Archive for January, 2012

4 Months

January 30, 2012

This is my four month anniversary of moving to New York.  Yeah, four months, big deal.

But it actually is for me; I’ve accomplished quite a bit.  I will not make a list of achievements.  It’s a strange thing – I looked back to what I wrote when I moved.  The first post of actually being in New York was about my failure to find a job.  Not even, “I’m here and I’m so happy I got away.”  If I’d been told then what I’d be doing now, I’d have been deeply skeptical.

They say pride comes before the fall, but that’s great because I love summer so that means I’ll wrap this up now.  Thank you’s to all, especially you, and you, and YOU.

–for Monday January 30th, 2012

 

PS.  I ought to have note that – fittingly – as I wrote this, I was spending my first night in a new, tiny little room in the same basement apartment.  Maybe some pictures or something sometime.

A Seahorse Year, part 1

January 24, 2012

It’s a Stacy D’Erasmo book.  The premise is that a couple’s 16 year old son runs away.  They don’t know where (but We sort of do), and both they and We don’t know why.  Mom and dad are actually gay, aren’t together, have other lovers; they differ on how to go about their child’s escape (do we hire a detective?), and mom’s main squeeze is having an affair.

And everyone has The Most Annoying Name Ever.  Mostly.  Here:  Hal, Nan, Marina, Christopher, Tamara, Shiloh, Suarez, etc.  Some of those aren’t annoying — but they are next to the others.  I don’t know why I feel this way; it’s a gut reaction…  They seem so ridiculous: how the hell did this sample of people-with-these-names get clumped?  There are other problems too, which matter more to me.

Each page has about three words of dialogue.  The rest is exposition, and worse: it’s not the behavioral kind, it’s the exposing-what-every-character-is-thinking kind (or whatever the shorthand for that is).  I have no problem with a omnipotent narrator, but I have a problem with the narrator hiding nothing except for the cause for suspense, or whatever forwards the plot, which in A Seahorse Year is pretty thin.

I mean, I’d feel worried if my pitch for a book was “Parents struggle to act / cope as teenage son runs away,” but that’s immaterial.  The main gripe is that there’s no compelling element to me when I know every goddamn thing except – conveniently – the motivation for the actions that forward the plot, only because the narrator has chosen to withhold it (and only it) from me.  How the hell am I going to get, say, dramatic irony maybe, or suspense, or whatever, from anything outside this?  I know what every character is thinking.  I’m almost uncomfortable with how much I know (not because they’re great characters written greatly, but the opposite – a whole other problem).

I’m not well read, but don’t write me off (ar ar ar).  This isn’t the sort of book I read often; it’s been awhile since I’ve done one like this; I’m reading it for personal reasons.  I don’t think I was aware that this sort of thing bugged me so much.

I’m 69 pages in as I’ve written up to this point.  I’ll will post a follow up at the end of the week when I’ve (hopefully) finished.  I will redact and apologize profusely if I’m proven wrong by sleight of hand or twists of narrative in this book.  I have my own forecast on what will happen; it’s biased, and it’s not good.

Monk

January 18, 2012

 

In 2007, I was walking back to the PSU campus.  It was dawn and I coming from the Goose Hollow MAX stop.  I was by the freeway and I saw a teddy sitting in front of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal church.  It was so depressing, all wet and dirty.  But I had no room to take it in.  I left it and it broke my heart.

Tonight I was riding home, and in Ridgewood I found a monkey in the street.  I picked it up and rode with it in my hand for a block, but I still had no room for it.  I put it on a door step.  I didn’t have much hope for it.  I was in a very emotional state – I’d just slept for 18 hours, after having worked on some painting for 24 hours straight.  My heart was again broken.  Monk’s home is now the internet…

 

–for Tuesday January 17th, 2012

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Greatest Of All Shitty Films

January 10, 2012

I’ve been getting an earful about how to build a narrative in the last two months.  How to start, how to escalate, subplot, climax, resolution, and everything else.  It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.*  I always thought the cliche-as-hell leather-jacketed, pompadoured uniformio hissing “Rules are made to be broken, maaan” was bullshit, but this case I need him to be right.  If only so that I’ll never have to see him on a screen ever again.

 

 

1. Convention Center

Narrative is a convention, you.  You see them everywhere, you live by them.  That’s only bad if you are never aware of them.  And that’s not true; many are perfectly happy never really thinking about it, I’m sure.  They’re real, but they’re constructions.  News media construct narratives all the time, but that’s no big secret.  People willingly believe news stories as willingly as they believe film stories – like cheese platters, it’s all about presentation.

I was talking with my friend Kyle near the end of my freewheeling summer in Portland about David Lynch.  I was still swimming in the pure, perfect feelings I’d felt watching Twin Peaks.  We talked about the various ways people interpret Lynch, all of which I’d done before (and all of which was wrong).  One thing he said that stuck with me was: “The narratives of Lynch movies more closely resemble real life than the conventional narratives of conventional movies.”

Curious, and many would either disagree or take the statement figuratively / not literally.  But I do agree, and I take it literally.  In Lynch’s movies, people act weird, afraid, menacing, nonsensically, etc.  There often isn’t an immediate counterpart to many of the figures one sees (ex: panty-hose masked, shotgun toting Willem Dafoe).  But the disorder, absurdity, and unpredictability that come with those behaviors and emotions in Lynch films are present in real life.  Some see them, some don’t, and some don’t because they’ve constructed or had imposed upon them a narrative to distract or blind them to the fact that nothing makes sense.**

 

 

2. Ignore That, and this

This is all simple enough (i.e. retarded), but that’s not what I came here to make any statement about, so ignore everything except Paragraph 1.  And the part about weirdo movies actually making the most sense.  Today’s theme is thus.  The boring conventional narratives in the shitty conventional movies that stupid conventional people enjoy are actually the “weirder” “absurder” narratives.

It’s always struck me as interesting how stupid, boring movies win best picture, and stupid, boring acting wins best acting at the Oscars.  Most of them are so goddamn “standard fare.”   But they win as being above par (some actually are great: I loved Heath Ledger as Joker; it was powerful).  But just above par?  And at the ceremony, they’ve always got the stupid montage with Spielberg and Clint and them, saying, “Movies (and art) are worth a damn because they teach us how to live.

 

"MEANING! ... no"

 

I’m glad they can spell it out for us.  They’re right, but for the wrong reasons.  How many shitty local news stations had some “Health Watch” segment today about the new diet, new meds, new study.  Is there anyone that doesn’t know these are all total bullshit, deeply temporary, potentially harmful?  Yes, plenty.  But those segments aren’t all; all the other segments on other subjects, all the other stories in all the other outlets.  All twisted and tailored to appeal.

Here’s an example of a stupid movie teaching stupid people to live stupidly (if it fails, my whole argument is nullified!).  On the screen Streep and Hoffman (or whoever) are SCREAMING AT EACH OTHER.  Oh, my God, amazing performances.  They had me all along.  I cried; and cried more when they solved their differences.  Oscars.  Next movie on the screen: X and Y are SCREAMING… but… psh, what shitty acting, I can see right through them.  X looks like he just woke up!  Terrible performance; this director is a retard.

The one with X and Y is probably the better one.  It’s far closer to real life.  I’ve seen people SCREAMING their point of view at someone else, and I’ve tried it myself.  It’s so often an act, either learned from shitty movies or an unstable households or some other thing that should never be emulated.  Few people win when screaming unless you’re getting a grizzly bear to go away, in which case I hope to God that screaming works.  It’s often totally transparent; it’s hard to be a witness to because it betrays such transparency.  It’s sometimes effective, like if some total stranger – taller, menacing, crazy-eyed, etc – advanced on me screaming.  But it’s no less fake just because I was too busy being scared to see through it.  Effectively wielding the power of yelling makes it no less an act.

This is the 21st century, where fur and yelling in anger are out.  And that is why it’s totally fucking weird when Streep and Hoffman cast high-pitched fastballs at each other and you’re with them every step.  It’s absurd x2, because it makes senese – when it shouldn’t.

 

The Fur Lady: Starring Thatch As Corporate Apologist (...um, can I get a new agent?)

 

3. World With The Draggin’ Narrative

Back to narratives, the overall picture.  There’s plenty wrong with them all the time.  But there’s rarely fruit that falls from the tree so ripe that it’s an exposure.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is of this ripeness.***

Dragon Tattoo is so direly, mortally, terminally connected with its narrative that it almost isn’t a narrative, almost isn’t a story, almost isn’t a “film,” in the conventional sense.  Its scenes are so short that they couldn’t pass muster to ride a roller coaster.  Its pace is so breakneck that I had whiplash a half hour in.  Its characters are so nonexistent that I wondered why they bothered hiring actors.  Etc.  Every single thing is beholden to the narrative getting to its climax, with literally no care for depth, expansion, beauty, truth, or exploration to any of the themes that it purports to be about (cough-feminism-cough).  I could go on, but this ain’t no review.

Its scene turnover rate only a little less profound than the amount of information it tries to pack.  Names and family ties and past events – swirling and numerous… and totally irrelevant.  The conventional narrative betrays itself every time because the conventional narrative always has the same ending.  As it had to be, Dragon Tattoo ends as it must, and so it doesn’t matter one goddamn fucking bit that it dropped a busload of information in a bulldozed mess of scenes in it’s first hour alone.  It will guide you to it’s end, with little nuance, and you will let it, and you will accept it.

That’s how it is with most movies, but with few others have I so clearly seen the construct.  Dragon Tattoo is “meat and potatoes.”  No veggies, no condiments; not a grain of salt.  It somehow had no other space for anything but the backbone of its narrative.  Is it a strong backbone?  Who cares.  It’s utter lack of anything else lets you ride that spine free to the end, which makes enough sense even if you’ve just been watching now and then through the corner of your eye cuz you’re fucking someone while it’s on it the background.

 

"YES we did! and I BET you didn't see it coming!!"

 

Ride the spine free to the end – it’s really what’s done with every conventional narrative.  But so rarely do I throw up my hands with a Hollywood movie and say, “Whatever.  Just end.  I don’t care.  I’ll get it all when the bad guy gets it.”  You might think it’s shitty storytelling that’d cause you to do something like that, but people throw up their hands all the time in confusion to weirdo, absurdo, surrealo movies with the bizarre narrative, and I’m more hesitant to call theirs bad storytelling.

No – Dragon Tattoo tells it’s story in a shitty way, but its shit root is in  its shitty story telling method.  No matter how absurdly fast and absurdly content-packed it is, it’s married deep to the conventional style.  Make those bucks, Rudin.  Even when it means your director’s ass and/or any hope of a good movie.  The conventional narrative betrays because it will never be as good as its absurdist doppelganger, where just riding its spine is to miss the entire movie.

 

 

4. Spoiler: Dead

The futility of conventional narrative betrays the futility of all narratives throughout life.  You’re ending is actually just as much a logical conclusion as the happy ending you dutifully expect from your Streep/Hoffman joint.  The method of its end, and the timing, is often not as expected, but the fact that the end comes none the less is inevitable as in a narrative based film.  It is the end though, which perhaps illuminates for some the narrative structures around them, imposed by various sources, including they self.  So it is the ending perhaps that betrays all narratives.  Who cares what Streep/Hoffman do or how well they holler – you’re only rapt for their ending.

If only film narratives, which all have endings themselves, could somehow follow suit.  If only Hollywood were bold enough to commit suicide.

 

Jimmy maybe, but the economy? Never.

 

*It may never get better.****

**Kyle also gave me Aristotle’s Poetics for Christmas.  I forgot it in Portland and I feel like a huge asshole, but I’ve received forgiveness.  I’d love to see what he thinks of all this.

****It may be worth going into how this Dragon Tattoo was super rushed production, not director-approved, three hour version may some day come out, etc.  May also worth going into the feminist angles.  May also worth mentioning that I knew almost nothing about what the franchise is about prior to seeing this one.  All of these are for another time.

****It probably never.  None of this will.

The Fall and Rude Boy

January 5, 2012

There are spoilers in here, but you’re actually safe.  As far as I see these two films, the endings don’t really make them what they are – the ideas and overall presentation do that.  Also, you’ll never see the first one, and probably won’t see the second.

 

 

1.  The Fall

A photographer calls a modeling agency to get a model – Anna – to advertise his “peace dress.”  He photographs Anna looking “sexy,” a state she seems to question briefly – “How do you be sexy in a peace dress?”  Soon the model and the photographer/director are living together, sleeping together.  This isn’t really the story; no dialogue really spells this out.  Just images for inference amongst a fray of others.  I await my writing credit.

The photographer is in fact The Fall‘s director, Peter Whitehead.  As he lives with her, she _______s the primary narrative he tries to make for his film with her dancing sexuality and kissing sex.  The attempted narrative is a documentation of New York City in 1967 and 1968, experiencing protest, chaos, and the growing pains of changes under conflicts at home and abroad.

The verb to fill in the blank above is either “interrupts” or “sells.

 

 

2.  The Bleakest Choice Is The Truest One

Does the narrative of a sexy, dancing, naked little romance interrupt the narrative of protest / America under siege?  There’s a purity to the sole presence of revolt, without the histrionics of sexuality, nudity, additional desires thrown in.  I’m looking at you Vancouver, BC.  Does stylized sexuality interrupt the narrative of protest et al, even if its presented narrative was spotty or nonexistent?  This is subjective for whoever is making/presenting the narrative.  News networks (papers, websites, TVs) sell things during their coverage of protest (if they’re covering it).  Sex helps do this, both during commercials/ in ads and in the news itself.  Is this good or bad?  Either way is a subjective, narrative-based position.  Or is it…?

 

From Daily Mail

From CNN

From a commercial break during Occupy coverage or whatever who cares:

 

Which leads to the other hand.  Does Whitehead really need a sexy girl and her tits to sell peace?  His camera is jumping around wildly all over the city, zooming in to different cultural figures, fuckers, and experimenters – speakers, poets, performance artists, along with Joe Protest and Bob Kennedy.  To say nothing of the psychedelic passages.  The protest bits are dynamic as Hollywood, it just doesn’t have a graspable narrative; its relative ungraspability is relative to the relative stupidity of everyone.  So for better or worse, present is the romance narrative.

Is the point that their love life together, their sexual domesticity is an analog to political protest for peace?  I hope not.  If it were so, it’d mean protest occurs every moment of every day.  It doesn’t.  Heyyy maaaan, it’s the 60s, when Love & Peace movement were wuuuun.  But not won.  And what, do I have to stoop to hippie narratives to dissect this aspect of the film?  I love the time and the people and have read up, and there’s a reason the movement was snubbed around the end of the decade, just like they’re snubbed around the end of the film, and I don’t want to suggest it was a narrative that didn’t jibe with eternity, but.

Two people making love isn’t a political protest and political protest is loving, but not that kind of love.  I choose to think Whitehead knows this.  He needs Anna to be “sexy” to sell his peace dress.  His word.  For her in his peace dress.  And in his peace movie.  Personally, I feel more like rubbing one out more than throwing bricks just writing this entry, much less watching The Fall.  Which is fine, but where’s a protest movie that makes me clench my fists???

 

 

3.  Rude Boy

I had depressingly little experience with Occupy Wall Street.  But was its littleness depressing? Maybe not for Occupy: shortage of bodies wasn’t high up on their list of biggest problem.  As for me, the most contact I had was falling in with a march going down Broadway.  It moved slowly, was confined to the sidewalk by police.  Boring!  Where’s my instant grad?

Anthology Film Archives is screening The Fall as part of a bunch that are in the spirit of Occupy Wall Street this weekend.  The movie that should be shown in the bunch is Rude Boy, flick with The 1978-79 Clash.  It has some commanilites with The Fall with its cinema verite, filming events over a year, and whatnot.  But unlike The Fall, it’s married to its narrative, which is comparatively more conventional.  It is not ostensibly about protest… but it is nonostensibly about protest.

Super condensed: Ray wants to break the mold of his boring life working the dole and manages to get a roadie job with the Clash, who want to break the mold supporting the left while making a living on music.  Meanwhile, the fascist cops do a sting on a black pickpocket.  Meanwhile, there are elections approaching of Labor V. Fascists.

 

 

Several scenes pepper the first act of the film of protesters “clashing” with police.  Once or twice they actually clash, but mostly they just… show up and stand around.  The scenes are often god-awfully long.  They’re perfect.  The stiltedness, lack of action, and lack of consequence and result are parts of the reason why “White Riot” isn’t the daily occurrence.  The one march I really took part in was short lived because I got bored.  I’m clearly a stupid coward for feeling this way, but I’m obviously a courageous genius for admitting it.

The common way “protest” is put into practice often holds no action, violence, and harassment, nor will the lens through which one view the world flying around chaotically, adventurously, psychedelically, or sexily.  This is why Ray feels a deep forlorn.  He wants to revolt, but why trade languishing here for languishing there.  Both are for someone else’s purposes.  A decade earlier, Lou Reed cries “Look out!  The world’s behind you!” but the world is too slow and boring for Ray.   Political protest is all around him, but it just means being a body in a controlled group, peaceably and collectively saying, “Yuck, no thanks!” to what’s protested, then going home.    Ray’s looking for the dynamic – Rebels don’t stand on the street staring down a cop, they rock the fuck out, or at least drink with those who do.  And Ray loves his beer.

4. End Of Decade Is Beginning Of New American Century

If you’re watching, and into the narratives the film is laying down (read: if you can follow it) then the ending is the biggest downer in history.  If you don’t agree, you may be a conservative and/or an idiot.

A. Ray fails at having a job as a tag along.  He’s too drunk and too narcissistic; drunk on the self-image of rebeldom.  He has a hard time seeing anything outside of himself.  He tells Joe Strummer that their music shouldn’t be political.  He offers no substitute, because he has none to offer, and because there isn’t one – it’s not The Clash without the political ideals.  Ray languishes – The Clash at least revolt the only way they know how.  Or so it only appears.

B. The Clash win because the band wants to be an artistic success, and they rock it and rocket to the top.  But they don’t win – they didn’t in 1979, and they don’t for history thus far.  They end up as corporate pawns.  Don’t scoff at me; this is in fact the unsympathetic narrative of the film.  They’re abandon Ray and thus abandon those looking for a way to revolt.  They’re there for their art and themselves, seeing to their ascent.

 

We all end alone.

 

They continue believe in the left, in movements, in ideals, but they must compromise to reach a wider audience, and ultimately the juxtaposition will implode them.  More on this later, because I love it.  But in Rude Boy / 1979, they’re just stuck.  “I’m fucked,” says Strummer, because his form of revolt holds no victor either, just like Ray.  He doesn’t know the half of it.  But he knows how to revolt against even that deeper futility of his own revolt.  It’s to the best of his ability, as it should be for you.  And in the film, it’s “I fought The Law and The Law won.”  Cathartic; but the fatcat makes another milli.  Read on:

C. The black kid fingered for pickpocketing is put away.  This is a side plot so extra that it feels it doesn’t belong.  But it attempts an interesting idea, so it’s okay in my book.  The idea is that being an actual outlaw to survive gets you thrown in the clink, especially if you’re black living under a white patriarchy.  The Clash on the other hand, white bread with merely an outlaw image, do indeed get in trouble with the law, but a) it’s for shooting pidgeons, and b) they have their aforementioned ascendance into corporate success.  True revolt against societal law brings jail, faux revolt against angst (MAYBE) brings fortune.  As I said: unsympathetic.

D. Thatcher becomes Prime Minister.  Meanwhile: Reagan takes the throne in the U.S.A.

Sucks.  But that’s how it is, in the end.  The Fall ends similarly, but overall it has more inherent optimism.  It believes in its more uplifting elements; believes they map onto real life.  Like the hippie narratives mentioned way above…  I don’t know that they do.  Given my rhetoric, it’s clear what I believe.

But I see why it’s shown in the spirit of Occupy Wall Street.  Occupy has a kind of optimism to it; it’s not as wildly sexy as the hippies, but hey, this ain’t the 60s.  It has an optimism in the 21st century.  Perhaps that’s how it’s inviting, how it spread.  Perhaps that’s how it doesn’t seem to stand for any unified thing.  Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t revolt with it.  It’s the 21st century.  There’s always the possibility of the future.

 

Take Shelter

January 3, 2012

Spoiler alert (…I think?)

 

 

1. My Ideal Schizz

If I was suspicious that I might be suffering from a mental disorder, how much of a secret would I keep it?  Maybe it’s impossible for me to ponder personally, given the complexity of mental disorders.  Maybe, but this isn’t a personal ponderance; it’s a blog, which is inherently and totally narcissistic.  Huh, I guess the answer is not very.

But for real?  If I had reason to believe I had schizophrenia?  I don’t know.  It depends on what was at stake.  What have I got – a network of current and past friends, family strewn around, a basement room, a suitcase?  I guess I’d just throw it out there.  I’d ideally like to think I would.

2. Curtis

Perhaps it’s due to this ideal that I found Take Shelter frustrating.  Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a man who goes half the movie or more with delusions and hallucinations, and acts weird as shit, before he manages to tell anyone.  And by this time every character has had it up to here, and so do I.

(It occurred to me that his resistance could be some metaphor for masculine bullheadedness.  He’s sort of a douchebag sometimes, sort of a swingin’ dick.  His at-all-costs resistance to exhibiting weakness falls in line with that.  And his apocalypse seems to be a metaphor for Recession Technology Capitalism USD V. Family Unit.  But it’s way too subtle to interest me, and I get the impression I’m just reading into it, so I’m taking a different track.)

What’s at stake?  He’s got a (hot, unemployed) wife and a (deaf, unemployed) kid – an immediate family structure wherein he’s the breadwinner.  So perhaps he can’t enact my ideal for divulging schizophrenia because this could collapse the tent he worked so hard to pitch.  But not enacting my ideal does take his family to the brink.

Hence my frustration – do what I would do and find salvation, dumbass!  Why not just out with it?  Do I really have to say, “Surely the characters in this movie have seen enough movies to know that penting this secret up is only going to tear the family apart?”  Shall I ask writer/director Jeff Nichols what he’s seen?  I don’t want to take that track; please don’t make me.

3. I’ll Try Not To

Alright, I’ll concede a little.  Curtis wouldn’t tell anyone outright; I wouldn’t either.  How long would I take?  Thinking about it for Curtis, I can’t help but feel misdirected.  Metaphor for Man’s Cock N Balls aside, maybe it’s sloppy writing.  But, goddammit, it’s aware and intentional.  It’s not perfectly written, flaws are on the page, but it’s not just tone deafness on the level of the words.  What else can make a problem that makes half the movie or more tone deaf?

Editing.  Representing a decent amount of time – like more than one week – in a whopping two hours, Take Shelter takes its time.  And mine.  Numerous scenes go by where Curtis acts more and more like a loon, begging for someone to confront him, and it barely ever happens.  That’s just it: at a certain point, the question changes from “How long should I keep it a secret?” to, “How long could I keep it a secret before my behavior gave me away?”  In the timetable presented, someone would have said, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” sooner than they do.  In small Ohio town?  Come on.  Maybe it would take a few people bringing it up, but he would’ve eventually spilled the beans.

 

 

The opinion that it should have been half hour shorter feeds the opinion that this behavior is annoying (and vice versa, but that’s irrelevant).  Passing of time is apparent in the film, but the passing of events is weirder.  The pacing is based on Curtis’ slow deterioration, and we witness it based on somewhat episodic scenes.

But what about the scenes we don’t see?  In the more-than-one-week that passes, surely he has a beer with his buddies, has sex with his wife, etc.  Without incident?  I don’t believe that only in these little moments that we’re fortunate enough to catch is he acting weird.  He’s weird way more.  Say it.

Due to its length, and partially due to its minimalism, which it tries to hide with some CGI, Take Shelter gives the impression of time passing – it can’t hide it.  Not from me.  The attention drawn to the temporal aspect gives rise to this problem I’ve singled out.  It’s got other problems, but I don’t need to go into.  It’s not that films where characters’ behaviors are nonsensical, nonagreeable, unrelateable are inherently bad.  They’re sometimes stylistic choices.  I didn’t sense that here, but at the same time, as I mentioned, I also didn’t find a lack of intentionality with how these characters are; there’s no accident or director losing control.  Whatever it is, I’ve said enough.

A certain control throughout the movie I want to celebrate:  Michael Shannon is actually great as Curtis in spite of the fundamental problem I’m harping on.  His mannerisms, facial expressions, and certain interactions are all golden, beautiful, sad, and somehow stick with me.  In fact, it’s almost all that sticks with me – all the performances are good, but his is great even while it’s frustrating.  If I thought the Oscars meant a goddamn thing, I’d hope Michael Shannon be up for actor.  I actually feel bad for harping on this film solely because of his superb performance…

4. This Entry Could Have Just Been:

Take Shelter was frustrating partially because Curtis didn’t tell people he was crazy and people didn’t seem to care enough to mention (makes me wonder what I’d ideally do in similar situation; I think I’d come clean).  I figured it was just a writing/editing/pacing problem.  Hasn’t Jeff Nichols been frustrated as I have with dragging writing/editing/pacing in other films?  And if he hasn’t, couldn’t he have assumed that his characters in Take Shelter world had so that they could act more realistically, i.e. like I ideally would have?  To his credit, he directed an Oscar worthy performance.  Sorry for wasting your time.

Huh, this is a stupid way to end a post of questionable use and occasional merit.  I guess I can’t let Take Shelter have all the fun on this count.

 

"Mwahaha! On to the sequel for further endtime parenting histrionics! Tis called The Road!"

O Canada

January 2, 2012

1. Guessing the Canadian Identity…

There arose a discussion between myself and my Canadian compatriots about the Canadian identity.  What is it and wherein is it found outside of poutine, Mounties, bacon, and maple syrup – all ostensible Canadian icons no matter how many of them are swallowed, for good or ill, by the Unitedstatesian machine.

I heard tell of a certain trope of the mountain man.  One comedy group was mentioned to me; I then brought up Red And Green.  Yeah, I was told, something like that.  The burly plaid shirt-wearing absurdist who just hangs out in the woods.  That’s fine, and I don’t know if there’s any serious analog in America.  I know Paul Bunyan is an American tall tale.  But he’s got that weirdo blue ox he rides around on… and he’s probably secretly or partially Canadian… and I don’t have time to research; Barry Lyndon starts in an hour and I won’t care enough in 14 hours when it’s finally ended.

I heard it said that people don’t really boast in Canada.  I asked what the state of rap music there was, seeing that in the subcontinent of The Hollywood States, boasting is not only rap’s brick and motar, but a rapper’s bread and butter.  They said Canadian rap was mostly political / conscious, Jamaican / African, or Drake.  Touche, but still I didn’t feel like I was tapping the identity oil at the deep end of the pond.

2. Distinctly Canadian…

I gave something a shot; based on a half-lie:  I said I had read that LC’s “Suzanne” and Neil Young’s “Helpless” were “distinctly Canadian,” that those songs “could never have been written anywhere else.”  It’s a half-lie because I have no idea where I read it or what the exact quote(s) was/were, and I don’t care.  Sure there’s a reference to “a town in North Ontario” and “Suzanne” is about being in Montreal, but… beyond, more than that; deeper.

What other musicians are out of Canada?  Joni Mitchell, of course, who briefly goes into “Oh Canada!” in the middle of a verse in “A Case Of You” – my longstanding favorite of hers (although I’ll be damned if “All I Want” doesn’t creep close sometimes; its opening vocal melody being as infectious as anything I’ve ever heard).  But if that’s distinctly Canadian, it’s not because she knows how to bust an anthem in the middle of a love gem.

Nickelback…  Justin Beiber…  No.  Fuck them.  They’re American.  And I don’t say that because nothing shitty could come from Canada.  I reckoned (and my resident Canadians allowed the supposition) that the Unitedstatesian machine – executives, marketing suits, a board room of assholes – built these acts up to satisfy a demographic.  Nickelback is successful in America; no one I know likes them, but I don’t exactly hang out with guys who have to tuck their dicks behind their shoulders so they can get into their Ford F-350s without slapping Bubba in the face with their huge balls, or without catching their mammoth frenulum on the little staff that their Confederate Flag proudly flies on .  Somehow you can picture the Justin Beiber fan; it’s some analog of said rugged ultimate badass shitkicker.  I leave it to you.

I said, “Any Canadian philosophers?”  They said, “Ever heard of Glenn Gould?”  …The piano player?  Not a philosopher, but I’ll take it.  Someone who I’ve heard tell of playing so silently that you could hear his finger nails on the keys before he pressed them.  Or something.

Hm.  Silence.  You know that LC is pretty quiet.  Neil Young’s either quiet, or, even when he’s rocking out, knows how to leave a big space…  Joni Mitchell…  My god.

3. …The American Conclusion of Canada

I said and will continue to say thus:  When I look at a map of the (continental) United States, I see it fractured by the states.  Not politically; it’s just a 48 piece puzzle.  And in those pieces, I see the landmarks, either the cities or, say, Mount Rushmore or some shit.  Check.

When I look at Canada… the provinces are huge.  And I don’t even know what’s up north, besides some oil sands and some nickel mines.  What the hell does Northern Canada even hold?  Are their vast expanses of open spaces, or do little towns still pepper the map for those in the know?  “There are such vast expanses that it feels like you’re on the ocean,” said my co-captain of the Canadian identity trip, “but it’s not the ocean, it’s flat land stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction.”

What do they do with all this silence?  Perhaps contemplate.  Perhaps utilize open space just as much as closed, seized moments where senses must enter, be it where the music notes fall in the song or the gravy and curds fall on the fries.  And therein does it lie.  All great Canadian artifacts and exports hold a quietude that sometimes can be just that, and sometimes can mysteriously or violently hold a shattering, stunning, delicious, or hilarious truth at its core.  This comes in other places, but it’s different.  There’s a reason there’s no LC song like “Don’t Think Twice,” and there’s a reason there’s no Dylan song like “Joan Of Arc”.

None of my two present Canadians seemed to mind this summation of their national cultural identity.  Maybe they were secretly rolling their eyes.  I did pull out of my ass with just under an hour of flowery deduction moments before the ball dropped.  But we all felt so good, any silent dismissal of American pomposity had to have evaporated in the good cheer.

So I’m sticking with it.  What a great country.  Happy New Year!

Protected: New Year’s Eve

January 2, 2012

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San Diego

January 2, 2012

 

I had hiccups in my plans going both to and from the west coast for Christmas.  The hiccup leaving (returning east) is not worth going into; I feel a great deal of shame over it.  The hiccup going to the west coast is more explainable, but really only because of sunny pictures.

My 8am flight out of New York was delayed by an hour and a half due to an fuel door that wouldn’t shut automatically.  Some people were pissed, but I’d pulled an all-nighter.  I slept through the problem, but had a half-asleep fear that I’d die one of the worst deaths: bursting into flames and then falling to my death.  I assume the vacuum in the cabin or velocity of me falling would put the flames out after it’d burned all my skin off.

 

 

I made it alive.  To San Diego.  Five minutes before my connection to Portland departed.  Mofo at the kiosk put me on the next flight at 6pm or something, and said, “Enjoy the sunshine.”  It was 65 degrees, clear sky.  Of course, there was nothing terribly interesting around the San Diego airport.  I could see downtown, but I was lugging my bag, walking like I had a tub of peanut butter up my ass.

Eventually, I’d gathered photographic evidence that I’d been to San Diego, so I returned to the airport.  I lounged around in the terminal until flying to Portland.  I figured if I missed that flight, I’d just call my Uncle John and have a very L.A. holiday.  It was about 10pm when I finally got into Portland.  I lost a whole day to travel.  Thankfully, it was technically the shortest day of the year.  Sure didn’t feel like it.

 

–for Wednesday December 21st, 2011

AJ Tigner Zodiac

January 1, 2012

2006: Year of the Brick

As 2005 turned into 2006, a bag of trash was thrown at a tree by AJ.  Someone said, “You just threw a bag of trash at a tree!” “No I didn’t,” responded AJ, “I just threw a brick through those rich people’s window.”  So the tradition began.  What does he want to throw through a window at that moment?

2007: Year of the Cowboy

In which George W. Bush was an asshole.

2008: Year of the Russian (sometimes heard referred to as Year of the Ruskie Bear)

In which Russia invaded Georgia, and there was a Bear Market.

2009: Year of the Gypsy

In which I dated a girl that claimed to be a Gyspy (hey, I didn’t talk her into it) and Leonard Cohen played all the songs where he mentions gypsies in his oeuvre.  Stupid people wanted it to be the Year of the Orgy, but AJ was not swayed.  He was right to stand his ground: LC played not a one of his songs where he mentions an orgy.

2010: Year of the Juggalo

In which, by exceptional fortune and with admirable courage, I saw Insane Clown Posse live, for free, because I knew the promoter.    Stupid people wanted this to be the Year We Make Contact, which wouldn’t have been bad except for the fact that you can’t throw “We Make Contact” through a fucking window.

2011: Year of the Broken Rib

Apt only until July 1st (start of this blog, FYI).  And really, only apt until like June 14th.  After that, all was healed.

2012: Year of the Satellite

Satellite’s gone up to the sky…  Things like that drive me outta my mind…