Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Dance of Fairies

"Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities."
-from A Midsummer Night's Dream-
"If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice
our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up
believing in nothing and having worthless dreams."
-Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi-

I have mentioned Meh-tropolis Dance Theatre to you before (they are the ones who don't starve their dancers to death). They are launching an ambitious dance production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (traditional score by Mendelssohn), running every weekend in January (including Sunday matinees), and if you're in the Los Angeles area, you might want to go. How do I know it's ambitious? I don't really, of course -- except that they are a small, privately funded dance company in a large city where people talk a good game about the arts, but rarely actually support the arts, so I figure any full-length production of anything theatrical constitutes ambition (not to mention giddy optimism and a deliciously whimsical perversity) in the extreme! And because we here at the Naked Dancing Chicken loves us some blind ambition (and some dancing and some Shakespeare, too, for that matter), Meh-tropolis is getting a plug. Also, this ballet is a little nostalgic for me, as A Midsummer Night's Dream was the first ballet I ever saw, at the Hollywood Bowl, when I was seven.

To tempt you, the company has posted
photos of their rehearsals for the production on their website. Uh, sidebar, your honor? Why do they all look so cute at their rehearsals? Shouldn't they be all sweaty and gross and haggard-looking? Do you have any idea how awful I usually look at rehearsal? (Don't answer that!) It might have something to do with the fact that they're younger and in better shape, but we won't discuss that if we know what's good for us.

Ticket prices are exceedingly reasonable, especially for a full-length ballet ($18 for adults, $15 for students with ID, seniors and children under 12). You can print out their ticket order form
here, and order by mail. I urge you, if you live in the Southern California area, to support companies like Meh-tropolis. If we are going to have access to the arts, we can no longer rely on the big theatres to bring it here, unless we're only interested in whatever Disney movie-turned-musical has sloughed off the Broadway stage.

Order! GO! NOW!
(Sheesh... I hate it when you guys make me shout at you!)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Did I Say "Icky"?

Okay, so maybe not all icky... some boys aren't completely icky. Not entirely, anyway. As far as we know.

In fact, the proportion of ickiness of certain select members of the male sex is, at present, far from proven, and, I believe, requires further intense study in order to determine the answer definitively.

I shall take this study firmly in hand and attempt to ascertain myself the precise proportion of icky to pretty-freakin'-fabulous by observing at close range a sampling of the target population. This will not be an easy project. It might involve great personal peril. There could very well be unforeseen dangers to which I will be subjected. Still, no sacrifice is too great for the furtherance of genuine scientific knowledge and the edification of humanity.

Wish me luck.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's Official -- I'm a Blancmange

I was looking in a full-length mirror the other day, and suddenly it hit me. After two years of going to school while working simultaneously, and having to forego the gym for nearly a year.... I've turned in to a bland, custardy British dessert product.

This is not good. I have a massive crush on someone. If it turns out, when it all comes out in the wash, that he feels the same, how will I ever be able to get naked with him? I can only hope that once this is all over, and I'm done with the two-days-a-week in class thing, I'll be able to drag my sorry, custardy ass back into the gym and beat the "blancmange" out.

On the other hand, maybe he likes blancmange. Oh, don't be stupid, Catharine. Who really likes blancmange?


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Other Dancers With Voodoo

I just closed what will probably be the last show I do for a while, given my upcoming schedule. It was a Broadway revue with a spiritual bent that played to several churches around the L.A. area, and in Newport Beach. Three of the songs were choreographed by an L.A. dancer named Sarah Harkness, who miraculously managed to make all of us look somewhat like dancers, though many of us were most definitely... well... not.

Sarah founded a dance company called Meh-Tropolis Dance Theatre, and I wanted to give it a plug for those of you around Los Angeles (and for those of you who aren't, but haven't bought your Christmas cards yet). They are selling handmade Christmas/Holiday cards and gift tags which are lovely in their own right. But they are also sponsoring what I consider one or two very worthy causes.

First, they are supporting the arts in Los Angeles at a time when every politician and evangalistic neo-con is fighting to drag money out of the arts (but not football, you'll notice) in schools and communities all over the country. We need to keep dance, drama, art and music alive, and since our public schools have such limited ability to expose our children to this, we must rely on local companies like Sarah's to provide access and inspiration. Second, a quick trip to the Photos section of the Meh-Tropolis website will reveal that Sarah's dance company is filled with something you don't see too often in the dance world. Breasts. Not huge breasts, mind you. But breasts nonetheless. The female dancers, both principal and corps, in the company are, for the most part, normal-wieght, healthy women in fabulous condition, rather than the boy-shaped stick figures you see on stages in New York and in Europe. Meh-Tropolis dancers are real folks who can dance up a storm, and who don't inspire one to stop the show just to fix them a ham sandwich, lest they perish before the second act curtain.

Meh-Tropolis is providing little girls who have a yen to dance with a proper role model that says, "Dancers don't have to starve to dance." So buy a box of cards or some gift tags. Or a t-shirt with the really neat logo I kiped that starts this post. Or maybe make a teensy donation to the toe shoe fund -- every little bit helps.

Support the arts, and you support the things that bring us closer to ourselves. In the words of Agnes de Mille: "To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking."


Friday, November 11, 2005

Paranoid-Schmaranoid -- The Whole World *Is* Against Me.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I had finally managed to get over my academic writer's block and turn in two written assignments yesterday, and I was feeling pretty hopeful about finishing this quarter, and going on the MFA program.

Then I went to the mailbox (I really must stop doing that!). There, in the box, was a bill from my university, for an additional $210 in tuition that wasn't covered by financial aid. That makes $465 I have to scrape together from my already exhausted budget in just two and a half weeks. On top of my other financial obligations.... I can tell you... it's just not happening.

I am pretty sure there's no way out of this for me. Without the cash, they won't release my transcripts. Without the transcripts, I can't go on to the MFA program.

I have pretty much reached the end of my emotional (not to mention my financial) reserves. These are the moments when I get so resentful that I have to do this all by myself, I want to scream and rip somebody's hair out. Not my hair, of course. Cuz... well... that would hurt....


Thursday, November 03, 2005

More on Love and "The Thing"

Ever since I posted the thing on "The Thing," I've gotten some interesting responses -- some in comments, some in e-mail form -- about relationships and whatnot. Good advice, from women who have found Mr. Right... Or rather Mr. As-Right-As-He's-Ever-Gonna-Get-Cuz-Nobody's-Perfect-Right? I made a point on the Chron of stating that I have spent the last year and a half, two years choosing not to fall in love. Actually, I've spent the last six years choosing not to fall in love, but I had a brief reprieve with a long-distance relationship with someone I loved (still love, in many ways, in fact) dearly.

I think the main concern I've been having lately is that by choosing not to choose, choosing not to get involved, I have maybe set myself up for something I hadn't anticipated. I notice -- mostly while doing "The Thing" -- that the idea of even entering into a relationship invokes feelings of genuine fear and anxiety. I look at my father -- old and alone -- and I think maybe the acorn doesn't fall too far from the oak. Maybe by choosing not to get involved with anyone, and reiterating that choice every day thereafter, I've only made it harder to find someone or to imaging myself with someone.

I start tearing a relationship down before I even enter into it. "He's too neurotic." "He's too smooth and flattering." "He couldn't possibly find me attractive (despite all evidence to the contrary -- like, he asked me out!)"

Alone is safer. Alone is more comfortable and less trying. Maybe it's the "full plate" issue. There really isn't room for one more thing before the end of the year. But I think it goes deeper than that. I think its something inside that I am refusing to address.

I worry I may be destined to be alone. Or maybe I just think I'm destined to be alone, since my mother ended her life alone and without companionship, and my father seems headed down the same path.

Now may be the time to choose something else. Maybe that's what is cooking deep inside this issue. Now may be the time to chuck caution to the wind and put myself out there. The last time I did that, it didn't work out so well. But I didn't die from it.


All of this is just thinking out loud, isn't it. Yes, well.

We'll see.


(illustration: "Dry Spell" by C.A. Sowards, 2005)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Doing "The Thing"

Best Available's Deirdre Cooley has abandoned us and gone off to movie locations in other states, because she is, to quote Bridget Jones, "extremely busy and important." Before she left, she took me out to dinner for my birthday, and the one of our code phrases reared its ugly head.

You know how it is. When you're friends with someone -- close friends -- you develop your own little language, to which the rest of world just isn't privileged (unless one of the friends is a big mouth with her own blog... tee hee...). With Deirdre and me, it's... "The thing." It's the thing women tend to do when we are attracted to someone, in those stages before we know whether they are attracted back. It is the dissection, the analysis, the post-mortem, the reinterpretation, the folding, the spindling the mutilating of every e-mail, every look, every word exchanged from the desirable party, in order to suss out the "hidden messages." The conversation usually presents itself thusly:

"I'm doing 'the thing.'"

"Okay. Shoot."

"So, I was talking to him today, and he said the strangest (cutest/funniest/nicest) thing...."

And so begins the odyssey of what he said, and how he looked when he said it, and whether he meant what we hope he meant, or whether we're just reading way too much into it all.

We've both been doing "the thing" lately. She calls me with tales of hers and I call her with tales of mine, and we spend time doing the forensics ("Okay, just exactly what was his body language when he was saying this to you?"), like little bitty Margaret Meads, translating each gesture and intonation of tribal beings whose language we do not speak. Then we come to the conclusion ("Oh, no. He's definitely interested in you."), because what else can we say to each other. We're direly interested in us, so why wouldn't he be? Is he some kind of fool?

After a couple of years of enforced solitude, refusing to do "the thing," because being alone was safer and easier than caring about a man's tone of voice, or the exact inflection at the end of his sentence, I am now back in "thing" territory. And, as I confessed to Deirdre, as we sat in a movie theatre, waiting for the movie to start, it all makes me kind of nauseous.

"Yeah," she replied, "but it's a good kind of nauseous."

A good kind of nauseous? Uh-huh.

Anyway, I was on the phone with him today. And he said the strangest thing....


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Iraqi Monks Are No-Hit Wonders!

Forget the Iraqi Monks. I got my first communique as an MFA student today. The cohort name they've selected is....

Wait for it....

Purple Martins... they are running out of bird names, it would appear.

But I think it's a great name. I'm rechristening the all-girl punk rock band....

Jelly Belly Porsche and the Purple Martins....

Are we liking it?

Monday, October 17, 2005

My Band Name

Big, self-important voice-over: "Previously, on Naked Voodoo Chicken Dance...."

(I've been watching "The West Wing" again, haven't I....)

Last post, I mentioned that my punk rock band name would be Jelly Belly Porsche and the Reflective Egg Beaters. I still like it (you know it's going in a short story, don't you), but I went back to the website, and tried their "Band Name Generator."

The name for my po-mo alt music, KROQ band?

Your Band Name is:

The Iraqi Monks

The Iraqi Monks?

I love it.

I'm keeping it.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Me By Any Other Name

Catharine Amanda Sowards's Aliases

Your movie star name: Oreos Howard

Your fashion designer name is Catharine Berlin

Your socialite name is Tina Vegas

Your fly girl / guy name is C Sow

Your detective name is Cat Providence

Your barfly name is KitKat Vodka Collins

Your soap opera name is Amanda Vanowen

Your rock star name is Jelly Belly Porsche

Your star wars name is Catjer Sowdon

Your punk rock band name is The Reflective Egg Beater

I think Oreos Howard is a just-plain-silly name for a movie star. Come on ahready. On the other hand, I am actually thinking of forming a punk rock band called Jelly Belly Porsche and the Reflective Egg Beaters. I wasn't before, but I am now. And I think that "Amanda Vanowen" makes a better socialite name than "Tina Vegas." If "Tina Vegas" is a socialite, it's because she seduced the son of a wealthy family, got herself knocked up and insisted on a shotgun wedding, lest she go to the tabloids and sully their old-money family name (which I still insist is "Vanowen.") I'm digging the idea of a female private detective named "Cat Providence." I may have to write some noir short stories, just to breathe life into the name. And I'll be a Star Wars character named "Catjer Sowdon," but only if it's preceded by the title "Ambassador."

But let's get one thing straight, right here, right now. My fly girl name will never be "C Sow." Are we clear here? Good. Now.

I have to go now and find a bar, so I can randomly introduce myself as "KitKat Vodka Collins." I'll let you know what happens.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Roman Mythology

I have been watching/reading/spotting-before-I-can-turn-away a lot of press on the upcoming Oliver Twist, directed by Roman Polanski. Stephanie Zacharek wrote a glowing review for Salon on 9/23, praising the film's beauty and artistic sensitivity. I must admit, reading it, I felt a little queasy. Maybe it is that I have five planets in Scorpio (you know we Scorpios can really hold a grudge), or maybe it is that I'm overly sensitive to the subject of all child abuse, sexual or otherwise. But I am appalled at the glory and praise we heap upon this man.

Even more repugnant to me was this CNN article about Polanksi which depicts him as a victim of sorts. Though Polanski's people declined an interview with the article's author, the director is depicted as having been wrongly persecuted for 30 years by overzealous D.A.s and law enforcement agencies into hiding in Europe (where, apparently, sex with children is no big deal). The most frightening part of the article for me is the description of him today: "He lives in Paris with his third wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, and their children, and has slowly shed his reputation as a partier. Friends say he is a devoted father who remains young at heart." The article fails to point out -- so I shall -- that Polanski's daughter, Morgane, is a mere one year younger than the girl he abused in 1978. I wonder how he feels now, looking at her every day -- "devoted father" as he is, realizing how very young 13 really is.

I wrote a letter to Salon, which I doubt they'll ever print, seeing as how their own house critic loves, loves, loves this guy. Besides, their entertainment editor is too busy chasing after Kate Moss and her coke stash to be so concerned about one letter in protest of one little movie review. So I figured I'd speak my mind here. Because I can. So there.

Stephanie Zacharek's review of Roman Polanski's "Oliver Twist" evoked so many emotions in me, it was difficult to settle on just one. The fact that filmgoers and the international movie industry continue to laud this man as a brilliant, sensitive artist, to give him ovations at film festivals, to award him with Oscars, just kind of turns my stomach. Is our collective memory truly that short?

Have we really reached the point where we cannot hold our artistic icons to the most basic standards of decency? By his own admission in open court, Roman Polanski drugged and had sex with a 13-year-old child. He knew she was a child -- this was no "she looked 18 to me" misadventure. His obscene excuses -- that it didn't matter because she wasn't a virgin, that her actress mother presented her to him, that the girl knew what she was doing -- only serve to make his actions more despicable.

Roman Polanski has suffered more tragedy and misery in one life than anyone should have to. I would be the first to have compassion for him, had it not been for the crime he committed and his utter refusal to accept responsibility for it. I find this particular film disturbing in light of the fact that making it put children in the path of a man who, had he faced the music in California in 1978, would have certainly been required to register as a sex offender. It is fine that his victim has forgiven him. Good for her -- she deserves to be able to heal in peace. But his victim did not file the charges against him. She was simply the complaining witness. The case was entitled The People of the State of California versus Roman Polanski.

Perhaps Ms. Zacharek is too young to remember 1978. I am not. I was a year out of high school, and I remember this nasty business quite well. It was my first introduction to the reality that a man has different rights, and his behavior is held to different standards than those to which a woman is held. That goes double for a wealthy, famous man, with wealthy, famous friends.

As a person of the state of California who has yet to receive the justice that we are owed by Mr. Polanski, I refuse to see any movie, regardless of its "melancholy glow," which has been crafted by a man who drugged and raped a child. Given what tortures Mr. Polanski has said he experienced as a youth at the hands of Nazis, and his later encounters with senseless violence against his wife and unborn child, he should have been the first to be empathetic to a child who was clearly being exploited by the adults around her. Instead, he just took his own turn at exploiting her, in the most heinous of ways, then ran away and hid to avoid being held accountable.

A man like that has no soul. Art from a soulless man has no value, regardless of its temporal, superficial beauty.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Naked Chicken and Fall Movies

This is the time of year that the Naked Chicken loves to go to the movies. All the fun stuff comes out between September and December. Here are a few movies that the Chicken looks forward to and hopes are good:

Corpse Bride -- I love Tim Burton. I shouldn't. I don't know why I do. Maybe it's my unrelenting attraction to nerdy guys rearing it's nerdy-sexy head again. But I just think he's funny and kinda dopey and his stuff works for me. I really enjoyed The Nightmare Before Christmas, and recently Charlie and the Chocolate Factory salvaged a fairly dismal moviegoing summer, so I kind of owe him. Voice talent by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (who knew she had so much fun in her, anyway) is an appealing notion as well. I can only hope that we haven't seen the best of this movie in the ubiquitous television trailers. Release date: Currently in limited release

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio: This one I'm least sure about. I saw an interview with Terri Ryan, the woman who wrote the book on which this is based, and it seems intriguing. In the 50's television and it's advertising were in their infancy, and America was just starting to fall in love with the medium. The Ryan family of Defiance, Ohio is no exception. Evelyn Ryan (Julianne Moore), mother of ten and wife of underachiever Leo (Woody Harrelson), struggles to keep the family fed and clothed in the face of bill collectors and repo men. She begins to enter the ever-present jingle contests on television, and, lo and behold, she has found her calling. As she continues to win ever more fabulous gifts and prizes, Leo becomes more and more resentful, seeing every victory prize as something he couldn't give her. He sulks and simpers and explodes, alternately, every time she wins. Truth be told, it was one line in the trailer that made me want to see this movie. Leo is hugging Evelyn and he tells her, "I just want to make you happy." And she says, "I don't need you to make me happy. I just need you to leave me alone when I am." Hear, hear, sister. Release date: September 30, 2005

Elizabethtown - Orlando Bloom. Kirsten Dunst. What's not to love? Okay, a lot, potentially. But under the direction of Cameron Crowe from his own script? Now, I ask you... what's not to love? Fast Times at Ridgmont High, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky.... oops... went one too far, didn't I? Oh, come on. It's been a while since we've seen an amusing romantic comedy. I'm not sure why this appeals to me so much. Perhaps because Tom Cruise isn't in it. I was desperate for a little romantic comedy this summer. Neither Bewitched (blech, pew) nor Broken Flowers (terrific, but dark) filled the void. Let's go see this together and hope it all comes out in the end. Release date: October 14, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire -- I've told every one of my book hound friends, including my own daughter, that I'll start reading the books when Number 7 is released, so I don't have to wait forever from one book to the next. That's the truth, too. But there's another truth here, one that I keep to myself. I kind of don't want the books to interfere with the movies at this point. I have an investment in this Harry, not the novelized Harry. I have a relationship with these children, with these wizards, with this Dobby. Nobody gets that. I'll read the damn books eventually. And I'll love them. But for now, just let me love these children, this Hagrid, these Weasleys. The trailers for this movie are captivating, because they flash through all three previous movies, allowing you to see how far these children have come, how much they've grown and changed. I am so looking forward to this movie, and I hope it doesn't disappoint me. (Prisoner of Azkaban wasn't so good, I'm afraid.) Release date: November 18, 2005.

Brokeback Mountain - This film is based on the amazing short story by Annie Proulx, and tells the story of Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger), two very masculine young cowhands who find themselves drawn to each other in a relationship that moves through friendly rivalry to friendship to a profound and abiding love in a time and place (Wyoming in the early 60s) when such a relationship can simply never be. The short story from Proulx's collection, Close Range: Wyoming Stories, is written with a gruff tenderness that completely lacks sentimentality and melodrama. Proulx's simple, straightforward storytelling style and her decision to keep the focus on a love so deep that it lasts decades keeps the story from being salacious or, worse, sappy. My hope for the movie is that it avoids those same traps. Release date: December 9, 2005

So, ever optimistic, the Naked Chicken launches into the fall movie season with a heart full of hope and a purse full of sour Jellie Bellies.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

THE CONSTANT GARDENER: A First Class Departure


If you have been tuning into this blog regularly, you know I have not had many happy moments at the movies this season. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a welcome joy. I seemed to be alone in my full appreciation for Broken Flowers, but then we've already established that intelligent, nerdy guys (yes, Jim, I don't care how full your luscious lips are -- with that haircut, you're officially a nerd) kind of turn me on, especially when they march to the beat of their own drummer.

Alas, aside from these couple of exceptions, life at the movies has ricocheted from unsurprisingly banal (Must Love Dogs), to embarrassingly bad (Bewitched) too deeply, profoundly disappointing (War of the Worlds). If I've seen other movies this summer, I've forgotten them. That alone should tell you something. Now that summer is waning and the kiddies are going back to school, the movies have started to fall back into the hands of the grown-ups, and The Constant Gardener is a great way to kick off that new season.

In this nifty adaptation of John Le Carré's novel of the same title, Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a young, straight-laced British diplomat who has been assigned to travel to Northern Kenya as a low-level attaché at the British High Commission (BHC). Immediately before leaving England, he embarks on a passionate, whirlwind romance with Tessa (beautifully played by Rachel Weisz), a fiery activist, who proposes marriage on the eve of Justin's departure. Once in Africa, the Quayles each pursue their own interests -- Justin's being his job and his love of gardening, and Tessa's being her bating of the BHC and corporate opportunists whom she believes are exploiting the Kenyan people. Unfortunately, though initially deeply in love, the two separate courses of their lives seem to begin to pull on the Quayles' marriage, and Justin becomes suspicious of Tessa's close friendship with a handsome Nairobi doctor (Hubert Koundé).

When Tessa is found raped and murdered and the doctor comes up missing in what initially appears to be a roadside attack by local bandits, rumor and innuendo from his associates at the BHC only serve to solidify Justin's conviction that his wife was being unfaithful. Still, his devotion to her, and his gradual realization that no one in his life is as he assumes they are, drives Justin to seek out the truth about Tessa and the "other" life she kept so furtively hidden from him. The more Justin delves into Tessa's murder, the more nervous he makes his friends at the BHC, who actively discourage him from asking questions for his own sake.

I'm not one of those women (rare as we may be) who is all gaga over Ralph Fiennes. He has always been a bit to reserved for my tastes. Still, Fiennes is very powerful in the role of a man who only discovers who his wife is after she is dead, and realizes that she was a remarkable and complex woman, very different from the one he thought he'd married. Fiennes creates a Justin Quayle who is very British, very withheld, very intact, until he loses the one thing he never realized he had -- the love of his life. His grief makes him raw and his loss makes him disoriented and determined. Fiennes shows us that in a very subtle, very controlled way, which works beautifully for the character.

Weisz' Tessa is everything Fiennes' Justin is not. Vivacious, socially charming, funny, exuberant, passionate. However, there is an air of danger about her from the beginning. The first scene in the film is a good-bye scene, where we are introduced to the alleged "love triangle" -- Justin, Tessa, the Nairobi doctor -- and immediately, before any chance at innuendo, the audience thinks, "Hmmm… is she…? With him…? Are they… ?" It is a lovely set-up, very underplayed by all, and it sets the stage nicely for what follows. Weisz is charming without being cloying, and passionate without being overbearing (unless you work at the BHC or one of the offending corporations, that is). Her insistence on protecting the Nairobi people from clutching, grasping corporate imperialism is naïve, but sincere in just the right way.

Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God), working from a fine screenplay adaptation by longtime BBC TV writer Jeffrey Canine (Dempsey & Makepeace, Bodyguards, CatsEyes), stays true to Le Carré's book, moving freely backward and forward through time to unravel Tessa's life, before and after her death. As Justin comes to know Tessa, we do, too. We fall in love with the real Tessa at the same time Justin does, hopelessly post-mortem. Though I have not read the Le Carré novel, I consulted with someone who has both read the book and seen the film. He says that the one thing Le Carré could not capture in the book was the sense of Africa. Meirelles reunites with his City of God cinematographer, César Charlone, to do just that. The grinding poverty of the AIDS-stricken Nairobi village is addressed convincingly, but it doesn't beat us over the head. It is a backdrop against which people are living their lives -- mothers care for their children, children manufacture games amidst the masses of trash and refuse by the roadside, people work and scrape, seeking to make the best existence for themselves and their families here. I'm not an enormous fan of handheld camera work, especially since it's usually done so very badly, but it is used sparingly in this film and to great effect, making the action more immediate and intense. All of it is underscored by Alberto Iglesias' score and evocative performances by Kenyan percussionist Ayub Ogada on the original soundtrack (Amazon has some sample snippets worth listening to).

The supporting cast bolsters Fiennes' and Weisz' fine performances. Danny Huston is suitably solicitous as the Quayles' ambitious and somewhat creepy BHC crony with a hidden agenda. Koundé plays the charming, handsome Nairobi doctor with such elegance, it's hard to imagine that Tessa is not having an affair with him. Richard McCabe (Vanity Fair) plays Tessa's adoring cousin, Hamm, with a sweet earnestness. Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Underworld) has a small, but pivotal role as the smarmy bad guy British royal who masterminds the entire conspiracy from London, and as the modern-day Schweitzer with slightly slanted ethics, Pete Postlethwaite (The Lost World, The Shipping News) is as good as… well, Pete Postlethwaite (and that's pretty damn good).

Do not go into the theatre expecting something lighthearted and upbeat. The only thing uplifting about The Constant Gardener is that it is a rare (these days) display of fabulous film making and acting coming together with a very good script. The results are gripping and entertaining, as well as emotionally charged and unpredictable. It is, in the end, a poignant story of a man who loses his wife, only to discover how much he truly loved her and how little he knew of her.

A definite must-see….

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Tale of Two Funerals

Chief Justice William Rehnquist's casket, September 6, 2005, draped with an American flag, in Washington D.C.

Katrina victim Vera, date unknown, draped in a bedsheet and rubble in New Orleans.

"Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release, the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure, and the comforter of him whom time cannot console." ~Charles Caleb Colton, English writer (1780 - 1832)

Rest in peace.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005


In Kissing Jessica Stein, two women are discussing men and the term "ugly-sexy" comes up. One of them defines the quality by listing a number of actors who have it: Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, James Woods. Yeah (except for Keitel, who rather repulses me on every level), I can get behind that list. But I am more of a nerd-loving kind of girl. I just love really brainy guys with quirky looks who aren't dangerous or menacing (unlike Woods and Keitel, for example).

I have since compiled a list of nerdy-sexy guys to whom I've grown attached of late. Some of them are characters in much-loved movies and t.v. shows, some of them, the actors who play them.

Jefferson Smith (as portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) - Jefferson Smith is one of my favorite nerds. Earnest, bright, but not very worldly, he finally catches wise and learns how to make the system work in his favor. His sincerity and integrity prevail over the twin evils of greed and injustice and he manages with one philibuster to clear his good name, foil the unholy, power-mongering politicians and get Jean Arthur by end titles. Where are the Jefferson Smiths when you need 'em?

Alan Rickman (British actor, director) -- I've had it bad for Alan Rickman for a very long time. Why he doesn't just leave his lifelong partner of 30 years, economist Rima Horton, and run away with me, I'll never understand. I think I completely fell in love with him for his portrayal of sniffly ghost Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply. Oh, sure, he's plenty menacing in a lot of his roles, but even as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and his uneasy, secretive Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films, there was a touch of abject nerdy awkwardness. He's quirky and a more than a little odd, and anyone who can pull down his trousers to reveal a sexless, Ken-doll-like pubic area (as Metatron in Dogma) with such dash and aplomb -- why, that's the nerd for me.

Dr. Carl Sagan -- Smart, sexy, a stylish little overbite and, man, oh, man, those turtlenecks. I was in college (the first time around) when Cosmos debuted on PBS in 1980. I never missed an episode. He was forthright about his belief in the Drake equation, which used mathematical calculation to prove that there must be life in the universe, because for Earth to be the only planet that bore life would simply be statistically improbable. Any guy who can make algebra sexy (while wearing a turtleneck, mind you) can whisk me away to his alternative universe any day. Sagan scoffed at all the then-popular "ancient astronauts" claptrap, because the claims couldn't withstand the scientific standards for putting theories to the test in his book "The Demon- Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," (the title alone just makes you want to sleep with him, doesn't it?) which included such axioms as "Try not to get too attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours," and "If there are two hypotheses that explain the data equally well choose the simpler (Occam's razor)." If he had an enormous ego (he was a Scorpio, after all -- ahem), he managed to keep it well-hidden in favor of the science.

Adrien Brody (Academy-award winning actor who kissed Halle Berry like she's never been kissed before or since -- and who was kissed the following year by Charlize Theron). Let me tell you something. I got me five dollars here that says there were girls in Adrien Brody's high school who swore they'd die before they'd let him anywhere near them, who are now kicking their own ever-expanding Elmhurst housewife asses for being so stupid. If I were twenty years younger, I'd stalk this boy and marry him right quick. You go, boy. (Darn that Halle Berry anyway -- she gets to have all the fun!)

Frank Darabont (director, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Majestic) -- the only one of my nerd crushes that I've actually met (I moderated this Q&A with him for Fox Searchlab). Frank happily embraces his nerdiness and flaunts it like a badge of honor, God love 'im. Frank seems to have settled nicely into the filmmaker nerd role, along with friends George Lucas (maxo-nerd) and Steven Spielberg (uber-nerd of the first order). We are less than two months apart in age and grew up less than three miles apart, and I'm stunned I never met him while we were growing up (I knew a bunch of kids at his school, Hollywood High). Now, I understand he's gotten married to Collateral producer Julie Richardson. I guess it was never meant to be between Frank and me. Which is a damn shame, since my daughter was already picking out the color Porsche she was going to buy if he ever became her stepfather. Sucks to be her, I guess, huh.

David Levinson (as portrayed by Jeff Goldlum in Independence Day) -- if Goldblum's Ian Macolm (Jurassic Park) was "ugly-sexy", his scientist-turned-superhero in ID4 was the height of nerdy-sexiness. Geeky, awkward, hopelessly in love with a wife who won't talk to him, and jealous of the man he thinks has stolen her affections (who also happens to be the hunky President of the United States) -- so much so that he actually punches him in the nose -- Levinson finds himself shunted into herodom with his cranky father (Judd Hirsch) and hotdog fighter pilot (Will Smith). Still, he's funny when he's frightened and charming when he's falling all over himself and how Margaret Collin manages to resist him for the first 120 minutes of the movie is an utter and complete mystery to me.

And, finally, Dann Florek (L.A. Law (as direct-marketing nerd-king Dave Meyer; Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU (as slightly less nerdy, but just-nerdy-enough-to-be-sexy Capt. Donald Cragen)) -- Dann Florek won my heart as the painfully socially challenged Dave Meyer, who managed to pursuade financially troubled legal secretary Roxanne Mehlman to marry him on NBC's L.A. Law. He went on to play badge-and-gun-toting-nerd-of-authority Capt. Don Cragen on the first three seasons of Law & Order and then to reprise the role in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for the past six (going on seven) seasons. Aside from being a really good dramatic actor, he's got a way with comedy, and he can take a potentially obnoxious character like Meyer and embue in him such an underlying sweetness that he was watchable for a season or two (rather than what I'm sure would have been, with any other actor in the role, six episodes at most, then -- blam! -- hit by a bus). Florek also distinguishes himself in another way. Florek doesn't just play a nerd on t.v. -- he actually is one in real-life. According to his L&O:SVU bio, Florek started as a math and physics major at Eastern Michigan University, only to switch to theater because -- get this! -- he thought acting might be "more fun than synthetic projective geometry." Oh, my Jesus gay! Beat me, whip me, teach me differential calculus -- baby, I'm all yours.

So, there's more about me than you ever wanted to know, I'm sure. I suppose I like nerds because I know that I need a guy with a brain, who can hold up his end of the conversation. I need someone who is more interested in what's going on with the world than what's going on with his crow's feet. I just sense that I'd work with a nerd, perhaps because I'm kind of one myself (or so my kid tells me). Not a math nerd -- more of a natural sciences nerd, who as young child pointed out to her mother that paisley was kind of creepy because the pattern looked like amoebae swimming around under a microscope. I figure there must be a nerd out there with my name on him. It's only a matter of time before he finds me.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Sometimes, the Blog Posts Just Write Themselves

The Toronto Sex Crimes Unit has uncovered an alarming connection between pedophiles and Star Trek. Seems that, in Toronto anyway, the vast majority of child sexual predators also claimed to be devout fans of the sci-fi series. Ellen Ladowsky describes it all quite neatly and succinctly, along with some dissenting opinions, posted yesterday at Huffington Post. It's a fascinating piece, and, honestly, I have nothing to add, except to say that it doesn't say anything about whether people who wrote Star Trek, so I think my family's* in the clear so far.

For the latecomers who were seated at the first available break of this Blog in Three Acts, my father wrote the screenplay for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Of course, my father isn't really a fan that much. He's watched the show, he likes the show, but he's far from seeing it as a blueprint for how we should live our lives. It might be because he was a struggling actor at around the same time Shatner and Nimoy were trying to break in to the biz. They used to hang around at the same delis, with all the other unemployed actors. It's hard to suspend your disbelief when you've witnessed a guy weaving an audition yarn, while simultaneously eating potato salad.

I guess we should have been a little suspicious about those Trekkies (or Trekkers, as some prefer). After all, ST2:TWoK was released over 24 years ago, yet when my father attended his last Trek convention, it was something out of that Bill Shatner sketch from Saturday Night Live -- people asking the most in-depth questions about utter minutae. You gotta wonder about people who would concern themselves with that stuff for a quarter century.

But I would rather die than bites the hand that feeds me, so I'll leave it all to you guys to sort out.

Have a good weekend.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Other Amanda Sowards

I have to submit a performance bio -- you know, those little blurbs they put in the programs of plays that say, "Ms. Sowards has enjoyed success in a number of local Los Angeles productions, including..." and then a list of all the things the performer has been in -- for the musical I'm doing in October. Because I'm inordinately lazy and am loathe to do anything more than once, I was doing a global search to find the old website that had my bio for the production of Godspell I did last year. A little "block and copy"... a little "cut and paste"... you get the picture.

So I googled "Amanda Sowards." I was pleased my main blog, Catharine Chronicles, popped up. And all of my fractal artword, which I display at a site called, came up, too. I even found somebody had written something so sweet, which was quoted in the Google description -- somebody had written, "Amanda Sowards is really beautiful." When I clicked into the site, however, I was shocked to find that I was not the Amanda Sowards to whom the compliment was directed.

There is (insert scary suspense music here) another Amanda Sowards. She's in high school. She's from North Caroline. She just won the Miss Carolina Cover Girl Photo Contest. You know what this means, don't you?

It means that my alterego is a teenage Southern beauty queen.

Like the song says, "I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours, but I think that God has a sick sense of humour, and when I die, I expect to see him laughing."*


*from Depeche Mode's Blasphemous Rumours

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Music News

Sad news from the Music Industry today....

Hootie and the Blowfish announced today that they haven't broken up.

(I could just cry.)


Monday, August 01, 2005


I'm discovering as time goes by that sitting at my desk, doing… uhmmm… well… "deskly" things, for lack of a better word, is becoming more and more difficult. Instead, I'm all caught up in reading online newspapers or TIME magazine or I have to fight with all my energy to get anything done that's on my desk.

I have a bunch of agreements to distribute. I have a bunch of filing that needs purging and sending away. But I can't seem to bring myself to get to it. Why is that? I have managed to get my reading and writing for school done. I have managed to post to my blogs and make comments on the blogs of others. So why can't I bring myself to get excited about distributing Maria Bello's signed agreement on FLICKA?

It's a rhetorical question, of course. I already know the answer. It's quite simple, really. You want to know what it is?

See… I want to do this thing. This writing thing. But before I can do this thing, I have to that other thing. That contract thing. Because it's the other thing that subsidizes the big thing I want to do. Barring a big win in the lotto (I'm on my way -- I won $12 on Saturday), I'll have to do the other thing a while longer. And I really must start getting better at it again.

I used to be great at the other thing. I used to be the Queen of the Other Thing. People still think I am. They ask me questions. They come to me for answers. I want to scream at them.

"Don't bother me, damn you! Can't you see I've got this thing now?"

But they can't see. They don't know. And it's just as well, since I need to keep doing the other thing to support the writing thing. This thing.

It's six o'clock. I have to get ready to go home now. I have to go home and write.

See… I've got this thing….


Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Naked Chicken Has No Time to Dance

It's Week Five in a ten week quarter, and I'm deluged with work.

I'll see you guys in a week or so, when I can dig my way out from under.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Page 84 That Ate Cleveland

When, in the course of copious rewrites a single scene is lengthened during shooting, in order to preserve the integrity of the scene numbers and approximately where they fall (the budgeting, boarding and scheduling of a movie is based on the scene numbers of the shooting script), pages will be designated with a letter after the number. So if Page 18 is rewritten and goes a bit longer than before, and spills over onto the next page, the second page will be referred to as Page 18A.

Today, we got the 3rd yellow pages for the Rainbow Screenplay movie.

The notorious Page 84 now consists of 84 and 84A. It's getting bigger. The army will not be able to stop it. The scientists will be useless in the fight against it. It will unleash its terror on an unsuspecting world.

Hey, wait a minute... do I see... Is it.... breathing?



Monday, July 18, 2005

Further to "Rainbow of Disaster"

As a footnote to my previous blog about the ever-changing Hollywood screenplay (and, yes, still shooting as I type this), it might interest you to know that, because the revisions are coming in so fast and furiously, I fell a couple of days behind in replacing the revised pages. I came in this morning to three different colors of revision in my inbox (3rd blue, 3rd pink and 3rd green).

This morning, I actually replaced Page 84 three times.

I could just kill the guy who invented colored paper. I know he's at the bottom of this freakshow somehow.

I have to tell you a good story about movies, today, though. I finally saw a movie that I left the theatre feeling happy about. I'll tell you all about it later.

Meanwhile, I'm going to try to get to the bottom of the "Page 84 Scandal." What is it about Page 84, anyway? Why can't they seem to get it right? Is it them? Or is there just something inherently evil and unholy about Page 84? Perhaps Page 84 is some natural gateway to hell that we're only now beginning to decipher. I will not rest until this mystery is unraveled.

Stay tuned....


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Oh... That Explains It.

I was reading Daily Variety today, and they ran a special insert section on horror film directors, along with log lines (blurbs) on their current projects. This was the one for Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins) on his upcoming project, the working title of which is Homecoming:

"Terror and scandal grip the nation when the media discovers that the living dead have swayed the presidential election."

Election-tampering zombies... Hmph.

Is it my imagination, or is it getting harder and harder to tell fact from fiction these days?


Monday, July 11, 2005

A Rainbow of Disaster

In my continuing efforts to de-mystify the movie industry (in other words, to explain how things can and do go wrong so often), I present to you...

The Rainbow Script.

This script is a shooting script for a film the studio is doing in another country. In the interest of discretion, I will not mention the title of the film, nor any details. It's not really relevant, other than for the purposes of idle curiosity. The tale I'm about to tell applies to so many movies at so many studios, the details are really a footnote.

Please note right off the bat that the script sits in a three-holed, D-ring binder. Immediately, you should be aware that this facilitates the removal and addition of individual sheets of paper with little fuss or muss (What is "muss" anyway? Is it a word Madison Avenue invented to rhyme with "fuss?" But, I digress). Also note, if you will that the pages are colored. I will explain the rationale behind this in a moment. Also note (because this factors into said upcoming explanation) that it's not just one color, but several.

One day, a few weeks ago, we were in preproduction for this film. The "shooting script" arrived, on white paper. I've learned that the words "shooting script" are really never to be taken literally. See, you might think that the first thing one needs to shoot a film is, well, a script. You know... character, plot, some dialogue, a couple of cool "kablams," all laid out on 8 1/2" by 11" paper, to be used as guide as to what this film might actually be about. Oh, naive fools! You know nothing! Aren't you glad I'm here to divest you of that preposterous notion.

Meanwhile, the movie starts shooting with their clean, white script. Over the course of the next two weeks, as they're shooting, two writers have been hired to do rewrites -- as they're shooting. Every couple of days, new pages for the script began to arrive every day or so. Each set of revisions comes on a different color paper. The title sheet lists all the colored pages. So, each time you replace the changed pages with the new ones, you replace the title page with the new one. That way, everybody knows that everybody got all the revision. Little by little, the white screenplay began to be laced with other colors -- blue, pink, green, yellow, goldenrod, salmon. Now, there are only so many shades of colored paper in the world, and if the script changes keep on coming (did I mention that the movie was shooting? That's important, so I wanted to make sure that you guys got that), you run out of colors. Then you start getting "2nd blue," 2nd pink," etc.

Then one day, as if by a miracle. And entire new script arrives for this movie that's currently shooting. The pages are all green. It is called, appropriately enough, "2nd green draft" (it being a whole new draft, and green and all). So, now, there are no white pages. At all. It's all color, all the time. And the pages keep arriving. 2nd yellow. 2nd goldenrod. 2nd salmon. Salmon's pretty much the end of the line, colored paper-wise. So, now we're on 3rd blue.

It's a veritable smorgasbord of colored pages. And the movie is shooting. Right now. And the script keeps changing. Frank Darabont, who directed two of the best films I've ever seen, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile makes a big point in many of his interviews (including the Q&A he did in October, 2002, which I moderated) about not liking the colored pages. He has this wacky notion that, before you start shooting the movie, it would probably be a good idea to have a completed script. You know. Done. Like almost as if you knew what was going to happen in the movie before you started shooting it. That Frank. He was born in France, so he can be forgiven a wild hair. It's crazy talk. Way ahead of it's time. If it were to catch on, all hell could break loose.

So, what is our movie about? I really can't say. Not just because it's a confidentiality breach, but because, I really can't say. I have this general idea. But new pages are arriving every other day or so, so that could change. It doesn't matter, though. If you've been wondering (especially this summer) how it is that you keep paying $10.50 to see these movies that are so mediocre-to-bad, I urge you to look at the top photograph. Colored pages. There's your answer. A finished screenplay in Hollywood is a luxury, not a necessity when beginning to shoot a movie.

So you take a little blue, pink, some goldenrod, mix it with some yellow, throw in a dash of salmon, and what do you have? A recipe for box-office disaster.


Friday, July 08, 2005


Okay... it's tacky... I know it's tacky. But I can't help it. We laugh when others suffer. I believe it's human nature. 'Round about these parts, when something goes wrong... it goes spectacularly wrong! Seems that Fox Publicity and Advertising department took another blow over the New York premiere of our latest, The Fantastic Four, Wednesday night. A minor publicity stunt in L.A. didn't exactly go as planned either. The publicity campaign was such an all-over fiasco, the New York Daily Observer's online blog, The Daily Transom, felt the need to do three whole posts about it here. And here. And here, too. Oh, how they laughed....

Those of us who work in the "majors" (major movie studios) have a special relationship with our respective P&A departments. These are the people who believe -- deep in their heart of hearts -- that nobody will go to see a movie that isn't named after either a comic book or a bad '70s song -- even if the song has nothing to do with the picture. This explains the inane reasoning behind taking a movie based on Laura Zigman's wildly successful chick-lit novel, Animal Husbandry, and renaming it Someone Like You. Remember that horrible Rod Stewart song? No? Well, judging by the number of people who didn't see this movie, you're not alone. The reasoning of the Fox P&A department was that women would be offended by the title Animal Husbandry. Of course, they would. That explains the tremendous success (complete with multiple printings and formats) that Dial Press enjoyed, in hardcover, paperback and audio, of this book to... did I mention it was chick-lit? If I'm not very much mistaken, that's women, is it not? Yes. Well. Most studio in-house P&A departments are renowned for backing the wrong horse, right after renaming it and whipping up a totally misleading trailer for it. Their decisions are all based on the following tragic misperception: "We know what makes a movie sell."

I'll let you guys in on a little secret. No, they don't. Neither do I. Neither do you. Know why? Because it's magic. No. Seriously. Magic. Smoke and mirrors, coupled with planetary alignment and just the right wind velocity. No one knows what will make a movie a hit. There were people at Paramount -- highly placed people who make decisions about what's good and what's bad all day -- whispering fertively that Forrest Gump would tank. Obviously, they were wrong. But they might not have been. Think about it. It's a weird little movie. It could have all gone horribly wrong, even with Hanks in the lead, Zemeckis behind the camera and an accomplished screenwriter like Eric Roth providing the screenplay. The difference between a ground-breaking, innovative, exciting, blockbuster movie and a well-intentioned, gone-awry, ambitious, expensive failure is approximately the width of an ant's eyelash. And no one -- not the studio, or the director, or the star, or the screenwriter, or even the P&A department at the studio -- can be sure in advance which movie will hit and which will fail.

Granted, a Forrest Gump or an Independence Day has certainly got a much better chance of succeeding than a Dude, Where's My Car or a Freddie Got Fingered. But a good script, good direction and brilliant performances can be thwarted by an ignorant P&A department. The perfect example is a little film released two scant months after Gump. The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all-time favorite films. Badly conceived trailers and a lackluster advertising campaign nearly put it in the toilet -- until it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including a "best screenplay adaptation" nomination for writer/director Frank Darabont. Darabont has said that, though Shawshank won no Oscars that night, the constant mention of the movie's name during the ceremony piqued people's interest, and when the film was released on video a couple of months later, it promptly shot to the top of the "most rented" video list. It remains one of the most rented videos/DVDs of all time. Yet it's total theater box office tally in its original release was shy of $29 million (as compared to Gump's $329 million).

All because some dumbass executive in the P&A department said, "The Shawshank Redemption? Forget about it. It's Nowheresville." And thanks to that arrogant dumbass executive, it nearly was.

This is why, when things go so horribly, terribly, monumentally and publicly wrong for a studio publicity department, those of us who love film have to smile to ourselves. We like to think it must be kharma. We like to think to ourselves that, though there isn't always evidence of it, the world is a just place. A good place. A place where the scales all balance out in the end. For every decent movie that was brought to its box-office knees by P&A neglect, there will be one grandly touted premiere that will turn into an utter and complete disaster, complete with vomiting actresses, backward fireworks and skywriting, and a relentless downpour. The misery and humiliation of others occasionally fills our hearts with unabashed joy.

Is that so wrong?


The History of the Naked Voodoo Chicken (and It's Dance), Part I

I lied. I'm a liar. There is no history. I made it up. I read the phrase in a forum on digital art (no doubt by one of my geeky digital art buddies), and it made me laugh. So, I copped it for my very own. Since a couple of you asked me, I figured I'd just fill you in and be done with it.

And that, my friends, is the History of the Naked Voodoo Chicken (and It's Dance), Part I.*


*P.S. The good news? There is no Part II.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

War of the Worlds; or Oh, Shut Up and Die Already!


Are they gone? Can we talk? Good. Okay. Let me just say that I really usually like Steven Speilberg. Really. And I so wanted to like this movie. I love the original story by Wells, I even loved the quasi-campy 50's movie. So, this weekend, I saw it. I was deeply, deeply disappointed. There were a couple of interesting moments when you really thought something fascinating was going to happen. And then, they just.... didn't.

Nothing fascinating happens in this movie. Well, no, I take that back. Some really fascinating stuff seemed to be going on... off camera.There is so much wrong with this movie, it's just hard to know where to start. The biggest problem is with the script. The credited writers are Josh Friedman and David Koepp. That big, fat and is there for a reason. It signifies that Friedman and Koepp were most likely never in the same room at the same time. If they had been writing as a team, there would have been a big, fat & between their names instead. No, my guess is, Josh wrote the earliest accepted draft, and they brought Koepp in to doctor it per Spielberg's specifications. I am not sure why Spielberg is so in love with Koepp. I find most of the movies he works on to be full of formulaic, antiquated cinema clichés that grate on my nerves. A graduate of UCLA Film School, he's learned all the tricks of the trade, and he uses them at every turn. I'd love to read one of his screenplays. I'm sure it reads like a textbook on "how to write a screenplay that sells."

Here's one trick he missed in WotW, though. Act II. A movie lives or dies on it's Second Act. In the First Act, we learn who we're dealing with and why we should care -- a guy who is so self-centered that he's totally detached from his children and their lives. He doesn't know his daughter is a claustrophobe. He can't talk to his son without provoking him. Blah, blah, blah. You've seen it a hundred times. Which wouldn't be so bad, since a lot of real-life dads are like that, and I'm sure every one of them handles it in a different way. But Friedman and Koepp don't handle it in a different way. They handle it in the same way. Tired, worn out scenes of father facing off with angry, beligerent teenage son. Tired, worn out scenes of ex-spouses facing off against each other -- she's remarried to Mr. Wealthy Nice Guy and pregnant now, and presumably has the life that our (anti) hero could never give her. Blah, blah and more blah. But Act II is supposed to set us up for the Big Climax. You know, that moment when our heroes are in "the box" -- the inescapable, insurmountable, unsolvable dilemma that must be escaped, surmounted and solved by Act III. In WotW, there is no dilemma. There's just Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Disgruntled Teen Boy Actor. Running. And running. Then driving. And driving. Then doing a little swimming. Then running some more. Which begs the question....

So the fuck what?

At no time, ever, do you really learn about these aliens. Clearly, the spaceships were buried, as the Narrator (Morgan Freeman) tells us, "before there were even people here." Why? If people weren't here yet, why bury the damn ships? Why not just take the damn planet then? Did the aliens stop and ask themselves, "Ya know... it's been a bad milennium, we're kind of cranky. This planet's empty. We could just take it over, but where's the sport in that? Why don't we wait until these little nute-like creatures sprout legs, learn to walk upright, and then we'll come back, shoot down to our buries tripods and beat the living crap out of them before we drain their blood to spray all over the countryside. Just for fun. Cuz we aliens, we're wacky and capricious like that?"

An audience shouldn't have to work so hard to fill in the blanks, to make excuses for lame-ass scripts full of holes and white space.I mean, maybe there is a story here. But you'd never know it. Because we don't get a whole lot of story. We get some GORGEOUS special effects.  But then, Minority Report was a movie full of gorgeous effects without any storytelling glue to hold it together, too. Which begs the other question... Will Speilberg and Cruise top making movies now? Please? Because, really, it's not a mutually beneficial partnership. And I say that from a place of love... if not for Cruise, then certainly for Spielberg.

Anyway, I felt it was generally a waste of $10.50. It will make money because, as I discovered on Monday, the 4th, while searching for a movie to take the bitter WotW aftertaste away that it isn't up against anything. Bewitched (don't even get me started on that piece of drek), Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Batman Begins, Cinderella Man.... ugh! Please. Is it any wonder that moviegoers are staying way from the multiplex in droves? So this movie will make money for Paramount and Dreamworks.

And there is one bright spot in an otherwise dismal fare -- Dakota Fanning. She's a phenomenal little actress, and one that constantly surprises. She's your Jodie Foster. She'll grow up to be a first-class movie star. If you want to see Dakota Fanning, rent I Am Sam, Hide and Seek, or Man on Fire. Not that the latter two are too much better than WotW, but you don't have to pay $10.50 for the privilege.

Rant over... I'll wait for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Please don't be a disappointment... please don't be a disappointment... please don't be a disappointme... ) Good grief, are you guys still here? Get out of here. In the immortal words of Tracey Ullman...

"Go home!"


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

George Clooney ROCKS!

Is it because he's a mega-movie star with a strong jaw and a winning smile? No, although he does. Is it because he could, with a wave of his hand, wipe away my student loan debt and not even miss it from his bank account? Well, admittedly that helps, but it's not the reason he rocks.

The reason George Clooney rocks is because he's the only person I can think of who could actually get Pat Robertson.... PAT ROBERTSON... of the 700 CLUB... to admit on national television that there are occasions when condom usage might be appropriate. Pat Robertson is the guy who's been spouting off on television that condoms don't work, even for contraception, let alone for safe sex, and so should be abandoned altogether. And George Clooney, star of the silver screen, actually got him to admit that, yes, sometimes, a condom can be a good thing, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 36.1 million people are HIV/AIDS infected.

Okay. I admit it. It's not much. But by God, it's more than anyone else has been able to do in the face of neo-conservative ostrich-ass-in-the-air-head-in-the-sand ignorance. Forget Brooke Shields. I'm taking George Clooney to lunch. (Sorry, Brookie.)

If he plays his cards right, I might just spring for dessert, too.


Oh, get your minds out of the gutter. I was talking about a little cheesecake. Sheesh!


Thursday, May 26, 2005

100 Things

  1. I am a skinny girl, trapped in a chubby girl, trapped in a skinny girl's body. (It's all about introspection, baby).
  2. My best friend lives in Ohio; my other best friend lives in Topanga (the best friend in Ohio has put in 25 years -- I figure she's earned first card in the main title credits, but they both get "above the artwork" status for putting up with me.)
  3. I was a virgin until I was 21.
  4. I was a mother at 29 1/2.
  5. I was married before I got pregnant (newsworthy these day, don't you think?)
  6. I can type 77 words a minute.
  7. I hate to type.
  8. I refuse to use typewriters, and have adapted all typewriter stuff for the computer.
  9. I work at a movie studio.
  10. I hate the movie business (most of the time).
  11. I work for a mega-corporation.
  12. I hate mega-corporations and what they're doing to the global economy.
  13. I'm studying for my BA.
  14. I'm planning on going for my MFA in 2006.
  15. I'm trying not to think how much getting my MFA will cost.
  16. Getting my MFA will cost approximately $20,000. (I peeked. I'm weak. So sue me.)
  17. I love horses and use to have one.
  18. I will have one again someday.
  19. I've had gastric bypass surgery and have lost 140 pounds.
  20. I've gained 8 pounds back.
  21. I love to read, but rarely have the time to do it for pleasure anymore.
  22. I have been an operatically trained lyric soprano.
  23. I am studying voice again for a performance in the Fall 2005.
  24. I have a crush on someone I shouldn't be crushing on (he's not married -- I swear!)
  25. I would marry just for the money -- but I only seem to fall for poor guys.
  26. The "someone" I'm crushing on is (I'm pretty sure) poor. (See? What'd I tell you?)
  27. I do not suffer fools gladly, and yet, I have a job which requires that I do just that.
  28. I have started three novels, two screenplays, a stageplay and a book of essays.
  29. I have finished none of the above.
  30. I once moderated a Q&A with director Frank Darabont for the now-defunct Fox Searchlab lecture series. (That's my disembodied voice you hear asking the questions.)
  31. I've met Lassie in person. (Can you meet a dog in person? Hmmmm...)
  32. I met John Wayne.
  33. I was once almost run over by Sean Connery. He apologized.
  34. I used to babysit Rachel Bilson from Fox series, The O.C. , when she was about two.
  35. I used to babysit C. Thomas Howell, when he was about nine or ten.
  36. I used to be able to do a handstand. (No more.)
  37. I have a cat that weighs 14 pounds. And he's not fat, either -- just huge.
  38. I've been to seven foreign countries, but never to Mexico or Canada.
  39. I've been to seven states, but only lived in two (California and Kansas).
  40. I've seen two American presidents in person, both Republican (Ford and Reagan).
  41. I love to travel, particularly by airplane.
  42. I want to visit New Zealand someday.
  43. I hate bugs, but I'm terrified (read: phobic) about spiders.
  44. I love reptiles, especially (non-venomous) snakes.
  45. I've hand-raised three litters of kittens.
  46. I'm not a "people person."
  47. I love Rock Hudson-Doris Day movies (especially Pillow Talk).
  48. I hate Akira Kurosawa movies. I'm sorry. I've tried. They just bore me.
  49. I like (most) Steven Speilberg movies. 1941 is a big exception. (Steven, were you on crack or what?)
  50. I love (most) Tom Robbins books. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is a big exception. (Tom, I won't even ask what you were on when you wrote it.)
  51. I dislike most plays by Tennessee Williams. I particularly loathe The Glass Menagerie. However, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is one of my favorite plays (go figure!).
  52. Two of my favorite bands, nobody's ever heard of: The Fenians and Minus Ted.
  53. I have a huge, big, gargantuan lust for Alan Rickman.
  54. I can't do a French braid, though I've been instructed by the best.
  55. I can cut my own hair, but no one else's.
  56. I can do my own nails, but no one else's.
  57. I must never again help my daughter color her hair "Corvette Red." (This edict comes from our hair stylist, Nicolas.)
  58. I've never broken a bone.
  59. I've never had an injury that required stitches.
  60. I've never been thrown from a horse.
  61. I have been stepped on by a horse. (It should be avoided at all cost.)
  62. I have fallen from a horse. (This, too, I don't recommend.)
  63. All horse-related accidents were invariably due to something stupid I did.
  64. I was estranged from my mother for the last fifteen years of her life.
  65. I was beaten as a teenager by my mother. (Hence, the estrangement.)
  66. I consider my godmother, Lin White, to be the only truly loving parent I ever had - may she rest in peace (1934 - 1999).
  67. I have two half-sisters.
  68. I have one neice.
  69. I've been told that, unless Hell freezes over, I will only have that one neice, and no more.
  70. I know all the words to the song Danny Boy.
  71. I know all the words to the song Melancholy Baby.
  72. I know all the words to The Star-Spangled Banner -- but I still think America, the Beautiful should be our National anthem.
  73. I used to pretend I was Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, when I was seven years old.
  74. I get my musical ability from my father, who has a great tenor voice, and taught himself guitar.
  75. I learned perfect pitch from my mother, who had a great ear, but no singing voice.
  76. I think I really became a good actress the day I decided to stop taking the advice of acting teachers.
  77. I've paid a lot of money for acting class.
  78. I have never been paid as an actress.
  79. I have been paid as a singer.
  80. I have never been published as a writer. Yet.
  81. I have red hair now, and I identify with red hair, but am a natural blonde. I think. It's been a while since I've seen my natural color.
  82. Sometimes, I forget I'm actually a blonde.
  83. Sometimes, I act like a blonde.
  84. Most times, I act like a redhead.
  85. Nobody gets me.
  86. I kind of like that nobody gets me.
  87. I was given up for adoption for the first three months of my life.
  88. I was taken back. (I was this [---] close to a clean getaway!)
  89. I have a half-brother that was given up for adoption -- his adoption stuck, lucky boy. (Found him once; lost him again.)
  90. My half-brother is a dead ringer for my mother.
  91. Food is my drug of choice.
  92. I usually only have about five or six alcoholic beverages a year (a 1/2 glass of champagne on New Years Day, a black-and-tan on St. Patrick's Day, one or two beers over the summer, a 1/2 glass of wine during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays).
  93. I have only smoked pot about ten times in my life.
  94. I hate the way pot makes me feel.
  95. I don't get high on life. (What's that all about anyway?)
  96. I do get high on Haagen Dasz Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream. (Yeah, baby!)
  97. I take anti-depressants. (Doctor's orders.)
  98. I am soooo much happier when I'm taking anti-depressants.
  99. I love my daughter more than I love myself.
  100. I actually love myself a whole lot these days.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Celebrity I'm Destined to Kill

What stupid celebrity are you destined to kill? by daydreamer8852
You killed
With a
OnApril 22, 2010
Quiz created with MemeGen!

According to, this is the celebrity I'm supposed to kill. I was banking on the Hilton sisters, but no. I'm sure it will be in a sordid little love triangle with Kate from A Twist of Kate. If I can't have him, no one will, you bitch!

(How I'm supposed to use the wooden mirror to kill him, I still can't fathom. But I'll bet it hurts a lot!)

Sorry, Kate. No, really... but the die is cast! Viggo is a freakin' all-you-can-eat worm buffet! (Don't make me scratch your eyes out!)