Category Archives: the telly

Evening Primrose

The Plot and Such:  In this made-for-tv version of the Stephen Sondheim musical, a young poet (Anthony Perkins) hides in a department store after hours and decides to live there, only to discover a miniature society of people already living there.  He falls in love with their young maid, Ella (Charmian Carr).  The society forbids their relationship, and he tries to give her the courage to leave with him.

I’m not a huge fan of musical theater, but I am a fan of Anthony Perkins, and the idea of this story–a poet decides to live in a department store and discovers a group of people already living there–appealed to me. For as much as such a thing is possible in musical theater, Perkins turns in a believable performance in a fairly unbelievable situation. In case it’s not obvious, he was really pigeon-holed after Psycho. Upon sight (though not in the clip below) you will recognize Charmian Carr as the actress who plays Liesl in The Sound of Music. Her Ella is a lot like her Liesl, but that serves the story well enough.

Dolores Del Rio

Watching Flying Down to Rio on TCM, I was moved to check out more about the film’s star, Dolores Del Rio. In my search, I came across some strange, wonderful, and sometimes creepy images.
(Photographer for the above two images: Slim Aarons)

A restyled doll by Juan Albuerne

And a beautiful one…,%2520Dolores%2520(Joanna)_02.jpg

And a fabulous one…

Some Things I Love

Kim did a post like this, and I’ve been wanting to do one myself. Mine will be sillier than hers because some of the things I love are pretty silly.

Kashi Heart to Heart Oat Flakes and Wild Blueberry Clusters

So yummy–tastes like a really good blueberry muffin.


Guru: The Indian Caterer

Oh my, this is incredibly good Indian food–fresh and delicious, not run of the mill. And so cheap!!! And it’s practically around the corner from our house.


The Strand Bookstore

It’s sprawling, it’s packed with books, it’s a Manhattan classic right in Union Square.
They’ve kept up with the times–they have an excellent web site on which I’ve discovered a bunch of books–and at the same time they’ve maintained a sort of old school presence in their main store. The last few times I’ve been in New York, I’ve spent hours there–sometimes over multiple visits. The last time I was at the main store, I went to collect some books I’d ordered online. Of course, I had to browse, and ended up adding a few to my pre-ordered stack. They sell new and used, remainders, review copies, and rare books. They have a great art section on the second floor, and there’s a sizable children’s section that I’ve never really properly investigated. Their prices are generally very good. Their book bags are awesome, too. If their onesies came in slightly more appealing patterns, Rainey would already have one.

Arrested Development

Ez and I don’t watch a lot of television, but we do watch a lot of DVDs. Like many people, we missed Arrested Development when it first aired. That was our loss. We just finished watching the whole series on DVD and we love it! Funny stuff. I’m sure we’ll see the film, though I’m a LITTLE worried that it won’t live up to the series.

Casa Silva Sauvignon Gris 2006

We tasted this wine at Dave’s Fresh Pasta and we really like it. It’s got this sort of tangy, almost effervescent quality.
My computer has been unreliable of late–hardware problem, we think–so I’ll end this post here. I’ll have to make this a series as I think of other things I like enough to blog about them.

Overanalyzing Pretty in Pink–beware!

Most people have a favorite teen movie from their youth. Mine would have to be Pretty in Pink. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it. I saw it with a bunch of school friends (all girls–many of us were teary-eyed as we exited the theater) when it was first released in 1986. I’ve owned the video (VHS) for at least 16 years. It’s been a little while since I last watched it, but it was on AMC the other day–slightly and amusingly butchered–and watching it again I was reminded of some of the enduring reasons that I like it, even now. I also noticed–in some cases for the first time–some of the ways in which it doesn’t work. When you’ve seen a movie countless times, it’s hard not to pick up on editing gaffes, plot inconsistencies, and the quality of the acting–both when it’s bad and when it’s, maybe surprisingly, pretty decent.

The set designer must have had a lot of fun doing this movie. Even now, even with the overabundance of pink, I still like Andie’s bedroom. This time around, I noticed that she has at least one–maybe two–Mondrian prints on her walls. I can’t say whether that influenced me as a teenager, even subconsciously, to check out Mondrian myself, but it’s entirely possible. Iona’s Chinatown apartment is fun, too–though the kooky retro 50s/early 60s black and white stuff isn’t really my taste.

Andy's bedroom
Andie in her bedroom with her dog, Ace. Sadly, this is one of the best pictures I could find of her room–doesn’t show much, but you can see one of the Mondrian prints on the wall in the background.

Iona's apartment
Iona (Annie Potts) and Andie (Molly Ringwald) in the kooky 50s/60s room in Iona’s apartment. Andie is wearing a pretty nice Chinese jacket.

Trax, the record store where Andie and Iona work, makes me all nostalgic! I mean, did we all know someone who had that Smiths poster, or is it just me?
Iona at Trax
Iona at Trax

Of course Andie’s outfits are fun. That’s a little part of the point, right? She makes a lot of her own clothes… the film is even called Pretty in Pink. Some of it probably looks a bit goofy to someone watching the movie for the first time today, but I still like some of the pieces and combinations. Some of the colors are great. I like the vintage blue cardigan she wears at the record shop, and I especially love that lace top (can’t find a good picture of it, of course).

I’ve always liked John Cryer in this movie, and this time around I spotted some specific places–besides the classic Otis Redding scene, of course–where his acting really is pretty good. When he realizes Andie is going on a date with Blane (the major appliance), the hurt look on his face is perfect. Most of his acting in that part of the film really works, keeping in mind that he’s supposed to be in high school…

Andy and Duckie
Andie and Duckie at the record store, when Duckie realizes that Andie is going on a date with Blane

James Spader is just great as Blane’s ridiculously snotty friend Steff. His affected voice, the way he saunters around like he owns the place, his thick sleepy eyelids… he totally nails it. The bit at the end where Blane tells him off is classic. “You couldn’t buy her, though, that’s what’s killing you, isn’t it? Steff? That’s it, Steff. She thinks you’re shit. And deep down, you know she’s right.” Melodramatic? Yeah, perhaps. But for a John Hughes movie, that’s a pretty good zinger. James Spader as Steff
James Spader as Steff

Even Andrew McCarthy, who turned out to be rather less of an actor than he might have been, has a couple pretty good moments here and there. Possibly the best scene in a lot of ways is the one where Andie confronts Blane in the hallway at school. McCarthy’s character is doing a lot here–he’s squirming, for sure. He ends up doing the wimpy thing–but he’s crying. It’s not easy for him. (I’ve watched this scene many times, of course, and I think it’s really pivotal for how the film was supposed to end–but I’ll get to that in a second.) Duckie watches this whole scene unfold, and sees the aftermath of their exchange, where Steff tells Blane that Andie “was, is, and will always be nada.” I think Cryer again does a pretty good job here, and of course there’s some good John Hughes movie triumph involved when Duckie tackles Steff and they scuffle in the hall, with Duckie tearing down the prom banner after a few teachers come out of their classrooms to break it up. Steff’s reaction to the whole thing is great, too. It’s largely physical–refluffing his fluffy hair, spitting on the floor, dripping smooth disdain.

The filmmakers have been pretty open about the fact that they changed the movie’s ending after test audiences were disappointed that Andie and Blane did not end up together. In the original, Andie and Duckie end up together. I can see why test audiences felt the way they did. You want the film’s message to be that love conquers all–that class differences are superficial and don’t matter, and you want the characters to be strong enough to get past them. Andie and Blane’s romance gets built up, and even though the viewer sees just how much Duckie likes Andie, there’s not enough (at least, not that made it into the final cut) to show that Andie could see Duckie as much more than a friend, though there is one very purposeful shot at the prom where they take each other’s hands. That got left in, and I can’t help thinking that the filmmakers hoped it would serve a different purpose in the final cut than it did in the test version. To me, it looks like it’s supposed to show that they’re growing closer–maybe romantically. Perhaps the filmmakers decided to leave it in to signify that Duckie and Andie had reconciled and to show their unity as they confront Blane together.

Andie and Blane
Andie and Blane, selling BMW.

The ending that did make it into the film is almost too John Hughes-y. It’s too easy, too quickly thrown together. Of course, when I saw it in 1986 (I was 12, I think), I thought it was perfect. Heck, it made me want a BMW. But watching it now–not so much. There’s this whole thing between Andie and Blane earlier in the film where she tells Blane that she can’t believe in anyone who doesn’t believe in her. At the prom he tells her that he always believed in her but she just didn’t believe in him. Well, duh Blane… you wimped out on her! You started out all brave, taking her to your friend’s party and saying you were above it all, but then you caved! You didn’t return her calls! You backed out on the prom! Something there just doesn’t compute. And pairing Duckie up with some random girl at the prom is just silly. It reduces his role in the film.

I could probably go on, if anyone else is freakish enough to want to continue the discussion…

EDIT: Ah! But YouTube saves the day. Pretty vintage blue beaded sweater is at the beginning of this clip. And oh look–she’s wearing the lacy top thing under it. Around 2:20 she closes a door and we see the aforementioned Smiths poster, and then the scene shifts to her bedroom–Mondrian prints, pretty kimono on the wall, etc. Unfortunately, John Cryer’s good expression when he finds out that Andie is going out with Blane is split over two clips. Most of it is at the beginning of this one. It’s better when you see his initial reaction, though. Molly Ringwald is really kinda so-so compared to Cryer in that scene. Sorry, Molly.

The confrontation scene mentioned above starts around 4:45 here. Great stuff from Spader and Cryer… at least, great for a John Hughes movie.

For now I’ll save the rest for when I’m asked to provide commentary for a special edition of the DVD. (Hyuck hyuck.)

Should I be working for The Daily Show?

Okay, maybe not.  But…

Watching the presidential debate on October 15, I wrote this:  “McCain talks about her [Palin] in a weirdly condescending way… like she’s his daughter, not his running mate. Compare how he talked about her to the way Obama talks about Biden. I think McCain said he was “proud” of her. Proud? Obama doesn’t have to be “proud” of Biden.”

Anybody see The Daily Show on October 16th?

On the 15th I also wrote: “Please, no more “Joe the Plumber”. I’m waiting for Jon Stewart to do a “Bob the Builder” on that one.”

It took The Daily Show a bit longer to pick up on that.  (See the October 29th episode.)

I’ll dig up some transcripts eventually…

Work and Play

I’ve been working quite a bit of late. Ez and I both worked on Sunday and Monday… no special President’s Day vacation for us.

I’ve been taking lots of breaks, though, mostly to knit and to watch The Comic Strip Presents. I LOVE it. LOVE IT! I am obsessed.

Dawn French and Peter Richardson in The Comic Strip Presents: Consuela

Nigel Planer and Adrian Edmondson in The Comic Strip Presents: South Atlantic Raiders, Part I

I’ve been fairly obsessed with knitting lately, too. At the moment I’m splitting my knit time between the sweater for Ezra and another cable project for me.

The back of a cabled sweater I’m making for myself.

And then there is the pile of books at my bedside…

Visualize flurries

If you know me at all, then you know that for me this really IS the most wonderful time of the year. I’ve been busy with all sorts of
things, many of them holiday. Since the best part is sharing, it’s time to report.

Merry Christmas 2006

Saturday night we hosted our (usually) annual holiday party. This year we did a potluck, and I personally had a fabulous time. Thanks to all of our creative and talented friends, the food and drink were fantastic, as was the conversation. I made a fool of myself (think of it in the Shakespearian sense and maybe it’s not so bad) with the drink and babble, but it was totally worth it. It was great to see some friends who we don’t get a chance to see very often, too. As we do every year, we’ll try to be better this coming year about keeping up with our friends. I think we’ve made some progress this year! If you’re reading this, you’re probably on our “to see” list! We ended up with a lot of leftovers. If you want some sweets, I’ve got them!

Last weekend Ezra and I joined the crowd at The Brattle for the annual showing of It’s a Wonderful Life. Starbucks was paying for the matinee, so everyone got in free and the theater was indeed packed. I wasn’t sure a packed theater was ideal, I have to admit, since past experience tells me that sometimes big crowds at The Brattle are noisy and just make fun of the film. (Sometimes that makes sense, but often it’s annoying.) I had nothing to worry about, though. It was a great, enthusiastic crowd. They laughed heartily at appropriate points throughout the first half or so and fell silent as the film became a bit more serious. Everyone clapped loudly at the end (at this particular viewing I felt especially like clapping and cheering myself), and I noticed lots of teary eyes when the lights came up.IAWL

Pretty much every time I see the film, I notice something new or think about it in a little bit of a new way. Something always strikes me. This time I noticed when one of the bullets the cop aims at George shoots out the S in the Pottersville sign (Ezra had mentioned that to me last year). It also occured to me, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before, that George and Mary name their first child after George’s father, Peter Bailey. In a more general way, I was struck this time by how much the film is about selflessness and its rewards. Of course, throughout the film George gives of himself and makes sacrifices for other people. What I hadn’t thought about so much before is that when he asks Clarence to give him his life back at the end, he is again being selfless. By affirming his life, he assures that his family, friends, and the town will still benefit from his gifts. I always used to think that It’s a Wonderful Life was not really strictly a Christmas movie. Yes, the climactic moments happen on Christmas Eve, but it’s about so much more than that. I think though, that I realized with this viewing that it is a perfect Christmas movie, because Christmas to me is about all of the things George does and all of the things he learns. It’s about giving of yourself. The more religious among you might use that as a metaphor. For me, it all goes back to two statements in the film that are shown but never spoken–Clarence’s inscription to George in the copy of Tom Sawyer he gives him, “No Man Is a Failure Who Has Friends,” and the framed statement under Peter Bailey’s portrait at the Building and Loan that says, “You Can Only Take with You That Which You Have Given Away.” Have a tissue.

I’ve watched many of the other holiday movies and shows that I make a point to see every year, though I’m quite frustrated that I missed Rudolph. Sigh… I have watched Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Charlie Brown, and the Grinch, along with It’s a Wonderful Life. A Christmas Story and The Bishop’s Wife are still on the to-view list.

Ezra has declared our living room Santa’s workshop. We have the tree in there this year, and I’ve got a gift wrapping station set up. It’s a bit of a… er… work in progress, shall we say. Messy, but festive.

As you likely know, the weather is not cooperating. What is this rain and 50 degrees crap? It’s got exactly 11 days to get its shit together. Accuweather, the darlings, are at least predicting that it won’t get out of the 30s on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in State College. Yes, I am checking daily.

The PA Report

Greetings from rainy Happy Valley.  I suppose it’s not as rainy as the world of the Curtisian.  But it’s rainy-ish.

I am watching the Red Sox and Orioles on ESPN, and Mark Loretta is hitting everything Lopez is giving him.  Mark Loretta is on my good list.  Lowell, too.  ESPN, while not as bad as Fox, ain’t no NESN.  (Did I just write “ain’t no” on purpose?  Yes.  Yes, I did.)  Remy and Don are just much more entertaining, and a good bit more informative, too.  And I’ll bet they didn’t skip out in the middle of the 3rd inning to show Barry Bonds doing NOTHING in Houston.  Do we have to drop everything every time this jerk is at the plate?  They’ve just informed me that they think we do.  (*Groan*)

It’s quiet here, but then again, it’s pretty quiet at home, too.  I made 30 phone calls today for work, and I feel like it wasn’t enough.  Must crank (not crank call, but crank out the calls).  Most people I called were very nice and cooperative, but one very sour woman was enough to end my phone calling for the day.  No need to be rude.  I’m just doing my job like she is.  And no, I am not selling anything.

I made dinner tonight–penne with asparagus in a light pink sauce and a little salad with arugula and tomatoes.  It was good, though I think a tad more kick would have been welcome.  I’ll have to try it again at home.

Is it just me, or are the Red Sox doing more spitting this year than they have the last couple of years?  Baseball or not, it’s gross.  Whenever I see the guys chewing gum instead (Nixon, Loretta), I applaud.

EDIT:  After I posted this, I saw Nixon spitting something, and ESPN showed Varitek (not you, JV!) stuffing his lip (ugh).  One of the commentators actually said something about it, as though it was JV’s little reward after his home run.  As Mel Cooley would say, “Yech!”