Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Break Out the Bubbly...

Dear readers, I may have been out of sight, but you have not been out of mind... and at least I recognize that, having ignored this blog for over a week, I better have something appreciable to say for myself upon returning. So I'm giddy giddy giddy to let fly with the news (admittedly, not all that well concealed in my last post), that I have accepted a tenure-track professorship at Northwestern University to begin in the Fall of 2006. I couldn't be more excited. Literally, if you try to imagine me being more excited than I in fact am, you will fail. The job is a joint appointment in the Department of English and the Program in Gender Studies, which only makes it easier for me to offer a wide range of courses in film, literature, theory, drama, gender and sexuality studies, etc., etc., at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and at a truly premier and exciting institution. In a fantastic city. With job security. The official offer arrived late last week, after all the usual bureaucratic processes, and I gleefully accepted it yesterday afternoon.

As if I needed any further incentive to accept this terrific opportunity, there's the enormous karmic plus that follows from Northwestern being mentioned by name in When Harry Met Sally...:

HARRY (lamenting his first date Back Out There): So I downshift into small talk, and I ask her where she went to school, and she says 'Michigan State.' And this reminds me of Helen. All of a sudden, I'm in the middle of this massive anxiety attack, my heart's beating like a wild man, and I start sweating like a pig.

SALLY: Helen went to Michigan State?

HARRY: No, she went to Northwestern. But they're both Big Ten schools.

Anyway, thanks to all who have e-mailed encouragements or written to ask whether I was c) trapped under something heavy. (See above, and for gosh sakes, do yourself an enormous favor and memorize the movie.) Much more to say on the eve of Oscar, after second viewings of Capote, Munich, Good Night, and Good Luck., and Walk the Line, plus a bunch of off-the-radar Oscar nominees from year's past, ranging all the way from delectable surprises to deadening fiascos.

And I read two fascinating plays, and I'm back in the middle of an all-time favorite novel (come on, people, it only costs one cent!). Things have been hopping. More soon. No for real, I promise.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Another Day of Reckoning...

...for fans of Julianne Moore. After several non-starters in a row (even if I enjoyed The Forgotten more than most), Juli has another seeming stinkeroo coming down the pike today. It's called Freedomland, it's a two-hour movie culled from a 586-page novel (uh-oh), and the New York Times is already calling it "an early candidate for worst film of the year." Its MetaCritic score is burbling at a low 38—equal to Yours, Mine & Ours, and mere points ahead of Big Momma's House 2 and Underworld: Evolution. Note that even in this production still, Edie Falco and Samuel L. Jackson appear to be consoling Julianne about how bad the movie is, or maybe just about how bad her wig is.

But am I going? Yes. Love make you crazy. Julianne, I hope you're feeling me.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Near, Far, Wherever You Are...

...rest assured that the blog will go on! I hope you'll all be comforted to know that I am recuperating just fine after last Friday, when Dick Cheney, in a perfectly innocent jousting accident, jabbed a rapier right into my lung, and then accidentally trampled me beneath his horse when he rode back to notch his kill help me up. My vital signs then dipped to their most critical levels when Laura Bush came to read to me in the hospital, but came very close to boring me to death. It was all very trying, and very accidental, absolutely.

Actually, I've just been busy. Beginning-of-semester stuff. Recommendation letters up the wazoo. Learning how to balance three classes at the same time. Considerable planning re: a piece of Very Good News that I'm not allowed to broadcast yet, but, if you've been following this blog of late, you'll be able to suss out. Taking advantage of Oscar-prompted theatrical re-releases so that I could revisit Munich and The New World, take a second hike up and down Brokeback Mountain, and, earlier this afternoon, flip back through the pages of Capote. On which, more later. But none of this is really satisfying as an explanation is it? Here are some more specific explanations, since the Comments on my previous post reveal that some of you (understandably) thought I was dead.

Why I Didn't Blog All Weekend: I was in NYC, sharing some of that Valentine's Day lovin'. Some things (though only a few of them) are better than the internet.

Why I Didn't Blog Sunday Night: Blizzard. Whole Northeast. Me. Penn Station. Hours. Hartford, at 4am. No taxis. 14°. So damn unpretty.

Where Else I Was Blogging While Away: Over at the Oscar Symposium at The Film Experience, where I'm one of a Magnificent Seven of Oscar obsessives who are poring over the nominees, fessing up to our biases, stumping for our favorites, wondering why we all care so much, and why other people, crazy people, don't. Nathaniel, our gracious host, looking swell in Elie Saab, posted the first installment of our discussion yesterday: a Valentine to Oscar. More will follow all week. Read it!

A Short P.S. About the Film Experience, Because It's All About Nathaniel: I have, for the first time in my life, been linked to celebrity. One of my students this semester e-mails me and goes, "Wait!! You're the "Nick" who posts on Nathaniel R.'s website??! I've been reading it every day for years!" Nathaniel, you are the polestar of fame, the Tom Hanks to my Rita Wilson (except that you aren't boring, and I don't embarrass myself... quite that much).

Where I'll Be Blogging When I'm Not Blogging Here: The archangel Gabriel and his readers at Modern Fabulousity have tapped me as one of the ModFab Six, an ongoing coffeeklatsch of cultural issues (pop- and otherwise), a harem of what's hot and what's not, a coterie of tastemakers. At least that's what he tells us. Really, we're just going to spread some lox on some bagels every week, chat up how tragic Tom Cruise and K.Ho and K.Fed continue to be, and congratulate ourselves. Seriously, unless you read, we're not going to make it interesting. But if you do read, for EVERY SINGLE HIT registered on the MF6 articles, we will add ONE MORE DOLLOP of fabulousness to our dialogue. Do you hear me? For six seconds a day, you could elevate us, the ModFab Six, into the pinnacle of wagdom, make us the Reservoir Dogs of all things rad, the aurora borealis of the blogosphere. We are your willing Galateas, as you are ours. This is your mission. Choose to accept it! It is a beautiful thing. (With such schmoove personalities around the table as the sweet-toothed Melissa, the witness-protected par3182, the trend-setting and aforementioned Nathaniel, the don't-I-recognize-that-fragrance StinkyLulu, and the bass-thrumming, ass-kicking, mad hot Me'shell of blogotopia, Dr. S, the sky is truly the limit... as long as Dick Cheney doesn't shoot any of us.)

Why I Didn't Blog Tuesday, the One Day I Don't Teach: I was still catching up on work and on reading that I should have finished on Monday.

Why I Didn't Blog on Monday: If you were anywhere in the Northeast on Monday, and you were looking anxiously toward the heavens and wondering if more snow was going to fall, or if Dick Cheney was going to fly over in a helicopter and litter your neighborhood in a spray of bullets, and you sighed your relief that none of this was happening (yet), but you did happen to notice with your naked eye an enormous, undulating plume of smoke rising from the eastern horizon, or from wherever Hartford is in relation to where you live.... I apologize for this enormous, undulating plume of smoke. It was pouring forth from my crackpipe, and the name of my crackpipe is the DVD of Season One of Project Runway.

You guys.

I am so addicted to this show that Liza Minnelli, Marion Barry, and Winona Ryder are all worried about me. I picked up the phone (but not till Tuesday), and Courtney Love gave me a lecture about strength through moderation. Snoop Dogg even came to my house on Monday and was peering at me through the window and imploring me to Just Say No. But I couldn't. I watched the entire season in one sitting, and I'll just save you the trouble of clicking here and confess upfront that I'm talking about 509 minutes of material. But not just any material. Leather. Silk. Organza. Morganza. Wine-dyed roses. Headphones. Rope candy. Elasticized rubber, as borrowed from a lawn chair. Corn husks. You guys, corn husks. Cotton, the official material of Project Runway, as well as the fabric of our lives. Envy. Champagne. Despair. Confidence, as distilled by Kara Saun into some sort of pure, periodic-table element which, somehow, you still don't begrudge her (until the McTeague-style twist at the end! Beware of the diamond-encrusted shoe! "All that glisters...," Kara Saun!)

I'm sorry to be that bloviating windbag at the party who won't stop talking about what everyone else already recognized and observed first-hand almost a year ago, but a) you did ask me to tell you what I've been up to, and b) you guys. This show is the Berlin Alexanderplatz of Bravo TV, the Mill on the Floss of modern fashion, and I repeat, I don't even care about fashion. What invisible hand from beyond the literary pale is guiding this show? How did the runway mavens of New York City know, all those years ago, to title their annual runway gala "Olympus," as if prescient of the mythological resonances of Mario's feeble arrogance, Vanessa's fatal error of so disastrously expressing consummate tact (I don't want to savage anyone else!) in the rhetoric of total idiocy (You should fire me!), and therefore wizening before our eyes from a Dionysian dame of constant good humor into such a bitter mound of sozzle and spite? How can you root for someone for months in a row, only to realize in the final instants before victory is pronounced that you don't want her to win?

For Wendy Pepper, I have invented the word, Clytemnestric. I say no more.

So now that I'm really all caught up, you all know Why I Won't Be Blogging Tonight Between 10 and 11pm EST. But do catch me later. Eventually, Project Runway's season will end, and I'll be back to business as usual. Unless, between now and then, Dick Cheney shoots me in the face. At which point, I dunno, I guess we wait and see?

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

One Sweet Day?

Yes, I know that my Mariah Carey fandom sits wrong with lots of my friends and readers, but look: the sister and I go all the way back to 1990, when I bought her first album. I've been singing her songs into toothpaste tubes and loofah pads for 16 years—not just the singles, but the album tracks, the frigging B-sides (remember B-sides?)—and having stayed right by her side through the lean years of Glitter and Charmbracelet, it's not like I'm going to bail in the midst of her radio Renaissance. There is simply nothing to be done. I come with Mariah. It's a package deal. (And some of y'all out there who rag me on this but then get pippy and excited about Kelly Clarkson, I say, Heal thyself!)

So, though I will be teaching tonight—screening Paris Is Burning and Sandra Bernhard's Without You I'm Nothing for my Queer Cinema students, and therefore missing the Grammy telecast—I am rooting for my Emancipated girl, my tragic mulatta. A fan like me thinks back to 10 years ago this month, when Mariah headed into the ceremony tied for the most nominations (as she is this year), and promptly lost every. single. one. Reader, that can't happen this year. "We Belong Together" deserves some haul, at the very least in the Female R&B Solo Vocal category. "Mine Again," admittedly a tad oversung, and plagued like so much Mariahana with lame vestigial coloratura at the end, is still an inspired nominee in the Female Traditional R&B Vocal category. Song of the Year, where she is the only Record of the Year nominee to appear, is probably out of her reach, but if she loses to friggin' U2 or John Legend, I'm out. No way they'll give her Album of the Year, but a fan can dream.

I repeat: Just don't make her go home empty-handed. This girl had ZERO game face in '96, and just sat there glowering and stewing in the audience as all of her gewgaws drifted away. I can't watch that again, even in replay. And I certainly can't take another round of dish-smashing and Mariah di Lammermoor insanity. Act right, Grammy voters.

Meanwhile, over on Bravo, I want to see either Kara (especially) or the weirdly tail-spinning Nick (his work has been pretty wack since the Nicky Hilton ensemble) on the chopping block. Daniel V.'s immunity, secured last week, should free him up nice and good, to which I say, Daniel—take one of those relaxed moments and wave hello to me.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Chicago Rendezvous #1: Clementine

I've already sung this baby's praises, but seriously, y'all, she's even cuter in person. Thank goodness for campus visits, because you meet all the coolest infants. I would like to call particular attention to the flaming leg-warmers, the skull-&-crossbones slippers, and the flamboyantly red diaper that Clementine is sporting while asleep on my shoulder. (Though I'm not doing too bad myself, what with the fetching ModFab T-shirt in the same photo—a luxury item that you, too, could enjoy!)


Monday, February 06, 2006

Next Up: Brain Surgery

You know those moments when you discover that a friend who excels at one thing is also humblingly talented at another? This is one of those moments. Keep shutterbugging, TR! (My favorites so far, besides the stunner I've reproduced at left, are this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and, which can hardly be a surprise, this one.)


Forget Those Other Film Awards

You've waited patiently enough, right? And you're tired of what Addison DeWitt calls "that film society," which thinks the pudgy and generic Walk the Line is a triumph of editing and the smudgy faces of Cinderella Man an exemplar of on-screen makeup? Or are you just ready for another list of equal and opposite biases, waving a flag for the unsung, and sometimes for the ballyhooed, and occasionally for the widely reviled?

O, lucky day! Here are the Nick's Flick Picks Honorees for 2005, the one (imaginary) black-tie event where Terrence Howard and Todd Solondz are seated together, where the (imaginary) papparazzi crane for the best red-carpet action shots of Hippolyte Girardot and Juliette Welfling, where Best Sound is about dexterity and not merely decibels, and where everyone (imaginarily) goes home happy, because no one ever wins!

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Come On, Babe, Why Don't We Paint the Town?

No blogging, most likely, for the next several days, as I will be away giving an academic job talk in the Windy City, just like Velma Kelly is doing in this picture. (Pretty much looks like she is owning the Q&A, doesn't it?) I have much to say about the Oscar race, especially in response to the happy bounty of Comments that accrued to yesterday's post, but as I am consumed in last-minute preparations for my trip—rouging my knees, rolling my stockings down, stuff like that—I'm going to have to keep mum till Sunday or Monday.

Also when I return, Mira Sorvino and I will be unveiling the 2005 Nick's Flick Picks Honorees, shining a bright light on the best and brightest cinematic achievements of the past year, and obviously doing a much better job of this than AMPAS ever manages. (Just kidding. About Sorvino, I mean. Y'all know good and well I would call somebody else. Maybe Joan Allen, since, distressingly, she shouldn't be too busy in the coming weeks.)