Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Clip O' the Day (3 of 3) | It's still your ride, isn't it?

As I've mentioned before, I adore this movie.  I do.  I adore it.  The clip below takes place on New Year's Eve, toward the end of the movie.

If you haven't seen this movie, two things:
Don't be fooled by the clip, it's not about incest.  Sorry, pervs.
Stop what you're doing and watch this movie!

Are you back?  Do you adore it now too?  You better.
(Yes, you better, dear non-existent reader).

That I adore this film, and that it has a scene on New Year's Eve, are not the only reasons I am writing about it for my very brief NYE Clip project.  Though, really that would be enough.  I mean, I'm the only one here, right?

Actually, that is enough.  The thing speaks for itself.  You just have to listen.

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve Clip O' the Day (2 of 3) | "You're on your way up, Buddy Boy!"

It doesn't get better than this movie.  It's solid, from start to finish.
And, like HOLIDAY (another NYE Clip 2013 movie), I adore it.
I adore it the way Mr. Baxter adores Miss Kubelik.

It's silly to talk about why it's important to watch around the new year.  There's a reason the final scene is just after midnight on 12/31.  Yes, the fresh start of a new relationship, that's obvious.  But THE APARTMENT, and HOLIDAY, are about something bigger.  Each is about finding your way in the world, about knowing who you are and what you're about and having the strength to resist conforming.

Of course, every responsible adult has to make some compromises.  But it's worth stepping back now and again and asking yourself:  Why am I keeping these jerks stocked with liquor and cheese crackers?  Is this really part of a long-game, a necessary evil to reach a bigger goal?  Or am I eroding something good in me, something that would have otherwise made me eligible to participate in something much better?  And, if so, is it too late to course correct?

Cripes!  I bit off more than I can chew, and if I keep going this post is going to get even more trite...  Besides, there's no time!  I've gotta go get ready for New Year's Eve!

(If you're not usually a link clicker, you really should make an exception for the "There's no time!" link - it's my belated Christmas gift to my non-existent readership).

And The Apartment?  Just watch the damn film.  It's important.  More important than it seems.

Happy New Year, 2014-wise.

New Year's Eve Clip O' the Day (1 of 3) | You Broke My Heart.

Thanks to my Christmas Clip Project, I'm close to posting more this year than any other year in the life of this blog.  I have mixed feelings about this, but mostly I feel competitive.  With myself.  So I'm going to crank out some New Year's Eve posts similar to the Christmas posts.

That was Christmas Clip 2013, this is NYE Clip 2013.

My goal is to write this post plus at least two more posts before midnight, while enabling the people of my holiday day to be none the wiser.  Or maybe I'll enlist assistance.  Dunno.  TBD.  In any case, game on.

It's a stupid game, but it is on.

Movie-wise, New Year's Eve always makes me think of The Apartment (but that's a gimme, I'm pretty much always close to thinking about The Apartment), Holiday, and The Godfather films.  I'm not sure why I always think of The Godfather films.  I don't think it's just because there's always a marathon of the three running somewhere throughout the days between Christmas and New Year's.

What are those days called?  Some kind of holiday taint.

Anyway, for purposes of getting my blog post count up, I'm going to say that I think of The Godfather because of the New Year's Eve scene in The Godfather Part II.

I don't make resolutions, but when I do they're not flimsy.  Nothing I can take back.  If you want to try it, I'll tell you how it's done.  You have a think and ask yourself:  What is breaking my heart?  What deserves the kiss of death?

But be careful.  This route is only for the strong and stupid.  Also, only for those with the capacity to be humbled, because when you go this route you run the risk of needing to ask forgiveness for being overly generous with the death kisses.

On the flip-side, the things you leave behind and never think of again?  I don't know, I don't think about 'em...  and that is a pretty fantastic feeling.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

My Facebook List of 10 Books that Made an Impression On Me is Really Real. For Reals.

During the first wave/rash of Facebook notes a few years ago, this guy I worked with was railing about how no one was listing real answers, they were just listing movies and/or books that were generic classics that folks couldn't argue with, or titles that somehow reinforced an image the person wanted to present to the world.

I remember laughing, but I also remember thinking that if people listed "How to Cure Foot Fungus in 10 Easy Steps" and similar, they'd be up for an entirely different kind of ridicule from him.  (Rightly so, it shouldn't take longer than 3 or 4 steps).  I shrugged him off thinking, "There's no winning with some people."

Yesterday I received a request to participate in another one of those lists.  This one wanted 10 books that made an impression on me.  Not the Top 10, not 10 Favorites, just 10 that made an impression.  So I took a deep breath and wrote the first titles that came to mind, titles that had sunk their teeth into me and ruled the hours/days I spent with them.

Then I remembered the rantings of the man I used to work with and got self-conscious.  Were those books for real?  Am I so accustomed to presenting an image on social media that I crafted that list without knowing I was crafting?  I'll probably never really know, but below I've tried to explain the flash that made me put them on the list in the first place.  The flashes felt pretty genuine...

Ten Books that Made an Impression on Me

1.  Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back (Shel Silverstein)
My Dad bought me this for Christmas when I was in the 3rd grade.  The first Christmas after my parents divorced.  I loved the art.  I loved the story.  And, as I got older, I loved that it wasn't "Where the Sidewalk Ends" (though I like that book too).  And I love how much it says about my Dad.  His sense of humor, his sense of not belonging, and...  more that I haven't quite put into words yet.

2.  Ramona the Pest (Beverly Cleary)
My first anti-hero.  I totally get Ramona.  Always have, always will.

3.  Cat's Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)
In high school, I was in AP classes because I tested well and my grades were acceptable when I applied myself, but I wasn't a stand-out.  In my first year, I had to read this book for Mr. Dellerba's class.  It was either Writing or English.  The topics were kind of interchangeable at that school.  Or I that's how they seemed to me.

I loved the book.  I loved the teacher.  I was super interested in the assignment.  I really wanted to nail my first Compare/Contrast Essay.  I gave it my best shot, but I wasn't very pleased with the results.  After, I figured I just didn't have it in me, the whole high school student thing.

Mr. Dellerba was different the day we got our graded papers back.  He started class with a different energy, there was something going on with him.  Something good, and I liked it because I liked him.

I mean, I didn't liiiiike-like him.  He just seemed to give a shit.  And he liked Alf (like, a lot).  And it was just good to see him kind of fired up.

He brought out the stack of essays, and said he wanted to read one essay to the class.  Not something he did, usually.

I remember rolling my eyes, looking at the clock, and thinking how I didn't want to hear from one of the achievers again.  Yeah, I looked at the clock.  Like my time was being wasted.  Like I had somewhere better to be.  "Tick tock, Dellerba.  Tick tock."  Oy, I was such a brat!  Such a self-destructive little shit!  Anyway, after trying to not listen, I couldn't help but notice that he was reading my essay.

I couldn't imagine how that could be happening, surely he was using it as an example of What Not To Do.  Although I wanted to learn the Compare/Contrast structure, my "Cat's Cradle" essay involved quotes from "High Hopes", and a tangent about vodka and its warmth-giving properties.  Turns out, he was reading it not to shame my lameness, but because he thought it was good.

I remembered students turning around to look at me, the mute in the back corner of the room, seemingly astonished I had any language skills at all.  And maybe that's all Mr. Dellerba was experiencing too ("Huh, she's not a flat-liner after all.")

Loved the book.  Still do.  Loved the author.  Still do.  Loved the teacher.  Still do.  Love the memory.

Tangent:  Mr. Dellerba ended up being a huge supporter of my writing.  And by that I mean one other time he said I should enter a different essay into a specific contest, because he was sure I'd win.  I didn't do it (see above re: self-destructive little shit).  There's more I can write about Mr. Dellerba, but now is not the time.

4.  Appointment in Samarra (John O'Hara)
When I first finished reading this one, I chucked the book across the room and was depressed for days.  I literally felt as though I had lost a friend.  I couldn't eat.  I wanted to stay in bed all day.  I've read it a few times since, and it gets me each time.

5.  Ask the Dust (John Fante)
Oh, Arturo, you and your world - your lack of cash, your persistence in writing even though no one cares, your bone deep Catholic guilt, your extremely limited diet, the rampant mental instability surrounding you - how could I not fall in love?

This book was recommended to me by the same guy who didn't like book and movie lists on Facebook.  Not a surprising connection, huh?

6.  Will You Please Be Quiet, Please (Raymond Carver)
I've said it before, I'll say it again:  When I read Carver, I wonder why I bother reading anyone else.  This is the first book that made me aware that there were books about the kinds of people I knew.  The first book that made me think about writing for reals.  Not that I thought I could do what Carver does, but...  I don't have the words for this impression yet.  It was a very long time ago, but it's still too close.  I know it in my bones, but I've never verbalized it.  I'll have to have a think on how to say this one.

7.  Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton)
I read this one during my peak dark, depressed, semi-goth teen years (I guess that would be my nadir, huh?).  The tragedy filled me with such glee that the essay I wrote for school (early college? high school?) was full of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" lyrics.  I wanted that song as the soundtrack of the book, because it was the best way I could communicate how happy the inevitable ending made me.

We're all so damn stupid, aren't we?  Reaching for the wrong people in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons, usually mucking everything up worse than it had been before.

I love it.

8.  The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton)
This story makes me crazy.  Each time I finish reading it, I am frustrated as though it were all new to me.  The story contains my greatest fears, and so I keep reading it in hopes that somehow it will turn out differently.  Maybe on the 23rd reading all of Lily's naive and youthful folly will have made her stronger and more prepared for the future, maybe the people she knows will be less judgmental and more helpful, maybe she will triumph over the limitations of life in her time, maybe Bertha will fall off her yacht and drown before she carelessly and selfishly ruins Lily.

Maybe the 24th reading...

9.  A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
I read this for school in the 8th grade.  I failed every essay question and writing assignment.  My teacher would take me aside and want to know why I wasn't reading, why I wasn't keeping up with the class.  I was reading at the prescribed pace and I was listening in class, so I would just kind of shrug and tell her that I couldn't explain it.  After some time, my guidance counselor was contacted.  After some more time, my guidance counselor called my Mom.

First my Mom and he talked, and then he brought me into his office and asked me what I thought about the ending, and so I told him.  He said that I had obviously read the book, and then the whole episode seemed to be over.

I wish I knew what the trouble had been, what my damage had been, why I was unable to communicate with that teacher about that book...  But I don't really care.  Soon after I discovered Cliff's Notes, and learned to button it with certain teachers, to just give 'em what they want, and do my own thinking on my own time.

Not a solid choice, really.  I wish I had just been what I was, even if what I was was a problem.

But that's not the point, the point is:  This book made me want to read all of the big thick classics, especially if all of them contained so much beauty and pain.

10.  Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
I read this one multiple times in high school.

At some point in high school, my brother moved in with my Mom (which was where I lived too).  He was in his 20s.  He worked in a bar all evening, got drunk after work, and then woke up late morning/early afternoon to start work on rebuilding his cars and motorcycles in the driveway.  (Yet, for all of his effort, he never seemed to have a viable vehicle to get himself to work on-time and was always on the cusp of losing his job).

By this time, I had been in the longstanding habit of arriving home from school with the singular goal of watching 120 Minutes or David Letterman, whichever one I had taped the night before, while eating some kind of crappy snack food.

But my brother was the sort who would point our giant 1980s 2' x 3' indoor stereo speakers toward the outdoors to provide a soundtrack for his DIY auto shop.  It didn't matter if it was sunny or freezing, he'd throw open whatever windows and doors were necessary for him to effortlessly hear GN'R.  It was impossible to watch TV when this was going on.

Gone were my peaceful, self-managing days of latchkey-dom.  Man, did it suck.

A normal teen walking home from school would have hit the corner of her street, heard the noise and returned to school the next day intent on signing up for excessive amounts of team and club membership.  Anything to delay the inevitable return home.  Or, more my speed, would have turned around and taken the bus downtown.  Though I did flee downtown pretty often, it wasn't as much as I would have liked because my cat and dog were at home.  I felt they needed someone to look out for them.  I think they disliked my brother's music more than I did.  More than the neighbors even.

When I'd think of the poor creatures, cowering under furniture to hide from Axl Rose, "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day."

So I'd go home, gather my crappy snack food, lead the cat and dog into my small bedroom at the back of the house, and shut the hollow door.  Then I'd crack open Jane Eyre, sit very still, and read until the critters relaxed.  Once they nodded off to sleep, I wouldn't want to disturb them, so I'd just keep still and keep reading.

It was always Jane Eyre.  In reality, it wasn't always, but in my memory, that was the book.  Always.

So that's the list.  It might not be the same list if I had been asked yesterday or tomorrow, but it is for real.  I think.  As real as can be, anyway.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

iPhone Movie Review | THE MASTER | 2012

Where/How it starts...

Close-up of the texted photo, back of the DVD case...


The reasons I love this review are twofold:
1. We left the more interesting debate on the table: Do dreads and Tom's go together?  
1a.  I'm pretty sure this was Toms and not Tom's.
1b.  I'm pretty sure the answer is yes, but it would have been a fun debate.
2. That laugh looks like a guffaw. I love making people laugh. And a guffaw is even better.  It's like a laugh times a lot.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Clip O' the Day (5 of 5) | JOYEAUX NOEL, Peace, Love and Understanding.

I find the Christmas Truce of 1914 endlessly fascinating, so that's what I'm writing about.  Thankfully, there's a film clip.

If you don't know, during World War I a short-lived and inconsistent peace broke out between German and British troops (the Russians continued to fight because their Christmas wasn't until January 7th, and the French continued to fight because they were occupied).

Those who did participate in the truce sang, drank, and played football; as they did, some reported hearing the sounds of warfare continuing nearby.

Regarding this occurrence, the Wall Street Journal read, "What appears from the winter fog and misery is a Christmas story that is, in truth, the most faded and tattered of adjectives:  inspiring."

It still is.  To me.

Yes, I'm a sap.  Yes, I write not one but two blogs about fluffy things like movies, late night TV shows, cocktails, and my struggles with figuring out how to be cool to people on a consistent basis.  I know it's not fashionable to be this way.  I know people knock a few IQ points off their perceptions of me when I talk or write about certain things.  They think I'm weak-minded.  Soft.  Superficial.

As if being angry and judgmental requires depth and intelligence.

Mostly I don't care.  I see them sizing me down, and I let it roll off my back.  It's taken a lot of work for me to get this close to knowing what's important to me, how I want to be, what I want to value, and I'm not going to let it go based on a look from someone who doesn't know the whole story.

And that's why - for the sake of wrapping up this post - the Christmas Truce of 1914 is so dear to me.  I can't help but feel slightly validated by it.  These men, soldiers fighting against each other in a World War, were so uninterested in killing each other that they put down their weapons, and held a sort of outdoor salon on the frozen No Man's Land.

And there it is!  Post 5 of 5 for the day, leading to a total of 19 posts between the Portland Snowtastrophe of December 7th and December 25th.

Suck it, Christmas!!

Done & done.

Released: 2005
Writer:  Christian Carion
Director: Christian Carion
Producer: Christophe Rossignon, Benjamin Herrmann
Leads: Benno Fürmann, Guillaume Canet, Daniel Brühl, Diane Kruger
Genre: War, Drama, Holiday

Christmas Clip O' the Day (4 of 5) | Me & The Life, Broken Dreams and Busted Finials.

Speaking of big guns, it doesn't get much bigger than this one:

Not for me, anyway.  I've been trying to write something brief about this film for more than two hours, but my feelings about it, and history with it, are too complex to crank out a breezy lil' post on Christmas morning.  (Though as a surprise gift to myself, I now have a pretty solid starter draft of an essay about Me & The Life).

For now, for this blog, for this Christmas Clip Project, let's focus on this quote:  "I bet it's a warrant for my arrest.  Isn't it wonderful?!  I'm going to jail!"

While looking out for your loved ones, did you make a lot of compromises for the greater good?  Did you lead a life such that you are the only person you know who is eligible to be listed as the "Responsible Party"?  Did things go pear-shaped and now you're going to, or living in, (actual or figurative) jail?

Hug that bank examiner.  Cherish that arrest warrant.  Smile for the snooping reporters.

Things never go as planned.  Make the best of it.  Whatever it is.  It's hard, and sometimes feels pointless, but it is truly the best available option.

And if you don't have an (actual or figurative) jail in your life right now, you should be loving every freaking thing all of the time.

Go kiss all of the busted stairwell finials in your life.  Now.  I mean it.  Do.  It.  Now.

And if you've never found yourself on a (actual or figurative) bridge doing the math on your continued existence, you should also be loving every freaking thing, all of the freaking time.

Go kiss all of the busted stairwell finials in your life.  Now.  I mean it.  Do.  It.  Now.

Christmas Clip O' the Day (3 of 5) | When in Doubt: Shrug, Laugh & Love. And drink cocktails, that helps too.

After a 12+ hour break yesterday, I started this Christmas Clip project back up around 3:30am today.

Then I hit a wall around 5:30am, so I took a lil' Christmas nosh break.  Heavy on the fat and sugar (mini-peanut butter cups in red, green and gold foil; Christmas Coke made by polar bears; sugar cookies...  etc).

Now it's time to get back at this damn project.

Now or never.

It's Christmas Day, so I might as well start bringing out the big guns:

This is another clip where making any further comment feels a bit like gilding the lily.

But if I use that excuse more than once, I might as well just be posting links on Facebook.

Because I'm bringing out the big guns clip-wise, there's no reason I can't go all Emotional Match Stick Girl on you.

The majority of my childhood was very solitary, and when it wasn't solitary, when the family was around, it was a super huge pain in the ass.  Throughout, I always had a sense that there were humans in the world who enjoyed each other, most of the time, for the most part; people who didn't act like bitchy teenage girls to everyone they knew.  When I was a pre-tween and I first saw Nick and Nora Charles, I took them as evidence that my sense of things was correct.

My sense of things may still be wrong, but Nick and Nora give me hope.

This is why I love them.

This is why, when struggling with real people in the real world, I push myself to shrug, laugh and love.

I want that to be my default, to not have to push myself, but I doubt I'll get there.  Instead, I've made peace with the fact that this is my goal...  the labor of my life.

As life goals and labors go, it's not bad.  One of the few where light to moderate drinking actually aids achievement.

Christmas Clip O' the Day (2 of 5) | It's literally Christmas Eve.

2013, the first year in literally a million that I didn't post this clip somewhere on Christmas Eve.


This scene from THE APARTMENT.  C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), the bar, Santa, the jukebox, the pick-up, the straws, the dancing, the guy trying to close up - it's my current and long-standing favorite Christmas Eve on film.  Also a favorite film scene, full stop.


Some years you're C.C. Baxter, some years you're Santa, some years you're trying to close up shop, and some years you're blowing straw wrappers at a stranger in a crowded bar.

Christmas Clip O' the Day (1 of 5) | The work of Holiday Spirit.

I'm a bit behind on this project.  Again.  Yesterday I boasted that I was fully committed to getting eighteen Christmas posts up before the start of 12/26, but then I stumbled on an opportunity for fun and forgot about all of this for about 12 hours or so.

It was Christmas Eve.  And the way I look at it, if you discover a surprise opportunity for fun on that day, you have to take it.

Mostly, I think the holidays are just like any other day, but this is probably just my way of managing expectations.  If it ends up being just another day then it was as expected, and therefore, pretty good.  If it's better, well, all the better.  If you start out thinking it's going to be better, simply because it's a holiday, you're on thin ice.

But I get it.  I understand the temptation to think a holiday will be a regular day but with sprinkles on top.  What I don't get are the sorts of people who can fully focus on non-holiday related chores and/or work on a holiday.

To my mind, simply showing up at the office and answering the phone with the correct name of the business counts as a productive day of work on a holiday.  The exception being people whose focus will lead to the imminent preservation of life.  If you're not saving lives, and you're still focused on work on December 24th, you're on a slippery slope.  Ebenezer didn't become a single-name phenom over-night, it takes years to build that kind of a brand.

Also, I consume enough science fiction to know that all of that those Ebebezer's-in-training will be kicking themselves after society collapses...  they'll be sitting alone somewhere, cold and wet, eating raw rat meat (nothing they hunted, just some poor creature they found semi-recently deceased), and wondering, "Why did I ever spend Christmas Eve catching up on email from my boss?!?"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Re-post | HOLIDAY | 1938 | aka The 5th Avenue Anti-Stuffed Shirt and Flying Trapeze Club

“I never could decide whether I wanted to be Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, or John L. Lewis."
(Katharine Hepburn as Linda Seton in HOLIDAY)

I had to look up that quote because I wanted to be sure I got the order right.  I was pretty sure she listed those people in chronological order, because that made sense organizationally and it sounded good when said aloud.  Still, I felt compelled to diligently confirm the facts before I posted the quote on a blog that no one reads, where errors go undetected and/or can be quietly corrected.

For some reason I didn't head directly to YouTube (if I had, I would have found the above clip containing the quote straightaway), instead I stuck to text and discovered this article: "It Happened One Decade: What the Great Depression Did to Culture," The New Yorker, September 21, 2009 by Caleb Crain.

Here I found this fantastic idea, that the sharp dialog of screwball was an application of "the hardboiled style of crime stories to the softhearted subject matter of a couple falling in love" - fantastic because, even then, apparently, folks were embarrassed to write rom-coms and needed to toughen 'em up a bit.  Sometimes a sense of shame can be beneficial. It might actually be tied with necessity as the mother of invention.  Actually, when it comes to the arts, shame probably beat necessity with a TKO for the title.

But that's a tangent.  Actually this whole post will be a grab-bag of tangents.  As much as I adore this film, I'm not going to nail this post.  Which kind of breaks my heart.  Did I mention that I adore this film?  I do.  Adore it.

I had intended to write a simple, fluffy little thing about a screwball set during the holidays to kick-off the season, but now realize that starting with HOLIDAY might be a mistake.  
It's more of a late holiday season movie.  Partly because there's a key party scene that takes place on New Years Eve, and also because the tone of the film just isn't busting with anticipatory and celebratory goodwill.  Instead it feels like that bubble between the December 26th and January 1st, that window of time when the holiday decorations look precisely the same as they did on the 23rd, and have lost none of their enthusiasm, and yet they feel a bit world-weary somehow.  A really fantastic and enjoyable phenomenon, but not really right as a seasonal starter.

Plus, finding the article in the New Yorker has put my focus back on the actual non-holiday essence of the film.  The title isn't only referring to the setting of the film, nor is it only referring to the holiday in Placid where Johnny Case (Cary Grant) meets Julia Seton (Doris Nolan), it is most significantly referring to the holiday Johnny wants to take from work.  That's the holiday that ruins one romance, but ultimately lands him with the best, most appropriate mate (as all screwballs aim to do for their leads).

Johnny is a smart, athletic, self-made (as much as any one individual actually can be), capable of making money, as well as conducting himself appropriately among all classes; economically and socially mobile, one version of the American Dream is in the palm of his hands.  He's just not sure the goal of life is to "pay bills and to pile up more money" and he wants to take the time to figure out what he wants his life to be about.

Referring to my screwball hymnal, Screwball Comedy:  A Genre of Madcap Romance, it makes reference to a 1938 article in Time Magazine that defined the chief problem of HOLIDAY as "The prospect of having too much money."  Although that is certainly a screwball dilemma to have, I'm not sure that's quite right (but I need to read the actual article before totally ripping that theory apart).

The thing is, Johnny seems fine with having money.  When he learns that his fiance is one of those Seton's he says that he wishes he'd known earlier because he'd have proposed to her in two days instead of ten, and he equates discovering her wealth as discovering she could play piano ("I'd be delighted, wouldn't I?").  Plus he's set to earn millions from a deal of his own construction, so he's definitely not anti-money, he's just wise enough to know it's not the end all be all.

And that is how Linda Seton comes to be the correct pairing for Johnny.  She knows the limitations of money, she's had it all her life.  She saw wealth go from a positive freeing thing when her Grandfather earned it, to becoming a limiting and constrictive thing when her father labored to preserve it.

If I haven't sucked all the fun out of it, you should watch this film at some point between Christmas and New Year's. It's a nice prompt by way of getting your priorities sorted out and re-established for the fresh batch of 365 days coming down the pike.  Also, thanks to the state of our world economy, the comedy and concerns of this film don't feel at all dated.

Screwball Checklist:

Comic anti-hero struggling to identify and/or earn the best, most appropriate partner?
Johnny isn't an anti-hero in that he is failing or flailing, he's an anti-hero in that he's rejecting the status quo.  He has the ability to be a full-speed ahead hero, but choses to be something different.  Better, actually.

Class conflict?
The film makes it very tempting to draw the lines of the conflict along lines of education.  Johnny has an academic couple as his best friends and a sort of moral center, and their presence keeps him from being absorbed by the two Seton's preoccupied with status and propriety.  It seems the class conflict here is really about values.  It feels like opportunities are fairly equal among this cast of characters, but each made different choices based on what they value in life.  Julia Seton and her father are classy people because of what they have, while Johnny, Linda Seton and Ned Seton and Johnny's academic friends are classy people because of what they do.

Urban setting?
NYC.  As per usual.  Though this one sticks nearly exclusively to the 5th Avenue Seton mansion, and the contrast between the grand museum-like rooms and the cozy childhood playroom.  

Value placed on child-like outlook?
See childhood playroom.  This is where true natures are revealed, and where the "Fifth Avenue Anti-Stuffed and Flying Trapeze Club" is formed.  'nuff said.

Art & Fart?
In this case, this is probably best put as High and Low Comedy because the lowest HOLIDAY goes is pratfalls.  It travels no where near anything farty.  Still, behavior is absolutely used to define classes.  In this cast there are characters who are playful, do acrobatics, play music, sing songs, and drink, and then there are those that don't.  Guess which batch are our heroes? 

Baseline dissatisfaction with the status-quo?
This is the core conflict of the movie.  Johnny Case, Linda Seton and Ned Seton see the opportunity money affords as sacred, they just don't worship the dollar.

Released: 1938
Writer: Donald Ogden Stewart, Sidney Buchman (based on a play by Philip Barry)
Director: George Cukor
Producer: Everett Riskin
Leads: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Edward Everett Horton, Jean Dixon, Lew Ayres, Doris Nolan, Henry Kolker
Genre:  Rom-Com, Screwball
Plot Summary and reviews of HOLIDAY @ Rotten Tomatoes

Second Christmas Clip O' the Day | DIY Double Feature | Super Tiny Stocking Stuffer Edition

I'm going for it.  I'm going to try to get eighteen Christmas posts up here before 12/26.

It's not like I don't have enough material.
It's not like I don't have the time.

Sure, I'm working on Christmas Eve, but I don't have kids, I don't buy presents, I'm not welcome at what counts as my ancestral home, and I've successfully dodged most invitations...  There's no reason I can't get this done.

If it doesn't get done, it will be because I drank too much before going to see Anchorman 2, then passed out after eating "a lovely cheese pizza, just for me."

On that note, here's a DIY Double Feature (Super Tiny Stocking Stuffer Edition).

Watch these clips and just enjoy where you're at.

And even if you're over the moon with where you are this holiday, keep your eyes peeled because you might be the key to someone else's holiday joy.

Christmas Clip O' the Day | No Comment Necessary.

I know the whole point of me putting these clips on Blogger instead of Facebook was so I could comment, but... for this one, it feels like words would be gilding the lily.

Hmmm... Let's see. When I lived in NYC while in high school (and early college), my Mom clipped Calvin and Hobbes from The Oregonian and mailed a stack to me each week. When I lived in Olympia, WA my boyfriend at the time worked at a sign and trophy shop and would regularly misappropriate office equipment, so I own an 8.5 x 11 etched silver color plaque of Calvin sort of marching happily while singing a Christmas carol.

I dump (donate) so many things because of my pseudo feng shui attitude toward stuff.  Especially post-break-up.  If a thing hurts to look at, or even just reminds me of stuff I'd rather forget, I pitch it.  The thing is infested with bad energy, I tell myself.  But Calvin survived the "heartbreak cut" all those years ago.

It turns out some things are indeed sacred to me.

(It's Christmas, let's not debate whether the clip above should or should not exist, let's just take it in the spirit intended).

I'll try to shoot a cell phone photo of my silver Calvin later, until then, here's this:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Second Christmas Clip O' the Day | Holidays with the Ephron's

Based on DESK SET, I'm thinking Phoebe and Henry Ephron shared their writing wisdom with their children Nora, Delia, Hallie and Amy, including:  "When in doubt, set your story during the holidays.  Seriously, it will do a lot of the work for you.  Narrative tension-wise."

See:  SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (Nora), YOU'VE GOT MAIL (Nora), MIXED NUTS (Delia)...  possibly more.   Maybe that's it.

It's hack advice, but there is some truth to it.  I'm working on a holiday story right now, and I'm well aware that I'm absolutely making use of the ideas that:  This is even better because it's Christmas! and/or This is even worse because it's Christmas!

Back to DESK SET, I love that Hepburn & Tracy were cast as leads in a straight-ahead rom-com at 50 and 57 respectively.  No "old" jokes, no overly self-conscious "Back in the Saddle" scenes ala Tom Hanks - at 37 - in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.

In DESK SET, they're just people, getting all squishy about each other.

End of story.

Released: 1957
Director: Walter Lang
Leads: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy
Writer: Phoebe Ephron, Henry Ephron
Genre: Romantic Comedy
DESK SET @ Wikipedia

Christmas Clip O' the Day | Nora Charles is the Antidote to Being Lame. Sadly, I'm Pretty Sure I'm Gonna Need Something Stronger.

In the window of a few short hours this evening, I went on Instagram and shared images of my cats and a cake I baked.

What the fuck has happened to me?!?

Granted, the image of the Eggnog Spice Cake with a missing a slice originally came with a long narrative riffing on how Santa ate it.  Because he's here with me.  Because after The Great Sad Cat Lady Experiment of 2012, he's decided they're not all so sad...

But it was too long for Instagram.

I edited it down to:  The missing slice?  Santa.  Why?  He dumped your Mommy.

But I decided (correctly) that it was a weak effort, and deleted it.


So many areas for improvement in 2014.
1. Work on trash-talk.

Right now, I gotta work on wrapping my head around the idea that I've gotta be on my way to work by 7:15am tomorrow...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Second Christmas Clip O' the Day | Connecticut in a Hurry

I am woefully behind on this Clip O' the Day project.  I'm debating whether to accept that I failed to post daily from December 7th forward, and just do what I can until the 25th; or if I should go crazy and try to hit that quantity of posts in that window - - - which would be ten posts in the next four days.  Which is kind of obnoxious.

Obnoxious, or...  Festive!

I love this scene from CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT; stand-alone, as-is and at face-value.  It captures that feeling when you're crushed out on someone and you hope they're crushed out on you too, but you kind of really don't care because the excitement of the question mark, the pins of joy, the needles of anxiety are fun enough to be their own end.

Ah, those were the days.

(It's also a great moment because these two are dreamers, just sort of mucking about in the world, but have stumbled into something that makes them want to be genuine, but their creative relationship with reality may have put this tangible new desire at risk before it even gets a chance to start.  The fragile busted ornament, the nod to fate by wishing on stars, the foreshadowing via cigarette...  There's a whole lot going on in this scene.  Love. It.)

This movie has a whole lot of flaws, but set those aside and just enjoy the damn thing.

Released: 1945
Director: Peter Godfrey
Leads: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan
Writer: Lionel Houser, Adele Comandini
Genre: Screwball Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Christmas

Christmas Clip O' Yesterday | Learning to Accept Help

I didn't post a clip yesterday.  But if I had, it was going to be about CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT.

Not only did I not post, I also failed to return the DVD to the library yesterday.  I don't mention this because I mind giving them a bit of extra cash for the fine (I don't), but just to illustrate that... well, not much got done yesterday.

I'm battling some kind of cold, or perhaps a deep malaise of some sort.  As soon as I start feeling better, I try to make up for lost time, and then find myself run down and languishing in bed watching movies and reading Twitter.

Thankfully, Sadie Stein can unknowingly help me with my holiday posting, because I can repost her post "Silver Belles" (The Paris Review, December 19, 2013).  You should read it post-haste.

I'll do my best to write my own post about CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT later today, but first I've got a whole weekend to cram into Sunday.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Clip O' the Day | All I Want for Christmas is to be Awesome... Or Maybe Feed the World... Or Maybe Temporarily Shut Down the Movie Industry.

I want to be Shannon Eis.

I want to be the pretty lady with awesome hair and faux leather pants showing Dave Letterman a selection of kids toys each Christmas.  I don't care what else I'd have to put up with for the rest of the year in order for this to happen, this is what I want to do.

Whoah.  I shouldn't say that.  I know better.

Shannon Eis' life could be a dark, dreary and unending hell.  Her life could make Annette Bening's in AMERICAN BEAUTY look tranquil.

At the top of the toy segment this year, Dave said something to Shannon that made me love him more.  And, honestly, I didn't think that was possible.  Dave asked Shannon what she thinks a $20 billion toy industry says about us as a country, and wonders if "maybe we shouldn't put that money elsewhere" because "people in this country need food."

I love this question because of what it is, standing on its own, but also because it reminded me of this Big Idea I have that's similar(ish).

Well, first, actually, I want to give you some background to my Big Idea...

From junior high well into adulthood, I would track the weekend box office report the way some people track sports teams.  I'd study upcoming releases, estimate whether they'd succeed or fail and by how much, and then prance about like an idiot when I was right.  And I was right, like, a lot.  But a few years back it all ceased to be fun.  Now when I hear the weekend box office take, my first thought is "all that money..."

And my second thought is usually "...  going to all those jerks."  Because most of them are.

So here it is for reals, my Big Idea:

One weekend per year, everyone planning to see a movie in a first-run theater instead chooses to donate what they would have spent on tickets, food, parking, etc. to one of ten charitable organizations.  A charity per top box office grosser.  The top ten movies usually pull in a healthy chunk of cash, and probably enough to make a difference to an organization, to a community, etc.  Or make a strong start, at least.  Then the next year, ten new organizations get that multi-million dollar benefit, and on and on and on.

It'd never happen because people seem confused these days, they seem to think pulling together is a threat to independence.  That one weekend out of fifty-two would be anti-business.  That not being able to pick charity outside of the ten would be unfairly restricting to their freedom.

And besides, "There's that Bradley Cooper movie I've been wanting to see opening that weekend.  Y'know the one...  Where he does that thing in the trailer...  Agh!  It looks soooooo good.  I need to see it NOW.  Besides, no one else will be at the theater this weekend because of that charity thing, so I'm going..."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Clip O' the Day | ELF, Harrison Ford + Will Ferrell, Harrison Ford + The Lovely Lady from Belgium, and - of course - I know.

On another day, I might have a little something to say about this clip.
But today, it is what it is.  WYSIWYG

All day I've been forgetting and remembering to do this Clip O' the Day, and just now, just as I was falling asleep, I remembered one more time.

So, I write this post the way Buddy put the star on the tree - with initial exuberance, but ultimately mixed results.

On similar note, if you have time, you should watch Will Ferrell on Letterman.

And, on that note, if you watched that you should watch this too. It's a clip from The Graham Norton Show, some solid nerd fun.  (Ah, Harrison).

FA LA LA LA LA...  LA LA...  LA...  LA.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Clip O' the Day | Yes, it's an Advertisement. Yes, it's that advertisement.

Yes, it's an ad.  Yes, I'm Ms. I Don't Buy Christmas.  But this two minute animation tells a such a strong, simple story in such a beautifully restrained manner that it's easy to ignore the sales pitch.  I've watched it a couple of times over the last few weeks, and it gets me each time.  No matter what mood I'm in, it softens me.

Yes, it's an ad.  But unless I hear it is responsible for, say, Peter O'Toole's death, I will continue to embrace its quality, class and general big-heartedness.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Second Christmas Clip o' the Day: Perry Como, Christmas Classic; and Why Humans Are Unreliable Witnesses

Yep, this is the second Christmas Clip today.  I didn't post any last week and now I'm attempting to make up for it.

Make it up to no one.
For no reason.

On with the clip...

In addition to Perry Como's rendition of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" being about as Christmas Classic as it gets, I have my own special reason for loving this clip.

For years, far too many years, I thought Santa had handed Mr. Como a cocktail.

It's so very clear that is not what is going on in this clip that...  I just really wonder about myself sometimes.

Apparently that's what Christmas is to me.  Which makes sense when I think about it.  Every year I will say, far too many times, that a gin & tonic is:  A Christmas Tree in a glass.® 

It must have been after saying that too many times in a row, that I came to believe the bell noise coming from Mr. Como's hand was a super ambitious Foley artist attempting to replicate the sound of ice in a glass.

I'm not quite so dopey, usually.
I don't think.
I really hope.

Anyway, I accept my bottomless reserve of fallibility, and that is why I love this clip.  It's a little dose of humility ensuring I never turn into a big shot.

This is also why our legal system should never fully rely on first person testimony.  We're all deeply flawed and bringing our own shit to the table.

At least, that's what I tell myself.

Christmas Clip O' the Day | Ralph Fiennes, Christmas Cracker Crowns and High Waisted Pants

Ralph Fiennes is currently only about 50-years-old, and yet someone advised him to wear the pants of a 90 year-old on a recent visit to a late night talk show.

Yeah, that's music via Closed-Captioning.  I try to be a good neighbor when I have insomnia.
Now back to the pants.

I'm torn.  The pants aren't quite 80s pleated dockers.  But they're not polished like early 20th Century high-waisted pants either.

Either Ralph is a trail-blazer and this is a sign of things to come, or someone has betrayed him.  Even if was just his own mirror.

Time will tell.  Until then, I'm going to do a sort of Pavlovian training such that whenever I think of the last time saw him, instead of seeing those pants, I'll see this instead...

And with that, here's your Christmas Clip of the day:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Clip O' the Day | WHITE CHRISTMAS | 1954 | A Tale of Two Mandy's

You're wrong if you think the "Mandy" number has something to do with WHITE CHRISTMAS being one of my favorite holiday films.

WHITE CHRISTMAS Mandy has nearly everything to do with this film being one of my holiday favorites.

I stumbled onto this film in early junior high, after more than a decade of being regularly serenaded with Barry Manilow's Mandy, a song that might as well have been written about a dog.  Despite rumors, it apparently wasn't actually written about a dog, but it's pretty clear why that rumor persists, "You came and you gave without taking," etc.  I used to roll my eyes and cover my ears, but folks thought that was funny so they'd keep on singing.  It's such a lame sentiment to drop on the shoulders of a young girl.  "Oh, little impressionable 5 year-old Mandy, for you, love will be helping other people with their pain until they send you away.  So kiss them and stop them from shaking.  They need yooouuuuu."

Although WHITE CHRISTMAS Mandy isn't much more dimensional, she elicits proclamations like, "What a gal!"  And she's clearly some kind of a catch, clearly busy and up to something, because the gents best not "linger" or "delay," for fear she'll "get away".  Or maybe she's the one they don't want to lingering or delaying... but that's even better, she's being pursued and yet she can't be bothered!

Not only is WHITE CHRISTMAS Mandy not being sent away, but the only thing close to a directive or an order in her world is:  Make it Mandy and me.

With two vanilla Cokes.  To go.

Simple, easy, affirmative.  No hesitation.  No whiny melodrama.

As if you needed to hear more, let's compare some key words and phrases from the two songs:
Manilow - crying, cold as ice, uphill climbing
WHITE CHRISTMAS - humdinger, dandy, and happy-times
No contest.

Plus, this Mandy gets freakin' Danny Kaye.  Sure, she's dancing with three guys, but one is prone to domestic violence, one seems handsome enough but is wearing a red shirt with a green tuxedo and that kind of poor judgement can't be encouraged, and so her only truly viable option is freakin' Danny Kaye.

WHITE CHRISTMAS Mandy is awesome.

It is no wonder I return to this film again, and again, and again.  And again.  It's like a mental SILKWOOD shower, steaming that soppy Manilow Mandy out of my grey matter.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Clip O' the Day | Snowy Portland, Social Media, and WHITE CHRISTMAS

For what feels like a million years, each December I post clips from my favorite holiday films on my Facebook page.  I wasn't going to do it this year, but it snowed in Portland yesterday and so I posted this clip...

...  And that's all it took.

I'm going to do things a little different this year, though.  Or try to.  My goal is to post the clips here and write something about the stupid things.  No, wait.  The things are awesome, what I'll be writing is stupid.

Which is really the reason I want to try it this way, as an excuse to write...  anything...  improvement via volume, it's a lil' game I play now and again.

I did like just posting the clip.  It was minimalist.

No it wasn't.

But I did like letting folks bring their own love or irritation to whatever clip I shared.

Sort of how Bob Edwards used to announce the birthdays by just stating name and age of the individual born that day.  It seemed to imply that you should know who that person is, and if you didn't, you best look it up.

At least that's how I remember it.  I could be completely wrong.  It happens.  A lot.

Anyway, now you're up to speed, absolutely no one.

Go stupid Christmas Clip Project!