Friday, December 30, 2016

Rubin's Rubric: Dark Matters

"Science is competitive, aggressive, demanding.
It is also imaginative, inspiring, uplifting." - Vera Rubin

I felt compelled to write this after hearing about the death of Vera Rubin. A legendary astronomer, she discovered dark matter. Nominated but never awarded a Nobel prize, she received numerous other awards for her life's work.

From her we learn, "Dark matters".

Rubin's Rubric: Dark Matters

Vera watched a life's worth of decades.
Stars swirl by her window sill.
Year after year, galaxies whirl and rotate
Until she stands next to Ford at Mellon,
Wondering why planets don't loosen and ovate.
Instead, they watch Andromeda strain against itself
Then she remembers: Coma's gravity was so great
It clustered. Fritz Zwicky confirms as much himself.

Strong enough, yet unseen, almost forgotten.
It lassoes the stars, reigns over them,
Corralling the light into submission.
Unexpected, like a cosmic Black Bart:
Fourth walls broken into seeming mayhem
A force so dark, moving into a Wilder direction.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Truman lives up to his name
Capote: a story of the man in the mirror

I watched Capote again--Hulu was promoting it as a feature film tonight. A riveting film, the movie is about the making of Truman Capote's renowned book, "In Cold Blood".

I read the book a long time ago; I was just out of college. It was riveting, chilling and un-put-downable. Called a non-fiction novel for the creative licenses that some thought Truman took, it could be argued this this bio-pic took the same license with Truman's life.

The film is the back story of how Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman), with the help of Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), wormed his way into the small town of Holcomb, Kansas to inject himself into the chief of police's (Chris Cooper) home, the investigation and, ultimately, the murderers' prison cells.

Ultimately, the movie's lens lands upon Truman's relationship with one of the murderers, Perry Smith. Perry, articulate, artistic and charming, is the product of a transient Cherokee mother and a violent, alcoholic father.

"It's as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he stood up and went out the back door, while I went out the front," he explains to Harper. And she, of all people, knew about Truman's own troubled childhood.

So accurate is Hoffman's performance that when Truman rolls into a fetal position on his bed, you see Dill Harris in his back-of-the-head cowlick and sloped shoulders. As Virginia Woolfe said, "A true picture of man as a whole can never be painted until a [person] has described that spot [at the back of his head] the size of a shilling." In that moment, you see his childish fear and insecurity.

Truman, so self-involved that he began writing his acceptance speech before he even started writing the book, was conflicted enough by his relationship with Perry that he drank his way through Harper Lee's movie opening. This was the beginning his eventual alcoholism and the end of his friendship with Harper Lee.

A truer man has never spoken, or in Truman's case, written again.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Film Festival

Black Friday, for me, is a movie marathon day. I had no intention of putting myself into the throes of insanity swimming around the stores.

A day on the couch, I watched a range of movies, beginning with a classic, "All About Eve" (1951) with Bette Davis and Ann Baxter. 

The first movie to sweep the Oscars, it racked up a record 14 Oscar nominations. It took nearly 50 years before another movie--The Titanic--was able to replicate this feat. 

Awarded six Oscars, one for Best Picture, another for Best Director and another for George Saunder's noteworthy performance as Addison DeWitt. Ann Baxter, living up to her character, "Eve", lobbied for the Best Actress nomination over the Best Supporting Actress, and effectively caused a split in the votes between her and Bette Davis. Consequently, neither won the award, handing it to Judy Holliday for her role in "Born Yesterday" (a role later replicated by Melanie Griffith). The movie also included two scenes with the ingenue, Marilyn Monroe, who sparkles on screen. The remaining Oscars were for costume design, writing and sound.

And the story was sure to dazzle the Academy. With a story that gives an inside look at the machinations of making a Broadway star, it was sure to capture the Academy's attention. Add to the mix sharp and snappy dialogue, elegant costumes and the top actors of the day, the movie was sure to win. Notably, Bette Davis's performance as Margo Channing is ranked #5 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.

Next up on my list was "Soapdish" (1991) with Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey, Jr. and Whoopi Goldberg. Yet another movie that pays homage to acting, this time  the movie wittily does a soapy take on the making of a long-running day-time soap opera.

With over-the-top performances made with winks, nods and bows to the movies--even Mae West's "come up and see me some time" makes it into the movie--the movie lived up to its intent to replicate the look, feel and tone of a day-time soap.

Only Kevin Kline was nominated for a Golden Globe but I think all actors did a terrific job and continued to have lucrative careers in the business. Perhaps the Academy didn't want to award such a low genre of acting. But I couldn't help thinking how difficult it must have been for such good actors to play such bad actors.

Layer on top of this the just-outside-of-the-80s hairstyles and costumes and the garish, flat set designs of a soap opera, the film even captured that odd quality of cinematography that creates the milieu of soap operas. Funny, sharp dialogue layered three plays within this film, making this perhaps one of the funniest movies that I have seen in a while.

Next up: "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" with Renee Zeigweiller, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. A sequel to "Bridge Jones's Diary", the movie picks up 6 weeks into Bridget's new relationship with Mark Darcy, the proper, admirable and Jane Austen's Darcy-like--the mini-series version--boyfriend (wink-wink).

Bridget is so taken with her good fortune of being in a romantic relationship the likes of Mark Darcy that she frequently name-drops the facts of his status, title and profession. But she cannot cast aside neither her clumsiness nor her insecurities, soon jeopardizing her new relationship with her antics.

Lurking around the edges is Hugh Grant's Daniel Cleaver, ever the playboy who is all too willing to  bed Bridget when her relationship goes awry. Sweeping her away to Thailand to act as a televised tour guide, Cleaver unceremoniously dumps Bridget leaving her behind when she is swept up into drug scandal.

Although the movie earned $8.7 million during its opening weekend, setting a record until broken by Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Obviously, audiences had high hopes for this sequel but were likely disappointed, as was I, by this silly farce. Not clever, not funny and full of pot shots, it was no fun watching the pudgy Renee attempt to stir up the likes of Hugh and Colin. 

And while multi-tasking on my second screen, I scored a few great deals online:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Creative Dollar Tree DIY to celebrate Day of the Dead

Looking for a creative and inexpensive way to decorate for Halloween and Day of the Dead?

Visit Dollar Tree and scoop up a couple of skeleton heads--each one only $1!

Then take a bundle of magic markers and go at it.

I decided to take a bit of liberty with the tradition and dedicated two of my heads to Frida Kahlo and Elvis Presley.

Which one do you like best?

A video posted by Sophia Lisa (@lihsa) on

A video posted by Sophia Lisa (@lihsa) on

A video posted by Sophia Lisa (@lihsa) on