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June 23, 2008:

TWIDDLING

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I shall have to write these here notes in a hurry because I have an all-day rehearsal with Mr. Kevin Spirtas and Mr. Sean McDermott and I simply must get my beauty sleep. Our heat wave continues unabated. Note to heat wave: Get the HELL out of town. Other than that, I spent a rather lazy and restful yesterday, not doing much of anything. I had a long telephonic conversation, and I moved some things from here to there and some other things from there to here, but mostly I sat on my couch like so much fish, twiddling my thumbs. Have you ever twiddled your thumbs? If so, did you stop and think “Why is what I’m doing with my thumbs called “twiddling?” I know I have, because twiddling is just about as stupid a word as I’ve ever heard. Where was I? Oh, yes, my relaxing and lazy day. I had a Philly cheese steak sandwich for my meal o’ the day, and my goodness it was yummilicious. I listened to lots of music on both CD and iPod, and finally I once again sat on my couch like so much fish.

Yesterday and last evening I watched a few things on DVD. I watched an episode of Perry Mason from the new “Best Of” set, which included a VERY early appearance of Robert Redford. The episode was very good, as was a subsequent “best of” episode which featured a very young James Coburn. I then watched the second Harlan Ellison teleplay for The Outer Limits, entitled Demon With A Glass Hand. Generally considered THE high spot of the series, it’s quite a good show, but for me, not up to the wacky and unique shows of the first season. Robert Culp is terrific, and the location photography in the Bradbury Building in downtown LA is great. It’s certainly well directed by veteran Byron Haskin and the show has an interesting score by Harry Lubin. I then watched a motion picture on DVD entitled Jackie Brown, a film of Quentin Tarantino. As most of you know, I am no fan of Mr. Tarantino – I find his “borrowings” specious, no matter what sort of fancy wrapping he puts on them. His last film, the Death Proof segment of Grindhouse, was, for me, pretty terrible. I don’t mind Kill Bill Part One, but thought Part Two was a bore. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction I’ve only seen multiple scenes from, but what I’ve seen is just not my cup of tea. I suppose one of these days I’ll get around to watching them in total. Which brings us to Jackie Brown, which is based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. Of all the films of Tarantino’s I’ve seen, this was the least objectionable. While there are still plenty of borrowings from his betters, it seems to hang together better. It’s very long at 153 minutes, and there are several scenes that could be trimmed without much trouble, but Miss Pam Grier, Mr. Samuel Jackson, and especially Mr. Robert Forster, give such winning performances that the film doesn’t ever feel quite as long as it is. Mr. Robert De Niro is very amusing in his role, too, and Miss Bridget Fonda makes the most out of her role. The transfer on this two-disc special edition got raves back in 2003 when it came out – I’m afraid I can’t agree with those raves – it’s not sharp enough, the contrast seems weird, and to my eye it looks occasionally framed incorrectly. I totally understand in a way most of these online reviewers and pundits don’t what framing is – and shots they frequently think have lopped off tops of heads are absolutely meant to be framed that way, so that in close-ups, for example, the eyes are just above the center screen line. But here, even in wide shots, there are moments when heads are completely cut in half, and that doesn’t seem right to my eye. One simply doesn’t know if Mr. Tarantino actually watched the DVD and if he did, maybe he meant to do that sort of weird framing – maybe he was paying homage to the frequently mis-framed films of the 1970s (mis-framed by bad projectionists). Jackie Brown is much less violent than Mr. Tarantino’s other films (a good thing) and what violence there is happens off-camera or is shot from far away. In any case, I enjoyed it, most especially because of the performances.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below whilst twiddling our collective thumbs and thinking about the word twiddling.

As mentioned, today I have a 10 to 6 rehearsal with the boys. We’ll be starting at the beginning of their show, and we’ll be staging everything, plus finessing the patter, plus doing any restructuring necessary. It will be a long day, but I’m sure it will be a lot of fun.

After the rehearsal, I may try and go see The Fix at the Musical Theatre Guild at the Alex. I gave them some CDs for their auction, and also there’s a couple of people in the show that I’m told may be right for our upcoming staged reading of the musical I’m mentoring. I suspect I’ll be too tired, but we shall see.

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings will be devoted to rehearsing with the boys, and those days will be filled with many errands and whatnot.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, rehearse all the livelong day, and then either see The Fix, or Fix myself some food and sit on my couch like so much fish. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s everyone’s favorite topic – The Initials Gameā„¢. Remember, you must know who the person is and what they do, they must be a celebrity of some sort, i.e. actor, performer, director, writer, character in a book, play, or film, cartoon character, sports figure, political figure, etc. Everyone is on the honor system to not look things up – you must think of it yourself, racking your brain until it can no longer be racked. One name per post, please. And today’s initials are: R.S. Good luck to one and all and all and one. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and let us not twiddle our thumbs.

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