Friday, August 22, 2008

Keep Making That Face And It'll Stay That Way

I remember as a young boy noticing that cartoons always depicted a frown as a pronounced arch. But this puzzled me because I never really saw someone frown like that. Certainly not so dramatically as they did in drawings. (I'm guessing I had not fully grasped the concept of caricatures at this point.) Of course, it never really bothered me that no one exactly smiled with a capital 'U' in the middle of their face either, but that's me.

Anyhow, I distinctly remember sitting in front of the mirror, trying to make my face frown like the people in cartoons. And with a little work, I succeeded. Sure, it was a strain. My face muscles fought back, telling me this was not a natural position for the corners of my mouth. But soon I had strengthened those muscles and perfected the cartoon frown.

Now, here I am, probably 35 years later, looking at some recent pictures of my playing in a jazz combo and the orchestra:

What the hell?!?

Now, I realize that musicians make all kinds of facial and bodily contortions when they play. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull performs some sort of gymnastic floor exercise when he's playing his flute and Joe Cocker appears to be having a seizure when he sings. Numerous guitarists make painful faces, as if it's physically hurting them to make their guitar speak. Premier jazz bassist Rufus Reid goes between two facial expressions: bemused wonder (with pursed lips and wide eyes) and extreme joy (greatest grin I ever did see).

Me? With my furrowed brow and cartoon frown, I have a look that hovers somewhere between anger and sadness, probably because I can't get the bass to play what I'm telling it to play.

When I was in the recording studio last night, I thought about my expression when I'm playing. I had to make a conscious effort to not look angry. I can only image what kind of grimace I came up with. Maybe that's why the engineer kept asking me if I was ok.

These pictures got me wondering just how often I make this face. Do I go through life with a perpetual frown just because I made faces as a kid? Is this why no one ever talks to me? I've found myself looking in my rear view mirror on more than one occasion while driving, trying to turn my frown upside down. I was doing the same thing the other day in the restroom at work before someone else walked in and I had to hurry and pretend to wash my hands.

The thing is, I've seen pictures of me when the photographer yells "Say cheese". I don't look natural. You can see the pain in my eyes. The muscle strain of having to hold my mouth in this awkward, foreign position. Hell, even when I have no expression at all, my mouth isn't straight across; it dips down on the ends. It'll be interesting to see what I look like in 30 or 40 more years...a grumpy old curmudgeon that kids throw eggs at.

Can you train yourself to smile at 44?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The List

The other day, my wife posted her "freebie list". None of these choices surprised me; her list has been pretty consistent over the years. This, of course, prompted me to compose my list. Sounds like fun, right?

We always joke about "the list" and who's on it. It's a fun game of "what if" that is never really taken seriously (well, usually - I did have a relationship broken-up once by someone who looked uncannily like David Lee Roth, who happened to be on her list).

So, who do I include on my list? The problem is, my list always seems to change depending on my mood. Ooh, she's on my list! So is she! And her too! What the hell, put him on my list too! How many do we get again?

Putting the list down in a blog is akin to laminating it and putting it in your wallet. This requires some thought. Should I be so obvious as to include Scarlett Johansson and J. Lo? What about the pure fantasy women like Marilyn Monroe, Myrna Loy and Betty Rubble? I just don't feel right including Anne Hathaway and Melissa Joan Hart.

That being said, here's my list...

Christina Applegate
On my list from the moment Kelly Bundy turned of age. I was so happy to see her new show doing well. She's a classic beauty with that certain girl-next-door quality. It seems almost a shame to include her on such a crass list. Almost.

Rosario Dawson
While Rachel Leigh Cook was adorable as Josie, Rosario's Valerie brought the real sex appeal to Josie & The Pussycats. Follow that with dancing and singing in Rent and kicking ass in Grindhouse, and she easily earns a spot on my list.

Charlize Theron
Beautiful, smart, talented. What's not to like about Charlize Theron?

I loved that she took on the Monster role, and fought hard for it. Very brave. Which brings me to the next entry on my list...

Christina Ricci
What can I say? She appeals to my quirky side. Sure, she's done family/children features like Ca
sper and Speed Racer, but she's done some pretty raunchy stuff too. I haven't seen Black Snake Moan because, frankly, I'm scared. She never seems one to play it safe.

Her alternates would be Bjork and Helena Bonham Carter.

Queen Latifah
This woman is just downright gorgeous. She exudes confidence from every pore. Her voice is wonderful and she's not afraid to be exactly who she is. Oh, and the curves!

So there you have it. That's my list. Some of my favorite TV and movie "girlfriends" are notably absent: Jami Gertz, Dinah Manoff and Ann-Margaret spring immediately to mind. Oh, and Valerie Bertinelli. And Janeane Garofalo. And...

I love you honey :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reports: DeGeneres and de Rossi wed in California

Found this article on Yahoo this morning:
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - There was much dancing: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are married, according to reports.

In the biggest celebrity union since California legalized same-sex marriage, DeGeneres, 50, and de Rossi, 35, wed Saturday night in an intimate ceremony at their Beverly Hills home, People and Us Magazine reported.

A publicist for DeGeneres confirmed People's report and gave no further comment.
After the California Supreme Court's ruling in May, the talk-show host announced that she and de Rossi would wed after four years together.

The ceremony was attended by 19 guests, including DeGeneres' mom, Betty, and de Rossi's mother, Margaret Rogers, who had flown in from Australia, reported Saturday night.

DeGeneres said after winning her fourth consecutive Daytime Emmy for talk show host in June that a date had not been set, and that she would show "a tiny bit" of the nuptials on her show.

While opponents in California have gathered signatures to put a measure on the November ballot for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Hollywood was throwing its support behind the newlyweds.
Congrats to the happy couple. I hope the people of California allow them to remain married.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What Breed of Liberal Are You?

Here's what I got. How about you?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.