Thursday, November 20, 2003

Today: Zankou, gym, groceries. Read a little bit about pronoun anaphora. No writing. Could have gone to a preview of the new Errol Morris doc on Robt. Macnamara, but it'll be around.

Yesterday -- managed to get to UCLA early, spent all day (really, about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., an actual workday) preparing academic job applications -- dull stuff like xeroxing materials and copy-and-pasting 13 almost identical cover-letters. Also figured out which jobs w/ later deadlines I want to apply to -- more copies next week. Stench of futility hangs over the entire enterprise. Had various conversations over the course of the day w/ fellow grad-students (one actually said, of speaking to me, "I'm discharging an obligation." My academic relationships are so warm.)

Went to Lasky Barn near Hwd Bowl (site of -- the barn, not the Bowl -- my first sort-of-date w/ Bree, almost exactly 6 years ago -- actually, it must have been Dec., b/c Will Baum and I met her outside LACMA the week after Thanksgiving) for a screening of -What's The Matter With Helen-, 1971, Curtis Harrington dir. (and present for questions). Shelley Winters, Debbie Reynolds (the latter, weirdly, looking as though she could still be in her early 30s), amazing cameo by Agnes Moorehead late in the film as an Aimee Semple Macpherson type -- there's one shot where she glares at Shelley Winters' character so witheringly, it's profound and campy all at once. (She's great, also, in a hyper-Oedipal episode of -Suspense- I heard recently.) Flick very much in mode of -What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?-, same screenwriter. There's more memorabilia in the barn than there was a few years ago -- suits of armor, old Bowl programs, etc. -- and the expected musty filmbuff crowd. Heard one very tanned aging queen actually saying, "...and I worked for a while at the Lido de Paree...," and there was this hunky kid of obviously limited intelligence (or at least expressive skills), asking interminable questions during the Q & A that amounted to: "How long was the shooting schedule?" He looked like the kind of gay porn star you imagine Dennis Cooper imagining his characters disemboweling. Harrington was genial -- said Winters used to play Puccini on a portable phonograph on the set, ostensibly to 'enter the mood,' but really to keep Debbie Reynolds on edge! (Also complained about her lighting.) I asked a question about David Raskin's score -- I had forgotten he'd also done -Night Tide.- Said Raskin made sure that the orchestrations for the big band in the shipboard scene was authentically period. Actually, the tango therein was an original composition -- the film had a limited budget, so the only old songs they could afford rights to were "Goody Goody" (used repeatedly), "Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?" and a very brief snatch of "Bye Bye Blackbird."

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