2.13 miles in 30 minutes on an elliptical machine--take that evil mile-running gym class--and I'm going to buy some running shoes and take up jogging when I get back to GB. Because I can afford running shoes. I can't afford a gym membership.

I'm also really proud that I can still do shoulder stands. Last year when I was in London (london!) and I took the yoga class of doom, my yogi shocked me by grabbing my legs and throwing them up in the air. It's kind of awkward, but it feels soooo good on your shoulders. So today, after thirty minutes on the elliptical and another ten on the rowing machine (for the "bingo wings") I stretched out by doing a shoulder stand. I can't touch the floor behind my head any more, but it's close...

I spend the rest of my time divided between writing applications, making appointments and reading my new book, "Too Much of a Lady" which is a novel about Emma Hamilton. Oh, how I wanted this book to be good, but it sooooo....bad.... The writing is terrible. There's no suspense or drama, just boring storytelling. Even the "voice" of Emma Hamilton doesn't match the letters that are so often quoted. And no author worth their salt should have to put " 'is majesty's army, yer 'onour!" when there's other ways of delinating accents. (see: Jane Austen, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) Oh well--at least it's a quick read.

Also, from the irony department: "Sondheim" is in the Penguin rhyming dictionary. teehee

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Sixth Anniversary

I wasn't going to write about Sept. 11th today, but then I read an article about the memorial services in New York, which ended with this:

"In all, 2,974 victims were killed by the Sept. 11 attacks: 2,750 connected to the World Trade Center, 40 in Pennsylvania and 184 at the Pentagon. Those numbers do not include the 19 hijackers."

I was struck by my reaction to the last line--it feels so cold, so angry. I probably don't have the right to say that, since everyone I know and love is safe. But I feel that those men should be counted--they died convinced of the evilness of the Western world and America in particular, and to forget them is to forget those like them who are also convinced America is evil. To turn our backs on them or treat them like some kind of aberration will only breed more hatred and distrust. If learning and accepting other cultures was hard before, doing it now is almost impossible after these men took nearly three thousand of our countrymen with them. But that's why it's more important than ever. Never forget--we will never forget--but we must remember also the reasons why.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ya gotta feel bad for the guy

I do feel bad for General Petraeus, no matter what I might think about him, the war, GOPs, W, politics in general. I was listening to NPR today, which had a live broadcast of him defending his findings about "the Surge" (wasn't that a soda a bunch of years ago?) to a joint session in Congress. Basically a bunch of politicians lining up to take potshots at him and get their bullshit posturing in so they would have a soundbite for the punters back home. Sure a simple "Is this working? Prove it." would have ben adequate, instead of questions like, "Do you think our effors in Iraq are aiding al-Qaida?" Gee, what do you think?

I don't know why so much effort is being put into this report. Well--in theory I do, but since we're all agreed the soldiers have to come home SOME TIME (right, right?), eventually there is going to come a time when there is no American presence in Iraq, and that's the point we have to worry about, not right now if we're "winning" or not. Sooner or later, that power vacumm is going to happen, and when it does...

Damn. Talk about your thesis-defence from hell.

Meanwhile, hamsters.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

the student prince says "drink, drink, drink!"

Attention Guys Who Attempt to Hit on Me In Bars:
1. I have no problem with you hitting on me even though you’re ten years older than me. However. Please refrain from constantly saying “ah, you’re young, you’ve got time,” because if I’m old enough to be hit on by you, I’m certainly old enough to know better.
2. Please don’t mention you’re “seeing” a Romanian woman and contemplating marriage so she can get her greencard.
3. Especially if you then ask for my email. Now I’m thinking “What—don’t want my phone number in case your girlfriend looks at your phone records?”
4. Just because you paid for my beer when my back was turned doesn’t mean you “bought me a drink” and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m going to give you my email.
5. Yes—I was chatting with that handsome musician who has such lovely curly hair. Stop trying to buy my attention back by putting Queen on the jukebox.
6. And by the way—the song is called “Hammer to Fall” not “Hammers Fall.” Thank you.

Last night was a surprise birthday party for my friend Lennie. Her husband had arranged for a group of friends to meet at a sushi bar and then go to a show around the corner. I love sushi, and I love Lennie, so I painted her a picture of her cat, put on a clean shirt and went out for dinner. The restaurant—Ugayi Ya—was fantastic. Really, just the best sushi I’d ever had. The group was mostly Lennie’s fantastic theatre friends, so I was feeling a little out of my league, especially when I was talking about The Plan—but then I mentioned a new theatre in Green Bay that I was keen to look up when I went back.

Imagine my surprise when we got to the theatre and I discovered the show was being put on by the very theatre company I was chatting up. Venture Theatre is an independent theatre company in DePere, and after the show I introduced myself to the producer. Hopefully, in the future they’ll have some space for me to help out. It’s good to have a connexion like that before I even go back. The show was called “Get Down(sized)!” and it was about the daily struggles of office politics…and it’s quite accurate and very funny. I highly recommend it.

Afterward I went out for a pint and was accosted by a guy who attempted to impress me with tales of hanging lights for Aerosmith before revealing he was a mechanical engineer. Dear God, no more engineers, please.

Today I’m feeling quite empowered. The flapper-dapper arm broke on our toilet, so I went to the hardware store and bought a replacement, then replaced it all under my own steam—no man required—and just to ensure my continued empowerment, I found a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” at the local thrift shop for a dollar. A DOLLAR! Score! Lest you think I’m becoming too manly however, I also found a pair of Mario Lanza CDs (also a dollar) that are currently making me quite swoon-y and causing images of roses and Naples to float through my head.

Friday, September 07, 2007


So. The plan. I've decided to move back to Green Bay for awhile, to save on rent. I'm going to be applying at Madison for their PhD program, and also to a program called Teach for America. Either way, I hope to eventually become a teacher, and then either find a niche at a university or a small liberal arts college. So that's all right then.

But, of course, I'm freaking out because, hey, it's me after all, and both these programs won't start until next year. I've been writing letters and Statements of Intent and polishing up writing samples, but meanwhile I also feel a little pathetic, like, shouldn't I have had this figured out before now? Many reassurances have come my way of "well, sometimes people just take a little longer to figure out whta they want," but it doesn't stop me from wondering just why I can't seem to get my life on track.

I wasn't reasured much when I called Mr. S to ask him if I could put him down for a reference and was told, somewhat coldly, "Our office manager will handle that." So much for friends. And speaking of friends--I also stumbled onto someone's blog and was horrified to see they had the perfect life neatly put together, years after telling me off for being such a drama queen. Meanwhile, I'm still flailing. Some things never change--is what I'm trying not to believe.

I think I have spent too much time inside. With no job I am counting every penny, and not getting out much. Perhaps tomorrow I'll head for the Field Museum or something, and try not to feel too much like I've let everyone down.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Come again?

I woke up this morning—literally, because my alarm was set to NPR—to the news that Luciano Pavarotti has passed away from pancreatic cancer. I’m quite sad about this news, because Pavarotti has always been sort of a part of my life—dad likes him, and I used to get hauled out of bed late a night to watch the Three Tenors on PBS with the sound waaay up. Funny the things you remember.

But, meanwhile, it is hot and muggy down here, and I am cranky as hell. I know, I know—London wasn’t a bastion of perfect weather, but then again there was NEVER this much humidity. I am thisclose to chopping all my hair off. I am so sick of all the little curls and ringlets sproinging out of my ponytails, not to mention my FRINGE—good Lord, who thought THAT would be a good idea?!—that I’m sorely tempted to go way short. The only thing staying my hand is the fact that in a few weeks we will be knee-deep in snow, and then I will miss my hair.

Also, I guess it is football season. Not that I bleed gold and green* but it’s a little weird going around seeing ads that say “ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!!” and then seeing the Bears logo. I almost feel like I should run around with a Packers sticker and commit a few acts of vandalism. Not that that would do much good. On the other hand, there’s something comforting about the Changing of the Seasons that brings American football back around, instead of incessant footy matches between random teams I’ve never heard of.

I spent most of the afternoon in a coffeeshop writing, and then I went shopping for cheese and now I’m going to go paint a picture of a cat. My life is awesome.

PS: I put that poster of Sweeney Todd up on my desktop, and, after a closer look, I’m fairly certain it’s inaccurate—did Fleet Street in whatever the hell period that is have a clear shot of Big Ben? I don’t think so. Look, Tim Burton, you LIVE in London—don’t go throwing around images because you think Americans are too thick to get that we’re back in the cesspool of western civilization that is—was London. I’m watching you…

*On the contrary, I bleed red, white and blue and THESE COLOURS DON’T RUN, baby!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

another "S" movie you may have heard of....

Meanwhile, new pics from Sweeney Todd have surfaced on imdb. Am liking the poster, less enthusiastic about the shot of Mr. Depp & Ms. Bonham-Carter. It looks very, uh, Burton-ish, like they're reusing the attick from Edward Scissorhands. Also--what period is that dress supposed to be from? Still reserving judgement until I see the film, but these photos do nothing to relieve my worries.

The good news is that the film is going to be released on December 21st--happy birthday ME! I hereby declare my intentions to have a birthday party, complete with blood-red cake, the feature of which will be seeing this film. And you're all invited! Costumes optional, but be sure to wear something red around your neck. More details later--but be sure to "attend!" haha!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Stardust" & "Superbad"

My roommate and I went to see “Stardust” yesterday. I have been looking forward to this movie, since it was written by Neil Gaiman (he of “Sandman” and “Good Omens” fame), and it’s been a looong time since there has been a quality fantasy film of the general “rescue-princess-cute-prince” variety. I was thoroughly delighted with the movie, even with all its departures from accepted fairytale culture, like the famed scenes of Robert diNiro (I know that’s not how you spell his name, what is wrong with me?!) being a fierce pirate who hides a penchant for ladies’ clothings. Favourite line: “Now sit down, and tell me about my dear England!” This springing from Captain Shakespeare’s love of England, as he was a boy growing up in the magical world of Stormhold—much the same way young English boys dream about faery-worlds. Love it.

Also loved Rupert Everett’s entrance at the beginning of the film—swaggering in wearing a red coat, much in the manner of Aragorn in “Two Towers” (ladies: you know what scene I mean), causing me to fling myself back into my seat and exclaim “Rupert Everett! You’ve got to warn me before you come through a door like that! D—n!”

Then, deciding that $9.50 was far too much to pay for one movie, but an acceptable price for two, we snuck into “Superbad.” Which was okay. Funny—and at times painfully, PAINFULLY reminiscent of how awkward high school was—but I took umbrage at a few scenes and a few assumptions made by the screenwriters. I also thought more conclusions could have been drawn about a night of drinking and brawling gone bad. I.e., drinking, brawling=bad, unless you’re a pirate. Arr.

Highly recommend “Stardust.” Less enthusiastic about “Superbad,” but you’ll probably see it anyway, if only to know what the hell everyone is talking about.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

jazz it up!

I decided to go downtown and take in the Chicago Jazz Festival because—I like jazz, and it’s a nice day to be outside. I figured that I would get some food, sit on the ground listen to some jazz, maybe peruse some overpriced souveniers… Well, when I arrived at Grant Park I was already hot and sweaty, owing to the fact that no public transportation up by me goes anywhere near the Park—I was hugely disappointed to find that the “festival” was set up on the small access road that cuts Grant Park in two. About a block and a half had been blocked off, with one little stage crammed in at one end, and the rest given over to crappy food booths and useless vendors. (“Geico Insurance, lady?!” “Sorry, don’t have a car, and I don’t buy products from geckos with ambiguous accents, anyway!”)

Forget about vegetarian food. I finally bought some lukewarm fries using ten of the eleven tickets I was forced to buy (why-why-why?) and then attempted to listen to some jazz. Only the twenty or so chairs in front of the stage were already occupied, and I didn’t feel like standing in the sun, in the middle of a street juggling a Syrofoam container of fries and BBQ sauce, so I went around into a grove of trees. Shady. Cool. Also, directly behind the beer truck. Now, it’s nice to have beer at these outdoor events—but not when it’s ridiculously expensive. Also, the truck’s air conditioning unit was humming so loudly it drowned out a lot of the music. I pulled out “Good Omen” and attempted to get my good humor back. THEN I was suddenly attacked—bitten, hard, on the leg. I swatted the invisible attacker, only to feel it again on my arm. I caught a glimpse: horsefly. AAARGH. Despite my best efforts I got bit about five times. It was like—the Battle of Britain or something. Needless to say, I ate up pretty quickly and got the hell out of there.

After that I wasn’t really in the mood to listen to jazz, which sounded pretty modern and contemporary anyway. I ended up wandering south through Grant Park, which is actually a pretty nice park—most of the parks in Chicago are pretty nice, I will give the city that. The problem is, they are so far AWAY from anything like a little caf or restaurant, that when one begins to think longingly of a cup of tea, one has a long way to go. Also, there was no TP in the restrooms. I did enjoy the huge fountain (and subsequent cooling spray) at the end of Congress Parkway, but was saddened to see the fence around it, as if to say “No Wading.” Pffft. I don’t understand why the jazz fest organizers didn’t spread their jazzy goodness out under some of the cool shade, unless it was a concerted resistance movement by those horseflies. Next time, I’ll bring a stereo with some Ella Fitzgerald pre-loaded.

Eventually I ended up wandering (read: hiked three blocks) into the art institute on the off chance it was free today. It was not, so I skulked around the gift shop absorbing air conditioning until I cooled down, then headed for the L. Stopped in a McD’s to get a liter of cola (I would have gotten a bottle at the fest but only had one ticket left—for the scrapbook, apparently), from a countergirl who was so bored she was literally leaning on her picture-screen console. Very nearly dumped said liter of cola on a street busker who whistled at me as I was going up the steps to the L. Arg. What a waste of a perfectly good day.

The only fun part about the weekend is the fact that I have finally embarked upon “The Baroque Cycles” trilogy, which I have heard is good. All I know is, when I brought “Quicksilver” home yesterday in my messenger bag, it gave me “Nelson’s Syndrome,” a term I coined when I was walking around Portsmouth all day with my bag resting on a nerve in my shoulder and then later that night I couldn’t feel my right arm. Nelson hasn’t shown up yet, but I have confidence. Try writing a book about historical Britain and not mentioning him. Try.