Monday, May 28, 2007

Phyllis enjoys watching Friday Night Lights on the Internet

When the "Internet" started, I was struck by how it lacks the late night quality of radio, television, and 24-hour convenience stores. If you turn it on in the middle of the night, it's too bright and just the same as it was when you went to bed. There is no 3-6 am dj who keeps strange company through the wee hours, no old re-runs. No obscure movie you swear no one but you had ever heard of. Even cable TV has special programming late at night. Pornography, they tell me.

But with the advent of the Internet, I also had hopes that one day, I would be able to watch whatever TV show I wanted whenever I wanted. They also tell me you can do this with dvds, and videos before. It's not the same. And I don't want to watch season one of Lost when season three is just ending. I want to jump right in with the rest of the people. I am slow, though, and I can't always get the timing right to be in front of the television when my shows come on. I hear there is something for that, too. TIVO.

I prefer the Internet. Finally, I can watch TV online. Through a winter of broken hips, arthritis, and bad luck, I have had a lot of time to convalesce. I sit at the desk, watch TV on the laptop, and knit presents for all my young women friends having babies.

Lately, I watch Friday Night Lights. Hank swears he never would have expected to find me watching a show about high school football in small town Texas, but I had heard from a mole that it was good, so I thought I would try it out. These young people are deep and troubled beyond their years, especially Riggs. He carries a burden so great it makes his hair exhausted.The number two quarterback, Matt,is sweet, unsure, and quiet. He's thrust into not-quite greatness when the real number one QB breaks his neck in the first episode and spends the rest of the episodes showing us that people in wheelchairs do best when they are male athletes.

I am most taken with the TV mom, coach-wife Connie Britton. With cleavage that could signify a much drunker mother, she is tough and kind. Everyone wants to pour their hearts out to her, which is great since she is a guidance counselor and political campaigner for a lesbian republican (for whom she didn't vote--come on, she's doing it for the schools!).

Thirteen episodes in, through two weekends, a bout of pneumonia, and much knitting and ripping, I am sort of hooked. I know the Panthers win the state championship (I checked on Television Without Pity). Sorry. Spoiler. I enjoy more the pretty young love of Matt and Julie, the coach's daughter. I like dynamics between the coach, oiled with integrity, and his no fool wife. And when I am done with Friday Night Lights, I think I will start watching Lost. I just saw my first episode last week. It was the season finale. They get off the island!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Gilmore Girls finale is a sore disappointment to Phyllis

I am not so sad to see these two masters of inanity go their separate ways. For the last few years I have watched The Gilmore Girls through the fast forward button, stopping briefly to see if anything true happened when Rory or Lorelei were in a scene that did not feature local color: Kirk, Babette, Sally Struthers, or the town boob, Taylor. I always liked Lorelei the best, though I never understood why an upper-class teenager who left home at 16 had a baby would name her daughter after herself. Call me Jewish.

Maybe I just liked Lorelei and Rory because they were pretty, but when Rory became a self-satisfied crust of her former brainy self, I started to lose interest. And then when Luke got himself a daughter who talked just as fast and cute as L and R, I really lost interest. And yet I watched. I hated Logan, so smarmy and foil highlighted. I didn't even like what's his name--Rory's first boyfriend. Big dumb lunk who had the dumbest exit: marry at 18, sleep with Rory, go all Supernatural...

I did like Paris, who was mean. And I liked it when Emily and Lorelei were together. Emily was mean, too, but there was something honest about her desire to be a part of Lorelei's life. Mrs. Kim was mean, but like Emily, she knew who she was and there was a loving consistency to both of their characters.

The premise of seeing a mother and daughter who actually like each other, and having the mother be good at taking care of herself, her kid, her charming house, and on top of it all, dress well, was fun to watch for a while. It was good when Lorelei never married, and it was stupid when she married Christopher, the helpless father of Rory. It was asinine that when Luke and Lorelei finally got together, Luke was a total idiot about keeping Lorelei out of every thought and decision he had or made: where to live, how to be a parent, what to wear.

So I guess I have nothing nice to say in the end. But I will watch the finale through fast forward, stopping when Rory and Lorelei are on screen together with their shiny hair and frittered-away potentials.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

How Hank would like to see The Sopranos end

At the apex of whatever crisis they pose at the end--AJ gets murdered, or Phil comes gunning for Tony, or Carmela decides to run for governor--Tony awakens with a start. Bad dream.

Only he's not Tony. He really is an accountant named Kevin Finnerty whose long fever has just broken. "I just had the craziest dream," he tells the crowd gathered round his bed. "You was in it. And you, and you was in it, and--Jesus fuckin' Christ, you was in it too!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Making faces: People's "100 Most Beautiful" issue

Hank: This morning I drank too much coffee, and as so often happens I have been experiencing a bout of intestinal distress. It has given me a chance to look at your "100 Most Beautiful" issue of People. Is there one particular cosmetic surgeon who specializes in computer-generated faces, honey, or is it a bigger trend? Halle Berry used to be so gorgeous, and now she scares me. I miss bad facelifts. They were entertaining. Today there are so many blank, perfect faces on old and young alike that it just makes me sad. Do you know what these women have, Phyllis? They have mall faces. Their mugs look like anonymously, efficiently designed high traffic public spaces.

Do you remember George Orwell's observation that "On their fiftieth, everybody wears the face they deserve"? I think he was talking about the way your experience gets written into the lines of your face. This is why Gwyneth Paltrow's mom is still hot--at, what, 60?--and Halle Berry and Sarah Jessica Parker and Meg Ryan are not; on
their fiftieth, they will only have the faces that they paid for.

It also calls to mind the words of Roland Barthes (still, for my money, the finest critic ever run over by a laundry truck), who once said that it was not nudity that was erotic, but the intermittence of clothing and skin. And isn't that like saying it's not natural beauty that's sexy so much as the mixture of natural beauty and world-worn lines of experience?

Are there any Hollywood faces that particularly bother you, sugar?

Phyllis: I am coming to think that plastic surgery, when it's not wholly egregious and monstrous, is sort of like urban development--when a building that's always been there is suddenly demolished and replaced with a parking lot, it's hard to remember where exactly that deli or corner store or nail salon once stood. That said, there are certain faces that I really can't take:

1. Nicole Kidman: She was never particularly beautiful, really, but she had a pleasant softness to her. Now, neither her face nor her person has any personality. She is tight, pursed, shiny, and mean. I don't like her anymore. But I continue to love
Moulin Rouge.

2. Nancy Pelosi: Her nose could open envelopes.

3. Posh Spice: Burn victim who had no choice but to construct a nose out of bone cartilage.

4. Michael Jackson and his whole family, Courtney Love (she still looks pretty messy, which is human at least), Melanie Griffith, Meg Ryan (she was never pretty, but that doesn't mean she has to look like a duck), and Tori Spelling.