17 April 2010


Before yesterday, the last time I had to go off by myself just to sob uncontrollably after watching a movie was after seeing Atonement. I had to go straight from the screen to the movie theater bathroom, wait in line with as much of a poker face as I could manage, and then lock myself in a stall and just let the sobbing rip for a good few minutes.
But yesterday I watched Dancer in the Dark. I had never seen it but I hadn't avoided it. I didn't even really know what it was about, all I had really heard about it was that it was a musical and Thom Yorke was on the soundtrack. Then a few weeks ago I saw Antichrist, which was amazing and blew me away immediately moved Dancer in the Dark up on my Netflix queue. I wanted to see more of Lars von Trier and I love Bjork, so it made sense.
I had heard that it was depressing. A few times I heard the phrase "soul crushing" used to describe it. But for the first hour or so I felt like everyone must be a wimp. It was bleak, sure: really cute, sweet, innocent Bjork works her ass off to keep her and her 12 year old kid barely above the poverty line in the early 60s. But Catherine Deneuve played her French, motherly BFF and it didn't seem that bad. I still thought this after the ominous money tin is shown, as there's no way a movie is going to show a woman stashing all of her life's savings into a tin if something's not going to happen to it. And I still thought this after we learn that Bjork is going blind and the money isn't going back to Czechoslovakia to her father but rather to pay for an operation to cure that same blindness-causing trait in her son so that he'll never go blind, too. And EVEN STILL I thought this once David Morse started getting creepy and I figured he would probably rape her something.
Well, he doesn't rape her, in the literal sense. In fact, Dancer in the Dark is probably the most depressing movie I have ever seen about injustices done to an innocent woman that don't involve her getting raped. I still had hope that maybe it wouldn't be that depressing after she gets the money back and before she is arrested. I thought maybe she'd get away with it, or something.
BUT FUCK THAT. She doesn't come close to getting away with it. Snippets of her actions and conversations from before everything went to shit come back to haunt her big time during her trial (like talking about the importance of sharing later causing her supervisor to testify against her that she was a crazy Communist). What's almost worse is that I can totally understand where everyone is coming from. If your husband is robbed and murdered by someone whom you considered a close friend, whom your husband accused of trying to seduce him, and who's poor as fuck, it's easy to see why remembering certain conversations the way the wife does would lead her to believe that Bjork is cold and calculating.
BUT SHE'S NOT, OF COURSE. She is ADORABLE and completely innocent. The only time I really disliked her at all was her refusal to tell the truth in court because of a promise she made to the dead man that ruined her entire goddamn life. It reminded me of The Reader in that way (Kate Winslet, I know it sucks that you can't read, but don't let that get in the way of you being wrong accused of operating a hardcorely evil Nazi march thing). But still.
So Bjork is sentenced to hang, which to me is like sentencing your grandma to hang. Then there's this terrible, punch-you-in-the-face glimmer of hope that her sentence can be changed, that she won't be hanged at all! Which is quickly taken away once Bjork realizes the money she saved for her son's operation would be used to pay the lawyer and because SHE LOVES HER SON SO GODDAMN MUCH and SHE FEELS GUILTY FOR HAVING HIM DESPITE THIS BLIND THING she refuses the attorney and basically re-sentences herself to death so her son can have this operation, that isn't even life-saving.
This is when it's really all about Bjork that gets you. It's a really fucking depressing situation, no doubt about that. But to see cute, sweet, innocent Bjork sobbing from the loneliness of being in solitary confinement, sobbing herself to sleep the night before she's to be hanged, unable to stand up to walk to the gallows, sobbing and screaming about how scared she is to die, screaming her son's name . . . holy fucking christ. It's almost embarrassing, that's how intimate von Trier gets us with Bjork in her last moments. And then when she's happy after Catherine Deneuve tells her minutes before she's going to die that her son had the operation and he'll never go blind, it's just like . . . holy fuck, Bjork, you are so pure and innocent and you're about to die for no goddamned reason. And then the evil prison guards hang her without warning in the middle of her song.
Another part that got me about this was thinking of the son, of his fate after the movie. Can you imagine living your life knowing what your completely innocent and selfless mother did, just because she felt guilty for giving you life because she didn't want you to go blind? The guilt you would have. Christ. Christ christ christ.

Really good movie, though!

16 April 2010


I just made this. It's a recipe for peanut butter balls. They're pretty awesome.
- They taste good
- They take something ridic like 5 minutes to make. This is very important to me for breakfast since I am both sleepy and starving.
- They used just enough condensed milk to finish up the can I opened a couple of days ago to make horchata
- They used the last bit of my peanut butter that's close to expiring

In other words you should probably make these.

13 April 2010

I have decided . . .

I think I might hate music criticism. I don't know what it is about music more than movies or books or art or whatever, but it's definitely something.
I love all kinds of different music. Some for specific reasons but mostly because I like it. I know in discourse you have to defend why you like something, but I don't know. This makes me feel like a simpleton. Can't we just like what we like and dislike what we don't like? If there's music I don't like, I don't listen to it. I usually don't freak out if someone else is listening to it.
Recently a girl in the computer lab I was monitoring was playing music out loud (ie no headphones). This is against the rules but since I've never exercised my authority as lab monitor before PLUS we were the only two people in the lab, I was hesitant to say anything. First it was "Don't Stop Believin'" which is awesome. Then it was "Genie In A Bottle," which made me wince a little but then came that stupid Owl City Postal Service-rip off song. That prompted me to tell her to turn it off. That's the only thing that really comes to mind where I've hated on someone's music. And in that instance I can put some of the blame on the computer lab rules.
Maybe it's because music is so accessible. Movies and books take a certain amount of time commitment, so I can sort of see why people look to reviews. I don't know enough about art or art criticism to really have an opinion on it, honestly. But music I feel like you can just listen to. Interested? Listen! Don't like it? Stop! Like it? Don't stop!
Maybe it's easier for me because I've never really worried about music critics on a personal level. When I was in 7th grade my way-cool TWO DISC CD player held Radiohead's Kid A and NSync's No Strings Attached. I loved them both in different ways for different reasons but never really thought about it or thought that it might be weird or anything. I still have that same sort of thing going on now when my iTunes lists Animal Collective, Taylor Swift, Beach House, Jay-Z, and Vampire Weekend among my most played artists.
The last time I attempted to defend one of these artists against a HATER was when I was talking about people hating on Vampire Weekend. Dude in my class chimed in that he hated Vampire Weekend. I asked him how much of their music he listened to and he said "I heard 'A-Punk' on the radio once," "A-Punk" being a song off their first album and they have since released a second. That's fine. Hate Vampire Weekend, don't listen to them, don't care, WHATEVER. I don't care. It all just seems stupid.
I'm oversimplifying all of this and there's all kinds of shit that goes along with criticism that I am not even going to think about touching on because it's 3am. This is just something I think about a lot.

09 April 2010

Benjamina, Age 8

My best friend Ben Frisch has a fascination/obsession with child beauty pageants. It’s hard to say that to anyone who doesn’t know him without making him sound like the biggest creeper ever and/or a pedophile. But his love of child beauty pageants is strictly limited to its comedic value.

These pageant girls all have Facebook pages and Facebook fan pages made by their mothers. One of these girls, Taralyn Eschberger (who has appeared on TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras) is holding a photo contest on her Facebook fan page. Ben decided to enter himself. He took a picture I took of him with his cat, Oedipuss, and glitzed it up. This is the result.

The original photo. Ben with Oedi on his head.

The glitzed version.

The final product on Taralynn's Facebook.

There are lots of reasons why I love Ben and this is just another addition to the list.

03 April 2010

What's up, baby? :(

This is Lewis Powell:

Also known as Lewis Payne. I personally think he's a total Hottie McHottersons. He died in 1865 when he was 21. How, you ask? He was hanged. Why, you ask? Because he was one of the conspirators involved in the Lincoln assassination.


In an interesting turn of events, Powell/Payne is a character in the new movie Robert Redford directed, The Conspirator (which was also filmed here in Savannah . . . everything comes full circle!?!) and the guy who plays him, Norman Reedus is (in my opinion) way less hot than the real historical figure. How often does that happen?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Norman Reedus (that's him up there) is ugly. He's hot, too! I just think the real dude was hotter. Too bad he helped kill Abe.

01 April 2010

In anticipation of Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?

Wikipedia's entry for Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married is so amazing. Not only does it clearly point out the stupidity/incoherence of the script, but some of the phrasing used . . . it's just perfect.

The four couples, who are also best friends, converge on a house in the mountains for a week-long retreat that has become their ritual of sorts to help work out their marital problems and ask the question “Why did I get married?”. Though the couples have committed to being physically present for the week, some of them have not been emotionally present in their respective marriages for quite some time. The week is not planned out in a well-programmed sequence, so the events unfold somewhat spontaneously, beginning with their “adventures” in getting up to the mountain retreat.

  • The first couple, Dianne (Sharon Leal) and Terry (Tyler Perry), drive up together and argue most of the way because Diane (a lawyer) refuses to leave her job at the office. She takes calls on her BlackBerry or makes calls instead of talking to Terry.
  • The second couple, Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White), take public transportation. Angela constantly argues with Marcus and with anyone who dares to interrupt them.
  • The third couple is Sheila (Jill Scott) and Mike (Richard T. Jones). Sheila is made to deplane (because of her weight and the requirement to purchase two seats) and drive the long distance in the snow; while her husband Mike continues on the flight with Sheila’s single friend, Trina (Denise Boutte).
  • The fourth couple Patricia (Janet Jackson) and Gavin (Malik Yoba) arrive by limo cab. Their journey is not documented. However, right before they leave to go to the retreat, Gavin shows up to pick up Patricia at a lecture she was giving (she is the author of a book called “Why Did I Get Married?”) and artlessly dodges a question about her own marriage.

Dianne falls asleep not long after arriving with her BlackBerry close at hand, and when her secretary calls while she is asleep, Terry tells the woman not to call them while they are on their vacation. When Patricia arrives, she goes up to wake Dianne while the men bond over the wine that Terry has poured for his wife.

The sound of arguing signals the arrival of Angela and Marcus.

When Mike arrives without Sheila, the other wives berate him and Trina, for having left Sheila to drive alone. Sheila’s husband shows clearly that he does not care for his wife at all. Her friends try to reach Sheila by phone but get her voice mail only. Sheila is persistent to get to the retreat because she wants to make her marriage work. Providence leads her to Sheriff Troy’s (Lamman Rucker) office. Due to weather the roads have been closed for the night and she has no choice but to spend the night. That same night, Mike tiptoes—not unseen by Angela— to Trina’s bedroom. Sheila arrives at the retreat house the following morning with Troy in tow. She introduces Troy to the others and tells them she has invited him to breakfast. Troy fast becomes a threat to Sheila’s husband Mike, not because of Sheila, but because of Trina, with whom he is having an affair. Breakfast is a noisy affair with the arguing couples and Angela insulting Trina, the only single woman on the retreat, whom she instantly disliked.

Throughout the few days spent on retreat, there are spontaneous revelations. The infidelity of two of the husbands leads to a discussion by the men of the 80-20 rule. This rule states that most men get 80% of what they need from a marriage yet they tend to go after the 20% that someone outside can provide for them because it appears to be more to them when it really isn’t.

The secrets that come out in their heated discussions lead the couples toward a path where they can either choose to reconcile or to separate and the latter is what happens to Sheila and Mike. Mike makes it clear he is not attracted to his wife any longer and when it is revealed he is being unfaithful, he simply tells her he wants a divorce. The vacation is cut short when all the secrets come to light, as the couples suddenly decide they cannot stay in the house any longer. Sheila checks into a local hotel to recover from the shock of her divorce and the realization that Mike has drained her bank account. She is in a depressed state when Troy goes to visit her. He takes her up to a mountain where she cries and mourns the loss of her love and the only life she knew.

The other couples head back home. Patricia and Gavin are barely speaking to each other - he called her stupid because she didn’t strap their son in and he died in an accident - but he eventually forces her to face the situation. Patricia breaks down emotionally in his arms, they reconcile. Angela and Marcus are still fighting, especially when Keisha (Marcus’ ex girlfriend and child’s mother, played by Kaira Whitehead) shows up at Angela’s salon and disrespects Angela. Marcus finally stands up to both his wife and his ex, and then frightens Angela into realizing she is wrecking their life with her constant arguing by not showing up for a couple of days. Dianne and Terry fight again right before they leave the mountains because he had a paternity test done on their daughter. They fight again on Terry’s birthday at their home because Dianne forgot about his birthday, and did not tell Terry about getting her tubes tied. Terry tells her he is moving out. Patricia meets up with Dianne and Angela, moping over their husbands and gives them the counseling they need to get back on track telling them to make a list of the good things and the bad things their husbands have done. The men drown their sorrows in the bottle.

In the mountains, Sheila is settling into a new life working for Troy in the general store his father owned and getting to know Troy and realizing her own self-worth. The two of them bond.

Angela cooks dinner for her husband when she is finished with her list, but he suspects she is trying to poison him. Eventually she explains, they make up and set conditions of the new order.

Dianne goes to see Terry and begs him to come back after crying over her list. He plays with her head a little to get back at her, but they eventually reconcile too and all the couples converge on the gala celebration for an award that Patricia has received for her work. Dianne, Patricia and Angela are shocked when Sheila introduces Troy as her husband. Ex-husband Mike, although he is still with Trina, is very jealous of Sheila’s newfound bliss and tries to weasel his way back into her good graces, but she tells him to go enjoy his “20”, referring to the 80-20 rule.

Also worth mentioning is the Production and Development section:

Perry decided to take out much of the church and message scenes because wanted the film to be “on a whole ‘nother spiritual level—there’s a whole ‘nother connection to it.” He said his writing has improved since the play.

That last line is a lie, Tyler Perry.