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This scene is an inside joke for my family. Basically, anything we refer to as “little” winds up getting Tom Hanks’ high-pitched treatment.

This clip also reminds me of the Pleasant Street Theater in Northampton, Massachusetts, which is closing its doors today. The theater and its adjacent video store were some of my favorite and most frequented sites when I lived in Northampton 1999-2001. Almost every movie I saw during those two years was shown there. I loved the freedom of walking or biking to the theater, especially on a weekend night. It was a nice escape from my job at Smith College, which wasn’t making me very happy at the time. And it was an opportunity to get out into a community space, since I often felt isolated and alone on the campus.

The theater was pretty small. As the Executive Director of the theater states, “This is not about film. People love film in the (Pioneer) Valley. The question is, what is the best place to present independent film. And Pleasant Street is physically very limited.” For the first year I went there, I had no idea it had two screens. The main screen I knew was on the street-level entrance, and it was small compared to most theaters, with what seemed like 80 to 100 seats. But there was another screen downstairs for limited showings and audiences. The first time I heard about it, I was buying a ticket to go see THE FILTH AND THE FURY (Temple, 2000) when the clerk told me it was in the little theater downstairs. “The little theater?!” I croaked, unintentionally mirroring Hanks in my complete astonishment. “How much littler can it get?” I thought.

And little it truly was. It had less than twenty seats, something like six on one side, nine on the other, arranged in little rows with one aisle between, with the screen looking like a large-screen TV set in the wall in someone’s rec room. That said, the space was really nice and cozy, well-designed and well-constructed. I immediately loved it and from then on secretly hoped that every film I went to see there would be in the little theater.

That was about three years before I decided to go back to graduate school to complete my Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies, but my love for that kind of experience was part of what convinced me that this is what I needed to do. Thanks, Pleasant Street, and thanks, little theater. You’ll live on in my love for this work and in my family lore.

“…. When I came to be actually holding the keys to my new restaurant, wondering what credentials I possibly possessed for owning and operating such a place, I counted knowing hunger and appetite as one of them. It became such a recurring experience during this period when I was twenty–to be starving and afraid of running out of money–as I wandered from Brussels to Burma and everywhere in between for months on end, that I later came to see it as a part of my training as a cook. I came to see hunger as being as important a part of a stage as knife skills. Because so much starving on that trip led to such an enormous amount of time fantasizing about food, each craving became fanatically particular. Hunger was not general, ever, for just something, anything to eat. My hunger grew so specific I could name every corner and fold of it. Salty, warm, brothy, starchy, fatty, sweet, clean and crunchy, crisp and watery, and so on.

“This kind of travel, so distinctly prior to ATMs, debit cards, cash advance credit cards, cell phones, Facebook, and international SIM cards is probably not even possible now. And it isn’t right to romanticize it; you, with a feathery mind and a too light body, sitting on your heavy pack without a penny of local currency, down to your last two hundred sixty dollars in traveler’s checks, with not one person on earth able to locate you on a map in any more than the most general terms…

“To be picked up and fed, often by strangers, when you are in that state of fear and hunger, became the single most important and convincing food experience I came back to over and over….”

Hamilton, Gabrielle. BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER: THE INADVERTENT EDUCATION OF A RESTAURANT CHEF. New York: Random House, 2011. Print. 129-30.

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I somehow missed two big accolades for Melissa McCarthy from earlier this year. First of all, she was listed as number twelve in W magazine’s February 2012 “Best Performances” spread, the source for the photo above. Secondly, she was named number 20 in GLAMOUR magazine’s April 2012 list of “The 25 Hottest Celebs of 2012”, as suggested by readers and ranked by the magazine. Adele came in at number 7, and as noted by one of the editors, Kristen Wiig didn’t chart. Interesting.

Yes, this really is the title and the cover for Kirstie Alley’s new book.

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She’s really been too good to me and my dissertation, although she’s starting to push it with this new Use policy.

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The bulk of what we do is demographically pure. We want to reach upscale working women without diluting the audience. To me, the attractiveness we’ve provided advertisers in the advent of people meters is a predictable demographic profile. It’s a safety net to advertisers.”

Tom Burchill, President, Lifetime Cabletelevision Network to ADVERTISING AGE, 1988

“The language used here is that of chemistry but also that of fascism. James Fennimore, president of Cable Networks, Inc., makes it even clearer. ‘We’ve deleted the old, poor and underemployed from the viewing mix,’ he told VARIETY. Fennimore’s article explains that while cable executives may only be able to deliver one thousand homes, they deliver a ‘quality’ one thousand homes….”

Feuer, Jane. SEEING THROUGH THE EIGHTIES: TELEVISION AND REAGANISM. Durham NC and London: Duke University Press, 1995. Print. 54.

“Spoilers are a form of conspicuous consumption. They’re a way of showing the world, ‘Look what I watch.’ The underlying message is, of course, ‘Don’t I have great taste?’ A hundred years ago, going to the symphony differentiated you from the masses who filled the vaudeville halls. Now, ‘quality television’ occupies that high-class cultural space. The refined DOWNTON ABBEY watchers get to float above the riff-raff who’d rather watch the brutish spectacle of SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. As for those people whose three minimum wage jobs don’t leave them much time for TV or Twitter, well they’re not even on the cultural map. Just like the aristocrats and domestic laborers on DOWNTON, the details of our everyday lives and the conversations in which we can participate are still powerfully shaped by our economic circumstances.”

Laura Portwood-Stacer, “MAD MEN Spoilers as Class Warfare?”

I’m working on a review for my friend’s blog GIRLS LIKE GIANTS on Rachel Dratch’s new comic memoir GIRL WALKS INTO A BAR… I already talked about it a bit here, and I do more analysis of the book in the GLG review. In short, the book is great and I highly recommend it. There are a lot of very funny and poignant parts that I couldn’t broach in the review, so I thought I would include some handy quotes here. Most of the ones included here are the showbiz bits. A few toward the end focus on romance and pregnancy, but I left out the funniest ones because I didn’t want to spoil them, just give enough enticement to read the book.

p. 9-10 “….When I first got hired on SNL, I was warned by the other actors: Don’t read what they say about you on the Internet. With newfound fame, that’s like telling a child, ‘Whatever you do, don’t look behind this door.’ My fellow cast member Ana Gasteyer would call the act of reading people’s comments about yourself on the Internet ‘cutting’, as in the mental illness of cutting yourself with sharp objects. She’d come in and say, ‘I cut last night.’ Occasionally, you would look online if you were feeling masochistic. Early in my SNL career, I stopped pretty much for good when I saw one comment that hit me in the face like a frying pan. Actually, that was the comment. It said I looked as if I had been hit in the face by a frying pan.”

p. 14….Maybe all those meanies on the Internet were right; maybe a bunch of focus groups watched the (30 Rock) pilot and checked off a box marked ‘No!’ Maybe the way it works for a new show is a bunch of TV execs sit around a room with some wires and EKGs attached to their wangs, and when I was on screen, the needle dipped dangerously into the Code Red Anti-Boner Zone. I was starting to feel like the ten years of training and performing and sweating it out pre-SNL, plus the seven years at SNL, all went out the window because I didn’t have a symmetrical face….”

p. 44-5 (re: first appearance in 3rd ep of 1999-2000 season as Calista Flockhart) “… Lorne is very careful about your first appearance on the show. He wants you to really knock it out of the park and do something that will wow the audience, not come on with a piece that just goes OK….”

p. 56 “Oh, to have a hit character on SNL: the inexact science, the alignment of the planets to be just so, every cog in the wheel having to spin precisely right so that the germ of an idea in your brain can be crafted well enough to make it through the elaborate process to become reality and be seen by millions which propels you into the status of cultural icon for the rest of history… or at least for that week.”

p. 72 “…. I can report to you that at Burning Man, Sexy Cat Syndrome is in full effect. By that I mean that there are plenty of women there who would never dress up as a witch or ghost on Halloween. Even though they were San Fran Nature Girls, come Halloween they’d be Sexy Cats as much as any Bridge and Tunnel chick who comes into NYC on the weekends. Or maybe instead they’d say,  ‘I’m a space fairy!’ but still find a way to wear just a G-string and some wings. These chicks had supermodel bodies and were traipsing around the desert in nothing but silver Grace Jones boots and body paint. Where were the old ladies with long gray hair and low-hangers? I’d come to the middle of the desert expecting a spiritual experience, only to feel the kind of inadequacy usually reserved for seeing a Victoria’s Secret ad. Fantastic…. the men who seemed inclined to disrobe, much fewer in number, were all Haight-Ashbury throwbacks over the age of seventy with long beards and leathery skin. Where was the equity?”

p. 97 (on people telling her “It will happen when you’re not looking!”) “…. That’s what people would always tell me… These people are NEVER single, by the way. Have you ever, ever had a friend who is single say to you, ‘It will happen when you’re not looking’? No. You haven’t. The people that say it always have a bright smile, happily ensconced in a relationship. ‘It will happen when you’re not looking!’ 

“Well, I could ‘not look’ like a champ! Not looking is easy! You just do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. Of course, this strategy completely goes against the other 50 percent of the time when those same people tell you, ‘Get out there! Don’t sit at home!’ or ‘My cousin went on Match.com and now she’s married!'”

p. 214-5 “…. When I realized I had cheated the whole system and would have a baby without a marriage, I no longer cared about marriage. This great anxiety lifted from me. I didn’t have a time clock and I was going to have a baby and if love were meant to happen, it could happen whenever on its own time. Marriage started to seem like a silly social convention to me. Then I found myself in the position where the man I had been casually dating was going to be seeing me attached to a breast pump on a regular basis. At this point marriage made a lot more sense to me. If you have any desire to have a man stay by your side and he’s going to see you hooked up to a breast pump, you should probably be bound by a legal contract.”

p. 217 “I looked down and realized that in my haste in the morning, I had slipped my maternity jeans on backward at six a.m. and hadn’t noticed all day long. The moment vanity officially leaves your life is when you look down to discover an asslike configuration where your front pockets should be.”

And the ones that I think sum it all up in the best way.

p. 139 “…. I definitely wanted kids. But here I was at forty, forty-one, forty-two, now forty-three. I kept moving up the window of fertility and possibility, trying to block out the statistics with which I was bombarded, but to be realistic, I started to adjust to the fact that I wasn’t having kids. I was trying genuinely and oh so gradually to become OK with that; I had to focus on the benefits of my life. Some friends’ marriages were beginning to crumble and other friends were completely consumed with shuttling to soccer games and swim meets…”

  “…. for the most part, I realized that as we grow older, we adjust and roll with what we have in the present, though it may not be the future we had dreamed up for ourselves in the past….”