Sunday, December 30, 2007

sweeney todd

Murder Most Musical

Published: December 21, 2007

Tim Burton makes fantasy movies. Stephen Sondheim writes musicals. It is hard to think of two more optimistic genres of popular art, or of two popular artists who have so systematically subverted that optimism. Mr. Sondheim has always gravitated toward the dissonance lurking in hummable tunes, and has threaded his song-and-dance spectaculars with subtexts of anxiety and alienation. Mr. Burton, for his part, dwells most naturally (if somewhat uneasily) in the realms of the gothic and the grotesque, turning comic books and children’s tales into scary, nightmarish shadow plays.
More About This Movie

Sondheim Dismembers ‘Sweeney’ (December 16, 2007)
Demon Barber, Meat Pies and All, Sings on Screen (November 4, 2007)

And so it should not be surprising that “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” Mr. Burton’s film adaptation of Mr. Sondheim’s musical, is as dark and terrifying as any motion picture in recent memory, not excluding the bloody installments in the “Saw” franchise. Indeed, “Sweeney” is as much a horror film as a musical: It is cruel in its effects and radical in its misanthropy, expressing a breathtakingly, rigorously pessimistic view of human nature. It is also something close to a masterpiece, a work of extreme — I am tempted to say evil — genius.

As it was originally performed onstage, with all the songs Mr. Sondheim composed for it, “Sweeney Todd” balanced its inherent grisliness with a whimsical vitality. The basic story is a revenger’s tragedy more Jacobean than Victorian, but Mr. Sondheim nonetheless wrings some grim, boisterous comedy out of both the impulse for vengeance and the bustling spirit of commerce. A barber, wronged by a powerful judge, returns to London and sets up shop, cutting throats as well as hair. The bodies of his victims are turned into savory meat pies by Mrs. Lovett, his energetic partner in business and crime. Cannibalism and mass murder as the basis for a hit show — what a perverse and delicious joke.

It seemed a lot less funny in the recent revival, which starred Michael Cerveris and Patti Lupone in roles originated on Broadway by Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury in 1979. Mr. Burton’s film, in spite of the participation of Sacha Baron Cohen (as a mountebank barber in a skin-tight costume) and Timothy Spall (as a louche bailiff) pretty much casts out frivolity altogether. Mr. Burton’s London is a dark, smoky oil slick of a city. Dante Ferretti’s production design, which owes something to the Victorian city confected for Carol Reed’s “Oliver!,” can make even daylight look sinister. Innocence, represented by a pair of young would-be lovers (Jayne Wisener and Jamie Campbell Bower) has virtually no chance in this place; it is a joke played by fate, something to be corrupted, imprisoned or destroyed.

Mrs. Lovett the pie maker is played by Helena Bonham Carter, a witchy fixture of Mr. Burton’s cinematic universe as well as the mother of his children. If the director has an alter ego, or at least an actor consistently able to embody his ideas on screen, it would have to be Johnny Depp. He was the hurt, misunderstood man-child in “Edward Scissorhands,” the cracked visionary in “Ed Wood” and the cold, creepy candy mogul in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” in each case giving form to an emotional equation that had never quite been seen on film before. As Sweeney, his hair streaked with white and his eyes rimmed in black, he is an avatar of rage.

Mr. Depp’s singing voice is harsh and thin, but amazingly forceful. He brings the unpolished urgency of rock ’n’ roll to an idiom accustomed to more refinement, and in doing so awakens the violence of Mr. Sondheim’s lyrics and melodies. Some of the crowd-pleasing numbers, like “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” have been pared away, but their absence only contributes to the diabolical coherence of the film, which moves with a furious momentum toward its sanguinary conclusion.

Like nearly every other horror-film serial killer — the outcast teenager abused by the cool kids; the decent man whose suffering has been ignored or mocked — Sweeney starts out as a sympathetic figure. Once upon a time, he was a happy husband and father, until his lovely wife (Laura Michelle Kelly) caught the eye of a malignant judge (Alan Rickman), who transported the poor barber to Australia. Now, after many years, he has returned to find that his daughter, now a teenager, has become the judge’s ward. Finding his old straight razors — “my friends” — under the floorboards of his former shop, Sweeney sets out to ensnare the judge, a project that requires the deaths of quite a few customers along the way.

“They’ll never be missed,” sings the practical Mrs. Lovett. Sweeney’s view is harsher, almost genocidal. “They all deserve to die,” he says, looking out over the rooftops of the city. And Mr. Burton depicts those deaths ruthlessly. The initial geyser of blood may seem artificially bright, but when the bodies slide head first from the chair down a chute into the cellar, they crash and crumple with sickening literalness. You are watching human beings turned into meat.

It may seem strange that I am praising a work of such unremitting savagery. I confess that I’m a little startled myself, but it’s been a long time since a movie gave me nightmares. And the unsettling power of “Sweeney Todd” comes above all from its bracing refusal of any sentimental consolation, from Mr. Burton’s willingness to push the most dreadful implications of Mr. Sondheim’s story to their blackest conclusions.

“Sweeney Todd” is a fable about a world from which the possibility of justice has vanished, replaced on one hand by vain and arbitrary power, on the other by a righteous fury that quickly spirals into madness. There may be a suggestion of hopefulness near the end, but you don’t see hope on the screen. What you see is as dark as the grave. What you hear — some of the finest stage music of the past 40 years — is equally infernal, except that you might just as well call it heavenly.

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It’s not “Hairspray.”


The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Directed by Tim Burton; written by John Logan, based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler from an adaptation by Christopher Bond; director of photography, Dariusz Wolski; edited by Chris Lebenzon; music and lyrics by Mr. Sondheim; production designer, Dante Ferretti; produced by Richard D. Zanuck, Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Mr. Logan; released by DreamWorks Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes.

WITH: Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd), Helena Bonham Carter (Mrs. Lovett), Alan Rickman (Judge Turpin), Timothy Spall (Beadle), Sacha Baron Cohen (Pirelli), Jayne Wisener (Johanna), Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony Hope) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Lucy/Beggar Woman).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Facing your fears.

In October, i received a call from An officer in langhorne pa who informed me that they had apprehended a woman who was carrying a false NYS id and credit card with my name, address and dob but her picture. She was apprehended after trying to withdraw money from a local bank. She had been to three banks in Philly and made three prior withdrawals.

I called the bank and after 4 days, i had my money back. I have had to close out all my accounts and reconstruct my financial life. I have been meeting with bank personnel each week from Halloween to Thanksgiving. I still have not resolved all of the elements of recreating my financial life but i am on my way out of Identity theft.

After three continuances, I took yesterday off to go to Bucks County to go to court. My purpose was to face the situation and have some power for myself. I was very nervous going to court but it was under the surface. At court, i met the two bank personnel who stopped the woman and heard the teller testify to how she identified her as a fraud. I heard the story of what happened that day before she was apprehended. I heard the story and got to thank her for stopping this woman from clearing out my bank account. I met her manager, the Loss and Prevention staff at the bank and the Police officer that was working on the case.

our case was heard last, and I saw the man who claimed he was a gypsy cab driver only. He came to court in his Lincoln Navigator that was the get away car. THey didnt have access to the other two men that were in the SUV. I met the two cops that arrested the woman who portrayed herself as me. One cop told me that when she was arrested she informed the cop that she was to be beaten because she didnt "get the money". I had some empathy for her except that i realized that it was MY MONEY that she was attempting to get. I have mixed feelings for her and the CAB driver. They are scum in my mind for assuming my identity and taking money that doesnt belong to them.
the men are immigrants from Africa who are making their living frauding individuals. the woman who stole my money was a worker for them. She is currently in jail and the FBI will pursue her.

Last night, i woke many times. I allowed myself to feel the fear that i have refused to feel. Fear of my security, my resources, did they open additional accounts, loans with my information and some of the anger i am feeling. How dare they take what doesnt belong to them. The crime was random and my information was taken from the bank by personnel. THe crooked personnel is offset by the women i met yesterday.

they were modest in doing their job, but for me it was more than that. They saved me from being wiped out, at least temporarily as the bank replaced MY money . their actions allowed the cop to bring it to my attention not find out in some random way or by checking my statement. their actions were herotic for me and for the other people who were victims of crime by these 4 individuals. These tellers were astute and asked the questions that made a difference in my life. they made a scary situation alot easier and i am grateful for them.

i am glad i went even though i wasnt needed. I needed to face the situation and need to put some closure on the events of October. From April 2006, i am forced to face some basic security issues and realized i could survive a threat to those issues.
they were my basic fear and they have been threatened and I have survived them.

long over view of Hanukah

This year as Hanukah approached on December 5th, i heard an essay on NPR by Amy Klein who spoke about growing up in Brooklyn during the 70s and how her community celebrated Hanukah. The premise of her essay was Hanukah is not Christmas and cannot compete with Christmas.

This year after 47 Christmas seasons, I have felt that I didnt have to make excuses for not celebrating Christmas. As a child, whose parents worked in retail for Christmas, I was sent to the neighbors to watch them celebrate Christmas eve. I remember sitting on the couch watching. There were no presents, no santa, no celebrating. Just watching. As i grew up, there was always Chinese food when my parents came home but no Christmas. There was nothing open on CHristmas day so you had to go bowling or to the movies. I remember Bowling on Christmas. As a teenager, i accompanied my friends to Church and celebrated christmas eve but there was no Christmas. Every once in a while, i get an invite to someone house for dinner but its not Christmas.

I celebrate Hanukkah but growing up you could not do that publically. THere are many misnomers regarding Hanukkah. 8 nights of gifts are not equal to the number of gifts that my friends have under their tree. There are no Hanukkah Bushes or blue trees. Those are fabricated by Jews who want to celebrate Christmas. I have no problem if they choose to celebrate Christmas but please there is not a Jewish Christmas. Hanukkah has it own foods, rituals and cultural base and a Blue Christmas tree is not part of it. There are more songs about Hanukkah than Adam Sandler or that stupid Dreidel song (which is a childs song). Adults dont really sing the dreidel song but it always shows up in Christmas shows as an attempt at being culturally sensitive. I find it offensive. So have a christmas show dont add a child's song as a representation of Hanukah.

Then there were years that Suzi came to NY. I always felt bad that there was no christmas celebrations for her but I guess if she needed that she would not have come to a Jewish friend or she could have made her own celebration. One year we went to my sisters around that time of year. My sister's husband and her family celebrate Christmas so my neices have both holidays. My sister puts a tree for her children but does not light Hanukkah candles. They celebrate Hanukkah as a gift sharing night with pizza with my parents.

This year i chose not to attend Christmas parties at work. I decided not to attend for many reasons. My holiday celebration were over in early December and after acknowledging the holiday season, I went to do things that were more important to me.

For many years, Hanukkah was in the shadow of Christmas. They are not similar holidays. Amy Klein's essay, helped me to finally reconcile that I dont have to make an excuse for not celebrating Christmas. I dont have to sacrifice time off because " i dont need it" or I should forfeit it because I dont celebrate Christmas. I dont have to sacrifice because i am in the minority.

So this year at Christmas, I didnt make any excuses. I didnt have to apologize for not celebrating Christmas. I could not participate in any discussion about Christmas. I didnt have to avoid the topic or compensate in any way. I could just be. I could be at peace at not celebrating Christmas.

I spent the day at the movies. I made sure that I made plans for Christmas eve and Christmas day and It was just a day off. I didnt spent too much energy on watching Christmas parades because i just didnt pay attention. I saw the windows on 5th ave because i was there, I didnt see the tree because i felt i had to see the tree. I just never got near Rockerfeller center. If i didnt have to go to the stores, I didnt go just because i felt the pressure of Christmas. I took advantage of sales because they were sales and didnt buy anything i didnt need.

I had a great day off from work and enjoyed the day.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of December 27, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of December 27, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
The Greek philosopher Aristotle said that when new facts and ideas emerge, we should be willing to coin fresh words to convey the unfamiliar information. Do you agree? If so, be ready to dream up a steady stream of new terms in 2008. I bet you'll encounter more novelty than you have since 1996. Dead language and stale clich�s won't be sufficient to wrestle the meaning out of your unprecedented experiences. To jumpstart your receptivity to made-up words, try this one: freakomancy. It refers to the art of divining the future by noticing the most unusual and anomalous elements present in any given situation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

dewey cox rocks

Behind the Music, This Time for Laughs

Published: December 21, 2007

“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” has a good beat and you can dance to it, though mostly you’ll probably just tap your foot. It’s a cleverly packaged story about a patently phony musician — er, John C. Reilly is Dewey Cox — who conquers the nation’s eardrums with a song in his heart, a guitar in his hands and a million clichés in his DNA. He’s a tuneful pastiche: a little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll, topped off with a pinch of Ray Charles, a dash of Buddy Holly and a whole mess of Johnny Cash as filtered through Joaquin Phoenix’s impersonation and mischievously repurposed through the Judd Apatow laugh factory.

Mr. Apatow wrote the screenplay with the director Jake Kasdan, though given how close the two follow the recent biopic template some credit rightly belongs to the writers of “Ray” and “Walk the Line.” Like those films, “Walk Hard” tells an upbeat story about a great talent who finds renown, but also stumbles into temptation. “Ray” and “Walk the Line” are soft targets, near-parodies of the form, which suits this film just fine since Mr. Apatow and Mr. Kasdan have no plans to burn down the house. Dewey doesn’t shoot up backstage or beat his woman, much less drown in his vomit or hang himself in the family kitchen, as Ian Curtis does in “Control,” the downbeat version of the same old rock ’n’ roll story.

Born to be mild, Dewey is cuddly and cute, not Iggy or pop. Partly as a consequence, the film is more funny ha-ha than LOL; it’s a smarty-pants satire that mocks and embraces almost every cliché in the biography playbook. The usual characters enter on cue, hitting their marks and the expected emotional notes, including Ma Cox (the wonderful Margo Martindale) and Pa Cox (Raymond J. Barry), who rear Dewey in a shotgun shack not far from where Ray Charles played in the dirt before he grew up to become Jamie Foxx and win an Academy Award. Like Ray, Dewey is a musical prodigy, and it isn’t long before he’s making the girls swoon. But by then he’s become Buddy Holly with a child bride more befitting Jerry Lee Lewis.

Mr. Kasdan is an observant student, and “Walk Hard” glitters with recycled biopic verisimilitude, from the cars to the clothes to the nagging first wife (Kristen Wiig) and especially the music. Written by a team of collaborators, the close to 20 songs jump from early rock ’n’ roll (“Take my ha-ha-hand”) to the Johnny Cash-style anthem of the film’s title and a genius Dylan-esque rune delivered in twanging singsong, in which “mailboxes drip like lampposts in the twisted birth canal of the coliseum,” “fairy teapots mask the temper tantrum/O’ say can you see ’em,” “stuffed cabbage is the darling of the Laundromat,” and The mouse with the overbite explained how the rabbits were ensnared ’N the skinny scanty sylph trashed the apothecary diplomat Inside the three-eyed monkey within inches of his toaster-oven life.

Dewey’s “Don’t Look Back” period takes place in the black-and-white 1960s familiar from D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary and now, of course, the Todd Haynes-Cate Blanchett take on that same period in “I’m Not There.” Mr. Kasdan shifts visual styles, or at least color schemes, as often as Dewey changes outfits. But despite the kaleidoscopic twirling, time traveling and a giddy visit with the Beatles in India, “Walk Hard” is surprisingly flat. Part of the problem is that it sticks so close to the films that inspired it that it actually echoes some of their flaws. The June Carter-Reese Witherspoon story in “Walk the Line” was pretty much a drag; the sendup in “Walk Hard,” which features Jenna Fischer as Darlene, is so accurate that it is too.

The reliably enjoyable Mr. Reilly doesn’t bring any real modulation to Dewey or his phases, just good vibrations. He’s fun to hang around, even though I wish he and the film had made room for madness and not only faithful mimicry. Like all of Mr. Apatow’s films, “Walk Hard” is naughty, but it’s also awfully nice, a word that has no place in rock ’n’ roll. Maybe that’s why I kept waiting (hoping) for the Dewey Cox promised in the film’s poster, which shows Mr. Reilly — in homage to Jim Morrison — wearing only a necklace and a goofy, what-me-worry gape. He still looks more like Alfred E. Neuman than the Lizard King, true, but there he also seems on the actual verge of letting it all hang out.

“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.


The Dewey Cox Story

Opens on Friday nationwide.

Directed by Jake Kasdan; written by Judd Apatow and Mr. Kasdan; director of photography, Uta Briesewitz; edited by Tara Timpone and Steve Welch; music by Michael Andrews; production designer, Jefferson D. Sage; produced by Mr. Apatow, Mr. Kasdan and Clayton Townsend; released by Columbia Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes.

WITH: John C. Reilly (Dewey Cox), Jenna Fischer (Darlene Madison Cox), Tim Meadows (Sam), Kristen Wiig (Edith Cox), Raymond J. Barry (Pa Cox), Harold Ramis (L’Chai’m), Margo Martindale (Ma Cox), Chris Parnell (Theo), Matt Besser (Dave) and David Krumholtz (Schwartzberg).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Neil Young December 16th United Palace

usic Review | Neil Young
Old Black and Other Old Friends

Published: December 14, 2007

Correction Appended

Neil Young’s current tour plants him in smaller and older theaters than he is used to. Last week’s stop in Boston was at the Orpheum Theater, a 2,800-seater; this week’s sold-out six-show run in New York, which started on Wednesday, is at the United Palace Theater, with a capacity of 3,300. (At Madison Square Garden, where he played in 2003, he filled about four times that many seats.) He plays an acoustic set and an electric set each night, letting fewer people listen more closely, weighing the physical power of sound over his own convenience and, perhaps, business sense.

“Do something to me, don’t make me wait,” he sang on Wednesday in “Sad Movies,” an unreleased song from the mid-1970s. “Jab something through me, don’t cut out the good things I appreciate.” It’s about the body thrill of watching movies in dark theaters — even “bad movies that make you wonder why you ever came.”

It was appropriate for a gig at the United Palace Theater, the rococo extravaganza in Washington Heights that was a Loew’s movie house before the evangelist Reverend Ike bought it for his Christ Community United Church in 1969. But it could have been about the rhythm of the show on that particular night: what happened at the beginning and at the end.

The doors were set to open at 7, and the opening act, Mr. Young’s wife, Pegi, was scheduled at 8. But a minor fire-code violation kept the doors closed until 9, on a cold night. So, no Pegi Young. Before her husband appeared, a voice pleaded over the speaker system: “Neil has preselected the set list. Please help him to concentrate by trying to pay attention to the songs.” But nobody was in the mood to be asked for favors, and the audience eventually ignored the request, beerily yelling out song titles.

Acoustic came first, and it was a strong set, heavy on the mid-’70s, some songs seldom played: “Ambulance Blues,” “A Man Needs a Maid,” “No One Seems to Know,” “Harvest,” “Mellow My Mind,” “Love Art Blues.” Surrounded by a circle of guitars as well as a tack piano and a regular piano positioned on either side of the stage, and wearing paint-splattered clothes, he had the body language of casual deliberation, even though the tour’s set list has been fairly similar from night to night.

It was a good set, more judicious than similar ones I’ve seen, with beautiful sound. But he was puttering, and when he sang that nostalgic, philosophical line about sitting in the audience and waiting for a jab, he spoke for some of us at that moment.

The jab was delivered by Mr. Young’s black 1953 Gibson Les Paul with an aluminum pick guard and a Bigsby vibrato bar — the instrument he calls Old Black — and his small Fender Deluxe amplifier. He changed guitars for almost every song throughout the evening, but for the last four songs Old Black stayed constant.

There were a few eccentric stage details. A painter set up a different oil-on-canvas on a large easel to announce each song, completing some paintings at the back of the stage while the music played. Mr. Young picked up a red telephone at one point between songs, pretending to take a call. With a small band — not Crazy Horse, but Crazy Horse-like, with the drummer Ralph Molina, the bassist Rick Rosas and Ben Keith on steel and rhythm guitar, as well as Pegi Young and Anthony Crawford singing harmony vocals — Mr. Young first lingered a little longer in the ’70s (“Oh Lonesome Me,” “Bad Fog of Loneliness,” “The Loner,” “Winterlong”), then played a few songs from his new record, “Chrome Dreams II” (Reprise). But it was all pretty mild, even the snarling, proud-to-be-a-loser “Dirty Old Man,” compared with the finishing stretch.

Here came the body thrills. What did Old Black sound like? The same as always: something loud and indistinct and far away, like a foghorn on an enormous boat as heard from the shore. Hearing this sound in a giant arena or an outdoor festival makes sense: one comes to think that it needs that much space. It doesn’t. Up close, with all the sonic detail, it was fascinating, more physical. Mr. Young’s alterations to the sound — manipulating the vibrato bar, shaking the guitar or moving it like an oar — made it clear that the sound was all part of him, and more personal at close range.

Correction: December 18, 2007

A music review in Weekend on Friday about Neil Young, at the United Palace Theater, misstated the title of a song he performed. It is “Sad Movies,” not “Old Movies.”

Stuck on a Family Hamster Wheel, Mile After Mile, Year After Year

Published: November 28, 2007

The hands that rock the cradle sometimes tip it over. Watching “The Savages,” Tamara Jenkins’s beautifully nuanced tragicomedy about two floundering souls, you have to wonder if those hands didn’t also knock that cradle clear across the nursery, sending both Savage children into perpetual free-fall.
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Certainly Jon Savage, the angry lump played by a brilliant — oh, let’s just cut to it — the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman, looks like a man who’s taken as much abuse as he likes to deliver. One night, Jon, a college professor who lives and teaches in Buffalo, is awakened from a deep sleep (Ms. Jenkins has a nice way with metaphor) to discover that his father, Lenny (a fine Philip Bosco), has gone around the bend and has begun finger-painting with his feces. The bearer of these unfortunate tidings is Jon’s younger sister, Wendy (Laura Linney, sharp and vanity free), a self-professed playwright whose greatest, perhaps only creation is the closely nurtured story of wounded narcissism and family wrongs unwinding in her head.

They mess you up, your mum and dad, Philip Larkin more or less wrote, which, though it provides steadfast inspiration for poets of all disciplines, has emerged as one of the banes of American independent cinema. At first glance “The Savages,” which had its premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival, looks like another one of those dreaded indie encounter sessions in which everyone cracks wise and weary on the bumpy road to self-actualization. Ms. Jenkins, whose gifted first feature, “Slums of Beverly Hills,” fired up movie screens and critics nearly a decade ago, seems incapable of such falsity. I bet she knows the rest of Larkin’s poem, namely, “They fill you with the faults they had/And add some extra, just for you.”

Ms. Jenkins never explains how or why or even if Lenny filled Jon and Wendy with his faults, and what caused his wife, their mother, to run away. She omits the talk-show psychology and instead lets the clues seep through the realistic-sounding snippets and strings of dialogue, through sentences (not speeches), questions (not confessions) and silences as lived in as the story’s recognizably real and revelatory spaces. In Wendy and Jon’s separate if similarly cluttered homes, you can almost see the layers of aspiration and disappointment that have accumulated alongside the dust and the books; in Lenny’s sterile house in Sun City, Ariz., you see a man who has not only wiped away his past, but has also erased part of his own self.

In their dyspeptic, quarrelsome fashion, the Savages are blissfully neurotic, often very funny variations on J. M. Barrie’s fictional offspring, John and Wendy Darling, those charmed, magical storybook children. (In their moments of terrifying mutual dependency they can also recall the brother and sister in Jean Cocteau and Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Enfants Terribles.”) If Ms. Jenkins’s middle-age characters have never grown up, in spirit and mind if not in body, it isn’t because they flew off to Neverland in a cloud of fairy dust, but because they did not and could not leave. Yet if Jon and Wendy have stayed locked inside, Ms. Jenkins also suggests — through an image of flight of surprising force and beauty — that some children find other means of escape, including their imaginations.

Ms. Jenkins doesn’t imply that all that pain is a worthwhile price to pay for imagination, but she acknowledges the paradoxical truth that suffering can also be a source of inspiration, a way out of the childhood room we sometimes call the past. For Jon, who is writing a book on Brecht, and his playwright sister, life has become something of a performance. Both were probably given a role to play a long time ago — superior brother, resentful sister — and now act out their parts to perfection. (Jon, who clings to Brecht as if to a baby blanket, is something of a walking alienation effect. ) Jean Renoir once asked, Where does theater end and life begin? Ms. Jenkins seems to answer that question reasonably by saying there is no separation.

It would give away too much to reveal what happens to these distinctly nondarling siblings, whose outbursts and moments of hilarious, often voluble cruelty border on the shrill and the unspeakable. Ms. Jenkins has a gift for family brutality, but she herself isn’t a savage talent. There isn’t a single moment of emotional guff or sentimentality in “The Savages,” a film that caused me to periodically wince, but also left me with a sense of acute pleasure, even joy. It’s the pleasure of a true-to-life tale told by a director and actors who’ve sunk so deep into their movie together you wonder how they ever surfaced. You live with Jon and Wendy Savage gratefully, even when they can’t always do the same.

“The Savages” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). The film has raw words and open wounds.


Opens today in New York and Los Angeles.

Written and directed by Tamara Jenkins; director of photography, Mott Hupfel; edited by Brian A. Kates; music by Stephen Trask; production designer, Jane Ann Stewart; produced by Ted Hope, Anne Carey and Erica Westheimer; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 53 minutes.

WITH: Laura Linney (Wendy Savage), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Jon Savage), Philip Bosco (Lenny Savage), Peter Friedman (Larry), David Zayas (Eduardo), Gbenga Akinnagbe (Jimmy), Cara Seymour (Kasia), Guy Boyd (Bill Lachman), Debra Monk (Nancy Lachman), Kristine Nielsen (Nurse), Margo Martindale (Roz), Zoe Kazan (Student) and Marianne Weems (Director).

From Memories, There’s No Escape

Published: December 14, 2007

Much like the best-selling novel on which it’s based, “The Kite Runner” tells the story of an Afghan refugee who, long after arriving in America, sifts through memories of his cosseted childhood, his emotionally remote father, his devoted best friend, the kites they flew and the stories they shared. The back of my paperback copy of this Khaled Hosseini novel is sprinkled with words like “powerful” and “haunting” and “riveting” and “unforgettable.” It’s a good guess that this film will be rolled around in a similarly large helping of lard.
More About This Movie

‘The Kite Runner’ Is Delayed to Protect Child Stars (October 4, 2007)
‘Kite Runner’ Boys Are Sent to United Arab Emirates (December 3, 2007)
A Film Producer Guided More by His Heart Than by His Calculator (December 12, 2007)
A License to Pursue the Inner Bond (December 9, 2007)

There’s another word on the back of my copy: “genuine.” The portrait of Afghan culture broadly painted by its narrator, a 38-year-old novelist known as Amir (played in the film by the Scottish-born Khalid Abdalla), certainly seems like the real deal, a sense of authenticity underscored by the book’s evocation of the Afghan diaspora in America, its descriptions of traditions and rituals and the numerous italicized words like “Kocheh-Morgha” (“Chicken Bazaar”) and “Shirini-khori” (“ ‘Eating of the Sweets’ ceremony”). That said, it is difficult to believe in the authenticity of any book (and its author) in which a born and bred Afghan narrator asks of the Taliban — as this one does in June 2001 — “Is it as bad as I hear?” David Benioff’s clumsy screenplay doesn’t broadcast its political naïveté as openly, but only because the filmmakers seem to assume that unlike the book’s readers, the movie audience doesn’t care about such matters. Mr. Benioff gestures in the direction of Communists and mullahs, the Soviet invaders and the Taliban insurgents, but none of these players figure into the story in any meaningful fashion. The director Marc Forster, following the script’s lead, scrupulously avoids politics and history — there are no causes or positions, just villains and horrors — and instead offers us a succession of atmospheric, realistic landscapes, colorful sights and smiling boys. And kites. Lots and lots of bobbing, darting, high-flying kites.

Like the recent film version of Ian McEwan’s novel “Atonement,” another story ignited by the destructive behavior of a pubescent child, “The Kite Runner” presents a world informed by a variant of original sin. In both, a child’s damaging words and deeds give way to — and seem to foreshadow and somehow even to incite — the larger violence of war. The two stories register very differently, both on the page and on screen, yet what’s curious is how each presents childhood as an already corrupted state that is redeemed only by adult grace. In these stories war becomes a kind of cleansing agent for the destructive child, who, after enduring hardships, matures into a properly contrite adult (and a fiction writer to boot).

It takes a while for that contrition to surface in “The Kite Runner.” First the adult Amir has to conjure up a leisurely flashback during which his 12-year-old self (Zekiria Ebrahimi) rushes through the dust and the exotica — past the woman in a burka and the severed animal heads — pausing to read, write and fly kites. He worships his gruff father, Baba (Homayoun Ershadi), a businessman who swills alcohol and dismisses the mullahs as “monkeys.” Amir, in turn, is adored by the illiterate servant boy Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada), whose father has worked for Baba his entire life. Amir loves his younger friend in his selfish fashion, but because Baba favors Hassan (if not enough to educate the boy), Amir also betrays him.

Mr. Forster, who previously directed “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland,” has been soundly defeated by “The Kite Runner.” Despite the film’s far-flung locations (it was shot primarily in China), there is remarkably little of visual interest here; the setups are banal, and the scenes lack tension, which no amount of editing can provide. With the exception of Mr. Ershadi, whom art-house audiences may remember from Abbas Kiarostami’s “Taste of Cherry,” it also lacks credible performances. The two lead child actors, both nonprofessionals, are predictably appealing, but only because they’re children. Unlike Mr. Kiarostami, who has a genius for translating the natural rhythms of nonprofessional performers to the screen, who siphons real life and bottles it, Mr. Forster never makes you believe in these children or their woes.

In both novel and film form, “The Kite Runner” recounts a simple yet shrewd story about that favorite American pastime: self-improvement. Amir’s childhood mistake isn’t a careless juvenile offense; it’s a human stain that must be scrubbed out through self-abnegation, confession and personal transformation. Yet, watching this film, you are left to wonder whom precisely is all this suffering for — is it for Amir? Hassan? Afghanistan? Or do Hassan and the story’s other sad children — especially those hollow-eyed boys and girls glimpsed during the preposterous climax in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan — suffer because it’s possible to package other people’s pain and turn it into a commercial diversion? It’s no surprise that for all its foreign trappings, “The Kite Runner” tells the same old comforting story. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The Kite Runner” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). There is a discreetly shot if entirely unnecessary scene of a child’s rape and an extended bloody fight involving punches and a slingshot.


Opens on Friday nationwide.

Directed by Marc Forster; written by David Benioff, based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini (in Dari, with English subtitles); director of photography, Roberto Schaefer; edited by Matt Chessé; music by Alberto Iglesias; production designer, Carlos Conti; produced by William Horberg and Walter F. Parkes; released by Paramount Vantage. Running time: 2 hours 8 minutes.

WITH: Khalid Abdalla (Amir), Atossa Leoni (Soraya), Shaun Toub (Rahim Khan), Sayed Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada (Omar), Zekiria Ebrahimi (Young Amir), Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada (Young Hassan) and Homayoun Ershadi (Baba).

I'm not there- Todd Haynes

Im not there. Dylan is right in there. the material are documented stories, real or myths that have been perpetuated by Dylan. There are jokes or puns that appear if you know your Dylanesque material. The movie is just that Dylanesque. Its an amazing view of a career and as a bio? pic....does it matter where the truth is? all the stories that are told about Dylan appear in the movie. Its a look at a long career through 6 separate characters.

BRavo to Todd Haynes...

nother Side of Bob Dylan, and Another, and Another ...

Published: November 21, 2007

From Andy Warhol to Lonelygirl15, modern media culture thrives on the traffic in counterfeit selves. In this world the greatest artist will also be, almost axiomatically, the biggest fraud. And looking back over the past 50 years or so, it is hard to find anyone with a greater ability to synthesize authenticity — to give his serial hoaxes and impersonations the ring of revealed and esoteric truth — than Bob Dylan.

It’s not just that Robert Zimmerman, a Jewish teenager growing up in Eisenhower-era Minnesota, borrowed a name from a Welsh poet and the singing style of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl troubadour and bluffed his way into the New York folk scene. That was chutzpah. What followed was genius — the elaboration of an enigmatic, mercurial personality that seemed entirely of its moment and at the same time connected to a lost agrarian past. From the start, Mr. Dylan has been singularly adept at channeling and recombining various strands of the American musical and literary vernacular, but he has often seemed less like an interpreter of those traditions than like their incarnation.

His persona has been as inclusive as Walt Whitman’s and as unsettlingly splintered as that of Herman Melville’s Confidence Man. Vulnerable as Mr. Dylan is to misunderstanding (“I couldn’t believe after all these years/You didn’t know me better than that” in “Idiot Wind”), he also actively solicits it (“Something is happening here/But you don’t know what it is/Do you, Mr. Jones?” in “Ballad of a Thin Man”). So it is only fitting that Todd Haynes, in “I’m Not There,” his incandescent rebus of a movie inspired by Mr. Dylan’s life and music, has chosen to multiply puzzles and paradoxes rather than solve them. Not for nothing does one of Mr. Haynes’s stories take place in a town called Riddle.

Among its many achievements, Mr. Haynes’s film hurls a Molotov cocktail through the facade of the Hollywood biopic factory, exploding the literal-minded, anti-intellectual assumptions that guide even the most admiring cinematic explorations of artists’ lives. Rather than turn out yet another dutiful, linear chronicle of childhood trauma and grown-up substance abuse, Mr. Haynes has produced a dizzying palimpsest of images and styles, in which his subject appears in the form of six different people.

Not one is named Bob Dylan (or Robert Zimmerman), though all of them evoke actual and invented points in the Dylan cosmos: Billy the Kid, Woody Guthrie, the Mighty Quinn. They’re not all musicians: One is a poet named Arthur Rimbaud; another is a movie star.

These divergent visions of Dylan are played by two different Australians (Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchett); a young British actor (Ben Whishaw); a prepubescent African-American named Marcus Carl Franklin; Richard Gere; and the most recent Batman. Their stories collide and entwine, adding up to an experience that is as fascinating and inexhaustible as listening to “Blood on the Tracks” or “The Basement Tapes.”

It is unusual to see a masterwork emerge from one artist’s absorption with the work of another, though Mr. Haynes came close with “Far From Heaven,” his 2002 homage to the director Douglas Sirk. And while “I’m Not There” is immersed in Dylanology, it is more than a document of scholarly preoccupation or fan obsession.

Devotees of Dylan lore will find their heads swimming with footnotes, as they track Mr. Haynes’s allusions not only to Mr. Dylan’s own music but also to the extensive secondary literature it has inspired, from books by David Hajdu and Greil Marcus to films, including D. A. Pennebaker’s 1967 documentary, “Don’t Look Back,” some of which Mr. Haynes remakes shot for shot.

But the film is anything but dry, and like Mr. Dylan’s best songs, it is at once teasingly arcane and bracingly plain-spoken. Mr. Haynes, switching styles, colors, film stocks and editing rhythms with unnerving ease (and with the crucial help of Jay Rabinowitz and Edward Lachman, the editor and the director of photography), has held his cerebral and his visceral impulses in perfect balance. “I’m Not There” respects the essential question Mr. Dylan’s passionate followers have always found themselves asking — What does it mean? — without forgetting that the counter-question Mr. Dylan has posed is more challenging and, for a movie, more important: How does it feel?

As you watch the mid-’60s renegade folk singer Jude Quinn — embodied in Ms. Blanchett’s hunched, skinny frame and photographed in silvery Nouvelle Vague black and white — pinball through swinging London, subsisting on amphetamines, Camel straights and gnomic talk, it feels like a pop earthquake. The ’60s, man! As Mr. Ledger’s character and his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) meet, marry and fall apart, it feels like the heartbreaking aftermath of a moment of high promise and possibility. (That would be the ’70s.)

Riding the rails in 1959 with a pint-size, wisecracking hobo who calls himself Woody Guthrie (Mr. Franklin) and saddling up with Mr. Gere’s Billy the Kid in Riddle, Mo., in the 19th century, you feel a piercing nostalgia for a pastoral America that probably existed only in legend. With Christian Bale, playing a star of the Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene who resurfaces as a Pentecostal minister in Los Angeles years later, you experience a prickle of confusion and morbid curiosity. As it all unfolds, there may be other feelings too, including awe at the quality of the performances and occasional exasperation at Mr. Haynes’s sprawling, hectic virtuosity.

Still, I would not subtract a minute of this movie, or wish it any different. Nor do I anticipate being finished with “I’m Not There” anytime soon, since, like “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” it invites endless interpretation, criticism and elaboration. Instead of proposing a definitive account of Bob Dylan’s career, Mr. Haynes has used that career as fuel for a wide-ranging (and, if you’ll permit me, freewheeling) historical inquiry into his own life and times. In spite of its title, “I’m Not There” is a profoundly, movingly personal film, passionate in its engagement with the mysteries of the recent past.

“Live in your own time.” That’s the advice young “Woody Guthrie” hears from a motherly woman who offers him a hot meal and a place to sleep. It’s sensible advice — he’s daydreaming of the Depression in the middle of the space age — but also useless. It’s not as if anyone has a choice. To slog through the present requires no particular wit, vision or art. But a certain kind of artist will comb through the old stuff that’s lying around — the tall tales and questionable memories, the yellowing photographs and scratched records — looking for glimpses of a possible future. Though there’s a lot of Bob Dylan’s music in “I’m Not There,” Mr. Haynes is not simply compiling golden oldies. You hear familiar songs, but what you see is the imagination unleashed — the chimes of freedom flashing.

“I’m Not There” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has sex, swearing, brief violence and drug use.


Opens today nationwide.

Directed by Todd Haynes; written by Mr. Haynes and Oren Moverman, based on a story by Mr. Haynes; director of photography, Edward Lachman; edited by Jay Rabinowitz; production designer, Judy Becker; produced by James D. Stern, John Sloss, John Goldwyn and Christine Vachon; released by the Weinstein Company. In Manhattan at Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes.

WITH: Christian Bale (Jack/Pastor John), Cate Blanchett (Jude Quinn), Marcus Carl Franklin (Woody Guthrie), Richard Gere (Billy), Heath Ledger (Robbie), Ben Whishaw (Arthur Rimbaud), Kris Kristofferson (Narrator), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Claire), David Cross (Allen Ginsberg), Bruce Greenwood (Keenan Jones/Pat Garrett), Julianne Moore (Alice Fabian), Michelle Williams (Coco Rivington), Richie Havens (Old Man Arvin), Peter Friedman (Morris Bernstein), Alison Folland (Grace), Yolonda Ross (Angela Reeves), Kim Gordon (Carla Hendricks), Mark Camacho (Norman), Joe Cobden (Sonny) and Kristen Hager (Mona).

Capricorn Horoscope for week of December 20, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of December 20, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
French author and statesman André Malraux observed that Jesus Christ was the only anarchist who ever really succeeded. It's no coincidence that Christ was a Capricorn, I might add, since the evolved members of your tribe have many of the qualities necessary to thrive in situations where there are no formal rules or laws. If you would like to move more in the direction of being the highly evolved Capricorn you were born to be -- and I think 2008 will be a very favorable time to do just that -- you should cultivate the qualities of a successful anarchist. In other words, be self-motivated, disciplined, and respectful of the needs of other people. Do the right thing without having to be coerced to do the right thing. Foster in yourself a reverence for freedom and a knack for making constructive use of your freedom.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of December 13, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of December 13, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
Among modern Baghdad's most prominent architectural features are its blast walls. These omnipresent concrete barriers shield buildings from truck bombs and random gunfire. They were nothing but oppressive eyesores up until a few months ago, when a team of 40 artists began covering them with brightly colored murals that depict idyllic landscapes and glorious scenes from Iraqi history. Your next assignment, Capricorn, is to try an equivalent conversion. Add beauty to something ugly; bring a light touch and a creative spirit to a troublesome situation; dress up your defense mechanisms in silk and gold.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Earl's Death

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Earl, Patrick’s canine companion for 18+ years, and steadfast muse for the MUTTS strip. Earl was a joyful dog with a zest for life. He will be greatly missed by Patrick and his wife, Karen, their cat MeeMow, and the entire MUTTS family.

If you would like to memorialize Earl’s gentle spirit, contributions are being accepted by the Kindred Spirits program of The Humane Society of the United States. Donations made in Earl’s memory will be used for The HSUS’ Companion Animals fund. Visit the Kindred Spirits info page to find out how to donate online, by phone, or by postal mail.

Note: If you mention that your gift is in memory of “Earl McDonnell” at the time of your contribution, Patrick will automatically be notified of your kindness. Patrick’s address is not required to be inputted into the online form in order for him to receive your sympathy card.

Capricorn Horoscope for week of December 6, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of December 6, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
The phrase "new roses" can serve as an antidote to neurosis in the coming days -- as a kind of magical spell. Invoke it whenever you're in danger of getting undermined by either your own neurosis or someone else's. If you notice, for instance, that your subconscious mind is spiraling down into a sour fantasy stirred up by one of your habitual fears, start muttering a cheerful round of "new roses, new roses, new roses." If your allies engage in compulsive behavior that they tend to get stuck in when stress overflows, chant "new roses, new roses, new roses" in a blithe, sing-song tone.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Natalie Merchant at the Hiro Ballroom- January 4, 5, 6, 9, 10

Hanukkah Is in the Holiday Season, Too

Hanukkah Is in the Holiday Season, Too

by Amy Klein

Listen Now [3 min 41 sec] add to playlist

Morning Edition, December 4, 2007 · When I was growing up, December was for Chanukah. No one I knew celebrated Christmas. And I mean no one. I grew up in Brooklyn, and almost all my relatives, friends, teachers, and even acquaintances were Orthodox Jews.

Like most families on the block, we placed our menorahs in the front window. We said the blessings, sang Hebrew songs, and played dreidl. We got Chanukah gelt – money, not presents like other kids in my class.

"Presents are for Christmas, not Chanukah," my father insisted.

That's how Chanukah was in America, even in the recesses of religious Brooklyn; still defined by what it was not: not Christmas.

And that's why my move to Israel was so refreshing. In Israel, Rosh Hashanah, Succot, Passover and Chanukah are national holidays. Schools are closed, and often businesses, too.

By early December every kiosk and supermarket presented cardboard boxes of fresh, sumptuous donuts for Chanukah. Sufganiyot, with jelly or crème or caramel or chocolate gushing out like a geyser. Fried, like potato latkes, to celebrate the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days.

In the center of town a giant electric menorah was lit every night. Throngs of teenagers wandered through the midrachov — the pedestrian cobblestone square — until way past their bedtime. But there was no bedtime because it was Chanukah vacation.

It was so different from America, where, despite all the politically correct inclusiveness, the bland "Seasons Greetings" messages on TV, "holiday" means "Christmas," and Chanukah is relegated to being Not That Holiday.

Then I moved back to the U.S.

On Thanksgiving the radio drives me crazy with Christmas songs. All people want to do is shop, shop, shop. After seven years in Israel, the sight of so many stores and material goods is overwhelming.

Okay, so it's not really the shopping that bothers me, but the sensation that there's a giant party to which everyone but me is invited.

I'm no longer in Brooklyn, solely among Orthodox Jews, so now I see how the other half lives: there are office holiday parties and media holiday parties and friends' holiday parties, all with giant evergreens and mistletoe. Sure, there's a table with a lonely little menorah and plastic driedls, but it's off to the side, almost invisible, dwarfed by the glittering ornaments and lights hanging from the tree. Christmas is everywhere. And Chanukah, is, Not That Holiday.

So I've had to learn not to let Chanukah be pushed off to the side of the dance floor. I make huge Chanukah parties, where people bring grab-bag prizes and eat latkes and donuts. I light the menorah each night with friends and sing the jaunty tunes of childhood.

And I realize it's different this time around in America. I revel in my Chanukah joys because I know that halfway around the world, come December, people are celebrating Chanukah like there's no other holiday. Because there, Chanukah is the only holiday there is.

Amy Klein writes for The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. Her commentary was adapted from her essay in the book How to Spell Chanukah and Other Holiday Dilemmas.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 29, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 29, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
I think it's a good idea for you to give up mediocre pleasures that drain your energy and diminish your intelligence. I also wish you would sacrifice irrelevant fantasies and deluded hopes that lead you away from your riveting dreams. On the other hand, I will rejoice if you commit yourself twice as intensely to the robust pleasures that refine your energy and boost your intelligence. And I will love it if you take three practical actions to supercharge one of your riveting dreams.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 22, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 22, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were great leaders who were instrumental in creating the United States, but they shared a flaw with most of the other founding fathers: They owned slaves. Only one of the men who midwifed the birth of the nation freed his human chattel: Virginia plantation owner Robert Carter, whose heroism has been largely unsung in the history books. Make him your role model in the coming weeks, Capricorn. It's a good time to meditate on those people you've held down, oppressed, or manipulated (even if it was inadvertent or unconscious), and then correct for how you've interfered with their full blossoming. I'm not saying you're any guiltier of this sin than the rest of us; just that this is your special time to atone.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Avett Brothers

Saturday was a nightmare day. I am still trying to untangle my banking mess from having my identity co-oped. I got a last minute ticket to see Alenia Davis, Will Hoge and the Avett brothers at Webster Hall.

Alenia Davis was good. Part gillian welch, part kate campbell. Her songwriting was solid and she was just long enough.

Will Hoge, part springsteen, part steve earle, part Black Crowes. Southern folk rocker. Souther Rocker filled the stage with his band. He looked like he was having fun.

The Avett brothers are an event. Like Texans at a Robert Earl Keen show or Great Big Sea fans or even Fruheads to Moxie Fruvous. There was song lines being shouted at appropriate times, jumping up and down. All to encourage Seth or Scott to break strings or break an instrument. BAnjo, guitar and upright bass they make those instruments rock in a away with songs with lyrics shouted or harmonies so sweet.

the Avett Brothers have a loyal fan base that come from far to sing along and join hte event. it is just that another event band.


Friday I went to Lincoln Center to see the third of the fall offerings. Cymbeline, the Shakespeare play, a bit of comedy (very little), a bit of tragedy, a bit of a bore. It was a long play and i was pretty annoyed that i wasnt more passionate or interested. Seeing it was a long week and I had to teach on Saturday at 9am, I left at intermission. That got me home at 1030 and in bed by midnight. Maybe if i had eaten dinner...Maybe if i had eaten dinner I would have fell asleep. If i stayed it would have been midnight before i got home if i was lucky and a 130 am bedtime. I had to choose for the former and i am not sorry that I missed act 2. I will be able to stay til the end when i teach next semester at 11am or when will i learn not to go out on Friday nights.

While at Lincoln Center, I saw Marion Seldes in the Lobby - who looks better than this picture. And i think Chris Noth and his pregnant girl friend were seated after the lights went down.

Cymbeline will open in a few weeks and I will see what the reviews say. Maybe I missed a gem. Martha Plimpton was scrumptous and Felicia Rashad puts on this fake accident when she does live theater. It was supposed to sound more Shakespeare but it sounded fake. She was straining to speak. The plot was precious and the actor who wanted to win the bet couldnt decide who to flirt with Martha Plimpton or her husband.. I was working too heard to hear the players and it wasnt interesting enough to keep me there...Sorry Cymbeline, i should have passed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

National Book Award Finalist Reading

National Book Award Finalist Reading held at the New School for Social Research on November 13th at 7pm. A speed reading event with groups of 4, one from each catagory reading from their nominated works. Sponsored by the New School and National Book Foundation. Sen Bob Kerry and Bret Anthony Johnston hosted.

National Book Foundation
in partnership with
The New School Writing Program
presents the
2007 National Book Award Finalists Reading
Tuesday, November 13, 2007, at 7:00 p.m.
The New School, Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12th Street, New York City
(between 5th and 6th Avenues)
Master of Ceremonies: Bret Anthony Johnston
* Note: Actor Neal Huff will read in place of Denis Johnson.


Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) - Interview
Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) - Interview
Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown & Company) - Interview
Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) - Interview
Jim Shepard, Like You’d Understand, Anyway (Alfred A. Knopf) - Interview

Fiction judges: Francine Prose (chair), Andrew Sean Greer,
Walter Kirn, David Means, and Joy Williams.


Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying (Alfred A. Knopf) - Interview
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
(Twelve/Hachette Book Group USA) - Interview
Woody Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution
(Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux) - Interview
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography (Alfred A. Knopf) - Interview
Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
(Doubleday) - Interview

Nonfiction judges: David Shields (chair), Deborah Blum,
Caroline Elkins, Annette Gordon-Reed, and James Shapiro.


Linda Gregerson, Magnetic North (Houghton Mifflin Company) - Interview
Robert Hass, Time and Materials (Ecco/HarperCollins) - Interview
David Kirby, The House on Boulevard St.
(Louisiana State University Press) - Interview
Stanley Plumly, Old Heart (W.W. Norton & Company) - Interview
Ellen Bryant Voigt, Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006
(W.W. Norton & Company) - Interview

Poetry Judges: Charles Simic (chair), Linda Bierds, David St. John,
Vijay Seshadri, and Natasha Trethewey.


Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
(Little, Brown & Company) - Interview
Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers) - Interview
M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) - Interview
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic Press) - Interview
Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl (Little, Brown & Company) - Interview

Young People’s Literature Judges: Elizabeth Partridge (chair),
Pete Hautman, James Howe, Patricia McCormick, and Scott Westerfeld.

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 15, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 15, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
A marathon séance took place at the Burning Man festival last August. Top psychics managed to channel floods of data from dead celebrities. Among the fascinating revelations they retrieved: Princess Diana would like Gwyneth Paltrow to play her in a movie about her life; John Lennon would have preferred it if the Beatles' song "All You Need Is Love" was not used in a TV commercial for diapers; Ronald Reagan regrets having invaded the tiny nation of Grenada in 1983; and Nostradamus neglected to mention in his quatrains that in mid-November of 2007, Capricorns will enter a phase when they're likely to get a lot of useful information from what's seemingly dead and gone and past.

Monday, November 12, 2007