Monday, March 4, 2013

Shooting the Shit on Anne Hathaway

Must I? Yeah, it pays!

The Real Anne Hathaway
Restrained? Anne Hathaway? I mean, really, there are those who believe she took some kind of  rock ‘n’ roll doctor’s prescription cocktail of  something like Ritalin and Demerol, but I think that would be unkind. Okay, I confess I embarrass easily and the sheer biblical drama of  her  collected speeches from the Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG awards for best supporting actress in Lés Miserablesn had me holding my breath. Having been the subject of a thousand gags  by Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, David Letterman, Joan Rivers, Bill Zwecker about the manner in which said thespian wears her Pittsburgh-sized heart on her sleeve, the lack of shrill desperation in her gratitude-besotted speech was almost subtle to the point of poignancyncompared to its predecessors.

Prone to throwing instantaneous pity-parties when discussing her disastrous gift at finding, dating and even marrying a veritable inventory of scores of  rogues, pseudo-aristocracy and plain old  con-artists at the expense of her own  thespian kind, Anne has tended to unburden herself repeatedly at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Well, at least according to Anne that  is.

Her four year affair with one Raffaello Follieri saw him sentenced to five years in federal prison for fraud, conspiracy and money-laundering. After their split, Hathaway didn’t lose a step in between the hand-wringing and tears shared on the usual round of talk shows. Her  personal drama definitely didn’t  interfere with her work as she received an Oscar best actress nomination for her role in Rachel Getting Married. Now involved with Hollywood wheeler -dealerAdam Shulman, Hathaway claims to be  as trusting as ever. “It takes a minute for me to let my guard down, but once I do and I get to know someone, I’m very open, very trusting. Some might say too trusting.” Yet, for those who love her doe-eyed, half-frothy goo-goo good days persona, there’s the inverse dump-truck demeanor, it’s all in a good cause. The woman just wants to be liked!!!

Was she good in Les Miserables? Well, not  if you’re a snob like me and love Victor Hugo’s novel. Beyond Hugo spinning in his grave, however, there really is the truth that Fantine is not the Audrey Hepburn-Lite gamin with huge, beautiful American gravestone teeth Hathaway envisions, but more some kind of busty, sexy semi-naïf with the chops and physical architecture of, say. a Helena Bonham-Carter.

If, as she kept insisting on so many of her cameos on the Monday morning shows, Hathaway really does genuinely want to be taken seriously, she needs to  learn something about  integrity  and self-censorship from the woman she has described as her role-model , Meryl Streep. Indeed, for those who develop amnesia vis-à-vis watching  the celebrity ring-around-the-roses Hathaway actively participates in, there’s the mini-scandal involving her arrival her arrival in a skintight dress celebrating her role as cat Woman. With these photos on  the net faster than  Janet Jackson's nipple or Britney Spears’ shaved vagina, Hathaway then had the, umm, moxy to use the press and the wardrobe malfunction to draw attention to such social issues as a  child prostitution, sex trafficking the importance of being a vegan. Who would have thought one might take a moral stance on a wardrobe malfunction? Indeed, the cocky actress noted that her character in Les Mis was also, despite her innate goodness,  swept away into the nightmarish world of the sex trade.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Princess Gets Wed

October is on its way.
The wetted browns of New England give way to the white

                                                                  sands of Florida.
In the old days, the pigs on your abuela’s finca would be 

                                                                           getting fat.
Pigs are no geese, you know.
They lay no golden eggs, just wee porkers.
Actually, there have been no golden eggs since you were

Times have been hard, 

straw has fallen well below market price.
No matter which way I spin it, as I repeatedly point out,
your kingdom, or should I say princessdom, your subjects.
All of us.
We wait expectantly.

How did that  pea get  under your posturapedic in the first

We are sorry: Your mom, your servants, and I.
We apologize.
I,  oh-so-humbly acknowledge that
it’s nobody’s fault,
Which is why I fired Berengeria, your chambermaid.
A gesture of ruthless power and ego on my part,
but to raise a Princess takes a hard heart.
Just ask my frog footman.
During our time-and-motion research tour of the lily pond,
you kissed the frog.
He then asked me for your hand, but remained truculently


Please accept the Three Wishes granted by your plebeian 

                                                                                fan club.
Good hair. Good nails. And storage for ten million pairs of

Hopefully this will heal the schism caused by the rebellious goth elves.
Who could have predicted the lowered output at the black

                                                                 nail polish factory?
The wildcat strike by the glass slipper cobblers?
The redundancies. The jobs farmed out to Timbuktu.
Yet,  meanwhile, nonchalant and hungry,
you ate the bruja’s apple,
so that you and your whole royal court slept.
Slept and slept and slept for six-and-a half years.
Only to be awakened  by a kiss
from your non-somnolent frog friend.

Having never walked a mile in your pumps,
let me reassure you of my empathy.
Considering the status quo and your  circumstances,
I  empathize with your reluctance to let down your lovely 

                                                                               tresses. But, as I so noted earlier, winter is on its way,  my
                                                      rheumatism is acting up
and your guests have traveled far to reach the peripheries of

                                                               your magic kingdom.
Many of your ungrateful courtiers are gossiping obstreperously,
wringing their hands, demanding free medical care.
Yet, your mother and I, we have been standing here,
not to mention the 3,000 plus guests and villagers, waiting

 at the base of  your White Tower. Waiting.
As you said, Yea and were on your royal way.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Straw Dogs*

Is there a purpose to remakes? Aside from maybe William Friedkin’s attempt in Sorcerer to re-imagine  Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear as something universal rather than Gallic, it’s usually just an exercise in regurgitation. This awful remake of Sam Peckinpah’s already deeply flawed but nobly imagined Straw Dogs(1971) is an typical  case in point.

In the original, Dustin Hoffman and the endearingly scrubber tartish Susan George are a mixed class and religion-type couple oppressed and besieged by small town English country boy thugs.  The slightly cross-eyed George is a dreadful actor, but her custard-dyed tresses and their black roots make for an endearing metaphor  for the kind of  deluded  love match only the actual couple involved can never get past their sexual compatibility to see holistically until its too late. Sure, Hoffman chews the scenery, as per usual, but as George can’t act her way out of a wet bag, we feel pity for her. It was nowhere near a great film, but Straw Dogs was a huge box-office boffo hit at the time because it helped  define the way rape and violence  could be rendered palatable for both intellectual and voyeuristic thrill-seeking audiences by being photographed on grainy  stock with lots of hand-held ‘chaotic’ shots. At a time when A Clockwork Orange left a lot of audiences feeling guiltily entertained but stupid, Peckinpah’s work could be written off by feminists as chauvinistic, and be used by the likes of me as great gender debate material that often got me laid!

In the new Straw Dogs,  the roughage of all kinds is more or less exorcised. It simply becomes  one more vengeance tale shot in the South, with good ol’ boy dialect  and the usual redneck clichés replacing England’s West Country. Interestingly, Dustin Hoffman’s academic  Jewboy mathematics nerd is replaced by a bookish but groovily in-shape goyish screenwriter David  played by the square-jawed James Marsden. And how do we know he’s a nerd? Well, umm, he doesn’t watch football, he openly talks the talk about being an atheist and because he believes that the podunk town his wife comes from, Blackwater, Mississippi, offers something he can’t find in the Sodom and Gomorra of Los Angeles while he’s working on his screenplay masterpiece. “I like quiet!” he says. “Quiet  is what I want!”

Meanwhile, his lovely blondie actress wife Amy(Kate Bosworth) is kinda/sorta ambivalent. Her tresses are tinted much nicer than George’s. After being written out of  a T.V. show in which she was a regular, returning to Blackwater is both comforting and a razor-keen reminder of  her roots. What to make of the local folk who dress like Larry the Cable Guy and all the women in old Burt Reynolds movies? Things go from bad to worse at the bar when David orders Lite beer and dares to pay for everybody’s libations with a --oh my God!-- a credit card! Well, all except Charlie (Alexander Skjarsgard) who ogles Ay-ma  like a hungry glutton regarding a roast. Turns out Charlie, who ingratiates himself enough with David to get himself and a crew of pals hired to fix David’s rickety old roof has wickedness on his mind. Of course, it turns out Charlie and Ay-ma have a history.

David immediately clashes with Charlie and the crew when he objects to their raiding his fridge and playing  Lynyrd Skynyrd and various other samplings of old school Southern rock at dawn. Not, however, enough to confront them. David seethes politely, while Ay-ma  obsesses on David’s inability  to confront  anybody belligerent. Charlie and his boys act  just like those mean ol’ big shots in Hollywood
Unfortunately, the neo Straw Dogs  cuts out the major subplot of the original which involved a ’Special’  local who rapes adolescents and a clever bit where the workers are served a saucer of milk  by an ambivalent Ay-ma after murdering the couple’s cat and hanging its corpse in a closet. Instead of  rural ruthlesness and culture at war with David’s citified Jewboy sensitivity and over education, the conflict  becomes moronically oversimplified and obfuscated between David’s liberal softy persona against redneck love of Jesus, football and guns. Indeed, one of Charlie’s crew’s obnoxious 4x4 truck has a bumper sticker that says: ‘Keep honking. I’m reloading!’ Ha! Ha!  I get it. Jesus loves guns! Even the usually solid character actor James Woods can’t do much with the role of a  jaded high school football coach who has turned all these twisted moronic redneck lumps of human clay into a team of rapists. This is  because the script by Rod Lurie is so crass. Is this the Rod Lurie who wrote the brilliant The Candidate? My God, what happened?
Sex-wise, you get your money’s-worth of the usual stereotypes that so puzzle us big city hypocrites when we go slumming it in trailer park  land. All these church going Protestant females seem to dress provocatively, but, you know, it’s the heat!!!  The locals stare at Amy as she jogs braless around the neighborhood and you realize that they don’t sell sports bras in Mississippi for that reason. At any rate, Charlie and the boys ogle Ay-ma just too damned overtly. She tells David and what does he do? Yes, he suggests she dresses more, umm, demurely. “Oh, I dress for you!!!” she insists, but is soon seen getting fresh with the local boys again and peeling off her clothes like a serpent in mating season for all the workers. Hmmmm!

The  rest of this yawn-inducing dross involves convincing the audience that the local males and females feel so hurt by David’s walking out of church in the midst of a sermon that they’d all passively participate or turn a blind eye to a gang rape. Thus when David--still supposedly uncomprehending of the fact that this redneck collective believes it owns the moral high ground--is confronted by Ay-ma, who would rather scream at him than call the authorities, he becomes the instrument of virtuous vengeance. The massacre which follows is neither cathartic nor even fast food for thought . He does, however, do more with the bear trap than Peckinpah! Good job with the bear trap, Rod!

Alexander Skjarsgard, who plays Ay-mas old high school boyfriend Charlie so well, actually brings so much gravitas to the part that Marsden  and Bosworth look lost. The subplot , involving high school football and religion, makes the movie’s fulcrum teeter on the edge of being a red-blue mini-war. Avoid this rubbish at all costs!

My Internist Prescribes

Guess it depends on which of your three eyes that you look at it with.
All I see, floating around me, is detritus.
The detritus of denied intimacy.
The detritus of the glib.
Like beautiful Venezia, you float in your gondola
and ignore the surfing turds.
Peripherally, if you take the time to stuff cotton wool up your nose,
there is the rennaissence,
gargoyles in repose.
Pretty girls chinning crumbling window sills.
Perry Como crooning.
A strand of DNA showing off, curtsying,
vaguely remembering my ancestors days of slavery in Mitzrayim.
A goddamn melodrama in my arteries.
My internist prescribes,
I obey.
The pills are orange and yellow and a gruesome sort of flecked turquoise.
I wash them down with lukewarm water
and the eye at the back of my head winks.

During My Life

During my life.
Communism died, but  it  keeps making gurgling noises slightly out of earshot.
My mom split.
My dad died of lymph node cancer and toxic shock.
I flew back to Chicago and taught Frosh Comp
and my students wrote papers about why they owned guns.
This was the alternative to going into exile and looking for God.
God who runs away when you look for him.

In my dreams. In my dream life.
Hitler gets to be a painter. A shitty painter, but a painter nonetheless.
My mom stays and smells of hollyhocks and mothballs.
My dad dies again,
but this time I’m  in Maui drowning my sorrows in  big-titted  Calpurnia.
God stays.
He looks a bit like Victor Buono. It’s unnerving.
He sits at the hotel bar telling war stories: Sarajevo, Stalingrad. Tet.

During my life
the best alternatives come from mulling on my thesaurus.
That’s about  as good as  it gets outside a good curry.
During my dreams. During my dream life.
I resurrect the dead and, when I get bored,   I bury them again.

                                Ivor Irwin

Christmas Night in Chicago

I find you elbowed up to the bar,
bored, crunching ice cubes. Your English underwear tight.
Wiggling the backwash of your mortally wounded soldier.
Fidgeting, sucking your teeth,
dying for a cigarette,
staring at the bar tender’s artificial tits.

“Those are not real!” you complain.
You complain a lot.
Because it’s not L.A.
Because the snow is a dirty gray.
Because you had to shovel.
Because. Because. Because.

The bartenders’s bolt-on breasts not withstanding,
I thought you were having a good time.
Doing your little dance on my dime.
Instead, it keeps creeping back, this thing you cannot understand.
Why I don’t live somewhere in the sunbelt.
Live a less funky representational Yule Tide.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ivor's Coconut Fish Curry

Nariyal Macchi (Coconut fish) Recipe
Some, indeed, like it hot. This fish curry is marvelous, and, although I own a personal preference  for Red Snapper or  salted cod(bacalao),  pretty much any kind works. The amount of heat you use can be altered to your taste.  An oily fish like like cod definitely demands something pungent to contrast with the  strong oil of its flesh. If mustard oil is unavailable, use mustard seed in safflower or canola oil, marinating for three or four days if possible.

4 lbs White fish fillets, cut into cubes

For the marinade:
  • 4 tsp (4 g) Turmeric (haldi) powder
  • 2 tsp (8 g) Salt
For the curry:
  • 1 cup Mustard (sarson) oil
  • 6 tbsp Garlic (lasan), finely chopped
  • 4 tsp Cumin (jeera) powder
  • 4 tsp (4 g) Turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 4  tsp  Red chilli powder
  • 40 Curry leaves (kadhi patta)
  • 4  cups Coconut milk, thick, from 1 whole grated coconut
  • 1/2 Cup Tamarind pulp, boiled in 2 cups of water and then strained
  • 4 Green chillies, deseeded
  • 4 Papaya
  • Basmati rice
  • 1 Lemon
  1. Rub the turmeric powder and salt into the fish thoroughly. Place in the refrigerator for two hours.
  2. Heat the mustard oil until it begins to smoke; fry the marinated fish cubes until they’re a golden color. Remove the fish cubes with a slotted spoon, draining the excess oil on paper towels.
  3. Use the same oil to fry the garlic light brown.  Add the cumin powder, turmeric, salt, red chilli powder, curry leaves, coconut milk, tamarind extract, and green chillies.
  4. Stir rapidly and bring to the boil before adding the fried fish cube, lower trhe light and simmer gently  for 5 minutes.
  5. Cut each papaya in half. Skin and seed. Place the papaya in the freezer 30 minutes before dinner will be served. 
  6. When all is ready, serve rice for eight and squeeze the juices of the lemon on the cold papaya.
This should serve eight people well.