Archive for May, 2010

Gather/Exit

Monday, May 24th, 2010

It’s a quack-a-doodle week here at Lonesome Quill, what with having to work for pay and everything, so here’s the weekend news in brief:

1) First time at Gather, and the arugula was the celebrity. We could smell its spiky freshness wafting over from the next table. Avec acidic whiff of vinaigrette!

I was fond of my sausage and bean-hominy ragout, which arrived in a scorching iron skillet* and was deeply belly-pleasing. In addition to smokey, hearty, earthy flavors, my friend Judy (Hi, Judy!) tasted something curryish in it. Coriander?

And while I have yet to meet an aioli I don’t like, the lemony one I had with my roasted taters and itsy-bitsy grass-stalk-sized arugula (infant arugula?)  was scrumptiously unctuous. Heh.

Finally, the kale salad. The dressing was a little too citrus-only for me (a wee bit of maple syrup would have worked wonders), but the kale was done perfectly, as were the sweet nuggets of carrot, and mm-mm grated Fiscalini cheese.

The only problem was the waitress. Inattentive and unfriendly. Nose crinkle. And:

*They should have warned me. I burned my hand.

2) John and I saw Exit through the Gift Shop, “the world’s first street art disaster movie.” Hilarious and possibly unsettling, if you don’t have a sense of humor about the sticky relationship between art and commerce, which—surprise!—sometimes I don’t!

I’ve been hearing good things about Banksy for a long time. Now I love him.

3) Harvey Milk Day party! In the car on the way there:

M: I wonder if they’ll have Twinkies.

J: Nah. Too dark.

On the table when we walk in: honking mound of Twinkies.

J: Good one, Sweetie.

M: I’m smart sometimes.

J: Lots of the time.

M: All the time.

International Bear of Misery

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I would be remiss as Promoter of Haute Cute if I did not point you to this.

Tip: Watch until the end.

Today’s Tirade

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

This morning after I had finished bitching to John about the intellectual dishonesty, incoherence, anti-feminism, and unacknowledged condescension in the latest issue of Atlantic Monthly, I finished with this: “And that’s today’s tirade.”

“That’s a great name for a blog,” he said.

I know.

For now, it’ll have to suffice as a new category.

Anyway, you can imagine my thrill when the excellent Andi Zeisler of Bitch Magazine decided to weigh in on one of the writers whose Atlantic article I had just read: muddled anti-feminist and pretend-fact maker-upper Caitlin Flanagan. (Hiss.) Zeisler gives Flanagan a well-deserved Douchebag Decree award. Hallelujah!

While I’m tirade-ing, I’d like to give Honorable Douchebag Mention to James Parker for his commentary on Lady Gaga, which while offering some keen insights on Gaga’s style is tonally contemptuous in a way it never acknowledges. Nobody has to like La Gaga—but if you hate her, please explain.

And don’t pretend that fancy-pants cultural critique (of which I’m a fan) protects you from emotional involvement. It doesn’t. [See: Four years at Yale.]

Plus Parker ends with the cheap trick of pronouncing Gaga the “end of pop,” which is so obviously wrong (pop is never over) it can’t be meant to mean anything.

Atlantic Monthly! Writing has to mean something. You can’t just throw a bunch of unconnected and contradictory darts at a board. Or, you can, but that’s dadaism, and it’s not what you’re going for.

New editor, anyone?

In the Wake

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

We saw a premiere of the new Lisa Kron play at the Berkeley Rep last night. And . . . I give it a hmm.

They’re still working on it, and here’s what I hope they do:

1) Edit down a half hour

2) Delete all soliloquies (pretentious)

3) Dial down the mania in the opening scene

4) Take the political/personal parallels to a subtler place

I think it could be a great play. Right now it feels like a good play, flawed and periodically irritating, small-scale predictable, larger-scale surprising. The second act far outshines the first, and it shouldn’t take that long for things to deepen.

But Kron is [THEMATIC SPOILER ALERT] doing something that I don’t think you see too often in mainstream theater, which is skewering white, middle-class liberals. And she doesn’t fully let you know she’s doing it until the end, which is fantastic. Until then it’s not clear where her sympathies lie.

In fact I’d have preferred slightly more ambiguity in the ending, but mostly it’s quite satisfying (and humbling) to watch the humbling of someone we didn’t fully grasp was due for a humbling.

Humble humble humble.

Worth seeing. Lots to chew on. LONG.

Marriage: A (Very Short) Play in Four Acts

Monday, May 10th, 2010

I. MATCHY-MATCHY

This morning it became clear just how far John has advanced in his personal fashion lexicon when I misidentified his outfit as “matchy-matchy.”

J: It’s not matchy-matchy!

M: Sorry, you’re right. It isn’t.

J: Good.

M: But it is matchy.

J: Yes. That’s fine.

[Hug.]

II. CHETZI-PJ

When I was in college, I spent some time in Israel, and sometimes  Hebrew creeps into my conversation. For instance, “Lama lo.” Which means “Why not.” It’s much more satisfying than the English.

Lama lo? Give it a try.

So a few weeks ago,  John commented that I appeared to be ready for bed.

M: Really? Ready for bed?

J: You’re wearing PJs.

M: No, these aren’t PJs. This is chetzi-PJ.

J: Chetzi?

M: It means “half” in Hebrew.

J: Chetzi-PJ. That is very cute.

M: I know! I just made it up!

J: Chetzi-PJ!

We say it all the time now.

III. MONDAY-MORNING MATH

Last night, John learned a Life Lesson. Or at least, he added to his wisdom quotient on an ongoing issue. “But,” he said, “the suffering-to-wisdom ratio really wasn’t too bad.”

A new ratio!

Years ago I came up with the event-to-processing ratio, in which we measure the length of the event against the amount of time it takes to process.

For instance, if the relationship + breakup took two years, how long does the getting-over-it take? Of course that’s different for everyone.

Now we have the suffering-to-wisdom ratio, in which we measure the amount of suffering against the wisdom gained. Good work, Johnny!

IV. AGAIN WITH THE SECRET CACHES

This week when my camera battery died—I mean dead dead, not rechargeable dead—I was sure I’d stump John.

M: So, Sweetie.

J: [Lying on bed, staring at computer.] Yeah?

M: Where do you keep the irregularly shaped Lithium-ion batteries to be professionally recycled?

J: [Points with toe to shelf.] Right there.

Sure enough, on his bookshelf, there was a little pile. Hiding in plain sight!

M: Jesus Christ.

J: What?

M: You have a pile for everything!

J: I do.

M: Where do you keep the camel’s hair dusters?

J: In the basement!

M: What about the polka-dotted hydroculators?

J: In the backyard!

[Bed tackle.]

You might be amused to know that for my birthday (which is July 26, so you have plenty of time), I have asked John to remove all stashes and convey them to their intended destinations.

J: Even the ones you don’t know about?

M: Especially the ones I don’t know about.

J: They bother you?

M: They’re killing me.

J: [Giggle.] Wow, Sweetie. I had no idea.

M: [Giggle.] God, the pain.

J: [Laughing and reaching in for a kiss.] It’s hard to be you.

M: [Laughing.] I know, it is hard. But I get to have you.

[Fade to hug.]

Greenberg: Sigh

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I guess this puts Noah Baumbach at 1 for 3.

The Squid and the Whale: A paragon of my favorite genre, the dysfunctional family dramedy. Script, mise en scene, directing, acting: everything beautiful and of a piece. A perfect gem.

Margot at the Wedding: Pointlessly dour.

Greenberg: See above and raise it a disturbed, narcissistic protagonist who never wins our sympathies and a dark and damaging romance we keep wishing won’t happen.

Noah, come back. We miss you.

Last night as we left the theater I made the case that so much was right about Greenberg—smart dialogue, marvelous performance by Ben Stiller, relaxed color palette and focus, appealing lack of artifice, unflinching embrace of discomfort—that all Baumbach had to do was make Greenberg even a smidge likable.

“Imagine that we’re rooting for him,” I said to John. “Doesn’t that change everything?”

“Yeah, but Baumbach doesn’t want that,” he said. “He wants to look at someone who isn’t redeeming.”

“So make him a secondary character,” I said. “Otherwise, what’s the point? Nothing matters.”

This morning when we woke up I had this thought: Rachel Getting Married. That’s how to make a movie about an unpredictable addict who has the power to ruin everything. First of all, there are stakes. (Almost nothing is at stake in Greenberg, not even Greenberg, who seems lost beyond recovery.) Second, there are reasons. And third, we care. We really, really care.

“I am unmoved,” said the man behind us as we stood up to leave last night. And then: “It’s the character.”

Yep.

More NYer Love

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Since we all can agree the world revolves around me, I think it won’t come as a surprise that The New Yorker chose this week’s edition—arriving mere minutes after my previous post!—to publish exactly the kind of article I love and admire.

(Also of note in this issue: Both features, the humor piece, and the short story are by women, which means the entire top half of the TOC is swimming in estrogen. It’s a fresh breath of ahh!)

The article is reporter Janet Malcolm’s 30-page (!) piece on a riveting murder trial in Queens. The title: “Iphigenia in Forest Hills.” Thrilling! I’d never have been able to get a title like that past any editors I’ve worked for, but at the NYer, you’re allowed to refer to Greek mythology—even slightly obscure Greek mythology. (Here’s to you, Mrs. Marek, my genius 10th-grade English teacher, for syllabizing both Sophocles’ and Anouilh’s Antigone.)

Anyway, while I was a little surprised by Malcolm’s insertion of self into the article—there’s a fair amount of commentary about what it was like to sit through a weeks-long murder trial, and at one point she does something that has the potential to affect the verdict—I also enjoyed it. I’m always hoping for that sort of thing in reportage, since I think objectivity is a pose and an illusion. Shocking, right?  I’m the first person to notice!

The trial itself is both enraging (bastard judge doesn’t give defendant a fair trial) and beguiling (defendant probably did it—but how could she?), so there’s much to mull.

It reminds me of this piece, even more enraging as a miscarriage of justice but far less morally ambiguous in its outcome. As a piece of journalism, also top-notch.

New Yorker, I love you. Please never die.