Welcome To My Bed

Massholes.

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(ambulance borrowed from Wonderful Universe)


So today is a day that will live in infamy as one of the worst driving days I have ever experienced. And not because it snowed again, because miraculously we've managed to avoid new precipitation here for at least the past few days (fingers crossed that the blessing will continue). But because everyone, and I mean everyone, Cassandra and I had the pleasure of sharing the road with on our errand day had decided that stop signs only mean slow down, that changing lanes is something does not require signaling, that driving in parking lots is synonymous with running down pedestrians, and that being an ambulance means you clearly do not understand spacial relationships.

We had two very simple objectives: 1) pick up the poems Cass has to edit for her Smith poetry class from Seeyle Hall, and 2) grab some essentials at Target. The woman at the business office even gave me a daffodil for no reason when I cashed my paycheck, which I mistakenly took as a good omen. I really should have known better. The running stops signs and general asshole driving is a pretty standard occurrence here, so I guess I can excuse that, but one incident goes far beyond what I ever expected.

After leaving the Smith campus, we were driving through Northampton when our conversation was interrupted by the dulcet tones of an ambulance siren. Being in the left lane of, we couldn't exactly get right without risking death, so we pulled towards the divider and waited. Even with plenty of room to coast right on through to our starboard side, the ambulance stupidly pulled up behind us and put on even more obnoxious sirens. So we started to pull forward in order to get to the right side of the street, and even though it was clear that's what we were doing, the ambulance driver found it necessary to shout over a loudspeaker "Get to the right!" Which we did. The ambulance finally passed us and then nearly crashed into the back of a pick-up truck. Maybe someone was drunk. The world will never know.

But at least I have this flower. Even with asshole drivers, and my living room and kitchen completely over-taken by a movie crew that has banished me to my room hungry and alone, I still have a little memory of spring. Also, I got a lot of laundry done today, which is always a plus.

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Crush.

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It's near impossible not to have a throbbing crush on Ewan McGregor on a regular basis. But I think he should never be allowed to play a grungy rock star again, simply because he is too irressistible. And if you don't believe me, watch Velvet Goldmine and see yourself convinced. But finding musicians attractive is like having a cigarette habit: it arguably makes you look terribly cool, but then there are the nasty side-effects. I'd know a little about both. Anyway, Todd Haynes already made me fall in love with Bob Dylan all over again. So it's not surprising he made it happen with an "interpretation" of Iggy Pop.  And the "interpretation" of Bowie wasn't so bad either.

Things learned in 2008.

I promised this post a long while ago and never made good on it, so I'm going to now since I haven't done a list post in a long long long time. Anyway, getting on with it.

Things I Learned in 2008


1 - Sleep is over-rated: 2008 marked my first all-nighter (the eve of the drive down to NC in July), and my second (the production of three chapbooks in one sleepless night, why yes I am completely insane). I had forgotten how much I got done without sleep; back in high school I used to survive on about three hours a night and no naps. Then college happened and for awhile it seemed I had returned to sleep habits of a toddler. I still struggle with that sometimes. But I'm getting better at not sleeping. I promise.

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2 - Robots can emote: WALL-E. Obviously. I didn't think it was possible to feel sympathy for a robot. Pixar gets me every time I guess.

3 - A good performance does not a movie make: I've argued this many times this past year, and it seems to be holding true. James Franco could not save Pineapple Express. But following the same logic, there were a lot of great performances this year, and I'm happy I was at the movies for a lot of them.

4 - Reading as much as I do will end in glass: Hey, I don't make the rules.

5 - Good hamburgers come from California: Actually, that's a lie. Most hamburgers in California absolutely suck. But if you are eating at In & Out, you're doing something right. They must open franchises on the East Coast immediately. I demand it.

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6 - Tom Cruise is best when playing crazy: he's settled down since the whole couch-jumping incident, but crazy isn't a bad look for him. He should just reserve it for movies. Then we get things like Eyes Wide Shut and Vanilla Sky. Which I refuse to complain about.


There are more practical things, like how to edit a beloved manuscript without blowing a gasket, but where would the fun be in that? Plus, I'm really not sure I have that one down yet.

I'll tell you why.

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Why are Shark and I so deliriously happy? Well, it could be one of many reasons. Last night was the first night of principal shooting for Go Ask Alex, for which I am both prop girl (I would demand to be called prop master on any other occasion, but for some reason "prop girl" just seems right for this) and a minor character. I wasn't shooting my scene last night, but I was on set anyway cos I am just that dedicated to my friends' successes. Even if it does mean that they will successfully graduate once the project is completed and leave me behind in this frozen tundra. Another possible reason: this is my acting debut, or at least the first time I have taken acting seriously on film. And Shark and I are amped about that. There's also the fact that I haven't had any migraines in the past few days, or the pride I take in being able to choke down nearly a whole protein shake this afternoon. I am taking my vitamins. Kaitlin is coming to visit me on MLK Day, and we are going to eat peanut noodles and play Game Cube and watch movies - since Christmas break was not nearly enough time for sisterly bonding.

So yes, there are lots of things to be deliriously happy about. I will check back in sooner rather than later with the Week in Movies (it was quite an interesting one), wacky stories from the set I am sure, and hopefully a report of a full recovery from my mysterious illness that is slowly but surely disappearing in spite of my totally fucked sleep schedule and too-packed-for-words schedule of things I need to get done. I haven't touched my book in nearly a month, although that's apparently a good thing according to this fascinating interview with four up-and-coming literary agents in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. They all said that if a manuscript is worth it, you'll be able to leave it alone for awhile and come back to it with fresh eyes many times over before it's even ready to be shopped around, and also that you should never try to get something published that isn't your absolute best work. A lot of pressure, but I guess the time off not thinking about it is the easiest part of that method. We'll see how easy or hard it will be to get back into the swing of things.

Anyway, my laundry is calling, and I have to get my ass on a bus in a little while. For. My. Shoot. !!!!

Gentleman caller.

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So there you have it, that's the painting I had been slaving away at for James' Christmas present. I can finally post it because we exchanged gifts the other day. He always loved the vintage pint glasses I managed to pull together, and the coffee mug, and the crocheted Totoro. I'll post pictures of that little guy later. He is either really cute, or really terrifying. And as for what I received, James customized a Game Cube for me so that it is the colors of a sunset, and with that he gave me Paper Mario (my favorite Mario game by far) and Harvest Moon, probably my favorite game of all time. Also, there was a DVD copy of the skulls, one of the best worst movies. I love it. I was/am so happy. I think we were both pretty creative in these dire economic times.

Anyway, since James has been here, I feel so much better about being home. He makes everything much more comfortable. We spent Sunday night with Maggie and Sherry playing pool and air hockey in their extensive basement, talking about Bob Dylan and Dead Heads, enjoying ourselves immensely. Everything always feels right at their house, but it felt even more right this time. He's the missing puzzle piece.

Last night we tried to watch I'm Not There with my dad, but everyone in my house seemed dead set on interrupting us at every turn. My sister Kaitlin kept wandering in and out of the room, each time with a new problem. And even though we teased her about it, she still didn't realize how annoying she was being. I love her, and everybody in my family, but sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by them. I'm going to have to watch the movie again soon, just so that I can actually pay attention to it. But from what I did catch, it was beautiful.

"You're so money and you don't even know it."

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This is the car I want for my future road trip to Las Vegas with Maggie. Although I'd like to think we'd gamble at a more exciting casino than the one Trent picks for their night there.

In related thoughts, I've been wondering a lot lately about subculture - Swingers is set in the mid-nineties obsession with lounge and swing. Not long before that, the Stray Cats had brought rockabilly back to the mainstream, and not long after Brian Setzer united rockabilly and swing subcultures. Sarah mentioned that she had stumbled across some rockabilly compilations, and I am dying for such a thing. If anyone can point me in the direction of the nearest greaser gang, I would appreciate it.

All this means for me is that I want pencil skirts and seamed stockings, and perhaps somebody to teach me how to pull off fire engine red lipstick.

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Inspiration.

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Even though James Woods' character in Happy Campers is fascinating in all the wrong (and manipulative) ways, I'm kind of obsessed with how she dresses. The knee high Docs with floaty skirts and cut off wifebeaters, the floral arrangements woven into her hair. And good lord, that hot pink eye shadow is giving me chills. I only I was a waify blonde camp counselor. If only it wasn't December.

At least my James is coming down to Jersey tomorrow. Something to be excited about, for sure.

Until then, more Netflix instant watch and lots and lots of knitting.

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If I keep wearing these glasses, no one will notice that I'm a Replicant. Although, the fact that it's no longer 1982 might give them some indication that something is afoot.

In less silly news, I have to get glasses for reading (hence the current Blade Runner eye wear - I just had my pupils dilated and will not recover for several hours). I am torn between these two:

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Ray Ban Rx 5112 in Tortoise

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Shuron Freeway in Brown Smoke


Any opinions? I would love either of them, and there is no way I can get both right now.

Family bonding.

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I want to have a murder mystery party. I used to watch Clue on an almost weekly basis, and watching it again this afternoon, I cannot for the life of me remember why I stopped doing it. It's one of my favorite fun movies that I don't really have to pay attention to in order to enjoy it. Kind of like the board game. Movies based on board games should not function, but I guess this one leant itself to screen adaptation from the beginning. Also, there was a nice precedent for silly crime movies set by Murder By Death, so I guess they didn't exactly break the mold with this one. But I love it dearly anyway.

On a semi-related note, I need to stop fantasizing about living in the movies I've been watching. It's probably a symptom of the fact that I'd rather be anywhere but here.

Career plans.

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One day I will work in an independent record store, and it will be even more ridiculous than Empire. Really, this will happen.

Slumdog Millionaire.

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I understand now. The Oscar buzz better come to fruition. Because I just got back from the movie theater (I know, I know, the art house two nights in a row, I really need to lay off the sauce), and that film was brilliant. Danny Boyle never ceases to amaze me.

I don't even think I can articulate what I liked, I just want everyone I know and everyone I don't know to go see this movie. As soon as possible.

This is England and now this, all in one week. Blowing my mind. American filmmakers better step their game up before my heart expatriates.

Overcoming shortcomings.

I have been watching a lot of movies lately. It feels like I'm getting back into the swing of things. Yesterday afternoon, I watched Vanilla Sky for the first time with James, and later on I went to see Let the Right One In with a bunch of friends. They don't seem like comparable films, but I am going to compare them anyway, because the biggest most noticeable thing about both of them is that there are plenty of things that do not work, and the question becomes whether or not I will still enjoy the movie in spite of these little failures. I guess the successes must outweigh such things. And, I haven't done this in a long time, but I think this may be the occasion for a list.

1 - Eroticism.


First, two pictures, one from each film, and then we can discuss.

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I rarely, if ever, find myself wanting Tom Cruise. Apparently, I only want him when he is insane, judging by the fact that I was strangely in love with him when I saw Eyes Wide Shut last spring, and he's a little crazy in that too. Anyway, bravo to Cameron Crowe's casting director, because Penelope Cruz and Tom have such great chemistry that it made me a little jealous. Ok, more than a little jealous. Every scene between them was so sexually charged. I mean, obviously the one the above shot is from. But even just conversations - it all felt so intense, and the feeling of intensity heightened the overall intensity of the movie, which was really great. Also, Jason Leigh was too awesome, and every time he had a scene I got very excited.

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On the other hand, some chemistry feels incredibly forced. I did not believe it when anyone interacted in this movie, let alone the two main characters. All of it was very forced. I've never seen a Swedish movie before (and let me tell you, sitting in the basement theater of my local art house theater watching a Swedish vampire movie made me feel like the most pretentious person to ever have lived), so maybe that has something to do with it? I have no idea. I want to give this movie credit for...well, what I'm not sure. The relationship between Oskar and Eli just felt inauthentic to me. The way the movie ended, in spite of being understandable, was totally unjustified by what I had seen of their relationship up to that point. I was really just left confused. All of it just felt cold.

2 - Visuals.

Vanilla Sky has probably one of the most disturbing images I've had to think about in awhile, and something about it felt so Shakespearean - the scene in the club when Tom Cruise is dancing with his mask on backwards. As if he was Two-Face's coin, or some strange being halved while remaining whole. I was seriously bothered by it, had a nightmare about it last night, the whole nine yards.

LTROI tried really hard to build tension, having things come to a head slowly, but maybe it was too slow, because I didn't feel like I was being held in suspense. Also, the special effects were really poorly done - cats that looked like Puss in Boots from Shrek, a pillar of fire that the actors didn't seem able to act against effectively, and Eli drifting down from a jungle gym slightly slower than a normal person would fall (a la Twighlight, which I really did not want to be reminded of, even though I haven't had the displeasure of seeing it). Any moment when they tried particularly hard to freak out the audience, I felt about to laugh. In fact, I think I laughed more often than I was scared. Was it intentional? I have no idea. I can't speak Swedish. Maybe all of it was a joke.

There were a lot of shots I thought were particularly beautiful, but then I realized that the majority of those shots were landscapes, and it isn't the most difficult thing in the world to frame a bunch of snowy buildings in a way that makes them eye-catching. And besides the landscapes, everything else looked like it was slightly out of focus. I took a lot of time wondering whether it was a period piece because everyone was dressed like it was 1979, but it was so unclear that I eventually gave up.

3 - Plot.

I have problems with the Matrix-type resolution Tom Cruise gets at the end of Vanilla Sky, not only because it is a too-perfect way to wrap up the story, but also because I saw it coming early on and wanted him to figure things out for himself without having to be told the play-by-play from a source that I don't even really trust. And the confusion between dreams and reality got a little heavy-handed as the movie went on, which disappointed me, because it was a really fun concept to play with. However, at least the movie tries to answer all your questions effectively. The same can't be said for everybody who makes a movie.

Especially not the filmmakers who thought that throwing a vampire into the mix who absolve them of having to explain anything. Homosexual overtones? Nope, not gonna cover that. Why Eli needs someone to help her survive when she seems quite capable on her own? Not explained. The 50's-style gang of school-children who seemed destined to grow into the thugs from A Clockwork Orange because of their strange unmotivated sadism? Who knows why they exist. Everything felt like it was set up as walls for the characters to crash their way through and not even turn around to survey the damage. Whenever anything new was brought up, I found myself sighing, because I figured it wouldn't be resolved, and I was right pretty much every time. I mean, maybe I asked for all of it by buying my movie ticket. But someone really should have warned me about how dissatisfied I was going to be with how they chose to handle the story. I was glad that the rules of vampirism weren't laid out in black and white as they usually are, but there weren't any rules to the film really, which made it difficult to think within the confines of the film - it was a story with too many factors and not enough guidance from the filmmakers in how to deal with said factors.

4 - References.

Vanilla Sky brings in a painting in an unpretentious way. Bravo for giving a famous piece of art a very special place in the movie. And then there is the decidedly less classy reference. When I hear (or in this case, read) the line "squeal, piggy, squeal", I automatically think of Deliverance. It doesn't matter that I have not seen that movie. It just cannot be said without being a reference. And for some reason, that line and variations on it kept popping up all over the place in LTROI. It was distracting and unmotivated and obviously, like most everything else in the movie, never explained.

So which one did I like better? I'll tell you in another life, when we are both cats.

Noir weekend, among other things.

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(What a great movie, I really wish I had a copy lying around that I could watch.)

So in my recent table read for the Black 29 Production Go Ask Alex, I met this guy Ed who is absolutely amazing. At the reading, he asked if any of the female actresses would be interested in being in a short film noir piece, and I couldn't say no. When I was a senior in high school, I had a phase where all I watched was noir. There was this guy, Derek, who came into my job at the coffee shop every day, and he had the most epic movie collection of all time. He lent me such classics as the Humphrey Bogart awesome-fest pictured above, Chinatown (which I have since acquired, thank god), A Touch of Evil, and Double Indemnity. I ate it up. So when Ed said he was having trouble finding female actresses, I gave him my email.

And tomorrow, we shoot, starting at 8 AM. I am beyond excited. I really wish that the script file wasn't saved as a .docx file, because I want to read it over and over again. Anyway, I think I'm going to have to put a rush on that paper I need to write by Tuesday, because tonight I was planning on going to see Sam and Steve's first tour stop in Northampton. So, this gives me the afternoon to make all of this happen. And to mentally get into the mindset of a femme fatale.

In other news, I saw Kenneth Branagh's screen adaptation of Henry V for the first time last night, my first experience with that play at all. I went into it knowing that Branagh was the youngest person in the Royal Shakespeare Company to ever play Henry, and obviously respecting that, but good god, he was beyond amazing. I am worried about what James will think of the Shakespeare I chose for a our weekend of the Bard: the Ethan Hawke Hamlet. Lots of people hate it, and nothing can follow Kenneth Branagh. When I found out he was directing Thor, I got beyond excited. Especially because too many people know him only as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter, which is criminal, even though he gave that role exactly what it needed.

Ok, just one more thing and then I promise I will stop ranting and raving about movies. But this is really important. I just saw a trailer for the new Darren Aronofsky project that is one of the only bright spots in this year's movie minefield (oh writers' strike, only know are we truly realizing your effects), called The Wrestler. Mickey Rourke looks to be the stuff of Best Actor nominations, and I do not say that lightly. And Aronofsky has this reputation of making films that drip sadness all over your life, but this one seems inspiring, uplifting even. Not without its sad moments of course, but a different kind of sad. Apparently it was at Cannes and it all anybody's been talking about since then. I am too excited for it. Watch the trailer here, and get excited too.

Alright, just like I promised, I'm going to get my paper done and leave you all alone now.

Sleepytime.

Current playlist:

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Falling asleep is one of my new favorite pastimes. The list of happy for the day reads as follows:

- To The Lighthouse, especially Lily Briscoe and her painting
- finished product for round two of my fiction workshop
- Wordle
- The Godfather
- tricolor rotini alfredo
- morning emails
- Bogle merlot on sale
- Marlon Brando facts on IMDB

Now, sleep, so that I don't forget I have yoga too close to dawn for my taste.

Murder by television.

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This is how I look when I wake up well-rested. No thanks to Mel Gibson. I tried to watch Apocalypto last night for the first time and only made it about fifty minutes before feeling completely sick to my stomach, not because of the excessive blood, but because it was just so unsettling. I couldn't tell who was on what side in the scenes where people were fighting. And they killed a tapir in one of the first scenes. I love tapirs. How can you not love something this cute?

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The one in the movie didn't have stripes and spots, but it was still a big fat mushy elephant-pig looking thing and it made me very depressed to see it die. To get that bad taste out my mouth, James and I decided to watch Murder By Death, which is a lot like a better version of Clue, and I already think Clue is brilliant, so this was just delightful. Truman Capote is in it, and Peter Falk, and Alec Guinness, and Peter Sellers, and Maggie Smith. It was so silly and wonderful, I laughed so much.

I didn't get to bed until after four in the morning, but I feel so amazing today. I had wonderful dreams about India, probably because I fell asleep listening to Ravi Shankar. And last night at Slam Collective Jai Chakrabarti featured, poems about Betty Boop and Calcutta childhood. Then there's our frequent viewing of Michael Palin's BBC journey through the Himalayas. And the other night James and I both saw The Darjeeling Limited for the first time.

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The best bit of writing in the whole movie somehow doesn't show up on the IMDB page, which is criminal.

Peter: "They're laughing at us."
Francis: (completely in earnest) "I love it here; these people are beautiful."

My armchair tour through India makes me wish I had the money to travel so so badly. Maybe one day.

Takin' it back to the old school.

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I feel like this weekend was endless, but it's already gone. I am avoiding yoga tomorrow morning because I opted to stay up late and finish the LOTR trilogy for the first time. Extended cuts, the only way to watch. I made myself a hat out of the leftover yarn from my baby blanket project. And now I'm working on another, thinking of starting an Etsy store for some extra cash. Idle hands make me nervous, I am so happy I bought a new crochet hook. The hours feel much more full.

I saw Sean's Div 3 show on Friday night with James, and while it was embarrassing to hear my voice recorded talking about sex (thank god no names were attached), he was in top form and it was absolutely amazing. I want to read about him being published for the umpteenth time in some newspaper years from now and smile, just knowing how his passion for everything he does is infectious, and that he got where he was always going.

Last night I went to a bar for the first time in forever, which was bizarre, but fun. I didn't drink, but maybe one day. Looking forward to Christmas break and Hennessy's, having James meet Johanna, Guinness on draft where everyone knows my name.

Thanksgiving looming closer every day, and all I can think about is my first time at turkey dinner without my dad. Not like he's dead or anything, just flying to North Carolina for god knows what reason. Is this what people do when they get laid off? Is he finally having his mid-life crisis? It would help thinks make more sense if I had something to attribute it to.

I should probably go to sleep. Too many late nights coupled with early mornings are causing everyone I run into to tell me that I look pale/tired/sick/deranged/what have you. I blame my broken heater. But really, I have no one to blame but me.

True Romance, fo sho.

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Too bad phone booths don't exist anymore.

I want a purple Cadillac. And Clarence.

Also, Gary Oldman is ridiculous.