Monday, February 27, 2006

One year ago today

Yes, this time last year I was arriving in NYC in time for the Oscars at the start of a 31 day vacation. That month was the most relaxing and fun month I think I have ever spent and it was also the time that ultimately led to my 90 day search for work and to where I am today. While I was in NYC on vacation, a few chance conversations and connections made me stop and think about everything I was doing with my life and where I ultimately wanted to be. That I want to live in NYC is something that I have wanted for a long time but spending such a large chunk of time there really brought it home. In the last weekend I was there, which coincidentally was Easter Sunday, I went to see the second preview of the revival of A Streetcar Named Desire at Studio 54 and then I met one of my dearest friends for dinner. We ended up spending the rest of the evening together, going back to his apartment in Chelsea to watch Desperate Housewives and eat ice cream. I remember VERY clearly thinking the following "Ok this, I want this. I want to be able to hang out with friends until late and then just wander out to the subway and get home". See, in London, the subway is shit. It takes forever to get anywhere and it closes at midnight (11pm on a Sunday). So Easter Sunday was the deciding day for me.

I had an absolute blast and what was so amazing to me was in that month I lived like a crazy person, seeing a truckload of Broadway shows, movies, eating out for every meal pretty much, buying clothes, DVDs and CDs and I managed to spend $3000. Which is a fairly low figure, I think. I saw Dar Williams in concert at the Allen Room which was glorious. I saw La Cage Aux Folles, Dessa Rose, Light In The Piazza, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Pillowman, Wicked, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, Doubt, Spamalot, The Golden Age, Steel Magnolias, Little Women, Streetcar Named Desire, 700 Sundays, All Shook Up, Glass Menagerie, Twelve Angry Men and Altar Boyz. Crazy huh?

But I also met some great people and made some wonderful friends. Without them, I would never have been able to go back for the 90 days and I would certainly never have gotten through those 90 days. The biggest surprise of the vacation was meeting and making friends with Eric. All the people I met in NYC I had been talking to online over at Broadwayworld. Eric was also on that site but he and I had never spoken. He tagged along one day to dinner with a bunch of BWW people. We somehow ended up sat next to each other and the rest is history. He's a diamond. With great hair and a cute dog, see?

Anyway, I just wanted to wax nostalgic about my month in NYC but I also didn't want to get TOO reflective about it all, otherwise I'd depress myself. I do need to mention that not only did I see Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? but thanks to another dear friend who worked on that show, I attended the opening night AND the after party. That's why I had to buy clothes, you see. I had to get me some glad rags for mixing with the hoi polloi.

I'll end by saying I am so looking forward to when it stops being a vacation and starts resembling my life.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

What it means to be made of you but not enough for you.

Wow I haven't updated since Monday. And to think, not too long ago, dear sweet Blood Ray commented on how prolific a blogger I am. Well I soon put paid to that, didn't I?

The problem is I just don't have anything terribly exciting to say, so I couldn't be bothered to update just to say nothing. Though it is what I seem to be doing now. Well, the New York situation remains unchanged. They were supposed to get back to me by the end of the day on Tuesday so I was resolutely unsurprised when they didn't. As I remarked to a friend a day or so ago, they dragged their heels something fierce when we were in the big time crunch to try and get me there by Feb 1st, so now that we are not in a time crunch, there's no telling how long everything is going to take.

I was planning on moving back to London, but I am now going to stay where I am in Brighton until such time as I am in NY or NY doesn't happen and THEN I will head back to London. It means I can save money as I will be paying a teeny tiny amount of rent, so that's good. Also, there are HUGE employers down here that I would work perfectly with (AmEx being one of them). So it could all work out. Right? We'll see I guess.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Words fail me

OK I take it back about what I said regarding Final Destination earlier in the blog. THIS is surely the least eagerly awaited sequel of all time. Hi, Sharon? Hello, it's your dignity calling. Yes, I know we haven't seen each other or spoken in like FOREVER but I really couldn't ignore this any longer. The first Basic Instinct is a pile of dogshit, but at least you looked hot in it. This, however, is the literal picture of naked desperation. Woman, look, you're pushing 50, did you not think about this? From the neck up, that's REALLY starting to show, especially with that lank new bob hair don't which is doing nothing for you. And from the neck down? You're a plastic fake barbie doll. It's just embarrassing. For the love of God, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A little more optimism

Some more theatre I'll be able to see in London that occurred to me last night: The Cut, the world premiere of Mark Ravenhill's new play starring Sir Ian McKellen. The revival of Phaedra with Claire Higgins. And last but by no means least, the upcoming revival of Hay Fever starring the one, the only, Dame Judi Dench. Still responsible for the greatest night I've ever spent in the theatre with the final London performance of Amy's View, I'd go see her read the ingredients off of a soup tin.

Also, I finally got around to watching Wolf Creek the other night. I absolutely love horror movies and the recent crop (House Of Wax, Hide & Seek, The Descent, Switchblade Romance et al) have really been underwhelming and the upcoming remake avalanche (When A Stranger Calls, The Hills Have Eyes, The Omen 666, The Wicker Man, Black Christmas and so on) don't really fill me with much hope either. But the reviews that Wolf Creek received made me think this could be a really fabulous creepy movie. Meh.

It puts its foot wrong from the very beginning by saying it's "based on actual events". Poor choice of wording when even the most cursory glance over those events reveals that the film bears not even the slightest resemblance to any of them. A more accurate term would be "inspired by". But that's by the by. Point is, the first half of the film following the three soon to be horribly killed backpackers around is boring, and the second half with them being horribly killed (well, one survives), is truly unpleasant and difficult to watch, but it's never frightening. There was just something that didn't quite work about the film, and I don't quite know what it was. But what I do know is I lost ALL patience with the two female backpackers. See, one of them is quite resourceful and distracts the psycho killer by setting fire to a car in the yard. Well done. Then she sneaks in to where he's torturing the other girl and attempts a rescue. Smart girl. When Nasty Killer Man returns, she grabs a rifle and shoots him. The bullet grazes his neck, making him bleed but CLEARLY not killing him, though for some reason he is knocked unconscious. She goes to shoot him again but there's only one bullet in the gun. So after ineffectually hitting him between the shoulders they attempt an escape. It doesn't work, he kills them both. And while he's doing that, the male backpacker awakes and escapes. Now, why did I lose patience with the girls? Well instead of one half hearted swipe to the shoulders, wouldn't you, oh I don't know, smack him with the butt of the rifle until his head was hamburger? Or perhaps get one of the many knives laying around and slit his throat with it? But no, they steal a car (not even running him over with it) and when he gives chase, pretend to have driven over a cliff. And then they wonder why he kills them.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sweet Nectar

Yes, you're seeing that right. Pepsi has launched the first ever coffee flavored cola. Sugar free, too. What's more, it's delicious. It shouldn't be, but it is.

In other news, the impossibly sexy Eva Green is the new Bond Girl. Woot! I adored her in The Dreamers and while I'm still not sold on the casting of Daniel Craig (he would make a better Bond Villain than Bond I think), I am excited for Eva.

I'm Mr Brightside

Alright, I must must must attempt some glass half full looking at my extended UK stay. There is some great theatre coming up here. Avenue Q opens in June, as does the revival of Evita. That will be cool, I guess. I haven't checked the dates of it yet, but I THINK I'm around for the UK unveiling of Caroline, Or Change a show that closed in NY before I could schedule a visit. Movin' Out also has a limited London run coming up, another show I wanted to see but never got round to it (and I was in NY a LOT when that show was running). So that's a little something.

Also, I do have many wonderful friends in London, all of whom were really rooting for me to get to NY and all of them will be both pleased that I managed to achieve it and will be very helpful in making my extended UK stay as pain free as possible. I am hoping I can find someone with a spare room I can stay in for these months and that we can negotiate a reasonable rate for the stay so that, when I get a temporary job, I can afford to live AND save money for legal fees. Also I am hoping to to get my consolidation loan paid off before I leave as that will make my life so much easier. It's due to be paid off in November 2007, which means I'll need a fair chunk to pay it off early (about £2500) but it's not outside the realms of possibility. Not entirely, anyway. But of course, this fabulous plan hinges on many variables, not least my NY job offer being okayed for an October start.

In other news, I decided to run before I could walk on the cake baking front. When I was in NYC, I discovered the joy that is Red Velvet Cake. Completely unknown here in the UK, my craving for it got the better of me and I decided to bake one. Not just any old one, but a 3 tier one, frosted with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. And while when it came out the oven, it did look like I had baked 3 blood clots, it assembled marvellously. Ok, so the frosting is a little, well let's be kind and say rubbish inexpertly applied, but for a first try that's pretty effing special if I do say so myself. And it tastes amazing. Which is what counts.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

And see that screen go down in the flames

And so the list of shows that will depart New York before I have had the chance to be in the audience multiplies. We can now add Three Days Of Rain, Awake And Sing!, The History Boys, Rabbit Hole, The Pajama Game, Bridge & Tunnel, Abigail's Party, Faith Healer and The Threepenny Opera to the list. Gosh, I can hear you all thinking, that's a huge amount of shows, what happened?

Well, I'll tell you. Last night, the company I have been in talks with for the last four months now, decided not to offer employment on my current visa status. It's a long story, one I'm too broken to go into here, but the visa was complicated, too complicated for them to deal with. There IS another visa that I am eligible for but that has a start date of October 1st 2006, and not one day earlier. They wanted me there earlier than this, so they are clearing it with the powers that be that October is ok. I think it will be. I hope it will be. Stay tuned for further announcements, folks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why can't my ball-la-loon stay up in a perfectly windy sky?

Alright so I didn't write an entry yesterday as, given what day it was, I didn't want to write a blog that ended up being a suicide note. Yes, here I am, almost 31 and still single. Woot.

Well that's enough of that. But alas I don't think this entry is going to get THAT much cheerier. Yesterday it was announced that Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life can join the small but ever increasing list of Broadway shows I missed. Along with Woman In White, what makes the closure of Chita so worthy of note though is this: as well as being two shows I didn't make it back to NY in time to see before they closed, they are two shows that, with the initial start date I had, I should have been back for their opening nights. Le sigh.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Vanity Fair

And so Vanity Fair brings us their 11th Annual Hollywood Issue. Instead of the usual threefold cover stuffed with fabulous people, there are only two actresses on the cover. Both naked. I love Scarlett Johansson more than life itself but she's been so very airbrushed here she's almost unrecognisable. And my hatred for that talentless and personality free ironing board that is Keira Knightley is well documented. Bitch, put some clothes on. Ugh.

And now, for the sheer fun of it, I'm going to guide you through my take on the 2006 Portfolio:

Dakota Fanning: Well we're off to a flying start. I know it's probably immoral to dislike a child, but I really can't stand her. Not only is she a bug eyed freak (one of the many many problems I had with Hide And Seek was her constantly being referred to as beautiful), but she's just CREEPY. She's 12 years old but it's like she has a mild form of progeria, because she acts like she's 40. The blurb accompanying her pic calls her performances "moving and authentic". I think they mean "freakish and unpleasant".

Peter Sarsgaard: I do love him. Aside from his surname having a silly amount of vowels in it, I don't have a bad word to say about him. He's an intense and intensely brilliant actor and he's also very easy on the eye. His performance in Kinsey also proved him to be a fearless actor. A fearlessness evident in his picture for the Portfolio, fully dressed but trussed up in Japanese bondage.

Sienna Miller: Ah, you're young, you're talented, you've just endured a messy break up with super hot skeeve Jude Law. What better way to celebrate than being photographed wearing only a tiny pair of pants, some hooker shoes and some tacky jewellery for Vanity Fair? Not one of your best moves, Sienna. You'll always have my respect for stepping for your poorly co-star (Helen McCrory who I love) in the West End production of As You Like It but exactly how little respect it will be is all to play for now.

Jake Gyllenhaal: So very talented. And hot. I've loved him since I saw him on stage in This Is Our Youth when he was merely cute, so watching his climb to heartthrob star of blockbuster movies AND highly respected Oscar nominated actor has been entirely fascinating.

Heath Ledger: Now he's an interesting one. I honestly think the reason the world finally sat up and took notice when Brokeback Mountain was released was not because Heath is giving a noteworthy performance, more that he's in a film that deserves it. 99% of his output has been, well, shit (The Sin Eater, A Knight's Tale, The Patriot, The Brothers Grimm) but his performances have always been great, natural, believable. They've just never quite been enough to distract the viewer from the steaming pile of dogshit he's acting in. Until now. Good for him. He's probably lying about his age though.

Jason Schwartzman: I like him. He's quirky, he's cute, he's talented. But I always think he looks dirty. And possibly stupid.

Camilla Belle: About to be famous, apparently. Is in the remake of When A Stranger Calls so we may very well never hear of her again.

Eric Bana: I do love me some Australian. It's a pity that Bana's talent has been outshone by his pecs in his two biggest movies (the execrable Hulk and Troy) but his performance in Munich seems to be redressing the balance. Inexplicably he's been overlooked for any nominations for it though. Ah well. He looks hot in a speedo too.

Natalie Portman: If you can get past the fact that she appears to have been bronzed and bears a resemblance to Halle Berry in the pic here, Natalie Portman is lovely. Crazily talented (yet lauded and awarded for one of her average performances in Closer) and completely gorgeous, she has it all for the taking. And she's shagged Gael Garcia Bernal. Bitch.

Viggo Mortensen: I've loved him since the almost unknown film The Passion Of Darkly Noon in 1995, so it's more than a little tiresome to have legions of squealing fangirls dressed like hobbits constantly referring to him as Aragorn and calling him hot.

Patricia Clarkson: Possibly one of the most talented actresses walking the planet. She has stolen every film she's ever been in (except for Goodnight, And Good Luck where she must wonder why she bothered turning up). However, for her appearance in the portfolio, they have smeared what looks like a whole jar of Vaseline on the lens AND airbrushed her for good measure. She has no pores in her face. And her nipples are erect. Such a bad photo.

Angelina Jolie: Apparently the theme of this years Portfolio was "tacky". It's the only way I can explain Angelina Jolie, UN Ambassador, mother of two adopted children and expecting her own child with Brad Pitt, deciding to be photographed laying in a bath naked with all her tattoos on show.

The Weinsteins: Does ANYBODY like them? Their reputations are legendary. Fittingly, they're photographed in suits and poses that make them look like Mafia hitmen masquerading as funeral directors. Loathsome.

Rosamund Pike: Another talent free addition to the Portfolio. At least the pic is classy, big swishy dress and the London Eye, very nice. But I can't help but wonder how she scraped in. Her performance in Die Another Day is very stiff and her stage role in Hitchcock Blonde underlined in red the fact that she really isn't a very good actress. When the world needs a discount version of Laura Dern, we'll let you know.

Topher Grace: Another total cutie who has allowed typecasting to smother his potential. The one, count it, one time he broke out of the cute and insecure mould, in Traffic, he's stunning. Here's hoping that the upcoming appearance as a baddie in Spider-Man 3 can help further shake off his nervy nerd shtick that had begun to grate before he was in In Good Company.

Reese Witherspoon: It's a shame that her breakout role was Elle Woods in the actually not very good Legally Blonde and its even worse sequel because it's all she's really remembered for now. She has a host of other better performances that, had they been quite as well remembered, her performance as June Carter Cash wouldn't be as much of a surprise. But as it is I'm just happy she's getting the recognition. I wish she hadn't been photographed with a doll though, it's just creepy.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Ah, how I adore this man. He's someone I would watch in anything, someone who, like Peter TooManyA's, disappears completely inside a character when he's acting and is totally fearless. And I love that.

Taye Diggs: I haven't seen that many of his films, but I enjoyed him in Go and I the occasional episode of Kevin Hill. And he's been photographed without his shirt on, so it's not just the ladies going for nudity here.

Nick Cave: Ok, can someone explain to me what Nick Fucking Cave is doing in a Portfolio about Hollywood stars? No? Well, me neither.

Anne Hathaway: Go away. I enjoyed your performance in Brokeback Mountain, especially your depiction of peroxided hair as a metaphor for marriage breakdown, but I will never forgive you for The Princess Diaries.

Max Minghella: You've been in two films, Max. Two. And one of those isn't even finished yet. So you'll forgive me if I don't care about you just yet.

Jamie Bell: I'm sorry, but why is the world trying to convince me that Jamie Bell is both hot and talented when he is ostensibly neither?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers: And speaking of untalented, woah mama. Here's the worst offender of recent times. His performances have never been what you would call good but in Match Point he is so outclassed by everyone around him it is painful to watch. He's awful, and he looks like a girl.

Michelle Monaghan: I liked her in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang so it'll be interesting to see how she holds up in Mission Impossible 3. Until that comes out I wonder if she'll regret being photographed laying upside down on a car.

Pamela Anderson & Mamie Van Doren: What the fucking fuck? Words truly fail me. I can't work out why Pamela is even here and Mamie Van Doren looks like a drag queen.

Joy Bryant: I have no idea who Joy Bryant is, as I have seen none of her films. The blurb about her notes that her mother was just 15 when she gave birth to her. So presumably she's so very chuffed at Joy's decision to appear in Vanity Fair ENTIRELY NAKED.

Michelle Yeoh: Another breakthrough Bond girl I am totally indifferent to. Possibly because her Bond was in the weakest of the series (Tomorrow Never Dies), possibly because her follow up films have left me cold (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs Of A Geisha). I can see she's very talented I'm just not sure why I should care. Seeing her photographed hanging from a trapeze in an evening gown hasn't altered my opinion, but it has made me wonder if she really is nine feet tall.

Jennifer Aniston: She looks good in the pic, at least. Naked, curled up in the fetal position so nothing is showing. Classy, almost. Something has to distract the world from the break up with Brad and her totally unexciting post Friends film career.

Q'Orianka Kilcher: Another two film CV, but unlike Max, Kilcher is more deserving of her place here. First off, her name starts with a Q and has an apostrophe in it. Secondly, her performance in The New World won her rave reviews. Good for her. She looks like a pre op transsexual though.

Terrence Howard: Just go away. Everyone loves you, you've steadily been working away unnoticed in films for years and now you've broken out big time. But your big break out (Oscar nominated, no less) role just so happens to be in one of the most atrociously embarrassing, mind numbingly predictable and inexplicably adored pieces of shit to be released in many a year, Hustle & Flow. And for that I can never forgive you.

Zooey Deschanel: Stupid name, horrible picture. Only seen her in one film and she didn't really stand out in that. So there.

Joaquin Phoenix: What a glorious pic. I can't tell if he's sucking his gut in or it was taken pre bloat, but he looks good. And he's so wonderful to watch on screen that he can bloat all he likes and I'll still love him. He doesn't have a hope in hell of winning the Oscar for Walk The Line alas, but I am certain his day will come.

George Clooney: Everybody loves George. That's all that needs to be said here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

With every beautiful heel pointed

Goddamn my Busy Brain™. Last night when trying to sleep, I was having such bizarre thoughts that I then began to think if I could get one of those contraptions that transfers my thoughts directly to this blog like Bobbi Anderson has in The Tommyknockers, then I'd have one of the most bizarre, interesting and probably schizoid blogs around. Of course, should a mental health professional ever stumble across it then they would probably try and track me down and section me. Ah well.

So last night was frustrating. Two mutual friends are falling out with each other and I seem to be trapped in the middle. Without going into too much detail, as it's entirely too complicated and more than a little dull to type out, the whole situation is fucked up and I have been trying to mediate with them but it's just ending up frustrating me. I'm not making matters any better and I sure as shit don't want to make them any worse, so I am going to bow out and let them fight it out between themselves.

It's been six years since, having apparently run out of humans to have as killers, Death itself became a slasher in Final Destination. With a concept so high that, were it a building Superman would be hard pushed to leap it in a single bound, the movie followed 7 high schoolers who, following Alex (Devon Sawa) having a premonition about the plane exploding shortly after take off, disembark a flight to France. Death, apparently pissed at having its plans scuppered, comes after them and offs them in a series of inventive accidents. It was a modest hit and should have been left alone. But of course, the old adage of "too much is never enough" was seemingly coined in Hollywood so three years later, we got Final Destination 2 with a highway pile up in place of a plane explosion, more elaborate deaths and in a desperate bid to tie the films together, Ali Larter reprises her role from the first film. She and Devon Sawa were the only two to reach the end credits of part one still breathing, but Devon apparently had better things to do than show up for the sequel, so his character is killed off with a newspaper obit in the opening credits. What the better things Mr Sawa had to do is anybody's guess though as he doesn't seem to have worked since.

Surely that's enough, right? One sequel should surely suffice. Well no. So now in what is surely the least eagerly awaited second sequel so far (and I say so far because I'm sure it's only a matter of time until Big Momma's House 3 is greenlit, an event that will have me being talked down from a tall building), today sees the release of Final Destination 3. Instead of planes or cars going ka-boom, this time a roller coaster goes off the rails in spectacular fashion. Once more, Death is PISSED that some people escaped and so sets about creating even more crazily elaborate set pieces to off the survivors in increasingly bloody but oddly satisfying ways. There's a big problem though. With part 2, it was a cross section of people who were on the run from death. Here, same as part 1, it's a bunch of high school seniors. Sadly, the writing can't elevate the stereotypes on show (the goth, the jock, the pretty bitches, the girl who doesn't fit in and so on and so on) into anything remotely believable. And some of the actors really don't look 17. Kris Lemche in particular is 27 and looks every day of it. The most exciting part of the film for me was the discovery that one of the cast's real name is Texas Battle. Anyone want to bet his friends call him Alamo?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I want a dog

More specifically, I want these dogs.


So I am not very good at being introspective but part of the reason I revived my blogging days (I used to be an LJ whore but this place is prettier) was to try and talk about myself more and such. I think the problem might be that I just don't think I'm interesting enough and if I don't want to hear about me, then why would anyone else want to read about me?

Well last night, tired but unable to get my Busy Brain (© My crazy one time reflexologist) to shut the fuck up I realised that I am horribly over analytical. I have berated many friends for over thinking situations to the point of insanity and then of course I do it too. For example, I am currently spending a lot of time living in cyberspace (shocking, I know) and over the course of a day I have many conversations on Instant Messenger. Yesterday I was being silly with a friend and suddenly he said goodbye and signed off. Rather than thinking nothing of it, I spent a fair while examining why exactly he would have signed off so quick. Had I offended him, had he grown bored of me, had he thought I was being serious when I was really only kidding? And so on and so forth, etc, ad infinitum until I was driving myself crazy and having to use all my self control not to send an email asking all the questions that were swirling in my head. Of course, none of it was even remotely applicable so thank God the email wasn't sent. In my earlier, less controlled days, it probably would have been. And dear Lord, would that have been a mess. But anyway. That's my personal observation for today.

I also did some more thinking about Walk The Line. I came to the conclusion that without the star performers, nobody would be talking about this movie, except to perhaps compare it to Ray. In fact, if you replace the two leads with people several notches lower in the celebrity echelons (Stuart Townsend and Jennifer Love Hewitt, say) and you'd be watching a Hallmark Channel biopic. But Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon pull the movie into another league entirely. Phoenix is great but Witherspoon is an absolute revelation. And it's that revelatory factor that could win her the Oscar. Felicity Huffman is hotly tipped but her talent is neither a secret nor a surprise. Sports Night, Desperate Housewives and years of theatre performances ensure she's known AND respected. But everyone in Hollywood is sitting up and going "Holy shit. Is that Elle Woods? Really? Who woulda thought?" and that element is the one that could propel her to Oscar glory. We'll see.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Walk The Line

So I got round to seeing this today. Am I the only one who thinks in 25 years, Joaquin Phoenix will have become Alec Baldwin?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell was a self described eco-warrior with a mad passionate love for grizzly bears. For 13 years, he lived among them every summer and at the end of his 13th summer with them, he and his girlfriend were attacked and killed by one of the bears he loved so much. Over his last 5 summers, he recorded over 100 hours of video footage of himself with the bears and wildlife.

Werner Herzog has taken those 100 hours and along with interviews with Treadwell's family and friends, edited them into the 103 minute documentary, Grizzly Man. What emerges from the film is that Timothy Treadwell was a deeply troubled and totally misguided individual, obsessed with death. A review in Empire Magazine suggested that his 100 hours of footage could be the longest suicide note ever composed.

He was a failed actor, a recovered addict and alcoholic, who started that recovery after a trip to Alaska and an encounter with a bear. He promised he would give up everything and devote his life to grizzlies. And so he did, and in that devotion he found something of the fame that had eluded him as an actor (his downward spiral apparently began when he got down to the final two for a role on Cheers but lost out to Woody Harrelson). There are clips of him on Letterman and also clips of him delivering lectures on bears to school children and their letters to him.

But by the time this small level of fame was afforded to him, it was ostensibly no longer what he wanted. He had become obsessed with the bears and his summers with them. It was reaching the point where, some attest, he wanted to BE a bear rather than simply just live with them. Some of the footage of him is disturbing (caressing bear poo while eulogising how "it's come from inside her"), some is funny and disturbing (screaming for it to rain because, among other things, "Melissa is eating her babies") and some of it he is so annoying, I was willing the bears to eat him mid speech (his extended furious rant against the park rangers).

There are some things that intrigued me that the documentary only hints at. Treadwell films himself touching a bear on the nose. The sanctuary that he is in at the time has a strict rule of not coming within 50 yards of any bear and within 100 yards of a sow and her cubs. Some reasons for this are obvious (they have claws 5 inches long and a powerful enough swing to decapitate a human in one swipe) but some are less obvious. If a human is around bears long enough, the bears will become habituated to human presence, which could prove disastrous if poachers were to come along. The head of the sanctuary, upon seeing the footage on TV of Treadwell interacting with the bear, tried to have him prosecuted, but was unsuccessful. Life was made difficult for him at the sanctuary thereafter though, which is what leads to his extended on camera rant.

Well I'm with the sanctuary on this. First of all, it's a sanctuary. Who exactly is Treadwell protecting these already protected bears from? He claims that when he moves off the Sanctuary into the Grizzly Maze, these bears don't have any human protection other than him. This may or may not be true, but in almost 40 years there has been no bear poaching there, and the only instance of other people coming to the maze is included in the documentary. In the other hours of footage not included in the film, there are no uninvited guests.

Also, two of his ecologist friends tell a big fat lie about him. They are reading out some of the hate mail they had received, one of which talks about how much money he was making. They say that this was totally unfair and untrue, that Timothy was one of the poorest men they knew. Bullshit. He may have started off poor, but he sure didn't die poor. With his ex-girlfriend Jewel (one of the more intense interviewees in the film), Treadwell started the Grizzly People Foundation which attracted donations from celebrities. Leonardo DiCaprio donated $25,000. This money was used to finance his summers with the bears. He also secured sponsorship from a clothing company and a camera company and in 1995 was able to quit his day job and devote himself full time to the bears. I'd love to be that poor.

The real tragedy of this story isn't that Treadwell died. Sterling Miller wrote to him to express some (entirely legitimate) concerns about his actions with the bears, Treadwell wrote back that he "would consider it an honor to end up as bear shit." Well fine. Honor granted. The real tragedy is his girlfriend Amie Hugenard died along with him. In the middle of September 2003, a few weeks before they were killed, Amie flew up to meet Treadwell and spend the last few days of his summer with the bears with him. By this point in the season, there were usually only around 15 bears who hadn't gone into their winter hibernation. In 2003, due to a poor berry harvest, there were 60 of them still awake and aggressively hunting for food. Hugenard and Treadwell fought as she felt very uneasy about being there and couldn't wait to leave. And leave they did. En route back to California, Treadwell got into an argument with an airline official about the validity of his ticket, and in a huff returned to the bear park. For reasons I will NEVER fathom, Hugenard went back with him. And Treadwell then breaks all the rules about where to pitch his tent, documents said rules on camera, along with the fact that he's breaking them and a few days later, they are both dead, killed and eaten by an aggressive and starving hungry bear. Hugenard is in 3 shots of the movie (apparently the only times she appears in ALL the footage) and her face is only visible in one of them. Her family declined to be interviewed for the film. She remains an enigma but no less of a tragedy.

Monday, February 06, 2006


So I couldn't sleep last night. I took a nap earlier in the day as I had a killer headache and then at 11:30pm, I decided to watch Constantine with commentary on DVD. And I fell asleep, but I woke up after about 45 minutes and then I could NOT get back to sleep for the life of me. I always have trouble shutting my mind down when I go to sleep (a reflexologist once told me it's called Busy Brain. Hmm.) and last night I decided to obsess about the latest Michael Haneke movie that I saw last week.

Hidden is a psychological thriller in which nothing really happens. At least on the surface. A well to do suburban couple are anonymously sent video tapes of the outside of their house. The first tape is placed on their doorstep in a carrier bag. The second tape is wrapped in a child like painting of a boy bleeding from the mouth. And then things start to turn sinister. The next tape to arrive is that of George's childhood home. Slowly, George begins to realise that a moment of childhood spitefulness is coming back to haunt him. When he was a boy, he lived with his parents on a big farm they owned. Among their staff are an Arab couple who are killed in the Parisian protests in 1969. George's parents care for their son Majid and look into adopting him. Jealous George schemes against Majid and gets him sent away to an orphanage. And doesn't really spare him another thought.

Until the third tape arrives, the one of his childhood home, wrapped in a similar childish painting, this time a decapitated chicken. See, naughty George tricked poor Majid into killing the prize rooster on the farm which was the final straw that had Majid sent to the orphanage. So George becomes convinced that Majid is now stalking him. When a forth tape arrives that gives clues to where Majid now lives, George tracks him down. And nothing is resolved. George lies to his wife about what is going on, but tapes turn up that betray his lies. Cracks begin to appear in their marriage, their son is caught in the middle of it all. At the end of the film, Majid commits suicide and after a tense confrontation with Majid's son, George thinks the campaign of terror is over and he can go back to his life. But then the end of the film throws everything into disarray. In a long static shot outside George's son's school, George's son meets Majid's son. It's clear from their interaction it's not the first time they have met. But this is the first the audience know of it.

Throughout the film, Majid and his son repeatedly deny knowledge of the tapes. And yet the tape that arrives showing their first meeting is shot from such an angle that the only people who could have placed the camera are George, Majid or his son. George is a respected host of a tv show and at one point he is shown in the editing suite. I suspected that George was crazy and was sending the tapes to himself. Last night when I couldn't sleep I began to wonder Majid's son and George's son had somehow concocted this scheme together to try and shame his father into dealing with the consequences of his actions. But George's son is not just mad with George, he is also suspicious his mother is having an affair. So why just single out his dad?

I'm really not explaining the movie very well. I found it fascinating and troubling and loved the fact that nothing about the movie is resolved so while the characters think they have closure, the audience isn't nearly so lucky. And it kept me awake for hours last night.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I'm a Master Baker

Or at least, I'm getting there. For years and years I've always said I can't do anything in the kitchen. Under duress to use up some lemons before they went bad, I made a lemon sponge cake. And it was glorious. So I made another one. And it was even nicer. I found a recipe for a chocolate cake, which turned out great. I made it again but added some coffee to it to make it a mocha cake. It needs some fine tuning but it was gorgeous. And today I made a ginger cake with a lime syrup. Fantastic. I will of course be the size of a small island before too much longer, but I can bake!

Ok, so I'm watching TV as I type, it's the new series of Marple, with Geraldine McEwan as Jane Marple. It's like watching a bad pantomime. We have actually had the line of dialogue "I love a rollicking good farce, don't you?" with a straight face. It has a great cast but they all seem to have left their talent at home. And when the definitive Miss Marple has already been done (Joan Hickson was perfection) then WHY are they doing it again?

Man, am I ever bored. Going to see Grizzly Man tomorrow. Possibly Walk The Line too.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My life so far

I may as well use this entry to bring everyone up to speed with my life. Last year, my desire to live and work in New York became the most important thing to me. For years and years, I'd entertained the notion of ditching the UK and heading off to NYC but I never really thought it was possible. Then a very good friend of mine made the transition. And it got me to thinking and examining my possibilities. So I saved all my vacation time and last March I took a 4 and a half week trip to NYC. Part of the reason I took such a long trip was to also see if I could make any connections for later employment. Through a sheer fluke, I managed to. Some very good connections at that. But they all said the same thing, that a month wasn't really long enough and I should come back for 90 days and do some proper networking.

So I did. I quit my job, borrowed money from the parents and in July of last year, I set off to New York to find myself a job. The connections I'd made earlier in the year didn't come to fruition and with the clock ticking, I had to formulate a plan B and a plan C. Plan C, with literally seconds to spare, paid off. The job I quit was in theatre box office and I found a company (who shall remain nameless) in NYC who wanted to branch out and start selling London shows and hotel packages. Perfect. I had two interviews with them, the second interview was the Friday before I left NY the following Monday. At the end of that interview, they said that they should have clearance from head office in enough time to get me back to NY for Thanksgiving. That was on October 14th. Fine.

So I should be done and dusted, living in NYC for 3 months now, right? Wrong-o. Said company also told me in the second interview that they'd hired foreign nationals before and they always paid the legal fees and then took it out of the salary they paid them. Perfect. And completely untrue. On December 13th, two months after the second interview, they finally made me a preliminary job offer, dependent on my passing their reference and background checks. On January 12th, they withdrew the job offer as they were not "allowed" to hire foreign nationals on the visa I would initially be on. Luckily for me, I had done extensive research on the visa and its requirements, so I knew more than they did. So I spent most of Friday 13th (how fitting) on the phone with them, their head office and my lawyer, sorting everything out. I finally managed to make them reconsider and they have started the initial paperwork for the visa but they STILL haven't made me a firm job offer, in case their corporate office won't approve the initial paperwork. By Feb 6th, they hope to be able to move forward with it all officially. When they made me the preliminary offer in December, they wanted me to START on Feb 1st.

And so that's where I am. I have been sleeping on a friend's couch, thoroughly testing my and her patience. Of course, it was only supposed to be for a few weeks, and it's dragged out into several months. I haven't been able to go find a temp job as I have never had any timeframe given to me once the initial Thanksgiving date expired. Well, they gave me the Feb 1st date, but by the time they gave that to me, a Christmas trip to see the parents who retired out to Spain was already booked and paid for. I didn't come back until Jan 3rd. Well, hopefully they get themselves in gear and we can start moving forward. That way, I can be in NYC on or around my 31st birthday. Watch this space.....

Friday, February 03, 2006

What the hell am I doing here?

Ok well I figured I'm spending every waking hour on the internet while I wait for my life to get itself back on the rails so I figured I'd get a new blog. What the hell, right? So here it is. I have no idea how interesting I'll be. Stay tuned.