Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Must Remember This

I was actually going to watch a truly terrible movie tonight...something or other from 1956 starring Tuesday Weld, with Alan Freed, entitled Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock...but then I read the description more closely and realized that it didn't contain the actual 1956 rock & roll I was hoping for, so the hell with it.

So, after another nicely productive day (there is now enough food in my house - including the ham - to feed a small army), I just ate something deeply silly (oh, all was Pizza Rolls with pepperoni) for which I had a sudden yen. Hey...some of us just can't be all that nice and organic and healthful and like that ALL the time. The system needs an occasional infusion of total junk. I mean, really. How else could you really appreciate those good foods there? It's kind of like treating yourself to a real badass rotten boyfriend every now and then. You appreciate the good ones so much more.

Anyway, so I spent the evening wandering around through YouTube, which, when I'm really bored, is a perfectly wonderful way to waste a whole lot of time. I ran across some absolute treasures, such as Ethel Merman singing There's No Business Like Show Business with the Muppets, and then I went to check my news sites (newspaperman's granddaughter here...I am a newshound), and discovered on CNN a link to - you know, Entertainment Weekly.

It was a slide show of classic movies that various viewers had absolutely hated, and it was quite interesting. Citizen Kane, for instance. I am one of those who never bought into the Citizen Kane thing; it's just not a movie I particularly care for. And the comment from a viewer was EXACTLY what I've always thought about...said viewer remarked that "I've known what Rosebud is since I was six." Precisely. Now The Third I can watch that forever.

I also agreed completely with the haters of 2001. I have never been so bored in my life. Just hated the thing. And Love Story. I'm sorry. I made the terrible mistake of reading the Mad Magazine parody of Love Story before seeing the movie, with the predictable result that the actual movie gave me the giggles. Sample from Mad: "She's dying from movie disease. That's where you get more beautiful the closer you get to death." You see the problem. And Dr. Zhivago. That movie gave me the worst cricked neck EVER. This is because I saw it in London, and in those days the first few rows of the movie theatre were a smoking section...and I ended up in the front row. Ouch. And The Exorcist was forever ruined for me because Linda Blair actually did a sequel to it called Repossessed, with Leslie Nielson, which is the funniest thing ever (that Linda Blair is a really good sport)...and there went any hope of ever taking the original seriously. Do find's hilarious. And I do understand why some people truly hate Sound of Music, but I did the show on stage quite a lot (the nuns' music needs second contraltos, of which I am one, so I kept getting cast in it) and so am rather nostalgic about it. (Don't ever go near me when I'm watching it, because I insist on singing along.)

But there are some movies that are absolutely detested that just flummox me. (Isn't flummox a wonderful word? You can just sort of see the confusion...) The Wizard of Oz? Good heavens. I can so clearly remember seeing that for the first time probably around the very early '50s, and being absolutely gobsmacked at the fact that when Dorothy was in Kansas, where everything was flat and gray, the movie was black and white, and then when she lands in Oz, it bursts into color. That was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen. And there are people who hate An Affair
To Remember. Now, I'm sorry, but that's just terrible. I distinctly remember seeing that at the Esquire Theatre on Oak Street in Chicago, across the street from my father's antique shop, and oh, my God, I was a wreck. (Hey, Anonymous, weren't you with me? I think you were.) I still can't watch the thing without Kleenex. I can thoroughly understand that it's not exactly a man's movie, but come's the most romantic movie EVER. (Yeah, and I love Sleepless in Seattle, too...the first time I saw it I was jumping up and down at the end, just WILLING for them not to miss each other on the Empire State Building.)

And Singin' in the Rain. WHAT? Hating Singin' in the Rain is like stomping on puppies. People, it's GENE KELLY. Sheesh. And Breakfast at Tiffany's. Oh, my God, the end in the rain, when she finds Cat...excuse me, more Kleenex.

All of which goes to show that A. there's no accounting for taste, and B. I need to get out more and stop screwing around on the computer.

Love, Wendy

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Late Show

I think I've mentioned here before that I tend not to go to the movies. This is primarily because, I think, nobody ever ASKS me to go to the movies, which in turn is because there aren't a lot of current movies that interest me. Ergo, people have gotten out of the habit of bothering to ask...I guess. Except of course for Harry Potter, and Sarah and I and a bunch of people always go to the midnight showing.

This is the reason why I never caught up with Tropic Thunder until tonight...and I didn't know what I'd been missing. Good Lord, that was fun. I particularly loved the opening, with the fake coming attractions, even if it did take me a minute or so to catch up with what was going on. But what a wonderfully silly piece of work. Definitely my kind of movie. And the absolute best was Tom Cruise, of all people...I didn't even realize it was him (he?) until the credits. I don't much care for him, but what a wonderful bit. Now I have to catch up with Don't Mess With The Zohan, which has always sounded like the kind of nuttiness I like, and Zoolander, for the same reason. Ah, the pleasures of cable.

But really, I'm quite sure I'll watch a lot more television when I (eventually) move and everything is on one floor. This really does sound like the worst kind of laziness, but honestly, think about it. Due to the layout of my house, the TV is in the den. The powder room is in the kitchen. This means that to watch TV, I go down the few stairs from the kitchen, then down the few stairs to the den. And I'm carrying my beer/diet soda/water (whatever I've chosen to drink that night) and my cigarettes, and my phone. If I have to go to the john during the show, it's back up those two little flights of stairs and back down again...and if (as tonight) I'm watching something I've never seen before, how the hell do I know what I might miss? It's definitely a nuisance.

I feel quite accomplished today. I finally achieved some money...Social Security and unemployment (such as it is). It's mostly gone now, but I got a lot done. I paid Con Ed, cable, and my telephone; I picked up prescriptions and stocked up on toilet paper and paper towels for at least the next month, got kitty litter, and then I cleaned the whole downstairs bathroom. I even stopped at Gourmet Garage and bought myself a decent dinner; lovely sirloin steak and potatoes (well, many can one girl eat?).

Tomorrow, rain or no, I'm off to 14th Street to blitz my way through the Associated supermarket and cram my house with food for a month. If you have never lived with an apartment sized icebox (damn...I mean refrigerator), you cannot possibly understand, you privileged character, what it means to have my glorious side by side machine with all that freezer space, as opposed to a "freezer compartment" that held one ice cube tray and one box of frozen peas...tops. I'm actually going to bake a small ham for myself, because I love ham with an unholy passion, and there are SO many ways to use up leftovers. Also, there are few nicer hot weather meals than cold sliced ham with chutney, some buttery corn on the cob, and a lovely sliced ripe tomato with vinaigrette and a little shredded basil on top...and there you have it, children...Mother's recipe of the day. Given cooking the corn in the microwave (which takes abut two minutes), there's also not an easier meal in the world.

I have never understood why people don't use their microwaves more. They are God's gift to almost any vegetable. Artichokes in ten minutes. Asparagus at exactly the perfect point. Corn on the cob in two minutes, again at the perfect point. Softening butter to make it easier to cream with sugar for cookies. Or to mix with confectioner's sugar and brandy for hard sauce. Melting butter with minced garlic for REALLY great garlic bread. As I have said before on this subject, get a copy of Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet and go to town.

Oh, and does anyone want a leaky cat? I swear to God I'm going to KILL this one. After I had cleaned the entire downstairs bathroom, washed the floor, toilet, sink, changed the cat litter, et cetera, et cetera, and so forth (just for you, Anonymous), the goddamn animal calmly walked over and shat on the plastic bag containing the old cat litter, and the floor around it. Precisely two feet away from his fresh, pristine litter box. I wish I could charitably say, well, he's old, but really...this is beginning to seem punitive. Particularly after he actually walked over the other morning and SHAT ON MY HAND. I am not kidding. I was reading the paper and had just removed him from the page I was reading, and he jumped back on the table and SHAT ON MY HAND. Now come on...this isn't feline Alzheimer's...this is being a total son of a bitch. If only I wasn't such a nice person...I mean, I have dreams of simply taking him to the vet and saying, put him down, but I can't possibly justify that. How on earth could I, getting older as I am, take someone who is clearly enjoying life to the hilt, eating well, leaping about like a two year old, and just in general having a wonderful time (he smiles when he shits on things), say, well, your happy old age is annoying me? I would have to think that karma would get me in the end, and when I got to be ninety (you know, next week or so), Sarah would decide she was pretty damn tired of paying someone to change my Depends and...well, it's just not on. Ah, well. 0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Well, well. An actual illustration. The above is what happens when your 900 year old pussycat, full of joie de vivre, leaps directly onto your computer when you're trying to write something.


Love, Wendy

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I'm Amused

Just reading something on line from the Chicago Sun-Times, and I discovered that good old Chicago still tells it like it is. At the top of the page it says, 80 degrees, followed by Weather: Revolting.

Why doesn't the NYTimes have sensible weather reporting like this?

Love, Wendy


In case you were wondering why you haven't heard from me, it's because there's been nothing TO hear. This stupid weather has got me locked in the house and has fogged my brain to the extent that I can't think about ANYTHING.

However, I did actually get out twice last week...and one of those times was for actual work! I got a day on Friends With Benefits, the new Justin Timberlake movie. And the shoot was actually in Manhattan! (The other time was to go see my kid where she's bartending.)

What a strange day...for me, at any rate. Remember, I'm used to shooting on the closed Boardwalk set out in Brooklyn...closed in the sense that it's self-contained. And the couple of times I've shot in Manhattan have been indoor shoots, so still pretty much self-contained. Well, this one was right out there on the edge of Central Park, on Fifth Avenue and 61st, and sheesh. Talk about tourists, and paparazzi, and fire engines and police cars. And holding was in the Plaza Hotel, which is not as chic as it sounds. We were crammed into a too-small function room on the 4th floor with no craft services because the hotel catering union won't allow any food in the hotel that's not under their jurisdiction. Nor can you bring anything into the hotel. This meant we had to hike over to crafty on 61st for breakfast, and that we got stuck with a walkaway lunch...i.e., go find some lunch, pay for it yourself, and be back in an hour. Let me be the first to tell you that there isn't any affordable food, or very little, in that area...unless you want a hot dog. I found an overpriced egg salad sandwich, but...growl.

The shoot itself was fine, but dull, of course...I mean, face it, how interesting can walking back and forth be? Unless you are thrilled by the sight of Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, which I'm not. However, it was a nice almost 12 hour day, so a decent check is in the mail. Yay!

Meanwhile (since until this weather breaks, I'm still locked up in here), I ran across another one of those wonderful recipes in my old Gourmet cookbook, which has instructions that sound just strange:

It tells you to marinate 1-1/2 lbs. of calf liver and 3/4 lb. of veal in milk for 24 hours. then you put them "through the finest blade of a food chopper" and mix them with some butter, and bake them in a loaf pan for 3 hours at 300 degrees. Then you take them out, let them cool, and then "put them through a fine sieve," mix in 1/4 cup bourbon. Then you fill a terrine with alternating layers of the pate and whole truffles.

Well, WHAT? Why on earth, and HOW on earth, are you supposed to put something through a fine sieve when it's already cooked for 3 solid hours? And it's meat? And could we discuss those whole truffles? That would be the alternating layers of the pate and whole truffles. How big is this terrine dish? How MANY truffles? And remember, there's more than one layer of the things. Have you priced whole truffles lately?

I think I'll make a nice meatloaf.

Love, Wendy

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Cure Is Worse Than The Disease

First of all, however, before I get to the actual subject up there, all right, damn it, Anonymous, what I was thinking of was going to my aunt and uncle's place in Riverdale-Ivanhoe, where we did TOO see a far off funnel every now and then. So there, you Anonymous person you, who rather clearly grew up on my block...

Back to my actual subject. Now I take pills. I take a pill for my chest, and I take two for my heart. I listen to my doctor on what the side effects are likely to be (basically none, with what I take). But I'm getting increasingly frightened about what OTHER people are taking.

I have here in front of me (all right, it's actually slightly to my left), an ad that's been appearing in the newspapers all week. It's for something called ACTOS. Now according to the first page of this ad (it comes in three pages, for God's sake), "ACTOS has been shown to lower blood sugar without increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke."

Well, this is clearly good news, right, particularly after recent stories about another diabetes drug that DOES cause those.

Ah, ah, ah...not so fast. Then you turn the page.

I do not BELIEVE the list of possible side effects with this thing. Look:

Weight gain
Liver problems
Macular edema (diabetic eye disease with swelling in the back of the eye)
Fractures - yeah, broken bones
Low red blood cell count (anemia)
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Ovulation (OVULATION?)

This is the medication that's supposed to be BETTER for you? Good God.

First of all, it's supposed to be a diabetes drug. And you're telling me it may make your blood sugar too low. And fractures? You want me to take a drug that may cause my bones to just casually break? And it increases the chance of pregnancy in premenopausal women who don't have regular periods any more?

You know, I think I'll stick with the heart attack and stroke.

Love, Wendy

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sweating in Manhattan

Yes, well, this weather is beyond belief vile. Let's all be clear on the fact that I DO NOT DO HUMIDITY. I most particularly do not do it when it's coupled with 90 degree temperatures.

I had a wonderful couple of days lounging around the pool in Connecticut. Lots of deeply cool people to talk with, lots of food and booze, and just a lovely time all around. There was even something that my pal Philippe thinks is a dog...although as it's a teacup Yorkie, I do rather question this. Something that weighs a whole pound and a half doesn't actually qualify as a dog in my worldview...I tend to think that these things are members of the rat family. When they get to be about cocker spaniel size, I admit them into the canine group. But for what looked mostly like a dustmop for a dollhouse, it was fairly cute. What WAS amusing was watching Philippe play with the dog, since Philippe is 6'5". The effect was lovely, since the dog (?) occupies about half of the palm of Philippe's hand.

Then back to Manhattan on Sunday night, into the hell of last week. It was 103 on Monday or Tuesday, and it didn't go much below that all week. I didn't even bother to leave the house until Friday, except to go to the deli, since one must have one's newspapers, cigarettes and diet soda...and even then I was gasping for air after I got home from this five minute excursion. It was what we called, when I was a girl in Chicago, tornado weather.

Unless you grew up in the Midwest, you have no idea. I used to love curling up on the porch swing with iced tea and a book, just watching the sky first boil, then turn this odd green color, and then torrential rain and crashing thunder and huge lightning bolts...and every now and then, far off you could see an actual funnel. It was WONDERFUL.

But so far, New York has sullenly refused to rain. It gets black, the wind picks up, you get a few puffs of that nice cool thunderstorm breeze...and then it may possibly spit a few drops, and the whole thing sweeps away and you're left with NOTHING. We had a nice heavyish rain on Tuesday, I think, for all of ten minutes, and yesterday it rained for a whole twenty minutes...very gently...and tonight it spat in a half hearted fashion for about five minutes. That's been IT.

And the air is so desperate for a storm. It smells used, exhausted, worn out. The rain is all around us, and you can see it when you go to, which is fascinating. All around us, everywhere, the radar screen shows huge clouds. Except around Manhattan, which is a pristine circle of perfectly clear air. And we are gasping for rain.

Meanwhile, a group of Muslims are trying to build a mosque near the World Trade Center, and people are terribly up in arms about it. This is ridiculous. I'm not afraid of the nice Muslim people who are trying to show that not all of them are madmen. I'm deeply afraid FOR them if they go on with this plan. American extremists would have the thing bombed the instant it went up, for God's sake...and they'd wait until it was full of worshippers. And then pat themselves on the back for "removing the threat."

Did you know that there is somewhere in our lovely, deeply conflicted and half-mad country where they are trying to make it legal to carry your gun into CHURCH? There is an actual clergyman involved here who thinks it's a fine idea. Now, admittedly, I have on occasion felt the need for SOME sort of deterrent for long winded badly spoken sermons, but surely a peashooter would suffice?

What on God's green earth have we turned into? Guns in church? There are communities across the nation who feel it's a terrific idea to be able to carry sidearms openly. This doesn't sound like my country...this sounds like one of Stephen King's more apocalyptic novels (I'm rereading The Stand). I'm now afraid to run to the all night deli that's across the street from my house if it's dark out because the streets around my extremely wealthy neighborhood simply aren't safe for a middle-aged lady after dark (yeah, I know I'm 65, but I intend to stay middle aged until I'm 90...THEN I'll get old).

And you know, I think it really is "the economy, stupid." There is a helplessness that's engendered by finding your eternal verities completely upset. You have worked for the same company for 40 years, or 20 years, and you're looking forward to your pension and your retirement, and you've got your home, and your RV, and you and your wife are going to see some nice country, and all you need are those last few payments on that house and that RV, and then you can relax...and whoops. You're laid off. Those last few payments aren't coming. Your wife's job (well, you know, just for a few more bucks, and the kids are grown anyway) disappears. And Social Security, that looked so good, doesn't any more, because you've had to use most of those monthly payments. Then the bank forecloses on your house, and the RV gets repossessed because you sure as hell can't make THOSE payments, and...

Yeah. And. And. There goes your life. Your ENTIRE life.

So yes, I can understand why those sidearms at your hips could look really attractive. There's crime out there, you know, you gotta protect yourself, you gotta keep your street safe...and maybe, just maybe, with that gun on your hip, there might be SOMETHING, ANYTHING, anything at all, dear God, that you COULD be in charge of, because you've been in charge all your life and you've taken care of your family, and now you're not, and you can't, and there's nothing in front of you, and there are no jobs...

Guns aren't the answer. This way leads to madness and anarchy. Now is the time when we have to find a way that involves cooperation, and caring, and helping. Leave the gun at home. Go make a casserole. You know that family down the street, the ones with the ten kids, and they've both been laid off for months, and the unemployment ran out? Go take that casserole over there. Offer to babysit. Help the mom with dressing up a little for...please God...a job interview. Know anybody in the dad's business? Help him network a bit.

Caring and helping are answers. Guns are an unthinking response that won't help.

Love, Wendy

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oh, Yawn

I purely hate holding patterns. I have absolutely nothing to movies, no TV shows, no transcription work. Nothing. Yes, I know I can clean my house, and I actually made some tiny strides in that direction today. I cleaned the cat litter box, I got a few pieces of ironing done, and I hemmed the two new pairs of jeans that I bought like a month ago. Oh, and I got some nice deposits of cat shit off the floor. Aren't you glad you know this? And if you think I allow the cat shit to just sit on the floor, you're wrong. What happens is that I go out (I do occasionally go out) and the cat shits, and by the time I get home it's dry, so it no longer smells and I don't see it...until I go hunting for it. Which I did today, to an extent. And cleaned it up.

Actually, I did get out this week, which I REALLY couldn't afford to do, but my friend Tracy is in town for a week and was spending the evening bartending at her favorite spot (hey, that's what she wanted to do...who am I to argue?). So I went over there and had a couple of beers to say hello.

But I'm actually getting out of town for the holiday weekend! My pal Philippe, he of the one woman show, has a house out in Connecticut which is occupied, as far as I can tell, by his ex-wife and their daughter. It was evidently the most amicable of divorces, since he's always popping out there. And this weekend he's giving a party for the 4th of July, to which I am going. Now normally this is the sort of thing I would skip at the top of my lungs, because I have an odd form of claustrophobia...I really, really, dislike going to parties that I can't hail a taxi from. Or call a car service. You know, like Brooklyn. (Yeah, I know I could, in fact, arrange for a car and driver to get me to and from Connecticut, but as I don't happen to be a member of the Trump family...) It tends to make me feel terribly trapped. I don't know why, since I have no trouble bouncing off to Europe for weeks on end. Just one of my weirder quirks, I guess. I've found that there are actually a fair amount of totally urban types like me who have the same problem, which at least makes me feel I'm not A. alone or B. insane. It probably comes from living in a city all one's life, where a car is neither necessary nor (where do you park it? where do you drive it?) desirable.

However, this particular party has a swimming pool at it! Since it's going back up to the 90s this weekend (and, God help me, staying that way all week), this sounds like an excellent idea. Not to mention the fact that according to Philippe, there are going to be lots of industry people around, so I'm fetching along a handful of business cards. Never let an opportunity (or a swimming pool) go by!

Sarah, God bless her, forced me out of the house and bought me a new bathing suit. I didn't actually see the necessity of this until I hauled out my old one. Now I'm not a beach person, I don't take tropical vacations, and I'm not a sunbather because my skin is naturally a charming fish belly white, and as close to a tan as I get is a sort of yellowy beige that makes me look jaundiced. Or else, of course, a roaring sunburn. The only place I ever wear the bathing suit is in France...and if we have a cold summer there, or if my personal economy precludes a European vacation, the bathing suit doesn't even come out of the drawer. The result of this is that I have a 15 year old bathing suit. This doesn't bother me at all, since the only place I ever wear the thing is Yvoire, where a housedress and slippers is considered the height of fashion. But when I pulled it out this time, I discovered that due to the rocks where we swim in France, the seat of the thing is about one layer of fiber away from splitting altogether. This, I feel, is something to be avoided. I am not of an age where my naked ass peeping out is in any way something to be desired. So I now have a nice new black and white bathing suit...thank you, Sarah!

Of course, I could wish she hadn't led me through Macy's and JC Penney yelling at the top of her lungs, "You can't wear that, Mom! You're 65 years old!" I'm gonna have to watch this kid, or she'll have me in elastic waist pants and flowered tunics any old day now. If she's not nice to me, I'll wait until some really important occasion (like her wedding) and turn up in a pink polyester pantsuit worn with a tasteful string of matching pink popit beads and equally matching pink jogging shoes. And a really BIG pink handbag. And blue hair. Hee, hee, hee. After which, I will of course race to the ladies' room and return in fire engine red cut up to my crotch and down to my navel with matching four inch red spike heels. Gotcha!

Love, Wendy