Friday, January 29, 2010

My Family Theater: "Ruthless People" (1986)

Why don't people ever talk about the 1986 David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams comedy "Ruthless People" when they yammer on and on about classic 1980's films?

Ken and Sandy, a married couple and pair of too-nice kidnappers (Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater) kidnap shrieking, poisonous Barbara Stone (Bette Midler) to get money from Sam Stone (Danny Devito), who screwed them by stealing and getting rich stealing Sandy's clothing designs. The one thing they don't count on? Sam was going to kill Barbara anyway and is thrilled that she's been kidnapped.

Icing on the cake! Bill Pullman and the late, great and hot Anita Morris are trying to get theirs.

It is in no way appropriate for children, yet I have wonderful memories of being home sick from school watching this film with my mother, snorting with laughter at Midler shouting at her inept kidnappers, "YOU'VE FUCKED WITH THE WRONG PERSON! My husband does business with the Mafia! When they track you down, you, your entire family, everyone you ever KNEW will all get chainsaw enemas!"

DeVito has never been slimier or better. This scene of him sharing the secret of his success with a young cop (he's also supposed to be worried sick over his kidnapped wife) is comedy gold and possibly the best way to answer a wrong number.

And how nice is it to see Bette Midler doing Rated R comedy before she submitted to gooey chick roles, like the insulin-shock inducing Beaches or the vile Scenes from a Mall or the epic-ly crappy WWII cheesefest For the Boys.

This revenge on the rich-who-screw-over-the-working-guy was perfect for the greed obsessed 1980s but is just as delightful now.

Amazing animated opening sequence to Mick Jagger song! - click here!

Girls Write Now

Just calling some attention to Girls Write Now, my favorite non-profit and where they are kind enough to let me come and help out now and again.

This spring, Girls Write Now is thrilled to announce CHAPTERS, showcasing the work of New York City's best teen writers and the professional women who mentor them, and featuring a dynamic, diverse line-up of special guest authors.

Curated by Maud Newton, CHAPTERS readings will be held at the Center for Fiction(17 East 47th Street bet. 5th Ave. & Madison), from 6:00PM to 8:00PM.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On J.D. Salinger's Passing

Can a person be "in the world but not of it"?

Well, a writer must spend some time in the world to write about it, obviously. And I guess a writer such as J.D. Salinger, didn't have to spend too much time with people to write honestly and perfectly about the loneliness of being a fragile soul in a world full of loudmouths, blowhards, dullards and cretins. Seymour the damaged soul, traumatized in WWII, no longer able or interested in communicating with regular people, even his nail-lacquering wife. His characters all cry out for understanding in a loud, busy, cruel world that keeps on going on despite the fact that there are adults out there who never learned to be adults. They hurt like children hurt, that's why a lot of them like or deeply resent children. Jews can live like WASPs but they're still Jews and it makes life harder for complicated reasons.

I suppose a life of travel, luxe living in New York City, then getting hurled onto Utah Beach in 1944, he met a lot of different kinds of people. I guess he felt like he'd met enough.

Thanks to the The New Yorker for linking to 12 stories today. "Teddy" and "Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut" are two his most devastating and two of my very favorites.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Books About Movies That Don't Suck

Is there anything more boring and pretentious than humorless bloviating gasbags farting on and on about film? Not to me. If you are going to write about the movies, I need on-set stories, interviews with the actual filmmaker (not just "Chris Farley Show" hero worship) and some sense of historical background. I'm just a movie lover, not a film critic. Give me something juicy or go home.

So here are some books about the movies that I've read and re-read. I'm sure there are others.

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

The Studio by John Gregory Dunne

The Devil's Candy by Julie Salamon

Final Cut by Stephen Bach

That is all for today.

If you want to fritter some time away, I recommend Nathan Rabin's hilarious and comprehensive "My Year of Flops" on the AV Club. It's one of the few things I can honestly say, I wish I had written.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tips for a More Delightful Life

Just some ideas for making your days just a little less rife with despair.

1) Buy frozen fruit such as peaches, strawberries or mango. Use in your juice instead of ice cubes. Then, when you are done drinking, leave the glass in your sink. A few hours later, you will be pleased to discover thawed, tasty fruit, ready to be sucked down. It's all about surprising yourself!

2) Turn your morning OJ into a mocktail. Buy REAL cranberry juice (its expensive, cheaper at Traders Joes but you only need a splash, so it will last a long time) and toss a shot into your morning orange juice. Tart, tasty, full of vitamin C and a friend to your bladder! Feel free to toss in frozen fruit (see above) or booze to add some "cock" to your mocktail.

3) Take more baths. Sure they aren't great for the environment but once in a while, it's good for the old jangled nerves. Toss in some Epsom Salts - $2.49 for a huge bag of it at Rite-Aid. I like the Lavender scented ones but plain ones are good too. Use sparingly, if you are a homeowner, salt rots your plumbing. But if you are a renter, fuck it, not your problem.

4) Make your own applesauce. I use the recipe from the "Joy of Cooking." Cheap to make (the guys at the farmers market are happy to unload their imperfect apples) and lovely to eat with everything: pierogi, yogurt, chicken cutlets, or just on its own. I recommend a mix of sour and sweet apples. Makes your house smell good.

5) Get a cat from a shelter. My cat Moshe has melted the black ore that once surrounded my heart. He is a big weirdo and barfs up big hairballs and doesn't see so hot out of one eye. But when I'm mad at him, I tell him how grateful he should be for me for saving his life from misery and cage horror. One time, he knocked T's turkey sandwich off the table, scarfed the turkey and left the bread all in 15 seconds. We called it his "Last Great Heist" since he's about 10 years old. Kind of like Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas in "Tough Guys."

6) Watch some Preston Sturges films. Without these films, the Coen brothers would be a bunch of romantic comedy directors or something. Interestingly, he was an Orson Welles-style auteur in the early 1940's... the same time at Orson Welles was irking people all over Hollywood. I love Orson Welles films for when I want to wallow in the callous-ness of man. But when I want to laugh, I watch: "Sullivan's Travels" and "The Palm Beach Story." Check out
"The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" -- a film that caused critics to cry: The censor board was "raped in its sleep."

7) Read "A Way of Life, Like Any Other" by Darcy O'Brien. I found this book on the remainder shelves Coliseum Books before it closed its midtown location. One of the greatest coming of age stories ever. I can't say enough about how much I loved this book. Turned me on to the New York Review Books press.

8) Buy bed linen that you can mix and match with other bed linen. That way, if your pillow cases get ratty, you can toss them but keep the top sheet, etc... I've got kind of a sea green thing going. Nothing matches but it looks "eclectic." Aha!

9) Call your grandma. She misses you. If you have no grandma, call someone else's grandma. Or your grandpa. Or great-aunt.

10) Make coffee with a french press. I don't actually do this but my husband says it's a great way to drink your coffee. So give it a try. He vouches for its delightful-ness.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Emma Bovary, The Original Desperate Housewife

"Madame Bovary" (1949) last night. It was pretty decent actually, despite being bookended by absurd "courtroom testimony" by Flaubert at his obscenity trial. It must have been some censor or decency issue. I wish James Mason would come back to life and read me bedtime stories.

Anyhoo, Jennifer Jones as Emma was too beautiful and Van Heflin as Dr. Bovary not nearly nebbish-y enough. Ballroom dancing scene was fantastic. A stretch to compare it to Saturday Night Fever dance scene but then again, it's possible the director had seen "Madame Bovary". It was directed by Vincent Minnelli after all.

I read the book last year and found it much more modern than I expected. Subtle and snide and sympathetic, the book is fresher than the film.

Amazing trailer! English, with French subtitles.

Not much to say today. Feeling okay. Working from home, sending ideas out into the ether and waiting for response... not easy. Tomorrow may be better. More socializing, more to keep my brain percolating.

Making chickpea and mango curry for dinner tonight from this cookbook. Hope it turns out okay. I don't have much faith in my cooking ability.

I can't believe I've never seen a Satyajit Ray movie. I really need to remedy this.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jim Croce, Lee Atwater and Lunch in Chelsea

While I was doing the dishes a few minutes ago, I heard the Jim Croce song "Operator." And as I listened to it, I thought about what a sad song it was in that hokey-ish but kind of heart-tweaking way that 1970s singer songwriters get just right. I'm a sucker for certain kinds of 1970s music, what can I say? I must have heard a lotta easy listening in the womb back in 1977.

I'd never even heard of the song until I read "Bad Haircut" the excellent collection of Tom Perrotta stories. I'd only bought the book because I liked the cover and the Harvard Book Store had an autographed copy near the register.

But what struck me the most about hearing that song was that the last time I'd heard it, I thought it was the saddest song of all time. I was going through a pretty deep and cavernous depression at the time (2001, I think) when I thought that nothing would ever get better. So maybe poor old Jim is the measuring stick for depression. If I can listen to it and do the dishes, I'm okay. If it makes me curl up in the fetal position sobbing, I may be facing a more serious problem.


Today was a good day. Had a delicious lunch with an old friend, (hey LK, if you're reading this!), got a writing assignment approved, came home and fed the cat. Nice!

Hoping to watch "Boogie Man", the documentary about GOP "genius" Lee Atwater tonight. It will probably depress the shit out of me but it sound fascinating nonetheless.

Link - PBS Frontline - The Lee Atwater story

Monday, January 18, 2010

Raws and Blabs

I'm not a big collector. I'm just not the type. When T and I started dating, he noticed that I had more than a few copies of the quarterly Granta lying around. I fell in love with them in college and would buy them for $2 each in the used section of the Harvard Book Store. Anyhoo, T became obsessed with having ALL of them (104 and counting). I try to seek out the few we are missing at the Strand or other used book stores on the street but mostly because completing our collection would make T happy.

He also bought me the ENTIRE "Eightball" series for my birthday five years ago. Pretty sweet!

But I think I've found something I'd like to collect. RAWs and Blab!s.

I got some great ones from the Strand today from the early 1990s some great stuff: Lynda Barry (my first comics love, recommended by Sassy magazine!), Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Dan Clowes, Richard Sala and tons of others.

It all gives me such a nostalgic feeling. Ah, comics, keeping me young... brain-wise at least.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some Diners I Have Known

So I just watched the totally horrifying documentary "Crazy Love" on Sundance. Yet, when it was over, all I could think about was diner food, since the main characters are seen eating at the Shalimar Diner in Rego Park. It got me thinking...

Here are the diners that I have known and loved (and feared) in my 32 years on this planet we call, uh, earth.

The Landmark Diner

How much of my teenage life did I spent at this diner, eating french fries, baklava, smoking cigarettes and laughing my ass off? A lot. It was a pretty good diner, food-wise. They were very tolerant of idiots like my friends sitting for hours and splitting a pizza bagel and three cups of coffee. It had a lovely pink glow and whiteish stone exterior. A late 70's, early 80's aesthetic I find very comforting in diner architecture. Now it's gone. Well, it's relocated and rebuilt next door.

I dunno. It looks kind of retro to me. Like a brand new Rickenbacker guitar or something. It even has a Twitter page. Bah.

The Seacrest Diner

This is the diner of despair. Not only were there terrifying live lobsters in tanks at the front of the restaurant that terrified me as a child, it always seemed to be the place you were taken after something bad happened: A death in the family, someone was sick...

The diner was also the scene of a horrific crime. In 1982, five young men from Brooklyn stole a car, committed a terrifying home invasion in Plainview, Long Island. The night of violence, rape and murder ended at this diner.

Per the New York Times: "...early the next morning, when the men burst into the Seacrest wielding handguns and a shotgun, then robbed and terrorized customers, demanding that they strip and ordering some to have sex with each other. At least one waitress was raped. Two young men were shot. Mr. Bouloukos [the owner] and several others were pistol-whipped, and all 80 or so people inside were held hostage for more than an hour."

It is because of this sickening and traumatizing event that we all called this diner the "rape diner" and avoided it at all costs. My grandparents seemed to like it, I have no idea why.

The Carle Place Diner

This diner was conveniently located near the Roosevelt Field Mall and Tower Records, two other places where I misspent my youth. I think it was pretty good. Wait, it's coming back to me. I think I once had disco fries here with a former camp counselor. She had been fired that summer for fellating a fellow counselor while drunk on the soccer field. Her name began with an A... it will come to me (no pun intended... haha).

The Neptune Diner

This diner is pretty good and located very close to where I live in Astoria. My husband likes that they feature the fact that they make a point that they serve "chops", which he thinks is delightfully old school. They were nice here. Good "sea" motif.

The Scobee Diner

This is great diner! The craziest thing is that when I moved into my apartment and was putting away my dishes, the previous owners had left behind a cup and saucer from the Scobee Diner! Perhaps they had stolen the china as a memento of a yummy meal or something. My husband likes to drink espresso from it. Lots of famous people have been here, so says the signed photos on the walls.

The Seven Seas

I don't remember much about this place. I think I have it confused with the Seacrest Diner (terrifying entry higher up). Maybe this was the place my grandparents liked. Jesus, I'm not as good at this as I thought. I can't even find a photo.

And there are others. Many have burned down. Many are lost in a haze of grilled cheese sandwiches and turkey burger deluxe platters.

Have I missed any?

Another Person That Resembles a Dan Clowes Drawing

Dick Boring. Somewhere, there's a portrait of this man that's growing more and more lovely by the day.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

People Who Resemble Dan Clowes Drawings

Special NFL edition!

Payton Manning, Lout Rampage!

Like a Velvet Glove Wrapped in Bradshaw!

Like a Weed, Joe Buck!

Tune in for more of this soon-to-be very popular reoccurring column!

Enjoy this link - Dan Clowes "On Sports"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Touch My Monkey!

Facebook'd a personal hero of mine and got a response back! No, not him... her! Want to write her back right away but don't want to appear desperate. Social networking and fandom opens up a whole new can of worms, etiquette-wise.

Still, so excited. I friggin' wrote my women's studies thesis (oy) on R. and Aline Crumb. I'll craft a subtle response while I'm supposed to be doing work.

I did not quit my job. I created a job. I did not go shopping today. I contributed to the economy.

All pathetic excuses aside, there are some sweet-ass sales out there. New black wool coat 50% off, (old tired one went to the Bowery Mission), new low cowboy boots 75% off and a spanking new old-man style Timex gold-tone watch that arrived via the mails. That's Indiglo, bitches. Perfect for me, since I often wake up in the middle of the totally confused and with no idea what time or day it is.

Then attended a really neat art opening at Spattered Columns in Soho. The wine gave me heartburn but the art was neat and lots of friends showed up.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Helpless Helping and Jaded Jobfinding

On a quick serious note on the Haiti disaster, here's an excellent short piece T wrote for about how just sending money may not seem like as though it does much good, it's the best way to get help to where its needed most.

Now for some local color.

It's a tough job market out there. Nannies must willing to cook, clean, pick up children from their weekly Ululating classes and then be able to help them with their Italian homework.

Journalists who want to write for burgeoning online media sites must be willing to write, research and edit their own stories along with the photos all for $50 or as Grampa Simpson says, "moonpies and penny candy."

The latest must have in this crazy cockeyed caravan of a job market? Penmanship. Yes, they are demanding a handwritten cover letter. None of these gauche fonts for them!

SEO is so 2009. 2010 is the year of haberdashery, looming, grinding one's own India ink, and playing angelic flights of fancy on the harp.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Your Satisfaction is Not At All Important to Us!

Also, did anyone else know that Sunday was No-Pants Day on the subway? I hope Monday was Purell-the-Seats Day.

Which reminds me of a story of something that happened two hours ago.

I'm not a fightin' gal. I get annoyed easy but angry? I'm a bit burned out for all that. I can recall three times in the last few years when I got the old red mist in front of my eyes and nearly reached for my stabbing stick.

I once nearly strangled a couple who was noisily making out during the incredibly emotional and gut wrenching 2004 Mike Leigh film "Vera Drake." For those who have seen this film, need I explain more? For those who did not, its the story of a working class British woman in 1950 who gives abortions to women in desperate need and then must face the consequences. It's a incredibly heartbreaking story of class and values. How this film could arouse passion of the spit-swapping sort in anyone is beyond me. I became angry. Punches were nearly thrown. My companion was mortified. I calmed down. The couple sulkily stopped making out. Rage over.

Another time was with a former boss and it was so horrible that it hurts to recount it. I'll just say this. I thought I was speaking in a reasonable tone to this person but it turned out that I was shouting at the top of my lungs. I lost my shit completely and utterly.

Then there was the time that we had bed bugs that wouldn't go away and... well, I know I need not say more. Ugh, just typing about them makes me itchy and angry.

Then there was tonight. After a lovely afternoon with the wonderful folks of Girls Write Now, I headed down into the NYC subway, where the machine promptly ate my $10, announced an "encoding error" and then refused to barf up a receipt for me. How to retrieve my money? The charming specimen who was standing outside the glass infomation thing kept telling me that I needed to get an envelope from a booth. What booth? A booth. Was I deaf? I pointed to the clear glass booth where helpful people tended to work. She leaned down and pointed to the sign as if I was differently abled. "See here?" she said slowly and deliberately. "This is a kiosk. Not a booth."

I was lucky that there were people around me, people who beginning to worry if an "incident" was about to occur. Because I began saying, "Why couldn't you just have said that in the first place? How would anyone know the difference between the booth and a kiosk considering there's no one inside either one? Why is it acceptable for none of the machines to work and then for no one TO BE INSIDE THE KIOSK TO OFFER ASSISTANCE. GIVE ME BACK MY $10! TEN DOLLARS!"

"DO I SIT AT THE EDGE OF THE BED AND BOTHER YOU WHILE YOU'RE WORKING, BITCH?!" (Note: I didn't actually say this but I wish I could have.)

The gentle, yet terrified man who was fixing a broken subway card machine (have you ever seen the inside of these things? They do not inspire financial or mechanical assurance) gave me a number to call, wrote down the number of the machine and subway station for me. Thanks mister. I go be crazy somewhere else.

I should probably go back to yoga.

Also, has anyone seen how friggin' fancy Duane Reade has gotten? The one on 34th and Sixth Avenue is not to be believed. Like Sephora except you can also get some condoms and a bag of peanuts. Classy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Like Bloating for Gallstones

How pleasing! According to the Belleville News-Democrat in Illinois, via Drug News:

"U.S. District Chief Judge David Herndon will handle the pre-trial proceedings in lawsuits filed against Bayer Corp., makers of the contraceptive pill, Yaz."

The plaintiffs are suing, claiming that ethinyl estradiol and dropspirenone, the two special ingredients in Yaz and Yasmin that supposedly help women that experience bloating and mild depression, also put women at risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and sudden death. There have also been links to Yaz and gallbladder disease.

I suppose I could consider calling my doctor and asking if I should get off Yaz, a pill that has effectively changed my life for the better. What's more uncomfortable, tender breasts or gallstones? And is Yasmin any different?

Shit on a twig.

Seems like my cue to revisit Annuale, the once-a-year birth control that may cause me to experience werewolfism.

Shattered Glass, Revisited

Up late, the husband asleep and decided to watch "Shattered Glass", a movie I avoided seeing back in 2003 because I was employed as a fact-checker at a magazine at the time. It hadn't been my idea goal but just two years earlier, at the age of 22, the dotcom bubble burst and all the jobs for grads seemed to vaporize.

I was lucky to land a spot freelance fact-checking a shopping guide at New York magazine. I had to beg some poor writer who had come to my journalism class to put in a good word for me. Once I was there, I was shy and sought a mentor. I did not find one. I began to feel that I did not have the outside personality to make an impression on people. At least not yet.

It was my greatest fear to fuck up a story. I lived in fear of an editor yelling at me for holding up a story or having to call a writer to ask for more back up and source notes. And what were facts? The age of a celebrity? When an actor became sober? How a person felt a particular moment? Being a fact-checker meant not thinking too much and yet doing all of the thinking.

To be a perfect fact-checker was to barely exist. No one knew who you were unless you fucked up. You were the clean-up crew. It was your job to get your hands dirty so that the final project looked sparkling at the end. The fact-checkers didn't win awards or receive presents from luxe companies at Christmas. It wasn't a glamorous job. It was a way in. And hopefully, a way up.

That job led to other fact-checking jobs. In 2005, I ended my fact-checking career at a big women's magazine. I'd written some stories and gotten a few bylines. I had dreams of greatness (who doesn't?) in graduate school but by 26, I'd lost my confidence completely. It was a different world than the world of the late 1990s it seemed. Things felt shaky, there were always talks of layoffs. I was never in the right place at the right time. I would never break that ceiling. I would never get anywhere near the ceiling, let alone finagle a poking instrument to get me near enough to the ceiling. You get my drift.

"Shattered Glass" does an excellent of showing how much stock young people I knew in my 20s put into working at a Name Magazine. It was envy and lust. It was who you knew and if you didn't know someone you were in for a slow ride. It was having or Your email address could make or break you. Its what everyone said! Anyway, it gave you entree. You were paid nothing, you were often treated like nothing (unless you were a "boy genius" like Stephan Glass) but it was a great crutch for building an identity, a challenge for anyone in their mid 20s. Special people, trying to be special at places that seemed so very special.

There are some good magazines out there and a lot of people who work really, really hard to put them out every month. There are a few really great online publications who work on tiny budgets and push out content on a daily and hourly basis. But I wonder if anyone feels that pride anymore that a magazine or web site or TV news show is so storied, so fantastic, so amazing that they want to be associated with it as part of their identity. I don't know.

It is an interesting time to look back on this film because in many ways, it seems like a relic of a lost time, like the bustling newsroom of Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday and All the President's Men must seem to to newspaper journalists now. What will the heyday of online journalism look when they make the movie about it 2013?

And haven't there been so many fabulists since that Stephen Glass's story seems like one of many? Or maybe it was just a fabulist economy under which we lived and were employed. It seems that way now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I woke up this morning with a strange pain in my jaw. Now the old LHM would make a joke of this variety but at 32 all I could think of was my terrible nighttime teeth grinding. Or that I had jaw cancer. I had my dentist make me a night guard but that shit is unweildy! Like what Golden Gloves boxers wear. Hard to sleep with it. Excessive drooling and headaches. Just right for the newlywed couple!

Despite jaw pain, had a lovely day with outta town friends and their beautiful baby. T made a meat loaf and was able to chew it, if not open my mouth exactly wide enough to receive the food itself.

Not much to post tonight. So will close with a portion of "You Can't Do That on Television" from 1984. It was with this show that my love affair with Canadians began.

"The Medicine Show" - link

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Was Looking For a Job and Then I Found a Job...

... and heaven knows I've been miserable now. Well, not now. Now I'm freelance writing while I work on my book and figure out what to do with my life. Teach? Edit? Dance for quarters? Work for the census? They did leave that beguiling flier under my door. They must have known that I was having a career crisis!


I've been distracted and unable to read new things lately (see earlier post). So I'm making a list of all the books that I plan to read this year. Note, these are books that are in my home. I bought them, intended to read them, and then chose to read Archie comics or something.

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

I bought it for my dad and he liked it a lot. I meant to read it. But I kept falling asleep. I'll give it another try. I also fell asleep reading "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" in high school. I'm not optimistic.

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey

T got it for me for Hanukkah. It started off great but it keeps jumping around from narrator to narrator. I got distracted trying to read it on the subway. Maybe the print is too small? Why do I always forget to wear my reading glasses? Maybe because I don't want to admit I need them. Hmmm...

Austerity Britain
by David Kynaston

I really just like the cover. But I started reading it and I liked it. But at 700 pages, its a lot of post WWII British austerity, you know?

The Dream Songs by John Berryman

I really should read more poetry. I was always worried that this book of poetry would depress me. But then again, I felt that way about the Pill and it made me feel a million times better.

Street of Crocodiles
by Bruno Schulz

I think I've lied and told people I've read this. But I don't think I ever did. I'll find out, I guess.

Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote

I've read some individual stories but I should sit and read the whole thing.

Well, that's as ambitious as I get tonight. I complete this high-falutin' list while watching the episode of Bridezillas with Karen the horror of Staten Island. I watch this and no longer wonder why people dislike the Jews. Does that make me a self-hating Jew?

Oh god, did she just flash a gang sign and say, "Shabbat Shalom?"

2010 is Already a Year of Repeats

Is it something about the cold that makes reading and watching new things so difficult? Perhaps this cold weather has frozen my synapses. There is something comforting about revisiting old books and films. Some have held up wonderfully to my memories. Others... not so much.

The Lady From Shanghai - 1947

You know a movie is fucking amazing when Orson Welles is the worst thing in it. Yes, his Irish brogue is totally absurd and you can barely figure out what the hell he's saying but believe me, this movie is gold. And not just the last shootout scene (pictured above), the one that all the film students study. The movie is just so creepy. The horrifying, sweaty close-ups of Everett Sloan (Peter Bogdanovich mentions that after the actor got his famous schnoz straightened, his acting career failed... sad!) and Glenn Anders while aboard a yacht to nowhere, give you a real seasick feeling.

Rita Hayworth is so beautiful in this movie, it nearly hurts your eyes. Welles had ordered her long red hair cut short and dyed blonde, which gives her a lost, helpless appearance. Welles and Hayworth's marriage was nearly over by then and there's a longing in Hayworth's performance that just kills me. It's a movie about loneliness about being at sea. From what I've read about Hayworth, her marriage to Welles was a rather lonesome affair indeed.

American Psycho - 2000

I can't believed I actually liked this piece of shit when it first came out. The only thing I can think of is that I was so grossed out by Bret Easton Ellis's novel that I was relieved that the movie was a satire and that I didn't actually have to watch a rat... well, those who read the book know what I'm talking about. My pal Amanda listed this book as one that she wishes she could have un-read. If only, my friend.

The production design is great, the costumes are great. Christian Bale's plastic face and loving tributes to his ass are fascinating to watch. But the tone is completely scattered, the editing totally schizophrenic. There are whole scenes in New York City where there are no people. Bateman, on the run from killing a bunch of women because he's "not human", skibbles through a pre-9/11 World Trade Center at night... and no one is around! He chases a woman with a chainsaw through a CPW highrise and no one sees or hears. Is the film a statement about how cold and lifeless the city is to the sound of suffering? Or the sound of bullshit...

The truth is, I took some Ambien and DVRd this film. I think I liked the movie back in 2000 when I saw it in the theater because it seemed to be a takedown of that whole serious psycho power killer character that a lot of people didn't know that they shouldn't take seriously (says Ellis). At the time, I thought the film should have been even funnier. Now, 10 years later, I think the film, if it must have been made, should have been a straight-up horror movie. It wouldn't have made light of all the carnage and I would have likely avoided it all together.

Ever since (yes, I'm admitting this) Sassy magazine praised the work of Lynda Barry and recommended the all girl comic anthology "Twisted Sisters," my life veered all the "normal, Long Island, Jewish gal to something... weirder and disturbing. And I liked it.

I fell hard for Aline Kominsky - Crumb (I heard of her way before I happened upon the pervish wonder of Robert Crumb. She was just like me, just born 25 years earlier. Oy vey. I nearly vomited from relating to her autobiographical stories about summer camp, crash dieting, verbal abuse, Jewish guilt, nose jobs and failing at being an "ahtist."

Look at this photo, we even looked alike. I guess you'd have to know what I look like.

I loved everything in that anthology but I fell hard for Phoebe Gloeckner. Her semiautobiographical stories are dirty. There are drunk, crying teens kneeling before no-good older men with their cocks out. The life of a teenaged girl is filled with shame, lust, brief desires for purity, loneliness, drugs and adventure. I'd read "A Child's Life" which addresses incest, abuse and struggles for power and wanted more.

It took years but "The Diary of a Teenaged Girl" was worth the wait. I actually went to a small comic convention at the Puck Building in NYC just to meet her. I bought a tee-shirt which a picture of "Kimmie" giving the finger. Treasure! I read it quickly, liked it and then put it away. I just took it out after 5 years. And I now think its one of the best amalgamations of comics and the written word ever. The comics move the narrative along in a way that totally brings out the best of the storytelling. Gloeckner, who seems to be using her own young face as her model for Minnie, shows the narrator brushing her teeth, sneaking through her older lovers things, crying when even her beloved cat Domino rejects her.

Linking to this, but I'm not sure what it is... I guess its at theater piece based on the book. Check it out!!!

Once upon a time, I drew a comic book for my women's studies minor final project. I worked so hard on that thing and I can't find it anywhere. My art professor loved it and wanted to start teaching comics for her "High Art/Low Art" class. She told me that she thought I should go to art school, which was beyond laughable. I really wasn't a very talented artist. When I told her I'd already gotten into journalism school, she dismissed me as though I'd told her I was off to Alaska to do some offshore drilling. I can't fathom what my life would have been like if I had actually gone on to learn how to draw comics. After settling for a such a mainstream career, it just boggles the mind...

Well, not all my posts will be about old films and new films and comic books and my schoolgirl crush on long-deceased actor Joseph Cotton (although many might be).

I should end this post now. My Ambien is kicking in...

Just a test

just a test