Reading Manohla Dargis in Paris: a Review of “Magic Mike”

It is starting to get dark.  Self is in Bonnie’s living room, on her red couch, reading the International Herald Tribune.  In the building directly across the street are banks of picture windows, some of which are lighted, all of which have little ironwork balconies.

So this is what she’s spent the last 10 minutes reading:  Manohla Dargis’ review of “Magic Mike,” the beefcake movie of all beefcake movies.

Before self left Scotland, she happened to read a Guardian story on Matthew McConaughey (“From Himbo to Highbrow”).  Oh my goodness, there was one shot of McConaughey taken from a scene in “Magic Mike,” and —  let’s just say self was never a Matthew McConaughey fan (though she did like one recent movie, “The Lincoln Lawyer”) but that shot was absolutely fabulous.  McConaughey’s rippling abs are on full display; his right hand is raised to the ceiling, two fingers fully extended.  He’s wearing a cowboy hat.  My God, self thought, if McConaughey looks as good in that movie as he does in this picture, self is rushing out to catch a screening, the minute she gets back to California.

And, wow, can you believe it?  Channing Tatum, who Entertainment Weekly once referred to as “an animate Bologna column” was the movie’s co-producer.  Self thinks the guy’s career does have legs.

The Manohla Dargis review is accompanied by a photograph of Tatum and his co-star, Alex Pettyfer.  The picture is a nice picture, of course.  Tatum is bending forward, caught in the middle of delivering an admonition or advice to the other fellow.  Until she saw that picture, self had no idea who this Alex Pettyfer was.  But, boy, does he ever outstage Tatum in the “hotness” category, at least he does in that picture.

Here are a pair of excerpts from the Dargis review:

  • ” . . .  few directors can sell the goods —  whether it’s Che in Cuba or Mike in a thong — as shrewdly as Mr. Soderbergh.  A restive talent who toggles between big-studio and low-budget work, he has a genius for wrapping tricky ideas, like capitalism and its discontents, into commercial packages.  Never before has he put them into cheek-baring chaps.”
  • “Those cheeks, smooth as a hairless Chihuahua, will receive considerable attention, as will the rippling muscles . . .  “

The owner of the club is called Dallas, and he’s played by McConaughey, who Dargis says gives a “spectacular, amusingly sleazed-out” performance.

Dear blog readers, the iconic beef-cake shot of a few years ago was of Tom Hardy, in a still from a scene in “Inception.” Hardy is wearing a kind of pink-ish, tailored shirt, and he looks like he’s contemplating the odds —  no other actor can pull off that kind of look, not even Michael Fassbender.

Self used to make fun of McConaughey because he was always in People Magazine with his shirt off.  But in the shot in the Guardian, it’s not McConaughey’s chest we’re riveted to, it’s his hand.

And self is so grateful to Dargis for finding a way to describe male cheeks without sounding prurient.  “Smooth as a hairless Chihuahua!”  That’s priceless!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

1st Tuesday of July 2012: 2nd Day in Paris

Self made it!  She actually made it!

This is the City of Light!  The city her sister loved because the shopping was oh-so-fab!

And Bonnie’s apartment is in an area of Montmartre which self has anointed “Little Quiapo” because —  gee, you just can’t imagine the bargains in clothing of all descriptions!  Just further up a steep hill is the Sacre Couer!  How amazing is that!

So today, self started off with a song in her heart.  And the first thing she did was buy a copy of today’s International Herald Tribune.  Then, she tried unsuccessfully to get to Musee d’Orsay.  She doesn’t know if it’s the way she says words or what, but no one could understand her (Not to mention, self had quite a lot of cheese for lunch, and she was afraid of inflicting her “cheese breath” on these poor Parisians.  So she dropped her voice even lower than it usually is.  Hence, her difficulties).

She eventually hit on an ingenious solution.  Fishing out a large piece of paper from the depths of her purse, she wrote, IN BIG BLOCK LETTERS:


And then the scales were lifted, and everyone could understand her.

She tried standing at a bus stop near Avernes and Boulevard Rouchxxxx, and three different buses came sailing by, and each time self got on and asked the bus driver if he went to ___ (Holds up the sign saying PLACE DE CONCORDE), he would shake his head and say no (Not in a rude way, mind you.  In fact, all the bus drivers she’s spoken to here in Paris have been soooo polite!  Definitely not the grouches one has been warned to expect).  After the third such “No,” self was so demoralized that she decided to stop at a café on Boulevard de Rochechouart (Don’t ask self to pronounce what she just typed) and order a cup of onion soup; (or, as they say here, “Soupe L’Oignon Gratinee” —  this may be a paraphrase of the actual menu item:  Self feels her memory is going, along with everything else).

Then, having filled her tummy with soup and big fat chunks of melted Emmentaler, she decided she would take the first bus that came along, Place de Concorde be damned!

So, the first bus to come along was a No. 30.  And self boarded and asked the driver (or rather, held up her sign), “Place de Concorde”?  He began to shake his head, but before he had even completed the first shake, self said:  “Hang on!  Is there any museum on your route?”  The driver thought for a bit, then said:  “Eiffel Tower?”  Grrreat!  Self said she could settle for the Eiffel Tower.  “It’s the last stop,” the driver said.  Even better!  Because that meant self could start reading her International Herald Tribune.

But she kept getting distracted because the places the No. 30 bus was passing had names like these:

  • ALL-IN
  • and, most impressive of all, a humongous department store (or “Supermarché”) that said:  EROTICA

The avenues got wider and more impressive, and self kept craning her neck for “Faubourg de Saint-Honorée, which she remembers from her sister’s postcards, but suddenly we were in a huge circular area, and right in front of her eyes was


The Arc d’Triomphe, in all its spectacular majesty!

And a little way further off was the Eiffel Tower, which struck self as looking rather puny (at least, in comparison with what self dreamed it might look like)

And then self got off the bus, and made the sad discovery that she was down to her last 10 Euros, which would not be enough to have dinner at the very swank places in the vicinity.  And she’s been reluctant to use her credit card, as she’s getting ready for the next bill, which is probably humongous.  So, after staring five more minutes at the Arc d’Triomphe, self boarded the No. 2 subway back to Bonnie’s place.

And then, she was in an awful pickle, because the key would not open the lock.  She kept sticking it in, turning (“to the right,” she recalls Bonnie saying), but nothing.  She could hear tumblers clicking —  click click clack clack —  and you’d think, with all that internal activity going on, you’d think the door would eventually spring open.  But — ixnay!

Self began to profusely sweat, which made her hands slippery.  She then:

removed her fabulous red mac (bought in Edinburgh, self’s own personal favorite city in the entire world)

removed her wristwatch and bracelet

threw her bag on the floor


and pushed

Nothing.  She decided she might have to call for help.  Bonnie is in the United States.  Self could not possibly dream of bothering her with self’s sad incompetence.  She decided to ring the next door neighbor’s bell, and waited with bated breath.  Alas, the lady did not seem to be home.

But, on self’s next try with the key, she felt the door give, and was through the threshold with one mighty


And practically fell over in the hallway, so impetuous was her entrance.

Self was actually thinking of wandering around a bit more, after it got dark.  But she is now so paranoid about never being able to gain re-entry into the apartment that she decides she will just read a book.

She finished Colin Harrison’s The Finder last night.  She’d give it five stars.  Oh boy oh boy oh boy, dear blog readers.  This guy is the best American crime writer self has read in years!  Thus ends the decade-long hegemony of Scandinavian mystery writers over self’s imagination.

The next book on her reading list is The 9/11 Commission Report, which is a fat 900 pages, but is so fascinating.  The opening reads like a novel:

Chapter 1:  “We Have Some Planes”

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States.  Millions of men and women readied themselves for work.  Some made their way to the Twin Towers, the signature structures of the World Trade Center complex in New York City.  Others went to Arlington, Virginia, to the Pentagon.  Across the Potomac River, the United States Congress was back in session.

In other words, that day began like any other Tuesday.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


We’ve already done the “push and pull” thing:  Oliver:  I’ll walk your bike for you.  Self:  No, I will.  Oliver: Let me walk your bike.  Self:  Don’t be silly, give me back my bike.

Self:  You don’t need to carry my bag.  Oliver:  I just want to help.  Self:  Well, I don’t need your help.  (Tug of war ensues.  As usual, self loses)

What about this?  K:  That’s not the way to go.  We’re lost.  Oliver:  It’s this way, we are not lost.  K:  No, we have to go that way.  I’m telling you it’s much quicker that way.  Bonnie:  OK, everyone, let’s just follow K!


Did self tell dear blog readers that she hasn’t ridden a bike in 25 years?  And that, during the bike ride, self:  1)  Hit a car that stopped suddenly right in front of self and b) fell down at a busy crossing, because there was another car on her left, and she thought that IF she and her bike made a dent in that man’s car, there would be hell to pay.  Better, self thought, to fall this way.  So she toppled in the right direction, and was none the worse for wear.  Didn’t even get her jeans scuffed.  In fact, the only thing that suffered damage was self’s dignity.

Oliver said to self afterwards:  Exercise is good for you.


And now to the ostensible reason for this post :  a 9/11 joke!  (courtesy of Bonnie)

Ever hear the one about Filipinos and 9/11?  Here are the terrorists, ready to take over the cockpit.  The pilot and the co-pilot (both Filipino) say to each other:

Terrorist 1:  After you!

Terrorist 2:  No, after you!

Terrorist 1:  No, I insist!  After you!

Terrorist 2:  Well, I also insist:  after you!

And the scene continues endlessly like that.

Self looked at Bonnie.  So, what’s the punch line? self asked.

Bonnie looked back at self:  I don’t know.

Self:  So, the plane probably crashes, right?

Bonnie:  Uh, think so.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

In Which Self Attempts to Channel Owen Wilson (She Will Shamble Through the Streets While Utilizing a Slouchy, Nonchalant Pose)

The living room looks over a somewhat noisy street. To the right, majestic over the treetops, is the sacred old church of Sacre Couer (99 steps to reah it — AArgh!)

These grow in a flower box on the balcony. Last night, there was some pretty lively (male) singing and bantering on the street!

Self’s first meal in Paris was a quattro farmaggio pizza (specialty of L’Fisher in Bacolod?).  Go figure.  Self also ordered seafood pasta.  Which was definitely overkill because Bonnie eats like a bird!  While waiting for her take-out order, self decided to order a dessert to eat while she was waiting.  Oh, so many sorbets!  So many different kinds of ice cream!  Self opted for the most expensive one: a lime sorbet infused with either vodka or champagne.  Hmmm, let’s just say vodka because a)  There were no bubbles in the glass, and b) the sorbet did really taste like vodka.  Wow!  Did they ladle that alcohol on!  This is the first time self has ever ever gotten tipsy from a dessert of lime sorbet!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Have met only one snooty person (She was next to me on the Eurostar), so far.  I asked her if she knew where the train restaurant was, and she pretended she couldn’t answer me.  But everyone else —  ooh, c’es magnificue! (Deep apologies to the French for mangling the language)

Studying the Rick Stevens’ French Phrase Book & Dictionary

  • “le menu touristique” – the tourist menu (Why would anyone in their right minds go to Paris to order “touristique” food?
  • “Avez-vous?” – Do you have . . . ?
  • “agneau” – lamb

In addition, self learns about:

  • boulangerie:  bakery
  • patisserie:  pastry shop
  • confiserie:  sweets shop
  • fromagerie:  cheese shop

Perhaps self’s first stop should be the boulangerie, for she is veeeery hungry.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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