26 December 2009

Jacob Marley And Me

Christmas is an odd day...it always feels like an anticlimax by about 5 pm, no matter what you're doing after. It IS a perfect day for watching movies on TV, though. So I watched "Christmas Carol" and "Marley and Me". (-By "Christmas Carol", I mean the PROPER one, the Alastair Sims version. The Jim Carrey version is unthinkable-about. ) I'm going to skip "Christmas Carol" in this entry  (except to observe that you could also call it "Jacob Marley And Me"), and talk a bit about the Dog Movie.

"Marley and Me" was a HUGE hit this year. It stars the perkily inhuman Jennifer Aniston, and the tiny and dreadfully lost-seeming Owen Wilson, whom I like and feel sorry for simultaneously.  Aniston makes a living out of doing chilly, businesslike impersonations of Wacky Free Spirits. In this film, she's doing an impression of a Perfect Wife 'N' Mom which is pretty good, as long as one knows lot of Wife 'N' Moms who only have very photogenic emotions. I keep expecting her face and body to entirely crack open one day, and a metallic cyborg to step out and announce that the world is now Theirs, and They Will Be Enslaving Humans to Do Their Bidding, but They are Still Keeping Bryan Lourds As Their Agent.Just In Case.-But I digress.
I missed the first part of the film. Apparently, from the flashbacks--and this is the kind of movie that has a movie's worth of flashbacks--the golden Aniston and the butterscotch Wilson got a suitably Aryan-colored puppy some years ago. {I was a bit surprised they didn't get a darker puppy, as well, to work as staff.]
He chewed a lot of stuff, and then they had children. Wilson works for a newspaper, although it's hard to see where either of them find time to do anything, because their matching perfect highlights must require CONSTANT touching up. -So: He is the kind of writer who gets fired for Pursuing His Vision No Matter What. -My feeling about that is, unless when you look in the mirror Edgar Allen Poe is staring back at you, getting fired from a newspaper for Pursuing Your Vision doesn't mean you're a genius. It actually sort of says to Me The Viewer that you might be kind of a selfrighteous pain in the ass. -By the time I tuned in, they were moving to a place in Pennsylvania that is actually, objectively, sort of a  mansion, but a mansion just eccentric and attainable enough to lure the hapless viewer into thinking she might actually own something like it some day.-Poor,deluded hapless viewer. -On a columnist's salary?
Maybe Aniston's character has a trust fund? -But I digress.
The dog gets older, and then one day it dies. That 's the plot.-No, really. That's the plot.

Now, I am no stranger to the "God Spelled Backwards Is Dog" school of  animal writing. As a kid, I LOVED Albert Payson Terhune books ("Lad:A Dog") , and Farley Mowat (who could also be Marley Fowat, now that I come to think of it...)...and Cleveland Amory's "I Am a Closeted Upper-Class Gay Man in Boston Who Writes A LOT-A LOT-- About His Cat" books, and loved them all. Because they were heartfelt. Albert Payson Terhune may have hated everyone in the world EXCEPT his dogs, to judge from his constant, randomly inserted, semi-Brechtian diatribes against "day trippers", "speed demons", and "indecently clad young people" (he wrote around 1912) , but man, he LOVED those dogs. Farley Mowat never met an animal he DIDN'T like enough to write about, and Cleve's books about his cats are very moving. The point here being:
They meant it.
"Marley And Me" is so patently phoned in, so "yeah, let;s give the rubes a dog movie, throw in some snow,we'll get the Christmas crowd" that it makes me mad. This is a movie in which everyone concerned seems beyond caring. Case in point: In one scene, Owen Wilson is outside in the snow with his three kids, giving them detailed instructions on how to make the BEST snow angels. Jennifer Aniston comes to the door and announces that her stand in has made lunch, everybody come in!-and the three kids get up from making labor-intensive snow angels, and run in...without ONE actually turning around to see what his/her angel actually looked like. This, to me, says that the director was having it off in his trailer with an ambitious extra and let a PA direct the scene.
I'm cool with the scenes of the dog miraculously always knowing when the kids schoolbus arrives,in order to meet it: anyone who's ever owned a cat can tell you, if you normally give your cat dinner at 5 pm, and one day you're a little forgetful, at 5:01 SHARP you will have a helpful reminder in the form of ten claws in your calfmuscle. So, yes. Animals and time? No problem. And I'm cool -sort of--with the wife calling the columnist at work that the dog isn't feeling good, and he rushes home, although I'm going to say he's got a rather more tolerant boss than one would expect in a newsroom.
But the Dog Death Scene was just...too much.
Owen Wilson takes Marley to the vet and they have to put him down. -Marley,that is, although Owen is so mopey in this movie that I bet it was touch and go for a minute there. ("Which one, Doc?" "The Blonde One.""O..kay..."  Ooops!)
What ensues is a death scene worthy of Lucia de Lammarmoor. I mean, this thing goes on for 7 minutes. -Now, I would like to say that I love animals. A LOT. When my cat Eddie Sebastian Private Eye died last year, I was really inconsolable...he'd been my friend, my amusement, and my enigma for 22 years. So, please,understand, this is not an anti-dog rant, or unsympathetic to ANYONE who's had to have this painful and sad experience.--HOWEVER. It's a dog, not the Hindenburg Dirigible Disaster. Some perspective here, please,people. But, um...no. Sooping camera work, close up of dog, close up of Owen Wilson,closeup of Owen Wilson AND dog, closeup of vet who finally Understands That This Is No Ordinary Dog, ethereal music, you name it. I mean, Abraham Lincoln died quietly in a boardinghouse room...I think we can let a dog go with rather less Drama than that.
Finally, the weirdest goddamn scene ever, where Owen digs a huge hole and puts the dog in there and his children are traumatized...I mean, his children are asked to recite poems and put drawings in the grave. (If they were Neanderthals, it would be flowers. I just like that, is all.) One child declines to read his poem for Marley, simply choosing to say, gnomically yet insufferably, "He knows."
-Well, no. He doesn't. He's a dog. A dead one. They can't read minds. So, no, he doesn't actually know.
But two points for getting out of writing a poem, creatively,kid.-Also, if Owen is so adept at digging backyard boneyards, does that mean he has PLANS for Jennifer Aniston's character? Is he going to be out there two weeks later, shoveling like mad while muttering "Highlights...perky...highlights...perky...MUST STOP...perky...Brad..."

I'm sorry I seem like such a grump about this. I love dogs, I love movies, I love kids, I have even, in the distant past, kinda sorta loved Owen Wilson. But I must raise my muzzle and howl against the corporate cynicism, the disingenuous dog appreciation, the condescension and carelessness that is "Marley And Me."

Aside from that, Christmas was awesome. I took Courtney Love to Norman Mailer's house for Christmas. But that, as they say, is another story.

08 December 2009

Moose Mania!! Or, Better Living Through Huge Ungainly Animals With Coatracks on Their Heads.

Note: Is it just me, or is there something sort of Christmassy about mooses?

Moose MANIA!

Here is the website that will solve all of your problems. 
-All of your problems that are moose-related, that is. And I believe that, until we find the courage to look inside ourselves with forthright honesty, we can't know how many moose related issues we really have.

If you go to the site and click on "English translations", you will find a plethora of humorous and/or alarming quotes. It reads like they took the original Russian text to a bargain basement version of "Google Translate": something offline, in St. Petersburg, where people in a dark basement crouch over their typewriters, translating madly. And I do mean "madly". "Vlad's 24 Hour Translation, Transcription and Pierogies". It's filled with smoke, the the sound of keys tap-tap-tapping, and a distinct smell of cabbage soup. 

Here are some quotes from this site:

On "Adopting Your Very Own Moose":

"The more contacts between people and [moose] calves, the more communicable and companionable will moose grow up."

(Note: This is important. You don't want a sullen and uncommunicative moose around the house. Trust me on this.)

Under "Moose In History":

"Swedish army had moose troops, but only until real battles. Moose turned out to be wiser then their knights, they left battlefield to hide in the nearest forest if danger occured."

Well, finally! At last, the shocking truth about Swedish Moose Cowardice can be revealed!

And this:

" Most moose spend their daytime in the forest, and their encounter with a tourist group is a happy chance." 

It doesn't say who would be "happy" about an accidental moose encounter in a brooding Russian forest: the tourists? The mooses? The onlookers, watching in happy schaedenfraude, from the bushes?

The next quote just sounds like a mother talking about her teenaged kids.

My opinion is: it is necessary to release  young animals in mid-summer. I believe they will return to eat oatmeal or to hide from gnats in a dark shed. Radio tags will help to control their movements.

-Or maybe that's more about my childhood than you need to know.

The thing about anyone being wildly- even irrationally- excited about ANYthing, is that it's catching. Five minutes on this site had me seriously thinking about how a baby moose (mooseling? mooselet?) would get on with my cat, Princess Love Supreme Superstar: a baby moose weighs about 85 pounds, while Princess clocks in at a ladylike,if hefty, 13 pounds.
The answer is, of course, my little Bed-Stuy Princess would totally kick her some baby-moose ass. Sad but true.

Still, I long to ride mooseback (as the site suggests) -perhaps through Prospect Park-....to use moose milk (as the site suggests) to miraculously restore my "flagging and weakly constitution" (how did they know?).. and, most of all, I wish for a weeklong stay in the site's vaunted. Moose Sanitarium! This is a real place, according to the site. I think they mean "saniTORium", which is a place you go to have your physical health restored, as opposed to a "saniTARium", which is a place where one puts either crazy people, or freeloading Japanese artists.

Perhaps they actually MEAN "Moose Sanitarium". Maybe this is where mooses go who think they are Napoleon, or Jesus Christ, or,a bit pathetically, gazelles. The mental picture of a moose dressed up as Napoleon, is kind of appealing, in a "Bullwinkle the Moose" cartoon sort of way.(And, with it's implied low throaty purr, and almost complete lack of possessive articles, the entire site sounds like it was dictated by "Bullwinkle"'s glamourous Russian Spy, Natasha.It says that fifty people can stay at one time, in the sanitorium, although it's quiet about how many moose are involved. The people have their health restored. By moose.
Worryingly, there are no specifics about how, exactly, this occurs.

So join me! We will canter merrily through Cantral Park on our noble moose steeds. We will all be dressed as Napoleon- you, me and the mooses. We will laugh merrily, to know that our flagging, weakly constitutions are being restored, that sullen teenaged mooses will be waiting for us in dark, gnat free barns,with oatmeal: and that possibly, just possibly, we will have chance encounters with tourists!! 

A happy day indeed.

Or, just another day in New York City.

07 December 2009

A Simple Life Philosophy

Note: My lovely Scottish friend Fiona introduced me to this magic phrase. When a Scot says "I can't be arsed", it means, roughly, "I just can't be bothered." Except in a more Scottish way than that. Thanks,Fiona!

I Can’t Be Arsed                 peri lyons c 2009

there's laundry in my living room
it's certainly not clean
it's starting to evolve into a life form never seen
There's dishes in my kitchen
The color of old litchen
Is this what they mean by going green?

But I am calm and half amused
Im almost never stressed
If I don't have clean clothes to wear, why bother getting dressed?
Tranquillity is mine at last
Those days of worrying are past
here's the philosophy I fin'ly feel is best

I can't be arsed
I can't be arsed
I can't be bothered shamed cajoled or even forced
I can't be arsed
I can't be bothered
In fact, I can't even be arsed enough to find a rhyme for bothered

When you give up
Then life is sweet
the world falls at your slightly stinky feet
I don't return men's calls
It drives them crazy
They think I'm hard to get but really Im just lazy

I just don't care about
The daily grind
It was either lose my standards or slowly lose my mind
I did try yoga
And chanting too
But here's what worked for me and it'll work for you

Just don't be arsed
I cant be arsed
I cant be shamed cajoled or ever ever forced
I can't be arsed!
What's worth the bother?
If you do one dish, there'll just be another

So don't clean your house or do the laundry, be a total roundheel
The first five years are tough but after that it's simply downhill
And when your friends stop coming by or visiting or calling
Because they love you but let's face it, the smell is just appalling
They will all keel over young of heartattacks and ulcers
But I'll live to one hundred two, because I just say "NO SIR--


04 December 2009

Some Random Observations

bits and pieces, hither and yon

"Some people say I cannot sing-but no one can say I DIDN'T sing."

-Florence Foster Jenkins, 19th/20th century eccentric: a relentlessly untalented vocalist, she used her inherited fortune to finance a vaudeville career that lasted 10 years on the strength of audiences being flabberghasted by her sheer awfulness.Good for you,Flo!


I was browsing old obits in the Times website, and came upon this mysterious yet true quote about legendary gangster Al Capone, the original "Scarface":
..."Head of the cruelest cutthroats in American history, he inspired gang wars in which more than 300 men died by the knife, the shotgun, the tommy gun and the pineapple."

Did I miss something here? The PINEAPPLE???
"Frisk him, Al. See if he's packin' pineapple."
"No, boss. Nothing but some loquats in syrup."

Paradox Poem

When it began,
I wanted you to be who you are;
When it ended,
I wanted you to be who you were.



The only time someone you have loved and lost in the past will contact you, is exactly 24 hours after you realize you might actually, really be over them.

The ride BACK in the taxi is always significantly less money than the ride TO. Physics has not adequately explained this. Nor has Science explained the other great Truth of Taxis: When you are late, and walking to the corner to flag one down, three available cabs will go by, just a bit too far away to hail.
When you get to the corner, there will be no cab. Not now, not soon....maybe not ever again.

The grass actually IS greener on the other side of the fence. Greener, lusher, nicer. It is the actual ACT of crossing the fence that-mysteriously--makes the grass wither and die.

In NYC, it has rained on St. Patrick's Day every year, without exception.No one knows why.

The amount of time it takes to lose your gloves is in exact inverse proportion to the amount of money you paid for them. $5 gloves will stay with you your entire adult life: $150 gloves will separate themselves and one willvanish, by the end of the same afternoon you purchased them.
$1 gloves will actually GET UP AND FOLLOW YOU if you leave them somewhere.
It would be interesting to see if gloves that cost, say, $1,000,000.00 would actually disappear one week before purchase.

Your mom was right: if you ignore a guy, he will get more interested. "Hard to get" actually works. "Impossible to get" only works with men who are a little nuts, and is therefore not recommended.

I stayed up till 2 am reading  "Eccentrics", a new book by a psychologist from Edinburgh. Here's how Davy Crockett was described by a nurse at the Alamo : "he had the strangest manner i ever saw: his face was exactly like a woman's, and his manner more like a girl's than any girl...I never saw him as a hero till the last day, when he faced down a whole line of mexicans, shouting like madman and braver than a bear..."
Who'd a thunk it? Davy Crockett gay???? -Well, having grown up in Greenwich Village, I am not surprised that a man known for wearing buckskin chaps and a fur hat, might turn out to be homosexual. 

And,finally, a Flashback: two years ago today....

Back when I was doing many gigs, I had my own sound system. It got swiped. I needed a new one. So,this morning, I was at Sam Ash Music Store, looking for a sound system and a mike. Vito, who was about twenty--or maybe eleven--was helping me. 
"This one's good", he said hopefully. "This one" was a godawful Yamaha piece of crap with big, candy colored pastel flat dials that looked like the buttons off a Japanese Anime Porn Schoolgirl's blouse.
"Vito" I said gently. "I don't do pastels.Do you have anything that actual musicians use?"
I finally found something good, solid, portable and workmanlike.-In a sound system,that is. 
Got a great mic, too. So I was paying for them, and I said "I have my ASCAP card here somewhere. You guys still do the 10% discount, right?"
Vito looked worried. "Um, no."
I sighed. "Okay." I though for a moment. I was wearing a plunging halter dress and pushup bra, to festive effect. In fact, Vito had not addressed one single remark to my actual face, if you know what I'm saying here. Suddenly, a lightbulb went on in my head.
"Vito! Can I get a Cleavage Discount?"
To say Vito looked a little stunned, would be an understatement. He looked like I'd just slapped him with a live Rhode Island Red.*
"Uh...wuhhh?" he managed?
" A Cleavage Discount! Look, I'm wearing a fabulous dress, it's a horrible rainy day, and I'm brightening up the store considerably! Don't you think i deserve it? I'm so cute! Someone should give me SOMETHING!!" I smiled convincingly at him.
Vito was now bright, bright red. "Um, I have to ask my amanager", he mumbled, and sped off.
A minute later, the manager, Bobby, came back with young Mr V.
"Did you actually say what Vito said you did?" He was grinning.
"Absolutely! I would like a Cleavage Discount, please." I smiled demurely.
He roared with laughter. "Absolutely! Ten percent okay?"
He pulled up a stool next to me, as Vito was ringing up the sale. "You married?"
"Separated. And still pining a bit."
"He's a fool!"
I smiled sweetly. "I think so."
The next 20 minutes was a delicate tango of having a great time while not giving my number out. And I managed it! Itwas great fun.
And I saved $82 dollars!

Thank you, and goodnight.
love per