Did ’em today . . . and had one of those difficult moments when ideology and pragmatism bump into each other. As a good liberal, I am of course against that classy bugaboo “tax cuts for the rich.” As a member of a family of greater than average means, though (no, we ain’t rich, exactly, but we ain’t hurtin’ either), I was astounded when I finished crunching the numbers to see that I’m gonna get a huge return this year, bigger than I’ve ever gotten before, by a whole lotta money. Enough to buy the new high end computer I’ve wanted, with some change left over. So, uh, tax cuts for the rich are bad, sure . . . but, um, I’m gonna go ahead and spend mine anyway. That stimulates the economy, right?? (And to cut off anyone wanting to liberal guilt me into giving it away, we’ve already given a much larger amount this year to the nonprofits and charities that we support, in addition to making a major financial gift to establish a history scholarship in my dad’s name at the school where he taught. I practice what I preach when it comes to supporting nonprofits . . . so I’m not gonna feel too guilty about buying a computer with my tax return).
. . . at the C+CC today, with tai chi, yoga, an arts opening, conversion of the Chapel into Ash Wednesday configuration, a Mardi Gras party and a midnight mass all stacked up, one right after the other, plus a couple of print deadlines that have to me today. So I may take advantage of being two poems ahead at this point and take the day off from writing, much as I hate to do so. (I’ve gotten addicted, I guess, but it’s a better addiction than most that I’ve had). Plus, on top of all that, this morning I went out on the back patio of the C+CC down a stairwell that we generally don’t use in the winter and hit a hidden patch of black ice. My right foot was planted, my left foot shot out, dropping me into a hockey goalie split . . . ripping my jeans (which aren’t tight, by any stretch of the imagination) right up the middle, and doing odd and painful things to my thigh, hip and lower back. So I’m stiff and sore today, in addition to being busy. Wish I had time to write to make it feel better. Hope the hip loosens up . . . I don’t think I tore anything, but I sure stretched it further and faster than it’s been stretched in a long, long time.
Got the three-CD Prince compilation in the mail a coupla days ago, and been spot-bopping my way through it. The songs I keep listening to over and over again are “When Doves Cry,” “Sign o’ the Times” and “Kiss” . . . the grand high trio of weird, minimalist funk-rock, three of the most extraordinarily lean, yet ass-kickingly powerful, songs to ever chart, and chart well (at least two of ’em, anyway . . . I don’t recall “Sign o’ the Times” being a big radio hit, but I was in serious alcohol fog when that one came out, so I coulda just missed it being on the radio). But I haven’t gone into full Prince listening obsession mode, ’cause I’ve also been giving big spins to Bryan Thomas‘ new disc, Babylon. It’s stripped down and lean, too, most of it recorded live in one day with half of the Kamikaze Hearts serving as the rhythm section; just guitar, bass, drum, voice. But it’s a powerful ass-kick too, lyrically and musically, with some amazing songs that really fly in these Spartan settings. I won’t offer many product endorsements on this web site, but this is one record that everyone who surfs through here should hear: the world would be a better place if more people listened to Bryan Thomas’ music, and paid attention to what he uses it to say.
When Marcia and Katelin are away, I usually rent older movies that I want to see again, and that I know they’re not particularly interested in. This weekend, I got . . .
Catch-22 . . . what an extraordinary movie this is, although the knock against it is “It ain’t as good as the book.” Well . . . bullhonkey to that: it ain’t as long as the book, it aint as detailed as the book, but as a film, it’s a masterpiece, and its script (by Buck Henry) does about as fine a job as can be imagined with Joseph Heller’s time-and-space jumping story. (Which is also a masterpiece, don’t get me wrong . . . but it would have been impossible, and probably not endurable, to use everything and everybody in the book in the movie). One thing struck me particularly . . . the sequences with the B-25 squadrons flying off on their missions. I didn’t realize there were enough B-25s left air-worthy in 1970 to do what they did in this movie, but there were at least 14 of then in the air in one sequence, and I counted that many sitting on the tarmac on a couple of shots, too, and they didn’t look like something made by the arts and crafts department on the back lot. Great, great movie. Go and rent it if you’ve never seen it.
Semi-Tough: Not a great movie, although Jill Clayburgh is adorable in this one. The Longest Yard is one of my favorite ’70s movies, and this is Burt Reynolds’ other football movie, and it’s dated and trite in comparison.
The Endurance: A documentary about the (failed) Shackelford Trans-Antarctic Expedition, an amazing story, told expectionally well. Recommended. I think Nova made it, so odds are it’ll be on PBS again some time, probably during fundraising season.
Had to update my 2003 Year End Movie list based on some things I saw over the past month . . .
Top Ten Movies of 2003 (again, so far) . . .
1. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
2. Big Fish
3. Les Triplettes de Belleville (new entry)
4. American Splendor (new entry)
5. Lost in Translation
6. Finding Nemo
7. The Shape of Things
8. The School of Rock
9. Swimming Pool
10. Whale Rider
Knocked Out: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Spider.
I thought Triplets and Splendor were both great, wildly imaginative and innovative flicks. Pirates and Spider had great performances in them, but the movies as wholes didn’t live up to the gutsy acting by Johnny Depp (Pirates), and Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson (Spider). I saw Thirteen this month, too, and had kinda expected that to be a top ten contender, but it wasn’t: Holly Hunter was as magnificent as she almost always is, but the script . . . it was great considering that it was written by a 14-year old, but that doesn’t make it great on an adult playing field. The film was 10 seconds to long, too . . . had they ended it after the sequence of mother and daughter sleeping, daughter waking suddenly, it would have been a real nice, open-ended grace note. But the tack-on of the daughter screaming on the merry-go-round was just pointless and trite, a real finger-in-the-eye obvious poke. But, as mentioned, worth seeing for Holly Hunter. 2003 Movies still out there that I want/need to see that I think are contenders to also make the list:
1. Bad Santa
2. Intolerable Cruelty
3. The Station Agent
5. 21 Grams
Pretty much everything else from last year of critical note I’ve seen and don’t consider top ten material, or I have no interest in seeing, so they’ll have to end up on some other critic’s list instead. Nyahh.
4:30 PM: Home from work, change, check e-mail, pet the cats.
5:00 PM: Watch Spongebob Squarepants.
5:30 PM: Talk to Marcia and Katelin on the phone after they’ve arrived in Orlando.
6:00 PM: Play SSX 3 on the Play Station 2.
6:30 PM: Go to Pizza Hut, have a medium thin and crispy with water to drink, read the newspaper. (There’s an article about how it’s cool these days to eat out alone. I’ve always been cool in that regard, see the October 15 entry here).
7:30 PM: Home from Pizza Hut, change, check e-mail, pet the cats.
8:00 PM: Play SSX 3 on the Play Station 2.
9:00 PM: Talk to Marcia and Katelin on the phone after they’ve gotten back to their room after exploring.
9:30 PM: Check e-mail, pet the cats.
10:00 PM: Brush teeth, wash face, get in bed to read Lloyd: What Happened by Stanley Bing, and listen to Trans-Europe Express by Kraftwerk, petting cats on occasion as they get up and down from the bed.
~10:30 PM: Fall asleep sometime during “Franz Schubert” (track 6).
10:44 PM: Wake up again, turn out the light, go back to sleep.
What a wild man I am!