Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ah Gits Weary

This has been a busy week for me. On Monday, Bobby decided it was high time for us to go all high-tech and had me drive him out to Chalmette (!) to buy an HDTV (that stands for - I think - "High Definition Television"). That done, I had to remove the old (very big and very, very heavy) television set and install the new very light and sleek little HDTV.

Very tiring.

On Tuesday, I had to get in touch with DirecTV to upgrade our service to "HD" so we'd be able to get our money's worth out of the new HDTV set. Little did we realize this would necessitate our getting a new DVR Receiver (that stands for "Digital Video Recorder") and a new satellite dish twice as large as the one we already had. All of which meant that a workman would have to come over to our apartment and put it all together.

Mentally, very stressful.

On Wednesday, I cleaned the toilets, swept the floors, dusted, and sprayed for roaches, not wanting the workman due to arrive the next day to think we lived like two old farts who never had any company.

Tiring again and hard on the back.

Thursday afternoon, the workman arrived and circled the block for twenty minutes until he could find a large enough place to park in front of our building because the new larger satellite dish was too heavy to carry from too far away. I think that was what he told me, but I can't be sure because he spoke with an accent that was either Italian or Russian. I couldn't tell which and was too shy to ask.

After he got the new dish hung up, he went out to his truck to bring in the new HD DVR Receiver. That was when he discovered he hadn't brought it and spent the next twenty minutes phoning around to try and find one in the vicinity so he wouldn't have to go too far out of the Quarter only to have turn around and drive back in because he didn't like driving downtown all that much. Luckily, he located one in the possession of another installation man who was only twenty minutes away. He'd be right back, he promised, and would phone me when he was near so I could hold his good parking space for him.

Forty minutes later, he was back. Well within an hour, we were hooked and ready and set to go. Bobby then left to go and play Ringo (which is Bingo with an R - don't ask), and I was left to figure out how all this new technology was meant to work. I got to watch an evening of Winter Olympics in state-of-the-art high definition. And you know what? Even in that state of state-of-the-art high definition crystal clarity, the Winter Olympics are still a pretty boring affair.

I apologize to any of my friends who might be fans of these winter sports, but, to me, athletics are just not athletics without a bunch of bros out hangin' loose and causing offense to old white people and Congressmen by not being properly deferential and respectful of our National Anthem while on the podium.

Nevertheless, I slept well Thursday night in my living room on my Barcalounger in front of a continuously-playing HDTV set. My sleep was filled with dreams of a Friday spent exploring the wonders of my more than 400-or-so High-Definition channels.

Sadly, these dreams were to lie forgotten and unfulfilled. Bobby decided to reward all my week's hard work by having me take him out to Harahan for a noontime showing of Shutter Island and refusing to let me fall asleep during the course of this (for want of a better word) movie.

I won't ruin this story for you if you intend to see the movie, but I will tell you, if you're anything like me, you'll see the ending coming at you from around the corner within the first five minutes of the opening credits.

It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and tons of other people you'll be sure to recognize. I have a problem with DiCaprio that I've probably mentioned in these pages in the past. I believe he is a profoundly gifted character actor who just doesn't cut it for me in leading-man roles. Leading-man clothes don't fit his frame. They're way too big for him.

In Shutter Island, he plays a U. S. Marshall being sent to find a prisoner who has escaped from an island prison from which it is impossible to escape. See the ending yet? The director, Martin Scorsese (who should probably stick to film preservation now that Robert De Niro is old and doesn't act anymore), shows that even he knows little Leonardo shouldn't be the lead in this picture by partnering him with Mark Ruffalo who plays another U. S. Marshall (albeit from Seattle - not Portland [don't look at me, it's in the script] - which means he doesn't have to speak with a Boston accent [why he's here in Boston and not back in Seattle-not-Portland, is the first of many questions this movie asks you to ponder]. Did I mention Shutter Island is an island off the Massachusetts coast?). Ruffalo is sadly miscast. He's miscast because, even though he looks a hell of a lot like Ricky Ricardo in this movie, it's obvious that the man has balls and a hairy sack while little Leo still doesn't have to shave every day.

There are pleasures to be had in this movie, don't get me wrong. Being Martin Scorsese still means you can get a cast of mighty magnitude. There is Sir (that's "Sir", did you hear me, "Sir") Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow (although I still can't figure out what he's doing in this picture besides keepiong up his SAG creds). Elias Koteas is in it. He gives a great performance as Christopher Meloni in Universal horror movie makeup. I was thrilled by it. I could positively smell Christopher Meloni sweat oozing from the screen when he was on. I even believed he was Christopher Meloni until the closing credits revealed it was really Elias Koteas playing Christopher Meloni. Captain Stottlemeyer from Monk is in the movie, too, looking good and having fun. There are some women here, as well. Michelle Williams is cast as DiCaprio's dead wife in flashbacks so that we might believe he's all grown up now. Somebody named Emily Mortimer is in it. She plays a young Patricia Clarkson who, it turns out, is also in the movie. She is later discovered brandishing a butter knife in a cave (don't ask) and looking her age.

Kudos to the make-up or costume departments - I don't know which - but somebody was responsible for the little band aid over Leonardo's left eye. It's there for like four-fifths of the entire movie, and it shows the wear and tear a band aid will go through over a period of days spent in a hurricane, engaging in fisticuffs, and climbing cliffs. The continuity is breathtaking. But, hey, it's a Scorsese picture.

Still, I wish Bobby would have let me doze off a little. I was dead tired.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I Know I'm Way Too Sensitive for My Own Good, but ...

I just read this post, which is merely another step in a long trek this particular author is trudging as he dwells upon the nature of plagiarism in photography, and I felt funny. Funny weird, not the other funny. Then I came upon this post, which lit a light bright enough to begin to reveal my own shadowed thoughts to me.

When I read this, my stomach tightened and churned:
In any case, today I had one of those senior moments where the subconscious moments of my brain told the conscious ones about an art connection, which is just beautiful and wonderful, and maybe I’m the last person to realize this (if I am, send me references to other posts or articles and I’ll add them here). Regardless, here are Caspar David Friedrich’s The Sea of Ice (top) and Chris Jordan’s Remains of a home, Ninth Ward neighborhood (bottom). Just look how beautiful this is!
"Just look how beautiful this is!" is an ejaculate that seems to take no accounting of the residing pain and trauma still felt by those of us who weathered the Katrina storm and the subsequent failures of our levees and lived.

I say we lived because I am not certain we survived.

For a city with as great a sense of place and history as New Orleans, the sudden rush of waters that wiped away whole neighborhoods wrenched the seemingly solid ground from under our feet, and we have not regained our footing yet. The discoveries of the bodies we found bobbing in the stagnant pools Katrina left behind or rotting along the gutters of our streets were terrible beyond imagining. Those dead still lie among us. In New Orleans, no one is a stranger. We have all encountered one another in one way or another, for good or ill.

Now we find ourselves preparing for revelations to come that imply that some of those we had expected would look out for us were rather out to injure us. There can be no reasons that can justify or clarify whatever it was that swept over and took hold of those who took to murder, terrorism, and cover-up in the aftermath of the storm. Rather, there will be more years ahead of us for us to try to comprehend and rectify what went so horribly wrong in this hot, damp city during those days.

None of this is meant to indict the writer of that post. It is merely my own response to a common-enough moment of bland thoughtlessness. Certainly, the photographer was aware of what he was shooting. He titled his comprehensive work, In Katrina's Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster; and his photographs are beautiful, but beautiful in the context of terribilitas.

That is a far different thing than being pleasing to the eye.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Only in New Orleans

I telephoned Walgreen's yesterday afternoon with my order for a refill of my cholesterol medicine. Don't worry. It's only 20 milligrams of Zimvastatin to be taken once daily. My doctor, wise young Dr. Wise, is proactive. He's easing me into my twilight years this way, gradually loading me up with all the old-people drugs I'll someday need to take to keep on living. He figures this way their eventual strength and numbers won't hit me with a frightening start all of a sudden in another ten years down the line. Anyway, I set my pickup time for 10 o'clock this morning. That way, I could swing over to the Faulkner House Bookstore on my way home. I wanted to get my hands on a play-script I'm interested in rereading.

Everything went as I had planned, and soon I found myself standing outside that narrow, venerable old building where the old Nobel laureate had once lived, turning the same old doorknob that old Bill himself would have wrapped his drunken fingers around back in the 1920's. I stepped up and into the old foyer, now fusty with stacks and racks of books, and said to the elegant Southern lady working there, "I'm looking for the Sweet Bird of Youth."

She turned to me, rested her left hand across the top of her breast, and sighed, "Oh, God, so am I."

You'll never get that kind of reception at your neighborhood Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Kind of Mardi Gras

I have to admit I had the kind of Mardi Gras I have always dreamed of having. Not the one where I'm wearing the most flamboyant costume of anyone else within miles of the French Quarter. Nor the one where I'm the most intensely desirable stud strutting the cobblestones (okay, asphalt) of Bourbon Street. Not even the one where I'm finally old enough and rich enough to be slung up on a papier-mache throne atop a papier-mache float and hauled down Saint Charles Avenue as Rex.

No, I had the kind of Mardi Gras where I stayed home.

I was still suffering from:
  1. a head cold,
  2. a chest cold,
  3. bronchitis,
  4. swine flu,
  5. pneumonia, or
  6. that trusty old New Orleans crud.
On top of that, it was too cold to go out and try to see those things it was too cold for other people to expose or do. Besides, at my age, bosoms and boners have become pretty generic; pretty, I'll grant you, but generic, nonetheless.

So I stayed home.

I'm not comfortable in crowds, you see, never have been; and Mardi Gras crowds can be overwhelming, stopping you in your tracks for what can seem to be like hours at a time. Even yesterday, when I finally did venture out to pick up a lunch from a little joint up the street, this scrawny slut tried to block me from crossing the street on my way back home. They have no manners or respect, these kids today. They should be kept in pens.

So, yes, I stayed home. Home, where it was close and warm. Where I could cough my lungs out, moan about the way the world has gone to hell, and mourn the passing of the good old days when life was, you know, good. When bosoms and boners had meaning, and scrawny sluts knew how to make you feel like you were really the one wearing the most radiant costume for miles around and nobody, but nobody, else could pound the cobblestones (or even the asphalt, for that matter) like you could.

It was a lovely holiday. My kind of Mardi Gras.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You Can't Make This Shit Up

I have lately found myself lurking in the dark corners of the world of photo blogs, those virtual exhibition halls where people not unlike myself reveal their craft to an often hostile world.

One of my favorite sites is called Life through a Lens which features the work of a Scotsman ("Scotchman"? "Scot"? What do you call a person from Scotland nowadays, anyway?) living in Japan. He does some really beautiful work.

However, his image for today - how do I say this? It seems he is reaching out to me (no, to all of us here in the Crescent City) from beyond the mists of the vast Pacific, trying his best to touch my soul and recognize this day for what it means to so many in this crazy, lusty, godforsaken town we call New Orleans.

Take a look and tell me what you think.

Thank you, Stu. Consider this post a paltry handful of beads tossed to you in grateful reciprocation for showing us your ...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Not Even I Would Try to Palm This Off

Superdome-Shaped Cloud Appears Over Carnival ... and I see Jeebus peeking out from behind those branches in the upper right (don't tell me you looked ... ?).

Love, That Old Double-Edged Sword

I woke up this morning to find the above token propped lovingly upon my keyboard. Looks pretty, no?

No.

Aside from the sentiment of the attached note that says, "I love you because you are you me" (a sentiment chilling in its implication), it is actually five heart suckers, suckers meant for me to eat. Me, who just received the results of his latest blood work which clearly showed the looming onset of old-people's diabetes - enough of an indication to prompt my doctor, Young Doctor Wise, to prescribe a daily regimen of Metformin.

Right, the person who never lets the opportunity pass to remind me that I am grossly overweight and have to need a pill to make all of my repellent fat evaporate, lays five heart suckers at my fingertips, much like a beloved pet cat might present me with a dead rodent. Five (!) heart suckers made of sugar, sugar-water, and colored sugar, all stirred together with a sugar spoon over a sugar flame.

I hate these fucking holidays. Any of them. All of them.

As for love? Love will kill you, man.

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's Been Fifteen Hours, and the Saints Are Still Superbowl Champions

Are people beginning to wonder why we care?

Personally, I think we were, by and large, pretty satisfied that the team had made it to the Superbowl. Nothing could take that away from them or wipe the smirks of pride from our faces.

No, I believe this event is so important to us because what the Saints really did went way deeper than just winning this season's ultimate football game. At a time, and for a long time, when our so-called leaders - city, state, and Federal - were doing everything in their power to divide and fracture the people of New Orleans, this team united us all instead. That was a good thing. It might even have had a little something to do with our recent election, when color lines evaporated, and people appeared to be voting for what was best for all of us, not just for the owners of the franchise.

We're all going to wake up soon enough and get back to work, but until then, this is the kind of dream you want to wallow in for a little while longer. Just five more minutes ... !

If you cannot comprehend what these past weeks have meant for us, then you should consider yourself fortunate. It means you've never suffered a loss nor empathized with anyone who has. Be grateful for what you have, and let us enjoy our metaphorical gumbo and red beans and rice.

This Just In ...

Breaking News!

We have this to report: Less than twenty-four hours ago, the New Orleans Saints won their first Superbowl. We repeat, the New Orleans Saints - the Saints, people - the motherfucking SAINTS! - won the Superbowl.

Also, for the first time in several years, and in many people's memories, nobody has given a thought to C. Ray Nagin. A city is on its knees in gratitude.

Film at eleven.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wow, Just Wow: 31 - 17, SAINTS!

Lord, I Want to Be in That Number

Rev. Sykes: Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing.
"To Kill a Mockingbird", Harper Lee

We, too, will be standing, in reverent respect, this evening as our Saints go into that southeastern stadium to play the game of their lives - and ours. But no matter the outcome, the original game is already won. We have arrived. We are there. That was the main goal, the first, the original one, the one that took us so many years to reach, the one that is sufficient unto itself. Win or not the final game, we have already won the historical challenge.

For two generations, New Orleans and its football team have been a source of deprecating humor, sometimes scorn, across the face of the nation, and often across our own lips, as well. Still, under the blanket of inattention, a rowdy pack of underdogs and nominal underachievers have outscored and outplayed the best of the rest of the seemingly best.

And we are there.

We have been reading so much lately of the genius of Peyton Manning (a New Orleans boy) and the invincible drive of his Colts team. At the same time, so few people seem to have taken the trouble to discover the charisma, the gifts, of our new son, Drew Brees, who has worked unstintingly for the revival of this broken city he now calls home, or for his teammates who can be found any day on one New Orleans street or other, wielding a hammer or saw, rebuilding a devastated city, while, at the same time, defending the rights of the disenfranchised or begging for dollars to help restore the broken island-nation of Haiti.

As it is obvious to see, these New Orleans Saints are not just a football team. They represent the best of what the city of New Orleans can offer the rest of the world: self-reliance, self-respect, and pride - pride of place, pride of culture, pride of history - and above all else, compassion for others.

Tonight, there is no game to lose; the game's afoot, but long since won.

Bless you, boys! You are the Saints.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows

Or, Life Is So Sweet, I'm Sinking into a Diabetic Coma

Hot off the Ambie successes of Lyla Hay Owen and Liz Mills for their work in The Glass Menagerie, came word of the nominations for Jay Stanley's  Marquee Awards for Distinguished Performance for 2009. Mr. Stanley had the critical acumen and great common sense not only to include Ms. Owen and Ms. Mills as Actress in a Drama and Supporting Actress in a Drama, but also to single out Keith Launey as Actor in a Drama and Leon Contavesprie as Supporting Actor in a Drama. That's everybody.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to mention Mr. Stanley also noticed me with a nod as Director of a Drama. But then, Mr. Stanley has always been generous and kind in that way.)

Congratulations, Lyla and Liz, Keith and Leon. Although, Leon, just between us, snagging a second nomination as Supporting Actor in a Comedy for Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage is a tad louche, don't you think?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Updating My Status

I have been battling the worst chest cold ever smitten on man by God. I feel like shit and cannot cough up enough of the congestion to begin to rid myself of this bug. At the same time, my computer starts acting all weird, like the mouse is growing independent of my hand and fingers and making decisions about where it wants to go and how it wants to scroll. I hope it's only the mouse and not the PC itself. I can afford a new mouse.

Needless to say, I've been spending a lot of time here trying to get these pieces of machinery to behave with the proper deference and respect. While I'm banging the mouse against the nearest wall every couple of minutes, I start getting these messages from Facebook, friend requests, they call them.

Did I tell you I joined Facebook? Yeah, some time ago, I don't remember why or when, and I've actually un-joined a time or two, but they never delete you, so I found myself slipping back in each time.

It was bad enough when people from the high school I graduated from found me and started friending me, but then my brother found me and invited me to link up with him. At least, it was my cool brother, who knows everything about me and still thinks I'm okay. If it had been my other brother, the Baptist, I'd have had some serious cleaning up to do. I wouldn't want him to stroke out by seeing the avatars of some of the friends I already have or by reading some of the shit they write to me or, hell, by reading some of the shit I write to them. But with my cool brother, I figured it would be okay.

I didn't reckon on the friends of his who would want to friend me in turn. For instance, I just got a request with a note that read,
"Did't you teach me in high school? I'm friends of both of your brothers and we to HS with their childrens.".
I looked at the picture accompanying the request, but the dear lady smiling out at me did not appear to resemble any child I may have taught in those dark, distant days of yore. I still don't know how to respond .. if, in fact, I should respond. I already made the faux pas of posting a link on Facebook to an interview with the Saints' Scott Fujita in which he supported gay rights and marriages and things like that. That posting prompted a concerned message from an old high school classmate, telling me I may have made a choice in life that Jesus wouldn't have approved of, but I must never forget he still loves me. I never posted anything like that again.

But then I received a friend request from my cool brother's grandson, my godchild. God, what do I do? I've been a lousy godfather to the kid, never really did anything for him, but he was always so glad to see me when I made trips back home, eager for affection, great big eyes always looking up in supplication, "Love me. Love me."

How could I reveal so much of myself to this little tyke without destroying some part of his spirit? But how could I not let him in either? There was always the presence of my cool brother back home who, if the worst would happen, could always take the kid under his wing and explain to him that his parrain was not really a bad man, just a regular guy who might have made some poor choices, but still deserved a little love since he was, you know, family, after all.

I visited my godson's Facebook page and my eyes fell on the most recent comment left there by a friend of his:
hey cunt nugget. where the fuck you been??
Violin strings began to shimmer and vibrate in my mind as a voice sang out, "Where is the little boy at play ... ?"

What could I do? I friended him, of course. Ya gotta love a cunt nugget.

Monday, February 1, 2010

On Being Blessed with the Women in One's Life



The Ambie Awards, February 1, 2010

Best Actress in a Play

Best Featured Actress in a Play
Liz Mills (bottom)

Both for The Glass Menagerie

Congratulations to the both of you. I am so proud of your accomplishments.
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