Here’s The Thing

During the drive home I usually listen to Connecticut Public Radio. Each night at 11:00 they run a different show. These are esoteric single hours played again after their ‘first run’ on the weekend.

Tonight was my first time listening to Alec Baldwin’s, “Here’s The Thing.” I tuned in as Alec was entering Michael Douglas’ Manhattan apartment building.

Baldwin has developed a narration style that’s so mellifluously toned and beautifully enunciated, it sounds pretentious. And that’s what I was anticipating, a pretentious conversation between two self aware actors.

Instead I got this really cool visit with Michael Douglas. It was very enjoyable–a real conversation. There was meat about Douglas, including flaws. All substance and no bull. Even the inclusion of Douglas’ school age daughter turned into a nugget of insight.

Looking at the show’s website I can’t understand why I hadn’t heard it before? Did it premier during my eight weeks on the couch?

The nice thing about a regularly scheduled car ride is knowing I’ll hear it again.

Christmas At The Movies: It’s Complicated

Trust me, the Chinese restaurant might as well have hung a sign on the door saying “Se Habla Yiddish.”

its_complicated_poster.jpgThe Fox Family is living an ethnic stereotype, right? It’s Christmas so we went to the movies then ate Chinese food before I went off to work. Trust me, the Chinese restaurant might as well have hung a sign on the door saying “Se Habla Yiddish.”

I wanted to see the George Clooney movie. Stef and Helaine wanted Meryl Streep’s “It’s Complicated.” Two against one. Outvoted again.

They made a great choice.

This was not a complex story in spite of the movie’s name.

Meryl Streep is divorced from Alec Baldwin, but with three children, a college graduation and wedding-to-be it’s tough for him to be out of her life. Baldwin’s character realizes he wants to get back with Meryl just as she meets Steve Martin–the architect supervising an addition to her home.

Hit pause a second. We’ve got to talk.

I haven’t seen this much effortless affluence in a movie since Doris Day swooned over Rock Hudson. Streep lives on a multi-acre estate overlooking the Pacific in Santa Barbara. Her sole source of income seems to be an upscale bakery/coffee shop. Unless she’s baking up twenties there’s no way this could happen!

I know, it’s a movie. Buy the premise, buy the bit. Fine. We move on.

The story is sweet, clever and mainly well acted. It was edited with a meat cleaver.

Who gets the blame: cinematographer or editor? There were cutaway shots behind a person speaking… but his jaw isn’t moving (the shot’s from behind so you don’t see his lips). Maybe I’m too critical, but that injures a movie and reduces my enjoyment.

Good grief Meryl Streep is good. She is incredibly comfortable in her own skin. That serve her well. It just doesn’t seem like she’s acting! That’s how it’s supposed to be.

“She makes the people she works with better,” added Helaine as we did a postmortem on the way out of the theater.

Alec Baldwin, as the ex-husband, is a guy who seldom looks past his own needs. It’s not like he’s trying to hide that. To meet him is to know the only way he can be is needy.

I was a little disappointed by Steve Martin in a role in which he seemed self restrained. He is a favorite of mine, so this is not idle criticism. I’ve just seen him bring a lot more to a role.

There were no surprises, no out-of-the-blue plot twists, no unexpected drama. That’s part of the reason this movie works so well. It is clever without being gimmicky.

The three of us really enjoyed it.

The Chinese food? Well that goes without saying. The movie may change from year-to-year, but the restaurant is always Dynasty in North Haven. As always it was delicious.

SNL Back In The Doldrums

It wasn’t 100% awful, but there were long periods between to good stuff.

snl-title.jpgLast year with the presidential election afoot SNL became hot again. They were sharp and funny and talked about. Now–nothing.

I just finished watching Alec Baldwin hosting with the Jonas Brothers as musical guest. Even with Dan Akroyd, Cameron Diaz and the wussy guy from 30 Rock doing cameos there was little to write home about.

It wasn’t 100% awful, but there were long periods between the good stuff.

The truth is last year was the exception. Tonight’s show was closer to the long term rule for SNL. Most seasons, most shows are awful… or uneven at best. We watch because we’re waiting for that one Bass-o-matic moment to remember.

Good Parenting As Taught By Alec Baldwin

Good grief! I just heard the entire Alec Baldwin voice mail message to his pre-teen daughter. That’s a lot of anger Alec!

As a parent, I have had occasion to be upset with my daughter. I’m sure I’ve told her I was angry or upset, sometimes in a loud voice.

OK, I’ve yelled at her.

I’m not proud of that. Just because you’re the parent doesn’t make everything you do correct.

However, this recording is beyond anything I could imagine. How could a parent harangue his child this way?

I cringed as I listened. Even worse, when there were opportunities for Baldwin to stop and just hang up the phone, he continued, consistently ratcheting up the rhetoric time-after-time.

Word is, the breakup of his marriage to Kim Basinger had the feel good atmosphere of a Shia/Sunni picnic. Tough break. That doesn’t give him a pass to sound like a sociopath and be a cruel jerk toward his child – even if it puts his anger in perspective.

I really don’t have pithy advice to offer here. There’s no payoff to this entry. I just wanted to make it public; I’ve heard the recording and I’m flabbergasted.

It will live forever on the Internet. To his 11 year old daughter, Ireland, forever is going to be a very long time.