Monday, November 29, 2004

Addicted to Leisure

Well, my friends, this Thanksgiving Weekend has been lovely, and I am so sad to see it end... especially since I have a work-week ahead of me that is daunting, to say the very least. I have to run two ballots and one flyer distribution, manipulate a cumbersome outmoded database and stuff envelopes for a Hudson notice that should have gone out months ago, manage the details for an executive board meeting, finish typing up a set of minutes, and chase officers around trying to get signatures on checks and things... on top of all the phone-answering, mail-sorting, and butthead-appeasing that I normally do. I'd really rather stay in bed, thank you.

Ah, well, all good things must come to an end. And I wonder if I'd have enjoyed this weekend so much if I hadn't had so many new DVDs to watch. On Friday, instead of going into the office to get a head start on my envelope-stuffing and finish my Hudson printing as I'd intended (and make up a few missed hours, though I don't know why I try to hoard sick leave and comp time when I have it in such abundance), I stayed in bed quite late and then watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in one sitting. Ten and a half hours of viewing, interrupted by maybe one aggregate hour of going to the bathroom and getting snacks (string beans and grapefruit juice, yummmm... goddamned diet) filled my day nicely.

And if you ever get the chance, I totally recommend viewing the entire trilogy as one movie. I had only seen it in episodes separated by an entire year (except for The Fellowship of the Ring, which I have on VHS and have seen a few more times in between), and one simply cannot maintain a narrative mood over that much time. But seeing it all at once, on a comfy couch instead of a theater-seat, and having a pause button so you can get up and pee and eat and stretch whenever you want, made the whole epic undertaking so much more enjoyable and cohesive. It was a grand and a beautiful thing.

And then last night I watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; I ordered the double-disk widescreen edition DVD from Amazon last week, and wasn't expecting it to come any time soon (I opted for the free shipping, you see), but there it was on my doorstep the day after Thanksgiving, rattling around in the wonderuful smiling Amazon box that was much too big for one DVD and one small book (I finally broke down and bought David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim at the same time, having despaired of ever finding a used copy, or of it coming out in paperback... people keep buying the hardback, and never letting it go).

I've already seen it twice in the theater (Harry Potter that is, I don't think David Sedaris can be seen in a theater), and there was no narrative thread to lose, but I was reminded how superior this film was to the two that preceded it, how lyrically beautiful and deliciously dark. And I was reminded of how exceptionally attractive young Daniel Radcliffe is becoming... is it wrong to lust after a fourteen-year-old boy? I mean, I know it's wrong to touch them and to take nudie pix of them (illegal, at any rate, if not actually wrong), but I found my libido enslaved by his growing physical beauty.

What made this DVD most interesting to me was the rather elaborate Extra Features that came on a separate disk and featured (really terrible) interviews with groups of the cast, conducted by some nattering idiot I've never heard of (Johnny Vaughan, apparently a BBC talk-show host) in tandem with that horrid shrunken head from the Knight Bus... I mean, I don't think I learned anything of interest about any of the actors, except for a glimpse of their natural out-of-character demeanors.

But then, that's what I really enjoyed... I understood why it was I'd started lusting after Daniel Radcliffe despite his tender years: in this film, he portrays Harry as a very steady, strong, and self-possessed character, and his on-screen demeanor is very adult... the adult mind behind the youthful face is a heady attraction. But the interview revealed him to be a rather typical high-strung teenage boy, given to spasmodic movements, clutching convulsively at the seat of his chair as if afraid he'd fly away, and letting loose with nervous giggles strenuously supressed into a rictus grin, unable to look anyone in the eye for more than a moment... he was pretty and endearing, but not sexy.

The other young actors were rather more self-possessed in their real-life characters, and rather more attractive than they are made in the films... Rupert Grint, who in the film alternates between a Stan Laurel-like comic terror and an inbred slack-jawed awe as Ron Weasely, is really quite lovely when dressed properly and not snivelling or gawping; Emma Watson, who plays the bush-haired know-it-all frump-in-training Hermione Granger, is a truly beautiful and surprisingly feminine young lady.

Many of the young people in the movies have become unexpectedly good-looking, and have to be laden with prosthetics to keep them funny: Matthew Lewis, who plays the hapless Neville Longbottom, had to wear stick-out braces behind his ears and goofy false teeth (as well as shoes and clothes much too big for him) in order to disguise the handsomeness that has grown on him since the first film; the brutish and porcine Dudley Dursley is played by the rather sweet-looking Harry Melling (couldn't find a good link), who has to wear an immense fat-suit over his relatively svelte frame.

At any rate, the Extra Features are very nice, though I didn't really explore the built-in games... I have a hard time using my remote as a game-controller. Perhaps the best part is the "making of" featurette, which had a lot of footage of Alfonso Cuaròn and J.K ("Jo") Rowling sitting at a table and discussing the eerie similarities between their different internal visions of the world of Harry Potter. Seeing how some of the effects were achieved was terribly interesting as well... I had become so entrenched in the vision that I'd quite forgotten that much of the scenery and a number of the characters were total CGI.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to go through all of the extra feautre disks of my Lord of the Rings box set... each episode came with an extra disk, but after the nearly twelve hours spent on Friday, I wasn't able to devote a similar amount of time to them on Saturday, as I had to prepare for the Cookie Monster Show at Harvey's, where I would be bringing the Baroness Griselda von Beitte-Meihasse back to life for her first appearance since winning the (first last and only) Hallowqueen Pageant last year.


The show itself was fine, but the hours leading up to it were an utter disaster of bad planning. To start, I unexpectedly fell asleep in the afternoon for two hours, totally throwing myself off schedule. Then I realized that I'd lent the corset I'd planned to wear to Angelique, and she was out of town for the weekend at Los Angeles Imperial Coronation, so I had to go to Frederick's yet again to buy another one. Before that, I went scouring through a shop in Berkeley called Sunshine Fashions, seeking a high-gloss-vinyl corset or waist-cincher to match my high-gloss-vinyl thigh boots (and the waist-cincher I did find, which is really just a very elaborate belt, cost more than the boots did).

Then I picked up Madasin, and then did the grocery shopping I'd intended to do instead of sleeping (I'd also planned to go to the gym during those two lost hours, but that was simply out of the Q), and then got back to the house to get my things together and shower and shave. Of course, I couldn't find several of the things I'd wanted to wear, and had difficulty finding several others, and so wasted an hour that I could no longer afford after all of the above shenanigans.

My makeup went on like a breeze, the Baroness being much easier to paint than Marlénè... the Flapper/Goth Baroness is pretty much just a blank moon face with panda-eyes and severe cheekbones over a downturned china-doll mouth, the eyes and mouth done with one shade of bruise-purple, with black eyeliner and burst-blood-vessel-red rouge, while the much classier and classic Marlénè is a masterpiece of very subtle shadings and contours, two different colors of rouge and five of eyeshadow and three of eyeliner and a lipliner and lipstick and three separate layers of powder. Of course Marlénè is easier to put on, since I have more practice, but it takes me at least forty minutes to do that makeup, and the Baroness only took me twenty despite the unfamiliarity of the materials and shapes.

The makeup, unfortunately, was the only thing that didn't turn on me. As I was putting on the vinyl thigh-boots, the zipper on the right boot burst at the ankle — I'd forgotten to loosen the laces before I tried to zip it up, as I had with the left boot, it can be fixed but I didn't have time — and then the vinyl waist-cincher (which I had of course not tried on in the store) wouldn't close over my waist, at least not without the help of another pair of hands, and Madasin had her own wardrobe malfunctions to deal with... so the whole idea of the first dress, which was intended to be made of contrasts between the hardness of the vinyl boots and corset and the softness of the shredded-chiffon dress, the severity of the bobbed hair and the girlishness of the beaded voile throat-ribbon (which I couldn't find), was shot straight to hell.

By the time we got into the car, dressed and more-or-less ready, we were fifteen minutes late for the scheduled starting time, and Goddess knows how much longer it would take to drive there. Fortunately, when I called Cookie on my cellphone to let her know of the delay, I found that she was still getting dressed: the show wouldn't start for at least another half-hour, so we had time to get across the Bay and finish getting ready there. So I got over the Bridge and across the City double-quick, pulled into the bus stop in front of Harvey's and unloaded Madasin and our luggage, then went off looking for a parking space, finding one quickly on my usual secret-magic-parking-place-street... which is about eight blocks from the club on 18th and Castro.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to wear walking shoes (or to be more specific, tap shoes) so that I could schlepp from the car to Harvey's in a reasonable amount of comfort, instead of trying to do it in my four-inch-stilleto-heeled boots (I'd brought a back-up pair, naturally, the Edwardian-style satin knee-boots I wore for Hallowqueen last year). But still, with a corset pulled tight around my middle, freezing to death with a very cute but totally inadequate Liz Claiborne ribbon-tied rabbit stole, it was not an easy walk.

And then, the minute I got to the club, where the show had just started, and began changing into my boots and getting my jewelry on, I realized that I'd left my music in the car! So back I had to go, running part of the way, in a fully-cinched corset mind you, uphill, eight blocks back to the car, and then rushing/running all the way back again as fast as I could. At least I wasn't cold anymore. I just had time to get into my boots and put on one bracelet before I had to get up on the stage without even catching my breath or powdering my face or touching up my lipstick.

Well, as frazzled as that, it's no surprise that I didn't put near as much oomph into my first number as I'd intended, pretty much phoning in my performance while trying to breathe normally and not pass out from the strain. But then, I've noticed that most people can't tell when I'm giving a half-assed performance, and so they don't seem to mind. I mind, though: I thought the song was important, and I really wanted to be on for it.

I performed Ute Lemper's German-to-English-translated version of "The Lavender Song," a rousing anthem to gay pride that was written in 1920 and very popular in the cabarets of Berlin as Hitler was coming to power; it's pretty much a march, very militant and in-your-face, and relevant to the growing climate of reactionary backlash in this country — the second verse goes: "Round us all up, send us away / That's what you'd really like to do / But we're too strong, proud, unafraid / In fact, we almost pity you"... in view of what happened in Germany after that song was first sung, there's a poignancy that I find very stirring.

The second number, "Peel Me a Grape" as performed by the smoky and sassy Anita O'Day, went a bit better, since I could breathe, and my makeup was neat and matte, my hair combed, and I was wearing the outfit I'd intended to wear (a chiffon peignoir with faux fur collar and cuffs with my satin corset over a satin slip, and the satin boots... actually, I'd intended to wear lace-topped stockings, too, but I ended up having to wear tights because I'd not had time to shave my legs, something I haven't done in years but thought would be appropriate to the character). I was very sultry, and they loved it. Hell, I loved it!

In between and after the numbers, I also got to sit and chat with good friends: Daisy Wynan-Roses and her hubby Dean, and Miss Ivy Drip and her hubby Nick, and Princess Johnson and Dazelina and JoJo and of course Madasin; and I also got to collect compliments from various of the audience members, two of whom compared me quite favorably to Catherine Zeta-Jones (I get that whenever I wear a bob, I shall have to explore the possibility of a more direct imitation), and ogle some very cute (but fuzzy, as I wasn't wearing my glasses) young men inside and outside of the club.

Afterward I gave Cookie and her hubby Michael (I call them "hubby" in this condescending manner because I am jealous as all hell) a ride home with all of their many goods and chattels, took off my face and put on my jeans, and then Madasin and I had a late supper at Baghdad Cafe before finally heading home. I almost fell asleep several times on the way home, and seriously considered pulling over and taking a little nap, but I was afraid I'd stay asleep too long and freeze to death on some side-street in El Cerrito... explain that one to St. Petie.


Joy of all joys, Grandmother didn't wake me up at 8 to go to church Sunday morning... I had been dreading that, since I didn't get in bed until 3:30 and would have been a wreck. I was sorry that she felt sick (she's been having dizzy spells and sleeping a lot all weekend, I think she either has a flu or had a reaction to something she ate at Thanksgiving... though I don't think she ate anything I didn't), but her discomfort was my luxury when I woke up at noon after eight uninterrupted hours.

I was so overjoyed that I got up and started doing laundry (eventually, that is... after reading a little and having coffee and talking with Caroline, and during the making and eating of dinner [short ribs and steamed rainbow chard with onions, really yummmm and on my diet] and the watching of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). I'm about a third of the way through the laundering, and it feels so good to have the piles of clothes up off the floor. Of course, I wasn't so energized that I was able to pick up the trash and books and magazines that are also on the floor, nor to make my bed again with clean sheets... after all, remember that I ran several blocks uphill and downhill in a corset the night before, and I was sore (still am, actually).

So anyway, that's my Thanksgiving Weekend. When I started writing this post this morning before going to work (it's now almost 9 p.m., and I've been pecking at this all day), I had a theme that I was going to explore, which had something to do with the title at the top... but damned if I can remember what it was. That's what I get for letting work get in the way of my leisure activities! (Maybe that was the theme...) Anyway, the dryer just buzzed, I have to go fold now. Toodles!

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