Broad Comedy: ROAD DOGS

Road Dogs, by the immortal Elmore Leonard (who self has worshipped for many years, and who she can never thank enough for giving Timothy Olyphant the chance to strut his stuff in a white Stetson as Raylan Givens, in six seasons of the TV series Justified which was based on a series of Elmore Leonard novels), p. 195:

“Can you tell me,” the monsignor said, “why it’s been twenty-seven years since you’ve been to confession?”

“The last time before this,” Little Jimmy said, “I was in prison in Cuba for a crime that didn’t hurt no one. I was afraid I would die at the hands of prisoners desiring to make love to me in an excessive manner. But I was save by my boss, also in that prison, Combinado, before it could happen.”

The monsignor said, “And this time, why are you confessing?”

“I want to be on the safe side, confess to missing Mass fourteen-hundred times,” Little Jimmy said, “because I’m going to dinner in honor of my boss. There is a possibility he could have the fortune-teller, who’s preparing the food, poison me.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cover Art: Welcome to Self’s Universe (Actual Cover Art)

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, COVER ART, self is posting two actual covers — one of a recent issue of Prism International, the Vancouver-based literary magazine; another for Elmore Leonard’s Raylan, adapted for TV on F/X as “Justified” — and one projected:

FCover Art, Prism International 50.4 (Spring 2012 Issue):  "Soup" by Mandy Barker

Cover Art, Prism International 50.4 (Spring 2012 Issue): “Soup” by Mandy Barker

And here's a picture of the Nora Aunor of her time:  Dearest Mum.  Have you read the story "Lizard"?  You should read "Lizard" (in self's first collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA)

The Superstar of her time: Dearest Mum. She played in Carnegie Hall at 14.

For the past couple of years, self has been working on a novella about Dearest Mum’s concert career.  She’s chosen to call it “Ambition.”  If she ever succeeds in getting it published, this photo of Dearest Mum as a young woman would be the cover.  She doesn’t know who took the picture.

At Books, Inc. today, self's eyes were forcibly drawn to a shelf which happened to display:  xxxxx !!!

At Books, Inc. today, self’s eyes were forcibly drawn to a shelf which happened to display: xxxxx !!!  Self loves “Justified” and is sad about Elmore Leonard’s passing. And the show’s entering its final season. And oh, will Timothy Olyphant ever get an Emmy?  He is THE iconic Raylan.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Poem, You Make Self REFLECT

This one’s from The New Yorker of 3 February 2014. Self only began to truly enjoy poetry when she began reading The New Yorker. She adores narrative poetry now. At the latest AWP conference, in Seattle, she bought at least five poetry collections. She is determined to read them all. (She’s lucky, too: her roommate in Seattle was the poet Luisa A. Igloria)

“Ambush at Five O’Clock” (only the first three verses)

by Stephen Dunn

We were by the hedge that separates our properties
when I asked our neighbors about their souls,
I said it with a smile, the way one asks such a thing.
They were somewhat like us, I thought, more
than middle-aged, less dull than most.
Yet they seemed to have no interest
in disputation, our favorite game,
or any of the great national pastimes
like gossip and stories of misfortunes
about people they disliked.

In spite of these differences, kindred
was a word we often felt and used.
The man was shy, though came to life
when he spotted an uncommon bird,
and the woman lively, sometimes even funny
about barometer readings and sudden dips
in pressure, the general state of things.
We liked their affection for each other
and for dogs. We went to their house;
they came to ours.

After I asked about their souls
they laughed and stumbled towards an answer,
then gave up, turned the question back
to me. And because I felt mine always was
in jeopardy I said it went to the movies
and hasn’t been seen since. I said gobbledy
and I said gook. I found myself needing
to fool around, avoid, stay away from myself.

Isn’t that great? The everyday, and the cadence.

And, just like that, self whips out a poem.  But hers is about a man in a white Stetson and his best friend Boyd.

Stay tuned.

Justified 5.4: Still Great

Can it really be five years since self had her first electrifying glimpse of Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens?  Self never missed an episode of Season 1 and Season 2. She watched most of Season 3 (The end of Neil McDonough’s character: classic) and Season 4 (She thought there’d be something between the preacher’s sister and Tim Gutterson.  Self is such an incurable romantic!).

No way was she missing Season 5.  Especially not since they announced this was the penultimate season. Noooo!

Self has a Read the rest of this entry »

American TV (2nd Tuesday of January 2014): Justified 5.2 and True Detective

Self has decided that she will do weekly updates of Justified.  She wasn’t very good about doing that, the last two seasons, but her interest has returned, along with a whole fresh cast of villains and teases — Michael Rapaport, Amy Smart, Alicia Witt.

Last week’s episode, the season opener, began with the trial of dim Dewey Crowe. The defending lawyer was a blonde, no-nonsense woman, plain as day which was great because self would never have believed the scene if the lawyer had been even the least bit attractive. We see Raylan on the witness stand, looking devilishly handsome (even without the Stetson).  Self can’t resist:  Raylan on the witness stand is like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day (cue background music)

Self will never forget the lines:  “300 stands for $300,000 to be awarded to you.  Do you accept?” Dewey Crowe, who was in the midst of lodging a protest, collapses on a seat, mouth open.  The judge intones “I’ll take that as a yes” and bangs his gavel.  End of scene.

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAA!

Episode 5.1 introduced us to a new form of hillbilly:  Michael Rapaport, very beefed up.  He has a fetching sister (played by Alicia Witt) named Wendy, who’s a legal assistant (This is not the same as being a lawyer, just so you know).  There are a whole lot of murders and blood spatter.  No Jacob Pitts or Erika Taziel, boo.  But the return of Nick Searcy as Raylan’s sardonic boss was reason enough to cheer.

As self watched Episode 5.2, last night, she had very many thoughts about the series hero (Michael Rapaport was MIA until the very last minutes of this episode).  For instance, this weighty observation:

Timothy Olyphant looks so good in distressed blue jeans.  His stance, his physique — just tailor-made for low-slung Levis.  You skateboarding teen-agers with the beanies, you oh-so-cool denizens of high schools and shopping malls, you have nothing on Olyphant. Seriously, someone ought to bottle this man’s mojo and ship overseas with every pair of American jeans. It might just succeed in balancing the trade deficit or in wiping out the national debt.

Next:

Even when he is not opening his mouth, and is just staring into space (while driving, say), he needs no dialogue.  Oh beautiful.  Just keep looking at that face for 50 minutes.  Forget plot, forget who’s trying to off who, forget his low-life BFF Boyd Crowder.  That’s an American icon, right there!

Last night’s episode had brief appearances of Jacob Pitt and Erika Taziel, doing practically nothing.  At least there was more of Art.  He was exhibiting a new form of acquired behavior: bouncing a small black rubber ball on his desktop.  Art doesn’t really need such a behavioral prop.  Of course, it is nice to know that he is manually dexterous and can multi-task.  But self hated that instead of fully committing herself to observing every aspect of Nick Searcy’s delivery, her eyes were kept on that little bouncing ball.  She couldn’t help wondering if it were some kind of loaded gun, to be exploded in a later episode.  Of course, it could really be just a prop.  With absolutely no symbolism whatsoever.

Last night featured the return of another of her favorite characters:  Loretta!  The heart-faced pot dealer.  Self was quite in a tizzy wondering what trouble she’d get up to next.  Raylan is so fatherly with her.  Sweet.

Self is so glad for AMY SMART!  That girl has some serious charisma.  Banish Winona and never bring her back!

Last night’s episode featured almost NO killings.  She wondered why it was moving so slowly.  But every time the script went back to Raylan, the energy of the show increased by a mile.  She wonders what the deal is with that man who’s got all the tubes going in and out, the one with the pretty brunette wife who seems to have some thing going on for Boyd Crowder (Ava’s in jail, how convenient).  Or perhaps self is just imagining the whole frisson.

When Wynn Duffy confronts a roomful of very skanky-looking men, to explain why their drug shipments will be delayed, self kept waiting for an explosion, especially after a dude gets up to complain. He’s just your average low-life. Perfect for elimination.  Not, in other words, a recurring character.  But Wynn did not shoot him for his loud-mouthed ways.  Instead, Boyd walks in, and — get this — the protesting man actually has a name.  It’s “Cyrus.”  At least, that’s what Boyd calls him.  Oh.  So that’s why he wasn’t off-ed.  Yet.

Stay tuned for more Raylan next week.

Self will now turn to the new HBO show, “True Detective.”  This one had her agog for quite a while, ever since she found out it stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.  McConaughey and Harrelson are a dream match-up, almost as dreamy as di Caprio and Jonah Hill.  About the episode (which may have been the first):

McConaughey is so thin. A far cry from his Magic Mike appearance.

There is a dinner scene: McConaughey is the guest at Harrelson’s home.  He sits there with red eyes, looking completely wasted.  It’s a little bizarre.

The story is apparently one of these circular tales that keep switching back and forth between the present and the past.  In the present, Woody Harrelson has settled into being an honest-to-goodness suit, and McConaughey has gone off the deep end or something.  We know this because Harrelson tells his interrogators (who are videotaping the session, so we know it must be very very serious) he’s not been in touch with McConaughey’s character for about 10 years.  And when we finally get to see present-day McConaughey, he has very long stringy grey hair and appears even more gaunt:  this has got to be one of the most entertaining “spring-forward-in-time” scenarios ever.  The hair!  Or, rather, the anti-mane!  It’s like someone draped McConaughey’s head with rat tails.

The murder victim — oh, shoot.  If only self had had time to look away.  But no.  One minute we are observing the very considerable acting chops of the two leads.  The next, we see this human body strung between two trees, draped with antlers.  There’s a rubbed-out section of the torso.  OK, was that the place where . . .  gulp.  Never mind.

“True Detective” has gotten mostly good reviews.  It was a little plodding, but she always enjoys Harrelson and McConaughey.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

June 2012 Cover of The Guardian

The rise of Matthew McConaughey.

Apologies for blogging so much about actors and actresses, dear blog readers.  But the Golden Globes are taking place this coming weekend.

Moreover, she’s been reading Joe Morgenstern’s “The Year’s Top Performers” article, in the Wall Street Journal of 3 January 2014.

Morgenstern writes:  “My favorite performance this year concentrated a universe of bewilderment and self-delusion in the person of a once-vibrant woman and, not incidentally, constituted a master class in how great acting is done.”

More from Morgenstern:  “Surely the most spectacular reinvention — self-reinvention — by an actor last year was accomplished by Matthew McConaughey.  Over the course of almost two decades he’d done extremely well with playing handsome young men with sharp edges to their psyches, men who often found reason to remove their shirts.  Then came his electrifying 2012 appearance as a malign club owner in Magic Mike.”

Self would not really go so far as to call McConaughey’s acting in Magic Mike “electrifying,” but she will say this:  One Sunday in June 2012, she descended from her room on an upper floor of Hawthornden, saw the Sunday Guardian on the hall table (people were always trying to be the first to get to it), went to the Sunday magazine and saw on the cover:  shirtless Matthew McConaughey, in a cowboy hat, one arm extended to the ceiling.  HOOOLY MOLY!!!!  Self could not wait to get back to the States so she could see Magic Mike!

Another thing about the Morgenstern article?  He has nice things to say about Rescue Dawn.  Self just added the film to her Netflix queue.

And BTW, last night’s premiere episode of Justified Season 5 was excellent.  Had self drooling all over again.  No one can rock blue jeans like Timothy Olyphant.  Plus there was a moving tribute to Elmore Leonard from the cast (All hail, Tim O, rocking the thread bracelets and long hair) and producer.  It was very moving.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Daniel Mendelsohn Reviews “Game of Thrones,” the TV Series, for The New York Review of Books

In the November 7, 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books (which self began subscribing to last year, after she was exposed to its excellence at Hawthornden), Daniel Mendelsohn, one of the Review’s regular contributors, reviews the television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones epic. Heaven, self is in heaven!

But before she begins quoting from the excellent and meticulous review, she would just like to mention that The Man casually made reference to the fact that “Game of Thrones” the TV series, was airing in January 2014.  This is approximately two months earlier than self expected.  Are you sure, are you sure, she asked The Man, over and over.  The Man insists it’s a fact.  Also, he adds, the new season of Justified is airing at around the same time.

Self’s ecstasy knows no bounds.

Last season (Season 2), self thrilled to the growing friendship of Brienne of Tarth and “Ser” Jaime Lannister, whooped when he rescued the maiden from a duel with an ornery bear, and rejoiced in the hot tub scenes.  She was, frankly, bored with Daenerys/Khaleesi, who became more and more Christ-like with each episode.  But self began to notice minor characters, like Khaleesi’s gorgeous handmaiden, and the one-eyed Hound, and a very unlikely pair named Sam and Gilly.

Anyhoo, Mendelsohn cheerfully establishes his “Game of Thrones” cred, in about the 30th paragraph of his long essay:  “I read each of the first three novels in a few days, happily addicted.”  Oh, BTW, son claims to have read everything by George R. R. Martin.  Self was so happy to hear this.  Martin is a great improvement over the last “cult” author son was into:  Dan Brown.

Mendelsohn begins his review thus:

. . .  a refugee princess — she is fourteen years old but already a widow, has silver hair and purple eyes, and happens to be part dragon — stands exhausted before the walls of a fabulous, vaguely Babylonian citadel called Qarth.  The last surviving scion of the deposed ruling family of a faraway land called Westeros, she has led a ragtag band of followers through the desert in the hopes of finding shelter here — and, ultimately, of obtaining military and financial support for her plan to recapture the Westerosi throne.

Well, that’s a great moment.  Mendelsohn doesn’t like Emilia Clarke’s performance, but enjoys Peter Dinklage.

He also writes this:

Those who complained about the TV series’ graphic and “exploitive” use of women’s bodies are missing the godswood for the weirwood trees:  whatever the prurient thrills they provide the audience, these demeaning scenes, like their counterparts in the novels, also function as a constant reminder of what the main female characters are escaping from.  “I don’t want to have a dozen sons,” one assertive young princess tells a suitor, “I want to have adventures.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Fabulous Summer: Catching Up With The Missouri Review, Spring 2012

Farley's: such good coffee! 18th Street (Potrero Hill)

Farley’s: such good coffee! 18th Street (Potrero Hill)

Yesterday, self was whiling away the late afternoon in Farley’s, a coffee shop on Potrero Hill.  While reading Scientific American and the day’s Wall Street Journal, she tried the macchiato (excellent!) with a slice of zucchini bread (dee-lish!) and a scoop of caramel salt ice cream.

She was just musing about how fabulous this summer is.

Sole Fruit of Her Loins is home, and Jennie is arriving tonight.  Self loves the “Flying Kitty” birthday card that Jennie mailed to self last week.  Rawwrrrr!!!

Today, self feels energized enough to tackle her Pile of Stuff (a huge, disorganized, and ever-growing pile of unread magazines and unopened mail).  The first thing she happens to pull out is The Missouri Review of Spring 2012.

As everyone in the writing field knows, The Missouri Review is one of the top literary journals in the country.  Who wouldn’t want to be published in The Missouri Review?  Though self has never succeeded in breaking into the ranks of this magazine’s anointed, that has in no way dampened her enjoyment at reading it.

The theme of the Spring 2012 issue is “blood relations.”  Here’s how the editor, Speer Morgan (possibly the most fabulous editor’s name self has ever encountered:  It’s like the bastard offspring of a chewing gum company, Wrigley’s, and an investment bank, Morgan Stanley):

When one sets about doing harm, the people most likely to be hurt are the ones across the table, if only by reason of proximity.  Look up quotes on the word “family,” and much of what comes up is either sarcastic or humorous.  Hamlet’s stepfather says to him, “My cousin Hamlet, and my son,” and the young prince responds, “A little more than kin, and less than kind,” with both “kin” and “kind” carrying multiple levels of dark irony.  This is the norm even when your stepfather/ uncle didn’t murder your father and marry your mother.  Bring up the issue of relatives, and mockery soon follows.  “I had no blood relatives until I made some,” says comedian Andy Dick.  And yet of course the other feelings continue to survive alongside the sarcasm —  the fondness, love and hope that we associate with both our relatives and our origins.

Next, Morgan talks about the journal’s Jeffrey E. Smith winner in fiction, Yuko Sakata’s “Unintended,” which he calls “a story that shows the effects of parents’ problems on a child.”

There’s more, much more, but self has to at least make a serious attempt at cooking dinner.  And, all right, all right, just one more thing:

The Emmy Nominations were announced at 5:30 a.m. this morning.

And there were no nominations for Timothy Olyphant (“Justified”) or Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) or even Walton Goggins (“Justified”).  We got Peter Dinklage nominated again (for “Game of Thrones”), and Jon Hamm (for “Mad Men,” as per usual), and there were even nominations for “Downton Abbey.”

Oh, well. C’est la vie.  Life is indeed strange.

At least Diana Rigg got a nomination for playing Lady Olenna Tyrell (Her name reminds self of Crisco product, for some reason).  But why oh why are there nominations for “Homeland” and none for “The Americans”?  Go figure!

Is “The Killing” going to be renewed for a fourth season?  Oh pray it’s so!

Fingers and toes crossed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Peter Sarsgaard, “The Killing”

No more “Game of Thrones” until next year.  People, do you realize what this means?  It means that self has to rehash all the old episodes, everything from Season 2 episode 1 all the way to Season 3 episode 10, minus Season 3 episode 9 because she can never ever watch that wedding/massacre without having nightmares.

The Man, however, knows just how to distract her, because yesterday he casually switched channels to AMC, which was showing something called “The Killing.”

After watching for a few minutes, self realized that the Death Row inmate being hustled to the showers, the one who adroitly slips a razor blade from a bar of soap into his mouth, was none other than Peter Sarsgaard.  Hoooly Hotness! (How does one slip a razor blade  into a bar of soap?  Self has not a clue.  Perhaps more to the point:  Who put it there?)

Then self decided that the female detective with the unsmiling demeanor and the red mane of hair (played by Mireille Enos) was an interesting character.

Self let her fingers do the walking on her computer and found that “The Killing” was almost canceled.  Ratings for the season were apparently in decline.

Noooo!

Tonight, Read the rest of this entry »

Justified 4.13: Season Finale

Oh no oh no oh no.

No Justified on Tuesday nights.

How can self live?

How?

As usual, the highlights of this episode are the dialogue.

But, before getting into the loverlies, self just wants to say that Winona showed uncommon spark and fire when being held hostage and watching her man get whupped on the head by an Evil Character.  Perhaps it will not be so bad if Winona makes it back to the show on a regular basis.

Ava goes to jail.  What?  Again?  This time, it’s Boyd not Raylan who professes his intention to free her (If dear blog readers recall, in Season 1, Ava shot her husband.  But that was because he was abusive, and caused her to miscarry).  This time, she’s apprehended while dragging (very ineptly, self might add) a bundled-up corpse into a ditch.  Did she perhaps want to get caught or what?

Self is finally beginning to appreciate the whiteness of Boyd Crowder’s teeth.

She loves that Preacher’s Sister.  She’s in this episode for all of three seconds, but those seconds do resonate.

Now, where did Deputy Marshalls Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson take themselves off to?

Self will close with this classic exchange between Raylan and his boss, Art Mullen:

Raylan:  Suppose you’re going to say, I told you so.

Art:  Oh, I’d like to think I’m a bigger person than that, but I did tell you so.

How dare that reviewer (self forgets from which magazine) say that Justified is just like Cheers.  No, it is not like Cheers.  For one thing, it is not corny.

For another, Justified has lots and lots of dead bodies.  And those of you who’ve ever caught a single episode of Cheers knows that death has never been a factor in that other show.

Self thinks the reviewer confused the general amiability and geniality of the Justified characters with Cheers‘ crowd-pleasing ways.

She loves the closing:  a tight shot of Raylan alone, wearing a grey T-shirt and jeans.  Ah, Raylan/Timothy, you rule.  Self adored Justified Season 4 and was enthralled from first to last.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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