Kenny Powers Sheesh

Ever wonder how you’ll come back in your next life? I sometimes think that I, this over-wrought ever-apologizing caricature of delicate feelings and political correctness, might come back as Kenny Friggin’ Powers from Eastbound and Down.

“How do you find this so funny?” my husband asks as he sees me laughing at this HBO series, “you who have always hated the very idea of crude language?”

I have always hated the idea of crude language…. mostly. I really hate movies with bodily function jokes and I also hate the idea of me using crude language, so I don’t. Once, at age 19, back from college for the summer and hanging my things up in my bedroom closet, I let a double handful of wire coat hangers rattle to the floor in a wild tangle and said ‘sh__.” My mother zipped around the corner, materializing out of nowhere, to stand ashen-face before me. “Is this the kind of language my hard-earned dollars are going for?” she hissed. “To teach you language like THIS?”

That cured me for decades.

The real truth is I never could quite carry off the swearing thing. All I’ve really picked up over the years is the correct use of the word, “yo” (at the end of the sentence, for emphasis.) You also seem to use “dude” that way, as when you want to point out to someone that they’re being a baby, as in “Dude it’s a five paragraph compare-and-contrast piece. Just write it!” (I spend a lot of time helping high school kids with their homework in case that isn’t obvious.)

I hope you can view this YouTube video on your device, so you can see what I’m getting at here. This is a kind of dream sequence from Eastbound and Down with main character Kenny Powers who refers to himself in the third person with a form of the ‘f word’ for a middle name. Besides being the only clip I could find without swearing in it, it’s also a perfect illustration of one of the key elements of comedy, which is juxtaposition. Here’s this rough, egocentric former ball player now cut from the roster and trying to make a life back in his hometown as a sort of teacher’s aide at the middle school. What’s funny is the contrast between his adult cynicism and the sweetness of these pint-sized children.

This might even be the very first episode of the first season of the show which is now halfway through its third and very last season. Actor Danny McBride has done some very good straight roles too, as when he played the temporarily reluctant bridegroom with George Clooney in Up in the Air.

I guess all I’m saying is we won’t have Kenny Friggin Powers around much longer. Take off the white gloves, set down that teacup for a bit and see what you think. For the the R-rated more accurate version you can just go right to YouTube and click on almost any other scene.

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The Bouvier Cousins, Jackie & Edie

Listening to those tapes of Jackie talking on the Diane Sawyer Show last night made me realize all over again what an amazing job Drew Barrymore did playing her maternal cousin Edith Bouvier Beale, ‘little Edie’ as she was called, in HBO’s Emmy-winning Grey Gardens. Drew nailed Edie’s accent which was just like Jackie’s as my ear caught it, that is to say 10% the Hamptons-and-the-Upper-East-Side and 90% the Social Register. More fascinatingly, Edie looked very much like “Jahkleen,” though she was 12 years older than the girl who would be First Lady.

But can you see Jackie as you look at these picture of her cousin? I see Caroline too in “little Edie” who died in 2002 at 84. Can you see it above?

How about here?

I see Caroline here for sure . And here ,right?

How little we differ from our kinfolk on a genetic level. Edie and Jacqueline even had the same teeth, inward-leaning with a fair amount of exposed gum in the upper jaw. And yet one jumped through all the approved hoops and landed on her feet; married, led a dignified life and did a beautiful job raising two children. The other? Was it schizophrenia? Some kind of psychotic break it seems. There’s a story that she climbed up into a tree at Grey Gardens and and set her hair on fire. Such was her level of suffering. 

Click below to see the artistry HBO used to combine the acting of Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange as ‘big’ Edie and ‘little’ Edie with the actual footage from the 1975 Maysles brother’s documentary film on the real Bealeses. You almost can’t tell which is which.



Change o’ Pace Snowday

When the last giant snowstorm hit a few weeks ago I curled up in my bed and read all day which is totally unlike me.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that David stayed home that whole day, briskly shoveling and paying the bills and starting on the taxes.  It just felt like the more he did, the less I had to do. (It’s a marriage thing I think.)  But yesterday’s storm was a whole different thing. I woke up at 6:30 and seeing that the snow hadn’t started, jumped into my clothes and made that  7 o’clock yoga class at the Y. ‘Course then someplace between Downward Facing Dog and Corpse Pose the snow hit like a fist and a drive that had taken me 7 minutes on the way over took me 50 minutes on the way back. Hence by the time I stomped back into the kitchen with my snowy boots David was gone baby gone, off to the fun and camaraderie of office life, leaving me to have  about the most unusual day  I have ever had in that I did not read a single word during it nor even come into the same room as my conjoined twin the laptop.

Instead, I stood all day cooking. And while I cooked I watched movies on HBO. And here is what I noted:

  • Whoopi Goldberg does ‘dignified’ fine as in Mississippi Burning but is much more fun to watch swearing her head off  in Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
  • 11 years after Back to the Future Michael J Fox did a silly film called The Frighteners made tolerable only by the presence of those same scary black flying guys that go after Patrick Swayze’s killer in Ghost.
  • Zooey Deschanel’s character really disappoints the kid from 3d Rock in 500 Days of Summer but she sure has cute teeth. They’re actually real!
  • And though it’s true that I’m getting just a teensy bit tired of  It’s Complicated I still love the scene where she’s smoking a joint in the bathroom with her caddish but lovable ex and laughing like a hyena –  right up until the moment she catches sight of herself in the mirror, stops short and says suddenly, tragically. “GOD, is that what I LOOK like?!”

She is having a moment everyone over 50 has had, lemme tell ya – which is why we older folks can no longer get by on looks alone but instead have to produce now and then. Which is also why on this particular snow day I…

  • Broiled a pound of salmon,
  • Made a shrimp and avocado salad,
  • Mixed up a zingy meatloaf with oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs,
  • Tossed up an Italian tuna and arugula salad,
  • Roasted  sweet potatoes, dusting them first with sea salt and garam masala,
  • Grilled a bunch of mushrooms,
  • Culled, rinsed and steamed a world of pinto beans,
  • And fried up mashed potatoes in butter ’til I had a wonderful golden pancake all bubbling and crisp at the edges.

All of which brings oddly to mind the lyrics to this old song, often sung to me by my mate: