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I'm devouring a wonderful book about the King - Graceland: Going Home with Elvis, by Karal Ann Marling. I haven't read anything Elvis since the notorious 1981 biography by Albert Goldman - the faithful detest that book, but I found it fascinating, and actually became an Elvis person 1 because of it. This new (1996) book is much more balanced, not so focused on the story's dark side, but she has a writing style I find rather annoying - many of her descriptive sentences lack verbs. Upon reflection though, I guess I do the same thing, only I break up my phrases with hyphens instead of the period, space & capitalized letter.

Discovered a great site this past week, what's categorized as a "web-log," which seems to mean a distillation of what the author's recently found on the web. This one is Robot Wisdom, and it's chock-full of interesting links - check it out; daily updates. From there I got wind of the new interview with Matt Groening in Mother Jones, essentially about the new "Futurama" show but the discussion ranges all over. Favorite quote: "I think people put up with a lot of lousy entertainment because they look around and say, look, everybody else made the same choice." At work a common occurence Fridays is as group troops out to catch the new film opening - yesterday's choice was "Analyze This," which nearly provoked my gag reflex when they asked me - pay money to see Billy Crystal? I despise that guy; no, he's not funny, and neither was Chevy Chase, but both seem to sell tickets for a while, for reasons which mystify me. Anyway, joining the rabble to see a movie when it's new is very rare behavior for me - just too unpleasant, sitting among the full-house crowd of popcorn-munching eaters, with no choices for moving to a better seat.

So today, what do I do? Rush out to see a movie which opened yesterday; this one's no mass-market success however, the theater was pleasantly deserted. The name Julia Sweeney is known to those people with mainstream television viewing habits; I understand she was on "Saturday Night Live" for a while, but my only exposure is the Joe Frank program called "In A Lonely Place"2 which is mostly just the early, "Uncabaret" form of the monologue, now expanded into her one-woman show of "God Said, Ha!" Now I know what she looks like (great eyes) and more details of her family's struggle with her brother's fatal lymphoma cancer. The story had similarities with my own experience - not only did I "get" (and enjoy) all her LA references, but the situation of her brother's paralleled my own friend David's losing battle with AIDS-related complications. Someday I should do a whole page about him, with many pictures, but here's one I took in his Santa Monica living room a year Before which he described as "scary."

More details - previews I caught (was a couple minutes late) included a movie about modern ballet called "Paul Taylor Dancemaker" (yawn) and what I assumed was a French film, "The School of Flesh."3 The cinema was the Lumiere, up in the City, the same place I saw "Happiness" on New Year's Day. Standing on the corner afterwards, digging the scene at California & Polk, my eye was drawn to a large pink neon crab on the multi-level mini-mall opposite, which was suddenly moving! As my eyes gathered more information it became apparent that the crab was affixed to the top of an exterior elevator - I crossed the street for an up-close inspection. Turned out I was at the chic Euro-Asian fusion restaurant called Crustacean, and I shoulda gone in but I wanted sushi so I drove cross town to 9th & Irving, south of Golden Gate Park, for a place called Ebisu I've heard rated highly. Unfortunately it was by now too late, prime dine time Saturday evening, and Ebisu was jammed. So instead, I repaired to the quiet, nearby Howard's Cafe for a reasonable American dinner of a salmon steak, which came with a tasty side of homemade mashed potatoes and gravy Elvis would've appreciated - will try for sushi tomorrow.

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Mar 13
© 1999
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1 When it was new I read a review for that Tom Hanks picture called "That Thing You Do" which described a dichotomy between Elvis people and Beatle people, that only the latter would appreciate this film. Demographically I should sit squarely in the Beatle camp, but both have their appeals to me. In fact I even bought a couple of the King's records before he died, after I'd read the Goldman book I acquired several more. Mostly his early stuff, however - I agree completely with John Lennon's sentiment - in 1977, when informed of His death, John said that "Elvis died when he went into the Army."

2 Which I'da never heard if it weren't for the efforts of the Martian Princess - thanks, CZ!

3 Because its lead is Isabelle Huppert, an actress we know from one great night in 1979, when David, Geoff & Diann, our friend Lise and I were driving around DC looking for a diversion, and we wound up at a cinema showing her "Violette." I was casting the only dissenting vote for this choice, but we all loved it, and I even saw the film again a couple years later, on a date which turned disastrous because she hated the story, which concerns a girl who poisoned her parents.