Monday, March 19, 2018

Democracy Dies Without a Tear

President VSG Trump indulged in his favorite game, tear the country apart and spit on the constitution.

His tweet above is in reference to the firing of FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Andrew has been on Trump's shit-list since he contradicted our VSG President and said the FBI WAS behind James Comey and morale was good.

The publicly provided reason he was fired was due to a internal investigation, which is not complete and therefore could not be shared.

Sessions fired McCabe a Friday night (bury the news), the day before his 50th birthday and 2 days before his pension kicked in.

Oddly, right before Christmas, President VSG Trump noted that McCabe better be careful with only 90 days to retirement.  How amazing to know that he might be fired in the most humilitating way, 88 days before it happened.

Punishing FBI and Justice Department employees for doing their jobs is illegal. And here President Trump has publicly said he fired James Comey to stop the Russian investigation and then ruins the pension of a career FBI employee and Director that stepped in because VSG Trump fired Comey in a huff. ONCE our country - particularly Republicans - wanted us to follow the rule of law.  But not if it gets in the way of President VSG Tiny hands.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Two comments on this look

We were in Palm Springs and looking at a very hip new hotel.  And then I saw this.


I mean I know why I hate it.

1) One of my step-mothers loved owls (or at least said she did so people got her shit-tubs of owls), and they still give me the heebee jeebees.  She was a neat freak, and all those unblinking owl eyes just waiting for you to make a tiny spill. 

2) It's not just an owl, it is a MACRAMÉ owl. Macramé doesn't work for me. It is uncomfortable, scratchy and the creator always wants you to display it.

On the positive side, I did talk to the deskman and we made fun of the ugly macramé owl. And he was cute.

Friday, March 16, 2018

This Has BUGGED Me For a While...

Fantastic Day in Anza Borrego Yesterday

Anza Borrego is a giant California state park in the desert. It is about 40 miles south of Plam Springs - as the crow flies, but not as one can drive.  There are mountains in between - so you go around and it is about 2 hours from Palm Springs or 90 minutes from here, Carlsbad, where Ed's meetings are.

There is a Palm Canyon hike which is about 3 miles round trip. I did it yesterday and it was fantastic.

Oddly, this is a hike I do occasionally, almost always in March.  It is kind of a birthday hike.

The ocotillo is blooming somewhere on the trip as you have to go down the mountain to get into the desert. And the variation in height gives different microclimates - so the ocotillo bloom along the mountain somewhere for a month.

Then there are the Big Horn Sheep. They are endangered, but these have been separated from other herds for so long, they have bred out most of their fear of people. And, in March, they are raising their young.  Since it was a very dry year, they come down to the oasis to drink.
I have a lot of pictures of this one, as he kept coming closer and closer.

This Bull was only about 20 feet from me for a while

Mom in front, 2 kids on the rocks behind her

Regarding the palm trees. These are one of the very very few stands of California Palm left in the wild.  They were very common thousands of years ago, but the desert grew and the palm groves collapsed.  The few stands of wild palms left are near oasis where water is forced to the surface. The California desert has quite a few of these oasis because of earthquakes / plate movement.

Friday, March 02, 2018


Perestroika: (noun) the policy or practice of restructuring or reforming the economic and political system. (...) perestroika originally referred to increased automation and labor efficiency, but came to entail greater awareness of economic markets and the ending of central planning. 

Perestroika: (Definitive Noun) The second and concluding part of Tony Kusher's revelatory theater piece, Angels in America.

Last night I wished I had someone to hug and talk to and scream with. Perestroika knocked me the fuck out. I don't have the proper words to fully explain it.

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, February 2018

Angels was written and workshopped in Los Angeles and I saw it at the Mark Taper Forum, before it went to London and New York the first time in 1991 / 1992. And the end of the play (part 2) is bittersweet. A defiant Prior Walter vows to live on and beat AIDS.

When I saw it in 1992, Stephen Spinella issued that as hollow scream against a killer that we all knew would beat him as it beat so many of our friends.

Last night Andrew Garfield gave that same line as a quiet promise that turned out to be true for hundreds of thousands of my peers and friends - and heartbreakingly false for thousands more.

Last night, I sat there and listened and cried. And then laughed and stood up and applauded with the theater through multiple curtain calls.

And then looked around, wiped my eyes and thought, "fuck me" - because I lacked the even internal words to emotionally explain what just happened.

I really though nothing could ever touch that first impression of Angels in America. The perfection of Stephen Spinella, Ron Leibman, Kathleen Chalfant and Joe Mantello is like a delicate, flawless memory frozen in time.  This cast didn't change those memories, but did bring me back to that place - that momentary balance where good and terrible hang in the scales and we scream and push down on a side that isn't going the way we want.

This cast hues close to the original in delivery, but some how makes it their own. Sure, there are moments that aren't (yet) perfect. Andrew Garfield is playing a caricature of gay may, but that is how the part is written. And Lee Pace, amazing though he is, still needs to work into this cast - Russel Tovey was their Joe Harper in London and you see them struggling to react to Pace and his choices.  But Nathan Lane blew out my worries as Roy Cohn.

I fear I am going to see it again and again.  I only saw the first Angels in American once (it is a 2 part show, each part about 3 1/2 hours). But before I couldn't go back because I couldn't let me heart break again. Now I would go back because I want that same heart mended.  In this case, time has healed a thousand wounds.
The amazing cast: Amanda Lawrence, Lee Pace, Denise Gough (Harper!), Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield, James McArdle (Louis!), Nathan Stweart-Jarret (Belize!), Susan Brown - the body stocking people did.. well you have to see it.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

For Fuck's Sake - Now We HAVE To go

(wapo story link)

Mascot of the Month: Anna May Wong

Never before have I lifted my Mascot directly from another source, but I am today. Because... well I admire Anna May Wong in many ways and TCM has a great bio of her - and her movies are showing this Sunday on TCM.

A Very Young Miss Wong
from 1934
The beautiful and talented Anna May Wong (1905-1961) made history as the first Chinese-American Hollywood star and the first Chinese-American actress to gain international recognition. Despite her relatively short life, she had a long career that encompassed silent and sound film, stage, television and radio. Without the limitations imposed by racism, she might have enjoyed even more success and fame. Nevertheless, TCM celebrates Wong's achievements with a night featuring four of her films from the 1920s and '30s.

Wong was born Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese-American parents and began performing bits in silent films at the early age of 14. Within a couple of years, she was receiving screen credits in such films as Bits of Life (1921), acting opposite Lon Chaney, who appeared in stereotypical "yellowface." Wong's breakthrough performance came in The Toll of the Sea (1922), playing Lotus Flower in this adaptation of Madame Butterfly, and she achieved international stardom after appearing with Douglas Fairbanks in The Thief of Bagdad (1924).

Chaney appeared again as Chinese in the title role of Mr. Wu (1927, also Silent Sunday Night), with Wong in a supporting role as the friend of the Chaney character's daughter (Renée Adorée). When the friend becomes pregnant by an Englishman, ancient law demands that she be killed by her father. Chaney's elaborate makeup is of special interest, as is the updated musical soundtrack with a score composed, produced, edited and mixed by Maria Newman, who also conducts the Viklarbo Chamber Symphony. The restoration featuring this score was first seen on TCM in 2000.

Piccadilly (1929), another silent, was filmed by British International Pictures during one of Wong's sojourns abroad, and directed by Ewald André Dupont. The film offers one of her best showcases and demonstrates what Hollywood missed in the way of a sensual and dynamic leading lady. Her performance in this film has been compared to that of Greta Garbo and Louise Brooks in some of their vehicles. Wong plays Shosho, a dishwasher at the Piccadilly Club, a London nightspot where she becomes an unexpected sensation as a dancer. Along with Wong's dazzling performance, there are early bits by Charles Laughton and Cyril Ritchard. The 2004 restoration includes a musical score by Neil Brand. 

Brawell Fletcher and Anna May Wong in Daughter of the Dragon directed by Lloyd Corrigan 1931

Daughter of the Dragon (1931), a Paramount release, stars Warner Oland as Dr. Fu Manchu, top-billed Wong as his unwitting daughter and Sessue Hayakawa as a young man who wants the daughter to help him in foiling Manchu's plots. The melodrama again casts Wong as an exotic dancer, and she further demonstrates her star appeal despite the potboiler aspects of the story.

Shanghai Express (1932), also released through Paramount, is a Marlene Dietrich vehicle directed by Josef von Sternberg that emerges as perhaps their best and most entertaining collaboration. Dietrich plays Shanghai Lily, an adventuress living by her wits on the coast of China during the country's 1931 civil war. Wong is her Chinese sister-in-sin and a defender of the Republic of China. The men in their lives include Clive Brook and Oland. The film won an Oscar for Lee Garmes' shimmering cinematography, with additional nominations for Best Picture and Director.

From Shanghai Express
Wong grew frustrated by the dwindling range of roles she was being offered in the U.S., where the Asian parts routinely went to Myrna Loy or other Caucasian actresses in "Oriental drag." She frequently traveled to Europe in the late 1920s and early '30s, finding more rewarding stage and film work there. In Hollywood, one of her biggest disappointments was the refusal of MGM to cast her as O-Lan in the 1937 film version of Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, a role that went to Austrian actress Luise Rainer.

In the 1930s and '40s Wong appeared in several low-budget films, doing her best to ensure that her Chinese characters were seen in a positive light. She moved into television in the 1950s before returning to film and playing Lana Turner's housekeeper in Portrait in Black (1960). She was planning for a role in the film version of Flower Drum Song (1961) when she died in 1961 at the age of 56. Her legacy remains strong - especially in the Asian-American arts community, where annual awards are presented in her name in the fields of movies and fashion.

by Roger Fristoe

Another site that has a beautiful tribute to Anna May Wong is The Red List.

So Help Me Guns.. er .. God

Not an ironic joke (LINK)...

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Marjorie Prime - The Movie

So I just watched Marjorie Prime. It is a movie based on an off-Broadway play.  I would be interested in what other people thought, since I loved the play but didn't love the movie.

The basic premise is that sometime, in the very near future, an artificial person (or hologram) representing a deceased relative can be created to give a survivor comfort. In the case of Marjorie, she chooses her husband, when he was much younger. It was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist for best drama.  And, in the theater, I loved it. And the same lead, Lois Smith was in both.
Marjorie and Walter (her deceased husband) on stage. (Lois Smith and Noah Beane)

It was moved to film without too many changes. Of course the male lead was updated from Noah Beane to Jon Hamm and the daughter to Genna Davis and son in law to Tim Robbins. They are all fine. But somehow opening it up slightly, seems to have pulled the heart out of it and reduced the existential question to a minor point.
Walter and Marjorie in the movie (Jon Hamm and Lois Smith)

The play was about reality vs comfortable lies. And the cost of what one loses when you choose to remember only the good times. In the movie, the questions are hit with a sledgehammer, and the answers are barely addressed.

I would be interested if anyone else saw this and what they thought. I wonder if I am being too hard on the show. (It's streaming on Amazon Prime.)

To All My Friends that Thought Armie Hammer Sucked in CMBYN

To all my friends that though Armie Hammer sucked in Call Me By Your Name, I poo-poo your objections.

First, Armie was fine-to-great acting at different moments playing a conflicted young adult being (artlessly) pursued by a younger man. It is a fine line to walk and he was very good. Really you have to be venerable, cocky, open, secretive and sexy all at the same time.  And, yes, he was sexy at the right times, standing in the bedroom and later with the peach.

Second, to complain he wasn't Jewish enough, get over your bad self. You're showing your own stereotyped expectations. The character is barely Jewish in the book and barely Jewish on film.

Third, just by being in the movie, Armie Hammer brought a massive amount of exposure to a slight and small film. For better or worse, Armie is publicity gold. The movie wouldn't have had anywhere near this amount of success without Armie. 

Finally, both Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet made a huge commitment in time and energy to support and promote this film. Using Armie's drawing power on television, they brought a lot of eyeballs to the screen.

You all sound very sour grapes-y.

The Lengths Thin Skinned Authoritarians Go To....

When you think we have it bad here, just look around you.  China is the latest to ban innocuous items for fear of embarrassing the leader.  This isn't North Korea / Syria level of insecurity, but it is close (link).
It reminds me of the time Belarus outlawed clapping (link).

Now that sounds silly, but Belarus outlawed any demonstrations against the Dictator President Lukashenko. He was term limited out in 2006 - before he changed the constitution. Since people couldn't demonstrate without arrest, public demonstrations on Friday outside the Presidential Palace took the form of clapping, ostentatiously for the President, but he outlawed it.

Demonstrations moved from clapping  to signing the National Anthem in front of the Palace (then it was outlawed). To smiling widely as they passed the Palace (also outlawed for a while).

It all sounds like some zany Marx Brothers skit, until you realize that Lukashenko is still in power and has been since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.