Thursday, October 27, 2011


Bridesmaids looked like the kind of movie that I would just hate - a comedy built around a wedding. I never like them. I find the wedding as a dramatic motif so insulting, and the inevitable hysteria so gratingly shrill. It makes me embarrassed to be a part of the civilization.

But I had heard good things about Bridesmaids so I thought I'd give it a try. And, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The central character is the maid of honor for her best friend, and enters a rivalry with another one of the bridesmaids who is this just too-perfect woman (played by Rose Byrne who is very wooden and annoying in Damages). Obligatory hilarity ensues.

The thing is, the hilarity is actually well-written and well-acted. The lead, Christine Wiig (I think) is very funny and very relatable, and she carries the whole movie. In spite of some very over-the-top moments, and some very broad comedy, Bridesmaids is enjoyable and worth watching.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zipper Mouth

Holy shit, I loved Zipper Mouth by Laurie Weeks so much! I heard her read some sections of it last week at the Luggage Store and was totally entranced. My mouth watering for more, I soon downloaded the novel onto my Kindle and proceeded to devour it.

The writing is fast, with complicated energized manic sentences taking you into the whorls of the narrator's mind. Neurosis, desire, self-contempt and humor all collide in this searing story of a self.

The narrative goes back and forth in time, somewhat crazily and at times jarringly. The protagonist is a lesbian junkie living in a quagmire of self-consciousness and deeply attuned to her mental and emotional processes. Her story is a pastiche of different moments, the present seemingly focused on an unrequited crush on a straight girl.

What makes Zipper Mouth so delicious is the smart, observant, transcendent prose ("the car's interior erotic with the heat of our narcissism"). I hate myself for not having written this. Not that I ever could or would.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

RADAR series at the Luggage Store

On Wednesday night, after a LONG ASS day of work, I went to a reading at the Luggage Store sponsored by RADAR Productions.

It was a great night of queer literature. The prose readings were particularly strong, and my favorites were Alvin Orloff, reading from a novel, Why Are You Smiling? and Laurie Weeks reading from Zipper Mouth. Why Are You Smiling? tells the story of an awkward teenager in the 70s, and the selection he read from included an encounter with a handsome and charming born-again. Zipper Mouth is amazingly written prose exploring neurosis and obsession, and the selection she read included a marvelous rant directed at Judy Davis.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Prohibition, Episode 1 ("A Nation of Drunkards")

Ken Burns' three-part documentary, Prohibition, is a detailed look at the social history surrounding the 18th Amendment. Last night I watched Episode 1 on the PBS website.

This hour-and-thirty-eight-minute episode ("A Nation of Drunkards") provides rich detail about the rise of the temperance movement, starting prior to the Civil War. It discusses the social role of alcohol in the US from the colonial era forwards.

Prohibition includes evocative still footage of the era, and in-depth profiles of some of the key figures in the temperance movement. In particular, it highlights the role and political agency of women in this campaign and the effectiveness of their dogged, determined, collective action.

So far the second and third episodes of Prohibition aren't available on the PBS website, but I have them in my Netflix queue. Can't wait to watch them.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Picasso at the de Young Museum

This morning I went to see the Picasso show at the de Young Museum, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris. The exhibition was incredibly crowded and I was irritated at the beginning, but gradually I just gave in to the fact that it was a fairly unpleasant viewing situation. Once I relaxed on it I was able to enjoy the show a lot more. Also, I gave myself permission not to take in every single piece.

It was marvelous to see so many Picassos that I had never see before, and just as wonderful seeing things in real life that I had only before seen reproductions of. This show made me appreciate him much more than I had done before. I saw more joyousness in the works than I had previously been aware of, as well as more darkness and depth. It was a very good show, a very good experience, and I'm glad I went. (It closes tomorrow and I almost blew it off this weekend).

Summer Hours

Last night I watched Summer Hours on Watch Instantly. This French movie is about three adult siblings dealing with the estate of their recently deceased mother. The family was related to a significant artist who had a significant art collection, and dividing up and selling the estate was a formidable and slightly emotional affair. In addition were revelations about their mother's relationship with the uncle (the artist).

This was a simple movie, well acted, with very little drama. I enjoyed watching it, but was a bit perplexed because there was only the vaguest emotional center grounding it. The estate itself was sort of the main character, with the actors assuming different relationships to it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

28 Days Later

Last night I watched 28 Days Later. I had actually seen it when it first came out, but have no memory of it. I do, however, remember watching the sequel a couple of years ago and being totally taken by it.

28 Days Later takes place 28 days after a horrible virus has gotten loose. It turns the infected into zombie-like homicidal maniacs within seconds of being bitten. It would be cheesy except it's so well crafted. The story follows a man who awakens from a coma in a deserted hospital in a deserted London and doesn't know what has happened. Luckily he meets up with two humans who haven't been infected and who have somehow managed to survive. They meet up with some others, lose some along the way to the raging infected, and eventually find their way to an estate that is protected by nine military men. It turns out being with these guys is pretty terrible as well.

28 Days Later is a scary and haunting movie, and I'm looking forward to watching the sequel a second time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Turandot at the San Fransisco Opera

Tonight I saw Turandot at the San Francisco Opera. I got $30 tickets through work, and, as I don't really know any opera lovers out here (yet), I went by myself.

I have to say, going to the opera alone really does take a fair amount of the fun out of the experience. (An opera just isn't an opera without Meridita) But I did my best. I got there early and enjoyed a plate of prawns and lentils in the house's downstairs restaurant, with a glass of wine, of course.

This was my second Turandot, and although I appreciated the story much more the second time around, I think I prefer the Met's production. The set tonight was designed by David Hockney and it had bold, flat colors -- fire engine red against black or Mattise-blue. It just had a cut out cartoony feeling to me, at least compared to the Met's lavish set. Also, at the Met I've almost always had orchestra seats, and these were grand tier and were farther away. It was actually a little difficult to hear the singers at some point.

Calif (Marco Berti) sang well but I wasn't drawn by his performance and he really does need to carry the whole opera. Although the Nessum Dorma totally sucked me in. It's just such stirring music; you can feel the whole audience holding its breath. As in the Met production, I preferred the singing and the role of Liu (Leah Crocetto) to Turandot (Irene Theorin). All in all, I enjoyed Puccini's lush and romantic music, and am glad I went.