Update on me… and more

Hey readers!

The weather is going up and down last few days; it’s pretty windy, and going to rain later today in NoVA.  I heard there were some several tornadoes touching down in NJ & NY this past week!  Dad is in Bowie, MD looking at houses w/ his realtor today (FRI).  He likes the area so far…


I’ve added some new blogs to my blogroll, so check them out.  I want to learn more about podcasting, so let me know if you have any expertise on that subject!  I listen to a variety of podcasts on iTunes, and thought it would be fun to create my own (perhaps focused on British Literature). 


I’m STILL working on my TESOL assignments (so I can be considered for overseas English teaching).  I went to a reunion for Tesol Teaching International where I met some VERY interesting people!  It was a diverse group- different ages, backgrounds, subject areas, etc.  Mom thinks Japan would be a good choice, BUT it’s pricy.  As for working in US… 


Dad knows an Indian American guy whose company is hiring over 300 new workers, including contractors to work in fed govt.  I don’t want to sound negative, BUT I’ve never gotten much (job-related) news/help from desis in places I’ve lived.  (Even in NYC, I met only a handful of Bangladeshi teachers in the public school system.)  The DC area MAY be different story, b/c there are desis here who work in non-profit sector (which interests me VERY much).   


Recently, I met some warm, intelligent, yet laid-back  Bangladeshis (at Drishtipat DC).  Many of them know my NYC friends.  Many of them mentioned networking.  I didn’t know networking was SO important until this year!  Did you know that you are more likely to get hired through acquaintances, NOT friends?


Thanks for checking out my blog,



Recent iTunes Downloads:

The Moth Podcast, 7/20/09: Alex Draper: You are a Great King

A TRUE story of a caterer/struggling actor (Alex Draper) who gets hired by an old college pal (an Indian prince) to co-star in “the Schindler’s List of India” (Kala Pani/Black Water).



John Barrowman Swings Cole Porter:

What Is This Thing called Love?

In The Still Of The Night

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To

Easy to Love



I’ve mentioned him before on this blog; John Barrowman is a musical theater/TV/movie actor originally from Scotland (but raised in the Midwestern US).  You can check him out on De-Lovely (w/ Kevin Kline); in the UK, he stars in the Dr. Who spin-off Torchwood.  He’s been in several eps of the 3rd season of Dr. Who (w/ fellow Scot, David Tennant).





Movies you DON’T want to see:




This movie has Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman, BUT it’s SO bad that I turned it off LONG before it ended!  The first few mins where you see the (lonely/closed-off life) Ewan’s shy auditor character leads in NYC are done well.  Jackman’s charming villain character is TOO much, sorry to say.  Michelle Williams to TOO young/immature for her role.  It’s NOT a believable story.



The Ice Storm

This movie has a GREAT cast of VERY young (Elijah Wood, Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire) and middle-aged actors (Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, etc.)  It’s directed by Ang Lee, and set in the early 1970s in suburban New Canaan, CT.  The characters are emotionally cut off from their spouses, kids, and themselves.  The film has some nice moments, but seems fragmented and disjointed.  It didn’t evoke much of a response from viewers, I’ve read.          





Even though it has Meryl Streep (who plays Uma Thurman’s therapist), her role is thankless, one-note, and WAY beneath her talent.  The love interest for Uma is  (obviously) an inexpereinced actor!  Sorry, I didn’t buy them as falling in love- NO chemistry.  The dialogue is just plain DULL.


“Jungle Fever” (1991)

 jungle fever_dvd

This is my favorite Spike Lee film (aside from Malcolm X); I’ve seen it several times.  Lee’s premise for making this film: romantic relationships between blacks and whites are (sometimes) based more on curiosity than love.   He didn’t make the central couple (black architect Flipper Purefoy and Italian American temp Angie Tucci) very interesting, Roger Ebert said in his TV review.  However, the people in the communities they come from are VERY well done, he complimented.  I agree with Ebert b/c I wanted to know more re: the lesser characters! 

Flipper (Wesley Snipes) lives in a Harlem brownstone w/ his statuesque biracial wife Dru, a buyer for Nordstrom (Lonette McKee) and young daughter.  In the opener, he seems to have a loving relationship w/ Dru and his little girl (who he walks to school in the mornings).  A source of stress is his job- he’s the only black architect in his firm. 

Flipper (Wesley Snipes) & Angie (Annabella Sciorra)

Flipper is visibly upset when his former secretary (a black woman) is replaced by a white temp, Angie (Annabella Sciorra).  “I specifically asked for a woman of color!”  Flipper exclaims to one of his bosses (played by Tim Robbins).  Even though things start out awkward, Flipper and Angie have a good working relationship.  They often work late, share takeout, and get to know each other.  One night, Flipper catches Angie admiring his dark skin.  She says “it’s beautiful.”  Though he has NEVER cheated on his wife, they begin an affair (right on the drafting table)! 

Gator (Sam Jackson) & Viv (Halle Berry)

Flipper eventually confesses to his best pal/upstairs neighbor Cyrus (played by Lee himself) that though he considers himself “a strong black man,” he was “curious about what it would be like” to be with a white woman.  As they are talking, Flipper’s older brother Gator (Samuel L. Jackson) and his girlfriend Viv (a very young and unglamorous Halle Berry) approach.  It’s obvious that Gator is a long-time crack addict, as is his “new lady.”  (Sam Jackson said that his OWN drug addiction in the ’80s helped him portray Gator in a VERY realistic manner.  Producers thought Jackson was a REAL crack addict when he did his screen test, so he had to come in AGAIN to explain it was just acting.)

jungle fever_gator
Lucinda Purefoy (Ruby Dee) can’t refuse giving her addict son money when he comes around, no matter how hard she tries.  Gator invents lame excuses to get a few bucks out of her whenever his father is not around.  The father, a VERY religious man called The Good Reverend Doctor (Ossie Davis) has cast Gator out “like the Devil.”  (I REALLY felt for the mother and her dilemna; if she didn’t give Gator money, he’d surely go out and steal it.)
Paulie (John Turturro) ponders his future

My favorite character is candy shop/newsstand manager Paulie Carbone (John Turturro).  He’s a hardworking/unassuming guy who dated Angie since high school (“b/c he’s from the neighborhood.”)  His overbearing/widower father (Anthony Quinn) has retired from the shop, but micro-manages everything his son does.  Paulie has a crush on Lauren, a young black executive who comes to the store for papers each morning.  She sees him as a friend, and encourages him to apply to Brooklyn College.  The unemployed/Italian American/racist local guys who frequent his store think of all this as a joke.  Paulie is an outsider in his environment, and you wonder if he can get the life he wants.         


On one date, Angie asks Flipper “So what are we doing here?”  I think they’re taking a break from their everyday lives.  But their actions have consequences- Dru (along w/ her girlfriends) is VERY upset by her husband’s betrayal.  Angie’s father reacts w/ shocking violence.  After the famous girl-talk session (about color, dating, black  men, etc.), Dru quietly tells her pals: “It really doesn’t matter what color she is- my man is gone.”   

The main characters in Jungle Fever feel unappreciated, I noticed during this viewing.   Angie works all day, then cooks her for father and brothers w/o complain.  Paulie has put his dreams on hold to look after his father and the shop.  Flipper doesn’t get the promotion, so he resigns from his job.  Lee (who grew up in Bensonhurst when it had a large community of working-class Italian Americans) shows us that two people are NOT the only ones involved in a realtionship.  Personal relationships include family, friends, and (sometimes) the community-at-large.  Everyone has SOMETHING to say about Flipper and Angie’s affair, including an angry young waitress at a soul food restaurant (Queen Latifah in a brief, yet memorable, role). 

Entertainment Trivia


  • Gene Hackman rehearsed for The Graduate before best pal Dustin Hoffman.
  • Hackman paints on a regular basis.
  • Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman were the two actors considered “the least likely to succeed” at the Pasadena Playhouse.
  • Gene Hackman loved Montgomery Cliff’s work “because of his sensitivity.”




  • Both Marlon Brando and Paul Newman observed Rocky Marciano during the boxer’s practice time at his gym.




  • Paul Newman said “people kept mistaking me for Brando” when he first became widely known.




  • Spike Lee’s grandmother (an Atlanta art teacher) financed all his student films at NYU.
  • Denzel Washington started preparing for Malcolm X one year before filming began.




  • Richard Dreyfuss began acting professionally at age 13.
  • Spielberg refers to Dreyfuss as his “alter ego.”
  • Richard Dreyfuss was the youngest Best Actor Oscar winner (age 29); regarding his character Elliot in The Goodbye Girl: “I wanted to be like him.  I really admired and liked him.”




  • Jeremy Irons worked small gigs as a musician (he sings and plays guitar) before going into acting.
  • Irons worked as a housekeeper (“I enjoyed it very much”) while auditioning for roles in his early 20s.



  • Jeremy Irons first (onscreen) love scene was with Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.



  • Irons and long-time wife (actress Sinead Cusack) live in a castle in County Cork, Ireland. 




  • Kevin Spacey acted in high school productions with Val Kilmer and Mare Winningham in the LA suburbs; he transferred to their school after he saw them perform.
  • After high school and before getting into Julliard (“Kilmer encouraged me to apply”), Spacey did stand-up comedy for 1.5 years.
  • Kevin Spacey corresponded with Katherine Hepburn for many years, and thought of Jack Lemmon as a “Pop” (father figure/role model in the field of acting).




  • Helen Mirren grew up w/o TV and rarely went to the movies/theater (b/c her family couldn’t afford it). 
  • Mirren trained as a teacher after high school.  She worked for a time in inner-city London (Bethnal Green) teaching elective courses.


young hm

  • Helen Mirren prefers movies to acting b/c theater “is such hard work.”




  • Meryl Streep studied w/ the same voice teacher as (opera star) Beverly Sills as a teenager.  Before getting a full scholarship to Julliard for her master’s, she applied to law schools.
  • Streep wrote her own lines for the courtroom scene in Kramer vs. Kramer.  


sophies choice

  • Meryl Streep studied Polish for 4 months before Sophie’s Choice.
  • Streep heard that director Sidney Pollack didn’t think she was “sexy” enough for Out of Africa, so she wore padding (“We didn’t have the Wonderbra back then”) and a low-cut dress to meet him.




  • William H. Macy’s first acting teacher in college was David Mamet.  Eventually, their group of actors formed the Atlantic Theater Company.
  • Macy and long-time wife (actress Felicity Huffman) have been together since her early 20s; they met doing theater.




  • Michelle Pfeiffer worked as a bagger, checker, and won the Miss Orange County beauty pageant.  She also went to court reporting school for one year, but found it very boring.


fab boys

  • In The Fabulous Baker Boys, Michelle did her own singing.



  •  Pfeiffer threw some dishes during her Scarface screen test and accidentally cut Al Pacino’s hand.





  • Al Pacino’s maternal grandfather was born in Corleone, Sicily (this is where the family in The Godfather films comes from).
  • Pacino left high school (after 2 yrs) b/c he had to work to support the family; he also acted with a group of pals.
  • Pacino was homeless for a time; he slept in the little theater where he was performing.




  • Barbra Streisand collects dolls b/c she didn’t have one as a little girl.
  • Streisand took take-out orders at a Chinese restaurant during high school.  The lady who owned the restaurant was “like a second mother” to her.



  • The Way We Were was written specifically for Streisand; she feels the film worked b/c she and Robert Redford were so different from each other (just like their characters).  Redford “kept asking me about Brooklyn.”




  • Natalie Portman studied dance since age 4.




  • George Lucas scheduled Star Wars: Episode 2 to shoot in the summer (to work around Portman’s Harvard schedule).
  • Natalie Portman speaks several languages, including Hebrew (she was born in Israel) and Japanese.







Want a Thrill?: Jagged Edge & No Way Out

Jagged Edge (1985)

jagged edge_poster

This is a film I didn’t know much about until I saw it last wk.  It’s not TOO gory or scary, but the opening scene might be hard to take for some viewers.  There is some trial testimony that MAY make you cringe, too.  The acting of the main players is quite strong.  There are twists and turns in this thriller, but I’m sure viewers will figure out some of them.

The defender: Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close)
The defender: Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close)

Glenn Close looks VERY pretty in this movie, and plays Teddy Barnes, a lawyer/divorcee/mother of 2 young kids.  I thought she did well in the courtroom scenes, but I REALLY liked her vulnerable and motherly sides here (she doesn’t often get to show that in her roles).  She interacts VERY well w/ the kids and w/ Robert Loggia (who plays a mussed-up/ cynical/elderly former cop).  Teddy and the cop went through a tough criminal case before, and were VERY affected by it.

The defendant: Jeff Bridges

The handsome/charming/newspaper editor Teddy defends is Jack Forrester (Jeff Bridges).  His wife Paige, whose family ran a San Francisco paper, was brutally assaulted and murdered in their beach house.  It turns out that the money was ALL in Paige’s name, so Jack would’ve lost it all if there was a divorce (job, status, etc.)  Though Teddy doesn’ want the hassle, her boss convinces her to take on the high-profile case.

From their first meeting, we see that Teddy and Jack have GREAT chemistry (as do the actors).  And he keeps insisting he’s innocent.  (It’s tough NOT to like Jeff Bridges, right?  He’s a VERY natural actor.)  There is a memorable romantic sequence where Jack takes Teddy horseback riding on his ranch.  Though she tries to keep things professional, the lawyer gets involved w/ her client!


No Way Out (1987)

no way out_dvd

This is another popular ’80s thriller, but set in the world of politics in DC.   This film made Kevin Costner (who plays career navy man Lt. Cmdr. Tom Farrell) a major player in Hollywood.  (I’m NOT a fan of Costner, but he fits his role VERY well here.)  Gene Hackman plays Farrell’s boss in the Pentagon, Defense Sect. David Brice.  After a heroic rescue of a crewmate at sea, Farrell is brought in (by old college pal) to work for Sect. Brice.  That pal, Scott Pritchard (Will Patton), is an enigmatic and ambitious man who serves as Brice’s “right hand.”  Will Patton NEARLY steals almost every scene he’s in!

Lt. Cmdr. Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) & Susan (Sean Young)
Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) & Susan (Sean Young)



Did you know?

Kevin Costner turned down the role of Jack Forrester in Jagged Edge.

"The Big Chill" (1983)
“The Big Chill” (1983)

Costner played the dead body in the opening of The Big Chill (1983). Director Lawrence Kasdan, who liked Costner’s work, shot some scenes involving his character (the friend who commited suicide), but edited them out later to fit the mood of the film. 

Three “Outside the Box” Movies: Oleanna, Millions, and Melinda & Melinda

Oleanna (1994)

A play by David Mamet as a film
A play by David Mamet as a film

This intense, smart, thought-provoking, and perhaps controversial,  film centers on just 2 people: John (William H. Macy), a middle-aged college professor who struggles to understand (and be understood by) one his undergrad students, Carol (Debra Eisenstadt).  It takes time to get into it b/c David Mamet’s speech is NOT your everyday movie dialogue.  This movie will bring up a LOT of issues (depending on what YOU make of it)… and make every viewer think!  (IMHO, one of the key themes is the danger of being TOO politically correct.)


Millions (2004)

A film directed by Danny Boyle
A film directed by Danny Boyle

This is an eccentric, fun, and original film.  It’s shot in beautiful locations w/ a great group of UK actors, including many kids.


Damien, who recently lost his mother, is an ADORABLE, sensitive, and bright boy living in suburban Ireland w/ his dad and older bro.  He has a great knowledge of saints and martyrs, and imagines them as part of his everyday life.  When a large bag of money falls on his playhouse, Damien thinks it’s a gift from God.


Damien sets about giving his share to the poor (using various methods), while his brother Anthony spends his half like there’s no tomorrow.

Melinda and Melinda (2005)

A film directed by Woody Allen
A film film directed by Woody Allen

This film is actually split into 2- a comedy (which features Will Farrell as a neurotic character actor) and a tragedy (where Chewitel Ejiofor plays a charming composer).  Manhattan looks beautiful in the hands of Woody Allen- of course!


Melinda (petite/blonde/Australian Radha Mitchell) is the center of both stories.  She does a GOOD job of portraying 2 different women w/ a range of emotions/issues.