Archive for the ‘Things I Love That I Go to Inappropriate Lengths to Track Down’ Category

I Knew First

March 30, 2017

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a moment of unadulterated showing off: I knew that William Powell, author of The Anarchist Cookbook, passed away, it appears, before the Times did.  Last year, I reached out to his wife to ask if I could interview him about his conversion to Anglicanism.  I was sorry to hear he had died, as it sounds like although he was a bit of an angry young man, and his writings had unfortunate repercussions (the perpetrators Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombing were said to be partially inspired by the Cookbook) he really had turned his life around by devoting it to education.  RIP William Powell.

Xanadu!

March 28, 2017

As some of you may remember, many moons ago, I wrote an essay that I suspect is probably  my best work of all time, about the Broadway show Xanadu!   Looking back now, I can see it’s a bit of a flawed piece, but ultimately, the heart of it is still genius.  As many of you also know, I happen to have become, in the aftermath of the election, obsessed with a website called 366 Weird Movies, which is, as you might have guessed, a list of weird movies, and supplementary materials.  Well, today, my loves collided, because 366 Weird Movies did a post on Xanadu!  Let’s just say they weren’t too enthused…

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Xanadu is campy, kitschy and appalling, but it’s not weird. It’s just one of the last death rattles of the disco era.

COMMENTS: La La Land may have revived the movie musical, which has been on life support for decades because of flops like Xanadu. This film spawned a soundtrack album (deliriously overproduced by the Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne) that was a monster hit in 1980, spawning five top 20 singles. The movie itself, however, bombed, and rightfully so. It’s inoffensive, embarrassing piffle. Made on a big budget, Xanadu still looks cheap, and director Robert Greenwald , who later made The Burning Bed and several progressive-minded documentaries, doesn’t really seem to know how to stage musical numbers, despite choreography from Kenny Ortega (High School Musical). Michael Beck, fresh off the macho action classic The Warriors, looks embarrassed (he never starred in a movie again), and poor 68-year-old Gene Kelly makes his unfortunate farewell to musicals in this dud. Olivia Newton-John is beautiful but cannot act—although she was much better in Grease—-while director Don Bluth (An American Tail) contributes a weak animated segment.

Practically all memory of the film vanishes right after you’ve seen it. Xanadu is sort of a remake of the indifferently received 1947 Rita Hayworth musical Down to Earth, while Kelly also played a character named Danny McGuire in the 1944’s Cover Girl opposite Hayworth. Either of those films has to better than Xanadu, which only Newton-John may still remember fondly: the young Danny McGuire is played in flashback by dancer-actor Matt Lattanzi, who later became her husband. No amount of fake glitter and flash can salvage this Lattanzi-Newton John family album, however: the climactic musical number involves a series of revolving stages that reminded me of the old Disneyland show “America Sings”. I’d rather sit through “America Sings” again. In fact, those who want to experience Xanadu should listen to the soundtrack album (featuring Newton John, ELO, Cliff Richard, and the Tubes)  instead of slumbering through this decidedly non-weird musical relic of the Studio 54 era.

Someone apparently had pleasant, perhaps drug-induced memories of the picture, because in 2007 Xanadu was adapted into a modestly produced Broadway musical (starring “30 Rock”‘s Cheyenne Jackson) that was nominated  for a few Tony awards. In the end, Xanadu may be recalled chiefly as being part of the “great”—or awful—disco musical trend of 1980, which also gave us the infamous Village People vehicle Can’t Stop the Music. Anecdotally, unfortunate moviegoer John J.B. Wilson saw both films at a 99-cent double feature and came up with the idea of the Razzie awards, “honoring” the year’s worst films, which are still held today. At least Xanadu has better songs than Can’t Stop the Music.

But Who Will Play the Rhino?

March 2, 2017

First of all, I know conservationists will fault me for this, but anyone else think we should abolish zoos?  They’re kind of loci of horror these days, more often than not.  I mean, at the very least, Sea World has to go.

On that note, though, someone please write a dramatic opera about this utter clusterfuck:

The founder of a zoo where almost 500 animals died bragged that his management style was better than “textbook” weeks before government inspectors condemned his practices.

Inspectors at South Lakes Safari Zoo, in Cumbria, found that 486 of its animals had died as a result of mistreatment between December 2013 and September 2016, a report said yesterday.

Shortly before the inspection David Gill, 55, the owner, said that the recent birth of a baby rhino was a “fitting tribute to my work and expertise in zoo animal management”.

He wrote on Facebook in December that he had enjoyed “huge success”, having “always pursued a different style of management to the norm”.

“I wish many other zoos would watch and learn from our example as it is not worth copying books and guidelines if they don’t actually work,” he added. “In my opinion you simply do not listen to people who have had far less success than you in any area of life.”

Inspectors have recommended that Mr Gill’s application for licence renewal be rejected and called on Barrow council to consider prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act.

In 1997 Mr Gill was found guilty of endangering the public after a white rhino escaped from its enclosure. The animal fell down a ravine and had to be shot. In the same year a Sunday newspaper reported that he was having an affair with a teenage zoo hand, Shelley Goodwin, who had left school at 16 and began looking after his kangaroos.

His wife left him, taking their two children, and Mr Gill and Ms Goodwin married. They have since separated. In 2001 a pregnant zoo keeper who incurred Mr Gill’s wrath when she expressed fears about feeding lions was awarded £30,000 in compensation.

Mr Gill’s personal life was given another public airing in 2008 during the trial of a jilted husband who slashed the zoo owner’s neck when he discovered him in bed with his wife.

Richard Creary, then 38, attacked Mr Gill, who fled in his Ferrari dressed only in his pyjamas. Creary was later jailed for five years. In 2014 Mr Gill was forced to apologise after saying that the legalisation of gay marriage signalled the end of the world, and that gay lifestyle was “abnormal” and “anti-natural”.

Last year his zoo was fined £297,500 after a keeper, Sarah McClay, 24, was mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger in 2013. Ms McClay’s boyfriend, David Shaw, 27, told The Times that she was considering setting up a trade union at the zoo because of a “cloud of fear” that existed for staff.

“Sarah and I spent some time looking to implement trade union,” he said. “We were looking towards suitable trade unions because the staff were mistreated at the time — the staff were managed by fear.”

Ms McClay’s brother, Stephen, 31, who lives in London, said: “It absolutely baffles me that anyone would still visit the zoo after my sister died there and now that this report about the conditions has emerged people must surely be put off visiting.

“Had he done the right thing four years ago and stepped down after an employee died on his watch, the animal mistreatment over the past four years at least could have been avoided.”

The zoo was awarded a six-year licence to operate in June 2010 and the council received an application for renewal from Mr Gill in January 2016.

The council rejected the application in July, agreeing with inspectors that he was “not a fit and suitable person” to manage the zoo.

However, the law dictates that if the licence holder reapplies for a new licence, the existing licence continues in force until the application has been processed or withdrawn.

Mr Gill, who remains the licence holder, handed over the responsibility of managing the zoo to Cumbria Zoo Company Limited.

Mr Gill’s lawyer said that his client believes it would be “inappropriate to comment” during the regulatory and legal process.

Barrow council will decide on the renewal of the zoo’s licence on Monday.

Obsessed With This

March 1, 2017

KM sent me this incredible opportunity, with an accompanying note that read: “I’m at once deeply confused and yet desperate to do this.”  ME TOO KM!

In 2017, Mall of America® celebrates its 25th birthday. As part of this special celebration, we think it’s crucial to capture how much we’ve evolved over the course of the last 25 years. Rather than do it ourselves, we’re giving that job to a gifted writer.

The Writer-in-Residence Contest will give a special scribe the chance to spend five days deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere while writing on-the-fly impressions in their own words. The contest winner will stay in an attached hotel for four nights, receive a $400 gift card to buy food and drinks and collect a generous honorarium for the sweat and tears they’ll put into their prose.

To apply, visit the application page before March 10, 2017, midnight Central Time. Tell us about yourself and, in 150 words or less, pitch your idea for how you would approach this assignment if you won the Writer-in-Residence prize. Would it be a personal story? A blow-by-blow account of your experiences? The Mall as seen through the eyes of a first-time tourist or a regular guest?

This application is open to everyone from all writing backgrounds and levels of experience, from seasoned journalists to aspiring poets. We’re not only looking for writing skill, but also creativity in your pitch. Heck, if you can make the assignment work as a musical-comedy screenplay, by all means make it so!

Twenty-five semifinalists will be selected from the first round of applications, judged on creativity and skill. Though not required, previous experience will be considered as well. Those 25 semifinalists will have the opportunity to expand on their story idea in a 500-800-word essay. The contest winner will be chosen based on the strength of this essay, judged by experienced writers and journalists.

Where will the winner’s lovingly crafted story end up? Just wait and see!

We strongly recommend reading the full contest rules before applying.

Abbreviated Rules

No Purchase Necessary
Void where prohibited
Entry Period begins on February 20, 2017 and ends on March 10, 2017
Legal residents of the U.S. & D.C
To enter must be 18 or older
For Official Rules, prize description and odds, read the full contest rules.
Sponsor: MOAC Mall Holdings LLC

Fact Checking the Internet

December 28, 2016

A few times in the last month or so, I’ve noticed some misinformation––some things big, some small––published on the Internet, and it occurs to me that these mistakes should not go unannounced.  So here I am to dispel them!  To no one!  And to no purpose!  Hurrah!

1. First, this is a small one, but as these initial two errors were both committed by the Guardian‘s film review department (or however they fuck you want to label it) I do think it’s time for them to tighten up the ship a little.  I mean, it’s not THAT difficult to get these details correct.  Here is a review of the latest offering by Rama Burshtein, haredi Israeli director of Fill the Void:

Israeli-American director Rama Burshtein follows her impressive debut, Fill the Void – a drama about marriage set in Jerusalem’s Haredi community – with another picture dealing with relationships set against an orthodox Jewish backdrop.

Fill the Void was set in Tel Aviv, not in Jerusalem.  I get the mistake (you hear “haredi,” you think Jerusalem) but it was well-reported that it was in Tel Aviv, so just Google it, will ya?

2. Ah, Peter Bradshaw.  How many loathe thee for thy spoilers!  Personally I don’t have a dog in that fight, although I do question how you made such a simple error in this review of Nocturnal Animals:

The clash between supercool LA and this couldn’t be more jarring. Because this is no feathery literary confection: it is a brutal west Texas crime thriller about a married man – Susan imagines Tony, that is, Jake Gyllenhaal in the role, who takes his wife Laura (Isla Fisher) and his daughter Helen (Ellie Bamber) on a road trip on vacation across the remote desert, where they are terrorised by a wild gang of good ol’ boys led by the brutish Ray (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

Ellie Bamber’s character is named India, not Helen.  Not even a little close.

3. In a recent book titled Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital, writer David Oshinsky says that Sylvia Plath was one of the many celebrities hospitalized there after her breakdown.  He only mentions it once, in passing, in the introduction.  I have read Plath’s collected journals, as well as the many biographies of her that have been written over the preceding twenty years (side note: Levy Center fellow Heather Clark is obviously an expert, but what on earth do we not know about Sylvia Plath’s life by now?!) and I don’t recall any mention of Bellevue.  So I digitally searched for the word in five biographies of her, and again, found nothing.  I suspect that Mr. Oshinsky just read that piece of misinformation somewhere, thought it sounded plausible (which it does) and sexy, and added it in.  And for the record, I’m not the only one who questions Oshinsky’s sourcing, as New York Times critic Jennifer Senior calls it “inexplicably sloppy.”  So there.

I was also about to rail against those who claimed Simone Weil was a convert to Catholicism, although with further research it appears that in fact I was probably wrong about this, and I’ve decided to fess up to prove that even the best among us make mistakes!

I’m missing a few instances here, but it’s best not to get too caught up in petty things.

Dreaming

October 26, 2016

Sorry, sorry, sorry, I KNOW, but I was on vacation!  And I’m sure there are some things I need to recount from that, but I’m about to hit the hay, so I figured I’d recycle a topic I meant to bring up a while back: dreaming!  I think thinking about dreams is coming back into fashion again; in fact, I was semi-recently interviewed by a writer who is working on a book about the science of dreams.  Does this mean the taboo against telling other people about your dreams will soon end?!  Pity, because my dreams have gotten really boring in the past three years or so.  Maybe this means I’m content?  The horror!

Anyway, I was reminded of the dream thing because I stumbled across an old email exchange with my friend KC, in which we discussed starting a blog or something (?) in which we published people’s dreams.  We even had a pitch and our own email address!  I don’t remember the passwords, but I believe the address was dreamsdreamersdream@gmail.com.  Catchy, no?

Turns out, someone at the New Yorker thought this was ripe for satire.  The opening rejection note:

Dear Mr. Smith,

A dream in which you “do something nasty with a family member”—and particularly a “distant cousin,” which, frankly, we hear about all the time—in no way merits inclusion in our magazine, no matter how arousing you may have found it.

Please see the Frequently Recorded Dreams page on our Web site to determine whether your dream is worthy of submission.

Sincerely,

Donald Wembly
Submissions Editor
Dreams Quarterly
American Academy of Dreams

Perhaps even funnier than that, there IS actually an academic publication dedicated to the study of dreams, called Dreaming, published by the International Association for the Study of Dreams.  I would consider becoming a research psychologist just to join the IASD!

Bar Luce

October 8, 2016

I know it’s kind of obvious but I love the aesthetic of Bar Luce.  I’m going to Milan in a few weeks and maybe I’ll the guts to steal me a little one of these!
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Celebrity Week

September 20, 2016

I guess it’s celebrity week over here at Itinerant Daughter, which means today I’ll re-publish a poem written by a ten or eleven-year-old Monica Lewinsky.  I first heard of the poem “I Am Pizza” while reading an old New York Magazine article about Robert Bingham, editor of now-defunct journal Open City and publishing wunderkind who died of a heroin overdose.  Good piece, good poem, good pizza.

I Am A Pizza

I am a pizza
I can be a delicious lunch, dinner
or breakfast, if you’re weird.
I have a great deal of toppings on me
I am a round and flat piece of dough
with lots of toppings.
I make your mouth water.
I’m very good to eat, but I’m
fattening!
I am a mouth’s best friend.
I make you say, “Yum, Yum”.
I am a pizza.

Rob Lowe’s Exploits

September 19, 2016

Husband and I caught a few minutes of Rob Lowe’s roast on Comedy Central recently (I have never been more uncomfortable than I was seeing Anne Coulter’s zombie-face reactions to various jokes about her) and I recalled a few years ago, when I worked for a very famous actor named [redacted], who regaled me and the fellow assistants with various stories about Rob Lowe’s insane romantic past.  At the time, I Googled him, and found on his Wikipedia page a harrowing story about his relationship with Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert, and we (the other assistants and [redacted]) all gasped at it.  Then, post-roast, during which they made endless fun of Lowe’s Lothario (to put it gently) past, I went to look at the Wikipedia again, and the anecdote wasn’t there!  It wasn’t that it was so fascinating, but just that it clearly had been edited out by someone’s PR lackey that annoyed me.  Anyway, I tracked it down on Reddit, so you’re welcome:

“Lowe, a little-known actor at the time, and Little House on the Prairie actress Melissa Gilbert briefly met at age 14 in 1978 in the halls of CBS Television Studios.  In 1981, when both were 17, Gilbert spotted Lowe stopped at the red light next to her car and the two began dating.  During the filming of The Hotel New Hampshire (1984), Lowe began an affair with Nastassja Kinski.  According to Gilbert, she caught Lowe in Kinski’s hotel room and then slept with Lowe’s then-best friend, John Cusack, out of revenge.  Lowe broke up with Gilbert in 1986 when he began dating Princess Stephanie of Monaco, but when the relationship with the Princess ended, Gilbert and Lowe reunited. The two quickly got engaged and were to be married in the summer of 1987.  But when Gilbert informed Lowe she was pregnant, he broke up with her for good.  Gilbert claims she miscarried several days later.”

This isn’t the half of his sordid back story, this one still on Wikipedia: In 1988, Lowe was involved in a sex scandal over a videotape of him having sex with a 16-year-old girl he met in a nightclub. They were videotaped the night before the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. As the age of consent is 16 in Georgia, both were of legal age to engage in sexual activity, although not to be recorded. At the time, Lowe was campaigning for Michael Dukakis.

Someone get this guy a Lifetime biopic!

Shoe Poms

August 24, 2016

A big tragedy as of late was that these shoe pom-poms were sold out.  I swear, sometimes I feel like I live in a war zone, given all I go through…

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I don’t have the best kicks to go with these, though, so…