Sunday, October 16, 2011

march and mirth

1. a caffeinated review of the ides of march

AK and I drove through drive-thru Starbucks on the way home tonight to get hot chocolate because it’s a night that calls for coziness. But they accidentally made mine a mocha, so here I am, all wired up with nothing to blog about. But since when did that ever stop anyone from blogging?

The thing we were on our way home from was The Ides of March, a movie so dark it was hard to believe it was actually in color. Afterward, I kept telling AK that I didn’t want to work in politics, until she was like, “Okay, I get it.” As if she’d been pestering me to run for city council or something.

Ides is a really smart movie about people resorting to dirty, dirty means to justify noble ends; it also feels like George Clooney’s answer to the people who keep actually pestering him to run for office.

That answer is: Sure, I can look good saying idealistic things, but I’m going to imprint you with this image of me as a sleazeball with poor judgment so that you’ll shut up already. Remember? I like to have fun. I have a house on Lake Como and fuck models. Why would I want to live in a world where those things are a liability?

Evan Rachel Wood is good as an intern with apparent daddy issues. Marisa Tomei is a little bit ridiculous as an anything-for-a-scoop reporter. Partly it’s how she’s costumed: in these thick-rimmed glasses and men’s shirts and strategically tousled hair. She looks like someone doing an impression of a reporter. I think an actual reporter would wear, like, a nice sweater and sensible heels.

2. houses of mirth

Apparently it is Craftsman Weekend, which may be a holiday unique to Pasadena, California. This morning my dad and I took the Arroyo Terrace Walking Tour of the Greene & Greene homes near the Gamble House. Beautiful stuff—dark shingles, Japanese-inspired horizontal lines, hand-carved everything. I think my favorite detail was a wall made of clinker bricks (the wonky bricks at the bottom of the kiln) that looked like it was growing out of a row of arroyo boulders.

Even though a lot of these houses would go for about five million dollars today, the people who live in them drive Subarus and Leafs (Leaves?). An elderly man who lived in one remodeled Greene & Greene home (remodeled to make it smaller) saw the tour and invited us to wander around his yard. It reminded me that not everyone in the one percent is a stay-off-my-lawn snob.

Tomorrow is book club, where we’ll talk about The House of Mirth. Edith Wharton does an amazing job of breaking down the numerous subspecies of the upper classes. There are the wealthy society people, the secretly poor society people, the nouveau riche climbers and poor “gentlewomen” who rely on charity yet have servants. I’m really confused by the latter.

But, anyway, Pasadena’s old moneyed seem like they fall into that category of people who don’t need to be flashy because they’re so secure in their positions. I feel like they have season tickets to things and buy books. I don’t believe in art that’s only for the upper crust, but I’m also grateful for anyone who thinks art is worth something. If I were rich (isn’t it great how everyone has a contingency plan for what they’ll do when they strike gold?), that’s how I’d use my money. Also, I would buy a pony. But it would be a rescue pony.

Okay, I think the caffeine is wearing off; I’m too tired to hit “publish,” so this will probably go up in the morning. Thanks for hanging with me in the wee hours.


Claire said...

I haven't read House of Mirth, but I remember taking a short lunch so I could skip out a bit early from work to see a late matinee of it. Gillian Anderson, FTW!

For what might pass as lit cred, I've been to Wharton's summer home a number of times. Even directed a play in high school that was performed in the drawing room. Not to brag or anything. ;) I've been meaning to go back since they restored the gardens.

Cheryl said...

The version of the book I read had a random negative review of the movie in the back, but I remember really liking it at the time.

Someday I hope I'll have a summer house (with a drawing room!), and that high school kids will perform plays in it.

Don said...

I lo-o-ove Craftsman homes. Any California neighborhood that was built 1910-ish has some, parts of my old home town included, where I would walk around late at night dreaming of being a combination of H.P. Lovecraft and Bernard Maybeck.

Cheryl said...

I had to Wikipedia Bernard Maybeck, but wow--he made some great stuff. Now my own late-night walks will be more educated. :-)