Watched Charade on Saturday. Just delightful; Henry Mancini theme, groovy, swirly titles, lots of glamorous shots of airports and Euro ski resorts. And Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy, oh my! One beautiful candy-colored, funnel-necked coat after another, and little kitten heels. My gasps got tiresome; Cary Grant played it much cooler.

Compared to Hepburn, Julia Roberts clonks around Ocean’s Eleven like a kid wearing her mother’s (huge) shoes. I’m horrified to find myself agreeing with sleazy old David Thomson, for once—she’s over. George Clooney needs a co-star who can walk with grace and sign a contract that lets her snog her leading man once in a while.

I’m mourning the death of my secret Julia-Roberts-movie vice.

The Art Test

I took The Art Test. It spat out these results:

If I were a work of art, I would be Heironymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.

I am decadent and depraved. I have an eye for small details and love to fit in as much hedonistic pleasure as possible in everything I do. I buck authority and am not afraid to make a statement outside approved channels.</

Must be true; my eye for small details snags on the misspelled ‘Hieronymous’.

Which work of art would you be?

I’ve been trying to find the essay by Charles Lamb (I think) that describes the author’s almost parental doting on his own self as a little boy. Slippery slope. Now I want to re-read The Two Races of Men and A Bachelor’s Complaint of the Behavior of Married People, but I have work to do.

I’d never seen a picture of Charles Lamb before. He looks young, handsome, and very kind. Sort of a hottie, actually. I always assume that people who wrote 200 years ago were old and wise when they were writing (except for Keats and Shelley). I have the same trouble with The Economist—have to remind myself that most of it is written by spotty 23-year-old Oxbridge types.

I cringed through last night’s reading of my friend Max’s new novel, The Artist’s Wife. I’ve actually owned the novel for over two months now, but I still haven’t read it. This is very embarrassing. I’ve seen him regularly, he got a rave review in The New York Times, and I thoroughly enjoyed his last book. So I have no excuse but sheer lack of moral fibre. In fact, when I finally did start it, hungover this morning from his party wine and Benedictine, I managed to miss my subway stop.

I passed the time at the reading by a) fretting that he would think I’d read it and didn’t like it and b) thinking about what I had liked so much about his first novel, Snakebite Sonnet. Max writes about being a child better than any writer I’ve read recently except Roddy Doyle. Other writers seem to sentimentalize too much, to invest too much purity in their child creations. (This is what made me think of the Lamb essay.)

I suppose JK Rowling does a good job of a child character with Harry Potter, but third-person voice doesn’t call for the same ventriloquism. I’ve been procrastinating on seeing the movie, and have just realized it’s because the posters of the Harry actor irritate me. He looks like a miniature BBC executive. Ugh.

Next Sunday marks the start

Next Sunday marks the start of Advent. I’ve been an atheist for a long time, but the idea of fasting and contemplation in preparation for a feast still makes sense to me. One of my very favorite poems reads:

    We have tested and tasted too much, lover,
    Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
    But here in the Advent-darkened room
    Where the dry bread and the sugarless tea
    Of penance will charm back the luxury
    Of a child’s soul, we’ll return to Doom
    The knowledge we stole but could not use.

    from Advent by Patrick Kavanagh

‘…charm back the luxury of a child’s soul’ is close to my mantra. I want that more than anything. Or perhaps I want to want it more than anything?

Bicycle Cantata

This morning I sang Rainy Night in SoHo by The Pogues as I rode my bike to work. I serenaded middle-aged men at the traffic lights on Hudson St. They seemed to like it. Might as well enjoy it in the years before they decide I’m a crazy old lady.

I feel so lucky to bike to work. Why don’t more people do it? Over the Manhattan Bridge, up through Chinatown, across Prince, up Hudson through the Village to 8th Ave. Each is its own little hurrying kingdom before 10. I’m not a flaneur, though I’d like to be, but biking lets me be speeded-up, goal-oriented, Manhattan flaneuse for forty minutes every morning. It also gives me the illusion of control over my journey. Of course, I can’t actually control the SUV that tries to turn left on top of me at 14th St (there’s one every morning) but still, I think I can, I think I can… And if I suck in exhaust fumes, at least I’m not sucking in my whole body to try to disappear on the A train.