So this is a bit more complicated than I thought, and not just because I am miserable and humorless at the moment with yet another bad cold (insert comment about little kids and their germs). No, I am stuck on procedural issues. Just what constitutes a happy thought? Something funny that happened to me? Things that float my boat? A warm gun?
I decided to go with another song for inspiration: Reasons to be Cheerful. It’s just a list of… wait for it… mundane reasons to be cheerful. You know those songs that are just lists, like “88 Lines About 44 Women” and “People Who Died?” Like that.
FYI, this will not be a list.
As a starter, I will share that I was excited to see that Hunger Games tickets are on sale. It premieres on March 23rd, the last day of this challenge. As a person who reads one book a year and sees one movie a year, I am excited! It’s both in one! If I finish this challenge, I will be seeing it. Also, if I don’t finish the challenge. But seriously, I loved this book and am so looking forward to the movie. I do not yet have tickets but I can wait. Wait until all the germy kids have seen it, yes.
Title comes from:
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3
I’ve resisted adding to the mountain of bad reviews of Sex and the City 2 and by now you’ve either already seen it or have read all the rotten reviews or both. That is, assuming you’re the sort of person who would see this movie or read its reviews. And it was an awful, awful movie and every time I discuss it with someone, we manage to bring out more of its terribleness. But I met up with KP last week and I think we niggled down to the thing I disliked the most about it. In order to get there, I first have to tell you why I actually saw it when I knew it was universally panned and I am so not a current movie person that if I see one movie in a theater all year, it’s a big year.
So I knew before I even spent twelve dollars on the ticket that it was going to be atrocious and yet I whipped out my credit card nonetheless. That’s because I watched the show since the start and I grew to feel for the characters, as obnoxious as they can sometimes be. I mean, I regularly cringed over something one of them did or said every single week but that was OK, they were human. And despite my not having a life like any one of them, they often faced situations and had feelings similar to those I do as a single woman in New York. My favorite episode is A Woman’s Right To Shoes where Carrie’s shoes are stolen at a party for a friend’s new baby and the friend chastises her for how much the shoes cost when she tries to reimburse her. “She shoe-shamed me!” Carrie declares to her friends. Now, I am not a collector of shoes or purses; I mostly wear the same shoes every day (Privo flats) and buy maybe two pairs a year, mostly when mine have worn out. But the indignation Carrie feels at having her lifestyle choices belittled because her friend has “a real life” with husband and kids resonated with me. Even more so when Carrie adds up how much she has spent on wedding, shower, and birth gifts as well as travel and expenses with no return at all. Gifts are, obviously, just that, and no return is expected. But it’s hard to give gift after gift and never, ever be registered yourself. So I got that and lots of other things.
Over the years, the characters did develop, especially in the last season as Carrie hooked up with an older man, Miranda had a child, got married, and moved to Brooklyn, Charlotte converted, married, and struggled with infertility, and Samantha had the fullest relationship of her life. But somehow, in the intervening close to ten years between that end and this movie (and I leave out the first SATC film, although I didn’t love that one either), they haven’t changed a bit and in some cases have reverted. I have to think that the filmmakers drew women in on the basis that we have stayed connected with the characters and want to keep up with them. Do they think we have all stayed the same in the last ten years? Because these women seem not to have grown emotionally or intellectually. They are in a constant self-involved, memememe, what am I going to wear, what about my needs kind of space that seemed OK in the first couple of seasons but at 45 or so seems a bit of a stretch. It just doesn’t ring true and is almost insulting. Do they think that’s how mature women act? Or are they saying that these women we’ve connected with never mature?
I’ve read a lot about how some people feel the real issue was 40-something women trying to act sexy but I don’t think that hits it at all. I think, rather, that it’s not sexy to act 10-20 years younger than your own age. These women are like parodies of their former selves. It was a lazy cop-out to not develop them and then market the movie like it was a reunion between us and our friends. How could it be when you freeze-dried them? We have moved on but they remain the same in older bodies. That’s what’s not pretty.
Oh, and also, Anthony and Stanford? Yeah, no.
Title comes from:
Diana Ross – When We Grow Up
Man, I’d be nervous if I were a famous person this Summer. Scary! But for the second time in the space of two months, a celebrity death has really affected me. I think it’s because I knew John Hughes in two ways. When I was a teenager, John Hughes’ movies meant everything to me. For one thing, because the guy just got me and people my age in a way none of the other movies did. This was the way people I knew dressed and talked and felt. Molly Ringwald was meant to be Everygirl and you felt she was you. Well, you felt she was you in some fantasy, which was even better. In the teen novels I read, the protagonist was always pretty but didn’t know it. You found out because someone said it to her, “you’re so lovely!” and not because she looked in the mirror and thought so. So, you know, it could be you. Maybe you were beautiful but just somehow hadn’t realized it. I think it was the same with Molly Ringwald. She was pretty but not conventionally and she was worried about her appearance just like you were. Maybe when you dressed a bit differently and mooned over the unattainable hot guy, you really were more attractive than you supposed. And it was OK that you didn’t really fit in, that you wanted to be like everyone else but also not, because Molly was the same way, and she was just as angst-filled and confused about it as you were, but somehow, she always ended up better than all right.
Sixteen Candles, my favorite Hughes movie, is a genius mix of ordinary teenage life mixed in with utter fantasy. It’s done in such a skillful way that you didn’t look at it as fake, but rather, what might happen to you if the earth had turned slightly differently. It was you, all right, in your quirky and less-than-popular way, but the sort of things you dreamed of actually came true. I remember thinking, “this would never happen,” but not in a snarky way, rather in a, “but it seems so real – how fantastic!” way. As you might imagine, I was pretty cynical back then too, but I never sneered at these films; the details were too right to be faux.
But the best part of John Hughes movies was the music. People now like to remember this as “80′s music” but it wasn’t, at least in this country. I chose a random week in 1984, the year Sixteen Candles came out, and the top 10 singles were from Stevie Wonder, Prince, The Cars, Chicago, Madonna, Billy Ocean, John Waite, Bruce Springsteen, Sheila E., and Cyndi Lauper. The Sixteen Candles soundtrack had Oingo Boingo, Altered Images, Nick Heyward, and the Thompson Twins. Pretty in Pink had OMD, New Order, Belouis Some, Nik Kershaw, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Smiths. Some Kind of Wonderful had Pete Shelley, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Flesh For Lulu. The Breakfast Club famously got people in the United States to realize that Simple Minds existed. These were not artists you heard on mainstream stations, this was my music. And John Hughes made it the soundtrack to his teens’ lives, just as it was to mine. Like Molly Ringwald in his movies, for one moment, my weird music made good and was listened to by the cool kids, and it astounded me. I think this is what really made me give my heart to him forever.
That would have been the end of the post had I not one day gotten to meet John Hughes and tell him this myself. Because this guy did love music and ended up starting a label which at one point, my last label distributed. I was a peon at the time and saw lots of famous people go in and out of my boss’ office. I didn’t often get to formally introduce myself. But it was John freaking Hughes, so I did a rare thing and begged my boss to introduce me. Now, I have met a lot of famous people and I’m not bragging. Because when I say I met them, it was just that. “Hi, I’m Becca, nice to meet you, Robert Plant.” Handshake. And that’s it. Sometimes I say, “I love your record.” But it would be a stretch to say that any of these are “conversations.” They are mostly useful to look back at and say, “I met so and so! I shook his hand and looked into his eyes!”
Aside from artists I was actually working with, John Hughes is the only famous person I can honestly say I had a conversation with. I told him how much his movies had meant to me and how I had loved the music. He stood with me in my sad cubicle and discussed various things about his films and why he had chosen the artists he had. I barely remember what was said. What I do remember was how he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say, gave thoughtful answers, and was happy that his work had had such an impact on me. Really one of the nicest people I have ever met. in fact, I still work with the boss I had back then and when I told him that Hughes had died, he immediately said, “he was the nicest guy on earth.” So true.
But the one thing I will never forget about that encounter is how as he walked away down the hall to meet with another executive, he pointed at my sweater (I just happened to wear this one – you cannot script these things!), smiled, and said “pretty in pink!”
I always knew John Hughes thought I was pretty.
Title comes from the soundtrack song with which I identified the most. It’s from Pretty in Pink.
OK, you know what? People on movie sets who tell you to move along because there’s nothing to see here are LIARS. L.I.A.R.S. I will now no longer believe them, even when I am prone to move along anyway. That’s what happened last week when I popped into Whole Foods to buy a Perfect Orange for the Failcake. I wanted something lovely and organic because the peel was going in too and I was willing to pay good money, which as you know, you’re totally going to when you go to Whole Foods.
But outside the Time Warner Center where the WF is housed, there was a giant crowd, even though it was like 9pm (I work and shop late) and huge lights, one of them in the shape of a tootsie roll, I kid you not, that was being raised and lowered from some sort of tractor-ish truck. If you have worked till 8:30 and are then going grocery shopping before going home to bake a cake, the last thing you want is to be caught in a crowd of tourists gawking at a movie set where apparently nothing is happening.
So I went down and got my orange and a few other things and came back up to leave and go home. As I was walking out, I did stop to look and try to see if at least there was someone famous so I could say I had seen someone famous. As if on cue, someone from behind the cordoned off area, many rows of crowd in front of me said authoritatively, “nothing to see here! No one famous!” Well that was a relief. Phew! Nothing to miss, and I went on home and made my cake. And then another cake the next day, but you knew that.
Then, the next day, I happened to be reading Gawker when I saw this picture and I knew knew knew that this was the set in front of the Time Warner Center, lit by a giant tubular light. Nobody famous! Why, this was the exactly the same famous person I blogged about in my first “I passed a movie set” post! Hugh Grant! That was from Music & Lyrics and actually, my block was cut out of that one, alas. This one is called Did You Hear About the Morgans? and has Sarah Jessica Parker (also pictured on Gawker) but I doubt I’ll be seeing it. They lied to me, sheesh.
By the way, I finally saw the Sex & the City movie and was relieved they rectified that whole “Samantha ends up with a man just like everybody else, completely going against her whole personality” plotline. Phew. But Stanford and Anthony was just not believable. Sorry!