Monthly Archives: October 2007

Requiem for a table…

This week marks the passing of a very dear and beloved member of our family, as the kitchen table and chairs that Christine and I have owned for the last sixteen years have finally passed into immortality.

The first pieces of furniture I didn’t inherit from my friends or parents and actually bought with my own money, that table has seen it all…sixteen Oscar parties, dozens of Thanksgiving dinners, more Christmas enchilada spills than you can shake a churro at, and years and years of shaggy cat loving.

Our old friend bites the dust!

Already well-used when I bought it in the fall of 1991 from my SFSU film school bud Robert Anderson, the table was a steal at the low, low price of $30.00. That’s right, five chairs and a table for thirty bucks! Top that, Ikea!

After investing another $50.00 in paint and upholstery fabric, Christine, our friends James and Marcie, and myself spent one long weekend fixing that baby up. We were such nerds we actually wrote our names and the date underneath the chairs and legs we worked on (pictured below).

But what a payoff! That big ass table was the hub of our rambling Fell Street flat for years. We ate there, we fought there, we danced on those chairs like drunken fools…literally. I still have the head wound to show for it.

Tom & Marci’s legs!

And when we packed up and moved from San Francisco to Burbank with James and our friend Melissa, that table came with. Big as it was (and with a built-in, expandable leaf, it got even bigger!) that table came with Christine and I every time we’ve moved since then.

But despite another major renovation of the chairs, paint job and upholstery in 1997, our old friend began to show its age in the last few years. So, a few weeks back we socked the table and chairs away in the garage and replaced them with a smaller, newer and dare I say, cooler, dining table and chairs from Ikea.

When we finally cleaned out our garage last weekend, the table emerged once more into the daylight and made its last lonely trip down the driveway to the curb. I swear, if you listened hard enough you could hear someone calling out: “Dead man walking!”

Our table in happier days!

And that night, as our table and chairs waited on the curb for Burbank’s bulky item pick-up to whisk it away, a miracle happened! Someone took the legs and all the chairs! Yeah! Spared from the brink of death yet again, our chairs and table legs were about to reinvent themselves in a new home! Hooray!

The table top itself didn’t make the cut and was left behind. But later that day, the table did get a super cool send off when some skater dudes propped it up against a milk crate and used it as a skateboarding ramp. If I hadn’t seen it myself, I would not have believed it. What a way to go, used and loved till the very end!

They finally picked up the table top on Monday and though neither of us could bear to peak out the window as it disappeared into the garbage truck forever, we slept well knowing that our table and chairs had a nice, long life both here and in San Francisco.

Thanks guys, we’ll miss you!

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“Passions” world-record!

As you may or may not know, one of our favorite shows, the twisted, supernatural sudser “Passions”, left the NBC schedule (after a bewitching 8.5 years on the air!) in September and moved to Direct TV’s subscription-only channel “The 101”.

Heidi Mueller (Kay Bennett) & Juliet Mills (Tabitha Lennox) @ PASSIONS event!

Since we don’t have Direct TV and have watched “Passions” daily since it’s inception in the summer of 1999 — come on, who wouldn’t watch a show with a talking doll and a witch? — the news of the move was kind of like the end of era, not just for us, but for our poor overworked Tivo, Snape, as well.

But just because we can’t watch “Passions” anymore, doesn’t mean that the trials and tribulations of the residents of Harmony have ended. Not by a long shot!

Emily Harper (Fancy) & Erin Cadillo (Esme) from PASSIONS

So, we were delighted to hear from a friend of mine at NBC that the bulk of the “Passions” cast was appearing at a fan event celebrating the character Tabitha’s 300th birthday (she’s one of three witches on the show) at Universal’s CityWalk.

Cast of PASSIONS @ Universal CityWalk!

Andrea Evans (Rebecca) & Kim Johnson Ulrich (Ivy) @ PASSIONS event!

Gathering as many costumed fans as they could, the producers were hoping to break a world record for most people dressed in costumes in one place. And though the crowd hardly looked big enough to break any records, the annoying dude with the mic (not a “Passions” cast member!) assured us they did.

But world records or not, the main draw for us was a chance to see all our old “Passions” favorites in person.

Cast of PASSIONS onstage @ CityWalk!

Christopher Maleki (Spike), Phillip Jeanmarie (Vincent) & McKenzie Westmore (Sheridan) from PASSIONS!

And talk about access! Security was so lax — guess they didn’t expect much of a turnout for a show that now airs exclusively on Direct TV! — that we had the rare chance to meet and greet almost all of our favorite actors from the show. Yeah!

Everyone was crazy-friendly and totally approachable, even when I called them by their character names. Yikes, stalker much? Sorry, guys.

Nicole Cox (Endora Lennox) @ PASSIONS event!

And since they were all dressed in Halloween costumes, it made the event kind of coolly seasonal too, so needless to say, we had a blast!

Below is a picture of Christine posing with her favorite villain on the show, the murderous hermaphrodite Vincent Crane, played by actor Phillip Jeanmarie. Yes, I said murderous hermaphrodite. Harmony’s full of them.

Phillip Jeanmarie (Vincent the hermaphrodite) & Christine @ PASSIONS event!

And I managed to pose not just with the super chill Justin Hartley — who originated the role of Fox Crane and has since appeared on “Smallville” and in the short-lived-cult-favorite “Aquaman” on the WB — but also with the Golden Globe award-winning actress (daughter of Oscar-winner Sir John Mills, sister of Hayley) and witch of the hour, Juliet Mills (Tabitha Lennox).

Wow…all that was missing was a pitcher of Martimmies! So cool!

Me & Justin Hartley (the original and best Fox Crane) @ PASSIONS event!

Juliet Mills (Tabitha) & Me @ PASSIONS event!

Although we couldn’t stay for the autograph signing afterwards, we did get to see the Guinness folks take a group photo for the record books and got so many great pics of our own, that it hardly mattered.

All in all, a great send off to one of our favorite shows! Vaya con dios, “Passions”!

Marianne Muellerleile (Crazy Norma) from PASSIONS!

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The Hollywood Reporter!

OK, totally knock on wood…but eight crazy years after my co-writer Dror and I began writing our screenplay “Not Forgotten”, we are finally — at long, long last — in the home stretch.

We have the financing in place, we recently snared a really cool lead actor: “The Devil Wears Prada’s” baddie Simon Baker, and production is set to begin just after New Years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yeah!

Reporter story (online version)

Featured above is a screenshot of an article that appears in today’s Hollywood Reporter announcing the casting of Mr. Baker as our lead.

The Reporter got a few of the major plot details wrong — Simon’s daughter is kidnapped in the movie, NOT dead — but overall, it’s a pretty cool write-up. And at the end of the day, who cares what they write as long as this movie gets made?!

After eight years and far too many rewrites to count, you’d think I’d be dancing around a giant sombrero on the floor right about now — the movie is set partially in Mexico, I’m not just randomly hating on dancing Mexicans — but honestly, I’m still kind of in shock that this is finally happening.

Hmm…guess I’ll have to save the drunken Mexican hat dancing for Santa Fe.

You can read the entire Reporter write-up at: “www.hollywoodreporter.com”
Or check out the shorter Reuter’s blurb at: “www.reuters.com”

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Go Gore!

Make room on the mantle, Tipper, because Daddy just bagged some more gold!

Coming off a white-hot year where his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” has been honored with two Oscars, an Emmy and even a Grammy nomination for Melissa Etheridge’s rocking theme song, the man who would be president in 2000, former Vice President Al Gore, has now won his most prestigious award of all…the Nobel Peace Prize!

NY Times “DRAFT GORE” ad!

Honored for his work on climate control issues “President” Gore shares the award with the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and has already vowed to donate his share of the prize money — half of a whopping $1.5 million — to the bi-partisan, non-profit Alliance For Climate Protection.

Go on with your bad self, Mr. Greenjeans!

So, in honor of “President” Gore’s big day, we thought we’d run a picture we took of him at a book signing last year at the now-defunct Dutton’s in Beverly Hills. Mr. Gore signed two copies of his beautiful, recycled-paper book version of “An Inconvenient Truth” for us that day (one for Christine and I, and one for our friend James).

“President” Gore signing books @ Dutton’s!

Super friendly, Mr. Gore even answered my query about whether or not he had been to Dollywood (I mean, hello, he is from Tennessee…) with a surprised chuckle and an easy smile.

“Well, yes, I have. Have you?” he replied. I answered that I had indeed been and found Dollywood to be “totally awesome.” He laughed again then had me promptly muzzled and dragged from the building by security (not really).

Anyway, congrats on your Nobel Prize, Señor Presidente and here’s hoping you take the advice of our friends at www.draftgore.com (that’s a sampling of their recent full-page ad in the NY Times pictured above) and make another run for the big house in ’08.

If ever there was a reason to bring back the draft, this is it, dude. Go, Gore!

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Sublime Stem Stitching!

Yeah! The moment you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived with the world premiere of our first official post under the “make” heading!

Not that we haven’t been making stuff all along, but Christine (the primary “maker” in our home) wanted the first thing up to be something really symbolic. So, pictured below is a tea towel she hand-embroidered from a pattern by stitching guru/author Jenny Hart (“Sublime Stitching: Hundreds of Hip Stitching Patterns and How-To”, “Stitch-It Kit”, etc.).

Tea Towel party, with apples!

Since Christine loves knitting like I love “Star Wars” the slogan is pretty self-explanatory, but the coolest thing about this tea towel is that Christine made it for herself! Of course, since I usually do the dishes, I’m thinking maybe this towel is really for me…hmm.

In any case, one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard — not just from Christine but from her cabal of crafty friends — is that you spend so much time making things for other people (birthdays, Christmas, baby showers, you name it) that you rarely, if ever, devote the time to making something for yourself.

And after embroidering a couple of these swinging “Purl Girl” tea towels for friends, Christine finally decided to make one for herself/us. If you look closely, you’ll notice the stitch is a bit more intricate than normal, that’s because she embroidered the towel with a stem stitch.

Tea Towel (Detail)

What’s a stem stitch you ask? Good question! I had to look it up to get it right, but traditionally a stem stitch was used to embroider the borders on classic, vintage linens and also happened to look really cool when outlining embroidered stems and leaves, hence the name. Not only is the texture bumpier, but it feels really good in your hand too and hey, anything that feels good when you’re drying dishes is a huge bonus in my book.

If you’re interested in trying out some hipster embroidery for yourself you gotta check out the kick-ass selection of patterns and products at Jenny Hart’s website: www.sublimestitching.com

After her last pattern spending spree, Christine has been banned from shopping the site (Ha, I wish!) but you should totally check it out. Enjoy!

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Radiohead: “In Rainbows”

Avid Radiohead fans rejoice! For today, October 10th, marks the release of the band’s new package-free download-only album, “In Rainbows”.

Their first album — not including Thom Yorke’s 2006 solo outing “The Eraser” — since 2003’s incendiary “Hail To The Thief”, “Rainbows” marks a turning point in the band’s career and the music business in general, as it has no set retail price.

That’s right, go the album’s website: www.inrainbows.com create an account with an active e-mail address and then pay whatever price you like for the download. Could be $10.00, could be $0.00. Pay what you think is fair and the album is yours to download. Crazy, huh? Or brilliant?!

Radiohead Discbox!

Bypassing the major labels and the superstore chains altogether, the band is betting that their true fans will pay for the album, which judging by their hip, generally older-skewing demo is probably true. Christine and I ordered the album last weekend and paid somewhere around $11.00. The price is a little murky as it is listed on the website in pounds, but seems fair considering the price of CD’s these days.

After three sleepless nights of waiting, the link to the download page arrived in my inbox this morning and aside from a few technical difficulties (which they promptly addressed via email from London!) the album has been playing on my Macbook ever since. And all I can say is…wow. Totally worth the four year wait!

Hauntingly beautiful and surprisingly accessible, the album positively shimmers. So far my favorite track is a thumping, ethereal number called “Reckoner” but really, the whole album rocks. It is definitely worth 5.4o pounds or whatever other price you chose to pay for it.

And for die-hard fans with deep pockets there is a larger packaged version of the album (pictured above) due out in December. Called the Discbox, this version includes a hardback book, a couple of vinyl records, a slew of extra songs and a price tag of roughly $80.00. A bit steep for my blood at the moment, but hey, Christmas does fall in December, so you never know…

Anyway, check out the album, pay what you can and most importantly enjoy the supersonic splendor that is Radiohead!

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“They Live By Night”

OK, I don’t plan on writing movie reviews of EVERY movie we see, but I just finally watched Nicolas Ray’s classic directorial debut, “They Live By Night” (1948) on TCM and knew I had to write about it.

Granger & O’Donnell in THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

I use the word finally because I’ve been looking for this movie on DVD or video (it was finally released this summer as a “Film Noir Double Feature” with “Side Street”) ever since I first heard about it in a Noir class at SFSU. So, you can imagine how happy I was to find it show up on my Tivo Wishlist last week. Yeah!

Based on the book “Theives Like Us” (which itself was adapted into another film by Robert Altman in the 1970’s) “Night” is one of the first filmed versions of the “Bonnie & Clyde” story. Which, I have to admit, I am a total sucker for.

“Badlands”, “Bonnie & Clyde”, hell, I even like “Kalifornia”. I’m serious, give me a doomed, murderous couple on the run and I’m there!

Farley Granger in THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

“Night” isn’t perfect (some of the supporting cast is a bit stiff) but the movie is so hip and stylish that you hardly care. The aerial tracking shots of the get-away car are shockingly-modern and so cool that they’ll leave you positively breathless!

And the pre-credit sequence of the doomed couple kissing while the words: “This boy and this girl were never properly introduced in the world we live in” scroll by beneath them, is truly revolutionary for a Hollywood film at that time. Wow, you can see here why Ray was the total darling of the French New Wave directors. This movie has style to burn!

“Night” features a crazy young Farley Granger (“Rope”, “Strangers On A Train”) and Cathy O’Donnell (“Side Street”) as the star-crossed lovers on the lam, and the movie handles their budding relationship with a sensitivity and subtly that is almost neo-realistic in it’s simplicity. Seriously, you really love these crazy kids.

Cathy O’Donnell in THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

Wearing virtually no make-up the entire first half of the movie, O’Donnell brings to mind the naive “jailbait” character played so memorably by Sissy Spacek in “Badlands”. She’s fantastic, but Granger is out of this world. Usually kind of a wooden pretty boy, he is so earnest and tortured here that he could give James Dean a run for his money.

The story plays out pretty much as they all do (complete with the usual tragic ending) but the scenes of the couple at a low-rent wedding chapel and later at a cabin hide-out where they try to find some semblance of normalcy by playing house are downright heartbreaking.

I defy you not to get a little weepy when Granger gives O’Donnell an expensive watch as a courting gift near the beginning. Beautiful!

Farley Granger & gun in THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

While I can’t say it’s my favorite of the couple on the run genre, this movie is a total must-see for film geeks and the random Nicolas Ray completist out there. So, check it out!

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