Notes from a Broken Broad

I slipped a disc in my neck a week and a half ago and have been at best half mast since then. Slowly, slowly I am creeping back to a vaguely human state but in the interim wanted to peep that I am still alive. Peep. To soothe this savage beast there has been a great deal of L Word viewing (con Jostle and co.) and an almost complete inhalation of The Wire, Season 2 (con Yancey, naturally). Two episodes remain, and then I will be willing to more thoroughly chime in my praises on what is surely the finest show on fellavision (boy-friendly TV). Hell, TV in general. The show is seemingly impenetrable, distinctly unglamorous and typically visually unimpressive. It is also the single greatest explication of power theory ever to make it to the small screen. Michael Moore: If only.

Also I will write a real review of it later this week, but if you live in a city where The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is screening, go see it immediately. (I believe it’s just LA, SF and NY right now, in keeping with the ever-narrowing nation-wide release). The film is small-scale; is, improbably enough, about birds; and caused me to cry for a full hour after I saw it. To contextualize said tears, I only cried for about two minutes after Million Dollar Baby. Which, for the record, I hope sweeps la Oscars. It was, well, the way Eastwood looks these days — steely, taut, full of heart.

More gator, later.

Tomato, Tomawto (Oscars and Razzies)

I’ve still been basking in a lack of Utah snow, merely ogling Sundanceteria from afar while supercats Max and Ruby ravage their new scatching post (it’s all about the catnip). So I got to catch the nominations for the Oscars and the Razzies, both announced today in a crafty conjunction. There was less overlap than I’d hoped.

Yes, I am completely over the pretense that I don’t follow award shows, as I have been for years. I shouldn’t even be shocked anymore that a host of films I genuinely liked landed on the Academy’s radar: Before Sunset for best adapted screenplay (what could Delpy, Hawke and Linklater have adapted that from, besides their own pretty navels?); Eternal Sunshine for best original screenplay; Born into Brothels for best doc; even the growing-up-is-hard-to-do The Incredibles got a nod. The lack of nods for both The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11 was a stone-cold relief; I don’t want to think about either nastily rendered polemic for a while yet. And I was more startled than distraught that lil sadsack Paul Giamatti got passed over in lieu of Clint Eastwood’s chiseled jaw. Here’s to more madness for the baseball commissioner’s son’s method (acting). The only oversight that bummed me out was the compleat Huckabees shutout.

In fact, except for Finding Neverland, none of the nominations made me bristle. Another sign of the Rosman Middle Ages, no doubt. Or maybe it’s just another sign that, although our world couldn’t be more wildly botched at this moment, cinema trots along, just getting better and better. Plus: I’m still trying to sort out if there’s ever been another year when two black actors were nominated for best actor. I don’t think so. I do wish that the Oscars followed the Globes’ lead, though, and had separate categories for comedy and drama. I think The Incredibles might’ve been the wryest, most intact endeavor of the year.

As for the Razzies, mama likes as usual. J’agree with New Yorker critic David Denby that Ben Stiller heralds a new era of nonthreatening mediocrity, and that only seeing cosmic nightmare White Girls with my parents BernieSari could’ve made it worse. (I know that for a fact.) Oh, and George Bush II should most definitely get a Razzie. Or at least an Oscar. Like Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, he’s made a career out of making bad acting seem good.

Manohla Testifies, and So Do I (Apparently)

Not to post another link in lieu of a review, but in today’s Times, critic Manohla Dargis pens an eminently worthy article about plastic surgery and its deleterious effect on, get this, the quality of acting in Hollywood. She even mentions Julie Salamon’s book, whose praises Yancey and I could not stop singing. Best: She goes after Melanie Griffith’s mid-movie boob job, calling it a “passive-aggressive” response to Bonfire-set complaints about how her decrepit ole age of 33(!) was showing.

Clearly I’m particularly obsessed with this topic because it’s no longer theoretical to me. At 34, even if you’re good looking, those good looks either start sliding into the cultural category of impressive rather than pretty, or you get a lot of the classic “you don’t look your age!” What about looking your age, and looking damn good?

We women are so hoodwinked already. Even smart-as-a-whip either-coast women start coloring the minute the gray shows up — lordy knows I be no exception, even though it cracks my shit up that apparently there are no grey-haired women in all of Manhattan and Brooklyn under 75. Over the last decade, most women have started waxing their pubes to previously unimaginable degrees. And we just keep willing ourselves thinner and thinner. Even when we get knocked up, everyone’s cock-eyed scared of gaining an extra pound. Fine, fine. Although for myself on that one, I’m not so convinced. I was rail-thin in my 20s, but I also was afraid of food, not to mention my own shadow; mean and hungry; and weak as Southern coffee. These days, I have more meat on my bones, but I also have the breasts (finally) and can do 30 push-ups in one fell swoop and run five miles. Anyone who tosses me shit these days should know I can toss it back funnier and fiercer, kick his ass and then outrun him should he ever recover his wind.

At a bridal shower last spring, a dermotologist acquaintance who was a couple sheets to the wind grabbed my arm, and told me she’d inject botox in the furrow between my eyes at cost as a gift. She’s a sweet, lively girl, no joke, and I know that she intended no ill-will whatsoever. But I was completely floored nonetheless. Before she’d said that, I’d just assumed her own baby-ass complexion was a result of clean living and republican politics (ie no soul searching). After that, I read her good looks as a cheat. I was humiliated that she thought I needed to iron my face, but then got all steely about it, and here’s what I came up with: My face will stay my face. If I want to keep looking good, it’s going to have to be because I am living a clear, good life that I can wear proudly on my sleeve, and, yes, my features. I want to be the kind of woman who looks better at 80 than 20 because I’m both acute and kind. I want to be a moving picture, not a painting. I want to step out of this capitalism-borne mishegos and stop fearing each encroaching year as the enemy that must be toppled with modern science, a trainer and a board-certified Dr. Feelgood (costly tools that only sharpen the divide between well-off women and the rest; that only further conflate money with an ideal).

If it seems nuts that I am having to avow I will avoid plastic surgery, maybe you’re young, or maybe you’re just bullshitting yourself. Ladies and the men who attend to us, I have seen the future, and it’s all about deleting every storyline and character development out of that novel called your face if you can afford it. I say we learn for real how to look more carefully at ourselves and each other, at each and every light that comprise our whole being — as Free to Be as it sounds. Because we Western gals left foot-binding in the dust a long, long time ago — when we started injecting ass fat in our faces, to be precise — and the buck, as handsome and compelling as he may be, must stop somewhere. Right? Oh, dear, I certainly hope right.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy