Tag Archives: movies

While I Was Sleeping.

Last night I came home to find a pile of envelopes with my name on them.  They were from places like UCLA Health, Keck Medical Center of USC, Wells Fargo…oh, and that company I have to pay to keep our water on.

“Fuck, fuck, fuuuuuck” I muttered while sorting through the pile of bills, bills, biiiillllls.

My roommate laughed.  I laughed.  Then I sighed.

“Dude, I know that once 2014 gets here my life is still gonna be my life, but I really need 2013 to be over.”

“Yeah,” she said, her tone softening.  “You’ve had a pretty rough year.”

I had a difficult time getting to sleep.  When I go to bed anxious — as in, “I’m lying down — why is my heart racing?” anxious — I have a tendency to, ya know, fall asleep for a few seconds and then wake up gasping for air.  It’s very strange.  Eventually I’ll fall asleep and stay asleep and everything will work the way it should, but during those moments where I find myself suddenly sitting up in my bed panting…well, it’s terrifying.  I described it to a doctor recently.  She still said I was healthy enough to be operated on (thus the bills), and she turned out to be correct about that.  I’m basically saying I don’t have regular Sleep Apnea.  I don’t think.  I mean, when I go to bed in a perfectly fine mood without a care in the world (rather, with a manageable amount of typical day-to-day worries), I sleep like a friggin’ log.

Anyway.  Enough about my myriad anxiety manifestations.

When I finally conked out, I dreamt I was at a party.  I don’t remember who hosted the party, but it took place at a beautiful cottage in a picturesque, woodsy location.  Imagine a Thomas Kinkade painting and then add a bunch of people standing around with red SOLO cups.  Everyone was outside talking, and CHRIS O’DOWD was there.  That’s right, ladies — Chris Friggin’ O’Dowd, the cutie-est, most patootie-est Irishman around.

Here he is in HBO's "Family Tree."  ::Sigh::

Here he is in HBO’s “Family Tree.” ::Sigh::

You guys, he was so into me.  Yes, in the dream.  He was…he was just down.  He was so down.  He wanted The Steff.  More than that, though…he seemed to genuinely like The Steff.  He kept smiling at me and laughin’ at my jokes and givin’ me compliments like, “You’re so interesting!”  I was so happy, you guys.  I was so tremendously happy.  Somehow, for some reason, Chris O’Dowd wanted to hang with little old me, and it felt perfectly natural and perfectly perfect.  He was a gentleman and a sweetheart and I felt completely at ease with him.

Now, years ago, I described a celebrity-themed dream to my first therapist (I say this like I’ve had dozens…I haven’t).  In my dream, Dustin Hoffman guided me across a busy crosswalk on the Las Vegas strip.  He looked me in the eyes and told me something profound, which I ended up forgetting, and then I woke up.  My shrink was trying to help me figure out why Dustin Hoffman, of all the artists in the world, was the one who was offering me guidance.  To her, it was no accident that my brain conjured up images of Dusty while I slept — there was a very real explanation.  You can read about it here.

So, why, out of all the cute men in the world, was Chris O’Dowd the one making me feel special at a party?  I don’t know the man.  I don’t read internet gossip about him and I don’t know anything about his personal life besides the fact that he’s married (to a woman who has her own interesting damn career).  What I do know is that I find him very funny in his movies and television shows, and I find him very charming in interviews.  I love that he was on Girls.  I love that he was in Bridesmaids.  I love that he was on a Christopher Guest show.  I love that he stars in the film adaptation of one of my favorite books (that happens to have a kickass female protagonist).  I love that he co-created and co-wrote a comedy series about a little boy with an imaginary friend.  It’s called Moone Boy.  It’s on Hulu.  It’s the sweetest show ever.  Watch it now.  

 

"Moone Boy"

“Moone Boy”

If I ever learned that Chris O’Dowd was a total asshole, I would not only be very disappointed, I would also be very surprised.

Still, why him?

Because he’s entertaining.  Because he seems like he’d be fun to hang with.  Because he’s creative and has interesting ideas.  Because he’s not a Hollywood dickhead and his beard is awesome and I love his curly hair.  He’s unpretentious.  He’s hilarious and OUT THERE without being over the top.   He’s driven.  He’s successful.  He gets shit done.  And dude, when you watch Bridesmaids, you’re supposed to root for Kristen Wiig to end up with Chris O’Dowd, not Jon Hamm.  And ya know what?  It works.  Ya don’t sit there thinking, “Yeah RIGHT.  Like this Irish dude could ever upstage The Hamm.”  Ya sit there thinking, “Girl, he made you a cappuccino.  Calm down and get back into that damn bed.”

But really, I want to wake up tomorrow and find Chris O’Dowd in my room holding a cappuccino talking about how he wants to bake all day.  I would feed him allll the cupcakes.

Perhaps I’ll dream of that tonight.  But for now, back to last night’s dream…which took a rather dark turn right after I told Chris O’Dowd I was going to go inside the cottage for a drink.

“I’ll save you your spot,” he said, smiling.

By “spot,” he meant the spot where I was sitting.  At that point, everyone at the party was sitting on a wooden railing that lined a concrete walkway that lead to the cottage.  I smiled at Chris O’Dowd.  Then I stood up and walked away.  Moments later, I heard a loud CRACK.  Then I heard screams.  Then I heard a large THUD.  I turned around and saw that the wooden railing had snapped, sending the guests tumbling to the concrete.

They all landed on their heads.

Including Chris O’Dowd.

I screamed.  I looked around to see if I was the only one who hadn’t been sitting on the railing when it snapped.  I saw one dude standing by the railing — his eyes were popping out of his skull as he he struggled to remove his cell phone from his pocket.  He kept dropping it and picking it up and crying.  I ran over to him and yanked his phone out of his hands and called 9-11.  After I hung up I ran over to Chris O’Dowd to see if he was ok.  He was unresponsive.  As I sat next to him trying to wake up him, I noticed that a few of the people who had fallen had opened their eyes.  A few of them were wriggling around, trying to stand up.  One of them looked directly at me — his eyes were completely white.  Completely.  No pupils.  No irises.  He started grunting.

Like a zombie.

Then they all started wriggling and grunting and murmuring and I was terrified.

I looked toward Chris O’Dowd, but he was gone.

Just then, the paramedics arrived.    They did a quick examination of the guests who had fallen.

“They all have brain damage,” one paramedic told me.

I gasped.

Then my alarm went off.  And I woke up.

Perhaps I need to start looking on the brighter side.  Ya know.  Just bright enough to prevent future dreams of finding a worthy companion and then immediately losing him to a freak accident.  Perhaps this is simply a dramatic re-telling of every relationship I’ve ever been in.  Perhaps this is an unearthly, yet spot-on representation of the last year of my life.

Perhaps all of the above?  And perhaps tonight I’ll watch some Moone Boy before bed…just to help put me in a slightly better mood.

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Strange Bedfellows.

Last week, my parents discovered they had bed bugs.  In their bed.  Only their bed.  I wasn’t bitten up and my brother wasn’t bitten up; just Steve and Barbara.  They don’t know how it happened.  They’re both rather fastidious people.

On Monday morning my mom had someone spray the house with all-natural, yet highly allergenic whatnot in order to kill the little bastard bed bugs.  The night before the insurgence, my mom brought a gray suitcase into my room and dropped it on my sofa.

“Ya may wanna pick up the stuff piled next to your bed,” she said.  “They’re gonna be spraying your carpet.”

I took her suggestion.  The suitcase is 3/4 full.  Its contents?  A veritable cornucopia of Dorky.

I shall now list for you the “stuff piled next to my bed” that has now been transferred to a gray suitcase on top of my sofa.

1. The Godfather Trilogy DVD Collection. 

Fully remastered.  The bouquet Johnny Fontaine sends to Don Corleone is so damn COLORFUL.

2. A Bag of Crackers

My mom brought this to me the night I came home from work after spending nearly two hours in the nurse’s office battling dehydration and low blood sugar.  Mom had also brought me soup, but I kept the crackers in case I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.  Rather, still feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.

3. A Burned DVD copy of A Streetcar Named Desire

No one, but NO ONE, is sexier than Marlon Brando in his skin tight t-shirt.  I fell asleep to this movie every night for a good six months.

4. The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud

It has the English translations and the original French.  I memorized “Sensation.”  I was determined to memorize it in French, too.  I still haven’t done that.  I bought the book last October.  Damn.

5. An Illustrated Copy of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

Some people keep The Bible by their beds.  And so do I.

6. A Green Journal with a Butterfly on the Cover That I Bought at Logos Bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA

Page One:

2-20-11

In Santa Cruz for the weekend.  This paper is incredible.  I can’t tell if the guy next to me is cute. Ya know, this bar isn’t ideal for writing.  Well, the vibe is, but the position I’m in is slightly uncomfortable.  I saw an absolutely beautiful guy downtown.  He was playing guitar and singing his heart out.  He looked and sounded so gorgeous. 

7. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Picked this up last November.  I found it on eBay.  The last time I picked it up was one day in December when I was sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care in Westlake Village waiting to talk to a doctor about a bizarre ailment I was convinced was killing me.  It didn’t kill me, and I never finished this book.

8. Planet News by Allen Ginsberg

I bought this book of poetry in San Francisco.  I was there last February for five or six days.  I spent my first day there walking around North Beach.  After having a few beers at Cafe Vesuvio I wandered over to The Beat Museum to ask if they had copies of the poems I submitted to them for a poetry contest they held back in 2007.  They didn’t have copies, but the guy behind the counter searched the internet archives for a good twenty minutes trying to help me out.  I felt kinda guilty for making him look, so I bought something.

9. A Black, Ringed Journal My Parents Bought for Me at Citylights Books When I Was 19

The opening lines of “HOWL” are printed on the front cover.

Page One:

3-06-06

When I get angry I feel my shoulder blade muscles tense up and form a knot that hurts for days.

I can feel it pinching back there whenever I try to write

or type

or just fucking hold a book.

I once tried to work out the knot by wearing Icy-Hot bandages at night

But they just soothed the area around the hubbub of angst.*

I’d peel the bandage off in the morning and my skin would

smell like chemicals.

God knows what kind of cancer it’ll give me.

Maybe the doctors will prescribe me some pot.

Then I could sell it on the streets and use the money to hire a masseuse. 

(*I feel like kicking my own ass for “hubbub of angst.”)

10. Light Blue Journal I Bought from Paper Source in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m not sharing Page One.  I can’t.  I will, however, reveal that it was written on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:54pm.

It was interesting to read Page One of this cute little unfinished journal, because it’s my retelling of the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating, rather sad story.  It was all so seemingly innocent at the time, but now that I’m looking at these scribbled words written by the 22-year-old version of myself, it’s obvious that this very frustrating period of my life left a rather sad impression on my ability to trust people.  Perfectly sweet people.

Perfectly sweet male people.

That Fucker.

11. A “One Line A Day: Five Year Memory” Journal from Barnes and Noble

I am so bad at keeping up with this thing.  There is literally just enough space to write one sentence per day.  I thought it seemed interesting.  I haven’t written any memories in it since January 9, 2012.  I wrote, “First unemployed Monday.”  That was a fun day, actually.  Mom and I went to the zoo.

12.  A Tennessee Williams Collection

Includes Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment.  It also includes a personal essay by Tennessee that spoke to me so profoundly the first time I read it that I literally threw the book across the room.

So much for the past and present.  The future is called “perhaps,” which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

13. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir I had to read for my writing group.  I was intrigued for the first few chapters, but the whole thing became so damn indulgent after a certain point that by the end I found the narrator annoying and stupid.  I must take great care to never become an annoying, stupid narrator.

14. Another Tennessee Williams Collection

This one includes Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I read this one on a flight from JFK to LAX.  Despite having watched A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen fucking times, I still teared up while I was reading it.  Tennessee may be damn easy to lampoon, but he’s also really fucking hard to beat.

15. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan

There are sex scenes in books that make you want to have sex, but not often do you come across sex scenes in books that make you want to cry.  Cry for what?  I don’t know.  Nostalgia?  Longing?  Loneliness?  Wishing and hoping that somewhere out there someone remembers you and your body just like Richard Brautigan saw this girl and her body…

It’s a hard decision whether to start at the top or the bottom of a girl.  With Vida I just didn’t know where to begin.  It was really a problem.

After she reached up awkwardly and put my face in a small container which was her hands and kissed me quietly again and again, I had to start somewhere.

She stared up at me all the time, her eyes never leaving me as if they were an airfield.

I changed the container and her face became a flower in my hands.  I slowly let my hands drift down her face while I kissed her and then further down her neck to her shoulders.

I could see the future being moved in her mind while I arrived at the boundaries of her bosom.  Her breasts were so large, so perfectly formed under her sweater that my stomach was standing on a step-ladder when I touched them for the first time.

Her eyes never left me and I could see in her eyes the act of my touching her breasts.  It was like brief blue lightning.

I was almost hesitant in a librarian sort of way.

“I promise,” she said, reaching up and awkwardly pressing my hands harder against her breasts.  She of course had no idea what that did to me.  The step-ladder started swirling.

She kissed me again, but this time with her tongue.  Her tongue slid past my tongue like a piece of hot glass.

16. A Light Blue Guitar Pick from Amoeba Music in Berkely, CA.

I’ve now been to all three Amoebas.  The one in Hollywood is The Best.

17. Jason Webley’s Only Just Beginning

This is his favorite album of his.  This is also my favorite album of his.  It’s just his best album of his.  “Music That Puts Everything Together” brings me to my knees.  Oh Jesus, and “Map.”  And “Icarus.”  And “With.”  And “Coda.”

Of course they’re all better live.  I’m damn lucky that I know that firsthand.  Jason Webley live is more life affirming than…anything, really.  Except maybe Leonard Cohen live.  Speaking of which…

18. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

This is a Hell of a novel.  There is a scene where two men — The Narrator and his friend, F. — are driving at top speed in F.’s car down a dark highway.  F. is pleasuring himself while he drives.

F., put it back.  Enough is enough.

Never put it back when it gets like this.

My God, I’ve never seen you so big!  What’s going on in your mind?  What are you thinking of?  Please teach me how to do it.  Can I hold it?

No!  This is between me and God.

Who but Leonard Fucking Cohen would come up with “This is between me and God”?

I had Jason Webley sign my copy.  I knew he was a Leonard Cohen fan and I wanted to impress him with my dorkiness.  Because, ya know, traveling to Seattle to catch his 11-11-11 show wasn’t dorky enough.

Stephanie

I’m glad I remember your name.

And I’m glad that you came so far for my concert.

And I’m glad that you like this book.

♥ jason

11-11-11

approximately

18. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Nick, I love you with all my heart and soul, but this novel is no Beautiful Losers.

19. Scattered Poems by Jack Kerouac

Gotta love a poem called “Pull My Daisy.”

20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life.  Fire of my loins.

‘Nuff said.

21. A DVD Copy of the Remake of Alfie Starring Jude Law

I bought this from the Blockbuster in Westlake right before the damn thing closed down for good.  Ya know what?  This is a terrible movie.  It is.  But damn, I really get a kick out of it.  It’s so atrocious it’s funny and Jude Law is just POSING the whole Goddamn time, which is all at once hilarious and fucking hot.  He’s so hot I wanna punch him in the face.

22. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

An award-winning play my mom read earlier this year that she insisted I read as well.  Still haven’t gotten around to doing that.

23. Writing the Memoir: from Truth to Art by Judith Barrington

I have a lot to say about this book, but right now I am completely distracted by the fact that the author’s last name is Barrington.  I purchased this book before that last name became such a significant part of my life.  Co-workers of mine who are reading this, I’m sorry.

24. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Patti Smith is really into this book.  I found a copy of it on my mom’s bookshelf on a rainy day last November.  I read the first page, and then I decided to go buy a ukulele.

I attempted to make a video for you of me playing the ukulele, but my mom interrupted when she came in to ask me if I wanted anything from Lassen’s.

25. A Blue and Black Leather-bound Journal Given to Me by My High School Journalism Teacher

Page One is humiliating.

Here’s something from Page 12:

12:00am August 10, 2005 Wednesday

I bought a CD today.  I’m listening to it now.  It feels great.  Not as great as kissing.  Music makes me think of kissing — probably because I sometimes kiss to music.

26. A DVD Copy of The Graduate

Two nights before I moved back to my parents’s house after living in Santa Cruz for five years, I downloaded this movie and bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon.  At this point, I had already moved 99% of my furniture out of my apartment.  All I had was my twin-sized mattress, which was, at that point, pathetically sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I sat on my pathetic mattress, drank my pathetic cheap wine, and watched Benjamin Braddock try his best not to be pathetic.  I cried a lot.

27. A DVD Copy of The Road to God Knows Where

Behind the scenes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touring the United States after Tender Prey was released.  They’re all so young and beautiful.  I fall asleep to this one a lot.  Nick is such a jerk to journalists, but not in a Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back kind of way.  All the journalists that appear in this movie are such idiots that it really isn’t Nick’s fault that he comes off as so smart and so snide.  The people interviewing him really have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

28.  A DVD Copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I will defend this movie until the end of time.  If, someday, I find myself with some spare time and some spare money (by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of all four (or, by then, 15) Pirates films.  No one will publish it and no one will read it, so I’ll probably just send the manusctipt to Johnny Depp and wait for his reaction.  Maybe I’ll get to become one of his various best friends and I’ll start getting invitations to parties at Keith Richards’s house.

29. A DVD Copy of The Ruling Class

Just watch it.

30. The Complete Fawlty Towers

This show never got boring or bad because the British know when it’s time for a television show to end.  There are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are all perfect.

31. A DVD Copy of Blue Velvet

I watched this not too long ago.  I had a 103 degree fever and I was sitting on the couch in my empty house shivering and sniffling and coughing.

A video is worth 1,000 words:

32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live DVD: God Is in the House

It’s pretty good, but Warren Ellis had joined the band by this point, and it’s upsetting to watch Nick try to divvy up his affection between Warren and Blixa.  And Blixa just looks BORED out of his mind, even during “The Carny.”  It saddens me.

33. A DVD Copy of The Darjeeling Limited

I can’t listen to people criticize Wes Andseron.  It’s a sin.

34. A DVD Copy of If….

My Malcolm McDowell obsession was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  He made a lot of crap movies, but it doesn’t matter, because he also made If….

This movie should be shown to everyone everywhere.  Politicians should watch and be warned.

35.  The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I read two chapters of this self-help book in May right before the training period for my new job began.  I had been diagnosing myself with various terminal illnesses every day for two weeks and I was losing my Goddamn mind.  I had been unemployed since January and I was at my absolute wit’s end.  Two chapters of this thing had me back to normal.  (As in, I was suddenly cured of my lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.)

36. A DVD Copy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at Brixton Academy, London Thursday, November 11 2004

As long as I can shut my bedroom door, sit down by myself and watch this shit, then I can never really lose sight of the fact that my life is rather good.  And that I’m a bad motherfucker.

So, yeah.  I’m thinkin’ I’ll just put all this stuff back where I found it — piled up next to my bed.

 

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My Head Is Killing Me and Jason Segel Owes Me Money.

I’m feeling a bit lightheaded.  I’m really hungry, but it’s too hot to eat.  I’m also really, really thirsty, and I keep putting ice in my water but the ice keeps melting really, really quickly.  All I wanna do is take off my pants, but it feels like they’re plastered to my legs.  I could turn on the air-conditioning, but I feel that would be wasteful, seeing that this house is huge and I’m the only one here.  It’s hot.  It’s too damn hot.  My head feels hollow.  My brain has evaporated.  My brain.  My brain is GONE.

I just got back from taking a very long walk in the very hot sun.  Well, two walks, I guess.  In between those two walks, I saw The Five-Year Engagement.  

The horror.  THE HORROR.

I walked to the theater because I wasn’t doing anything else and it was just as hot inside my house as it was outside my house.   I threw on some jeans and a tank top and slathered myself in sunscreen.  I put the sunscreen in my Evelyn Evelyn tote bag, grabbed my CD player, loaded it with The Lyre of Orpheus, and headed out.  When I walked across the crosswalk in front of a freeway off-ramp, a group of bikers hooted at me.  It was all kinds of “Hey, baby!” and “Whoo-eee!” and even a, “Look at that ass!”  It didn’t make me feel sexy.  It made me feel like hurting someone.  Somehow, and much to the dismay of you, dear reader, I made it to the theater without beating anyone to death.  That would have made for a much more exciting post.

Ya know what?  I shoulda just gone to see Dark Shadows again.  Or I could have rolled the dice and asked for a ticket to The Avengers.   Instead I saw the movie that stars two actors I like and respect.  Do I no longer like and respect Jason Segel and Emily Blunt?  That would be preposterous.  Of course I still like and respect them.  I am most disappointed in Jason Segel.  Why?  Because he wrote the movie, and The Five-Year Engagement is not a movie — it is a festering pustule churning out ooze on a dead donkey’s dick.

Tom and Violet live in San Francisco.  Tom and Violet are in love.  Tom and Violet get engaged.  Things look good.  Tom works as a sous chef in the kitchen of a hip restaurant, and Violet is planning to study psychology at Berkeley.  But oh, she doesn’t get into Berkeley.  Instead, she has to go to school in the most Godforsaken state in the union.  That’s right, Michigan.  Oh, the dreaded Michigan.  A place where every man you meet is a deer hunter with a long, dirty beard and a drinking problem.  Every woman you meet is, well, you don’t meet many women, because this is, after all, MOVIE Michigan.  In this movie, the entire state of Michigan (because we never learn the name of the town Tom and Violet move to) has no redeeming qualities while San Francisco, a crowded city with a housing shortage, is 100% clean and pristine.  Yes.  There are absolutely no homeless people on the streets and all the houses look freshly painted and there’s no traffic.  Ever.

Tom and Violet agree that they are going to stay together during Violet’s two years of school, and that they will put the wedding on hold.  Nooo problem.  Of course, Violet has Nooo Problem adjusting to life in Michigan.  She loves her school, she loves her department, and she loves her one professor (played by the incomparable Welshman who deserves better than to be in this movie, Rhys Ifans).  Tom, on the other hand, is finding his new life farcically difficult.  He keep slipping in the snow.  Slipping a lot.  And he can’t find a job ANYWHERE except for a real down-home type of sandwich place, which, in my personal opinion, looked freaking delicious.  I’d eat there all the time.  But anyway, the point is Tom feels like a little girly man while Violet feels like she’s doing exactly what she’s worked for her entire life.

THAT’S. REALLY. IT.  That is the plot and the conflict.

So, one night Violet finds out that she may be staying at University of Michigan longer than originally expected.  When she tells Tom, he gets very sad and storms out of the room like a big, tough, emotionally stable man.  Later, we see them fighting in bed.  The fight, interestingly enough, is the best part of the movie because the dialogue isn’t peppered with unfunny and unoriginal and uncalled for penis jokes.  While I was watching the fight, I really felt like I was watching two adults who live on planet earth, not two adolescent cartoon characters who live in MOVIE Michigan.  In this ONE DECENT SCENE they talk about their feelings.  They talk about what pisses them off about their situation.  They talk about how they both hate having to postpone their wedding.  Through it all, they both really want to have a productive, mature conversation, but, as humans who dwell on planet earth, they can’t help but speak in bratty tones every once in a while.  It’s a good scene.

And then it ends.

Tom grows a beard.  Tom starts hunting every single day and pounding beers at 7am.  Tom kills and guts and skins and BBQs deer for dinner every night.  He brews his own mead.  He suddenly owns a crossbow.  Yes, Violet accidentally gets SHOT.  It’s HILARIOUS.  I SWEAR.

This period of the movie confused me.  Greatly.  It transformed from a shitty movie into a typical, benign sitcom.  Here’s the thing, though.  Part of the reason why events that occur in sitcoms are so broad and so extreme is because sitcoms have 20 minutes to tell stories, which is actually a decent excuse for sub par storytelling.  Why a full length feature film needs to resort to sitcommy situations in order to show that time has passed is beyond me.  Well, no, I know why it happens — because, like the plague, bad writing will always be with us.  I mean, combine bad writing with millions of dollars…Now I’m meandering.  Ya know what else meanders?  The Five-Year Engagement.

During Tom’s bearded hunting phase, Violet [finally] gets drunk and [predictably Good GOD predictably] kisses Rhys Ifans.  She feels guilty and runs off and finds Tom, who is already awake and miserably preparing dough for the miserable sandwich-making day that lies ahead.  Violet rambles about how much she loves him, and they decide to just get married.  Because, ya know, if they’re married, Tom will no longer have a problem with Michigan.

The wedding doesn’t end up happening, because Violet has to open her big mouth and tell Tom about the whole drunkenly kissing her professor thing.  Tom attempts to beat up the professor, and when he fails he then attempts to have drunken revenge sex with a sandwich-making co-worker.  When he realizes what he’s doing is wrong, he drunkenly stumbles through the snowy woods.  With NO PANTS ON.  Yes.  We see his butt.  And it’s not nearly as funny as his penis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Let’s be honest, that was actually kinda funny.  Let’s be honest again.  We’ve SEEN the Segel Penis.  You can’t follow Segel Penis with Segel Butt.  It’s anti-climactic.

Tom wakes up in the frozen woods with no pants on.  He notices his toe is black.  He ends up in the hospital, where his toe is amputated.  Violet is there with him.  They break up.  We then see Tom and Violet in new relationships with people who aren’t right for them, and we are repeatedly slapped in the face with a BAD fucking metaphor that involves stale doughnuts.  It’s just a bad, bad metaphor.  So bad, I don’t know what it’s even supposed to MEAN.  I do know, however, that it is a pitiful and painful attempt at somewhat elevated screenwriting.  Sorry, but no.  Well, let me take that back.  I’m not sorry.  And no.

Don’t worry, they both get another half hour to find themselves before re-uniting and falling back in love and getting married in a ceremony so freaking saccharine it puts How I Met Your Mother to shame.  And ya know what?  I like How I Met Your Mother.  It can be as farcical and saccharine as it wants to.  It’s a stupid SITCOM on network television.  If that isn’t a handicap, I don’t know what is.

I honestly don’t remember the last shot of the movie.  Tom and Violet get married in a public park in San Francisco where no one is smoking pot, and then…then I don’t know.  Maybe the movie ends AT the wedding?  I can’t tell you.  WAIT, no, now I remember.  It ends with an unfunny callback to an unfunny joke that took place an hour-and-a-half earlier.  Ha.

Is it just me, or is being engaged for five years not entirely unheard of?  I agree it’s a long time, but it seems that putting a wedding on hold for things like higher education or job opportunities or temporary relocation is kind of common these days.  Am I the only person who holds this opinion?

I really was shocked to see “SCREENPLAY BY JASON SEGEL” flash across the screen during the end credits.  I know they can’t all be gems, but come on.  The man obviously knows how to write a screenplay, and I, personally, think he knows how to act.  He and Emily Blunt are just as charming as ever, and they really do have some good chemistry goin’ on.  Still, this movie sucks, and I do not know what the Hell happened.  In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, we at least get to see a depressive type of guy overcome his lower-than-healthy self-esteem, put on an excellent puppet show, and FORGET about that witch, Sarah Marshall.  What does The Five-Year Engagement show us?  Aside from how much Michigan sucks, what is the movie really about? Is it about how people should just get married as soon as they get engaged and not go to…to Michigan?

Jesus, Steff!  It’s about how life isn’t always perfect!  It’s about how love and marriage aren’t always perfect!  It’s about life, man!  It’s just like, ya know, it’s just real!

All right.  In that case, I stand corrected.  The Five-Year Engagement is about life.  And how Michigan is evil.

Regardless of what it’s really “about,” it left me with a headache and a general feeling of, “My brain is broke.”  Or, ya know what?  That could just as easily been the boiling sun’s fault.  My advice to myself?  You don’t need to leave the house to listen to Lyre of Orpheus.

I am now going to watch this live footage over and over again until the lameness is replaced by wanton badassary.  And I’m hungry.  Spinach and feta chicken sausage, here I come.

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part IV: Jim Morrison

John or Paul?

Jim.

Mick or Keith?

Jim.  With all due respect.

Page or Plant?

::Yawn::  

Jim.

 Hendrix or Clapton?

I want “Bold As Love” to be played at my wedding, and I don’t even want to hear “Sunshine of Your Love” at my funeral.  

Anyway, Jim.

 Cream or The Who? 

Go away.

Beatles or Stones?

Doors.  

Scuzzy Son-Of-A-Bitch #4:

 Jim Morrison

My Black Clad Leather Patronus

(2003)

Part One

“C’mon people, don’t ya look so down 
You know the rain man’s comin’ ta town
Change the weather, change your luck
And then he’ll teach ya how ta…find yourself “
 

My Jim Morrison idolization began on a hot afternoon in August, 2003.  It was the last day of summer vacation, I was sixteen, and I was about to make out with my new boyfriend for the second time.  It had only been 24 hours since our first kiss, and due to our youth and lack of experience (and, perhaps, to his Catholicism), we decided that one make out session equalled monogamy.  Despite our official relationship status, I was a bit nervous about that afternoon’s proposed itinerary, and my nervousness only increased when my boyfriend suggested we put on some music.  I sat down on his couch, and he began browsing through his record collection.  Of course I knew that the music selection ritual was a prelude to hormonal teenage madness, and while that delighted me, it terrified me just the same.  In my opinion, it was awkward enough that we both knew we were about to make out — why prolong that in-between phase of the process?  How was I supposed to act?  Seductive?  Casual?  What if he lost interest during his hunt for the perfect tunes?  What if he forgot what we were there to do?  What if he didn’t like the way I looked sitting on his couch?   Should I strike a pose?  I wondered.

After a few minutes he held up a record that had a dark reddish brown and yellowish gold cover.  “All right, herewego.  The Doors,” he said, pulling the record out of the sleeve.   He looked at me, and I feigned approval.  The truth was I hadn’t listened to The Doors since I was in 8th grade and wanted to listen to some “cool” music while I did my math homework.  For as much as I enjoyed “Break On Through,” I soon had to turn off the music and concentrate on pre-algebra.  Naturally, I didn’t bother telling him this — I didn’t want to say anything that might make him second guess his selection.  Plus, I had only been his girlfriend for 24 hours; it was too early to start losing my allure.

He admired the record for a second, and then, all of a sudden, he looked up at the ceiling and said, “Of course we bow down to you, Jim Morrison, in all your rock and roll glory.” He put the record on the player, set the needle down, and turned up the volume.  It was “L’america” — track one, side two of L.A. Woman.  Four minutes and thirty-eight seconds later, he skipped “Hyacinth House” and went straight to “Crawling Kingsnake.”  Whether this action was sickeningly smooth or just plain sickening is up for debate.  Either way, it worked; too well.  In the midst of all that was happening, I found myself wondering if my parents had any Doors vinyl at home.

When “Riders On The Storm” had long since ended and I arrived back at my house, I went straight for my dad’s record shelf.  Sandwiched between Donovan and The Dream Academy was the dark reddish brown and yellowish gold record.  I pulled it off the shelf and brought it upstairs to my room, where it remained for many, many years.


Something had shifted, and I knew it.  After that day, there was no going back.  I devoured the entire Doors catalogue with the kind of voracity that only a 16-year-old girl is capable of.  Soon, the aviator sunglasses showed up; then the boots.  I’d leave my hair wavy not because I was lazy, but because I realized I actually liked the way it looked unkempt.

For me, Jim Morrison’s music (and I say “Jim Morrison’s music” because it was Jim Morrison who made the music matter) was the perfect soundtrack for adolescence — dark, flawed, and endlessly libidinous.  When I felt fantastic I’d put on “Roadhouse Blues,” and when I felt like killing someone I’d put on “The End.”  This is not to say that Jim was the first musical artist to speak to my tortured teenage soul; for example, my first two years of high school would have been Hell without Lou Reed.  Still, there was something about listening to “Not to Touch The Earth” on a bad day that resonated with me in ways that made the second side of Berlin seem irrelevant.  For as much as I loved Lou’s weirdness, I needed Jim’s ferocity.  After all, I was a straight edged 16-year-old living in suburbia; a savage hero was a necessity.  

Part 2

“When the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end” 
 

While Jim’s premature death automatically made him a rock and roll legend, that does not appropriately explain his allure.  What it comes down to is the fact that even while he was alive, he was something of a supernatural being.  What other popular musician — and I mean Tiger Beat popular — sang about patricide?  And “dead President’s corpses”?  And horses being blinded with whips?  And dared to ask, “What have we done to the earth?” It takes guts to willingly scare the Hell out of your fans, and to do it without the use of fake blood or creepy masks or lighting effects, well, that’s just genius.  So much of Jim’s music is dark, and when it isn’t dark it’s twisted.

There are, of course, some safer Doors compositions.  Even when they’re safe, though, they’re not that safe.  “Light My Fire,” which was originally brought to the table by Robby Krieger, is one of the most well-known Doors songs.  Just because it is popular, however, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have teeth.  Jim added a verse to the song that rhymes  “wallow in the mire” with “funeral pyre” (From Wikipedia: A pyre (Greek: πυρά, pyrá, from πυρ, pýr, fire), also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite. As a form of cremation, a body is placed upon the pyre, which is then set on fire), and his delivery is nothing short of primal.  When Jim wails, “TRY TO SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE,” there’s nothing safe about it.  He’s not just asking you to light his fire, he’s demanding it; who knows what he’ll do if he doesn’t get his way?

His seduction power, his theatricality, his animalistic passion — THIS is what gives The Doors staying power.  THIS is what sets Jim apart from other notable front men.  THIS…  ::sigh::

 

 Although it may feel like it was only yesterday, my junior year of high school was a long time ago.  I may not be 16 anymore, but I still wear big black boots, I still hate hair products, and I still love Jim Morrison.   I still look forward to the day I can listen to “The Unknown Solider” without feeling angry, I still recite “The Movie” to myself when I’m sitting in dark theaters, and I still listen to “When The Music’s Over” while I’m driving around at night.   Sometimes, I wonder what my world would be like if Jim were still alive.  Maybe he would have graced the cover of Rolling Stone one more time.  Maybe he would have had a minor role in Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Maybe he would have written a book.  And Lord knows, his take on George W. Bush’s presidency would have been priceless.  Would The Doors be worth seeing live?  Would Jim be giving Mick a run for his money?

For as phenomenal as it would be to hear Jim mutter, “Fuck George Bush” on national television, I have no illusions about the situation.  Jim was an alcoholic and a drug user, and everything I’ve read about him suggests that he had some kind of chemical imbalance (phrases such as “Manic Depressive Disorder” and “Bipolar Disorder” weren’t spoken as trippingly on the tongue during the 1960’s). Yet, somehow, by some miracle, Jim’s legacy is nothing but rockin’.  The image of him in tight leather pants will always overshadow the image of him in his puffy latter-days, and he will always be a vibrant young superstar and never a washed up burnout.  The fact that I will never see him live is overshadowed by the fact that I will also never have to watch him perform a painful rendition of “Touch Me” on American Idol.  As my younger brother said to me when we watched Bob Dylan mumble his way through his set list at the Santa Monica Civic in 2008, “It’s moments like this when I realize it’s better that Morrison’s dead.”  Yes, he’s dead, but he’s not dead dead.  He was so full of life he never really died.

Epilogue

“It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me…”
 

One Sunday night in November of 2004, I sat down at my desk to fill out my University of California application.  At that point, I wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to go to college.  To be frank, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go at all.  Why move away?  Why leave all the people I loved?  More importantly, why move away and leave all the people I loved just to go to school?  I didn’t understand it.  To me, all college represented was “Goodbye,” and that was torture.

I got through the “Name, Age, Social Security Number” crap in record time, and then, suddenly, I was face-to-face with an essay assignment.  TWO essay assignments.  The first essay was only supposed to be around 200 words, and the prompt was so simple I don’t even remember what I wrote.  After I finished the first assignment, the doorbell rang.  When I opened the door, no one was there.  I looked down at the ground, and sitting on my doormat was a chocolate bar, a white envelope, and a Doors pin.  Inside the envelope was a note that said:

 “This fine European chocolate reminded me of your fine European figure.  
I hope Mr. Morrison keeps you warm on this cold evening.”
 

I smiled.  I knew my boyfriend had left me the present, but not because of the flattering note.  The Doors was still our band.  When I got back inside I read the note again, and, quite suddenly, the idea of going away to college seemed ten times as miserable.

Reluctantly, I went back to my room and sat at my desk.  The second essay prompt was glowing on my computer screen:

Open-ended

Rationale: This question seeks to give students the opportunity to share important aspects of their schooling or their lives — such as their personal circumstances, family experiences and opportunities that were or were not available at their school or college — that may not have been sufficiently addressed elsewhere in the application.

• Is there anything you would like us to know about you or your academic record that you have not had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in this application?

I was flabbergasted.  “Is there anything you would like us to know about you or your academic record“?  This pissed me off.  Me OR my academic record?  In my opinion, those were two very different things.  What had I not “had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in this application”?  The application asked for my email address, my nationality, and my GPA — none of those things were a reflection of the real ME.  Just who the Hell did these UC people think they were?

I was so angry I could scream.  I was about to spend a decent amount of my precious time trying to convince people I already hated that they should let me into one of their disgusting establishments.  I took a deep breath, unwrapped that bar of fine European chocolate, and took a bite.   When I was ready, I placed my hands back on the keyboard and let loose:

Before I sink
Into the big sleep
I want to hear
I want to hear
The scream of the butterfly  

The End?

      

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part III: Captain Jack Sparrow

SCUZZY SON-OF-A-BITCH #3:

Captain Jack Sparrow

The Pirate Who Taught Me Not To Not Give A Fuck

(2003)

I have been putting way too much thought into this.

For the last two weeks I have been laboring over this little riff about Captain Jack Sparrow.  I’ve written, deleted, and re-written countless Perfect Introductions.  I’ve spent an obscene amount of hours tinkering with witticisms.  All I did last week at work was mess with this thing.  Was I happy with anything I wrote?  No, not really.

Sometimes, writing is very easy for me.  I’ll come up with 1,000 words in an hour, read them once, pat myself on the back, and call it a night.  Other times, I’ll write for two hours and then feel stuck.  I’ll know where I want to go, but have no idea how to get there.  I’ll then go back, read what I have, and think, “This is just not what I want.”  That moment is just plain crushing.  Why the Hell have I spent so much time on this piece of shit?  How the Hell have I spent so much time on this piece of shit?  Why even bother finishing this piece of shit?

When that happens, there’s only one thing I can do, and that is wait for The Muse to arrive.  Sometimes, she appears to me in the form of a song.  Other times, in the form of a memory.  Once that bitch shows up, shit gets real.  I don’t delete everything I have already done — I gut it like a dead fish.  I tear its insides out of its asshole.  I make that piece of shit my prison wife.  I make it work.

I have yet to get to that point.  All I’ve been doing for days is editing bits here and there — taking out a few things, rearranging a few things — and none of it has added up to much.  Where The Hell is The Muse?  Is she going to show up this time?

Here’s the thing: Captain Jack Sparrow is one of my favorite people of all time.  Yes.  I’m 24 years old, and I still idolize the stupid pirate Johnny Depp has been playing for eight years.  I know that most of the sequels sucked, but I still went to see ’em in the damn theater out of respect and love and loyalty. I’m not a Trekkie, I have never been to Comic-Con, and I didn’t see Captain America because I didn’t want to.  When it comes to Pirates of the Caribbean, I go full Dungeon Master.

That was a little scary for me to admit.  The fact that that was scary was scary for me to admit.  Somebody save me from myself!

I don’t suppose too many 24 year olds feel the same way about the freaking Pirates movies, but why not?  It’s true, Captain Jack Sparrow is not as iconic as Han Solo, Indiana Jones, or any other smooth-talkin’ hero played by Harrison Ford, but ya know what?  He will be.  I firmly believe that years from now, when Johnny Depp looks like Jack Nicholson, women all over America will show the Pirates movies to their kids, and a new generation of Captain Jack Sparrow worshippers will dress up as slightly gay pirates for Halloween.  Like it or not, good ol’ Captain Jack is here to stay.  Who am I to write about his greatness?

For the 500th time, here goes nothin’.

♥♥♥

What the Hell was popular in 2003?  I honestly can’t remember off the top of my head; I’d have to ask the internet.  Seriously.  I have no idea what songs came out that year, what the hit television shows were, or whether Brad was screwing Jenn or Angie.  Did Britney still have a whole head of hair?  Was Paris an amateur porn star yet?  Had NSYNC officially disbanded?  I don’t know.  I mean, I remember the U.S. invaded Iraq that year, but I don’t remember why.  Do you?

In 2003 I was in 10th grade.  I was 16.  I dug Bob Dylan and Harold And Maude.  “Idiot Wind” was my I’m-A-Teenager-And-Perpetually-Heartbroken anthem, and “Life On Mars?” was my bad day ballad.  I had Velvet Goldmine memorized.  My favorite TV shows were on BBC America.

You see, I don’t remember what was popular that year because I didn’t care.  Was I going to hear “Heroin” on KROQ?  Nopers.  Was I going to see Iggy Pop on MTV?  No freaking way.  Was I going to see Ardal O’Hanlon or Reece Shearsmith in People?  Not likely.  (Who the Hell are they?)  I didn’t care about anything that was happening in real time; I was only concerned with glam rock, hippy culture, and men from The UK.

Then I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl for the first time, and Johnny Depp made it to the top of my list of “concerns.”  The “first time”?  Yes.  Over the course of the summer, I saw it six times in the damn movie theater.  I didn’t go alone — my friends were more than happy to join me.

Me?  Little Miss I-Hate-Everything-That-Isn’t-Subtextually-About-Heroin-Addiction?

Yes, Pirates was a bigass, dumbass summer blockbuster, but let’s be frank here — there have been way bigger, way dumber summer blockbusters.  What made Pirates less dumb?  Captain Jack Sparrow.  He was an excellent character, and Johnny Depp played him brilliantly.  He was hilarious, sexy, and didn’t give a fuck.  At 16, I wished I didn’t give a fuck either.  I may not have cared about being trendy, but, despite my best efforts, I still cared about my grades, my appearance, my relationship status (thank GOODNESS facebook didn’t exist back then), and all the other bullshit that haunts teenage females.

When Captain Jack Sparrow first appeared on the screen, head held high as his shitty boat gradually sank to the bottom of the harbor, I felt what can only be described as Enlightened.  “Someday soon,” I thought, “I will not give a fuck.”

No, I didn’t start smudging my eyeliner and wearing a funny hat.  Je refuse.  I did, however, feel a little less crappy about having to wake up at 6am for my summer geometry class.  Nothing I can’t handle.  I also didn’t worry too much when I heard the ten-minute-warning bell during nutrition break.  So what if I’m thirty seconds late for the second half of class?  What’s my teacher really going to do about it?  When it was time to start studying for my final, I didn’t feel the overpowering anxiety that had plagued me since Ms. Bell’s 7th grade math class.  I’m not gonna fail this one.  Maybe I’ll get a B.  So what?  I don’t give a fuck.  

(2006)

Three years later, Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man’s Chest was released.  I was one of the freaks who bought tickets days in advance.  Some people hated the movie, but I loved it.  I saw it four times in total.  This time around, though, my friends weren’t psyched to go over and over again —  I was the only person in the group who still considered Captain Jack Sparrow my fantasy boyfriend.  I had to get resourceful, IE: beg my parents to come with me.  Dorky?  I didn’t give a fuck.

One night, about a month later, I got into a pretty heated argument with the guy I was dating at the time.  We were having our nightly, “I miss you.  Summer’s been so lonely without you.  I can’t wait to see you in Santa Cruz.  Blah Blah Blah Bullshit” conversation when, quite suddenly, things turned evil.  He said some rather messed up things to me; things that stuck with me for a while.  At around 3am I called it quits and went to bed.  I just couldn’t defend myself anymore; it was exhausting.  This pattern continued for several nights, and every one of them was more miserable than the one before.  Why am I putting up with this? I wondered.

One of those nights, I had a dream that I was a pirate.   I had been kidnapped by Davey Jones’s crew, and we were in a small tavern by the ocean watching Davey Jones make some kind of “rah rah rah” speech up on a stage.  Next to me was the chest with Davey Jones’s heart, and I knew that I had to get the chest back to my crew so we could stab the heart and reclaim the sea.  (In case you missed it, that is pretty much the plot of Pirates II.)  Mustering all my courage, I grabbed the chest, threw it in my pirate satchel, and ran out of the tavern.  I knew that I’d be killed if the pirates caught me, but I had to take the risk.  I ran for a while, and then, gradually, the satchel became heavier and heavier.  I mean really heavy.  I tried to keep running, but that damn satchel was making it impossible for me to continue.

I woke up before the evil pirates made me into shark bait.  I rolled out of bed, picked up the phone, and made the call.  As I listened to the ringing, ringing, ringing, I thought about Captain Jack Sparrow at the end of the sequel, when the Kraken comes to eat him alive.  He knows he’s going to die, but rather than wait for that moment to arrive, he pulls out his sword and jumps right into the fucker’s mouth.

To this day, when I’m faced with a fucked up situation that is definitely going to hurt, I think of this scene.  Call it nerdy, but conjuring this image provides me with tremendous badassary.  It has never failed me.

♥♥♥

I suppose I had a difficult time putting all of this into words because in order to explain why Captain Jack Sparrow belongs on this list, I had to reveal some pretty weird stuff about myself.  Captain Jack Sparrow helped you pass geometry?  Captain Jack Sparrow helped you end a toxic relationship?  Yes. Yes, he did.  Does this mean you don’t love me anymore?

It is a Saturday evening in August, 2011.  As I write this, I am listening to Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love.” I first heard this song when I was in ninth grade.  I had already fallen in love with “Perfect Day” thanks to Mark Renton, so I typed “Lou Reed” into KaZaa.  I have now been a Lou Reed fan for ten years, and “Satellite of Love” has never sounded bad to me.  I have never gotten tired of it, and I will never get over it.  You see what I’m getting at?  If it’s acceptable for Lou Reed, or any other musician, to be an important person in my life, then I don’t see what’s wrong with loving Captain Jack Sparrow the way that I do.

And anyway, I don’t give a fuck.

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My Thoughts On “Blue Valentine”

   If you’re going to make a film about the downfall of a relationship, you better make sure the audience gives a shit about the people involved.

   I recently saw Blue Valentine, a film made famous before its release due to a very public debate over whether it should receive an “R” or an “NC-17” rating. The scene that upset the MPAA was of Ryan Gosling, the male lead, performing oral sex on co-star Michelle Williams, who, for whatever reason, has been nominated for an Academy Award for her performance. Well, Blue Valentine got the “R”rating, and the aforementioned controversial scene, like the movie, is, at best, underwhelming. Some may argue that the filmmakers deserve kudos for including a graphic oral sex scene; it’s such a gutsy thing to do. I say gimme a break. The scene doesn’t advance the story in any way. It isn’t symbolic, beautiful, ironic, or anything else that may help give it the label of “interesting” as opposed to “unnecessary.” Plus, it’s not like it was spectacularly shot. If I ever write director Derek Cianfrance a letter, it will simply say, “You’re not Bernardo Bertolucci. The ‘70‘s are over. Go home.”

   Enough whining about gratuitous sex — let’s go get down to it. Blue Valentine is “about” a married couple’s last attempt at salvaging whatever the Hell is left of their relationship. In the beginning of the film, Gosling and Williams decide to leave their daughter at grandpa’s house and spend the night at a cheesy motel to “get drunk and make love” and resolve whatever the Hell they need to resolve (you never really find out any specifics). En route to the motel, they both have flashbacks (Oh, you! I see what ya did there, Cianfrance, you utterly original filmmaker, you!) of the day they first met. Where? At a convalescent home. Gosling, a furniture mover, is moving an old man’s belongings into a new room when he spots Williams reading a saucy romance novel to her grandmother in a room across the hall. I cannot deny that Gosling looks rather attractive during the flashbacks, nor can I deny the fact that if I were approached by a cute, charming furniture mover with great facial hair and great tattoos, I would totally be tempted to go out with him (I’m so not kidding). However, at no point during the flashbacks did I think about how cute the two of them were when they first met/what a tragedy it was that their relationship goes south. Instead I thought, “I think I’ll have those frozen organic enchiladas when I get home.”

   The early flashbacks don’t offer much information other than the fact that the two leads come from humble, somewhat fucked up backgrounds. Like I said, all we are shown about Gosling is that he is a furniture mover. Meanwhile, all we are shown about Williams is her father is an angry bastard. I suspect I was supposed to be afraid of her father, but all he does is throw some meatloaf during a stereotypical “You call this dinner?” moment that’s about as believable as Brad’s Pitt’s accent in Troy. (You want a real “You call this dinner” scene? Watch Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Haven’t seen it? It’s Martin Scorsese. Stop jerking off to The Departed and visit Netflix.) After the meatloaf flinging, we see that Williams wants to break away from her white trash family and make something of herself, but totally ruins her chance when she lets her jock boyfriend screw her without a condom. You don’t understand, she coulda had class! She coulda been a contendah! She coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what she is. Let’s face it.

   At this time I wish to apologize to The Movie Gods for making a reference to On The Waterfront whist writing about Blue Valentine. References happen, and I’m sorry. I can’t help myself.

   What happens when they arrive at the cheesy motel, you ask? Williams takes a shower and Gosling tries to initiate shower sex, but Williams isn’t interested. Then they put some music on the CD player and dance. Then there’s more flashback bullshit, during which Gosling and Williams have a chance second-meeting on a bus and start flirting. They have an impromptu ice cream date and sing and dance in front of a freaking bridal store. While I watched Gosling and Williams give it their best, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. The shaky, It Feels Like You’re On The Outside Looking In! camera work was bothering me, plus I wanted to smack Cianfrance upside the head — yet again — for the bridal store bullshit. We know they end up getting married; we’re not stupid (although maybe we are, because we’re watching Blue Valentine).

   Flash forward to the motel — Gosling and Williams get very drunk and have an argument about Gosling’s “potential.” Williams talks about how Gosling is good at everything he does, and he shouldn’t continue to sell himself short. Gosling says that all he wants is to be a husband and a father. Blah blah blah, awkward sex scene that was obviously shot with the intention of being awkward, blah blah blah.

   I could go on and tell you about how underwhelmed I was by the ending, but, truthfully, I don’t really care to examine any more scenes because it is starting to bore me. This is all I am trying to convey: Blue Valentine is shit. I understand that the filmmakers wanted to present a true-to-life story (IE: cunnilingus and nipples) about two people who fall in love and then fall out of love. I understand that the realism (IE: cunnilingus and nipples) is meant to be mind-blowing. What I do not understand is how they, the filmmakers, failed at making me give a fuck about anything I saw on the screen. Throughout the entire film I wanted to care about something — the characters, the story, the fucking art direction — but I just didn’t. Instead, the thought of frozen organic enchiladas was the only thing keeping me awake. What was keeping me in the theater? The thought that I’d have a blast writing a scathing review.

   Here’s a clip. Williams has to leave the motel early in the morning because she gets called in to work. Not only does she warn Gosling of the possibility the night before, but she also leaves him a note the next morning. I have no idea why he claims he does not know what happened. Perhaps he cannot read? Perhaps that is the reason they fight all the time?




   Before going to see Blue Valentine on Saturday afternoon, I watched a bit of the 1968 period film The Lion in Winter, starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. The film takes place on an exceptionally stressful Christmas Eve, when King Henry II (O’Toole) is supposed to name an heir. His wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Hepburn), wants their son Richard (as in “The Lionhearted”) to succeed Henry, while Henry wants John (as in, “The Total Loser”) to be king. Given the circumstances, as well as given the two lead actors, drama ensues.

   In my humble opinion, The Lion in Winter features two of the most kickass performances ever captured on film. Just thinking about the performances heightens my energy level — my mind races and I start thinking about specific scenes and specific techniques and unique choices and unpredictable deliveries and the delicate art of combining subtlety and theatricality. Basically, the full moon rises and I become a Werenerd. Hepburn and O’Toole bring their A -Games as the deceitful, conniving, pissed off King and Queen, both presenting multidimensional performances that put Gosling and Williams to shame. (Duh.) Yes, The Lion in Winter is a work of historical fiction that involves references to King Louis and Thomas Beckett and Eleanor’s “uncle Raymond,” but period film whatnot aside, the film is about a troubled marriage. While The Lion in Winter doesn’t have graphic sex scenes with oh-so-realistic moaning sounds, it does have — gasp! — a fucking great script. Meaty dialogue. Subtext. Complex fucking characters. It tells the story of two people who were in love, and now are out of love, and dammit, I love both of the lead characters from start to finish. I love the horrible things they say to each other while they’re fighting, and I love the few tender moments they share together when they both let their guard down. The writer, James Goldman, neglected to include any scenes where Henry and Eleanor get drunk and yell at each other, and he didn’t include any sappy, indulgent flashbacks; no half-assed, old-hat shocking shit. He kept it simple and created people, not just parts.





   At this point, you may think that I am a judgmental, stuck-up bitch who tries too hard to be cynical. Not true. In truth, I wish I loved everything that I hate — life would be so much easier. I wish I totally dug all the films that are up for Oscars this year — I wish that Black Swan hadn’t made me smirk and that The King’s Speech was my idea of breathtaking. I wish that my top three celebrity crushes were Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Robert Pattinson instead of Marlon Brando, Peter O’Toole, and Robert De Niro. I wish I was counting down the days until the release of the Russell Brand version of Arthur! and that I had never heard of Dudley Moore. I wish my favorite film was The Notebook. Unfortunately, my parents instilled in me an appreciation for good shit, and now here I am, constantly having to bite my tongue when perfectly nice people talk about the brilliance that is It’s Complicated, or about how they can’t wait to see No Strings Attached. It’s a tough life, but fuck it — Blue Valentine is terrible, Michelle Williams didn’t deserve a nomination, and had it not been for those organic frozen enchiladas my Saturday night would have been ruined. For the love of Brando, watch something else. It really isn’t difficult to find something of substance — something conceived by an intelligent writer and brought to life by a brave director and powerful actors. Don’t settle for all the sterile garbage disguised as cutting-edge cinema — you’re better than that, and don’t forget it. Derek Cianfrance, blow me.

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A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes…In Which Case, What The Hell?

If you’ve been friends with me long enough for me to tell you about my bizarre dreams, then you know my dreams are rather intricate. Whenever I tell someone about a dream I just had, that someone usually says something like, “Wow…you remember a lot more about your dreams than I do,” or, “Wow…what a vivid imagination, Steff.”

I’m always somewhat surprised when I hear these reactions. For whatever reason, I have managed to maintain a “Doesn’t Everybody?” sort of outlook when it comes to my freaky memory and my freaky nocturnal adventures. (My dear friend, Kaley, is an exception. Her dreams tend to be as strange as mine. Thank God.)

All of my dreams, while utterly fantastic, tend to feature realistic elements of my personality that only arise at the most inconvenient moments. For example, a few years ago I had a dream I had a chance to score with an irresistible young British man, and as he was leading me up some stairs to his bedchamber I realized that beneath my party dress I was wearing Enormous Granny Panties. No, ladies, I don’t mean “Granny Panties” as in your typical full-ass underwear — these things went up way above my hips. My actual hips, that is, as opposed to the area where those Godforsaken low-rise jeans cling. Now, I don’t wear Enormous Granny Panties everyday. No. Not quite EVERY day…but wearing them under a “Beyonce, can you handle this?” kind of dress is definitely something I would do. I would assume that my dress would stay on, and, therefore, I may as well wear comfy undergarments.

You may have read about the time I got Jack Nicholson a bit excited when I gave him a hug. (http://thegraduate-steffic.blogspot.com/2010/08/slightly-more-sane-still-fcking-crazy.html) You may also have read about the time Dustin Hoffman visited me in my sleep and offered me his Jedi guidance. (http://thegraduate-steffic.blogspot.com/2010/07/my-spirit-animal-is-dustin-hoffman.html) Both dreams had realistic elements — Jack was coming over to watch a Laker game with my dad, and I met Dustin because I was disgusted by the glucose-free pomegranate martini that was being offered at the bar where my friends were chillin’. Well, last night I had another dream involving a celebrity, and, I have to say, I find it both hilarious and somewhat frustrating that even in my dreams I’m a total paranoid dork.

All right. So last summer I got into the habit of falling asleep to the movie Tropic Thunder. Since then, there have been many films in my What Do I Fall Asleep To Tonight? rotation, including:

1.) Taxi Driver (Always asleep before, “You talkin’ to me?”)
2.) The Deer Hunter (Always asleep before, “MAO!”)
3.) Raging Bull (Always asleep before, “You fuck my wife?”)
4.) A Streetcar Named Desire (Always asleep before, “STELLA!!!”)
5.) Last Tango in Paris (Always asleep before, “Go get the butter.”)

Lately, my bedtime story of choice has been True Romance (1993), starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott. (No, I do not believe this movie would have been better if Tarantino had directed it. I believe this movie would have been longer if Tarantino had directed it. I love Tarantino. The End.) According to imdb.com, the plot synopsis is as follows: “Clarence marries hooker Alabama, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood, while the owners of the coke try to reclaim it.” While I agree that yes, that is pretty much the plot, I have to say this movie is also — surprise surprise — a love story. Don’t forget, the movie is called True Romance, and truthfully, I consider it one of the most romantic movies I’ve ever seen. I guess that makes me a bit screwy by society’s bullshit Nights In Rodanthe standards, but hey — FUCK society’s bullshit Nights In Rodanthe standards.

The movie begins with Mr. Slater at a bar talking about Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock. He says, ”In Jailhouse Rock he was everything rockabilly’s about. I mean, he is rockabilly. Mean, surly, nasty, rude. In that movie he couldn’t give a fuck about nothing except rockin’ and rollin’, living fast, dying young and leaving a good-looking corpse.” He says this in close-up, and when the camera pulls back, we see that he’s, well, not really talking to anyone, or at least not to anyone who’s actually listening. There’s a woman sitting to his left, puffing away at a cigarette, looking somewhat intrigued, somewhat bored. Indifferent, really. Mr. Slater works up the gonads to ask her out:

Clarence Worley: How ’bout you go to the movies with me tonight?
Lucy: What are we gonna see?
Clarence Worley: A Sonny Chiba triple feature. The Streetfighter, Return of the Streetfighter, and Sister of the Streetfighter.
Lucy: Who’s Sonny Chiba?
Clarence Worley: (somewhat taken aback) Who is Sonny Chiba? He is… he is bar none, the greatest actor working in martial arts movies today.
Lucy: (genuinely confused, unless she’s really just as bad of an actress as I think she is) You wanna take me to a kung fu movie?
Clarence Worley: (bashful) Three kung fu movies.

She turns him down, of course. Mr. Slater looks a bit bummed for a second, but he gets over the rejection and goes to the movies by himself.

Yes, I identify with this scene. Yes, I often find myself babbling about movies that nobody gives a shit about (which, in my opinion, is everyone else’s own damn fault). I moved back to Agoura fucking Hills on July 13th because there was going to be a showing of The Godfather at the Regency Theater on the 14th that I could not possibly miss. Some of the best dates I ever had with dudes were centered around either seeing movies in a theater or watching movies at my humble abode. I’m a movie freak. It’s true. Therefore, when Mr. Slater meets Miss Arquette at the Sonny Chiba triple feature and sparks fly, I swoon.

Finding true love via cinema is one thing, but let me tell you, the first time I ever saw the scene where Mr. Slater comes home and tells Miss Arquette that he’s just killed her pimp and she says, “I think what you did was so romantic,” I was thinking the same exact thing. And the scene where they make love in the phone booth? HELLO.

As far as Mr. Slater goes, he’s all right by me. I know he ran in to some trouble involving drugs, but hey, that’s par for the course in Hollywood. I consider it a huge injustice that Charlie Sheen gets to film an indefinite amount of episodes of 2 1/2 Men while poor Mr. Slater is lucky if he gets a guest role on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Mr. Slater is way hotter, I’m not gonna lie. Maybe it’s all in the Jack Nicholson impression, but truly, I don’t care. I’d watch kung-fu movies with him any day.

All right. So I’m a weirdo who thinks True Romance and Last Tango in Paris are two of the most romantic movies out there. Moving on, now, to what this has to do with anything at all.

Last night, as I have for several nights now, I fell asleep while watching True Romance. I dreamt that I was in a large room with three king-sized beds. I was in the room with Mr. Slater, and yes, I’m talkin’ 1990’s Mr. Slater. We were kissing. It was raining outside. It was hot. We made our way to one of the beds. We, uh, mounted the bed. Mr. Slater said, “This is the bed where I lost my virginity.” Weird, eh? I said, “Cool.” We continued kissing, although I could tell Mr. Slater wanted to take things to the next level. Goddammit, even Dream Steff can’t handle that stuff smoothly. Mr. Slater tried to remove some clothing, and, ya know, I asked him what he was doing. He straight up told me what was on his mind, as if I hadn’t already figured it out.

Sigmund Freud said that dreams are wishes. Explain, therefore, why my response to Mr. Slater’s advances was, “When was the last time you got checked for STD’s?”

Talk about the Blue Balls Heard Round The World. Mr. Slater looked at me like I was insane. He said, “Well, how ‘bout we just do it now, I’ll get tested tomorrow, and I’ll let you know what the results are.” I said “No.” It wasn’t “the right time.” Then, in true Steff Callas Dream fashion, Mr. Slater said, “Well, can I at least see your cute little dub?” Dub. My “dub.” My “DUB.” MY DUB. Dream Steff did NOT show Mr. Slater her “dub,” for Dream Steff is a lady.

Umm, yeah. I’ve now shared that with the internet, or BLOGGED, if you prefer. I’m not ashamed. I’m not embarrassed. I’m just…confused. Again.

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My Spirit Animal

Perhaps I am assuming a lot when I say that all of you out there who read this blog (which is an assumption itself…) have already read my short tidbit about my dream involving Dustin Hoffman and the Gourmet Cupcakes. (Future rock band?) Whether you did or did not, let me give more details.

I had a dream on Friday night that I was in Las Vegas with two of my best friends from A-Town. (In real life, Vegas is not my favorite place. I have only been there one time since I turned 21, and while I had fun, I still think the place is pretty damn weird. This is not to say I’ll never go again…) The two of them were all dressed up to go out, and while I’m sure I was dressed up as well, the dream was from my perspective and I couldn’t see myself. We were at some larger-than-life-caricature of a bar, and one of my friends kept telling me over and over again that she wanted a “Glucose-Free Pomegranate Martini.” True to my real-life values, the idea of ordering a “Glucose-Free Pomegranate Martini” sickened and annoyed me, so I went outside to take a walk. The city streets looked a lot more like Manhattan than that good ol’ cartoony Vegas strip, and I suddenly felt very comfortable. I crossed the street and decided to peek inside a gourmet cupcake shop on the corner. As I stood in line deciding what I wanted, I suddenly noticed that the person ordering in front of me was Dustin Hoffman.

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me!” “WE’RE WALKIN’ HERE!” “My dear boy, why don’t you just try acting?”

After Dustin Hoffman was done paying, he stepped to the side and let me order. I ordered a cupcake with blue frosting. There was nothing gourmet-looking about it. I paid, and when I turned around I saw that Dustin Hoffman was holding the door open for me. Yes, Dustin Hoffman had waited for me to complete my transaction so he could be polite. To me. As I walked through the door, he looked in to my eyes and said…something. I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember it was deeply profound. Zen-like. He closed the door behind us, and then we stood on the street corner together waiting for the light to change. When the pedestrian WALK signal appeared, he put his arm around me and we crossed the street together. He had his other arm around a small boy. The three of us walked together to the other side, and when we reached the entrance to the bar where my friends were enjoying their ridiculous nouveau health-nut cocktails, Dustin Hoffman turned to face me, put his hands on my shoulders, looked into my fucking SOUL and said…something else. Again, I don’t remember what it was, but I do know that what he said was wise beyond human comprehension. He was a fucking Jedi Master.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt (1.) disappointed that I hadn’t actually met Dustin Hoffman, and (2.) suddenly desperate for a creative outlet. What’d I do? I created this blog. Small, I know, but I needed to do SOMETHING. (I then went a little crazy and created accounts with several other internet networks, largely because they might help me find a job, but mostly because I wanted to link my blog to them.) When it became time to give my blog a title, Dustin Hoffman popped in to my head again. “The Graduate.” Perfect. I am, after all, a graduate who has no idea “what those four years of college were for.”

It’s been a year since I graduated, and while I can safely say that I’m done being a lazy ass kid with zero responsibilities, I still don’t quite know how to go about becoming a successful, autonomous adult.

This is something I talk about quite often with my therapist.

When I met with her today, I told her about my productive weekend — creating this blog, etc. She was happy to hear all that. Then I decided to tell her about my Dustin Hoffman dream. She listened, and then she asked, “How did the dream make you feel?” I said, “Well, I was bummed out when I realized I didn’t actually meet Dustin Hoffman.” She shook her head, and said, “Oh, but you did.” Then she asked, “What does Dustin Hoffman mean to you?” I told her that for the last several months I’ve been absolutely obsessing over the important movies of the 1970’s. Ya know, Papillon rules. She didn’t care to hear all that, really. She asked, “But what is it about Dustin Hoffman? What stands out about him?” “Well, um, he’s short.” “Uh-huh.” “He had no real plan to become an actor. It just kind of happened.” “Uh-huh.” I started running out of things to say, but then I said, “He’s a real artist. I know he’s an actor, but he’s really good at what he does, and he was at the height of his career during a time when everything wasn’t all so mass produced. He’s five foot five with a huge nose, and he was a leading man! That would never happen today. Today he’d be the short, funny sidekick.”

She cut to the chase: “How do you think all of this relates to you?” I paused, and then I said, “I would like to be like that.” “Future tense?” she said. “How about you are like that?” Naturally, I couldn’t accept this. “Well, I mean –” “Dustin Hoffman held the door open for you. He even walked you across the street. You have everything you need within you, and Dustin Hoffman is helping you along the way. But you’re there.

As of today, I now know Dustin Hoffman is my Spirit Animal. He’s a short Jewish guy with a big nose who went to Santa Monica Community College, and yet he’s still a leading man. An unlikely shining star. There’s just something about him, and it kicks ass…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e-B2XQ8LYM

…And somewhere out in the cosmos, he’s holding The Door open for me, ready to guide me across The Street.

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