Sunday, September 28, 2008

Raising my bottle of vinaigrette

Oddly enough, one of my favorite Newman clips remains this screen test for East of Eden:

Naturally, I think this in part because James Dean is in it and everyone knows how I swoon for Jimmy. (Note: Giant played on PBS tonight. All kinds of good.) But man, this is so wonderful in part because Dean and Newman are so wonderfully different. Dean is clearly taunting the boy with the bowtie in a very sexual way -- and I don't say that just because he says, "Kiss me." The mutual stare at the end almost looks like they will either come to blows or make out. Either way might have worked for the film.

The funny thing, of course, is that it's arguable that Newman got his big break because of Dean's untimely, pointless death. His role as Rocky Robert Wise's Somebody Up There Likes Me broke Newman out of pretty-boy roles on television and into film and, quite frankly, the movies were never quite the same (or at least the leading men). As much as I am a Dean fanatic, I'm fairly certain that, like his idol Brando, he would have burned out or became large and eccentric had he survived. At the very least, he would never have had the career that Newman did -- or, indeed, the life that Newman did. The clip above is a funny reminder of how two stars diverged so very much from this point on -- and yet how both have gone down in infamy glow brightly, only in our collective memory.

Thank you, Paul.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

He knows not of what he narrates

No, I am not referring to any of my lectures. I am referring to my son's current narrative strategies, which is to take several things he has learned about and combine them into a new, even more exciting story. As I have previously mentioned, The Blob has already entered the family parlance, although now it refers simply to tasty jello. Somehow, however, the boy did manage to also process the correct definition of "The Blob," i.e. scary monster that creeps (and leaps and gliiides... OK, yes, please stop me now). I swear, he hasn't seen the movie. (Yet.)

This was apparently combined this evening at dinnertime while Angela and Xan were riding home together on the bicycle with the concept of "robots," apparently acquired through a friend at school. (I was not a first-hand witness to this, by the way, because it was "back to school night" at the preschool and I was the one on hand; at this meeting, the parents of the aforementioned child wanted to know is "camping" was a topic at school, because their son suddenly wants to go camping. It's hilarious how quickly these concepts are picked up.) Add the ever-constant Thomas the Tank Engine, who appears in all narratives these days. (Even when they involve pirates. Don't ask).

This results in the following narrative, explained matter-of-factly by Xan to Angela tonight: "The Blob and the robot were chasing after Thomas very, very fast. Thomas was scared -- but then he was faster and got away. From the Blob. And the robot. Who was big."

Personally, I think this would make a fantastic movie myself.
Apparently, Thomas doesn't share my opinion.

Friday, September 19, 2008

After all, it's just jello...

As indicated by the last post, we're becoming slightly obsessed with The Blob over here chez Middents-Dadak. Since Angela has been posting about this on her Facebook page, I suppose I let the world know why. For the last few years, our department has hosted a Literary Dessert Party, featuring all sorts of inventive confections inspired by works of literature. Since I am one of the film folks, we decided last year to enter with a film-inspired dessert instead. (You can see last year's entry here.) I still like the idea of One Hundred Cookies of Solitude, but our oven's being on the fritz prevents that from happening. In fact, that prevents most desserts... except, of course, gelatin.

Hence: our entry this year will be The Blob.

Angela gets all the credit for this, having heard the NPR story about the flick's 50th anniversary last week. I did go out, however, and acquire the flick from the library's collection. It was wonderfully campy and, I thought, hilariously funny, right from the opening credits with the fab Burt Bacharach theme song. ("Beware of the blob, it creeps, and leaps and glides and sliiides across the floor!" Priceless!) I watched it on Tuesday when no one else was home and was telling Angela all about it at the dinner table that evening.

Xan, of course, was listening. "Can I see The Blob, Dad?"

Angela looked at me and said, "I don't know. Can he?"

I considered this. Remember that he has been exposed to a grand total of about a half-dozen movies in his lifetime so far, mainly ones featuring musical numbers or trains like Singin' in the Rain or The General. So if we were to show him The Blob, it would be one of the very few we've allowed. On the one hand, I'm loathe to show him what is actually a horror movie at the tender age of three-and-a-half. On the other hand, when I taught my course on horror movies, my students indicated that they had been exposed rather early to really terrifying movies at the age of five. Besides, the boy has already entered Pirates phase and is all about swashbuckling and what-not. (There seems to be a progression of interest from trains to dinosaurs to pirates among young boys; if this is true, we seem to have skipped over the Tyrannosaurus for now.) So how much harm would cinematic man-eating jello cause? Certainly this is less creepy than Grimm's Fairy Tales (which we also haven't started) and I suppose there are worse things to happen than to develop jangelaphobia.

Luckily, I had to return the movie before Xan could watch it. But now he's curious about it. So I open the idea to you: do you think it's to early for The Blob? (It creeps!)

(By the way, we are not dressing him as the Blob for Halloween. Although maybe that's not a bad idea for me...)

UPDATE: In case anyone wants to see what the end result looked like (although it's a shame you can't taste it, because it tasted far better than it looks...):

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beware the Blob!!

I just got finished watching The Blob and all I have to say is that if the Republicans want a real reason to prevent climate change, perhaps they should consider what's frozen up there...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

That Darn Cat

So I have a cat, named Vega. Or rather, my wife has a cat named Vega. We got her together, but now matter how many times I happen to be the one who either feeds her or gives her water, she only seems to have love for Angela. Unless I happen to by typing, in which case she shows love by purring on my wrists so that my chances of acquiring carpel tunnel syndrome triple every ten minutes.

This evening, I was taking two bottles out to the recycling. It was a little warm and I was wearing a t-shirt and boxer briefs, but I would be out for only a moment, so I thought, why bother? I turned off the front porch light (just in case the neighbors would be offended) and opened the door,

Vega took this moment to dash out the front door.

This has happened before. Thankfully, she is also a Scaredy Cat, so usually one car going by on the main road will freak her out enough that she realizes she doesn't like being outside and runs in. Either that, or a brief chase. I took off after her, but this time she quickly dashed back into the darker driveway.

I realized that this might take slightly longer than the usual 90-second chase and therefore pants might be more prudent. I quickly found a pair of shorts and raced outside again. After a few minutes, I saw she appeared at the back door. I went up to open the door for her, but then she abruptly turned.

And subsequently disappeared.

I started freaking out at about the 15-minute mark when I realized that if I couldn't find her, going meticulously through the yard with a (mini) flashlight might also be pointless. I started asking random dog-owners out walking their mutts to please let them loose in the yard to flush out my cat, only to find that all the dogs out walking by me were already used to cats and wouldn't bark. I went through the whole back yard several times with a flashlight, including the sketchy area next to the garage. Where I got my face stuck in a spider web. Uh huh.

Angela knew none of this, being on a red line train. At the 30-minute mark, I finally called her, saying that I can't find Vega anywhere and that I would pick her up when she got to the train station, because by this point I've also called our neighbor Meipo to watch Xan (who is fast asleep) while I stretch further away from the house to look for her. At this point, I'm in a state of mild panic: a feeling of I-hope-she's-OK mixed with stupid-cat-why-did-she-sneak-out to what-the-hell-is-Angela-going-to-do-to-my-testicles-when-she-finds-out-her-cat-is-gone. None of these are pleasant feelings. When I pick Angela up from the train station, I'm tense and near tears.

We arrive home. Angela whistles once and says, "Vega!" Out of nowehere, our cat scampers to the porch and meows once.

On the one hand, I'm so happy that stupid wretch of a cat is OK. But after 45 minutes outside looking for that fucking loser excuse of a cat who didn't even acknowledge that I was looking for her, no matter what I said? I'm telling you: I ain't feeding that damn thing for a week. Maybe some bananas.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Hot for....

Jimmy Kimmel recently said that VP candidate Sarah Palin "looks like one of those women in the Van Halen videos who takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair, and then all of a sudden, she's in high heels and a bikini."

Like so:

Despite my love and appreciation for "Hot for Teacher," as someone who appreciates the English language (perhaps more so than Palin or Halen), I much prefer to be hot for words.

I mean, really, wouldn't you?

(h/t to Ange via GrammarBlog, who says "She makes me feel funny, like when we used to climb the rope in gym class." Ahem. Yes.)