Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekday Matinee: Beginners



It's 1999. Hal Fields, a retired art historian, loses his wife of 44 years, tells the world he's gay, buys a new wardrobe, subscribes to The Advocate, takes a young lover, makes new friends, goes clubbing, grows closer to his son, finds out he has cancer, lives it up, and dies in 2003.

That's pretty much the first 10-minutes of the film.

As for the rest of the hour and a half, we play with time. Look at life from the 40s to the early Otts, how people are shaped by history, circumstance, society, parents, personal instincts and inclinations, longing and desire.

It's a film about connections -- between father and son, husband and wife, friend and friend, man and man, man and woman, and people and dogs. Yes, a dog definitely has a co-starring role here -- he's kind of a Greek Chorus with subtitles. Don't worry, it's not twee, not for a moment. Most of all, the story explores communication in all its forms -- laughing, playing, drawing, gestures, sexuality, silence, talking, barking, crying, writing, staying, leaving.

It's a film about the internal and eternal struggle between sharing who we are versus protecting who we are, a struggle determined both by place and time -- where we are and when we're there. And the courage to seek a place in the sun.




Not a comedy or drama, "Beginners" is humanity with humor. Streams on Netflix. Probably elsewhere, as well.

PS: You'll wonder where Christopher Plummer has been all our movie-going life.

Monday, April 13, 2015

White Boxer is home (not my home)



Here he is, pre-home. A babe-magnet, right? Took about six women to round him up over at Sam Merrill, and then two of us to get him in my car. Thanks for their help, and yours.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Doing Your Taxes: 45 Essential Steps



1. Check email.
2. Check Facebook
3. Check blog
4. Check blog statistics
5. Stare off into space and wonder why the blog is suddenly popular in both the Ukraine and China
6. Search for 1099's
7. Rifle through desk drawer for a paperclip to attach all the 1099's
8. Find a photo in desk drawer of old college friend
9. Execute google search for college friend
10. Compose a witty note to send to college friend
11. Send
12. Total all the medical insurance payments
13. Query Yahoo as to whether proof of medical insurance is necessary
16. See Bruce Jenner story on Yahoo
17. Click to find out how that gender-reassignment surgery is going
18. Clean dog's ears (it's been months)
19. Clean cat's ears (it's been never)
20. Check email to see if college friend replied
21. Wash dishes
22. Vacuum living room
23. Locate all the interest-paid and interest-received statements
24. Search another drawer for two more paperclips. Find picture of old boyfriend
25. Google old boyfriend; he's the father of two
26. Stare off into space; worry about the children
27. Locate dividend statements
28. Query Yahoo on difference between qualified and non-qualified dividends
29. Notice that there's a Wolf Hall review on Yahoo
30. Click to see if Wolf Hall is now streaming on PBS
31. It is. Bookmark
32. Search glove box in car for registration tax
33. Find a lost pair of sunglasses in glove box
34. Feel kind of good about that. And they look great. Score
35. Search another desk drawer for paperclip to attach car reg
36. Find sweet pea seed pack in drawer
37. Google whether it's too late to plant sweet pea seeds
38. Oh, what the hell, plant them anyway
39. Google how to plant sweet peas
40. Search tool shed for trowel. Find old hedge trimmer
41. Recharge hedge trimmer
42. Wonder why life isn't more deductible
43. Stare off into space about this
44. Check email
45. There's a message from my old college friend



Thursday, April 2, 2015

Open wide and say Ahhhh



I met Nutella last weekend, and now there's no turning back. We're a couple; don't judge us.

Life's important moments are like that. You're at a party, not expecting much in particular, and then you meet the sweet but not too sweet, the bold and saucy, wild and salty. At which point, you just don't care -- about what music is playing, the guy who brung you, or anyone else in the room. You just go for it.

Nutella and I, we shared a spoon and frenched, yes we did, on the first date in the first hour, before God and everyone. I'm not ashamed. It was natural and beautiful.

For years, people tried to set us up. "May I introduce you to Nutella, you're meant for each other," they said. But I resisted. The name Nutella -- rather disturbing. Like some unholy alliance of nutrition, lecture, and possibly meat. Related somehow to that vomit-in-a-jar, Vegemite.

Oh, we're martyrs to our preconceptions.

But that's all in the past. Today, the name is like a poem -- Nutellawwwww.

Apparently in England and weird places like that, they prefer Nutella left in a cupboard, so it's limp and weepy, poured over toast points and crackers. That's the English in a nutshell, is it not?

I say, refrigerate Nutella until what you've got is a candy bar that you can lick straight from the jar. Or, if you put on your party manners, something to excavate with a hammer and spoon.

I don't claim there's nothing better. There's always something better, that's what we live for. But during one of those 3 a.m. moments, one of those dark-night-of-the-soul wrestling matches that apparently you're losing, stand at the base of the fridge and shout, "Nu-TELLAHHHHH!"

You'll get an answer. Not the perfect answer, but better than sufficient; it comes with hazelnuts.