East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"


Some Saturday Stuff: July 12th.

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Diane Keaton as Annie Hall.

 

Happy Saturday, All. I've been texted and questioned a few times this week on Instagram about how I'm doing, and I figure I'll restate here: I'm okay. I haven't been on Facebook for the past two weeks (well, I've logged into my dummy account to update this blog's and my church's respective pages), not because of some horrid decline in health but because I was getting way too aggravated over stuff I was reading on there. Irrational and uninformed arguments against the soccer, Christianity, Christians in general and that kind of stuff. It's not that I cannot tolerate con arguments- I actually like them, when they're done well. Quite frankly, I find it boring to log onto sites that serve up what I'm already thinking. Challenge me. Question my beliefs. Pop my epistemic bubble and so on and so forth.

 

But what I saw popping up in my Newsfeed was tired old posts about Christians as sheep, idiots, and liars. The stories were coming because I "liked" some sites that cater to the educated, the freethinking. I guess freethinkers think religious people are enslaved and should be emancipated. Or something. There were similarly annoying posts about how unAmerican soccer is- which pretty much amounted to we here in the U.S. already have one sport called football, so the rest of the world can (and should) go shut up and sit down. Or something.

 

So basically, the left pages were telling me I'm stupid for being a Believer while the right was being just as nasty because of my treason of watching the World Cup. As I felt my blood pressure rise, I logged out from my phone and iPad and later my laptop. I have to say, it's been so much more peaceful- in my head. Stupid, arguing at the disembodied versions of people I'll never meet or know- except online.

 

Yes, yes, I'm okay. My father is not. He's back in the ICU. His kidneys shut down and he had to receive dialysis. And another blood transfusion. He has pneumonia again.

 

It's a house of cards. He skipped a dose of his blood pressure medication one day, and was late on another the next, and now, eight weeks later, he is still paying for it. Profusely.

 

He's been in my dreams twice recently. His voice was booming in both. I only hear him in my dreams. Me and my dreams.

 

When Lebron announced he was headed back to Ohio, my first thought was to call him. Then the sick feeling swept over me when I remembered.

 

I've been asked how am I doing in regards to my father's precarious condition. I respond with "okay" because I don't no what else to offer up. I'm sure as hell not okay with it. It's like when someone (occasionally) asks how am I handling Joscelyne's death. As much as I can talk, I have yet to find an answer that describes how I'm doing. I want to say that somedays, some moments, it comes back and takes hold of me and I die a bit inside, too, that with every passing day, I live, and die.

 

But can you imagine being on the receiving end of a statement like that? You ask someone a casual "How are you?" and they respond with a jumble of emo rambling. Um, yeah, awkward. So okay is my catch-all reply. It is, in a sense, true.

 

I've been filling my FB-free time with movies and books, and that brings me to the shot of Diane Keaton in "Annie Hall" up there. I finally saw the whole thing a couple of days ago, and I enjoyed it. I really loved Annie's clothes. I've been a fan of menswear-inspired clothes since I was little. By the time I was eleven, I had already stole a few of my dad's 70's era flannel button downs and one of his newsboy caps. Being a middle schooler on a very tight budget via allowance, I skipped the "inspired" and just went for the menswear.

 

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Woody Allen and Keaton.

 

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So here's a few tips I got while watching the 1977 classic which won four Oscars:

 

  • Vests are cool. I've got a gray, black, white and burgundy herringbone vest I bought about eight years ago that I've worn with a variety of jeans, skirts and slacks for less than 20 bucks. It never fails to garner compliments, either. Seeing it on Keaton in the pictures above explains why. It's simple, looks smart and has an understated way of showing off a trim waist.
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  • Flats can be fun. Especially when they're brightly colored. In the scene above, I was immediately drawn to Annie's green shoes. They provide an unexpected shot of color that compliment the black and red of the rest the outfit.

 

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Accessories. A long black scarf or a simple skinny belt can set an outfit off. Sometimes less is more. Oh, and pop that collar.

 

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 Scarves, scarves and more scarves. Spring, summer, fall and winter, Annie makes scarves work the whole year round, around her neck, layered over dresses or tied around her waist as a belt.

 

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Don't forget your hat.

 

Although Keaton became a fashion star because of her role, I noticed Woody's other ladies with some cute things, too.

 

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Carol Kane and Allen.

 

Layer up the necklaces. I love these red beads layered over a simple black scoop neck top. The giant "Adlai" button is optional.

 

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Allen and Janet Margolin.

 

Or, wear one big chunky tribal necklace with matching earrings. I absolutely love this look, including the daishiki she's got on. Adorable.

 

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Allen with Shelley Duvall.

 

Floral prints can be timeless.

 

 

Any more "Annie Hall" fans out there with fashion tips to add? Comment away below.

 

Before digging into Woody Allen films (I also watched "Manhattan" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"), I breezed through Christopher Beha's new book "Arts & Entertainments".I got a Kindle copy as a break from "Franny and Zooey" by J.D. Salinger. I started it over a month ago, and while I zoomed through the "Franny" part, I've stumbled on "Zooey". It's written fine, I just... do not like Zooey. He goes on and on, blabbing in such a cocky, conceited way. He curses too much (and with no flair unlike Salinger's Holden Caulfield in "The Catcher in the Rye"). Maybe Zooey is what Caulfield would be if he were in his 20's and still so self-indulgent. I don't know. I just needed to put it down, and Beha's book was the perfect thing to pick up.

 

I chose "Arts" after reading this interview of Beha at Harper's(H/T: Prufrock). An excerpt:

 

His second novel, Arts and Entertainments, out today from Ecco, concerns Eddie, an actor whose career has dead-ended in the drama department of an all-boys prep school in Manhattan. Exhausted by the petty humiliations of life in New York without money, and unmanned by his inability to afford fertility treatments for his wife, Susan (to say nothing of the ensuing child or children), he decides to sell a sex tape he’d made five years earlier with a now-famous ex. When the pornographer’s promise of anonymity turns out to be a lie, the novel swerves deftly into a satire of reality TV, New York media culture, and the sanctimonious politics of private schools. But at heart, the novel is a comedy of remarriage. Even while we’re laughing at Eddie’s self-inflicted plights — imprisoned in a luxury hotel by a menacing swarm of photographers; watching himself be excoriated on the morning shows — we’re rooting for him and Susan to come together. The result is a book that captures the contradictory impulses to have everyone see you, and to control how you are seen. I put six questions to Beha via email:

 

 

1. Did you start out looking for a certain kind of story about celebrity, and that led you to the sex tape, or was it the reverse?

 

I suppose there are some writers who sit down with the thought, “I’d like to express my ideas about X — what story can I find as a vehicle for these ideas?” But I always start with a story — with characters in a predicament — and let the thematic implications of the story emerge in the telling. There’s likely an extent to which my thematic preoccupations inform what kinds of stories I choose to tell, but if so, that happens quite unconsciously. What I’m aware of is hitting upon a decision that a person might be faced with and working out the consequences of that decision.

 

In the case of Arts & Entertainments, this decision came from a short story by Edith Wharton called “That Good May Come,” which is about a failed poet, unable to sell any of his poems, who is given an opportunity to sell instead a piece of gossip about a married woman. It’s a great example of Whartonian melodrama, and it inspired me to start writing my own short story, about a failed actor who is given a chance to sell a sex tape. (This seemed to me the obvious contemporary analog to the predicament Wharton describes.) Probably I wouldn’t have been interested in updating the story if it hadn’t already seemed to speak in interesting ways about all sorts of cultural phenomena that we think of as particular to our time but that have been with us forever. That said, it wasn’t until I really got into the writing of the thing that I understood what a great vehicle a sex tape provided for talking about issues that are of great importance to me. At that point I realized the short story I’d started was going to be a novel.

 

...

 

4. Did writing the novel change your views on celebrity? Is wanting to be more famous an important or relevant thing in your life?

 

This is not an original observation, but I think people who are really good at being famous treat their celebrity as a kind of artistic creation. They don’t identify entirely with it. They are willing to expose that creation to the necessary ups and downs that will make it a rich, interesting character. People who are bad at being famous never learn to separate themselves from their creation.

 

As for myself, if I were motivated by fame I would not spend my time writing novels. I’m not sure what even qualifies as fame for a novelist these days. Would I like to have 20,000 Twitter followers instead of 2,000? I guess. I’d like my books to be read as widely as possible. I’d like them to make me a lot of money, because if I had more money it would be easier to write more books. But I’m not looking for the world to validate my work by talking about me. I don’t mean that to sound sanctimonious. Probably the reason I’m not looking for the world to validate my work is that I’m a raving egomaniac about it. I suspect most novelists are. Writing novels is really hard to do, and the world on balance doesn’t give a shit whether you do it or not, so you’ve got to have some ego just to persist.

 

5. One of your epigraphs comes from Henry James, who writes that the “celebrities of the future” are distinguished by their “perfect heartlessness.” Your characters don’t come off as heartless, even when they’re acting heartlessly. What did you take from the James line? Do you think it still applies?

 

I liked the James line for the same reason I liked Wharton’s story — as evidence that there is nothing new under the sun. So much of what we think of as particular to our time has been around forever. But I also like the quote because I think there is real truth to it. As I said above, I think fame requires treating your public image as something of a fictional character. But it also requires treating other people as fictional characters in one’s drama — and it has to be one’s own drama, of course; no one imagines being a minor character in someone else’s drama. The step from treating yourself as a character to treating others as characters is where the heartlessness comes in.

 

I thought about that public persona as artistic character after Beyonce talked about having an alter ego, Sasha Fierce (now deceased, by the by), when performing. I wonder where does Sasha end and Beyonce begin? And isn't Beyonce- the Beyonce where are permitted to see, hear and watch still a creation, too? Beyonce is currently on tour with her husband Jay Z, and they during concerts they've shown clips of their wedding (which had been kept private) and other private photos previously unseen. Those images, neatly interspersed with ballads of love, betrayal and lust- aren't they part of a packaged persona, too?

 

Anyway, I finished the book in a day, so if you're looking for a good beach read, pick this one up (or download it, lol).

 

My song pick this week? Um, I'm picking two from the same time period, Janet Jackson's "Got Til It's Gone" and Mariah Carey's "The Roof". I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. And the wardrobe and sets in both videos compliment the whole "Annie Hall" vibe I'm feeling right now. Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

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