mercredi 29 février 2012

Dead Monkees and Jolie Jambes: what is the world coming to?

Jolie spoofs

Although I hate to admit it, I watched the Oscars this year. And like everyone else, I thought they were awful and could not tear myself away from the television. I needed to see every awful minute. I don't care what anyone says, including JLo, she did have a wardrobe malfunction. There was definitely the shadow of a nip that was not properly tucked. I'm not sure why she was a presenter. No one else knows either, except my husband, who at first tried to say she had had some kind of bona fide career in the movies - to which I replied "Monster in Law!" - and then, realizing the folly of that statement, he retreated, mumbling something about how it had been determined that she appeals to a certain demographic. Ah! That's more like it.

I don't know when the Oscars became a runway show, with some of the models even affecting little runway poses. It didn't used to be that way. Then I left America for more than two decades, and when I came back the Oscars were all messed up. All I know is that this is not my fault. (As an aside, Davey Jones died today, and I can hear in the distance yet another Monkees song on the radio. Enough already!) The worst Oscar moment this year, and there were many to choose from, was probably Angelina and the Aggressive Leg Shot. I think everyone agrees on this point. What was she thinking? Angelina, what were you thinking? You looked really, really stupid, even though you are gorgeous, etc. Maybe you wanted to prove that you are, after all, a mere mortal? There has to be a better way.

And while I'm on the subject of movies and the Oscars, can someone explain why Steven Spielberg's War Horse was among the films nominated for Best Picture? Is the Academy afraid of pissing him off or something? And though I think Martin Scorcese has made some great films, Hugo is not among them and it was quite annoying to hear everyone thanking the great Marty S profusely, as if they were afraid not to. You'll never work in this town again kind of thing. Just as an aside, has Martin always had those Groucho Marx eyebrows? Scary.

The real purpose of this post is to say that I've been reading so much lately I haven't had time to do much else. Latest read: L'amour et des poussières by Clémence Boulouque. Feelings: Mixed. Maybe I'll elaborate another time, if only to figure out why this book bothered me before my book club meets to talk about it.

Me in my Oscar attire,at the after party (and if you can read what is written on my t-shirt, then you do not need to feel concerned by those words for a few more years at least):

lundi 20 février 2012

Amanda Knox, all set to make a killing

Last week, two things happened that should give people pause:

First, the prosecution and the family of the victim Meredith Kercher filed an appeal to Italy's highest court, asking that the acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito be overturned. In other words, for those who only get their news from US network television, the matter of the murder of Meredith Kercher is pending in Italy. Knox and Sollecito were acquitted on appeal, after having been unanimously found guilty in the court of first instance trial. Many observers outside the United States were surprised at the acquittal and even more surprised when they read Judge Pratillo Hellmann's reasoning. You can find an English translation of it online (, done by a group of volunteers who post regularly at

Second, it was announced with great fanfare that Harper Collins had won the silent bidding war for the right to publish Knox's side of the story, and that it had paid close to 4 million dollars for this right. Though HC is not confirming the sum, given the aggressive publicity surrounding the mere signing, it is fair to say the publisher is already trying to make this venture a profitable one. The usual suspects have rushed in to defend Knox's right to "tell her side" of the story. But don't get your hopes up, folks. She doesn't plan to talk about the murder itself, though no one would be interested in her story had this murder not occurred. No, she wants to talk about her life in prison. Me, me, me, I'm in love with me, me, me. You know that song?

I don't know what new details will emerge, since she has already told us more than we want to know via her various emissaries. Frankly, I think all of them suffer from narcissistic personality disorder. Candace Dempsey, Nina Burleigh, Rocco Girlanda... Never heard of any of these peoeple? Don't worry about it. They are just garden variety self-promoters who not only hitched their wagon to a potential star, they also did their best to make sure the star rose. Will they be repaid for their efforts? It has been hinted that Amanda will reward those writers who believed in her by allowing them to "help" her with the book. In truth, as Harper Collins was very quick to point out (repeatedly), Amanda will be helped by a real writer. But her name will be on the final product, of course, because she has sufficient brand appeal by now thanks to the PR firm that wrote the reality TV narrative you are seeing played out as we speak. Brandamanda.

In case anyone has forgotten, it was Harper Collins that thought publishing a book called If I Did It, by a guy named O.J. Simpson, was a fabulous idea.

Refreshingly, not everyone is just shrugging their shoulders or shouting "go for it, girl". Many people are actually troubled by the ethical issues raised and have actually found ways to grapple with them rather than refusing to acknowledge that there could be any at all. Hats off to them!

For example, Christopher Fowler has written a brilliant open letter to Harper Collins, which you can read by clicking on the title.

One thing I forgot to mention. Harper Collins is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Surprise, surprise!

mercredi 15 février 2012

Meredith Kercher's family launches appeal against acquittal on first appeal of Knox and Sollecito

Many found the "out of the blue" report at the end of last week a little odd, both for its timing and its content. In terms of content, it focused on the "silent auction" to be held amongst publishers for the right to shape and package Amanda Knox's memoirs. There were a number of basically anonymous quotes, attributed to unnamed publishers taking part in the silent bidding and a few opting out. Among those taking part, all were eager to act as if they had won the bid and were already involved in the first phase of marketing: "charming girl", "almost scholarly", "quoted Shakespeare" and blah blah blah.

In the dissenting corner, one said something like "well, it isn't as if she has been unambiguously found innocent".

You can say that again! There was no mention of the fact that the prosecution was getting ready to file its appeal of the frankly absurd and wholly illogical Hellmann decision, which set both Knox and her rather hapless ex-boyfriend free. And not just the prosecution. It is significant that the family of the murder victim, Meredith Kercher, have also launched an appeal of the verdict. It is long past time to stop acting as if they don't exist and/or as if they are merely confused.

There is a gaping divide in opinion that spans the Atlantic Ocean. And this should come as no surprise. The PR firm hired by the Knox and Mellas families just days after Amanda Knox was taken into custody has been tireless. Expensive but tireless. It has fed a load of bull to an extremely lazy, uninquiring and xenophobic US mainstream media, only too happy to read talking points prepared in advance and give sympathetic interviews with family members as they cry on cue. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure the emotion was as real as it gets for television. But things soon got murky, as these same media types began vying for the exclusive interview with the product they had helped to create. Anyway. That's old news by now.

Across the pond, and extending into Italy (which for much of the US media is part of the third world, apparently), the news feed is a bit different and the "innocent abroad" meme is not playing so well. Accordingly, the news that an appeal was duly filed comes as no surprise. In Seattle, it is "breaking news". And it is presented with the prepared reaction on the part of the family. No mention is made of the fact that it is not just the prosecution but also the family of the victim. But that's par for the course by now. We are only told that this is harassment, pure and simple. After all, that nice gentleman Mr. Hellmann said that those two kids look like decent people and their families seem very supportive, so they have to be acquitted. For those who are interested in complexity rather than fructose, click on the link to Andrea Vogt's article on the most recent developments for The Week.

I suspect the hope in launching the silent auction at this time, before the judicial process in Italy has played out, is to get as big an advance as possible so that the PR and other bills can be paid off. Talk is of seven figures. That's a good start. But then the hard part comes. No mention of who the "co-author" will be. Nor of the exact terms of the promotional participation expected from the "author". Amanda Knox has not spoken to the press since she was released. Contrast her situation with that of the two hikers held in Iran under horrendous conditions for an extended period, told they had been abandoned by their family and country. They were blindfolded much of the time and had nothing to listen to but the sounds of fellow inmates being tortured. They were finally released and, as soon as they touched down in the US, they sat down with reporters and held a two-hour press conference. Then they got on with their lives. They don't have a huge PR bill to pay. I guess that's the difference.

What the fook?

I didn't have time to stop and buy the latest issue of Fluide G. The train to Aix was leaving, with or without me.

Here's what I missed:

Saint Valentin : fuck me tender, fuck me true
Shopping : c'est la crise ! Claque ton dernier smic
Mode : looke toi comme Raël ! Shooting au bois
Sexe : la toutoute première fois de Didier Super ! 32 petits plaisirs égoïstes
People : dans le frigo à Liliane Bettencourt
Santé : la grossesse en vrai

And here is the cover, up close.

I just wanted to reassure those who may be thinking I spent all my time at Le Crillon and all them fancy places, with fancy people.

dimanche 5 février 2012

If, on a wintry night...

Have you ever seen something so spectacular you just had to stop and snap a photo, even though you realize the photo will not do justice to the beauty you are so miraculously beholding? On Friday, I was emerging from the Paris métro at Concorde, on my way to meet a friend for a drink at the nearby Hôtel de Crillon. This is what I saw unfolded before my eyes, except that the reality was a million times more breathtaking. The black Tour Eiffel against a winter sky the color of a blood orange, with the big wheel, the traffic, and the other incredulous photo snappers united in a moment of awe. It was all just too beautiful. And all I had for capturing the moment was my iPad. And in my excitement, as well as because of the unbearably cold temperature, not to mention the fact that my friend was waiting for me at the Crillon, I seem to have included my thumb in the photo. Three times. I took this photo three times, and discovered much later that my thumb is in every one.

And for those who have never ventured inside, the Crillon, while magnificant, cannot hold a candle to Paris, ablaze on a freezing wintry evening.