Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Prairie Home Companion

It's hard to let go of the people you love and respect, but life sorts us out, and death is part of that continuum. Robert Altman has directed some of the great American films, and is one of the greatest American filmmakers, whose ascendancy into the pantheon will surely be accelerated by his passing. His final outing is well aware of his inpending death, and now that he has passed, there is a great sense of fait accompli in watching A Prairie Home Companion. The sketchy, loose narrative is in essense Altman saying there is no point in mourning the course of nature. There will always be a sense of loss, but, as a character says, there is no tragedy in an old man dying. In that way, the film itself is something of a vessel, or at least it feels that way today, now - perhaps when the film is cemented in the canon, a different reading of it will be atainable, but likely not. With his slowly darting camera, the audience hangs out, as it does in most of his film, surveying the recording of the final show of Prairie Home Companion like an uninvited guest at a party, bouncing from clique to clique, an observant wallflower. That was his gift, and in the corners there is always something interesting to discover.

I don't know if it's a great film, my sense is that it is minor, though an essential piece of the canon (unlike something like Pret-A-Porter, or Cookie's Fortune) and strikes me as more resonant than something like 3 Women, though that's just me. The film is very charming, but what I didn't expect is how emotional the last act made me, in a very sneaky way. Say goodbye, the film offers, I'm going away, but it don't worry me. There's something profound in that, and a perfect summation of Altman's sloppy genius. If I am a little depressed at Altman's passing, it's only for the loss of a master whose career is now encased in amber.

I just bought the Criterion collection of John Cassavetes

Good Lord, when am I ever going to have that weekend? When I do, I'm sure I'll be wrecked after. Well, what better motivation to make a list of Criterion titles that make a library complete. I skipped multiple titles by the same director unless they were in a box set. Since every film listed is a masterpiece, I'll skip the commentary.

1) The Rules of the Game
2) Trouble in Paradise
3) Six Moral Tales
4) Red Beard
5) Straw Dogs
6) Au hasard Balthazar
7) In the Mood for Love
8) Le samouraï
9) All That Heaven Allows
10) I Know Where I'm Going!
11) The Adventures of Antoine Doinel
12) The Lady Eve
13) Orphic Trilogy
14) Yi Yi
15) Naked
16) Pickup on South Street
17) The Complete Mr. Arkadin
18) The Leopard
19) Do the Right Thing
20) Fists in the Pocket

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Baby Day

Aili and I dragged Leonard out to join some friends for Thanksgiving. This week has been odd. I've been doing work as a System Analyst for a couple months now, and I got called in for a meeting on Friday last week. It was a two hour drive for a review, and three hour drive back. Honestly I was a little nervous, it was a review to determine my future with the company, and frankly I'm happy with what's going on right now. And with the drive, and getting there early and grabbing lunch it was the longest I've been away from the wife and kid since we had him. The meeting went better than I thought, they offered me a bump, and then dangled a desk job. I told them that I just had a baby and that I had to pass. It was scary. But they extended my assignment for the next six months, and I guess I'll have to come back for a review then. They didn't freak out over the baby, which is good. I work about forty hours a week, but because of the kids, it's an odd forty. Sometimes I'll put an hour or two in at three or four in the morning if I can't get back to sleep. Since I'm gonna be home a lot with the kid in the near future, I often will take the kid and take care of his needs in the odd hours out of practice. I hear this gets better at some point. But the meeting and time alone, after the meeting, so just see the possiblities of life, you know, and some of the weight of my responsibilities kicked in. I'm stuck on the 405, and I started crying. Life changes. And there you go. The iPod kicked in on Eliot Lipp's Like No Tomorrow, and I kept hitting repeat. And repeat. Couldn't get enough. It just hit home. With no lyrics.

Turkey day was great. Leonard behaved himself, and me and P. Diddy and some friends and God were all there. Both meand the wife had a couple drinks and let our kid socialize, as it were, with the gang. I don't know if God would ever take credit, he tends to suggest free will when pushed, but Leonard totally behaved the entire time. It was nice and relaxed. And I was in love again, in love with my life.

Oh yeah, my reviews for the week:
Hands over the City
Sergeant York

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Altman is no more

Most of my posters are in the garage. Covered, looked after, but I've got a couple of my honeys up. One is McCabe and Mrs. Miller. It was signed by Robert Altman, who I met in 1999. Altman was promoting Cookie's Fortune, one of the okay but not great films he's made in the last couple years (less than Gosford Park, more than Dr. T, I'd reckon). We talked about posters, mostly because I was so fucking intimidated, but he was calming and mentioned that one of his nephews was named as I was.

I've always thought of Altman as the stoner version of Howard Hakws, in that he conquered every genre: musical, western, noir, horror, science fiction, war, even teen nonsense, to which Altman put his curious stamp. There is a strong case to be made that Altman is the director for the second half of the 20th century, and when you stack up the features, few compare.

Plus he showed that Julianne Moore's carpet match the drapes.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


James Bond
Carol Reed!
Mediocre John Huston!

Spy-Curious, tee-hee. Baby, baby, baby.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Host/Borat/Mom/Shopping for Illusionary Pussy

I saw The Host. It's now my second favorite movie of the year. It was directed by Bong Joon-ho, who was at the screening. I had this planned with my boys before the wife spit the kid out, and with my mom in town, it was okay that I went. I really enjoyed the movie, but it fucks you up to leave your kid at home after being so attentive for the last couple. It was a relief, but it's still hard to leave behind. The film is coming out in January, and you ahve no excuse not to see it.

Saturday night my mom let us go out for dinner and a movie. Aili wanted to see Borat. It's funny to hear a Finnish girl do a Kazakh accent, but she nails it. Aili also loves it because it makes fun of both Americans and the Eastern Europeans. It's a two-fer. Aili had a glass of wine at dinner, but then stopped herself, thinking about the kid and the milk. That shit's fucked up yo. She still hasn't made up her mind if she's quit smoking or not. Mostly, she's worried about the weight, and most mornings now, now that she's at least a little back to it, she tries to put some time on our exercise bike. We both loved Borat, BTW.

Having Mom here (she's leaving tomorrow) was nice for the break factor. She gave us both some time to not deal with the baby, though we both are very much in the headspace where even though we might want that a little, we can't keep ourselves away. Aili's not due back in the office until mid-January, but she's already doing some things from home. Just cause. Mom got a little testy because we're both so ragged. And then on Saturday, on the way home, I slipped and tweaked my glasses. Right now it's tough, it's so incredibly tough when it comes to money, and we just paid the rent, and though Aili's still salaried for her absence, and I'm working, baby's cost money, and there's so many new expenditures. Though the glasses weren't broken, the thought of both being sightless (my only pair), and having to buy new ones set off panic attacks. Mom sort of helped by saying she'd help, but it's just the way things are. It's so tense because we're starting to build up more and more credit card debt. Part of that is just one time expendatures, but budgeting with children is difficult. And sometimes we're both horrible about getting our son stuff. We find it hard to say no to him. I took the glasses in and they were fixed in an instant, but that was fourteen hours of pure stress.

This morning I took the kid out for some shopping at our local Ralphs. Like most parents, I don't get more than a couple hours sleep in a row, so I took the kid with me this morning and let my wife and mom sleep in a bit. But by the time the two of us were ready to get going, my mom was up and did the normal mom thing by doing some cleaning. I said I'd be back in a bit, and offered to have her join us, but she was happy cleaning our bathroom. Moms be crazy. By the way, I'm finally at about B- level at diaper changing.

Here's the funny thing, it's 9:30, I'm shopping at Ralphs looking mostly like a zombie, but women just can't keep away from a baby. I looked fine, but everyone likes to stop and stare for a minute. Hot thirty-year-old women love my baby. I'm too tired to flirt them up, but it's a weird catch 22. And I get it, they don't want me that much, and the reason why they are so flirty is that babies tend to bring that out, and they know I'm safe, but being all daddy with baby is just sick when it comes to that. But that phermonal sign that I'm a breeder, and that I take care of my own is dangerous shit.

I'm reminded of a time I went out to lunch with the head of a company I worked for with a bunch of my coworkers, and the waitress was flirting with me. After she left that came up though mostly between us, and I said "Oh, you noticed that?" His response was "Well, yeah. I'm alive." Me too, I'm alive too. But I love my wife and life. So there you go.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

TiVo in the bedroom

I'm in my work room, and we're going to watch some catch up stuff tonight. South Park, 30 Rock, and The Office here in a minute. We've got the wedding anniversary in a little over a week, and this is my two year Anni for being in Los Angeles. Working from home is a trip, but with the baby and the wife here, and my mom coming in tomorrow it's harder to get work done than I like. I still make it work, and sometimes I'll be cradling my kid at two in the morning and filling out some spread sheets. SWEET. Leonard likes Granddaddy, not so crazy about Arcade Fire, likes BSS okay, and gets on great with Sufjan. Which is good. I haven't exposed the kid to any Rat-A-Tat or Dr. Dre yet. Maybe when the wife isn't around. Post Pregnancy sex is weird. Part physically, part psychologically - Aili's body is functionally different for the time being so things we used to do are different. Then again I've spent much of the marriage having sex with her while she's pregnant. We'll get there. Though also, you know, it's like the baby is always close by. I'm mean it's kind of weird to make out with your wife and gear up and then Baby issues! So if we do do anything we have to wait until the kid has just conked out, and sometimes timing stuff like that is fun, other times it's so totally unerotic that we stop before we start. We're already having the second kid talks. I think we wont make up our mind on that for another couple of months, though. I'm for it, but fiscally, it's going to be a little harder, and there's talk of moving to Portland or possibly elsewhere. It's also going to be a while before Aili can go back with me in tow to Finland, which is difficult in and of itself, or at least it's one of my wife's talking points. My guess is we'll make it through one of the shows (22 minutes, shit) before one of us passes out. That's why they call it TiVo, I guess. Maybe we'll try and fuck. Doubt it. Cause that sounds erotic, don't it?