Saturday, March 13, 2021

Goin' Home - 1 Year Later

A year ago today marks the day the pandemic toppled our lives.  In the morning, I saw a message that my employing institution was closed and we were to not come to campus.  We spent the day scrambling, setting up impromptu work stations with our laptops we'd been instructed to take home nightly for weeks at that point.  

By late in the evening, Jamie had gone to bed and I was left with myself, sorting through the erupting confusion and fear, and then I saw the video of  famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing the familiar tune by Dvořák.  I won't lie - I sat here in this same spot on my sofa watching the recording on this same laptop and I sobbed.

Exhaustion, crippling uncertainty...   After a day of scrolling endlessly through stories of what was coming, what we didn't know, and the posts and communications between friends and family offering what we could in support and all feeling the same darkness closing in, Ma reached for kindness - a prescient kindness - with his simple recording. 

In a year that has seen horror and cruelty, that seemed to set the world ablaze over again each morning, I'm still stunned by how he seemed to know and know what to do.

"Goin' Home" is a sentimental song even without lyrics - it had some retroactively applied years after the song was originally penned.  And even with all of us stuck in our houses, "Goin' Home" - returning to a place of comfort, to a time when we can see our parents without masks, share a meal with friends - is something that made sense then as we peered into the unknown, and all the more a year later.   

Today Ma received his vaccine injection, and in the fifteen minute wait/ observation window, he brought out the cello and played some favorites.  

At the outset of the pandemic, celebrities tried to read stories or write poems and stay in touch with their audience.  Patrick Stewart gamely read Sonnets.  Ma partnered with painist Kathryn Stott and put out an album - the proceeds of which will support musicians struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.

80's Watch: 48 Hours (1982)

Watched:  03/11/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  1st as an adult who could follow the movie
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Walter Hill!

D'aw, hell.  It's a Nick Nolte movie.

On the heels of Coming 2 America, Jamie began pondering what Eddie Murphy movies she hadn't seen, so she dialed up 48 Hours, the 1982 blockbuster starring Nick Nolte and a ready-for-stardom Eddie Murphy.   

Reviewing the movie about 40 years after the fact is a bit of a challenge.  This was in my lifetime, and I remember both the attitudes, the casual racism and names associated.  And, I did actually see this movie a couple of times as a kid, which... maybe wasn't great?  But in the 1980's, who was paying attention to what the kids were up to and we had easy access to HBO at our friends' houses.   

Friday, March 12, 2021

Friday Watch Party: Staying Alive


Here's a thing I never remember - Staying Alive was directed by Sylvester Stallone.  

I saw this movie in part or in whole in 4th grade, and my memory was "this is kinda goofy and weird".  

It's now 35-ish years later.  What will I think?

The sequel to Saturday Night Fever (which is a very, very good movie, by the way) that no one asked for - this one says "yes, but what if that kid in that movie had decided to pursue... BROADWAY?"  Which was absolutely nowhere on the map or in the meaning of the original, but here we are.

Apparently the second most famous name in this movie is Finola Hughes, so that's... something.

Anyway, I just got my first shot of COVID vaccine, and we're still here a year into March 2020, so to celebrate that we're stayin' alive, we're doing Staying Alive.

Day:  03/12/2021
Time:  8:30 central

In a Time of Virus: One Year Later

29.3 million cases of COVID.   Now over 530,000 dead as of 11:37 PM on 03/11/2021.

Since I quit writing posts we had an election, and Trump was shown the door.  But then we had an attempt at a violent overthrow of the US Congress as they moved to certify the electoral college on January 6th of this year.  You can look it up - it was very bad.  In the wake of the election loss, the GOP has more or less dropped the final bits of illusion suggesting they give a shit about democracy or decency.  Meanwhile, the Democrats remain the same spineless twits they've always been.  

Vaccines started appearing at the beginning of the year, and as of this writing, Jamie has her first shot, my parents and my brother have both of theirs, as well as my father-in-law and cousin.  The way they've rolled it out is intended to first serve the most vulnerable as the disease tends to hit, so first take care of older people and people with medical conditions.  But even as I write this, the picture is changing on a daily basis.  The White House is working on its plan to get vaccines available, and it seems to be actually working.  Meanwhile, the governor of Texas decided he's done with COVID and we're opening everything back up.  So, look for our numbers to spike uncontrollably for a while.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Cattrall Watch: Meet Monica Velour (2010)

Watched:  03/08/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Keith Bearden

I'm not really sure what qualifies as an indie film in this day and age, or even what constituted an indie movie in 2010 when Meet Monica Velour was released.  But it had been a while since I'd watched a lower-budget film like this one - and it almost hums with "this is an indie film" in a way the big studio releases I've been watching simply do not.  

The movie pitches itself as a "career high performance" for Kim Cattrall, and I'll argue - maybe!  I have only seen a fraction of her catalog, but she is, indeed, very, very good in this movie.  I totally get why she jumped at the chance to play this character, especially when the general TV and movie audience was associating her with her character on Sex and the City.  And, frankly, she nails it.  

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Any Number Can Play (1949)

Watched:  03/08/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Mervyn LeRoy

Trying to be an Audrey Totter completionist, I had planned to watch this movie at some point, but just never got to it.  Had I known how many people are in the film, I probably would have watched it years ago.

Beyond Totter, the headline stars are Clark Gable and Alexis Smith, but there's also:  Barry Sullivan, Frank Morgan, Mary Astor, Wendell Corey, Leon Ames, William Conrad, and a whole bunch more you're going to recognize.  

I thought it was *fine*, but I just checked and - holy cats - do people seem to hate this movie.  There's complaints about "this movie takes place within a casino and doesn't moralize about gambling" which is... a take, I guess. It kind of misses or dismisses the actual morals of the film (don't forget your family on your way to #1, the path to friendship and respect is via truth, honesty and fairplay no matter what you do for a living), but don't let that get in the way of a good complaint.  

It's certainly not the first movie to show a man in crisis/ at the end of his rope and how it resolves in a single night as all the threads come together.  But it's the earliest one I've seen that I can think of.  Until I think of one I've seen from earlier.

I admit, the movie moved a bit slowly, and despite plastering Audrey Totter all over the poster, she honestly wasn't in it much.  Still, she's having fun playing the bad girl and fed-up wife (something she was doing a lot in this era) of Wendell Corey.  It's nothing I'd go out of my way to recommend, but once I clocked to what they were doing, I did enjoy it a bit more.

Anyway - it's a gamble to watch it.

Monday, March 8, 2021

PODCAST: "WandaVision" (2021) - Marvel Television w/ Jamie and Ryan

Watched:  03/05/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director: Various
Creator:  Jac Schaeffer

Jamie and Ryan talk the first of the Marvel DIsney+ programs - a nine episode story that turns the spotlight on everyone's favorite Sakovian and her robot buddy. It's been a social media hot topic for months, so we're going to put it into re-runs and get nostalgic for two terrific Avengers.
A Newlywed Couple - Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez, WandaVision OST
Agatha All Along - Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez, WandaVision OST

Playlist - Avengers/ Marvel:

Sunday, March 7, 2021

90's Watch: Serial Mom (1994)

Watched:  03/07/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Third (so Jamie tells me)
Decade:  1990's
Director:  John Waters

In ye olde yesteryear of my first year of college, sometimes movie companies would bring films to campus before they were released and we'd see them for free.  I assume it was "word of mouth" programming, and/ or gave the marketing people some idea of how everything was about to go down, based on reaction.

My memory is that we all went apeshit for this movie.  It was new John Waters!  It had KATHLEEN TURNER!  It was sending up America's serial killer craze and the way things were covered in the media.*  

Jamie also tells me we watched it together, and I think I vaguely remember that from our early days of dating.  

Anyway, revisiting the movie 27 years later, it's aged oddly.  Not everything feels as sharp as it did at the time in the satire of suburban culture, but other parts feel just as fresh as they ever did.  Maybe not the least is the very end (SPOILERS) where, oh, shit, it turns out that person who skated through the real courts and the court of public opinion really is the nutjob they were accused of being. (END SPOILERS).  

Turner is *fantastic* in this movie.  She doesn't have to carry it - everyone is doing their part - but she's very funny, until she turns it up about halfway through, and then she's hysterical.  Turner was about 40 when this movie arrived (hair done to give her just the right slightly older look), and I have no doubt lots of "mom" roles were piling up for her as options.  If she was going to play a mom, this seems like the way to go.

The movie also features Sam Waterston as her husband, an unknown Matt Lillard as their son and Ricki Lake doing the most to make this feel like a John Waters movie as the daughter.  Justin Whalin (one of the Jimmy's from Lois & Clark) plays a pal, and Mink Stole appears as a neighbor.  And, famously, both Suzanne Somers and Patricia Hearts appear, as well as "I've gone legit" Traci Lords.  

The movie is rated-R for some gore, violence, language and nudity.  It's John Waters - I don't know what you expected.  Anyway - it's still very funny.  And, it's why, to this day, under my breath I still mutter "fuckin' Don Knotts...  he's the coolest" under my breath whenever Knotts appears on screen.

*I'm pretty sure the Tanya Harding thing was happening around the same time, so, really, between that and Jon Benet Ramsey, this feels soft on the media of the mid-90's.  

Comedy Watch: Coming 2 America (2021)

Watched:  03/06/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Craig Brewer

I saw Coming To America opening weekend in a packed theater.  For whatever reason, my mom thought that Eddie Murphy was a stitch, and we went as a family.  Over the years, I've probably watched Coming to America the most of any non-Christmas comedy, sometimes in whole, but certainly if you add up the chunks of time I've spent watching parts on cable.  In general, I feel like I know the movie pretty well. 

Jamie forewarned me that reviews for the sequel, realeased this weekend to Amazon, were lukewarm to unfavorable.  I haven't seen them.  We were going to at least try the movie.