Thursday, February 28, 2013

You had me at hello: positively my LAST gif!

Intense scene, one of the most iconic (God, that word!) love scenes in contemporary cinema. It kicks ass, in other words. Would it play today, do you think, given the revelations about Tom and Katie. . . about Suri's high heels at 3 years old. . . about that Scientology video, and the naked bathhouse candid shots (just kidding, but Katie may have had "something" up her sleeve to get that divorce so fast)? 

And how about Renee, and her by-now-famous sudden loss of literacy, the way she was completely unable to read off a card at the Oscars? She wasn't even straining to read or trying to hold the card up to her face or do any of the things we'd associate with having trouble reading. She tilted her head and stood there, later just handing the card off to someone less incapacitated. 

In Jerry Maguire, Renee was a sweet little thing, a cinnamon heart in the middle of a toxic world, and we ate her up. People made fun of her unusual looks (after all, she does have a strange kind of squint), unaware that her mother is descended from the indigenous peoples of Scandinavia. But not being able to read or stand very straight is something else again, alarming, and seems to indicate a shocking lack of self-awareness. It's ironic, since Hollywood is all about self-awareness, vanity and narcissism. Was she just too far gone to realize how she looked?

Naked chicks on a plane: really cool GIFs!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pregnant in hell: or, hello my baby

She wasn’t exactly sure when the pain started.

It can be that way, with pain. Doctors always ask, “So. When did it start?” You’re expected to say, at 9:47 a.m. on Monday, April 27.

At first it was just a tickling, a nagging as if she were about to sneeze. But the pain wasn’t there, it was deep down in her belly. Like a bad menstrual cramp, but she’d been done with those for years.

I knew. Even then I knew it wasn’t good.

It took an incredible amount of arm-twisting to get her doctor to even listen to her. When she bled all over the floor in the middle of the night, that changed things, but only briefly.

"When did you bleed?”

”In the middle of the night.”

“What do you mean?"

“I woke up and – I don’t remember, I was half-asleep.”

“How could you bleed in the middle of the night and not remember?

Blood gets some attention, so she was pushed on to the ugly-go-round, the medical machine that whirls a patient around and around until they are sick, then dumps them onto the ground again.

Things like an ultrasound were neat, really, because she never had all this stuff when she was pregnant. Just relax, Mrs. Parker. Cold jelly, sort of like lube, and this “thing” they pressed into her, and it didn’t hurt, not even when they stuck a sort of cold wand inside her, reminding her of being abducted by aliens. She wondered if she were being considered as a hybrid pod, though surely she was too old for that.

Then there was the nausea. When did the nausea start? A flicker, a wisp, and – nearly all the time now. So it had to be digestive. Just digestive, because you could not have more than one thing at the same time, it was medically impossible.

She had to have her gut reamed, well, they called it a colonoscopy and really it wasn’t too bad, though her doctor’s office didn’t call for two months with the referral and she wondered if she would die in the interim. 

“Mrs. Parker, this is just a reminder of your appointment tomorrow with Dr. Samadhi."

“Who’s Dr. Samadhi?”

“He's the gastroenterologist. Didn't your doctor's office call you with the appointment date?”


“But they made the appointment with us two months ago. Can you explain this to me?”

“No, but I called them twice to ask what was going on and they said, don’t call us any more, we will let you know.”

Did they let you know?”

Of course! I heard about the appointment months ago and just ignored it. Happens all the time!

So OK, the doctor says, the colonoscopy was clear, the ultrasound was clear, so - .

The doctor shrugged like the dog in the Grinch cartoon, a puzzled look on her face.

So she did what she wasn’t supposed to do and looked on the internet and found 147 potential causes for abdominal pain. Her doctor had checked off two and sent her home.

But the pain. It escalated, something awful, and she was reminded of Rosemary’s Baby and the demon pain dismissed by Rosemary’s doctor during her macabre pregnancy.

It was then that the pain, incessant now (the doctor told her to take a Tylenol) began to work on her, to work on her mind and her spirit.

She began to be blown off-course by this thing, and started to think there was “something” in there.

It couldn’t be a baby, hah! Couldn’t even be a tumor, since that possibility had been  “ruled out” conclusively by machinery. The doctor said she was sure it wasn’t cancer because she looked at her cervix and it looked normal. Not inside her uterus, which she was sure was “fine” because the ultrasound was “fine”.

She was beginning to hate that word “fine”.

She gave up and cadged Tylenol 3 from her husband, sat for hours in front of her computer with an ancient electric heating pad pressed to her belly (covered with a fuzzy Winnie-the-Pooh blankie to keep it in place).

Undressing one night, she was horrified. The skin on her lower abdomen was burned raw, almost branded. The 30-year-old heating pad was something like an old electric chair, she guessed, thinking of that awful scene in The Green Mile where the man is fried alive. But I'd do it all again to get some relief.

She was supposed to be seeing a gynaecologist, but the doctor’s office didn’t call, and didn’t call, and didn’t call. She felt sick and one night broke down and screamed and cried, certain she had cancer and no one cared or would ever bother to treat it.

She could dangle on forever until she died, probably horribly. Meantime the pain, exactly like a furious, deadly menstrual cramp, just escalated until it took over her every waking minute.

“I really don’t think I should give you any painkillers,” the doctor said. “The potential for abuse is just too great.”

“I’ve never abused painkillers.” This was a lie. She had abused painkillers nearly 25 years ago, then stopped and never again took a single unregulated pill.

“It says so on your chart.”

“I’m in pain all the time now. I can’t – “

“Just take a walk. Push on your – here, like – “ She pushed her fingers into her lower abdomen, and it reminded her of volleyball, the way your fingers were supposed to be.

“I’ve done that.”

“Well, can’t you try something else?”

Trudging out of the doctor’s office, the gynaecologist appointment felt like a sort of myth, not even set up yet, or, more likely, set up already, but they just weren’t going to phone her to tell her WHEN, so that she had some sort of date, something to hold on to. She might even miss it and have to start all over again.

It was then, in the evening, that she felt the flicker.

It was the weirdest thing. She was watching TV and knitting something and relaxing in a Tylenol 3 haze, or trying to, with the by-then-constant heating pad pressed to her lower abdomen. The skin had grown tougher now, almost like a thin layer of scar tissue to protect her against electric burns.

A flicker. Nothing, really, a digestive thing probably, except it was dead-centre and low down in her uterus, where they told her the pain wasn't because they still wanted it to be a gastrointestinal issue, something to be remedied with a Tums.

She ignored it, but it came and went, and after a while it was like a sort of tiny fetal wiggle. She hated to think what it might be: could a tumor squirm and move about? The first time she felt the baby move when she was pregnant was thrilling, but that was more of a – what? At least she knew that it was human.

Maybe she could kill it. By this time she was so unhinged by the pain, the pain that didn’t really exist because the doctor wouldn’t give her anything to help her tolerate it, that she began to come up with ideas, maybe thrusting one of her knitting needles up inside herself in that old-fashioned, tried-and-true method of self-induced abortion.

If she took a very hot bath, would it be cooked? It wiggled and jumped harder as the months went by. Still nothing from the gynecologist, no call, although by now her nerves were as raw as her abdomen, with that butcher-shop feeling, blood leaking out of brown paper.

Then it began to actually kick.

She couldn’t go back to the doctor. The doctor wouldn’t even listen to her heart, let alone look at her swollen abdomen or believe something was “in there”. Something alive.

Of course she couldn’t tell friends, tell family, tell anybody, so if anyone phoned her or met her on the street and asked her how she was doing, she carolled, “Oh, fine,” in that cheerful studied way she had. She’d been doing it for years.

Alone with her illness, her mind shrank back and retreated. She walked robotically through her days. As with any illness, not that this was a real illness, there were good days and bad days. Some days she felt better: not “ALL better”, as people usually interpret the word, but “relatively better”. Unlike Rosemary devouring nearly-raw steak, however, she wanted fish.

They sat in a restaurant one night.

“Hon, you don’t eat sushi.”

“I do now.” She attacked her plate like a scavenger.

He looked at her, amazed. “Didn’t you wear that dress when you were – “

Oh yes, twenty years ago! But wasn’t it back in style again? A sort of smock that tied in back and accommodated her burgeoning belly.

But of course he noticed, and they got in a fight about it, with him shouting at her, don’t you even care about your health?

“No. Because nobody else does either.”

“That’s bullshit. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. How can you accuse us of not caring? I can’t believe how selfish you are.”

He bullied her back to the doctor’s office. Four months had passed and there was no appointment for a gynecologist, she was still waiting. The doctor said, these things take time. They’re backlogged, they’re busy. You’re a low-priority case.

“But what if it’s already been booked and I just don’t know about it? What if you haven’t even bothered to tell me? Look, this happened before and I came damn near to missing the appointment altogether.”

Stony silence from the doctor.

"Please, listen to me, please, somebody has to, nobody gives a fuck about the fact that I am about to die!"

An incredulous look, like she had just called her a cunt. The doctor closed her file and just sat looking at her until she left.

In her file, she had written only three words: out of control.

So, no meds, no nothing. Seven months after her initial visit to the doctor, during which she stole codeine from her husband to make life bearable, and nearly undone from grief and stress, she looked in the mirror nude and saw it kicking, her belly rippling from the force of piston legs and tiny little feet.

BUT HOW CAN THIS BE? What is this thing, or did I somehow absorb my twin and it came back to life?

One day, suicidal, she decided to jump off the Lion’s Gate Bridge and was about to leave to do it when the phone rang.

“This is just to remind you about your appointment tomorrow with Dr. Gage.”

“Dr. Gage?”

“Dr. Gage. The gynaecologist.”

“But I didn’t hear anything about this appointment from my doctor.”

“You should have. They set this up six months ago. They should have told you then."

"I didn't hear anything."

"You should have asked them about it.”

"I tried to, but when I - "


So she went to this Dr. Gage, a man unfortunately, an older man, much older, a pee-smelling stale old man with a saggy hanging face like Peter O’Toole. His vein-bulging hands doddered and clumsed, and it was these hands that were soon going to touch her body, to pry her private parts open.

“You’re going to need an x-ray,” he said in a European accent. She wondered if he had changed his name.

An x-ray? Nobody took x-rays any more. They were like something out of an old comic book. Low-tech. If high-tech equipment was available, it had to be used, simply because it was there. And if it cost more, it had to be “better”.

But oh, hey, an x-ray, she’d had THOSE before, years ago when she thought she had TB. This office seemed like something from the 1950s, and when he came back with this transparency-thing in his hands he slapped it up on a light-screen to have a look.

Holy Hannah.

That’s what he said.

Holy Hannah.

She couldn’t say anything at all. For inside her, plain as day, plain as the nose on her face, was

It was a frog.

Stunned, the doctor murmured, “Frog. Frog.”

“Jesus, how did that – “

“Mrs. Parker, have you been inserting objects into your vagina?”


"Because the practice is not unknown. Especially among psychiatric patients." 

He practically threw her down on the examining table and felt her belly, an even lower-tech thing to do and nearly unheard-of by now.

“Mein Gott, it's alive," he whispered.

You don’t want to hear a doctor say that, but that’s what he said.

You mean there’s a live frog inside me?”

“Mrs. Parker, I’m sure this can be explained.”


“Don’t be hysterical. We can do a D and C.”

“But it’s huge! How are you going to get it out?” The frog was positioned head-up, breech. Would they have to pull it out by the legs?

She had an awful thought: frog legs, aren’t they good to eat? Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal.

The operation was like something out of Ben Casey, the ether mask, the clanking, the cries of “nurse!”. Now she knew she had gone mad. She just wanted this THING out of her once and for all. But when she came around, the doctor did not have a good look on his face.

"I'm sorry."


"You haemorrhaged. We had to stop.”


“Stop. Frog didn’t want to come out. And you were allergic to the anaesthetic. It would have killed you.”

She looked up into his face, abject.

“Kill me.”

“Nonsense. We’ll take a wait-and-see approach. This can be monitored, managed...”

“Oh, you mean LOTS of people have live frogs stuck in their uterus?”

“No, but its rate of growth seems to have slowed. We’ll learn a lot from this, Mrs. Parker. It’s a medical opportunity. Even something of a miracle.”

She wondered if he hankered to be on one of those awful reality shows on TLC, the ones that celebrated monstrous freaks as “miracles”.  “Maybe I should just donate my body to science. I mean, NOW.”

They sent her home, still huge and wriggling inside. It would be years until the lawsuit, when her husband discovered by accident that they never intended to do the D and C, that they wanted to study her, to see how far it would go.

She could feel something, as if the frog were trying to straighten its legs or even jump. It must be enormous, packed inside her with its legs folded up.

She had a demonish thought: when she was a little girl, or maybe once last year at the lake, she went swimming, and somehow a tadpole - . No. It wasn’t possible.

Though pain assaulted her all day, at night she could blessedly crash into oblivion. Then came a night.

She just thought she had to go to the bathroom. Something warm and wet between the legs: she was horrified she’d had an accident. Then she felt something slimy begin to violently jerk and wriggle.

Staggering to the washroom, she sat down on the toilet gripping the seat on both sides, listening as the blood fell in slimy plops, moaning and howling and praying as she waited for the horrific miracle to begin. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscar Fashion: Best in Show

I don't know, pictures like this make me want to go gay or something. But the weird thing is, men don't care about all this stuff: they mainly care about peeling the dress off so they can get on with what they really want. Gay men do care, but for business/aesthetic reasons only.

Women care, but in a competitive sense. Look at all the hoo-ha at the Oscars about Best and Worst-Dressed, with everyone secretly licking their chops hoping the token fat girl will get Worst.

I didn't see much that was terribly objectionable this year, not that I care. I didn't particularly like Adelle's glittering sack: she could have accented her bountiful body in a much more flattering way. Instead she tented out.

I sort of forget the rest, except for Renee Zellweger and her walking-Oscar-dipped-in-gold second skin. But Zellweger gave us many more reasons to remember her that night.

No, only one dress stood out, as usual. It's a particularly warm shade of burnished gold laid over some sort of sheer material that looks like it's ready to float. Trains on dresses shouldn't be heavy - that's why Whatsername tripped, don't you know? Whoever she's wearing (and I'm not looking it up because I don't particularly care) knew what he(or maybe she) was doing. A dress doesn't have to just look nice, but move, breathe, and (in this case) drag.

Do I like this actress? Not particularly. She's the sort of supernaturally beautiful woman (like Halle Berry, who will never age) that makes you hate yourself. Kate Winslet is friendly-beautiful, as is Jennifer Aniston. Their looks aren't perfect, but they're entrancing nonetheless. (I ask you, was Bette Davis beautiful? How about Katherine Hepburn? Combined, I'd say the two had every flaw in the book.)

I just like the dress, the elegant drape of it, the beautiful patterning and glamourous splashyness on the red carpet (and these twittering gay designers who fuss over these women don't always take into account "what goes with red"). 

Zeta Jones (I'm sure the Zeta was an add-on) is in her 40s somewhere, which is a little depressing for the rest of us. She has that imperious manner that kind of makes me suicidal. She isn't stick-thin, but rocks the curves. I don't really like her acting, and I thought she was frighteningly manic in her musical number from Chicago. (She was diagnosed bipolar a while back, which means she'll likely be undiagnosed within a year or so. Stars don't stay mentally ill.)

So why did I pick this dress? It knocks my eye out. I love it. It makes me want to go gay for a day. I'm too lazy to do a top three or whatever, or even a worst-dressed. This one will do.

Renee Zellweger at the Oscars: it's only three words!

Lordy, Lordy, look who's. . . well, something. You have to feel sorry for someone who just isn't aware of how she is coming across in front of a billion people. I have to admit this was one of the strangest Oscar moments I've ever seen, right up there with Vanessa Redgrave's "Zionist hoodlums" speech, the naked man and Sacheen Littlefeather. 

I can't remember the last time I saw an adult who was unable to read three one-syllable words. It was LIFE OF PI, for God's sake, not the Gettysburg Address! I often have problems with so-called actors who completely fall apart when they have to ad lib something in front of an actual audience. They either read off cards in a stilted manner, not looking up, or bumble and fumble and make bad jokes that fall flat.

But this. She didn't really have to do anything, didn't have to set up the award, just had to remain standing and spit out three syllables, which was apparently too much for her. I myself am incredibly near-sighted, so much so that an optometrist once looked at my prescription and exclaimed, "WHOAHHHH!"  But I can still read fairly small print without my glasses and don't have to hold it right up to my face. Even if I had to, it'd only take half a second to read Life of Pi. 

So why couldn't she read? Surmise is that she was drunk, stoned, or Botoxed to the point that her eyes were pretty much sealed shut.

Actually there were two awards, Best Song and Best Musical Score, and she bombed out on both of them, but everyone seems to be focusing on the first one because it was just so unbelievable. Queen Latifah saved the moment, which could have been an absolute fiasco if Gere had taken the card back. If I remember rightly, she was supposed to read the Best Musical Score winner and, unable to do so, just handed the card to someone else.


I am waiting  for her handlers to come out with an "explanation" for her weird behaviour last night: she has a sinus infection and was high on Dristan; she was "overtired"; she had a migraine that gave her a blind spot (then why go up there?). She was too vain to wear her glasses. She missed breakfast, and lunch, and dinner, so she could fit into the gold-paint gown, and mistakenly thought that the glass of wine on the table was water.

Wine into water? I'd call that a reverse miracle.

Oscars 2013: who pulled off the dress

All this Oscar stuff! I look forward to it, I really do, and I’ve watched it for 30 years or more, but about 45 minutes in I always wonder what it is in me that triggers such self-punishment.

First there was this guy, this Seth somebody, Macfarlane or something. Looked like a used car salesman to me, or a Scientologist going door to door. And at first he’s pretty good, pretty funny, snappy and slightly jabby like you’re supposed to be. Then all of a sudden a GREAT BIG SCREEN slowly lowers down from the ceiling, and on it is. . .

William Shatner.

I have no idea why William Shatner is on this show. I like William Shatner, I admire his chutzpah (and he is Jewish, did you know that? From Montreal), and I do notice how he pops up everywhere, but heaven’s sake, here? It made no sense. Anyway, he went on and on about predictions Macfarlane would be considered the worst host in Oscar history, a statement that was eerily prescient.  Obviously this part was pre-recorded at his own convenience, because in the whole six hours or so, it was the only speech that sounded polished and un-muffed. But, moving on.

I did notice things, and I wrote them down on sticky notes as I watched, and by the end of most of the evening (I bailed at 9:00 o’clock after 3 ½ hours, though they had yet to perform the last, final, agonizing, closing musical number) I had a string of them as long as your arm. I finally had to stick the stickies to the stickies.

Screens kept dropping down. William Shatner? (one sticky).

How many standing ovations? (another sticky: everyone and his dog seemed to be getting one. If everyone is the best, then nobody is the best.)

Old singers. Shirley Bassey knocked my socks off for her sheer style, even if her voice faltered a bit. She nailed that last note, however, and looked elegant and even sexy, owning that stage. (Proving the old song was right: there is nothing you can name that is anything like a Dame.) Babs Streisand was a bit more disappointing, appearing frozen in time except for her very rusty pipes. She’s now a low contralto, and too careful for fear the fragile instrument will break (which it will, and soon). The tribute to Marvin Hamlisch was very touching however, as he did indeed leave us much too soon.

OK, two stickies down. Oops, some of these have things written on the back too: metal dresses.  Everyone was shiny last night, or almost everyone. Like they’d been dipped in molten gold or something. Well, if WE had personal tailors and dressmakers who fitted our gowns exactly to the contours of our bodies. . . no, we wouldn’t look that good, but at least we’d look better than we do now.

I took note of older women trying to pull off the gown, and most can’t. I liked Shirley Bassey’s netting idea: it looks like you’re showing a lot of skin, but you aren’t. It’s a soft-focus thing, and skaters use it to make sure everything stays in place.  I also liked some of the three-quarter sleeves on dresses: us women pushing 60 generally can’t flaunt a lot of upper arm. One older dame, well, 50 isn’t old, is it? – but she wore a white sleeveless gown and loose hair and looked a proper strollop. It just didn’t work. Do something else. Do what Nicole Kidman did, pull back the hair in a twist and let wisps float loose in front, a combination of structured and free. I have spoken.

(A tip, girls – nothing to do with the Oscars – if you’re a certain age, do not wear a low-cut dress with a push-up bra, or d├ęcolletage as they call it. Don’t, because even if it looks OK in the mirror, when you sit down to talk to somebody it will all squish up and wrinkle, just like the skin on your throat. Nothing worse than a wrinkled d├ęcolletage.)

I have George C. on one sticky. Oh yes, George Clooney! He said he sewed the beads on his girlfriend’s dress, and I hope he did. Later the host threw him a small airline bottle of booze, and he opened it and tossed it back. That George.

People who died. Every year there are a lot of them, and Old Hollywood is pretty much gone now. They always have that pre-recorded tribute, and it’s touching. But I am SO glad they did away with the former practice of having the audience applaud. Some dead people - big stars - got whoops and cheers (a standing ovation?), some just a smattering, and a lot of them dead silence because they were just “connected to the industry” or something, adapted the screenplay for Death of a Salesman or some other such nonsense and really weren’t important, it’s not like anyone ever heard of them.

WHAT was up with Renee Zellweger? Thank God she had two or three other presenters with her. My God! She couldn’t read. She has always been oddly squinty-eyed, but now she looked bizarre, and when she turned sideways her face sort of disappeared like it had been pushed in. Was she on something, just put in eye drops, or what? Richard Gere was sort of holding her up as she swayed (not that I would mind that), and when he showed her the card with the winner on it and said, “You take this one", she tilted her head very oddly and squinted her eyes almost shut and sort of pushed the card away. The next one was even stranger, because it was her turn to read the winner and instead she frankly handed the card off to someone else, Queen Latifah I think, who can still see. Has illiteracy struck her at a mature age? I wonder what has happened to Miss You-Had -Me-At-Hello.

That little black girl didn’t win. Good, because nobody can pronounce her name anyway, and we don’t need another Lindsay Lohan. If she wants to act, let her come back in 15 years.

Ang Lee is such a surprise, so humble and quiet. What a genius, responsible for a huge variety of movies that I can’t remember right now, but I’ll look them up. He can do anything, it seems, even be consistent. I won’t see Life of Pi, having suffered through the book, but I’m sure it’s good.

I was genuinely touched when the ethereal Daniel Day-Lewis won for Lincoln, and his wife leaped up and wouldn’t let go of his hand. I don’t know where else to put this, but there was a hideous Lincoln joke from Macfarlane that got a big laugh: "The actor who really got inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth."  It prompted a groan at first, but then he did some sort of "what? What? Did I say something?" and everyone roared with laughter. I know human beings are herd animals and will go along with just about anything (Hitler comes to mind), but this just seemed extreme.

But why was I so surprised? This is the States! The Vice President is running around telling everyone to go out and buy a shotgun! Hey, Lincoln couldn’t have been killed with a pea shooter, could he?

A musical mystery. There were some scenes shown from a foreign film called Amour, about an old couple: it looked like the wife was terminally ill and the husband was trying to help her die. The piano music however just mesmerized me because I had heard it before, and had no idea who wrote it. I finally decided it must be Schumann. Ransacked my CD collection and found very little Schumann on piano, but poked through another CD with SCHUBERT on it and hit pay dirt. Now I can find it on YouTube: the internet is kind. (It was the Impromptu #3 in G Flat Minor, in case you want to hear it yourself.)

And finally, as they say on Inside Edition: when they dropped another screen down from fairyland with Michelle Obama on it, I thought: Fixed. Rigged. Best Picture HAS to be Lincoln, but it was that other one, that – what’s it called anyway? Argot? Ingot? But I don’t watch this thing for the movies.