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george and liza

February 27, 2011

i am in love with these characters, this story. because this one made my heart gleeful and then yanked it right out of my chest. i swear. very few books have managed to evoke such emotion in me before and continue to do so.

this from ellen shanman's right before your eyes.

'so what do you do, george?' i asked.

'i'm in m'n'a. that's mergers and --'

'acquisitions, yeah, i know what it is.' i was grateful he didn't say 'consultant.' 

'of course. and you?'

'i'm a writer.'

'for whom?' he questioned.

'a playwright.'

'ah. for no one.'

'yeah, i'm having cards made.'

'so what kind of plays do you write?'

this is one of those questions i hope people will not ask in a bar because then i'll have to say something like 'well, right now i'm working on a piece about the perfect suburban widow and the way the neighborhood destroys her when she falls for the wrong man. it's a little bit ibsen, a little bit alan ball.' inevitably the other person will draw some parallel to 'desperate housewives' and i'll have to explain why that's completely off base without sounding affected and nasty.

'gee, george. i'm sure you'd much rather tell me about you. what kind of mergers do you aquire?

'point taken. so what do you actually do? for money?'

'i do administrative work.' i would not say the word 'temp' to this man.

'you temp?'

i hated him.

'what agency? we've always got temps in my office.'

so much.

and that is pretty much how the story of george and liza begins. that is what made me like it.

this is what made me love it.

'i was scared, george. i was just scared. why don't you get that?'

he looked at his shoes for a long time. i willed him to raise his eyes and look at me, but he wouldn't. i was saying it. i was saying everything i'd been unable, too afraid, to say for so long ... but he wasn't looking at me. i prayed silently. please, i thought, please, please, please ...

'sometimes,' he finally said, 'people should go with their instincts.'

'george. this is what i've been trying to tell you! my instincts were --'

'not yours.' he paused. 'mine.' he looked me in the eye for the first time. and there was a wall where i'd never seen one before.

'i don't...', i stuttered, not knowing what to say. 'i don't think i understand.' ... i opened my mouth, but i couldn't make a sound. i wanted to evaporate, to lose consciousness, to sprain my ankle so he'd have to take me to the hospital and we could start all over again and this time i wouldn't fuck it up.

but i just stood there.

he turned away.

'george...' it came out as an eerie, choked animal sob.

he stopped. he started to turn back to me. and then he changed his mind.

...

the first and last person i had wanted to see that evening was actually standing there waiting for me. i knew i had to walk past him to get out, but for a second i couldn't move. and then without even wanting them to, my legs started to carry me toward him. i stopped a few yards away.

he just stared at me.

'what are you doing here?' i asked.

'i don't know,' george said. 'i just couldn't miss it.'

'you watched?'

'you're extraordinary.'

nick and norah's infinite playlist

February 26, 2011

NOT the film. the film blows. huge, HUGE chunks. it's most assuredly one of the worst adaptations i've ever seen.

but the book ...

i LOVE the book.

even if it is teen fiction.

and there's SO much i like about this book that i could blog about it for a significant period of time, which i don't (and you don't) have, so i'll give you snippets from nick's first chapter and from norah's. because that's how it's written. nick gets one, then norah, then nick again, and back and forth, and back and forth for the whole of some near two hundred pages. it's a quickie read, but more importantly, a fun one.

there's nick, who, stupidly, is still hung up on his no-good-ex tris. and norah, who's trying to keep her friend caroline out of trouble. and there's a long night ahead of them both.

nick:

the day begins in the middle of the night. i am not paying attention to anything but the bass in my hand, the noise in my ears. dev is screaming. thom is flailing, and i am the clockwork. i am the one who takes this thing called music and lines it up with this thing called time. i am the ticking ... dev has thrown off his shirt, and thom is careening into feedback, and i am behind them. i am the generator ... it's a small room, and we're a big noise, and i am the nonqueer bassist in a queercore band who is filling the room with undertone as dev screams ... dev is wailing now, and thom is crashing, and even though my feet don't move i am traveling hard ... i throw the chords at them. i drench them in the soundwaves. i am making time so loud that they have to hear it. i am stronger than words, and i am bigger than the box i'm in, and then i see her in the crowd, and i fall apart ... here she is, and my fingers are losing their place, and my buzz is losing its edge, and everything around me goes from crying out to just plain crying.

she sees me. she can't fake surprise at seeing me here, because of course she fucking knew i'd be here. so she does a little smile thing and whispers something to the new model, and i can tell just from her expression that after they get their now-being-poured drinks they are going to come over and say hello and good show and -- could she be so stupid and cruel? -- how are you doing? and i can't stand the thought of it. i see it all unfolding, and i know i have to do something -- anything -- to stop it.

so i, this random bassist in an average queercore band, turn to this girl in flannel whom i don't even know and say:

'i know this is going to sound strange, but would you mind being my girlfriend for the next five minutes?'

norah:

there are certain things a girl just knows, like that a fourth minute on a punk song is a bad, bad idea, or that no way does a jersey-boy bassist with astor place hair who wears torn-up, bleach-stained black jeans and a faded black t-shirt with orange lettering that says when i say jesus, you say christ swing down boy-boy alley; he's working the ironic punk boy-johnny cash angle too hard to be a 'mo ... just because he doesn't look like a whitesnake-relic-reject like all of your band does not automatically mean the guy's gay.

the incidental fact of his straightness doesn't mean i want to be nomo's five-minute girlfriend, like i'm some seven-eleven quick stop on his slut train. only because i am the one loser here who hadn't lost all her senses to beer, dope or hormones do i have the sense to hold back my original instinct -- to yell back 'fuck no' in response to nomo's question.

nomo is standing in front of me, blocking my view, waiting to find out if i want to be his five-minute girlfriend and looking like that lost animal who goes around asking 'are you my mother' in that kid book.

from behind him i don't see caroline, but i do see that stupid bitch, tris ... that bitch should not be in a club like this. as if her language is not enough indication, there is also the matter of her hot topic mallrat outfit: short black leather skirt with buckles up the side, mass-produced 'vintage' ramones t-shirt and piss-yellow leggings with some horrible pair of pink patent-leather shoes. she looks like a neon sign bumble-bee by way of early debbie harry rip-off.

i'm the less-than-five minute girlfriend who for one too-brief kiss fantasized about ditching this joint with him, going all the way punk with him at a fucking jazz club in the village or something. maybe i would have treated him to borscht at veselka at five in the morning. maybe i would've walked along battery park with him at sunrise ... but no, he's the type with a complex for the tris type: the big tits, the dumb giggle, the blowhard. literally.

i extract my wrist from his grip. but for some reason, instead of walking away, i pause for a moment and return my hand to his face, caressing his cheek, drawing light circles on his jaw with my index finger.

'you poor schmuck.'

and then there's this one

February 24, 2011

i'm still on a good love stories sort of kick. so the next few posts will accomodate that (and yeah, i know. i've got a whole lot of things i should be writing about instead, like project: the first, otherwise known as holy-mother-of-god-what-the-hell-were-you-thinking-and-why-haven't-you-made-a-bit-more-effort?)

anyway...

i told you what my ten favorite (for the moment) chick flicks are.

so now we'll talk about chick lit.

only there's one book i wanna share with you that isn't so lovey dovey.

why, then, am i including it here?

because it breaks my heart it's so good. it's amazing. it's the most beautifully written story i've ever read. EVER.

and it is a love story. of a sort.

it is the first of those shorts included in jhumpa lahiri's the interpreter of maladies, which was on my reading list from like five years ago. it is called a temporary matter.

here are a few snippets:

he combed through her cookbooks every afternoon, following her penciled instructions to use two teaspoons of ground coriander seeds instead of one, or red lentils instead of yellow. each of the recipes was dated, telling the first time they had eaten the dish together. april second, cauliflower with fennel. january fourteenth, chicken with almonds and sultanas. he had no memory of eating those meals, and yet they were recorded in her neat proofreader's hand.

when he heard her approach he would put away his novel and begin typing sentences. she would rest her hands on his shoulders and stare with him into the blue glow of the computer screen. 'don't work too hard,' she would say after a minute or two, and head off to bed. it was the one time in the day she sought him out, and yet he'd come to dread it. he knew it was something she forced herself to do ... for some reason, the room did not haunt him the way it haunted shoba ... he set up his desk there deliberately, partly because the room soothed him, and partly because it was a place shoba avoided.

it astonished him, her capacity to think ahead. when she used to do the shopping, the pantry was always stocked with extra bottles of olive and corn oil, depending on whether they were cooking italian or indian ... when friends dropped by, shoba would throw together meals that appeared to have taken half a day to prepare, from things she had frozen and bottled, not cheap things in tins but peppers she had marinated herself ... her labeled mason jars lined the shelves of the kitchen, in endless sealed pyramids, enough, they'd agreed, to last for their grandchildren to taste. they'd eaten it all by now ... it struck him as odd that there were no real candles in the house. that shoba hadn't prepared for such an ordinary emergency.

shukumar: the first time we went out to dinner, to the portuguese place, i forgot to tip the waiter. i went back the next morning, found out his name, left money with the manager.

shoba: you went all the way back to somerville just to tip a waiter?

i took a cab.

why did you forget to tip the waiter?

by the end of the meal i had a funny feeling that i might marry you. it must have distracted me.

and then there's this one

shobar: the first time i was alone in your apartment, i looked in your address book to see if you'd written me in. i think we'd known each other for two weeks.

shukumar: where was i?

you went to answer the telephone in the other room. it was your mother, and i figured it would be a long call. i wanted to know if you'd promoted me from the margins of your newspaper.

had i?

no, but i didn't give up on you.

this was (doubling as) a matlock project. learn about that here.

lovey dovey

February 22, 2011

so while i was surfing my blog roll to choose four favored for passing on some love, i came across a post on elzabel's blog in which she names ten of her favorite romantic movies. and she mentioned some good ones. to see her list, click here.

but it got me thinking about what my list would look like. i know. i know. i'm a week or so late with this, and i've blogged about films i love before. but i was thinking, too, about how cranky my last two posts are and figured picky needed to be a little lovey, so ...

my ten-list [click on the title to get to the internet movie database for cast details and trailers (some of which don't do the films justice, by the way)] and why:

the cutting edge
it's not great cinema, folks. it's cheesy. supremely cheesy. but i LOVE moira kelly's and d.b. sweeney's characters. and it's got some badass dialogue.

kate: i'm sure there's nothing i do that you'd find exciting. i don't open beer bottles with my toes. i don't sit around and count what's left of my teeth. hey, i don't even enjoy a good tractor pull. it's been a limited existence, but i've gotten used to it.

doug: life of the party, huh? place must be crawling with guys.

as a matter of fact, i do have a boyfriend.

well there's a rough gig. what do you do, keep him chained up in the basement?

hale at the moment is working in my father's london office. he's an m.b.a. harvard. you might have heard of it. they do have a hockey team.

he must be a very smart guy. bet you look pretty good from a few thousand miles away.

dedication
almost everything about this film is amazing, save for the fact that it stars mandy moore. but amazingly enough, she doesn't sing in this one, so that makes it marginally okay. seriously. this is some good shit. clever and crafty and cool. you'll dig it.

henry: i've spent my whole life wanting something and doing my very best not to find it. never even going near the places it might be, and suddenly i've got the goddamned thing practically chained around my neck.

lucy: what are you talking about?

you, you're the goddamned thing.

eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. also clever, crafty and cool.

joel: wait.

clementine: why?

i don't know. just wait ... for a while.

fever pitch
baseball. blech. but it's the farelly brothers doing nick hornby. and it's jimmy fallon! i LOVE him!

lindsey: you don't see us tangled up in the sheets with the eiffel tower in the background. you see the mariners are coming in, and pedro's pitching friday.

ben: no, on saturday. schilling's friday.

for love of the game
yes, another baseball-themed film. yes, another kevin costner-baseball themed film. this one's strength isn't its dialogue but in the way the story's told. it's incredibly, INCREDIBLY well put together. and kelly preston's character? she's a pretty nifty chick.

hitch
will smith. kevin james. and, well, eva mendes. do i really have to say anything else about this one?

love actually
another clever, crafty, cool flick. but it also has a badass cast: emma thompson, alan rickman, liam neeson, colin firth, hugh grant, martin freeman, chiwetel ejiofor, kiera knightley, laura linney, billy bob thornton and rowan atkinson.

mark: but for now, let me say - without hope or agenda - just because it's christmas - and at christmas you tell the truth - to me, you are perfect.

love happens
there's a scene in this one that gives me chills. even now. even though i've watched it a dozen times. this one's kind of cathartic, actually. not a funny movie. not a warm, fuzzy movie. not great cinema. but it's got some cuteness going on here and there, and a story that's good enough that it makes it memorable.

eloise: can i say something? and, and this comes from a place of total humility. with the acknowledgment that my life is a day-by-day experiment in ... really bad decisions. but ... you're really messed up.

one fine day
george clooney. yum. but even if he weren't in it, i'd still dig this one.

jack: maggie, when you grow up and are incredibly beautiful and intelligent and possess a certain sweetness that's ... that's like a distant promise to the brave, to the worthy, could you please not beat to a pulp every miserable bastard that comes your way simply because you can? could you not do that?

maggie: okay daddy.

playing by heart
AWESOME cast. best cast ever. seriously. angelina jolie (yeah ... i'm tired of her, too. but here, here you're gonna like her character. a lot), sean connery, gena rowlands, gillian anderson, madeleine stowe, ryan phillippe, dennis quaid, anthony edwards, ellen burstyn, jay mohr, jon stewart, patricia clarkson and amanda peet.

see?

and if that weren't enough of a reason to watch it, it is perhaps the best constructed film i've ever seen.

paul: the wonderful thing about falling in love is you learn everything about that person and so quickly. and if it's true love, then you start to see yourself through their eyes. and it brings out the best in you. it's almost as if you're falling in love with yourself.