Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hurrah! The Times publishes its ten best books of 2006 list...

fairly boring, as always. They omit Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth, and Updike (all of whom make it onto their "100 notable books" list) but include Richard Ford's latest. And they do love Marisha Pessl very very much, which threatens to arouse my dormant catty jealousy. But no! Down girl. I'm sure she's lovely, and very deserving of this praise. Really.

Here's the 10 best list, ladies and Gs.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

cultural consumption diaries, round deux.



Fellow-ette's Dad:

Oy, such naches. I'm kvelling. Yesterday I spent the day in federal appeals court watching my dad argue forecefully for the right to strike during bankruptcy (to put it simply). The three-judge panel was shrewd and tough (a "hot bench" in legalese) but all in all, pops wowed em with a mix of passion and sick legal evidence. Almost made fellowette think about taking the LSATs. almost, but not quite.

For Your Consideration:

More belly laughs than expected in this Chris Guest farce...yes it was less consistent than his previous films, possibly because it was a more biting and less loving kind of satire (it was Hollywood that was being lampooned after all), but if you love a good purim-related joke and watching Guest's amazing usual cast of characters ham it up in their usual riotous and deadpan way, then it's definitely worth your ten bucks and two hours. Critics, stop drinkin' so much Haterade!

Exhibitions a la Metropolitain:

The Vollard exhibit (he was a dealer of late impressionist and early modern art) is something special, room after room of Cezannes, Picassos, Van Goghs, not to mention two of f-ette's favorite artist groups ever, the Nabis (prophets) and Fauves (wild beasts). A huge, overwhelming art-fest.

The Tiffany exhibit is less cerebrally stimulating (thank the Lord) but so very very pretty. Shiny stained glass! Opalescent mosaics! Opulent extravagence. Good stuff.

Studio Shitty on the Sunset Strip:

Not so shitty this week, surprisingly.

Cry, The Beloved Country:

Half-way through it and already crying for the beloved country. The stuff Patton does with the English language is breathtaking-- almost like he's re-inventing it, combining it wth other languages and creating something entirely new. I probably just unintentionally plagiarized that from some critic but oh heck. It's true.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Liveblogging Madonna Concert on NBC: Hour 2.

9:08 Madonna singing "I love New York" with a an electric guitar, strange large feathered collar, and rotating NYC skyline minus twin towers behind her.

9:10 NBC: bleep bleep bleep bleep. Clean up that mouth, Madonna.

9:12 I think she's trying to be Lou Reed.

9:13 camera going in and out of trippy, man.

9:16 Linklater-esque animatesd screen of madonna floats in backround.

9:17 madonna dons "music"-style cowboy hat and kicks some air.

9:18 Don't fall! oh, she's doing that on purpose.

9:19 Madonna shoves hand and face in front of videocam...yeah you and every "hi-mom"ing football player.

9:25 mucinex commerical. so gross.

9: 28 disco inferno?

9:30 "Music"-->dancers doing russian-style dances to "music" and a bevy of hip rollerskaters boogying.
how did she advertise for these people? "must be able to gyrate and groove...while rollerskating expertly...on stage... in front of thousands."

9: 34 Madonna's dressed like a Bee Gee...She's clearly Barry. clearly. The androgynes behind her are Robin and Maurice.

9:34 I'm still contemplating the immortal line; "music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel." true words, true words.

9:40 white bodysuit. non-white background dancers.

9:42 kama-sutra esque pickup dance move. Madonna: "put your hands all over my body." Dancer:"okay!"

9:45 Madonna shouts: "Allright it's time to put on your dancing shoes." Weird tecnho version of "La Isla Bonita" ensues.

9:47 I think she's actually having fun! Shake it, woman.
Madonna: "Andale, Andale!"

9:50 Chase Bank co-opting yet another Rolling Stones song for commerical. Boo.

9:53 Finale, "Hung Up" preceded by built dudes cannonballing all over the damn place in purple tracksuits.

9:54 Yes! She's wearing the crotch-hugging leotard!!

Crowd chanting "time goes by so slowly!" quicker and quicker. odd and ironic.


Liveblogging Madonna Concert on NBC:

<--What NBC deemed too offensive.

So I'm foregoing making applesauce for tomorrow's feast to watch Madge strut her stuff.
All times approximate:

after the first song, my parents yell up from downstairs, "she sucks!"

8:10 Madonna is riding a mechanical bull and sticking her leg in the air as she sings "Like a Virgin." I'm disappointed that the bull isn't actually bucking.

8:18 Just saw the part where she was being crucified and censored by NBC... they don't show the actual crucifixion part but they do show her in her sexy crown of thorns with the large cross behind her. Dear me, it was soooo much more innocuous than I was led to believe... behind the cross, a counter counting out AIDS orphans with pictures of starving African children... ho-hum, ho-hum rather uncontroversial and somewhat touching! She even quotes from Matthew and endorses several charities while up on her disco-ball torture device.

8:25: There are two half-naked guys with a jewish star and a crescent on their bare chests humping each other with their arms.

8:30 now they're hugging/rabin arafat style.

now they're humping madonna between them,.

this is so deep.


8:50 A woman in a burka is writhing in a cage.
Really writhing. Twirling, in fact.

8:56 "I'm Sorry"--> Madonna is flirting/hugging/kissing carious androgynous ethnically ambiguous young dancers and rocking a leather jacket. This is the first actually good dance song she's sung all night.

8:56 wow she's pointing at her vagina quite overtly and raunchily.

9:00 neon snowy-stuff is falling from ceilling.

9:01. Madge riding someone's back. apparently miming kung fu moves with her velour-clad kickers.

9:02 Camera pans to fans. I'm bored too, cameraman.

9:02 Madonna whips off leather jacket, does a catwalk walk. Flagellates ground viciously with jacket, tosses it aside.

9:03 Bob Fosse-esque dance moves involving old-fashioned cage chair and rotating hips. And all that jazz.

9:05 Madonna sinks into floor.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cultural Consumption Diaries, Part 1.

The New Bond:

Muscular, hulking, brooding and tortured. Daniel Craig's James Bond is, according to me (despite being a Bond virgin before "Casino Royale"), my brother, and my boyfriend (both experts), the best Bond, like, ever. And there's much to be said about the film itself, from its brutal action sequences to high-stakes poker games, but I'll leave it to the critics. A human, cruel, caustic Bond with depth
and baby blues? Yes, please, I'll take it. Shaken, stirred, like Craig, I don't give a damn.

Ludacris on SNL:

The man's a great comedian (check out his "hype man to the stars" where he punctuates Streisand, Louis Armstrong, and more with signature "yo, at's right!"s and "that ass!"es) but the material's still weak. Come on, staff writers, pull it together!

Manet at MOMA:

So MOMA's started going buck-wild by featuring artiste's who are too pre-modern (or early modern, if you will) to be part of the collection permanente-- started this summer with their Cezanne/Pisarro exhibit and continued with their display of Manet canvasses related to a very political, and very apropos, topic--namely the occupation of a country by a Western regime and its consequences: "The Execution of Maximillian" a puppet governor sent by France to Mexico.
Spun by the permanents afterwards, feasted our eyes on Pablo's dames from Avignon, Kandinsky's expressions, and Mondrian geometry. In the Duchamp room, and older couple was heard exclaiming "WHAT?". It was so da-da.

Movie Trailers

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix": What can one say but OMG OMG OMG! Pant pant pant huff huff ... squeeeeeaaal!

"The Holiday": Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet seem awfully cute in this. But why isn't there more being written ab
out how this movie's premise is a rip-off of Tara Road, Maeve Binchy's best novel, which takes the whole house-swapping England/America thing to a much deeper level? Still, can't wait to see it. And Jack Black's a romantic lead? swoon. I love it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

There's Good Books... and Then There's Great Books

<----Michelle and Daniel Day: maybe a bit more explicit than Wharton intended, but not by much.

While nosing around my childhood bedroom on Friday I came upon a dog-eared, crumbling copy of Wharton's The Age of Innocence. I thought I might entertain myself for a few minutes by re-re-reading the first few pages, you know, the ones where Newland Archer takes his opera glasses and scans the crowd, first settling satisfactorily upon May, his placid wife-to-be, and then landing with consternation upon a strange woman in a dress with a too-plunging neckline. But once his eyes, and mine, had made contact with the figure of the Countess Olenska I was hooked again, and spent much of the weekend absorbed once again in Wharton's rigid Old New York, her ironic, deceptive descriptions, and the trapped desperation of Newland's love. I also picked up a few sexual references where I hadn't last time (have I really not read this since high school?) including a key discreetly mailed in an envelope, some wild-oat sowing, and other not-so-veiled overtones. I find the sexuality in this story more realistic than the Selden/Lily interplay in the House of Mirth, and have to wonder if Edith Wharton was more, ahem, experienced in the ways of passion when she wrote it.

Regardless, there was something about reading such a great book that put everything else I've read in the last few months-- all the gripping bestsellers and thought-provoking Pulitzer-Prize winners and sensational debuts--in a different light. My rabid consumption of The Age of Innocence tripped by with such intensity, such belief in every word I was reading, such conviction on my part that I was in strong hands, that I kept putting it down and saying "This is a Book." Does that make me not egalitarian after all, and a snob?
Perhaps. But I don't find Wharton a snobby read-- what keeps me moving through the pages is a constant, bubblng sense of passion and rebellion, that although frustratingly thwarted, carried immense emotional momentum. So yeah, I read it for the sex and anger that never materializes, in other words.

So what of Wharton's insistence on an always-tragic, always disappointed ending? I think she reason she always handed the victory to Society and Morality was evidence of self-hatred on her part, a sort of stockholm-syndrome esque identification with the society that condemned her and choked her when she was younger. And somehow, even though every time I read her books and hope for a better ending, I know they wouldn't be the same books if they had them. They would be fantasies, not realities, or they would birth Anna Karenina or Scarlet-Letter-like tragedies of trangression. (Or am I just justifying?)

Ah well... if I want to read a Wharton story with passions acted-upon, I can always read or watch the Buccaneers, whose posthumously-tacked on ending is entirely un-Wharton-esque and utterly delightful. And Scorcese's adaptation of Age is now No. 1 on my Netflix queue. Word.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A theoretical OJ confession. A couple of gay penguins. And one hot faux TV personality.

There's lots of literary scandal afoot, dear readers...

The first is that OJ Simpson, defendant extraordinaire and off-the-deep-end author, is going public with his new book, entitled "If I did it." His publisher and TV interviewer considers it his "confession" but it's all written as "what-if" hypotheticals. What??
Oh, and the station airing the interview (the others were too demure to pick it up)? the one, the only, classy FOX News. Check it out.

Fellow-ette has no comment other than to hold her nose.
Just as scandalous to some is the outrage Illinois parents are venting over a book called "And Tango Makes Three," which is the "true story of two male penguins in New York City's Central Park Zoo that adopted a fertilized egg and raised the chick as their own."
[Awwwwww]. The parents are requesting that children be given special permission to read the book, or it be moved to another section. Double-What???

Sigh. There is nothing more censorious than the "American Parent Teacher Association." Good for the district attorney for staying put in the face of censorship. This reminds me of the scene in Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner's wife calls the book-censoring mother a "Nazi Cow!" and then starts shrieking about how it felt like the 60s again while her husband starts goopily following the voices he hears. Oh, and the parents all vote for freedom of speech. Good times.

And finally, not a literary scandal at all but rather proof that brilliance and wit are definitely bringing sexy back: Ironic hero Stephen Colbert makes it onto People's sexiest man alive list as surprise. Hurrah! The winner? Super-hot super liberal George Clooney. I feel like this kind of caps the democratic victories last week. We're so hot right now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Crappy weather calls for good art...


The Lake House, with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reaves which so far is the most unabashedly romantic , no-holds-barred love-fest I've seen onscreen in a while. Only halfway through, but I'm ignoring the poor script to be mesmerized by the sweet slowness of the film, and the way its time-travel aspect is quietly subsumed by the overpowering scent of romance. Thanks, Netflix!

The Thirteenth Tale-- just started the campily creepy literature-obsessed novel.

New York Times Critics talking about Flannel Pajamas and Who the !@#$% is Jackson Pollak? two movies I enjoy contemplating but likely shall not see.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness, part 2.

Fellow-ette, amateur nature photographer: Autumn in NY.central park...
Cabrini and Ft. Washington playground

Flower garden entrance to Ft. Tryon Park
the mighty Hudson

the Great Lawn.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lisey's Story

Boo'ya Moon!

Stephen King has become a personal hero of mine of late. It's not just because he can write, which he can, or because he can connect with bazillions of readers from all walks of life, but because...his writing is so unabashedly emotional, and yes, his insistence on always bringing in the zombies, demons, and ghosties within and without is kind of, well, spiritual. And so many writers are afraid to be spiritual these days.
Americans like authors like King because he makes them laugh, scream, and cry. I certainly did all three while engrossed in Lisey's Story. I laughed at King's absurd uses of language (and have adopted the vaguely kinky phrase "strap it on!" as my own personal mantra of toughness), jumped 40-fucking feet in the air every time the phone rang, and sobbed inconsolably while contemplating the end of the marriage that King describes so poignantly. It was one of the most soul-seizing books I've read in years.

So I already mentioned that Janet Maslin compared this book to the Greatest. Book. Ever, Ulysses ( said slightly ironically). But the Times, almost as fascinated with King as it is with its own bloated significance, isn't done. The cover story of yesterday's Book Review continues the endlessly fascinating discussion: Is Stephen King a bad writer because he's popular? Or is he popular because he's a bad writer? Or is he a good writer who's misunderstood because he's popular? Or wait... can I write about liking King and still seem smart?
To his credit, the author seems to side with the Kingmeister, though he can't resist a few jabs at King's earthly prose. On the whole, a good piece that did its darndest to walk the line between highbrow and appreciative.

Best moments, followed by translation:
"His stuff appealed to people more familiar with Aerosmith than “Arrowsmith,” and the literary gatekeepers didn’t approve."
But I am familiar with both, and I do approve.

A few unfortunate lines remain, for example, “Amanda sounded just as bright as a new-minted penny.” (Cut to [Harold] Bloom, spitting out his morning coffee.) But give him a break: King is a volcano. Let his new admirers play Flaubert to his Hugo.
I'm not as snotty as Harold Bloom, but I can make awesome metaphors about ninetheenth-century French authors.

Boo’ya Moon is “this world turned inside-out like a pocket,” and it’s as real as J. M. Barrie’s Never-Never Land, L. Frank Baum’s Oz or the Grimms’ forest. Like those places, Boo’ya Moon arises from childhood longings for the things not provided by one’s parents or guardians, and it’s as forbidding as it is wonderful.

I speak the truth.

This last analogy is un-mockable because I agree with it ;)
...the book reminded me more of fave children's author Madeleine L'Engle than anyone else, with her almost religious approach to Sci-Fi and horror. Boo'Ya moon, like all other alternate worlds, is about the fulfillment of our desires. And that's what Stephen King does that the darlings of the literary establishment are too self-conscious to do. Fulfill our greedy desires. He takes us to alternate realities, populates the hallways with ghosts, and devours bad guys with monsters in big, breathtaking scenes. King is a literary cinematographer, an unabashed pop-culture fiend, and an all-around awesome dude. And hard as it is for all of us, even Egalitarian Bookworms, to praise him without self-conscious allusions to the Great Books we like to read in our spare time to "big ourselves up" as Ali G would say, we don't need to. This book stands on its own, and so does Lisey. And so does Stephen King.

And Harold Bloom can eat it. Egalitarian Bookworms hate him.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

More Ordinary than Fiction.

Hollywood, What Gives?

Fellow-ette rarely met a movie she didn't like. Mediocre romantic comedies, cheesy action movies, high-budget horror-flops have all pleased in the past. So why is this season's crop so full of crap? Marie Antoinette, The Prestige and now, Stranger than Fiction have all been yawn-inducing let-downs. The only saving grace? Borat. It only moviefilm I like.

But let's begin at the beginning. In a Saturday afternoon stupor, my sig other and I got tix for the new Will Ferrell high-concept comedy in an effort to liven ourselves up. Sure, the previews were dubious, but reviews have been decent, and the supporting cast (Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and Queen Latifah) is strong. Plus, it's a supposedly light-hearded, very meta- meditation on fiction, which, for unpretentious lit critics, sounded like a perfect outing.

Would that it were so. The film was little more than a well-acted pack of cliches. I came out complaining that there were no character arcs; my boyfriend responded that there were no real characters. Ferrell's character, the IRS agent Harold Crick, started out as a number-obsessed, boring, lonely guy; a sketchily-drawn alienated modern man. He end up a sweet, romantically fulfilled, sketchily drawn alienated modern man. How does Harold really change, besides being happy? Not quite sure. He doesn't brush his teeth as much, for one. And he eats cookies, for another. This combination probably means that he gets cavities.

For a primer on how to do "curmudgeon-turned- sweetheart-thanks-to-
unexplained-supernatural-phemenon", see Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, c. 1995 (The Billster is clearly an inspiration to Ferrell). Not that leading man Ferrell didn't try very hard to be restrained and quirkily soulful; but he was given too little to work with. The minimalist office buildings, empty apartments, and deserted docksides that the camera lingers on oh-so-significantly are meant to signal his empty life; they end up signaling an empty script. It's all conceit, no flesh.

Thompson, Latifah and Hoffman ham it up brilliantly, but they can't overcome the movie's handicap. And Maggie Gyllenhal's Ana, gorgeous though she is, says three interesting lines at the begining and then melts like the gooey cookies she bakes, falling for Crick and turning so irritatingly cutesy and besotted that her badass tatooes suddenly seem out of place--in fact several more ruffles would suit her more. Yes, we understand why she stops hating Harold, who she met when he started auditing her, but why she falls for him is inexplicable. Who are either of these canoodling lovers, exactly? Not sure. The actors aren't even given enough meat to turn their characters into your basic, likeable ro-co leads.

Come closing credits, I felt neither edified on the nature of fiction or the nature of love. But the film's endless meditation on death did make me more scared than I already am of the perilous pitfalls that lurk in urban life-- if the movie wanted to be dark a la Adaptation, it should have just gone there.

I agree, Harold. It sucks when cute girls don't pay attention to you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

RUMSFELD TO RESIGN--Dems win Montana!

Breaking news! Breaking news! Breaking news! Breaking news! A TRUE-BLUE day for bleeding heart liberals.

So this is far from literary or cultural, but it sure as hell is important, I mean it's totally as big news as Britney's divorce....check out the updates on the top of the and websites. And read the AP piece.

Add that to our takeover of congress and potentially the senate, and this is the first great day for our nation since, well...uhh...uhhhh... the, umm, Clintons? Or something?

It's been a long time, folks. Relish it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Britney and Kevin hit tha rocks, y'all...

The Spears/Federline liason, subject to such great scrutiny, and subject of so much heartwrenching pop and bad rap music, is finis. It's up on, folks, and it's officially the saddest, saddest day, like, ever, for fans of America's everycouple.

On another quasi-feminist note, I hate the media's constant focus on Brit's body and shlumpiness. She's a manufactured pop star, worked to death from a young age, who at last decided to live her life and relax and stop working so damn hard...and the public was outraged. Personally, I loved the cheeseburgers, the hoodies, the ratty hair. Sure she could have chosen a less thuggish husband, but if going for bad boys is an indication of a serious problem... I leave that thought unfinished.

So yes, I'm glad Brit's a free woman, I look forward to more bad Federline rap songs, and I hope that Britney takes life by the reins and works on her happiness as much as, and preferably more than, she works on her abs. But in our society, fat chance.

Another Literary Joke...

What did the bartender say to Charles Dickens when he walked in and ordered a Martini?


"olive or twist?"

Friday, November 03, 2006


Just saw a raucous. packed-to-the hilt stadium-seating show of Borat: cultural learnings etc etc at the Village East. I haven't seen an audience that excited since the last installments of the LOTR or Star Wars series. There was even a guy in full-on Borat regalia, moustache included, waiting on line. The result of this amped-up crowd, was this; my boyfriend and I always"Boo" extremely loudly at Mel Gibson's name on the screen when there's an "Apocalypto" preview (which there ALWAYS is, isn't there?). We often get a few laughs, sometimes we get stunned silence. This time we got hoots, cheers, and a rousing chorus of more "boos." An entire theater boing Mel Gibson. It was beautiful. Also, how idiotic does one have to do to show a preview for a Mel Gibson film before Borat? The juxtaposition of anti-semites, real and fake, is a bit too uncomfortable to ignore.

Anyway, there's not a lot to say about this laugh-til-you-vomit movie that hasn't been said in glowing terms by the bigwig critics. I'd really like to see it again, just because every moment is so precisely choreographed and symbolic that the immediate belly-laugh humor sometimes underscores the poignant and disturbing points being made. Cases in point: the evangelical Christians pass a sleeping Borat, apparently homeless, without so much as a nod on their way into church, but are all too eager to save his soul once he comes inside; the southern aristocrats will tolerate even the, literally, ULTIMATE breech of table manners--I'll leave more specific details out--but not the entrance of a black prositute as Borat's "friend."
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant work, Sacha Baron Cohen. I can't wait to see it again.
Bottom line: Go see this movie. And pssst.. pass it on: Jeer as loudly as you can when you see Mel Gibson's name flashed onscreen during those tiresome Apocalypto previews.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

And They All Lived Happily Ever After!

At long last, 840-odd pages of Victorian prose later, my reading of Trollope's The Way We Live Now is complete. I'll even be able to return it to the library on time, though slightly worse for wear.
As Victorian novels go, it's not one of my favorites, for the reason that none of the characters really pulled me in emotionally. Trollope was too good at delineating their faults. I cared enough to be glad when I saw some of the main characters settled happily (though not all of them received a good fate) as one always is at the end of a great, long journey at the hands of a 19th century author.

For all my joking about the anti-semitic comments in the book, Trollope's relentless stereotpying of the Jews and Americans--whose importance as movers and shakers compared to the staid, effete, landowning gentry was one of the books main themes--was always my focus while reading. He painted a vivid , engaging picture of the "Wild Cat" American widow(?) Mrs. Hurtle, and the kind, honest and "good-humored" Jewish banker Mr. Breghert, but he refused to give them any satisfaction plot-wise, and ultimately cast them back out of the society they charged into so energetically. Whether this was a brilliant exposition of the prejudices and narrowness of Trollope's lollygagging set of British aristocracy, or his own imability to imagine the "races" intermingling to such an extent, I can't quite decide.

The book's villains--from the pompous, magnetic swindler Melmotte, to the diffident and worthless group of young aristocrats headed by Sir Felix Carbury and Dolly Longstaffe--were hilariously drawn. The heroes and heroines were self-righteous and virtuous, but less angelically rendered than, say, David Copperfield's Agnes. Trollope showed them in their irrelevant straight-and-narrowness, which was appreciated (Although Copperfield was a much more enthralling, heart-wrenching read).

Anyway, on to Lisey's Story and this month's issue of Jane, and I bid farewell to the world of Westminster politics, gentleman's clubs, family manors, entailments, and marriages-of-fortune. But of course I'll be back; one can't say away from 19th century Britain for long.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Madonna: The Dateline Interview With Meredith Viera

Rant of the Day.

Just turned off the tube. Fellow-ette thought that this latest round Madonna's "adoption tour" was an absolutely catty, nasty, idiotic interview under the guise of hard-hitting "journalism." How is it good journalism to literally be the voice of the status quo, criticizing celebrtities because it's du jour to criticize them, instead of coming up with your own acutally interesting questions? If Viera's supposed to be tops at what she does, why is she just re-phrasing claims printed in tabloids as though they're insightful?

The worst part, by far was when she chided Madge for making too many statements over the course of her career--- and NOT SPENDING ENOUGH TIME WITH HER CHILDREN! Eeek! Where are Viera's children when she's making the dough trashing celebrities on her faux-news shows? Sitting, hidden, on mamas's lap?
It was such a profoundly conservative moment, and the fact that it was one woman criticizing another rankled the feminist in me considerably. It felt like 1952, with a dose of hypocrisy thrown in for good measure.

Then there was the host's chastisement of Madonna for letting her new child wear a Kabbalah bracelet (what if poor David wants to grow up Christian?), for crucifying herself onstage and offending the Vatican (Hello, her name is Madonna, I think she stopped caring about pissing off the Vatican a looong time ago.) It was a whole night of winners.

The interview as done was a waste of airtime... but could we expect less from anyone save Colbert or Stewart? Yes, Madonna has a saint complex, yes she's a tad affected, but yes, she's also done a fucking great job of entertaining, provoking, and inspiring us for a long time now, and she's never been afraid to say what's on her mind, be herself proudly, make an ass of herself, and brush herself off. The chanteuse has consistently refused to conform, and she's grown up and matured visibly, which makes her almost a role model. In a lot of ways, she's no different from a figure like John Lennon, who did and said plenty of frivolous or foolish things along with wise ones... but like Madonna, never denied that he was only human (that was the fans).

Madge, I love you. Meredith, you're dead to me. Barbara Walters, you'll never be.

And finally, on the trend of celebrities caring about Africa that has some people rankled: Since our world's wealthy governments don't seem to care enough, and are letting people die by the hundreds and hundreds of thousands, the fact that sheltered celebrities are spending so much time and resources on the continent that's troubled as a result of Western Imperialism can only be a good thing... right?

Aragorn, Son of Arathorn (AKA Strider, AKA Elessar) Owns a Publishing House?

"You said that you would give yourself to me, forsaking the eternal life of your people... Arwen!"

A Elbereth! Today the Times's Maslin (EB chick looves her articles) writes a charming feature about the bizarre indie sensibilites of Viggo Mortensen, who runs a tiny publishing house called Perceval Press. Perceval publishes photo essays, Spanish language textbooks, and fiction reimagined, all shot through with hip subversive revolutionary sentiment. Many of them are even books by Viggo himself.

A tidibit of yummy prose:
“I Forget You for Ever” is another of Mr. Mortensen’s eerily abstract photo essays, with haunting images that are titled in cryptic, oblique fashion. One street scene, “Arieto,” is named for the barely visible label glimpsed on a broken record. Less subtly named are pictures of foreign cities entitled “Bomb This,” intended as a form of deterrent.

The Return of the King, Indeed.