|legeros.com > Living Hell > This Issue|
------------------------------------------------------------------ Living Hell - Volume #1, Issue #18 ------------------------------------------------------------------ December 5, 2001 ================ Special Post-Thanksgiving Edition! ================================== Contents ======== o Napkins o Movie Review o Coen Brothers Filmography o Twelve Discs For Christmas o Still More Sights Napkins ======= Chest half-tight as I pull into the parking lot, "eyes ahead" by conscious choice. Don't wanna trigger anything lest I happen to see some particular person's car. Don't wanna *appear* anxious about feeling anything, either. (Age is a bitch; the more the de- cades separate our schoolyard years, the more we're aware that the taunters are still with us...) Pace quickens as my car circles the entrance, an internal timer counting down each potentially wasted second spent searching for a spot, dawdling at the car, or taking my time walking to the front door. ('Tis a hurry common to social dancers, I imagine; that rapidly swelling fear that the evening's best song | dance | partner is about to end, and at the *very* mo- ment you walk inside.) Stride from car to door to dance floor, barely noticing the five dollars forked over for "cover" as I try to recall the basic "pre- sentation points" otherwise ignored on this lazy, rainy, Sunday: stand up straight, suck in gut, see if zipper's zipped, etc. (Though that last step isn't remembered until I'm well *inside*, it's completed with a deft, double-handed waistband grab, with strategically placed pinky confirming said closure.) It's late, after 9 p.m., so the "floor" is pretty empty. Still enough people to induce instant anxiety, mind you-- maybe three-dozen men and women-- but certainly not a "crowd," not even in a non-weekend sense. I stop a couple feet from said raised hardwood surface, hands either in pockets or on hips, body straight and probably rigid as energies are shifted to "scanning." Take a long, methodical look around the room; head slowly turning but never stopping, lest cessation of motion signal to someone that I'm attempting eye contact. Nope, no overtures yet. I'm scanning-- seeing who's here, e.g. which "regulars" are present this particular night, and, of those *lady* regulars, which ones fall into such categories as: o have danced with, but she can't o haven't danced with, but she's probably better than me o too chatty o too flirty o angry-looking o overly friendly and so on. (I know, grown man as Goldilocks. It's funny to me, too.) Within the space of two or three minutes, I sketched an outline of the tonight's "comfort zones." I've picked the best places in the room for standing (or sitting) and affixed mental labels to many moving targets-- identifiers a la "safe," "scary," and "undecid- ed." Thus begins the evening's *other* dance, balanced between extremes of comfort. (As this process unfolds, I'm *physically* visible, probably off to the side or propped against a column. Whether or not I'm *approachable*, however, is another matter en- tirely. I'm intentionally staring off into the distance, hopeful- ly dissuading anyone from asking me to dance during this decidedly vulnerable state.) Within two or three songs, I begin warming up. My body relaxes a bit. I might begin pacing, casually, along the edge of the dance floor. I'm still not making much eye contact, tho, unless someone "safe" is spotted outright. In that case, I'll make a determined (but not *too* excited-looking!) bee-line to them, buoyed by the prospect of "encapsulation" for two or three dances; a gloriously insulated marriage of motion during which my social attention can relax, not worrying about who I'm dancing with, nor who I might be dancing with *next*. (One of the greatest challenges of partner dancing is "staying in the moment" with whomever you're dancing with, instead of focusing on "who's next.") I suppose a "perfect night" is one spent rotating exclusively be- tween a half-dozen "safe" regulars. And, I guess, with the occa- sional exception for an invigorating "try out." (That is, dancing with someone for the first time and where everything goes not just good but *great*: leads are followed, eye contact is comfortable, emotive level matches own, etc.) And, expectedly, an "off night" entails the exclusive company of the "scary"-- partners who invoke the ol' anxiety for any of the aforementioned reasons. (Versus simple mismatched skill levels, or even an entire evening spent "sitting out.") Thus the ironic problem faced by socially anxious partner dancers: the very *core* of the pastime, other people, is threatening! In a perfect world, "shy pills" would be sold at the counter. Or, in another decade, automatronic "stand ins" for the "interactionally challenged." Thank God for line dances. Most are done in groups, requiring no partner and only awareness of the audience (the rest of the bar) as potential trip-up. (Not surprising, Yours Truly is *way* more uncomfortable one-on-one than performing for many...) There are *partnered* line dances, however. The more-formal ones as still problematic, but "free for all's" like the Rebel Strut or Cotton Eyed Joe are infinitely easier to take, as dancers can go solo or pair-up or switch as desired between the two. Thank God, I guess, for cocktail napkins. A simple stack of blank white squares is a bar-room escape unlike any other. Forget eye- catching "sweet thangs," a live band to die for, or "great conver- sation," *the* most captivating dynamic in a dance hall is think- ing out loud on paper. Says *me*. Movie Review ============ THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE, the new movie from Brothers Coen, those wacky, Twin Cities-raised filmmakers, is a world more watchable than last year's insipid O' BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? or 1998's lame Jeff Bridges-starrer THE BIG LEBOWSKI. (The sibs are best known for FARGO, you betcha, and last year's well-received re-release of BLOOD SIMPLE, their 1984 debut and source of such memorable lines as "the world is full of complainers," as said in M. Emmet Walsh's wonderfully lazy, high-pitched drawl.) For THE MAN, their latest "genre visitation," the Coens explore (explode?) the shady, shad- owed, black-and-white world of Forties film noir, complete with (quasi) hard-boiled narration by a gaunt Billy Bob Thorton. (He's the title character and, for much of the movie, an nearly entirely expressionless observer to a detailed, deadpan, and rather slowly evolving Web of Intrigue involving blackmail, murder, and... dry cleaning.) Thornton plays a small-town barber with a cuckold wife (Frances McDormand, surprisingly svelte), a chatty barber business partner (Michael Badalucco), and barely any discernable identity. Well, other than an eerie resemblance to Barney Fife. Other players in this immaculately groomed comic drama include TV mobster James Gandolfini, Tony Shaloub, late-appearing as a fast-talking lawyer, and the always-reliable Jon Polito, a Coen staple who can steal a scene with a simple close-up. Or, in this case, by talking it up in a barber's chair, his roly-poly jowls in perfect orbit around a see-saw mouth and black brows bouncing above alit eyes. As for plot, the slowly unfolding story is a Rube Goldberg-like chain of consequences, each affecting the characters in inventive, oft-fun- ny, and sometimes utterly unexpected ways. (Or, as a line of dia- logue so smugly states, "the story made his head hurt.") All that and gen-u-ine flying saucers *and* Beethoven's deafness-as-super- nifty metaphor, too!) Like I said, a world more watchable than O' BROTHER or their sec- ond-to-last feature, THE BIG L. Though, to be honest, Coen films are less watched than *absorbed*. Their movies are so jam-packed with meta-information that simply "paying attention to what's hap- pening" is nearly impossible. Here, exaggerated details are the grabbers, like the many familiar genre conventions either inten- tionally overdone or underplayed. Like a Big Courtroom Sequence dismissed at the outset by a judge. (And quite funnily commented as such by Thornton's character's chatty business partner.) Or the curious number of ethnic slurs; included, perhaps, for accu- racy, political considerations be damned. Equally "distracting" is Roger Deakins stunning cinematography. I mean, some of his shot compositions are so starkly vivid that, for a disorienting second or two, you'd *swear* the image was 3D. (Inside the eleva- tor, looking up, was the wrought iron shot as... a treble clef??) Bottom line, is THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE a great movie? It's a *Coen* movie. Is it a *good* Coen movie? Hell if I know, I've only seen it once... Coen Brothers Filmography ========================= In order of author's preference... o Fargo (1996) o Hudsucker Proxy, The (1994) o Raising Arizona (1987) / Blood Simple (1984) (tie) o Man Who Wasn't There, The (2001) o Barton Fink (1991) o Miller's Crossing (1990) o Big Lebowski, The (1998) o O' Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) * * for Wizard of Oz slash KKK musical number only Twelve Discs of Christmas ========================= Need background music for the holidays? Here are twelve of *my* favorites... Yours? 1. Louis Armstrong and Friends, "What a Wonderful Christ- mas" (Hip-O) Dinah Washington sings "Silent Night." Eartha Kitt purrs "Santa Baby." Pops asks "'Zat You, Santa Claus?" And everybody swings somethin' terrible 2. Chet Atkins, "Christmas with Chet Atkins" (Razor & Tie) Electric *and* acoustic instrumentals from the late, great, country guitar-slinger, plus cheery, Ray Con- iff-style choruses. Originally released in 1961. 3. Burl Ives, "The Very Best of Burl Ives Christmas" (MCA) Fifteen tracks of Sam the Snowman singing both somber hymns and holly jolly jingles. Kiss her once for me, please. 4. Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, "Christ- mas with the Pops" (Telarc) Choirs, bells, soloists, the works. Recorded 1990. 5. Mitch Miller and the Gang, "Holiday Sing Along with Mitch" (Columbia) Echo-chambered cheer circa 1958-61 and a better recipe for fun than *any* fruitcake. Just add bouncing ball... 6. Elvis Presley, "If Every Day Was Like Christmas?" (RCA) Bearing twenty-four tracks, plus personal greeting from "E", a compilation fit for *three* kings, thankyouvery- much. 7. Robert Shaw and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, "The Many Moods of Christmas" (Telarc) Eighties re-recording. 8. Bob Rivers, "Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire" (Atlan- tic) Politically incorrect song parodies, skewering (ha!) tunes both olde and new. Brutal, brutally funny stuff. Or substitute with one of Rivers' other three albums. ("More Twisted Christmas" also sleighs.) 9. Soundtrack, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (Mercury) From the Boris Karloff-narrated, animated version, of course, not the tuneless, joyless, Jim Carrey/Ron How- ard turd. Stink, stank, stunk. 10. Various, "Billboard Rock 'n' Roll Christmas" (Rhino) Seasonal singles from Queen, Billy Squier, George Thorogood, "Weird" Al Yankovic, Foghat, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Dave Edmunds, Canned Heat, and... Cheech & Chong. Stingy, but it rocks. 11. Various, "The Christmas Album" (Columbia) Twenty-track compilation of popular pop artists like Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Doris Day, etc. Orig- inally released in 1984, but beware later pressings with fewer tracks. 12. The Ventures, "The Ventures Christmas Album" (Razor & Tie) Even Ebenezer makes an appearance on this "two-channel stereo," all-instrumental classic. Just *try* finding an album more fun... Still More Sights ================= Guess who's been sorting through pictures these weeks? Newly added to http://www.legeros.com/south... o Anonymous But Visible (Morehead City, NC) o Barney Says "Watch Your Step" (Mount Airy, NC) o Bench (Raleigh, NC) o Blue Beach House (Southern Shores, NC) o Boogers (Raleigh, NC) o Hatteras Highway (Outer Banks, NC) o High Winds (Corolla, NC) o North Carolina Train (Raleigh, NC) o Nuclear Security (New Hill, NC) o Please Don't Feed Birds (New Orleans, LA) o Pool Go Bye-Bye (Nags Head, NC) o Really Big Shoe (Dillon, SC) o Shell Station (Outer Banks, NC) o Sheraton Parking Lot (Raleigh, NC) o Streets of Sand (Nags Head, NC) o Trust Me (New Bern, NC) o Wall (Raleigh, NC) o We Believe (Somewhere in Central NC) Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros ------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------
Spot an error on this page? Please let me know, just click my name below...
Copyright 2019 by Michael J. Legeros