We had dinner with Peggi’s mom at Max’s on Monroe Avenue. We sat below some bad collage art. I tried not to let it spoil the dinner. We each ordered a roasted beet salad with orange slices and pistachios. Fantastic! We followed that up with an order of wild rice with dried cherries and pine nuts. I forgot all about the art.
Our NetFlix queue had two documentaries lined up in a row. We sat through Sicko a few nights ago and the Ralph Nader movie last night. I had a couple questions about Sicko. Isn’t Michael Moore big enough to stay out of his movies? And why is he so big anyway? And during the Nader movie I kept wondering why he wasn’t in the 2008 race and then he announced his candidacy this morning. We need more parties but how about somebody younger with a sense of humor? Hillary’s crack about “Change you can Xerox” rang a little differently in Xerox’s hometown but it still landed like a clunker. Xerox hasn’t been synonymous with copy since the desktop revolution.
We walked to the library and returned “Duma Key” which was two days overdue. Peggi did manage to finish the 600 pages. She told me I should read this one because it is all about painting. Some guy loses an arm and then takes up painting and discovers his paintings actually affect people’s lives. I’m busy reading “the Object Stares Back” by James Elkins. We stopped at Wegmans and picked up the ingredients for the “Hot and Sour Soup” recipe that was in the paper. Shitake mushrooms, Bella mushrooms, tofu, ginger, scallions, garlic and red pepper. Peggi also made some bread with buckwheat flour because we ran out of unbleached and we ate like kings.
“Big wood and brush. Big wood and brush. Do you know the difference between big wood and brush?”, “Jimmy Carter Says Yes!”, “Little Love Bug”. These songs, from a cassette tape that Chris Zajkowski from the Squires of the Subterrain gave us, have been stuck in our heads for twenty years. And we don’t even have a tape player anymore. The cassette was a collection of song poems, hand labeled, “Beat Of The Traps”, and I think he got it from someone in NRBQ. The songs were lyrics by anonymous people put to music by studios that advertised in the back of magazines. A couple hundred bucks and you had a box of 45’s with your song on it.
Our friend and neighbor, Monica, had just returned from Paris and so we had her and Rick over for dinner last night. We made barley mushroom soup from the Moosewood cookbook, chicken marinated in a lime juice vinaigrette and a green salad. Rick made a no cholesterol angel food cake for dessert and we ate that while watching “Off The Charts, The Song Poem Story”.
The charming Gene Marshall, who claims to have cranked out 10,000 songs, was responsible for “Big Wood and Brush” and “Jimmy Carter Says Yes” and he stole the show. He dominates his band and bulldozes arrangements on the fly while “sight singing” lyrics that have just been put in front of him. Improvisation is one thing but watching him try to keep a straight face and get through these songs in one take was thrilling.
The local paper interviewed people about what they planned to do with their rebate checks and this one guy said he was going to buy a big screen TV. The question is, “Is now the time to buy one, before the Super Bowl, or will there be even better prices after the game?”
My father asked if I would go along with him and my mom to look at TVs because their picture tube is going. They have one of those wooden cabinets with doors that close. Their screen is 29 inches now so the salesman at Charlotte Appliance told us that the 32 inch sets would actually be smaller than what they are used with the new aspect ratio. So he recommended the next size up, a 40 inch set, and they had three Sony’s to choose from. We liked the 1080p resolution but we weren’t ready to buy.
Charlotte Appliance is in an old theatre so they have all these rooms on different levels. On the way out we looked at the big Lazy Boy style chairs in the furniture section and this one was so huge we just started laughing. I hopped up in it and my feet were well off the ground. All three us of could have fit in this chair. It was kind of like those Monster Trucks.
Next stop was Rowe Photographic. They had the same set for $100 less and they would match Circuit City or Best Buy but the sale prices only lasts until February 1st. My father went home and cut out some newspaper so it was the size of the new TV and he hung it on the front of their old cabinet. My mother thinks it is way to big for their living room. My father is ready for the big screen experience. It is a standstill.
We recently watched Julie Christi in “Away from Her” and last night we saw local boy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, in “The Savages” so we’ve got picture of what it will be like if Peggi or I lose it before we kick it. I don’t remember a soundtrack in the austere “Away From Here” but “The Savages” opened with a beautiful Peggy Lee song (I Don’t Want To Play In Your Yard) and closed with a beautiful Velvet Underground song (I’m Stickin’ With You). I guess dementia won’t be so bad if the soundtrack is good.
It has taken us three sittings to work our way through “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” (El Bueno, el Feo y el Malo) and I’m still trying to come up with a good response to the voice over question it poses, “If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”. If we are supposed to pick one of these three characters, I would vote for the Ugly (Eli Wallach). He steals every scene he is in and makes Clint Eastwood look silly.
Painting class started up again last night and there are only six people in Fred Lipp’s Advanced Painting class. I can’t figure out why more people don’t take this class. Peggi goes to her yoga class and that seems like a good alternative but what else would you be doing on a Tuesday night?
I have noticed that the sloppier I get while painting, the better my painting looks. I don’t mean that the painting looks sloppy, it’s the floor around the easel. And I’m not aware that I am being sloppy until I look down. I drop paint and then step in it and walk around in it. I get paint on the handles of the brushes and then on my hands and my clothes. I wouldn’t think this is anything to aspire to. It is probably some sort of phase that I am going though. And speaking of phases, I feel as though I am stumbling along and proceeding as if that is a method. I don’t know exactly what to do next so I paint something, react to it, correct it by scraping it off or wiping it with a paper towel and then move on. My paintings look better to me and that is all that really counts.
Our friends and neighbors, Rick and Monica, invited us over for dinner last night. Monica made what she calls “comfort food”. The dish had biscuits and chicken and peas in a milky broth and it was delicious. I felt like we were back in Bloomington, Indiana having dinner at the Workingmans’ Cafe. After dinner we watched “Yo Soy Cuba”, a wild 1964 Russian made film about the Cuban Revolution. It reminded us of Sun Ra’s “Space Is The Place” with its unreal setting, exotic characters and otherworldly soundtrack.
Peggi dismantled the xmas tree while I read yesterday’s paper. I will take the tree out back and cut it up into little pieces to recycle it. I painted for about two hours and then headed out to rake leaves. Won’t have to do that again until next year. Wait a minute. It is next year.
We helped our neighbor split wood for about two hours and he let us borrow a Jean Renoir’s “Boudu, Saved From Drowning” to watch. It was remade as “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” with Nick Nolte and Bette Midler. He also invited us over to use their hot tub tonight while they are out. We will definitely take him up on that offer.
La Moustache is a killer movie based on a really simple premise. This guy shaves his mustache and no one notices or they pretend not to notice. He is not too sure. No one is too sure and the movie doesn’t let you know what is really going on. It gets really crazy and then everything works out. The lead character’s wife tells him. “Don’t worry, it’s just like when you get too high. Keep in mind that you always come down.”
Our next door neighbor, Leo, was featured on the local news last night. I was sitting right here at my desk when they shot the footage yesterday. You can see our house in the background of one of the outdoor scenes.
I don’t really know if I believe it is possible. I’m thinking of how our cat, Ornette, slaughters chipmunks for kicks in the summer. Peace in the animal kingdom has its own kind of order and Bush has his own new world order in mind for us. But we decided to echo the Prince of Peace’s old fashioned sentiments in our card this year. We were cross country skiing when I took this picture. It’s a view of the marsh on Conifer Lane near our house. See Huntington Hills Marsh photo.
We took a walk down to the bay where the town has been building a million dollar retaining wall to protect a few funky beach houses. It was cold and icy down there. We saw a mailman with a Santa hat and a plastic Xmas ferris wheel in someone’s front yard – people trying to out geegaw their neighbors on a holiday (formerly a holy day) so devoid of meaning we all it “Xmas”. There was an article in the paper this morning about a white guy in Houston who saw a couple of black burglars in his neighbor’s house. So he grabbed his gun and blew them away. He is claiming self defense. They were found with a pillow case full of jewelry beside a sleigh and a Santa cow with a sign, “Have a Moo-ry Christmas”. Like Tommy Lee Jones said in “No Country for Old Men”, “you can’t make this stuff up”.
We watched that movie last night with Rick and Monica. They are movie freaks but they like to sit in the back of the theatre for some reason. Peggi and I usually sit in the third or forth row so it fells like we right in the movie. The movie was pretty cool but it lost steam at the end. Tommy Lee and Javier Bardem were great. Javier Bardem was great in Goya’s Ghosts too. Goya was laughable in that movie.
Tonight we are supposed to get heavy snow after midnight. 4 to 7 inches and get a load of tomorrows forecast, “Periods of snow through the day with blowing snow in the afternoon. Snow may be heavy at times. Additional accumulation 8 to 15 inches. Windy with highs in the lower 30s. East winds 20 to 30 mph…becoming northeast. Gusts up to 40 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. ” Sounds like a sure thing but if you can’t count on the weather coming down like they call it around here. We are hoping to ski in the woods.
We watched Orange County last night with Jack Black, Catherine O’Hara and Colin Hanks as family and Schuyler Fisk as the girlfriend. The tagline for the 2002 movie is, “It’s not just a place. It’s a state of mind” and sure enough this film could have taken place anywhere. It is a very entertaining slice of life. Five stars. Perfect fair for a family gathering. My wife’s mom was the only one not laughing. We took a 4 mile walk in the Will Rogers State Historic Park. It was a beautiful day for a walk but I think it’s always a beautiful day in California so that’s not saying much.
Will Rogers Park looks like all scrub brush but there are some beautiful trails that hug the hillsides and keep you out of the blazing sun.
Our nephew, Andrew, asked if we wanted to go the the Hammer Museum on the UCLA campus. We saw a show of Francis Alys’ work—mostly video installations of his performance art called, “The Politics of Rehearsal.” An old red VW bug tries to drive to the top of a steep, dusty hill in Tijuana only to roll back and try again while a band stops and restarts a song. A stripper continually removes her clothes and puts them back on while Alys is heard off camera discussing Mexican politics. And in a collaboration with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Alys uses rehearsal footage from a scene in Inarritu’s film, Amores Perros, along with outtakes, alternate camera shots and the final take to again illustrate his zen-like idea of enjoying the ride and the opportunities for renewal instead of focusing on closure.
I first met Brad Fox in high school. His father had paint by number clown paintings all over the house. Brad’s parents were getting a divorce and they were trying to figure out what was up with their son. They had Brad take a bunch of tests and one of the questions was, “Who is Faust?” “What does that have to do with intelligence?” Brad would ask. I didn’t know who Faust was either and I never found out until I saw F.W. Murnau’s 1926 formerly silent film, Faust, with music by the Willem Breuker. This is a match made in heaven. Willem Breuker Kollektief has been to Rochester at least ten times in the past. Willem can’t travel with the band anymore because of his heath but his band sounded fantastic in the Bop Shop atrium last week.
Their next stop was the Dryden Theater at the George Eastman House where they were performing the score to Faust live. I wasn’t able to make that show so I bought the dvd of the movie from the band. The movie is incredibly rich looking for an old black and white. The set designs are stunning. The short ceilings and small doors frame the actors like a fanciful puppet show. The special effects are dreamlike and artful. This movie is timeless and holds up to anything made today. Willem Breuker’s score covers a lot of ground and is equally timeless. The band is so musically fluent, they are able to turn on a dime and keep up with the devil in the midst of the plague and a metaphysical conflict between good and evil.
Margaret Explosion played a party after the screening of Brian Strine’s film, The Butterfly Knot. It was a pretty cool gig. It’s always good if the band has a good time. Bob Martin was out of town so Jack Schaefer sat in with us on bass clarinet and guitar. The party house was perfectly funky. It’s been around since the fifties and used to be called, “Valley Echo.” We made a note to rent this place for a party. Matt Pfohl, the film’s co-star sat in on drums and rocked the house.
The movie was shot in the Thousand Islands and cuts a deep groove. The soundtrack is in flux while the contracts get ironed out but it is all seventies stuff like Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris doing the Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody.” Blind Faith and Nick Drake were in there for the screening but may have been dropped by now. John Martyn has a track and his wife, Beverley sets the mood for the pot scene. I guess the ending is in flux too because they passed out questionnaires trolling for endings.