Sunday, January 29, 2012

well, I decided

I decided to do a small, special line for the Village Scandal.  The woman had said she was interested in a necklace like the one I was wearing, but in a choker length.  I made one, I'll make two more.  Then I came up with an earring where I put about a dozen beads on headpins, put them on a jumpring, then chain and an earring hook.  Kind of a play on a 1960s cocktail earring.  Since this store does a lot of vintage-look stuff, it should be perfect.  Made four pair of the earrings, and I think I'll make one more, and maybe one for myself.  I've done that style some, only without the chain.

Apart from making four pair of earrings this weekend, I watched The Dirty Picture and Senna and a few episodes of Downton Abbey.

Downtown Abbey:  had to see what all the fuss was about. Dear Lord, it's Upstairs Downstairs again, and with Maggie Smith in it!  You had me at "Ring for tea"!

The Dirty Picture was probably one of the better mainstream Hindi films of 2011.  Vidya Balin was excellent, and I always like Naseeruddin Shah; I actually know him from western movies too.  It's awards season over there, too, of course, so you get a pretty good idea of what was mainstream in the past year.  (Also, I watched those Indian showbiz programs on Saturday morning, and that's all they're ever pushing.)  So, there'll be a lot of prizes for films and people in films like Don 2, Ra.One, Bodyguard, Desi Boyz, and so on.  Vidya Balin should win some prizes and there were a couple of first-rate songs in The Dirty Picture.  But it's gonna be all Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan.

Where was I? Dirty Picture.  Some of the plot was just really bizarre, and I find that in a lot of Indian movies.  Sometimes I must be missing something...other times, it's probably just bizarre.  In this movie, I couldn't quite figure out why the Abraham character (Emraan Hashmi) became the enemy of Silk.  I got that he didn't like the idea of using sex to sell movies, but I didn't get why this made him feel he had to destroy her.  It just seemed like an insane overreaction.  And then there was this business about how he both liked and and hated her, and since I couldn't figure out why he hated her, it wasn't working for me at all.  But the overall rise-and-fall plot was just fine.

Senna was a very talked-about documentary last year, about a Brazilian Formula One race car driver who was very successful and well-known in the mid-80s until his death (crash) in 1994.  Not being much of one for car racing, I had no idea that they put cameras right on the cars, so there were big chunks of the movie where you are actually watching a race from Senna's seat, which is pretty amazing.  But I was also acutely aware of the construction of the film, that what was shown was very carefully chosen to create only one opinion about the man and the events.  No distractions, no uncertainties.

This is going to be a murderous week at work -- classes starting tomorrow, and I've somehow found myself with three interns.  Learned just this past week that I would have to take a high school intern along with the two college interns I already have.  I feel like I'm going to spend all my time finding things for them to do.  And I'm going to have someone in there with me almost every working hour, which feels a little stifling.  But I'll just take it as it comes.

Do I distract myself with never-can-happen imaginings?  Well, yeah.  Having a small life day-to-day doesn't mean I can't have a big life in my head and my heart.  I don't suppose there's anything wrong with doing the daily things right, as much as possible, and dreaming big dreams.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

in the cheapie store, I kid you not

If by any chance you didn't see it on Facebook, I was in a big discount store today and ran right smack into Richie Havens.  At first, I thought, wow, there's a guy here in the discount store that looks just like Richie Havens!  Then I saw another guy had come up and started talking to him, and I realized that it indeed was he.  I introduced myself -- rather, reintroduced, since I had interviewed him around 1996.  I mentioned the interview and he said he remembered it, which was either true or very nice of him to say.  We talked a little about Bill Perry, a blues guitarist who had started with Richie, made a big impression with his own band, and died very young of bad health coupled with bad habits.  I promoted Bill very heavily when I was first at Blues Revue and Bill had released his first album with a national label.  (Bill indeed lived up to my hype, which made me a lot of points at BR, since I started there with basically no music journalism experience except an interview with Peter Stampfel in Folk Roots.)

Anyway, Richie is a super-sweet guy, just a very laid back and mellow guy.  And he belongs to a very elite group:  he played Woodstock.  In fact, he opened Woodstock.

I was not old enough to be at Woodstock (1969), but it was a huge event in the consciousness of every American rock fan.  It was the first of the big outdoor multi-day multi-band concerts.  And the line-up was outrageous.  I believe the Who gave their first US performance.  Ravi Shankar performed.  Janis Joplin and Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Grateful Dead.  Oh, and Jimi Hendrix.  So it was kind of cool today to spend a little time chatting with someone who played Woodstock.

I'll sign off for now, since I just got distracted on YouTube and watched a Ruben Blades video.  I can see I'll be doing some pool-table bouncing around YouTube for a while.  I DON'T HAVE TO GO TO WORK TOMORROW.

Here's the Ruben Blades video, which is a great song on a cheesy set, probably from the 1980s. Well.  I can't find the right one.  Why I cannot retrieve a list of My Favorite on YouTube (owned by Google) to Blogger (also Google) is beyond me.  I have to do a search on YouTube, and often can't get, or am not sure I have, the same version I have saved in My Favorites.  WTF GOOGLE?

Screw it: .  This is Ruben Blades doing Camaleon.  I haven't listened to him in a while, and he should be listened to.  He totally rocks.  Oddly enough, I'm pretty sure that the reason I never listened to him more is that I don't understand the lyrics.  Duh.  I've pretty much listened to nothing but Hindi music for a couple of months now, and I understand way less Hindi than I do Spanish.  I think Ruben's going to get back into the heavy rotation at some point.

Well, why don't you all come along on my YouTube tour?  First off, I have no idea who's reading this -- Indian movie fans or craft jewelers? -- so I'm just not aiming this at any one.  I'm just gonna watch some videos I like.

I just discovered these guys the other day.  This is because I am over 25 and new music does eventually get to me, but a little more slowly.  They're pretty popular.  Their songs are very dance-y and synth, but they're really catchy.  And these videos made me laugh my ass off...not surprising.  The band is actually called LMFAO.  Here's the wild part:  the two guys are Berry Gordy's son and grandson (one is the uncle of the other).  Berry Gordy founded Motown.  I keep thinking I shouldn't like these guys, but I do:

MY president can sing an Al Green song!  Maybe we should elect Al Green in 2012.

That's probably enough for now.  I have big plans to stay up late and watch a movie, to be determined.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I somehow forgot to mention that I also watched The Artist yesterday.  This was a charming and wonderful movie, revisiting the silent-to-talkies transition in a very sweet way.  And you gotta love the dog.

Oscar nominations tomorrow morning!

not great & not funny

"Not great" was the movie I watched last night, Dark Matter.  About a Chinese grad student, used (in an academic sense) by his faculty mentor, then discarded when his work threatened to supersede his mentor's...the change in the student's behavior seemed very sudden, and I have no idea what Meryl Streep's character was doing there.  I guess the character -- a wealthy, well-meaning woman fascinated with Chinese culture who tries to make the Chinese students feel welcome -- was made to represent the overall cluelessness of the Americans interacting with the Chinese students.  And the wonderful Bill Irwin, who played the husband of the Streep character, had absolutely nothing to do.  If you're going to bother to put Bill Irwin in a movie, at least give him something to do involving dance or body movement (see My Blue Heaven or even Eight Men Out).

Not funny:  this idiot writer.

I made a necklace last night, just for the new store: a rosary-link choker with drops between the joins, mostly carnelian with a little citrine and a couple of pearls.  And now I find myself out of headpins.  I may have to make the move to silver-filled, since silver is just way too expensive.  But I think I have enough pieces now to bring to The Village Scandal this week.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Holly or Bolly? both

Last night I watched The Descendants, the new Alexander Payne movie with George Clooney.  Whenever I think about Clooney, I think about his good taste as a producer, his good work as a director, and how much he makes me think of Cary Grant.  But for some reason, I tend to forget what a good actor he is.  This was really not a glamorous role, and he was entirely believable.  He's always more subtle than I expect.  I don't know if the Oscar noms are in yet (don't think so) but I'll say he should be be up for best actor (perhaps also for best supporting for The Ides of March).  Who would have thought the handsome doctor from ER would have turned out to have that kind of talent?  

I'd had two recommendations for Dil Chahta Hai (one was actually for anything with Aamir Khan) so I watched that.  For a friends/romance/comedy movie, it was quieter and less silly and less melodramatic than many.  (No "boing!") sounds effects like in KANK.  And Aamir Khan is quite good.  I knew what he looked like but hadn't seen one of his movies before.  Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna were also quite wonderful.  All around, no one overacted, the musical scenes fit nicely.  There was a scene in a movie theater with Saif Ali Khan and Sonali Kukarni where the two of them are in a scene from a 1960s movie; I don't know the movie, but I bet the character Ali Khan was supposed to be is Dev Anand.  He had that Dev Anand look to him.

Met someone today (is that the right thing to say when it's online?) who is a great fan of James Stewart, via Alfred Hitchcock, not via Frank Capra.  I am an unrepentant hater of Frank Capra.  He's generally thought of as a great filmmaker, but I find him so sentimental and manipulative that he just makes me ill.  And it's a shame that he hijacked James Stewart into a lot of that.

But I totally get James Stewart via Hitchcock.  He's not an actor I think about all that much, though I kept flashing back on a young James Stewart, kind of Philadelphia-Story era, tripping over his own long legs, when I saw this:

No, really, not just an excuse for another Big B clip.  It really did make me think of James Stewart.

It occurs to me that if you like James Stewart (this is for Pankaj if you're there), that you'd also like Jack Lemmon.  He did great comedies (Some Like it Hot) and great dramas (Days of Wine and Roses) and great character parts when he was older (Glengarry Glen Ross).  And by the way, everyone who likes Scorsese and Tarantino and those guys should check out Glengarry, which was written by David Mamet; his stuff fits in there very nicely.  Plus the movie has guys like Ed Harris and Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin...and then Alec Baldwin shows up for about five minutes and steals the entire movie.

But back to Jack Lemmon:  to me, the contemporary actor who is most like Jack Lemmon would have to be Tom Hanks.  He went almost effortlessly from being a light comic actor to being a serious actor with real talent.  (He won back-to-back best actor Oscars for Philadelphia and Forest Gump, although I may not have those in proper chronological order.)

He's also in Apollo 13 which is one of my flat-out all-time favorite movies.  I can't even critique that movie because I'm so blindly in love with the space program stuff (which was done with painstaking accuracy) that I can't even take it apart. Great actors, especially Ed Harris.  (Ed Harris is a link to my other favorite space program movie, The Right Stuff.)

Someone found me on Twitter today and asked "Bolly or Holly?"  Both, thank you.  I'm enjoying hanging out with other film fans (again, if one can say that about online connections).  Otherwise it's fairly solitary.  Barry has not caught the Indian movie thing the way I have.

I was kvetching a bit on Facebook today about having so many movies backed up that I couldn't decide what to watch.  (Yiddish alert! Kvetch = complain.)  As I said before, two opinions pushed me to Dil Chahta Hai.  I'm thinking The Dirty Picture might be next.  Don't know if I'm up for another one tonight, though, and I'll be spending some quality time with my jewelry table tomorrow.

Friday, January 20, 2012

more jewelry news, for one thing

Robin and I went out Wednesday night for Indian food (something we've been doing for many years, way before my Indian film/music mania).  Good food, and there are a man playing a sarangi, which was quite wonderful.

But before dinner, she took me to see a little accessories store that had hats she liked, called The Village Scandal.  It did indeed have a lot of nice hats and other accessories, kind of faux vintage.  We ended up at the counter looking at jewelry and chatting with the owner.  Robin mentioned that I had made the earrings she was wearing, and I showed off the necklace I was wearing, and the woman said, "I could sell something like that in choker length.  Do you ever sell your jewelry?"  So it looks like, without trying, I'll be doing some consignments there.  I wasn't even trying.  Very cool; made me feel great.  So even though nothing of mine is there yet, please do visit The Village Scandal, at 19th East 7th Street (I believe it's between Second and Third Avenue), New York City.  Or tell your friends in New York.

I actually made my first-ever consignment deal some years back on another night that Robin and I were in the east village to eat Indian food, at a store called Back from Guatemala, a south American craftsy store that also had nice jewelry.  On a trial basis, they took a Y-necklace with oval ocean jasper...funny that I remember the exact necklace.  I was going to do more business with them, but the manager got sick, and then the store closed.  Robin seems to bring me luck as far as jewelry sales. 

Robin has of course always been a huge supporter of my jewelry, but she's always worn very simple, petite pieces, so that most of what I make didn't suit her.  At one point, I made maybe half-a-dozen pair of earrings for her with a simple, one-small-bead drop.  But she's decided to get more adventurous, and I gave her a couple of necklaces for her birthday and she's wearing them a lot.  One has amethyst up one side, citrine up the other, and a kyanite drop in the middle.  The other has tiny fluorite beads with a big Thai silver orchid pendant.  I actually have a reasonable photo of the former at home and will post it here.

The other thing I did on Wednesday was buy bangles.  I swear I'm not an Indian wannabe, but I've been looking at women in Indian movies wearing piles of bangles, and it's a great look.  I never used to be too crazy about bangles because I was afraid I'd squeeze into one and not be able to get it off...which didn't stop me from eyeballing jade bangles down in Chinatown.  (I still wouldn't mind having one of those.)  But between an accessories store near work, and a Tibetan store in the east village, I ended up buying about 30 bangles in silvertone, goldtone, and some blues and greens.  They don't hurt my wrist when I use a mouse (which some bracelets do).  They are super-wearable and comfortable, they look great, and they jingle when I move around.  I LOVE them.  Now, of course, I need red ones, and some other colors.  (What I really need is more storage for my jewelry.  The big jewelry box I've had for many years is stuffed, several other little boxes are stuffed...I probably need an entire shelving system to keep it all.

My past and near-past office intern, Sarah E., just said goodbye, and it's truly heartbreaking.  She interned for me last summer, and called a couple of months ago to say she'd be in town in January, and did I need some help?  She was here for a few weeks, and not only helped a lot, but was wonderful company.  Very sweet, very smart, very sane.  I'll miss her a bunch.  She'll be back from Smith for spring break in March, and said she'd be in touch.

It's supposed to snow tonight, and I'm looking forward to a nice weekend indoors, making jewelry and watching a movie or two.

Since the friend who's fallen in love with Amitabh is waiting for her copy of KANK, I decided to rewatch a little of it last night.  It's actually kind of cheesy and silly.  Interesting to see my own reaction compared to the first time I saw it (around three years ago) and the second time I saw it (about two and a half months ago).  I'm starting to think I may have overestimated Abhishek...although I did like him in Delhi 6.  I don't think I can bear to watch Dostana, which apparently involves a couple of guys pretending to be gay to get girls or something -- I mean, ew.  I'd like to see him try his hand at remaking one of his father's films (he might have to tie up SRK and Hrithik to get the roles), and then we can see if he's got the goods.

Ram Gopal Varma has been posting some very sexist and negative tweets of late.  My friend Shiva said something about RGV being or seeming drunk...and that must be it.  He thinks like a drunk.  On the other end of the spectrum, I've been following Anupam Kher, and he seems like a wonderful man.  As soon as I can scrape up $30, I'm buying his new book.

SOPA/PIPA:  Bad.  Indian government not protecting Sir Salman Rushdie:  Bad.  Italian cruise ship captain ordering food after the crash:  Bad.  Johnny Otis and Etta James dying:  Sad.  Sorry to short-change you on news and politics, but it's not really my forte.

Monday, January 16, 2012

a force of nature

A woman I know saw "Rock n' Roll Soniye" when I posted it on Facebook about a month ago, and she is now in love with Amitabh Bachchan. That kind of thing will happen.

A Star is Born...oops, I mean Abhimaan

There are three versions of the American film A Star is Born:  one from the 1930s, with Janet Gaynor and Frederic March; one from the 50s, with Judy Garland and James Mason; and one from the 70s with barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. 

The plot concerns a successful male actor/singer who marries an up-and-coming female actor/singer, his career goes downhill while she gets very famous, and he turns to drink and dies or kills himself.

Then there's Abhimaan (1973).  This follows the same storyline, except that the last act is more complex and somewhat far-fetched.  After the male singer turns to drink, his wife returns to the country and it turns out she's pregnant.  She loses the baby, loses her will to live, and he comes to get her and take her back to the city.  He had given up singing when she became successful, but her doctor tells him, "The only thing that will help her is if you sing again."  Really?  So he sings, and she snaps out of it and sings with him, and they live happily ever after.

That being said -- the movie is quite enjoyable.  This owes largely to the stars, Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Badhuri (who became Jaya Badhuri Bachchan later that year).  They both looked marvelous, and the chemistry was obvious.  The other real plus was the singing of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, which was absolutely sublime. 

Another thing I want to mention, in terms of this movie and other older Indian movies, is that unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much film preservation going on.  Since this was actually on a legitimately issued and purchased DVD, it's clear that the picture and sound quality has been permitted to age and degrade, which is a terrible shame.  There's a big push in the US industry to preserve and restore old films; director Martin Scorsese is a well-known leader of this movement.

Of the three versions of A Star is Born, the first two are excellent.  The earliest one is not a musical and the characters are movie actors.  In the second, Judy Garland is an actor/singer, since you can't put Judy Garland in a movie and not have her sing.  The third one was basically a vanity project of Barbra Streisand's, and she's about as vain as they come.  Kris Kristofferson's role was edited down to a nub, and the movie was basically written off as an expensive disaster.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

a couple of American films

I guess movie criticism has become a big part of this blog.  Some years ago, I had a lot of back trouble and had to spend a lot of time in bed on my back, which was when I bought my first VCR.  I watched so many movies that I felt I had to justify all of that time spent, and starting writing reviews for the NYU Law newspaper (I was working there at time, not studying).

I'm not sure why I felt guilty about spending so much time watching movies, but I suspect it was AA.  I'd been sober for about six months before I hurt my back, and the way I spent my time had become very careful and deliberate.  Taking life as it came had caused me to be drunk and high, as I understood it, and I had to relearn what to do with myself.  I walked on eggshells for those first few years sober, and I guess it was a good way to get into better habits.  Make no mistake -- AA was the best and the only thing I could do back then.  Later on, I found it stifling and way too closed.  (This is a little on my mind since an old sponsor just got back in touch.)

Yesterday's films were The Ides of March and Moneyball.  The former was directed by George Clooney, starring Clooney but mostly a showcase for Ryan Gosling, who has grown into a marvelous actor.  A lot of good character actors in it, too:  Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  It involved secret dealings within a Presidential primary. Well done and interesting for American viewers, probably a little difficult for others.

Same with Moneyball.  Mr. Bachchan tweeted yesterday, "Life is too short to explain cricket to Americans."  Explaining baseball to Indians is probably just as tough.  (And no one, as yet, has been able to explain football to me.)  Moneyball is a true story about the general manager of the Oakland A's in 2004, who adopted the mathematical statistical analysis of Bill James to rebuild a team which was staggering from the loss of three key players.  He didn't win the playoffs, but did break an MLB record when the team won 20 consecutive games.  It was a really nice performance by Brad Pitt, who's starting to remind me a bit of Robert Redford.  Also nice work by Jonah Hill.  And what do you know -- Phillip Seymour Hoffman again. 

Hoffman and John C. Reilly are two actors I can watch in almost anything, and I tend to think of them together because I saw both for the first time in Boogie Nights.  (Which was one of my favorite movies, and I recommend it wholesale if you can handle even more sex than in the usual American movies.)

As much as it's not a good thing when we have computer trouble at work, it does mean I'll get a visit from Tamsir, who is one of the nicest, coolest, and most interesting people I've met in a long time.  He actually showed up with flowers for me yesterday, since we hadn't seen each other since before the holidays; totally unexpected, and it made a big impression on me.  I know he does read this blog occasionally, so if you're reading this -- thanks again.  I'm so glad to know you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

this is not about Indian films

I need new photos.  I pretty much hate all of the photos I have of myself: not flattering or badly dressed or no makeup or that horrible short haircut I got in summer 2010.  Feh.

This one's not so bad (I'm dead center) but it's from high school.  Don't we all look great in fuzzy pictures?  

One of the things I always loved about V., I must say, is that he always thought I looked exactly the same as I did when I met him (when I was 18).  Maybe so, though I'm a mite heavier and my hair's turned grey, close to white.  (I started to go grey around 25 and dyed it for many years).  V. once showed me an old picture of his ex-girlfriend, A., when she was maybe 25, and said, "She looks exactly the same as she does now!"  But I know A. -- she's heavy, stooped, wears glasses...she just looks really worn-out.  V. must have time-travel-vision.  He does have some good qualities.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss him...he was great to talk to, until his agenda changed.

I watched Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory on HBO last night, and although I'd already known that the WM3 were released in August, it was good to watch it happen.  They got out on some weird thing called the Alford rule, where they had to proclaim their innocence but plead guilty, and were released for time served.  I find it very confusing, even with this explanation on Wikipedia.  But at least they're out.  And there's nothing, as I believe I said recently, like a good documentary.

In fact, if I hadn't seen this doc, I don't think I would be able to get through the book I'm reading, The Great Bridge by David McCullough.  Some subjects are just too difficult for me without pictures.  For instance, I would not have the faintest idea, even with all of the explanations, of what a caisson was, without having seen visuals in the doc.  I often forget to mention Ken Burns as a favorite documentarian, because most of his works are on TV.  (Well, so were the Paradise Lost films.  Beats me.)  Of course, most of his docs are multi-part and very, very long; hard to recommend them as movies.  (Examples:  Jazz, Baseball, The Civil War.)  And then there is his brother Ric, who made a wonderful film about Coney Island

Yes, it's link day.  If I've already done this research, I suppose I ought to share it, along with my ever-present opinions.

My opinion is that it's been very quiet here at work today, and I feel pretty ready to leave.  Although Tamsir is coming in soon, to fix Susan's laptop, and I haven't seen him in ages.  I hate when the computers break down but also like it because then Tamsir comes in.  He's another favorite person to talk to. The last time he was in, maybe two months ago, I told him that I'd started watching a lot of Indian films, and he said, "Like Amitabh?"  (The response I usually get is, "Like Bollywood?")  Of course, Tamsir is from Senegal and was brought up on those movies.  But I liked him even before that.

A musician I haven't seen in a long while posted a link on Facebook today to an article about plus-size models, with photos of a very lovely size 12 woman.  He commented, "I don't like skinny women, I like REAL women" or something to that effect.  When I first knew him in 1993 or 94, it always seemed as if he were dating the skinniest women he can find.  Yay!  he grew up!