Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sidebar Update

Once again, I didn't realize how long it had been since my last Sidebar Update. Remember when this used to be a weekly feature of this blog? Yeah, neither do I. I'm just barely keeping it monthly at this point.

I actually enjoy doing these updates and making these posts (and I hope you do, too), but it's just so time-consuming. When I sit down to do this, I pretty much need to have two hours cleared to do it all -- determine which items get the honor, search for pictures, thumbnail them, transfer them to Photobucket, paste them into my template, think up amusing Easter egg comments for them, find appropriate links to go with them, write this accompanying post -- and remember, all of this is on dial-up. (Yes! I'm still a dinosaur!) Maybe some time I'll regain my inspiration to do this every week, but for now, once a month is all I can muster the strength for.

'Nuff said. Here we go!

This week's (month's) Object of My Affection is Arden Myrin. Don't recognize the name? She's currently the hot one on Mad TV. Still not ringing a bell? Well, I'll bet more than a few of you will remember her from this: she used to be Fred Savage's pixie-cute -- and possibly crazy -- co-worker Abby, on the sitcom Working. Yeaaah, that's right! Recognize her now? No? Ah, the hell with you.

Okay, I didn't recognize her either, at first. I caught a recent episode of Mad TV, for some reason, and instantly became smitten with her. She's the default babe character on that show, so no wonder. If you watch Mad TV and see a parody of Ghost Whisperer, in which all the ghosts can't stop ogling Jennifer Love Hewitt's boobs, that's Arden playing JLH. If you see a sketch about Terry Bradshaw and all the other Fox NFL anchors having schoolboy crushes on the vamping, giggling, pouting, teasing, booty-shaking "weather girl" Jillian Barberie, guess who's playing Jillian? (NO, not Aries Spears!) After the episode, I had the nagging feeling that I recognized that actress, and had to look her up on IMDb. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a fairly obscure, near decade-old TV infatuation of mine had resurfaced. Well played, Mad TV! And welcome back to infatuation-status, Arden!

Reading: Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, Something Fresh. The first of the Blandings Castle series, second in comic genius only to Bertie & Jeeves. I was actually reading this in line way back when I first applied to be on 1 Vs. 100. And, if you want to get technical about it, I finished it about two weeks ago. But I've gone back to reading the same book I was reading in my last update, The Book of Jhereg. (It does contain three whole novels, after all. I'm just starting the third.) And I didn't want to leave that picture up for a second update in a row. So, we get Plum's first Blandings book instead. And seriously, no disrespect intended to Steven Brust, but given the choice between the two, pick Wodehouse every time.

Watching: Usually I feature a DVD set here. I seem to have a never-ending supply of TV box sets. But instead I thought I'd throw up a picture of the last movie I saw in the theaters, Casino Royale. You know why? Because James Bond is frickin' cool. So there. On a related note, Eva Green was going to be my Object of Affection for this post, but I just thought that would be a little too obvious. She'll definitely appear, one of these days; I'll save her for when she's more of a surprise.

Listening: I put on the Barenaked Ladies Christmas album today, Barenaked for the Holidays. Yes, I'm getting a jump on Christmas, just like everyone else. At least I didn't start in October! Honestly, this album, as much as I generally love BNL, is fairly mediocre. But I hadn't listened to it since last year, and thought I'd give it a try today. Still didn't exactly overpower me with Christmas joy. But there are some nice bits in it, and they do throw in the "Batman smells" variation on "Jingle Bells," so that's nice. But all in all, I much prefer my man Bing Crosby's Christmas album. Mele Kalikimaka, bitches!

Hating: Taking the week off. In its place: Mourning. Last week, we lost Robert Altman, whom earlier this year I asserted was our greatest living director. Whether or not you agree with that lofty assessment, you have to agree (you have to, or I swear I will smack you) that his passing is a devastating loss to the world of cinema. He had some clinkers in his filmography -- I don't think there are many crusading defenders of Dr. T and the Women, or O.C. and Stiggs (other than Mikester, of course) -- but even his misfires had moments and images that could shock, dazzle, and awe you. Take Ready To Wear, for example, generally considered a messy failure -- but can you tell me you'll ever forget that striking scene in which the entire cadre of fashion models parades stark naked down the runway? The whole movie basically hinges on that bold, stunning moment, and it comes damn near to salvaging the morass that preceded it. But his successes far, far outstripped his flops. How many other directors can lay claim to an oeuvre as varied and brilliant as Altman's? Nashville, M*A*S*H, Gosford Park, The Player, The Long Goodbye, Short Cuts, California Split, HBO's Tanner '88, Popeye (YES, Popeye!), and his final film, the sweet, intimate, touching, uplifting paean to death, A Prairie Home Companion. Dude was making awesome films at the age of 80, with a replacement heart. That's badass. And I have yet to mention what I consider to be his greatest achievement, his masterpiece: McCabe & Mrs. Miller. This movie changed the way I look at films. It was a revelation, no less. It is sheerly beautiful, agonizingly heartbreaking. In another post immediately after talking about my favorite directors, I talked about my favorite movies, and I proclaimed this to be the third best movie I have ever seen. That hasn't changed. And when I'm naming Chinatown and Citizen Kane as the two movies that place ahead of it, you know I'm not fucking around.

I miss Robert Altman. It saddens me deeply to know that I can never again look forward to a new Altman film. Here's to you, old man.

Lyric of the Week comes from Dropkick Murphys. You may think you don't know them. If you've seen Scorsese's (who, by the way, not to be morbid or anything, now officially and unquestionably holds the title of the world's greatest living director) The Departed, you do. Their cover of Woody Guthrie's "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" is prominently featured in the film; if I recall correctly, it's during the car drive on the way to the exchange with the Chinese. Or possibly the car drive on the way to the big showdown at the construction site. It's during a car drive, in any case. Much of the Murphys' music could probably be classified as Irish jig meets punk rock. They're Boston Irish punks with Boston Irish pride, and they will rock your face off. The lyric is from "The Gauntlet," a defiant anthem from their fantastic Sing Loud, Sing Proud album.

That's it for this update. Hopefully I'll be able to shoehorn in another one some time before the new year!

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