I loved Bobby Cannavale on Boardwalk Empire. I think he did his job awesomely well as the frightening mobster Gyp Rossetti. There were scenes of stomach-churning violence, nudity, sexual depravity and emotional pain –sometimes all in one– that lesser actors would not have had the guts to take on, but he tackled fiercely and fearlessly. The meltdown-inducing BDSM scenes between Gyp and Gillian Darmody (the amazing and underrated Gretchen Mol) in season 3’s last two episodes are so raw they aren’t even on YouTube. (And others that were clearly award bait, like his hilariously blasphemous tirade against Jesus in a church.)
But there are those in the semi-fictional Atlantic City doing work just as good, if less flashy, than Cannavale. The Emmy category could have been populated with just actors from this show. Here are a few of the best.
1. Jack Huston as Richard Harrow. Looking up video interviews of Jack Huston will reveal a handsome, plump-cheeked young Englishman approximately a kajillion miles away from disfigured war veteran Richard Harrow. With his half-face mask, his impeccably sober three-piece suits, his facial tics, and his growly stammered delivery, this could have become a caricature. Instead, Huston makes Harrow into Empire’s most realized character, and possibly its only one with a soul, damaged as it is. His reserved quietness most of the time makes his outbursts of violence, few and far between as they are, all the more shocking.
Huston is appearing in the new Beats movie Kill Your Darlings as Jack Kerouac, alongside Daniel Radcliffe as Allan Ginsberg. I can’t wait. And I forgive him for being in Twilight:Eclipse.
Stephen Root as Gaston Means. Stephen Root is always funny, whether in NewsRadio, King of the Hill, or Office Space. Naturally his Empire character is funny, but with courtly, formal touches like his elaborate wardrobe and flowery language. His Gaston Means is an old-school confidence man, and he’s a joy to watch and listen to every time he appears.
3. Michael K. Williams as Chalky White. It’d be inevitable to suspect that any award given to Michael K. Williams would be belated recognition for Omar Little, his epic Wire character. But Chalky’s surly drawl, perpetual sneer, and calculating mind make him such a joy to watch that Williams would deserve it even if Omar had never prowled the streets of Baltimore. (“I sure ain’t building no bookcase!”)
4. Michael Shannon as Nelson Van Alden, alias George Mueller. To watch a man with a self-righteous, judgmental, ostentatiously Christian worldview like prohibition agent Van Alden get dragged down into the muck of murder, adultery, organized crime, bootlegging, and (worst of all) door-to-door salesmanship, has got to be one of the finest pleasures on TV. Shannon’s smiles are so forced they look like they’re painful. Playing Van Alden/Mueller with dead seriousness while allowing us to laugh at him is a brave actor’s choice, for which Shannon should be lauded.
Bonus 5. Paul Sparks as Mickey Doyle. Because he’s got the best screen laugh since Tom Hulce in Amadeus.
Bonus 6. Anthony Laciura as Eddie Kessler. Because he’s adorably funny (and a former opera colleague of mine).
Bonus 7. Michael Stuhlbarg as Arnold Rothstein. Because his glacially eerie calm and terrifyingly good manners are exactly what you’d expect when portraying a man who almost got away with fixing the World Series.
- Gretchen Mol Is the Damaged Secret Weapon of ‘Boardwalk Empire’ (theatlanticwire.com) (WARNING- link contains 4th season spoilers)
Not long ago, I was wondering at how some words got to have two opposite meanings. There were two I knew of immediately: sanction, which means both “to allow” and “to prohibit”; or peer, which means both one’s equal (“a jury of one’s peers”) and one’s superior (“a peer of the realm”).
Much pondering gave me some other examples:
first degree which is the worst sort of murder but the least worst sort of burn;
handicap, which can mean an advantage, or a disadvantage;
to lease, offering something for rent or being the one who rents it;
and strike, either to hit something or (in baseball) to not hit something.
A friend of mine found me this jaw-dropping list of 75 words that contradict themselves. It contains examples that had never occurred to me, like custom and transparent, among others.
Got any favorite self-contradicting words? Let me know in the comments.
I’m having trouble deciding if this man is a brave trailblazer fighting for our rights, or a selfish motherfucker who is going to ruin it for the rest of us.
When vaping in a public place where smoking is prohibited or frowned upon, be discreet for pity’s sake. Double-inhale to minimize visible vapor. Keep a handkerchief or scarf with you to exhale into–unlike with real smoke, the hanky will absorb 95% of the vapor and leave no odor traces in the air. (Not 100%, though so keep the vapor down.) On planes, use the lavatory and use the hanky (it’s said that vapor won’t set off smoke detectors, but do you want to be the first to make it happen?). Rebuildable atomizers and other delivery systems that produce billowing vapor plumes are best left at home or for the company of people who understand that those clouds are not, in fact, the result of combustion.
- May I, Please and Thank You: Etiquette in Vaping (shoequeenvapes.wordpress.com)
All around the web, people are reminiscing about Hurricane Sandy a year after it devastated Lower Manhattan. A decade and a bit after the same neighborhood took another critical blow from 9/11, it was just as hard for a lot of businesses to cope. The South Street Seaport, particularly the Fulton Street strip and Pier 17, were still ghost towns when we visited this past March
One of our favorite downtown pubs, the Heartland Brewery, was a cosy unpretentious destination for excellent craft beers and high-class finger foods, tucked underneath the overpasses of downtown. A flight of beers and some luridly multicolored nachos were an excellent way to pass a rainy afternoon.
Post-Sandy, the wreckage was extreme.
There are other Heartland locations throughout Manhattan, with similar menus and the same first-rate beers (try the Red Rooster Ale or the Not Tonight, Honey Porter) but they all fee more corporate and touristy, and none have the intimate neighborhood gathering-place feel of the Fulton Street one.
Thankfully, development has begun on resuscitating the Seaport, so perhaps some day it will be back its old glory.
You know what my favorite thing to do at the Seaport was? Sit and mellow out. On the upper deck was a row of lounge chairs, and you could veg there all day if you were so inclined. Reading, listening to music, or just watching the boats, the birds, and the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a small outpost of peace amid the commerce and touristing.
Marcia Wallace, late of the Bob Newhart Show, uncountable 1970’s game shows, and The Simpsons, has passed away at age 70.
Journalist, to Barbara Cartland:
Do you think class barriers have broken down in Britain?
Of course they have, or I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to someone like you.