Monday, January 25, 2010

Too attentive to not be offensive, than is healthy for you

But plumbing the appeal of Dwayne Johnson the actor requires setting the size of the package aside for a moment, the better to zero in on subtleties: The expressiveness of those unnaturally mobile eyebrows or the way, either in character or during the course of an on-camera interview, he almost seems to blush when he makes a self-deprecating joke, as if he were wary of calling too much attention to himself. Johnson is so good-natured that even when he's not wearing a smile, his facial muscles carry the ghost of one. Maybe that's part of his charm as a performer: For such a big lug of a guy, his star quality is of the quiet sort.

[. . .]

But they haven't tarnished Johnson either. Just as his body has been trained and disciplined to sustain all sorts of physical abuse in the ring (he retired from pro wrestling in 2004), so is Johnson, as an actor, fully willing to endure all kinds of humiliation, ribbing and teasing emasculation — and always with a smile. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Dwayne Johnson: He still rocks my world,” Salon, 20 Jan. 2010)

Try watching WWE for a week, and turn back to your crush

No one can be part of the WWE environment for all that time, and be all that sane. He'll blush, and play the puppet for you, but that's just sad. On SNL, I root for him to be able to be TRULY in on the joke. He manages it, but just barely. He's known what it is to be long alone and unsure of his worth, and he's not wholly downed, which is why I cheer for him; but he's not much more than an amphibian to Pamela Anderson's fishy-fish -- but a couple (well, maybe a few more than a couple) steps up in the "fully there" department, that is.

He managed to do WWE and be hugely popular, all the while still communicating that this was but a stage he'd be abandoning for the more respectable -- which does say something for him. If you prefer him to a Tom Cruise, it must have something to do with liking guys who are more attendant to not be offensive, to soothe down the nerved, than is healthy for them. I think that's it.

Link: “Dwayne Johnson: He still rocks my world” (Salon)

Hamlets without Hamlet -- Thoreau, or dark ages?

The application of the real world is the most powerful tool in our educator toolbox, and what better way to understand a philosophy about cultivating land than to do it? As we read pages of "Walden" and planted our seeds, quotes from Thoreau such as "I chose to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived," carried much more weight with action. And guess what? We even wrote paragraphs about it.

[. . .]

When your elementary-school child is forced to pick up his or her toys after recess, you are going to claim that because your child is a "privileged American" he or she should not be taught the values of simple tidiness? When your child has the opportunity to attend a field trip to the zoo to see the lions after studying the climate and culture of Africa you are going to say, "You're not going. Read another book"? And frankly, what about the farmers who enjoy their life as it is and truly do not need to know the entirety of "Hamlet" to have a good life and make a good living? She dismisses physical work, under the guise of respecting students' upward mobility, but it also hints darkly at her views of the people in those fields. (Alissa Novoselik, “The school gardener strikes back,” Salon, 15 January 2010)

RE: “And frankly, what about the farmers who enjoy their life as it is and truly do not need to know the entirety of "Hamlet" to have a good life and make a good living?”

But what about the corporatists, those living in the metal jungle, who well enjoy their life of millions but will never aspire beyond Dan Brown? Will you speak up for them too? Or do you just have a thing for the different kind of green? There are good ways to move away from Shakespeare, but for me -- an urbane --pastoral romance is the worst of ways. There is no wisdom in dirt, just random happenstance. If we turn to it so we better understand "Shakespeare," okay, but if we do so in an effort to make HIM the one who is optional, then the ONLY reason this is still a plus is because progressives tend to be the ones so turned on to garden-learning. Personally, I way prefer the glass and concrete; I just want interactive, democratic, child-focused learning, to be the norm.

Re: “I was so angry after reading "Cultivating Failure," that I assigned my 11th grade students a writing exercise on this question: "Is interactive learning important? Why or why not?" After 10 minutes of frantic scribbling, I heard about the necessity of things like our school garden in my students' own voices.”

So something was bothering you, and you made your students sort it out for you. Maybe next time ask what was really bothering THEM, before assigning them to match your irritated state with their frantic scribbling. You make it seem as if they eased your tension, with their experiencing your pain. They're not extensions of you to use to stamp out internal fires. I hope one of them told you to piss off. And you proved okay with that. That's the kind of fire I MOST want to see: I could give a fig about the worms (mostly).

Link: “The school gardener strikes back” (Salon)

Jack Bauer gone soft: Salon's sexiest man alive!

The old Jack is long gone, though, replaced with this sad little half-caf Jack, who takes other people's feelings into account and looks straight into his own daughter's eyes when he's speaking to her. I mean, come on, Jack! What have you become?!

[. . .]

But does Wilty Jack find Dead Inside appealing? Because, let's face it, Wilty Jack is more like a Sexy Lady Victim Du Jour this season, and Dead Inside is more like Classic, Casually Murderous Jack, which means that Dead Inside is likely to ignore Wilty Jack's pleading for sanity and mercy, sallying forth heedlessly kicking ass and taking names as necessary to round up plenty of wayward executail.

But we don't want someone with carefully applied mascara on to save the world! We want Jack Bauer to do it, damn it! (‘“24’: Jack Bauer goes soft,” Heather Havrilesky, 16 January 2010)

Re: “But we don't want someone with carefully applied mascara on to save the world! We want Jack Bauer to do it, damn it!”

Who's "we"? I'm thinking it probably at least ought to be you guys, but I'm doing my damndest to find the old Jack Bauer amongst your 2009 most desired, and not coming up with much.

I'm not sure if James Franco wears mascara, but he probably pees pink. Neil Patrick Harris. Raphael Nadel is to you, all ass, not square-jaw, and delights by dousing fires with a "charming response to a jarring moment." Joseph Gordon-Levitt went all "dolled up as an eyeliner-smeared Nancy Spungen for a fun stab at gender bending," to your approval. Neil Patrick Harris. You "finished" Zach in a way you'd think would have finished him off, making him both a bear and one who wants to cuddle-wuddle with the kids. You really turned on to Lenny Kravitz, only when he tried on Nurse John. Clooney got koodos for being "delighted to enjoy a snuggle with a nerdy goof like Kristof." Levi got it for "going camp." Ted, for being "vulnerable and disarming." Jamie Oliver, for getting kids to eat their broccoli, while being so thoughfully "accessib[ly] charm[ing]."

Neil Patrick Harris.

That pretty much left Rahm as the only candidate for a Jack Bauer, before he got soft. If you're true to your heart, you probably ought now to spend more of your time watching your Rahm: think of him as your agent, balled-up, and even closer to the heat of things.


Jack Bauer doesn't give a shit

Jack Bauer doesn't just piss excellence, he also shits gold.

Bauer is so viral his simple gaze is substitute Viagra.

Jack Bauer is responsible for the birth of 4,440,000, including his own grandchild.

Jack Bauer will have his cake AND eat it too.

There has not been a terrorist attack in the United States since Jack Bauer first appeared on television.

Jack Bauer is the only reason why Waldo is hiding.

Jack Bauer doesn't give a shit and he knows you know he knows that. (yojimbo_7, response to post, “‘24:’ Jack Bauer goes soft”)

But Jack Bauer NOW shits gold, and makes of it, a tiara.

But Jack Bauer is NOW fit for graze, beyond even the hope of Viagra.

But Jack Bauer NOW sighs his responsible, hoping for forgiveness from his over-burdened grandchildren.

But Jack Bauer NOW will have his cake, but well mourn it too.

But Jack Bauer will NOW prove responsible for 4, 440, 000 deaths, since he went all soft on tele.

But to court Jack Bauer is NOW the reason Waldo will finally come out of the closet.

But Jack Bauer NOW gives a shit, and frets you may feel a bit decomposed, should you 'come in the know of it.

Link: “24”: Jack Bauer goes soft (Salon)

Sense and Sensibility, with shovels

What's even harder to forgive is the way Anna is forced to wobble through the Irish countryside in a very pretty but extremely precarious pair of $600 (at one point she makes note of the price) ankle-strap platform shoes. The camera repeatedly lingers on these absurdly unstable shoes: Anna totters around on them, along city streets and through airports, as if perched on baby deer feet. The effect could be defended, I guess, as disgustingly adorable, until these shoes become an unavoidable symbol of how low a bunch of filmmakers are willing to go to humiliate a character: First their spiky heels sink deep into beach sand; then they find their way into thick piles of cow poo. When Anna finally has the good sense to take them off, she slips in the mud and becomes covered, from head to toe, in brown slime. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Leap Year: One giant leap backward for romantic comedy” 7 January, 2010)

Strange, this, going to movies which entrench cow poo in such near proximity to all your memories of the genre's exemplars of wit and charm. While you go to sleep, and you're not so there to keep their emotional / cognitive neural-arrays neatly categorized, you might find movies like this actually are seeping their way into the ones you hoped to keep clean. It is possible, if they have cunning, and you're feeling worn-out, that they may read this film as analogy and make sure all your wit and charm delights incur cow-dung implantation. I suppose in the daytime you might remedy this by recalling your favorites and forcing into your memory of them a long line-up of shovels, to be handed out to the main principals for use at night to scoop away the slimers. I suspect this would work . . . but at the cost of never knowing your sense and sensibilities again, without knowing them, with shovels -- a high price to pay, in poetry/farm exchange.

I think you should hire someone who likes this film to screen future romances for you. If s/he likes them, have her/him give a detailed plot summary, and then fake it for us. We're all eating a la "Francis Lam" and keeping company no more, with Hobbitan swine, so we'll understand.

Link: “Leap Year: One giant leap backward for romantic comedy” (Salon)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Talking smack to some old bird


Weaver's character -- her name is Dr. Augustine, and she's modeled, at least loosely, on Ripley from the "Alien" films -- is most believable when, in her human incarnation, she's puffing on her nearly ever-present cigarettes. (A chain-smoking scientist: Now there's something you don't see in the movies every day. I wish Cameron would show us more of his naughtier side.) (Stephanie Zacharek, “‘Avatar’: Dances with aliens,” Salon, 18 December 2010)

Still, I think many of us have been wondering: What will become of Michael Cera? It's hard to be a sex symbol when you resemble a beatific, unassuming, preadolescent Jesus on a holy card. (Stephanie Zacharek, “‘Avatar’: Dances with aliens,” Salon, 18 December 2010)

[. . .]

But "Youth in Revolt" suggests, at least, the possibility of something more for Cera. He won't be able to do much about that baby face. But when he's wearing Francois' Eurowardrobe, his gait and his carriage are different. He has more swagger, more attitude -- in fact, he's more successful at getting at theidea of sexiness than even some so-called sexy actors are. (The handsome but chilly Jude Law, as good an actor as he may sometimes be, comes to mind.) Cera may be reaching the end of road as far as playing the eternally sweet, baffled kid goes. His future may lie in his ability to channel his inner shit. (Stephanie Zacharek, “‘Youth in Revolt’”: Michael Cera, sex god?,” Salon, 6 January, 2010)

All might be good on that score. Just saw Michael Cera in the park with Signourney, chain-smoking and talking smack to some old bird who just ain't down with all the what-all, of all that the kids have it in them to say, these days. Later I hear they're going to set some dumb old tree on fire, watch squirrel-monkeys scramble about, on fire, snark, "look!, see -- they moved," as a trial balloon for channelling some inner-shit Giovanni Ribisiesque career-action. As I understand it, they're kinda hoping you might join up, and rather than shed "this embryonic reviewer's youthful genderic biases and extremely parochial appreciation of the film experience itself" (Msakel), make it your calling card, and go over-the-top bad-ass.

Link: "Avatar": Dances with aliens (Salon)

Link: " Youth in Revolt": Michael Cera, sex god?

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