Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from the Arrowead Ramada in Phoenix, AZ! We've driven over the desert and through the holiday traffic to a hotel near Grandmother's house. A lovely hotel with paper-thin walls, close proximity to traffic, a noisy refrigerator, and 2 double beds so that we can sleep right next to my sister in law and her husband, who snores.

Today, I am thankful for Tylenol PM.

But Seriously. I love Thanksgiving, and I love that it gives us materialistic, self-absorbed Americans a day to reflect on what's important.

I am thankful for my family, who is enjoying good health. I am thankful that my mom's hip surgery went well and she can now walk without pain. I am thankful for my beautiful husband, who's currently quizzing me on my "Manifesto of Evil" and tickling my toes as I type this.

I am thankful for good friends--the friends I've made in LA with whom I've become so close, and the friends I've made all over the country throughout the years who continue to stay in touch.

I am thankful for mix CDs from friends, Veronica Mars, book recommendations, and that I get to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on the big screen this holiday season. I'm thankful for my beautiful red Fluevog boots I got earlier this year, and will be wearing to Thanksgiving dinner today. I'm thankful to have gainful employment that allows me to buy fabulous boots.

I'm thankful for our beautiful house, and I am SUPER THANKFUL that it's finally done enough to enjoy... for now. I'm thankful for Captain Awesome, and for his fabulous foster parents, who loved him so much they volunteered to keep him with them this weekend.

I'm thankful for a million other things. It's been an amazing year. I hope everyone is enjoying a fabulous Thanksgiving today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy Birthday

Scorpio 10/23 or 24 - 11/21 or 22 (sources vary the cusp)
Symbol: The Scorpion
Curious, intuitive, controlling, beautiful, stubborn, hard-working, intense, compulsive, analytical, passionate, self-destructive, desirable, complex, forceful, secretive, resourceful, emotional, powerful, magnetic, jealous, obsessive, exciting, suspicious, and sexy. And, oh yeah, completely hung up on the fact that they're Scorpios.

Happy birthday, kids.
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And a little something extra for my favorite Scorpio, whose birthday is actually today. Give him some love, people. Ain't he cute?
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Friday, November 11, 2005

Pride & Prejudice: A Review

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a "ladies night" screening of the new version of Pride & Prejudice at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood. This is the review I sent out to my mom, sisters, aunt, and cousins, all of whom are big Jane Austen fans. The movie opens today.

Well hellooooooo ladies!
I have seen the new Pride & Prejudice, and I figured if anyone cared about what I thought, it would be this group.

We all know the story, so I'm in no danger of spoiling the plot. As for this adaptation, well? It's different.

I should actually start by saying that I expected to hate it. I'm a BBC fan ALL THE WAY, and I don't think any new adaptation could stop me from feeling the Colin Firth love. Plus Keira Knightly bugs me. Well, Keira Knightly's teeth bug me. They're long, she's got this weird underbite... Anyway, she's the only one I knew was in it, and I was completely annoyed and prepared to hate it.

Until I found out Judi Dench was Lady Catherine. That's when I thought maybe this new version would have some potential.

They did a lot different in this version. It's more rugged than I'd ever pictured, the dress and style and surroundings for the Bennets are far more country-fied and less refined than you've even seen them [My cousin Laura wrote back to tell me that she heard they styled this movie to take place during the time it was written, which was actually several years before it was published. Most adaptations reflect the publishing date]. They moved a lot of really important scenes outdoors, some in the rain, which I found to be way more Bronte than Austen, and I'm not sure if I agree with it.

The cast is a mixed bag. Keira and her teeth were fine. The Eliza in this adaptation is far more casual and sarcastic than she's been in the past. It's not accurate to the book, but it actually kind of works for the movie. Brenda Blethyn is perfectly over-the-top as the ridiculous mother, Donald Sutherland infused Mr. Bennet with more love and realism than I've ever seen before, and Jane Bennet is appropriately sweet AND, I thought, appropriately prettier than Elizabeth. As she should be.

Mr. Bingly is ADORABLE. They made him way dumber than I ever thought he actually was, but I kind of forgave it every time he'd smile. Mr. Collins totally made me squirm and laugh, so well done there. Wickham looked eerily identical the younger brother of a guy I went to high school with, so that tripped me out the whole movie (though he is handsome and, of course, a rake.) And, as you can imagine, Judi Dench as Lady Catherine was completely fabulous.

As for Mr. Darcy, well. I am sorry to report that I didn't like him at ALL at first. I've read that the actor and director agreed on his wooden, unlikeable acting choices for the beginning of the film because they felt it was in character... but I just found his performance in the beginning of the film to be, well, wooden and unlikeable. But then suddenly he NAILED Darcy's first agonizing declaration of love, and I went all shmoopy, forgave him everything, and loved him for the rest of the movie. Now, is that because I am a dork when it comes to this story, think Mr. Darcy is the ultimate romantic ideal and am therefore inclined to like him no matter what? Ummmmmmmm.....Maybe.

Oh, and the actor is pretty cute, too. Which never hurts.

The adaptation of the story is fine. It felt extremely rushed to me, but it's a lot of story to pack into a normal-length film, which is one of the main reasons the BBC version works so much better. That said, if you don't have 6 hours to devote to a little romantic escapism, this version will do.

Some of the dialogue is new and a little cheesy. Mind you, I had this same problem with Sense & Sensibility when I first saw it, thinking they'd updated some of the dialogue too much, and now it's one of my favorites. So it could grow on me. They kept a lot of Jane Austen's original dialogue in, however, and that's really why we see these, isn't it? Every time I'd hear a snippet of that original witty banter, I'd just smile and feel like I was visiting old friends.

Finally, the music is truly divine. It helped give the movie that overall "Bronte" feeling and, again, I'm still not sure I agree with it. But wow, is this soundtrack beautiful.

So, in conclusion, it wasn't perfect, and it certainly wasn't the best version I've ever seen (still BBC). But at the end of the movie I felt like they made this adaptation with a lot of love and respect for the source material, that the end result was dreamy, and I look forward to seeing it again. Because that's the real test, right? Will it stand up to multiple viewings with moms and girlfriends and sisters and aunts and cousins and really big bowls of ice cream? I say, Yes.

Finally, in case you're wondering about the attached photo--they had a party after the screening with mini cupcakes, champagne, gift bags and a cardboard stand-up of Mr. Darcy. So, naturally, I had to take a photo. I SO WISH that you all could have been there so see this with me!! That said, I can't wait to hear what YOU all think of this adaptation. Even if it is to tell me that my take on it is totally and utterly wrong.
Much love,D
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Mix of the Month: October

I realize this is late, but I didn't want to combine months again because I already have ideas for November and December. So here's your October mix, and it's a sad one.

Why make a mix of sad songs? Well, for starters because it's autumn, and autumn often makes people sad. It makes me sad. And there is nothing more therapeutic for me than the right music.

When I’ve got the mean reds, these are the songs and musicians that I feel truly get me. You know? Like, fuck off Madonna, I’m not in the mood. Janis, Al, Johnny, Kris—you can stay. Thanks for translating pain into something beautiful and, in the process, actually helping me to feel better.

Plus, quite frankly, I think some of the most beautiful songs are the saddest damn songs you ever heard. And I love them. I love them sad, sad songs.

And so without further ado, I present, The Mean Reds.
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“The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long—you’re just sad, that’s all. The Mean Reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.” ~ Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Janis Joplin ~ Cry Baby
Because she cries and wails and empathizes like no other; she screams on your behalf. Like many choices on this mix, this song is about crying over love. On another level, it’s also about just getting to the point where nothing else will make you feel better, except to just cry, cry baby.
Portishead ~ Roads
This little gem I discovered on the Tank Girl soundtrack, of all places, then grew to love Portishead all on their own. I love this dreamy song and want to give it a big hug every time she sings, “How can it feel this wrong?” I know that feeling.
Nirvana ~ All Apologies
One of my favorite songs of all time, it’s just beautiful. The lyrics are both random and thoughtful: “I wish I was like you—easily amused.” The guitar that sets the tone is perfect, the melody haunting, and the strings, especially the bass, do an amazing job of underlining the pain that rides the current of this song.
Al Green ~ How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?
Well, you certainly couldn’t mend a broken heart if you listened to this song too much. Isn’t this song amazing? I love the way Al’s voice wavers—is it vibrato, or is he holding back tears? All the ingredients for a perfect sad song are here, making this track an excellent choice for a good cry.
Sarah McLachlan ~ Black & White
Now. This selection is very personal to me, and very specific to the title of the mix. For me, one of the main causes of the mean reds is my own insecurity. Am I living up to everyone’s expectations? How could I possibly be? When I’m afraid but don’t know what I’m afraid of, it usually ends up boiling down to putting a truckload of pressure on myself and being terrified that I will disappoint everyone I know or love, compiled with an unwillingness to talk to anyone about it because I am certain they’re tired of hearing me complain. “Everybody loves you when you’re easy. Everybody hates when you’re a bore. Everyone is waiting for your entrance. So don’t disappoint them.”
Bill Withers ~ Ain’t No Sunshine
I love how simple and gentle this song is. It’s a very basic concept—the world sucks without you in it—only transformed into poetry. It’s a sympathetic companion to a lonely heart, and a quietly cathartic release for anyone who sings along.
Johnny Cash ~ Hurt
This song kills me. Yes, it’s a cover of NIN, and it just kills me. Like “All Apologies” and “Black & White,” the grief in this song is focused on pain and guilt we cause ourselves when we hurt others (as opposed to being sad when they hurt us). Pain never sounded more acute or more inconsolable than it does in this song.

k.d. lang ~ Black Coffee
My dear friend Mike gave me this song. Thank you, Mike. This song is haunting. In my imagination, the woman singing is in a dark room wearing a soiled pink vintage nightgown, because it’s the 1940’s and her lover is at war. She trades liquor for coffee, coffee for liquor, dulling her pain and worry and avoiding sleep, as her dreams are terrifying. She can’t stop smoking and sometimes she just cries out in her fear and exhaustion. And one of those times, it turned into this song.
Eve’s Plum ~ Save a Prayer
This particular choice is not about lyrics but song quality. I love that they took a Duran Duran song that was already beautiful, and managed to make it so delicate and tender. I love to listen to this song loud in my car when I’m sad.
All Saints ~ Never Ever
In contrast to the previous song, this one is all about lyrics (and “Amazing Grace,” upon which the song structure is based). When I first heard this song, I was convinced it had been written by Prince, just because there’s such a Prince-like quality to the lyrics and rhythm. Even though this song is also about love (and not a little obsessive, at that), it’s also well suited to all around sadness. “I keep searching deep within my soul for all the answers; I don’t wanna hurt no more.”
The Commitments ~ Can’t Stand the Rain
Because she hits the word “pane” like it’s “pain.” Because sometimes I get so sad I can’t stand my surroundings, and it feels like everything is conspiring to make me feel worse. Because anyone who’s had a really bad day knows how that feels.
Kris Kristofferson ~ Nobody Wins
Kris Kristofferson--who knew? Me. That’s who. Seriously, unless you’re a Kris Kristofferson fan from the 70’s, and my parents are, you’d never know that this sad, defeated gem existed on a kickass album entitled “Jesus was a Capricorn.” If you’d only seen Kris Kristofferson in movies like Blade, you’d never know that he was capable of singing, “the loving was easy; it’s the living that’s hard” in a way that would break your heart. But I knew. Aren’t you glad I did?
Peter Gabriel ~ Don’t Give Up
This song was big for me in college, when I was all stressed out and listening to a lot of Peter Gabriel. While I have always thought this song was beautiful, I also find it rather a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Peter & Kate are all, “Don’t give up, you still have friends.” On the other hand, the music itself is so sad it makes the lyrics hard to believe. Plus, I don’t know about you, but if I’m really down, and then someone sweetly hugs me & tells me I’m okay and everything will be fine, it sometimes just makes me cry harder.
Gary Jules ~ Mad World
Good lord, how gorgeous is this song? This song could make a clown holding a puppy on the day he won the lottery just cry and cry and cry—it’s that sad. It’s the perfect mournful end to a sad, sad CD.

Now blow your nose, kiss your pet, dance around the living room and have some chocolate.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I've discovered all kinds of new things today. Oddly enough, they've all had a theme:

First, I found a site that allows you to customize Google to your very own name or slogan. For example,
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Then, I went to visit my friend Robot's fabulous blog, only to discover that he has not only created a hilarious and brilliant adaptation of the Black Eyed Pea's stoopid "Hump" song, but he's also posted a handful of these hilarious homemade Hump videos you can find, where else? Google.

Finally, my dear friend Amanda emailed me this Google video treat, which had me quietly shaking with laughter at my desk at work. Thanks for the giggle, toots, I totally needed it.