Wednesday, February 28, 2007

retour de la mère phallique

venus infers that, regarding phallic mother infatuation, there is little certainty other than a question-- what is it about powerful women that makes us want to cry and jitter all over with excitement and squeal in our little french maid dress (to quote that fabulous porn instructional) "bend over, boyfriend!"

in short, what is it in powerful women that reduces us all to (mr) crumbs?

a question posed before in chile a year ago, of renewed interest for our french confrères in view of the upcoming elections, and of utmost importance even while (at least according to one of our fellow bloggers) we see the mother of all phalluses about to sink north of rio grande. of the mother of all phalluses, v can only say thus: that she's eerily hot in person. it may well be the case that the penis is not the phallus, but the phallus is ever hotter in our eyes.

now to the problem that concerns us today, this is the return of the phallique mother. our favorite took off to vacations while implementing the biggest overhaul in public transportation in santiago's history. the change, proclaimed as a pivotal step in the road to the firstworldification of the country, led a 6 million inhabitant city to the verge of collapse.

so indeed, finally she came back and showed up in an elementary school ceremony, where one of the (only!) fifteen students attending the event unceremoniously fainted. immediately, her nurturingness jumped to the rescue, applying her medical knowledge to the maximum political effect. mother as nurturess, we presume, but was not our sickly little male regressing to the scene of castration, channelling perhaps the anxiety of a progressively disillusioned population? or, and as a journalist helpfully suggested, did he faint out of exhaustion, after being forced to walk to school all the way from home under the searing february heat?


Hillary already in trouble

Well, it didn't take very long: Hillary already seems like a sinking ship. Everywhere she goes, people ask her questions about his support for the war, and her answers aren't cutting it. Now, new national polls show Obama cutting well into Hillary's lead. We're not talking about a small erosion here: this poll has Clinton up only 10 points on Obama, with a year to go--a change due mostly to a sea change amongst black voters. That's with two other viable non-Hilary candidates in the race (Gore, Edwards). In short: It's going to get very interesting.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Last week, venus infers unwittingly became a part of history when jetblue airlines stranded him in New York during its first major, massive customer service blunder. But believe you me, jetblue screws up all the time!!

First of all, they lose luggage. But getting your luggage lost and having to take the hour-long train ride out to JFK, then paying 10 bucks for the monorail, is like having a hot fudge sundae fed to you by Aston Kutcher compared to their other problems.

The bottom line is, this airline does not have enough infrastructure, which is how they keep their ticket prices so low. It's all good when you're plunking down fifty bucks for a ticket, but watch out! Your guarantee of arriving on time is as virtual as that chatty boarding pass.

When Betty was returning from her month in L.A., her plane sat on the runway for five hours before taking off, only to be grounded in Denver for another hour to get more fuel - the fuel that was burned off on the runway in L.A.! Hey environment!: "Offset" THAT, bitch!

And guess what?! Just to show how sorry they felt, Jetblue gave everybody free vouchers --- for more jetblue tickets!!,just like they did last week!! Thanks guys! Just what we want! More tickets that won't take us anywhere! You shouldn't have! No really, you shouldn't have!!!!

Today Betty spend sixty bucks getting out to Dulles at six in the morning (to use her jetblue vouchers!!) only to have her flight to Boston (for a post-surgery doctor's appointment) cancelled. All the rest of the flights to Boston were full. Would Jetblue put Betty on another airline? No. They wouldn't even give her worthless jetblue monopoly money, just a refund. OK, soo....

Betty tried to go back to New York. They told her the flight would leave, even though the gate was right next to the gate for Boston, and the same amount of fog and the same non-amount of plane were visible. They pushed back our departure time twenty minutes (but Betty only figured this out by talking to some poor Mormon housewife in Utah - no one announced it in the airport!). More time went by, more questions went unanswered by the non-gatekeeper - and then GUESS WHAT?!?! Betty learned (from eavesdropping on a gate attendent who arrived an hour after the plane was supposed to LEAVE) that the plane was still sitting on the runway at JFK!! Cool guys!!! Way to run an airline!! I think what we have here is a FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE!!

Now Betty's back at Moo's house in D.C., stinky and disgusting and nauseous.

Anybody out there want some free jetblue plane tickets?? I can't guarantee they'll get you anywhere, but you'll get to hang out at the airport with all the "hip" people who run the company - oh wait a minute - no you won't - because they're NOT THERE!! Maybe they're all getting high in the cockpit of my plane at JFK and eating all the terrablue chips.

In conclusion: Wherever they are, that's where this entire company is.

Fuck jetblue.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Charm Attack from Leak City

Since we haven't seen any Oscar-worthy movie except BABEL, and missed the red-carpet extravaganza, let's recap a little. Do that superficial thing that nobody wants to do...And yes, we're speaking of Anna Nicole Smith's baby's real father.

As we mentioned, he left in a hurry a few days ago. Of course, and being that everybody knows how much he hates to travel coach, the whole thing started all kinds of rumors. Evil rumors.

Some, less brainy, stated that his flight from the City had something to do with a certain 'deliberation' at some court involving some former WH blabber mouth, and a blond from the Agency.

Others, such as us-selves, defended his right to protect his holy matrimony from liberal attacks that accused him of certain 'sensual extra official' action on the side. With a certain blond.

So, obviously, he skipped town to advance H.E Bush's agenda. Cheney is Bush's secret weapon of mass-seduction.

Once safe and sound on the other side of the planet, Cheney batted his eye-lashes at China, insulting and somewhat threatening them for hitting a defunct weather satellite with a missile. Then, he left Australia on his 'unmarked' airplane (for security reasons) stopping briefly at Singapore and there dissing their government by spreading the rumor that he "had electrical problems" (in short, a little boy's room pause), to arrive in Pakistan, and then, threatening them of not doing their best in fighting the turban wearing shepherds, and was to sleepy to meet Karzai in Afghanistan ("snow day") leaving it for tomorrow. Or maybe next week. It all depends on unscheduled activities such as "mistrial"/"DNA tests". Whatever comes first.

Pure charm.

And clearly, the White House knows how to warm them up. How to bring them into the coalition of willing. And who would do a better job than Cheney? He got Anna. Now it's just a matter of time before he impregnates the World (sans madame Pelosi though, 'cause she's already an unpatriotic 'arab-lover' but we knew that also...).

So, querido Mundo, ya'betterwatchout! Cheney is on the surge!

**B&B EXCLUSIVE!** Our Interview with Mark Twain, Co-Oscar Pool Winner!

B&B Contributor Mark Twain triumphed in last night's Oscars Pool, tied with new contributor Annie with *fifteen* out of twenty-four correct predictions. Betty interviewed Twain this afternoon about her Jennifer Hudson-like rise to pool-itical victory.

B&B: Have you always wanted to win an Oscars pool, ever since you were a little girl?
When Mark Twain was a little girl (s)he was unable to stay awake
into the wee hours of the night and therefore could have cared less
about the Oscars or for that matter, any Oscars pool. In addition,
Mark Twain was not drawn into the corrupted underworld of gambling
until becoming acquainted with Magwitch, the gruff Aussie.

B&B: What did you think of your fellow competitors?
I would like to thank my fellow poolers for their hard work, their
dedication to this important art and, of course, for their clearly
erroneous choices.

B&B: How did you feel when you heard you'd won?
Hungry...late for work and without breakfast once again!

B&B: Would you like to thank anyone in your acceptance speech?
I would like to thank Magwitch for consistently harassing me to
complete my survey, for showing me all the good websites on which to
research my picks and for not picking what those websites advised.

B&B: To what personal qualities would you attribute your victory?

B&B: Any advice for young Oscar pool entrants?

All you need is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

B&B: What will your next pool victory be?
March Madness...about which I am equally, if not more, ignorant
than I was regarding this pool.


Okay, this time I don't really like the template. What's with the yellow? PLEEZE change that part. It's all I ask for.

Betty Would Like To Thank

Betty is heading back to New York City tommorrow. Why? As someone might say on the A&E versions of "The Sopranos" she and Moo have been watching: "No freakin' clue".

It has been wonderful to be here in D.C. for a month, and that's largely because of two generous, beautiful people and two wonderful, snuggle-hoggin', walk-lovin' critters. Even without the Oscars, Betty would be prompted to thank them with her whole heart for making healing happen with their weekly visits, their administration of necessary drugs, their help with crossword puzzles, their emergency runs to Chipotle and Potomac video (despite the cranky, Tarantino-aping staff), and their full-time care. She doesn't need a cheat sheet to do it!

Moo, Po, Co, and Bimbo: I love you. Thank you with all the love in my heart.

Co and Bimbo, two of my favorite "people" in the world.

The Post-Oscar Press is Streaming In...

and Betty and Bimbo already have some favorite quotes and images to report!:

* Melissa Ethridge called the Oscars a "gay holiday", which surely pissed off the cast of Dreamgirls.

* Alan Arkin: "Everybody thinks I'm gonna keel over".

* Our friend who was AT a post-Oscars party (on assignment for a magazine) reports: peter o'toole is actually dead. i think he was embalmed.

* Entertainment Weekly reports, in a item called "Dame's Little Helper": Helen Mirren met the press carrying a Best Actress Oscar in one hand...and a vodka gimlet in the other. No wonder she seemed so at ease answering a question in perfect French. Betty's favorite Oscar moment remains busty Dame Mirren reading from the Borat script.

* Our favorite: When someone asked Al Gore how it felt to be a rock star, he responded, "William Hung was a rock star; I just have a slideshow."

*Check out Sarah Silverman's Academy-rejected documentary short, A Very Convenient Truth.

Bloscar: My take

Nancy D's question about Helen Mirren's "I present to you, the queen!" declaration is a good one: what the fuck was going on with that? Maybe she was saying the award is the queen, since Elizabeth II made it possible?

Also, what was going on with PS-Hoffman? I am a big fan, but Mark Twain and I shrieked when he came on stage. He looked like he had been gobbling mescaline backstage.

I'm surprised no one posted on Jack's bald head; according to IMDB--which is never wrong about anything--he's making a film about a terminally ill man who escapes from a prison ward. I thought he looked like a penis--a pretty cool penis, though.

Speech of the day: Alan Arkin's. Bimbo, who certainly did not win the pool, wins my eternal devotion for picking him. Arkin cried through his speech, while managing to keep his words calm and devoid of histrionics.


I know this has nothing to do with me, but I am filled with heartwarming blog love after seeing the stream of Oscar posts. I have to admit, I was feeling a little alienated after no one responded to my "reveal yourself" survey, but this enthusiasm is just what the blog should be. Betty and Bimbo, your first post was hilarious.

Anyway, I am sorry I was not able to participate after suggesting the darn thing, but I only just received a last-minute invitation to watch the show at a friend's house (otherwise Speed and I were not going to be able to watch AT ALL) and I didn't think it would be in the best taste to bring my laptop. Onto the comments:

-Speed and I are psyched about The Lives of Others (though we think Days of Glory was even better).
-Helen Mirren's acceptance speech was fine until the last moment when it got weirdly grand: "Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the queen!" What was she talking about?
-The dialogue they write for the presenters is so awkward. Half the time it seemed like they were praising Idi Amin.
-The gospel choirs are embarrassing. Two in one night??? And the first one came on for thirty seconds and marched right out for no reason at all.
-Speed is auditioning for Polobolus on Wednesday.
-We like Jennifer Hudson.
-Diane Keaton is astride Jack Nicholson as we speak.

The Departed...that means us!

Why do Jack and Diane feel like they have to act senile IN ADDITION to wearing sunglasses inside?!?

The Departed
wins. A surprise, but fine. Cool that it only has one producer. Scorsese has a seven year old kid?!?! Also, he shouldn't need an Oscar to feel validated, but whatevs.

Helen Mirren validated over and over as the best, sexiest, coolest person ever. Betty wants Her Majesty to be her new shrink.

Bimbo bombed in the pool, Betty swam ahead.

Ellen was actually the best host in years; it didn't drag too badly.

Goodnight! And thanks for blogging with us!

So, tell us Marty

How do you dye your eyebrows without getting it on your face?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Falling Asleep...but still here...

Helen Mirren just totally snubbed P-Hoff! But that's cool, 'cause she's SO FINE!!! Bimbo declines to comment, saying "Enough has been said about her hotness".

Betty kind of hopes Marty gets snubbed again, even though Goodfellas is her favorite film of all time. As a Yankee fan, with the requisite psychology, she enjoys consistent loser mythologies.

The NEW quote of the Oscars:

Betty: Gore made me cry!!!

Gruff, here are keepsie's final picks....

she has 11 with these remaining...

best film- departed, director- scorsese, actress- mirren, actor- whitacker, editing- babel, song- "listen"

Also Betty, can you invite Annie "keepsie" to be a contributor?

Breaking News

We have one down for the count. Moo has officially fallen asleep.

okay guys....

each movie stopped filming because of Katrina...we get it. Speaking of Katrina, where is Spike Lee. Good movie Mr Gore, but it did not deserve an Oscar...and where were all of these great ideas when he was Vice President??

Obama '08

Is Gael High?

Gael looks out of his mind.

And how come Pan's Lab isn't up for Best Picture? I have NO IDEA who's gonna take it! Bimbo liked Pan's Lab but is still banging his head against our little chihuahua over Children of Men getting robbed for cinematography.

did anyone see the size of george lucas' neck

no post necessary


I just read Bimbo's most recent post, and, as entertainingly irate as it was, I'm sorry to see that he didn't like Pan. Actually, I agree that Children of Men was robbed here, but still, Pan's Lab was a sweet movie. Much better than chocolat. Also, Life is beautiful was awesome. Get a grip, bimbo.

big year for pan's labyrinth

the all Guillermo team has taken home 3 awards--and I feel good about that. No comment about B and B's point about this is the best oscars ever, but I'm not impressed with Ellen. I agree though, glad there aren't too many stupid gimmicks this year

But Tell Us What You Really Think, Bimbo

The stupidest choice in the history of the Oscars just happened. Children of Men had the best cinematography of any film, EVER. I think we can now officially say that Pan's Labyrinth has joined the ranks of Life is Beautiful and Chocolat as a Foreign Film for Dumb People.

Don't Want to Curse It, But...

This is the best Oscars of our lifetime, I daresay! Cute, unobtrusive host, good jokes, not even a bad set! We're not even bored yet!

Congratulations, Comic Book Guy!

The Departed's writer was sweet, but nothing will top Helen Mirren's recitation of the Borat title - in its entirety, including the very British "KazakSTAHN" - all night. If this prediction proves true, can I have an extra point in the pool? - Betty

I love Al Gore...

and his movie was good, but if it wins for best documentary, there is something seriously wrong. There is a differnet between important content and a good cinema. Take "Crash"...important message, shitty movie.

Let's go "Deliver us from Evil" Those Penguins are keeping me in the pool

I'm calling it now

2015, Leo in the Scorcese directed film on Gore; who will play tipper? Jennifer Hudson?

Apparently Betty didn't see...

"Crash".....just kidding, i hated that movie. Sandra Bullock??? Ick

Love the Climate Change Performance

This is awesome! The first politically relevant thing I've EVER seen at the Oscars.

I wonder...

Does Arkin's win betoken a win for Little Miss Sunshine?

arkin is great

very touching tears. i had the pervert, but i'm thrilled.

Bimbo is jumping up and down

"I know the Oscars" - Bimbo (even though he picked Pirates of the Caribbean for everything else- oh yeah - and Apocalypto.)

By the way, aren't these clips a little short? I think they've trimmed them this year, to the point that there's no context for anything.


i had Arkin then I changed are other people doing in this?

if anyone else thinks this blows...

Rush Hour 2 is on comedy central....

the african filmed robbed--a real shocker

Binta and the great idea was so good, but the west bank story was made to win--for the same reason mel gibson can't win...

Am I winning my own pool?

How embarrassing--looks like seeing Pan's Lab was a good investment

What was I thinking...

picking a film directed by someone who hates Jews?

Line of the Night So Far

John C. Reilly: "Do as I do/Don't pick a fight/I was in both Boogie and Talladega Nights!"

well, duh

anyone who didn't get that warmup award should get out now. pan's lab was nothing but art direction (true, i don't exactly know what art direction is, but still...)

This is just like the time...

that we used to do the March Madness pool by hand and somehow an Asen always won....anyways, i'm 1 for 1! Go Pan's Lab!

Asking the Unaskable

Why does Jack always get to sit in the front row? This isn't a Lakers game!!!

Somebody Get DeGeneres a Map

Penelope Cruz isn't from Mexico.

As bad as Jon Stewart was last year...

i'm not enjoying Ellen...thoughts?

Helen Mirren: Just Telling It Like It Is

Helen Mirren just said "I'm thrilled to be here, and as Best Actress, it's just marvelous."

Oscars '07: Let the Liveblogging Begin!

Penelope Cruz looks simply gorgeous, as does Helen Mirren, though the latter seems a little loopy with a pre-thank-you-speech high. She's smiling and bouncing in her shoes and almost crying over her dress. Joan Rivers puts it best to Helen Mirren: "Nobody knows you're a sexpot. A fox eternal."

Who is Daniel Craig with? She looks like Betty, or so Betty would like to think!

Moo sees Jackie Earle Haley, muses: "A pervert is not going to win."

Beyonce looks great, seems totally at ease. We can't wait for her to sing!

Kate Winslet looks like she has hat head.

Joan Rivers is actually awesome, Betty thinks. She definitely asks much better questions and is wackier than goody-goody Ryan Seacrest. And remember her role in "Muppets Take Manhattan"= carpet cred. Moo asks: "I understand why Joan Rivers has had so much surgery, but why her daughter? She looks grotesque."

Woody Allen just arrived --- oops, wait, that's Marty! Maybe he's emaciating-it-up as a subtle plea. Betty says: No need, Mart-hun! You've got this one in the bag.

Kirsten Dunst looks horrible. "She is having her Bjork fashion moment" - Moo.

Clint looks great! Moo asks: "Is his Mexican maid his date?"

Reese Witherspoon is a hot grape.

It's great to see Al Gore on the red carpet, though Moo thinks Tipper looks dowdy.

More to come...

There is still time to join my oscars pool!

As we draw nearer to 8:00, many of you may be feeling like it's too late to join my oscars pool. How wrong you are! Just go and sign up (or, if you don't have the link, comment on here and I'll send it to you) and then put the check in the mail. True, there's no mail today, but hey, this is the honor system.

sincerely, Magwitch the gruff poolmaster

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Obamarama Fundraising

Hey All,

As you know, I am an avid Obama supporter. In the new digital age, I have found that one crucial form of campaigning is to be done through the web. If anyone would like to donate to Obama's run they can do so by clicking here:

I am trying to raise $2008 dollars for him (cute eh?) Anything you can give will be appreciated. Also, if you don't want to give, it's not big deal, just be sure to register and vote for someone. I am so envious of our friend from Austin who got to see Obamarama live; must have been great.

That's all,

Take care,


Friday, February 23, 2007


Name: Superman
(No relation to Supergirl)

Description: Tall Dark and Handsome - Hotter than even that Obama guy.

Hobbies: Studying the Uniform Commercial Code, Sounding important, Running two miles slowly and then telling girls that I am training for a marathon, Throwing garbage at the Paparazzi, Dominating Oscar Pools.

Idea of Happiness: When people stop asking me at Starbucks if I know where the bathroom is. (The store is really not that big.)

Weaknesses: Panda Express, Kryptonite, and Dodgeball.

Favorite Bird: Undecided.

Least Favorite Animal: Killer the fat raccoon that lives behind my room.

Why do I blog?: Because I was born to, baby!

Obama is Hot

I just saw Obama in Austin. I know there are some fans on here so I thought I'd let y'all know. I was psyched to have the opportunity. He was fabulous.

Meet Nodine

Full name, first name, or initials: Mary Nodine

Location: Austin, TX

Age: 25 (almost 26)

Gender: F

Why do you read/write the blog?: It's funny and it makes me think.

Where would you like to live? Northwest Arkansas (really I am trying to psyche myself up. Probably San Francisco if I were rich.)

What is your idea of earthly happiness? A happy family life and plenty of time for adventures all over the world.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? SuperGirl.

Who are your favorite characters in history? How about Anne Richards!? I am a Texan now but I didn't even know about her when she was alive.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life? My mom, of course. And maybe Joan Benoit Samuelson and Uta Pippig. I just ran a marathon so those runner types are in my brain.

Your favorite musician? Paul Simon

Your favorite virtue? Genuine-ness

Your favorite occupation? Geotechnical Engineer

Your most marked characteristic? Quirkiness

What do you most value in your friends? Honesty and optimism

What would you like to be? A super-jock Geotechnical Engineer. And, yes, a mom.

In what country would you like to live? Norway or Switzerland. But I probably won't.

What is your favorite color? Orange

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Loneliness, heat and humidity.

What is your favorite bird? Duck

Who are your favorite prose writers? Oh geez, I don't know.

Who are your favorite poets? Ditto.

What are your favorite names? Lucy, Maggie, Eliot.

What is it you most dislike? Close-mindedness

What historical figures do you most despise? Um, Hitler?

How would you like to die? Running, skiing or biking, but when I am at least 95.

What is your present state of mind? Varies among content, giddy, and reflective (did you mean at this moment or in my present life? I answered for the latter.)

To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Fretting over things that really don't matter.

What is your motto? To be determined...time for class now.

Vomiting all over Richard Cohen

On February 13, the "liberal" Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote an article admonishing Hilary Clinton for passing the buck on the war to G.W.B. Cohen's right, of course, that Hilary is acting foolishly, and that she should admit she was wrong, but what's astonishing to me is that someone who so vocally supported the war feels like he has the right to scold Hillary. Cohen, who admits he supported the war, sees himself as akin John Edwards or Chris Dodd, those senators who voted for the war but now say they're sorry. Saying you're sorry is fine, but one can't help noticing how people like Cohen--who were tricked at first and now are embarrassed by their initial stances--feel justified to attack others for their positions on the war. People like Richard Cohen are just as responsible for this war as anyone else; many mainstream citizens look to op-ed writers like Cohen to help them form their opinions, and Cohen really let everyone down.

What's equally appalling is that Cohen insists that, though he supported the war, he never bought the administration's hype: "Not a single [Democratic senator], for instance, could possibly have believed the entirety of the administration's case or not have suspected that the reasons for war were being hyped." In any did, "they have no business running for president."

So, Mr. Cohen, you didn't buy into the president's hype? Let's go back to February 6, 2003, when Cohen responded to Colin Powell's infamous speech to the U.N. Security Council. Assessing Powell's speech, Cohen concluded, in short, that everything he said was true. Cohen started his column: “It is time once again to quote my favorite philosopher -- Tevye, the lead character from ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ It was his habit to weigh his options by saying, ‘On the one hand,’ and then, ‘On the other hand,’ until he confronted a situation where there was no other hand. This is where Colin Powell brought us all yesterday.” The column continue ed: “Only a fool—or possibly a Frenchman—could conclude” that Iraq has no weapons.

bllllaaaaahahahaahahaaaaaahahahah. That was the sound of me vomiting.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

[expletive] from Leak City

As any God-fearing Latinas would do, and we sure know when good entertainment comes up, we sat down, provided some snacks, and turned on the teevee. It was teleserie time. DC unexpectedly just became so much more interesting.

Gone was the vote on "maybe let's debate in a hyper democratic manner in a sort of non binding way". Gone were the long and torturous speculations about WHO LEAKED (mainly everybody in the gentrified area of NW DC). All we had left was a corpse, a newborn, some 10 or so wanna be padres, a crazy judge, $400 million, a crying mother, a sleazy 'hubby', and so much more. And this was just about the burial of Anita. Then, a long parade of high-octane famous-for-DC types with 70's sounding last names. Most of them said that Libby lied. Some even flashed smiles of self-righteousness. Forget "never be the story". This was their moment to shine. The Trial was -oh so public- with no cameras or phones in the court room, the press hounds sitting amongst bloggers outside in the 'media room', and the rest of us, sulking by the screen, until the jury give their verdict. Soon, they say. Even -maybe- tomorrow.

Suddenly, a little cloud passed by. Right down Mass. Avenue into some hangar. The horror. He escaped. To Asia or the Bahamas. The only one that has the key to DNA tests. Why did he leave? He doesn't want a piece of the estate? Or maybe, in a "depending what the meaning of is, is" fashion, he wants to save his sacrosanct marriage from the Truth.

"Dannielynn" he will say, "I'm your Father."

Bed Envy

Despite Nora Ephron's best efforts, it's been a long time since Betty liked a move in part (or in full!) because she wanted to live inside of it. But the old feeling is back big time with today's in-bed screening of Irma La Douce, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, and produced, written and directed by Billy Wilder. The music is by Andre Previn.

Like all of Wilder's films (except for the pessimistic Ace in the Hole), the film is zingy and knowing. However, this is the first color Wilder film Betty has ever seen, and what a difference it makes! Just as Mary Poppins and Oliver! made the occupations of housecleaner/babysitter and street waif seem fun, Irma's title character is a prostitute with the best apartment, and in particular the best bed (she doesn't take her clients here, but sees them in the hotel down the street) Betty has ever seen on film, or elsewhere. It has deep turquoise circles roped in beautiful vines and tiny pink flowers, which all fuse in a pink steel shell-shape over her pillows. She also has a sweet old alcoholic dog, Coquette, whom she takes with her everywhere in Wilder's Hollywood Paris. Both Irma and Coquette only wear aqua-green clothing, which match the lovely plants hanging in Irma's studio, as well as the leaves on the floral-print wallpaper. The other streetwalkers dress like pleasing wallpaper samples as well, and even Jack Lemmon's early morning shifts in the Parisian meat market allure the eye and the part of the brain that fantasizes, or at least dreams in color.

When did cartoonish urbanity in Hollywood films become so boring?

Sleeping Dog Lie

The sky just broke over the city, shaking our little pop tart from dancing visions of Bimbo's lap. She's hidden under a pile of blankets now, to emerge when the heavens excuse themselves.

Why did the Borat movie suck so much?

I first met Ali-G when I was a high school senior; my friend's freshman college roommate was British, and he had tapes of Ali-G's low budget show in the UK. Needless to say, it was wonderful stuff, and pretty soon after that (or maybe already?) Ali-G caught on in America. Ali-G had already invented Borat by then (though I don't think he'd invented the other character--Bruno, the gay eastern European). The genius of the Ali-G characters, it always seemed to me, was that, in their faux-ignorance, they managed to get their guests to say unbelievably stupid things. There is one Borat episode, for instance, in which Borat shoots the shit with southern wine tasters, and gets one to admit that the abolition slavery was "not good for him" (about 4:30 minutes in). This man, of course, would never have said these things to a white man, and so we get to see two types of racism in one. There is also Borat's brilliant "throw the jews down the well" song, which he took up in an American town, and got the listeners to sing along.

So this joke--which I always took to be the central joke of all three Ali-G characters--is very funny indeed, and actually doesn't even get old. So a Borat movie? I was into it! But there's one problem: when Borat moved to a feature film, the joke changed. All of the sudden, the joke was less at the expense of others (though there were some brilliant instances of this too) and more at the expense of Kazakhstan. Borat the movie has many fictional scenes, in which we see Borat in his homeland, with his friend, or alone--in other words, many scenes in which the joke is distinctly NOT on suckers who believe that foreign people are stupid and who say appalling things to Borat. The new joke goes something like this: Borat is a gay Eastern European guy, who is also an anti-Semite. But I don't like Sasha Cohen because he's good at mimicking gay, anti-Semitic foreigners. Seeing Borat do the "running of the Jews" in Kazakhstan was fine, but it wasn't what I paid for. I paid to see Borat make reactionaries look stupid! (and not just by pooping in a bag and showing it to them--make them say dumb stuff like you used to!) Anyone can mock foreigners; I could just go read Jonah Goldberg, the National Review columnist who makes a living writing this kind of stuff--in fact, I think Goldberg might have written some of the gay wrestling fights between Borat and his producer. All of the sudden, a gag that has always seemed very novel to me now seemed so...banal. And leaving the film, I felt stupid for arguing (as I often did) that the government of Kazakhstan "didn't get the joke." Yet again, maybe I was the one who didn't get it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Godless Go Home

According to an interesting, if necessarily idiosyncratic, USA Today/Gallup Poll, atheists are the only group fewer than half of Americans would consider casting a vote for. The numbers are quite telling about the state of American chauvenisms, and would seem to indicate that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney needn't worry about being hampered by race, gender, or religion; they'd just better HAVE a religion. 94% of those polled said they would vote for a black candidate, 88% for a woman, and 72% for a Mormon. Check it out. And where do you think "Austrian-born" would fall on this spectrum?

Jackie Earle Haley: Meet My Oscars Dark Horse

If there was an oscars category for most disappointing movie of the year, I would not have a hard time figuring out my nominations: Borat (which was so funny on TV, but SUCH a bad idea for a plot-driven film), Talledega Nights (which I didn't have that high expectations for anyway, but which really sucked--the big joke seemed to be that it made fun of product placement while doing a nauseating amount of it), For Your Consideration (when did Christopher Guest movies start to feel so predictable?), Marie Antoinette (what happened, Sofia?) and, last and certainly least, Little Children. I don't mean to say that Little Children was the worst of all these films--actually, it was arguably the best. But it was certainly the most disappointing; my God, I had such hopes for this film! I love Todd Field--at least, I loved In the Bedroom. But Little Children was predictable, formulaic, and ultimately not very thoughtful; in other words, it was everything people who didn't understand In the Bedroom accused In the Bedroom of being. Which means that either Todd made a serious misstep, or I am the one who misread In the Bedroom.

In any event, now that Oscars season has rolled around, I've returned to Little Children with a cooler mind, and decided that, to be fair, Jackie Earle Haley was wonderful. He is rightfully nominated for best supporting actor, and, since I don't want to pick both Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy in my pool (both will probably win, but a man has to maintain some dignity), I've decided to go with Haley. Now, Haley is a real dark horse, but I can't help but think he's got a shot. People really respect pervert performances--just like, in the words of Kate Winslet in her appearance on Extras, they love to award the "mental." In all seriousness, I expect an upset here, since, as this article points out, people might be hesitant about giving Norbit an academy award.

New Klosterman on Britney Spears

Even if Betty weren't currently engrossed in a four-hour PBS doc about Andy Warhol, she'd still disagree with Chuck Klosterman's new anti-analysis of Britney Spears' ongoing public meltdown.

Of Britney's inner life, Klosterman writes:

Think of the dumbest, goofiest, richest 25-year-old woman you've ever known: Did her day-to-day decision-making process reflect anything about her ambition, her self-awareness, or her ability to deal with reality? I am guessing the answer to that question is, "Nay." I'm guessing that person's day-to-day decisions were illogical extensions of her own boredom. And it's hard to imagine a life that would be duller than that of Britney Spears. What, exactly, is the "interesting" part of her existence? Recording records that nobody over the age of 15 respects? Earning money she can't possibly appreciate? Re-buying all the crap she never needed in the first place? Partying with bimbos who snort the same drugs she was offered seven years ago? Being simultaneously despised and envied by idiots who have nothing better to do than worry about her haircut?

Klosterman makes a couple of good points here, but why does he disregard the mammoth difference between Britney and everybody else in the world: her unshakable and certainly lonely Britneyness?? Britney's fame, established nearly a decade ago, caused, or at least perfectly intersected, with, some rupture or revolution in celebrity culture that we are only now just beginning to understand, and she's still living inside it. Surely this lends her actions a gravity of knowingly being seen and picked apart that goes beyond that of other goofy 25 year olds such as the author of this post.

Betty loves Klosterman's books, and even got to speak to him once after a very terrible public reading he did, at which he constantly stopped to remind the audience how much he was sucking and not enjoying himself or pleasing us. Despite this social awkwardness, or perhaps because of it, Chuck Klosterman is a very smart and funny writer who shares many of Betty's interests and preoccupations. But he is dead wrong to disregard fame in this new piece. He's much closer to hitting his mark in this interview from the good old days.

As that first interview demonstrates, Esquire seems to really let their interviewers go free-form, and with Britney the results can be highly original, if not penetrating, reflections of the girl's funny, fractured soul.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


the crackling, subtle ensemble playing and beautiful textures save lucinda williams' west from mediocrity. but what happened to the songwriting? with two or three exceptions ("are you alright?", "come on", "where is my love?") these new tunes seem more like exercises than...thoughtful, careful, longing, special songs. i love it when lu goes simple, but these sound like reheated versions of songs from the inspired world without tears album, perhaps her best, and she's always good. if you're soon at the music store, snag that baby instead of going west. this new, so-so disappointment will soon show up used.

breaking news: timberlake falters!

Is this the way it's really going down?
Is this how we say goodbye?
Should've known better when you came around
That you were gonna make me cry
It's breaking my heart to watch you run around
'Cause I know that you're living a lie
That's okay baby 'cause in time you will find...

What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around.

this just in: last night betty went on youtube, anxiously looking forward to the new justin timberlake video, which provocatively co-stars scarlett johannson and lots of smooching. it's called "what goes around," and you won't find a link to it here!

damn! 'twas disastrous in the first degree! not to mention it runs 10 minutes long for a six minute song (meaning they stop the song at several points), and a 34 minute version is in the works!

shall i enumerate the ways in which the reigning king of pophearts and part of the brilliant team behind the best pop album of the last decade missteps in his first huge folly?:

1. i think he let his cat write the "script" for this "movie" because the dialogue makes you feel embarassed for everyone involved! it's like they took a bunch of shredded soap opera scripts, threw them in the air, then picked up the pieces based on what animal shapes they resembled ("i don't want the keys to your castle!"). scarlett naturally comes off looking the worst, like she sold her talent for five magic beans and a chance to royally piss off cameron diaz.

2. why even make a movie of this song? it's so evocative without it. plus, this particular attempt at "dramatizing" the song actually hurts the song in multiple ways - by making bathetically literal justin's "revenge" (you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll throw your imac across the room), by turning a personal lament into a macho misogynistic chest-beating session, by employing rejects from the "eyes wide shut" auditions - in short, by presenting a picture that is much less interesting than what the song on its own implies.

3. please. scarlett would never cheat on justin with that guy. he must be justin's cousin or something.

betty would like to take this opportunity to call a moratorium on cinematic music videos, certainly for this artist. either be rockin' out with the band or find something else to do that has nothing to do with the situations described in the song lyrics - you hear me justin?! i may just save your career; we'll discuss my fee later.

with this video, justin comes close to ruining betty's enjoyment of "what goes around", which is a fine song with some amazing moments, and is treading close to the kind of hubris that would make r. kelly blush. let's hope "lovestoned" ("those flashing lights come from everywhere/the way they hit her i just stop and stare") is his next single, and NOT "losing my way" ("hi my name is bob and i work at my job/i make forty-somethin' dollars a day"). it's high time JT realized the perfect limits that render his mystique endless.

a meeting, venus infers

here we go...!

Full name, first name, or initials:
venus infers

durham and elsewhere

does that need to be answered?

shaken, but not stirred.

Why do you read/write the blog?:
on b&b's suggestion. and because we like the publicity.

Proust Questionnaire:

Where would you like to live?

maybe sans-souci

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

butternut and squash risotto with roasted almonds at gobo in manhattan? does that count?

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?

darcy and eliza, the venus in furs, julius (not the monkey, but the novel)...

Who are your favorite characters in history?

duchamp, the surrealists (well, ok, some of them).

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?

anna nicole smith! and anita.

Your favorite musician?

an unfair question indeed! fela kuti, miles, jorge ben, bjork, laetitia sadier.
and of course, burt & hal & dionne.

Your favorite virtue?


Your favorite occupation?

certainly not reconciling expenses nor filing taxes

Your most marked characteristic?


What do you most value in your friends?


What would you like to be?

a renowned palmist and jetsetteur

In what country would you like to live?
maybe somewhere warm

What is your favorite color?


What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

i do not regard it.

What is your favorite bird?

the bird of paradise.

Who are your favorite prose writers?

mishima, genet, bryce echenique, silvina ocampo...

Who are your favorite poets?

apollinaire, huidobro, yoko ono, the concrete poets...

What are your favorite names?

azul, olivia, sylvie (or sylvia), constantino

What is it you most dislike?

hateful ignorance and provincialism.

What historical figures do you most despise?

we can dislike all the francos of the world, but what about those who supported them in the first place?
a most unfortunate question.

How would you like to die?

nikki de saint-phalle once thought about going out on a picnic to a glaciar in a cocktail dress, having a bottle of champagne and some sleeping pills.
i'd rather be warmer, though.

What is your present state of mind?


To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

day-dreaming and procrastination!

What is your motto?

as for this moment, never leave for today what you can do tomorrow.

Monday, February 19, 2007


C'mon, people, keep postin'!

Meet Magwitch

Meet Magwitch
Full name, first name, or initials: Abel Magwitch

Location: NYC

Age: 23 (on Thursday...)

Gender: M (to the extent that one can still believe in gender these days)

Why do you read/write the blog?: Boredom, obsession with B & B

Proust Questionnaire:

* Where would you like to live? In Paris, with Hemingway and Johnny Depp

* What is your idea of earthly happiness? A hot cup of coffee, a really good thai restaurant, opium

* Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? Becky Sharpe (Vanity Fair), Julien Sorel (Le Rouge et Le Noir), Falstaff

* Who are your favorite characters in history? Napolean

* Who are your favorite heroines in real life? Betty

* Your favorite musician? Leonard Cohen (not true, but I feel like that's a sophisticated answer)

* Your favorite virtue? Sloth

* Your favorite occupation? Slothing

* Your most marked characteristic? My height, my tendency to slouch

* What do you most value in your friends? Wit, working knowledge of the French language

* What would you like to be? A child again

* In what country would you like to live? A different one

* What is your favorite color? Pass. I invariably choose one which people later inform me "isn't really a color."

* What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Reading E.M. Cioran, thinking about my death (these two things are more or less synonymous)
* What is your favorite bird? Huh?

* Who are your favorite prose writers? Milan Kundera, Iris Murdoch

* Who are your favorite poets? Tennyson
* What are your favorite names? Thelonius
* What is it you most dislike? Language poetry

* What historical figures do you most despise? G. Gordon Liddy

* How would you like to die? By my own hand, of course (if I ever do do it, I'll leave a note referencing the philosopher's suicide in "Crimes and Misdemeanors": it'll say "Out the window.")

* To what faults do you feel most indulgent? My own

* What is your motto? Whatever it is, I'm against it

Meet Co-love!

Full name, first name, or initials: E.M.B.N
Location: East Coast
age: 608!

Why do you read/write the blog: Because I like writing?

Where would you like to live? anywhere w/ no cars, no polution, no Fiji water, tons of trees, no coke,a nearby mall, dolphins, cats & dogs, panthers, and a suite reserved for moi.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? Everything above, plus love.

Who are your favorite heroines of real life? Prez. Michelle Bachelet.

Your favorite musician? TOTO, John Mayer, Paul Simon, Norah Jones, Avril Lavigne, Elvis Costello, Maroon 5.

Your most marked characteristic? my sense of humor.

What would you like to be? A journalist/author.

What is your favorite color(s)? Aqua & Mint.

What is your favorite bird? Tweety Bird

Who are your favorite poets? e.e. cummings(no capitalization)

What historical figures do you most despise? Caesar.

What is you present state of mind? Cute & Cuddly.

What is your motto? Excelsior.(ever upward)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Meet Betty and Bimbo

Full name, first name, or initials: Bimbo

Location: New York, NY

Age: 24

Gender: M

Why do you read/write the blog?: Because Betty tells me to.

* Where would you like to live? Perth, Australia.

* Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? Tom Joad.

* Your favorite musician? Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan.

* What is your favorite color? Gray

* What is your favorite bird? Pelican

* Who are your favorite poets? Philip Larkin, George Herbert, Edmund Spenser


Full name, first name, or initials: Betty

Location: New York, NY

Age: 25

Gender: F

Why do you read/write the blog?: Because I am often bored at work. To read what people are thinking about. And because it is the wave of the future!

* Where would you like to live? In New York.

* What is your idea of earthly happiness? Love, family and cute dogs

* Who are your favorite characters in history? Rasputin, Henry V, Alexander Hamilton

* Your favorite musician? Paul McCartney, Jeff Tweedy, Lucinda Williams, Marcus Roberts.

* Your favorite virtue? Charity, Dedication.

* Your favorite occupation? Resting.

* Your most marked characteristic? Loudness.

* What do you most value in your friends? Sense of humor, up-for-itness.

* What would you like to be? A musician.

* What is your favorite color? Red.

* What is your favorite bird? Piping plover.

* Who are your favorite prose writers? Saul Bellow, Julio Cortazar.

* Who are your favorite poets? Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, W.B. Yeats,
Czeslaw Milocz, John Milton.

* What is it you most dislike? Schedules.

* What historical figures do you most despise? GWB.

* What is your present state of mind? Cuddly.

* To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Permissiveness.

A Request for the Powers That Be

Most of us blog contributors know each other. But the identity of some is still a mystery to me. I realize that no one wants their personal information on the site, but could Betty & Bimbo send out an email to blog contributors with general introductions? Maybe everyone could write a blurb about themselves, send it to Betty, and she could compile them. What do you think?

jet blues

jet blue is fabulous. but their crisis management is AWFUL. and their website, which at some point was fabulously un-fussy has proven to be NULL. where's the information? how can their flights still be disrupted after a storm that happened 4 days ago! why is there no explanation whatsoever? how can its customer service be permanently overwhelmed (understaffed), if they know that the situation is still an ongoing problem?? how can they tell people to simply call later in the month...! i mean, it is, in a way, a very jetblueishly unfussy thing to do. maybe v is not a good customer. we do like leather, though.

v is thus stranded in new york, which is not a bad thing unto itself.
but it is terribly irritating thing, to want to like a company and the company not allowing one to like it back. akin to the love conundrum, venus infers.

You Asked for It

Betty was just watching an SNL rerun and reveling in Timberlove while Bimbo snored beside her. Oh wait, you didn't ask for a personal update; you asked for a poll!

Please cast your vote on the blog's visual future. Remember to choose carefully because we want this blog to look as good as Justin!

(Next week's SNL guests: The Arcade Fire.)

Thanks for voting!
Also: it's not too late to vote for in this Valentine's Poll or to enter Magwitch's First Annual Oscar Pool. Happy pickin'.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


After many hours of struggling to find "The One", Betty changes back all of Bimbo's suggestions for a new template. So far, the only people I've heard of that like the new template are Betty, Speed McQueen, and I. For that same reason, I think that we should take a vote and see who likes it and who doesn't. That should make Betty decide which template she wants once and for all. - Co-Love

A single state

"Isn't being Zionist OR anti-Zionist kind of counterproductive in 2007, when the world has known a Jewish state for 60 years now?" - Betty, on this blog

There are indeed Arab radicals who will not rest until every Jew is pushed into the Mediterranean, but they represent no strategic threat to Israel, and the Israeli military knows it. What sensible Israelis fear much more than Hamas or the al-Aqsa Brigade is the steady emergence of an Arab majority in "Greater Israel," and above all the erosion of the political culture and civic morale of their society. As the prominent Labor politician Avraham Burg recently wrote, "After two thousand years of struggle for survival, the reality of Israel is a colonial state, run by a corrupt clique which scorns and mocks law and civic morality."Unless something changes, Israel in half a decade will be neither Jewish nor democratic. - Tony Judt, "Israel: the Alternative", October 23, 2003, NY Review of Books

My answer to Betty's question in response to Magwitch's post on Israel is no, it's not counterproductive to take a position (Zionist or anti-Zionist) with regards to the future of the Jewish state.

The reason it is not counterproductive to me is that there is one way to create a future for the holy land that actually gives equal rights to any Jewish and Palestinian citizens - to ensure equal citizenship rather than continue with the preservation of Israel as it currently exists -- that is, a state predicated on unequal citizenship. The way towards this future is a binational state, as laid out by Tony Judt in the powerful article in the NY Review more than three years ago which I have quoted above.

The easiest way to knock the proposal for a single state for both Jews and Palestinians is to say that it is "not realistic" - though the idea of two states living peacefully side by side is itself highly problematic. The second criticism, that such a state would no longer be a "Jewish state" because Jews would be a demographic minority - merely underscores the problematic nature of Israel as it currently exists as a country whose identity is based on Jewish supremacy. The analogy is problematic, but it reminds me a bit of Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode writing to his constituents after newly elected Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, saying he would be sworn in on the Quran.

In his letter, Goode wrote that strict immigration polices are necessary "to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America."

"The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Quran," he wrote.

The argument against a "right of return" to Israel/Palestine is based upon similar fears of Israel being "overwhelmed" by Palestinians - and although there are legitimate concerns about how a Jewish minority would be treated in a binational state, the powerful force of the US in the region seems to offer good protection.

In response to that concern, I offer two rhetorical questions: Are the rights of the Arab minority in Israel protected now? And, is Israel a safe place for Jews today, even as a Jewish state with Jewish supremacy?

Judt's article is well-worth reading and thinking about. He began the article with this grim picture:
The Middle East peace process is finished. It did not die: it was killed. Mahmoud Abbas was undermined by the President of the Palestinian Authority and humiliated by the Prime Minister of Israel. His successor awaits a similar fate. Israel continues to mock its American patron, building illegal settlements in cynical disregard of the "road map." The President of the United States of America has been reduced to a ventriloquist's dummy, pitifully reciting the Israeli cabinet line: "It's all Arafat's fault." Israelis themselves grimly await the next bomber. Palestinian Arabs, corralled into shrinking Bantustans, subsist on EU handouts. On the corpse-strewn landscape of the Fertile Crescent, Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, and a handful of terrorists can all claim victory, and they do. Have we reached the end of the road? What is to be done?
And yes, some of the details have changed, but the basic contention -- that a "peace process" leading to two states side by side "is finished" -- continues to ring true.

When Dogs Smile

We have succeeded: we have proof that dogs smile! Most people think that it's only humans that smile, but with this picture, nobody can contradict us. And it's obviously not photoshop, everybody knows that cute little Co is smiling at us!(or at whoever is holding her!)

Friday, February 16, 2007

More on Movies and Popular Taste

Today Netflix ("the thinking person's Blockbuster") released the results of its 2007 survey of great movie quotes of the year. I highly doubt any of these will hold up over the years - maybe the Nicholson? - and that gives me pause going into the Oscars. Not that I'm not still PUMPED. Did we all agree to live-blog? I think people in Magwitch's pool should definitely live-blog.

OK, Here are the survey results. Strange that there are no overlaps across categories. Could they really have done better?:

What was the best movie quote of 2006?

38.1% "Everyone just pretend to be normal!"
Richard -- Little Miss Sunshine
35.6% "The details of your incompetence do not interest me."
Miranda Priestly -- The Devil Wears Prada
17.1% "I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me."
Frank Costello -- The Departed
5.7% "Have we shown you how to start a nuclear war yet?"
Queen Elizabeth II to Tony Blair -- The Queen
3.5% "I know who you are, and what you are. I am you!"
Idi Amin -- The Last King of Scotland

Which 2006 movie line would you classify as the best "Did They Just Say That?" quote?

61.7% "I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight."
Emily -- The Devil Wears Prada
15.3% "In America it's 'Bling-Bling,' but out here, it's 'Bling-Bang."
Danny Archer -- Blood Diamond
10.5% "Ask [the Queen] if SHE greased the brakes."
Alastair Campbell -- The Queen
8% "Tell my son the time his father died."
Capitán Vidal -- Pan's Labyrinth
4.5% "Your boyfriend is younger than my boyfriend."
Polly Hart -- Notes on a Scandal

What was the best movie line delivery in 2006?

41% "Hide the rum!!!"
Captain Jack Sparrow -- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
22.9% "Very niiiicceee!!!
Borat Sagdiyev -- Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
18.6% "That's all."
Miranda Priestly -- The Devil Wears Prada
9.1% "Boogity boogity boogity, boys! Let's go racin'!"
Darrell Cartrip -- Cars
8.4% "So... Deena's going to sing the lead 'cause you like the way she looks? Am I ugly to you, Curtis?"
Effie White-- Dreamgirls

In other news, perhaps you've noticed that when you read NY Times stories and commentaries on movies these days, there are comments from readers at the bottom. Does anyone ever read/refer to these comments? Betty was amused to slog through the hundreds of comments responding to Stanley Fish's essay on Dreamgirls, most of which were like "shut up, you're wrong. eddie murphy made me cry."

Perhaps Gawker put it best when they noted:

Not long ago, both the NY Times and the LA Times opened the golden gates of their movie review sections to You, the person of the year. Oooh, it's Web 1.34! Well, Your reviews are in—and You totally suck! You suck even worse than Stephen Holden!

Marketing Niceness

Working at a foundation has made Betty aware of the differences between amounts of money that before just seemed plain BIG- I know this sounds dumb, but before taking this job (which is otherwise largely boring) Betty did not really grasp the difference between $100,000 and $1,000,000. To her, it's all just more CDs and burritos.

So today she pays attention to numbers, and she's often appalled at the lengths companies will go to to toot their own horns - when they've done basically nothing.

The most egregious examples of this are of course the cigarette companies - Philip Morris, to cite just one example, frequently spends nearly as much money advertising its token anti-smoking initiatives as it does on the initiatives themselves. In 2000, they spent $300 million (about 10% of their total PR budget) on amorphous "anti-smoking efforts" aimed at youth about and $185 million trumpeting these efforts in advertising. Recent studies have found that many anti-smoking ads actually lead to an increase in teen smoking, too!

Anytime you watch pro sports on TV, you'll find a similar faux-niceness on the part of companies that like to pat themselves on the back. Wow, Budweiser donated a thousand dollars to kids with cancer for sponsoring this official broadcast of Major League Baseball! How generous of them! Set against most peoples' monthly income, this sounds like of money, and surely it helps a little bit, but Budweiser's advertising budget runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars! This would be like you or me donating a penny to cancer research every 10 years, and then bragging to all our friends about it!

I know I should be grateful that these corporate juggernauts feel enough popular or peer (market competition) pressure to do something worthwhile and tell us about it (the huge, unpublicized amounts they donate to Republican political campaigns tells another story all together). But why does generosity as an advertising tool just piss me off so much? I'm not saying one needs to live like a saint - I think you can care and act about climate change and still use your television - but the false generosity these companies peddle is just sickening. I think in the end it's all about the scale of the numbers at stake, and the amount of change that Philip Morris, Budweiser, Starbucks et al. could be underwriting versus the amount they'll do to keep the profits escalating and their names in league with some sucker's idea of the good.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Selective enlightenment & the neo "good employer"

The standards for being a "good employer" in this country have changed a lot in the last century. One example of this trend is Starbucks, who certainly pay and benefit their employers better than any other large food service chain in the country, and that's not to be sniffed at. But Starbucks also aggressively union busts and intimidates those who would organize for collective bargaining rights.

On labor standards for their coffee growers, Starbucks is similarly selectively enlightened: it's great that they will only sell fair trade coffee, but only if STARBUCKS, and not international oversight and policy experts like the Workers Rights Consortium or the U.S. Labor in the Americas Project, get to determine what fair trade means in the details. On this matter of defining fair labor practices overseas, Starbucks' standards fall predictably lower than than those of the people who study the issue for a living.

Putting American Apparel's porn-lite ad campaigns aside for the moment to focus solely on the company's labor practices, you'll find a similarly mixed picture. This retailer's terrific website boasts glowing worker testimonies and makes their L.A. factory seem like a dream spa, which I'm sure it truly resembles - the workers get generous breaks, plenty of light and air, and even massages! But what if they want to form a union? No freakin' way. American Apparel spent considerable energy and money in 2006 making sure this did not happen through intimidation, harassment, and firings.

What's with the paternalism and the massage bribery? How can an employer honestly say they respect and honor their workers' lives when they won't allow them to make their own decisions about representation? And with more American workers joining the service sector each day, when will Starbucks organizers, for example, gather a critical mass in the face of the company's vast money and influence? Will they ever?

While we're at it, Betty just received this email from a community organizer in Oakland, CA, regarding IKEA (the place where all Betty's furniture came from for the last five years):

On the good side, [IKEA] have met and exceeded a local hire policy
requirement in East Palo Alto for several years now...the City staff person...holds
the company's feet to the fire.

On the bad side, they are deeply afraid of workers talking to each other,
or, God forbid, organizing. We conducted a survey of big box retail
workers in Emeryville, where the Bay Area's first IKEA is located. In
order to stop us, they tried to get my surveyors arrested, called me at
home and intimidated my wife, implied to workers that they would be fired
if they responded to our survey and hired a *very* expensive union-busting
law firm to write threatening letters to us. All over a 15 minute survey
being conducted by undergrad students. Not nice people.

Like her boxy, functional IKEA furniture, Betty also enjoys her occasional Starbucks holiday cookie and corn syrup coffee, and she owns some underwear from American Apparel, which she figures is a step up from the Gap in terms of worker rights and even the environment. Cold comfort? Yes. A step in the right direction? Perhaps. Maybe the American labor movement and all civil rights struggles (Betty thinks particularly here of the gay rights movement) have more in common than just gallons and gallons of coffee. Must progress always be so slow?

Cuties Hit the Circle

This weekend past, Bimbo brought Cocoa down to D.C. to check in on bed-ridden Betty. And who better to get in on this historic Summit of Cuteness (We already hear you pondering Which one's Churchill?!) than the cutest little Moo, now performing double-duty as the sweetest caretaker North of Dupont? And her little dog too?! Below, before-and-after shots from the 10-legged threesome's trip to local boutique, ahem, "Doggie Styles":

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Brazilian-American Music

I wonder why Brazilian-American bands are never nominated for the Grammys. That totally sucks. I'm gonna send them a complaint letter. That should teach them. - Co-Love

the movies

So, it looks like absolutely nobody has seen the movies Betty&Bimbo are having a disagreement on. So much for the poll. Still, I think that whatever Betty's movie was, it's way better than Bimbo's. Just an afterthought. - Co-Love

A Valentine's Day Poll!

Happy Valentine's Day!

We hope that everyone is having a happy day, full of love and candy. Watch out for your butt tonight - you don't want to get an arrow lodged in there.

Betty & Bimbo are (as always) Valentines, but they've just had a rip-roaring disagreement over movies (as always) and they need you to vote on the critical issue below. Once your votes are all in, we'll report back with our assessment.

Thank you!

The Queen vs. The Fresh Prince

As a gal who often prefers to pore over movies, movie stars, and their combined fates instead of actually watching movies, Betty was thrilled by the unlikely results of today's just-released Blockbuster Oscars poll. Mind you, the stats that follow reflect what the People want to win, not what they think will win:

Popular Picks for Best Picture
"The Departed" 24%
"Little Miss Sunshine" 22%
"Babel" 14%
"Letters from Iwo Jima" 13%
"The Queen" 12%

Popular Picks for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada" 36%
Helen Mirren in "The Queen" 21%
Kate Winslet in "Little Children" 13%
Penelope Cruz in "Volver" 11%
Judi Dench in "Notes on a Scandal" 6%

Popular Picks for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Will Smith in "The Pursuit of Happyness" 43%
Forest Whitaker in "The Last King of Scotland" 21%
Leonardo DiCaprio in "Blood Diamond" 17%
Peter O'Toole in "Venus" 4%
Ryan Gosling in "Half Nelson" 2%

"Who better to make a call on this year's most inspired films and performances than the people who fill the theaters, rent the movies and are the ultimate audience for the movie industry," said Joyce Woodward, senior vice-president, rental film with Blockbuster Inc.

So, there are a few things to be said about these numbers. You could infer from the high ranks for Little Miss Sunshine and Meryl Streep that the People (well, the Blockbuster people) like Comedy, and that they tend to live in places where Half Nelson, Venus, and Notes on a Scandal didn't play, or only played in dingy theaters with uncomfortable chairs and healthy snacks like unbuttered popcorn. You might also conclude from the data that the People like Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio. These all seem like fair assumptions.

Perhaps you would also look at the extremely high accolades for Will Smith in The Pusuit of Happyness and think that the People like sentimental pap. A ha! This is where you are wrong, because as I have recently learned from David Mamet's grumpy, pretentious, and totally addictive new book of essays, Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose and Practice of the Movie Business what the people want, and why not?, is PLOT.

Lay out a character and her heart's desire. Show us concrete steps she takes to obtain that heart's desire. Foil her progress with a scene predicated on the idea of "And then, when everything was going so well..." Get her back on her feet again. Then decide what kind of ending you want for her: comedy (she gets her heart's desire), tragedy (she doesn't get her heart's desire) or drama (she either does or she doesn't get her heart's desire, but only ends up a little sadder and wiser for the trying). This is PLOT!

I think the reason many people I know have sniffed their nose at The Pursuit of Happyness has to do with another of Mamet's dramatic principles spelled out in no uncertain terms in Bambi vs. Godzilla. The Pursuit of Happyness invites us to have our suspension of disbelief, and thus or capacity for wonder and thrills, systematically violated for 120 minutes by casting Will Smith - dashing, ultra-recognizable Will Smith - in its leading role. In other words, because a bona fide superstar is playing the leading role in this movie about a homeless man struggling to find success and support his son, the film is dramatically dishonest - we are essentially being invited to watch Will Smith when we see an ad for this movie, and that offends those of us who think we deserve to be invited to be thrilled.

The movie may not be so bad after all. Perhaps it overcomes its superstar/suspension of disbelief problem with an excellent, gripping plot and great, emotionally believable acting. I haven't seen it, but even if I had I don't think I can distinguish a vote for Will Smith the actor from a vote for Will Smith in this role, and that keeps me wary. I guess this means I'm guessing it's not a very good film, and that it doesn't overcome the limits Mamet would have guessed it has. For a clarification of my motives for doubting the People on this one, please re-read this post with an emphasis on the first sentence.

Remember to enter the Oscars pool by February 25!

p.s. In a popularity contest based on qualities like attractiveness, pluck, and the power to make me smile, I would vote for Will Smith. I don't think I would vote for David Mamet, although he can be mighty plucky.

a very cynical rant on birthright, Israel and American Judaim (zionists, skip this one)

Tomorrow morning, registration opens up for this summer's birthright trips. For those of you who don't know, birthright is a program that allows American Jews to go to Israel for free for 10 days. What do I mean by "free"? Well, they give you a plane ticket, a hotel, meals--and they also pay for tours. The idea, I suppose, is that rich American Jews will go on this trip and feel a "connection" with Israel, as a result of which they will invest in the Israeli government, support neoconservatives at home, move to Israel, etc. Plus, the rumor is that if you get engaged on the trip, they pay for your honeymoon in Israel. In short, it's hard to imagine anything more nauseating than birthright Israel.

But nevertheless, I will be one of the people signing up tomorrow. Why? I do not consider myself a "Jew." Let me make sure not to qualify that: not only am I not a "practicing" Jew, but I don't believe there is any other kind. In other words, I don't believe one can be "culturally" or "ethnically" Jewish, and I think people who do sound very silly when they try to explain it; "oh, you can tell he's a jew because he's so hardworking," or "he's definitely Jewish, because he's so neurotic." how preposterous, and racist too! What's so astonishing about the zionist movement in this country it has little to do with religion, and, as little as I understand the religious, I have an even harder time trying to understanding those who see themselves as having some sort of metaphysical connection to Israel. It's astonishing how many people say things like, "but your ancestors are from Israel," which, for one thing, may not be true (many russian jews descend from converts) and even if it is, couldn't be more irrelevant. Indeed, I don't think I'm the first person to be offended at the notion that, now that we know some people in Ethiopia are Jewish, all of the sudden Israel considers these suffering people worth helping. I also want to stress that I am not only allowed to say these things because I am 'actually' Jewish; my whole point is that I'm not Jewish--so please don't interpret it that way!! But I digress.

So back to my question: why go to Israel if you are so offended by all this stuff. But to me, the more fitting question is, Why not? After all, I hear Israel is amazing, and if some sucker wants to pay for me to go check out the Roman ruins, by all means. Plus, by taking up the space, perhaps I'm saving some impressionable youth from being converted to zionism. One less person will have a "life changing" experience in Israel (translation: they come home at talk about how the middle east is trying to destroy Israel, and so we'd better destroy them first). Unless, of course, I become that transformed child...? Well, if that does happen, it'll make for an interesting book. And perhaps I'll blog on my trip while I'm there, so, if a transformation does come, you all can feel the power of the homeland along with me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where's the Wonderland?

Betty, shut-in that she is, had been looking forward to a white and drifting snow blanket that would transform D.C. into a 19th century wonderland during what we Yankee fans call "the off-season". Away, cars! Come down, snow! Pile up on cars!

There's nothing like a snowdrift and the delicate flakes that graze it to make any kid happy to laze (or "rest") indoors, to draw back window shades and follow the drift of nature's dominance. Peace out, car-clogged street scenes of yesteryear.

Even a little wind is welcome if it swirls the icy grains and turns windows into unwitting screens for a characterless drama.

So what's with the drippy gray ice-rain? Betty knows there should be something beautiful about snowflakes that disappear the instant they make contact with urban life and lifeless forms, but all they do is make her recognize how cold it really is.

New Layout: I like it

I personally think the white doesn't damage my eyes so much, so what's all the fuss about? It looks especially Valentiney, so Betty can change on Thursday if people keep persisting to change it. Then again, that's just my point of view. Just please don't change it back to yellow again. - Co-love

oscar pool update

betty has asked me to give the blog an update on my (mag's) oscar pool. so far, there are six people registered, and one more who has paid but not registered. then there are a few more who haven't yet registered (mark twain? dare i say bimbo?), so I think we've got about 10 locked up--and I'm hoping to get that figure up to 15. nancy d? others? where did you go...?

ps-bimbo: no one ever likes a blog's new format at first. give it time...

venus in new york

darrilings, venus moves to new york for the annual caa conference: five days of cocktails and art historical debauchery (those rococo people! now they know how to party!)

oh, and if venus is allowed an opinion, the new layout is indeed hideous.
it reminds one of a certain east german flair. maybe "stalinist revival" could be a good descriptor?

des gros bisous pour tous--- v.

(upper right: miwa akihiro as the black lizard)

Good Morning! Everone Hates the New Layout.

Betty the shut-in has just been instructed to "change that ugly thing" by one reader and told "it's the most disgusting thing ever" by another! Please weigh in. Betty changed it last night in a moment of cooped-up inspiration coming to boil (or so she thought), but perhaps she has lost all perspective in her drugged-out, dog-saturated convalescence.

She can assure readers that the switchover wasn't totally mindless and hazy. Her idea was that the layout change would make the blog more visually friendly to the longer, mini-essay style posts some bloggers have been writing with great success lately, while remaining white-spacey and open enough to accommodate smaller, or more visually driven posts. She still likes it, and always likes red, but would appreciate suggestions on how to move forward.

[Remember: Valentine's Day is tomorrow.]

Back to butter?

Monday, February 12, 2007


I'm serious: Cocoa should really have her own blog. She has great opinions and her thoughts would really contribute to the blogger community.
Who's with me? - Co-Love

Report on the Grammy's: pro's & con's

I'm sorry to say it, but this year the grammy's couldn't have been worse. Beyonce was probably the only good thing in the first half, and Chris Brown only entertained you so that you wouldn't turn off the TV with his dance. Though Christina Aguilera was also quite entertaining, we've only got three good things so far. The Prince act might have been worth mentioning, but he only said his three words: "One word: Beyonce." Not even the Red Hot Chili Peppers were that good. They were better than the police, but that's not to say much. Yeah, some fans can say it's bacause they haven't played in a long time, but that is absolutely no excuse to not be able to hit the high notes in Roxanne. And that's the only good part of the song, so there. Overall, I would score it with a 3 out of 5. If you would like to share your opinion with the world, vote in the poll below.