Monday, November 28, 2011

Thought for the day: the glamorous on being glamorous

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid." -- Hedy Lamarr

Sunday, November 27, 2011


for Michal Friedman

We think of lives as being interrupted
But when they end, they end.
There’s nothing more
To them but might-have-beens and fantasy--
Even though, whenever the great trap door
Opens, and the pure and guiltless fall away from this corrupted
Stage, the surviving actors will always pretend
The scene is not a hideous pointless travesty
By pointing out a purpose or design
That comforts and completes a broken line.

Except there is no broken.
The line is the line: the way
It always was and always will be meant--
And those whom Life has sent
To travel with us only stay
At Life’s pleasure, not theirs or ours--
And no matter how many promises are spoken,
Only two will ever be kept:
We will wake when we have slept
Until we are all plucked like flowers.

Except there is no plucking,
Is there? No hand that reaches down from above
To break away the blossom while it still has life.
The truth is, every different way
You can think of this is just another way of ducking
The one thing no one wants to say:
Life does not care.
This is how things are. Somebody’s wife
Can vanish like that, no matter how much love
She and her husband feel, no matter how many plans they share,
And he will be left alone trying to find release from some hidden rhyme
In wordless wailing down through meaningless time.

Except there is no release,
Not even in dreams of delicate golden time machines
To take him back through their shared years
To a moment of peace
Where he can pinpoint where it all went wrong,
So he can say “Don’t do that now!” or “This will end in tears!”
But no one can add a single verse to a finished song
Even though this means
A lifetime of going to bed every night
Wondering what sin
Made you unworthy in God’s sight--
A lifetime of hoping tomorrow you'll wake up from what sadly was
Into a world where emptiness becomes the might-have-been,
And die a little every time it never does--

For even though nothing is broken, there will still be a scar
Because that, too, is the way things always are.

Copyright 2011 Matthew J Wells

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Day 2011

Thanks, Maddy and Ben, for a dinner that couldn't be beat.

Unlike Occu-Pig the pinata . . .

Monday, November 21, 2011

Songs for A Tuesday Morning: the day we give thanks . . .

Ah, Thanksgiving--the day we give thanks that we no longer live with our parents.  Not as musical a holiday as Christmas, because songs about becoming your parents are a rarity. Unless you're Loudon Wainwright III:


And of course the one performance everyone should listen to on Thanksgiving, because, like a good Thanksgiving dinner, it can't be beat:

Alice's Restaurant

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Here’s how knowing too much about recorded history can totally mind-copulate you when you’re watching Hollywood history.  

In the opening five minutes of Anonymous, a guy with a parcel is chased to the Globe Theatre by soldiers, who set fire to the place in order to drive him out of hiding.  So I see this and think, “Okay, I know where I am now--this is the Globe fire, which happened in 1613.”  A few minutes later, there’s a flashback which says “Five years ago.”  Which to me means 1608.  But.  Elizabeth is still Queen, which means we’re still somewhere before 1603, when she died.  And. Essex hasn’t rebelled yet, so we’re somewhere before February of 1601, when he was executed.  And.  We’re in the Rose Theatre with, among others, Christopher Marlowe in the audience, so this is actually taking place somewhere before May 1593, which is when Marlowe was killed in Deptford--and which is when I start laughing so loud the people around me start shushing me.  All while my poor brain is going: “Why are you copulating with me, Hollywood?”

HOLLYWOOD:  Because that’s what I do.
MY BRAIN:  Oh--right--how silly of me to have forgotten.  So where the intercourse are we?

Honest answer?  In hell, if you know anything about Elizabethan theatre.  Or Elizabethan history.  The movie is ostensibly about how Shakespeare didn't write a thing, he was just the beard for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), a theory first proposed by a fellow named Thomas Looney.  (Heh.)  In the film, Oxford writes Midsummer Night's Dream when he's 11 (which makes him the theatrical equivalent of Mozart), has an affair with Queen Elizabeth when he's 18 or so, and somewhere between 1593 and 1604 (when the real DeVere dies), decides that since words have power, he will determine who succeeds Elizabeth as ruler of England by having his plays performed in front of the London mob, which will then do whatever he wants them to do.  Or something.  Frankly, the plot goes back and forth in time so often that the really ridiculous stuff, like the fact that Queen Elizabeth spends half her reign littering the English countryside with her bastard sons, is actually entertaining, in a Lizzy Does Dallas kind of way.  And there's something to be said for compressing the events of ten or fifteen years into five years of screen time; God knows Shakespeare did it all the time.  Or--excuse me--whoever wrote Shakespeare did it all the time.

But watching the movie is killing me; by the end of it, I'm lying on the theatre floor like some scholarly version of Colonel Kurtz, only instead of muttering "The horror! The horror!" I'm moaning "The details! The details!"  There are bare floors everywhere, which is totally wrong--floors in Elizabethan London were either covered with rugs, or covered with rushes.  Nobles did not sit in box seats while watching plays; nobles sat on stools at either side of the stage.  Julius Caesar was never done at The Rose, it was done at The Globe, and it sure as hell wasn’t done with Marlowe in the audience.  Essex wears red when he’s executed.  (Wrong--he famously wore black.  Like Hamlet.)  Richard III is performed before the Essex Rebellion, instead of Richard II.  And nobody--NOBODY--alive in the whatever copulating year we’re talking about between 1593 and 1616 would EVER react to the sight of Richard on stage with a shocked expression and the words: “He’s playing him . . . as a HUNCHBACK.”

ME: [yelling at the screen]  Of course he’s being played a hunchback; he WAS a hunchback!
THEATRE AUDIENCE:  Please--this is a movie, it’s not history.  It’s real, okay?
ME:  God help me.

But that's still not the funniest line.  The funniest line is when de Vere's wife walks in on him while he's scribbling blank verse in his study and looks at him with a shocked and mortally offended expression on her face and says:

DE VERE'S WIFE:  My God!  You're . . . WRITING again.

-- in just the same tone of voice that a strait-laced mother would use when finding her son in the bathroom with a copy of Playboy.  Now THAT'S comedy!

One thing the movie does get right?  Ink stains.  I've always thought that Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Jonson, all had ink stains on their writing hands.  This is not an age when soap was either in common use or sufficiently strong enough to remove stains.  The fact that De Vere has a heavily ink stained writing hand, and that Shakespeare, to prove himself a writer, dips his fingers in ink before appearing in public, is a clever touch.

But one clever touch is like a single pure couplet in a poem where nothing else comes close to rhyming.  The film is a hilarious mess, and ridiculous long before (wait for it) royal incest rears its ridiculous head.  Never more so than when it deals with the subject of writing.  Bad enough that the De Vere authorship theory says that plays are actually poems which are written in the study, and only incidentally performed on the stage.  Bad enough that, as a major plot point, the act of writing is looked on as something ten times worse than, say, littering the English countryside with Tudor bastards.  In true Hollywood fashion, this film shows total contempt for writers and the written word, just like the de Vere authorship theory shows total contempt for the very idea that an actor with a grammar school education could write something like King Lear. Thankfully, in true Hollywood fashion, the movie itself is a copulating mess.

And by the way.  The next time time somebody says "No manuscript copy of Shakespeare's plays has ever come down to us," just say "No manuscript copy of Dante's Inferno has ever come down to us," or "No manuscript copy of Moby Dick has ever come down to us either." 

Or just show them this:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thought for the day--writer's edition

"Knowing isn’t my profession. Not knowing is.”

-- Krzysztof Kieslowski

Songs for a Tuesday Morning: Loco motion is the way he moves

I've been pondering the whole road/destination thing for the last month (People are either roads or destinations.  Discuss.), and have found some musical support for the road side of the argument--as long as that argument centers on how men like to treat women the way trains treat stations--by (you should pardon the expression) rolling in periodically and then (you should pardon the expression) pulling out.

Here are two songs that make the case for the prosecution, and one that makes the case for travel by foot.  The first is from Rosanne Cash, and as you'd expect, it's all country.

My Baby Thinks He's A Train

And on the jump blues side of the dance hall, what does Rosetta Howard have to say? Rosetta honey, what do you think men are like?

Men Are Like Streetcars

We'll leave Rosanne with the final word here, which is simply this: men may be trains, but God help you if you ever climb aboard one of them.  (Confession:  I adore this song.  Every time I hear the steel guitar and the drums come in at the start of the third verse, I get chills.)

Runaway Train

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thought for the day

Q:  Why you should you always marry a man who has an earring?

A:  Because he has bought jewelry and felt pain.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thought for the day

You can't set fire to ashes
but we all keep trying anyway
because that's where the fire used to burn.

Copyright 2011 Matthew J Wells

Monday, November 7, 2011

A funny sense of fun

As Lawrence blows out the match, and we slam cut to a Saudi sunrise, and then the music swells in the crossfade to two tiny riders on camels in the immensity of the desert, my companion for the evening, who was seeing Lawrence of Arabia for the very first time (as opposed to the slightly first time), turned to me with her eyes wide and a look of WTF on her face and whispered, “Is that REAL?”

ME: Meaning did they actually film that in Arabia?
SHE: Yes.
ME: Oh yes, it’s real.
SHE: No special effects?
ME: None.
ME: Nope.
SHE: Oh my GOD!
THE GUY IN FRONT OF US: Will you two shut up?
ME: Give her a break--she’s seeing the movie for the first time.
THE GUY IN FRONT OF US: Ah! In that case, don’t forget to tell her the Noel Coward story.
THE GUY BEHIND US: And the "Clever lad!" story.

Point being, I guess, that in these days of modern times, we automatically see a movie screen full of thousands of extras and automatically assume that they were computer-generated, instead of Moroccan soldiers dressed up in costume.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

If She Must Love You Back, It Is Not Love

You cannot force her hand into your glove--
No matter who your aching heart adores,
If she must love you back, it is not love.

Push is the proper answer to a shove.
Her fingers have to want to reach for yours--
You cannot force her hand into your glove.

Demands never draw gods down from above--
It matters not how much your need implores:
If he must love you back, it is not love.

You make a prison when you cage a dove;
She has to wish to build a nest indoors.
You cannot force her hand into your glove.

No matter whose sweet kiss you’re dreaming of,
Constraint will not make his lips lock with yours:
If he must love you back, it is not love.

Some inner voice may cry “She wants you, guv!”
But shouting “Let me in!” won’t open doors:
You cannot force her hand into your glove;
If she must love you back, it is not love.

WRITTEN: 11/6/11, 12:15 - 1:30PM
BARTENDER: Lisa Seabury

Copyright 2011 Matthew J Wells

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seat 50-D

There was an empty seat right next to mine
   On the plane home, and all throughout the flight
I wondered: was it random?  Or a sign?
   And if a sign, of something wrong or right?
Was it there to tell me I am alone
   And always will be, wherever I go?
A waiting nest?  Or some bird that had flown?
   Just what I need?  Or what I’ll never know?
I think it was a test of character--
   This world’s the echo of an inner voice
That whispers what we secretly prefer:
   To hope or blame, to sulk or else rejoice.
      For what we choose, we will see everywhere:
      The empty hollow, or the waiting chair.

Copyright 2011 Matthew J Wells