I have also been having a hard time keeping up with my real life writing projects. I was once asked by my high school friend's mom, who had about seven kids, "oh you're a Leo -- do you start projects and never finish them?" Well sure, I thought. What rightful teenager didn't? But I do find I have a penchant for new ideas, and not so much the discipline to follow through.
To wit, here are my currently unfinished projects:
* Novel about a young American woman who moves to Dublin and explores the town and country via pubs, hedonism, paranoid fantasy and some boy distractions. (This has now been written in both 3rd and 1st person, even though all the material is based on a two year period in my early 20s.)
* Mystery novel featuring Howard Hughes and a Las Vegas backdrop (writing partner: mom).
* Featurette grading and reviewing coffeeshops on the NW Chicago side (this gets replenshed when I'm not working). Might be a good tumblr, or maybe a pamphlet!
* TV comedy pilot about hilariously inept people working in hilariously meaningless jobs (see something like Party Down.) I'm being a bit coy about this one because I actually think its funny, even if no one else does. (Mom does, go mom!)
My current idea is to write an outline for a documentary project I want to do in a Polish warehouse on the west side, wherein there are many crazy projects being started this winter of the motorcycle variety. I've never done a proper documentary, apart from one in which we interviewed poets around town cooking us meals, it was aptly titled "Poet's Kitchen." As it turns out poets are very easily distracted and usually can't do two things at once, so getting a good interview out of them while they are cooking or eating proved to be a challenge. I'm going to do some research this time, and try to make a wish list or outline of what I'd like to capture and the formula for each episode. But chances are I'll just show up with a crappy camera and see what I get. Then I will have many domestic beers in cans, and forget all about the fact that I'm the producer/writer/DP/editor on this gig. Maybe I need to delegate.
But if any of the above topics seem at all interesting to you, feel free to chime in and let me know what you'd like to see finished. If you're really piqued, maybe I can post an excerpt for you and you can use your own judgement (just keep it to yourself, if you're not inspired, please?)
Oh and sorry about NAPABLOMO-NO. Although I figured out how to blog via iphone, no one really needs any more of that.
Back from many vacations, A, & E. triumphantly return to air conditioning and internets to once again do a dual blogging movie review! We both happened to see The Kids Are All Right this week and thought we would both take to the keyboard to expound upon it.
Although its not the type of film one HAS to see at a theater, I've been off work and its 90 degrees plus almost full humidity. So for a $5.50 matinee price and the promise of an entertaining look at an alternative family for two hours of a/c, I was up for it. The premise is pretty simple - lesbian couple with two children born from a common sperm donor (each woman gave birth to one child each, although its never delineated who from who) are upended somewhat by the entrance of said sperm donor into their lives. Annette Bening plays the more butch of the two, with the pretty Julianne Moore letting her hair run a bit dry and careless to get the oh-so-right Northern California vibe. Kids are represented by Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and some other young male actor who was rather dull.
Just coming from a trip to Boulder, I felt like this family could easily live there. They embraced a sunny, healthy, liberal minded attitude. One mom is a doctor and the other stay-at-home mom who used to have many different pursuits that somehow never worked out. But they seem to have it all together in that laid back western way. You know they drink good wine because they have money, they recycle and talk about sustainability and cook healthy fresh foods and probably consult all the latest psychology books on raising their kids right. (The overly self righteous eco crap will eventually get to Bening's character in a little rant that any midwesterner will love.) I liked that the couple seemed to value communication and listening to each other, reminding each other of their goals as people and a family. At the time I was sitting there in the theater, wishing I was always so perfect in talking to my boyfriend this way, and could put my stresses aside in order to always be a gentle, thinking person in everything I do. Then, the shit hit the fan. And I realized, thankfully to the scriptwriter, that these people had just as many problems as other couples. Things that had bothered them for years that they never mentioned. Issues with sexuality, and career, and being sexual, and insecurities and fears and hopes for their children. I like that the Mark Ruffalo character (the "donor") comes off as totally California groovy and breezy (almost a character that doesn't exist in our modern world anymore) and the film plays his charm out to the point where almost everyone is totally over it. You can't live on charm alone darlin, even in boho-land. (Also, leather braided chokers seem to indicate the characters likely to smoke pot, I think. I used to like leather braided chokers. )
I guess what I'm saying is that I like how the film made me admire these people, then sortof hate them for their smugness, and then bring it all back home and show how they aren't so perfect and put together after all. None of us are. But we can work at it, and forgive ourselves, and maybe each other if we're lucky. (Fingers crossed.)
Oh boy, do I ever want to live in a Lisa Cholodenko film. Women are allowed to get older AND stay sexy--and that sexuality is fluid--and everybody is groovy and cool, with tastefully decorated spaces and really high thread-count sheets.
Until, as my cobloggess points out, the shit hits the fan. Cholodenko doesn't let her characters off the hook for their questionable choices, for shaking up their comfortable lives - make up your minds! Fish or cut bait! Sink yourself, or swim semi-contented forever! she demands. In an instant of giving in to too-much grooviness, lives are wrecked, everything is upside-down. I find it mesmerizing. Because I know all too well how quickly things can go from eh, ok to EEEEEE!!! in a moment of giving in to weakness, a slip of loyalty, and maybe, just maybe, a touch of the need for drama.
There is no question this is Oscar-bait for Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, this most honest and realistic portrayal of marriage (Prop 8 be damned). I thought Moore in particular rocked her particularly juicy role. Her speech/rant on marriage should be required viewing for all those applying for marriage licenses, or divorce papers.
The kid actors were more than all right, too. Mia Wasikowska was perfectly, beautifully awkward as a girl not yet a woman, and Josh Hutcherson was perfectly bristly and endearing as the boy who just wants a DAD (I didn't think he was dull, more just sort of young and unformed).
And? Mark Ruffalo as the sperm donor? So hot. So groovy. Such a clueless, home-wrecking ass. Equal parts loathing and sympathy for that dude, that man-boy who gets a glimpse of the "perfect" life, and yearns for it but also? Wants to kick it over, like a boy faced with a gorgeous sand castle. Or a wasps' nest.
Speaking of boys, there was a boy sitting in front of me in the theater. Every time homosexual sex was represented on-screen, he squirmed and giggled and said EEWWWW and then immediately tried to make out with his girlfriend. Every time someone cried or displayed any sort of emotion, he made this ridiculous BOO HOOO and giggled, and then tried to make out with his girlfriend. It was supremely annoying, but also a good reminder that to so, so many folks out there, this realistic depiction of an "alternative" couple is too much to handle.
So. Keep on keepin' on, Ms. Cholodenko and your ilk. Maybe someday with enough casual, big-screen representation of real relationships, everyone will see love as love, marriage (or the long-term coupling of your choice) as joy/work, and understand that sometimes, lesbian couples just need to watch a little man-on-man action.
You know, live and let live. Groovy.
I just can't get enough of this meme and I hope it doesn't go away very soon. I realize that not only do soldiers around the world work their asses off in unbearable circumstances and climates, risk their lives as a matter of course on a daily basis, and endure realities of war that I hope to never be forced to comprehend, but that also? They have some free time to spare. I'm getting the feeling that a lot of these young soliders listen to pop music, and there's something about a catchy beat and something danceable that gets the creative juices going. I just started reading Sebastian Junger's book War, which is turning out to be a very eye-opening read about the impossibility of waging a war in mountain terrain, with plenty of humorous and endearing moments as well. What fascinates me most about these dance routines is that at times the interactions push the boundaries of what you think most macho, don't-ask-don't-tell policy-supporting military dudes* are comfortable with. They're true performers above all else, and I admire this.
*I'm generalizing here and have no stats to back me up, this is based on talking to random military males I meet in bars or parties and quiz uncomfortably about politics until the wee hours.
This is the one I caught on the internets the other day which renewed my interest in the phenom. Apparently the Israeli army has now banned dancing soldiers. Perhaps this is one reason why. Whatevs.
Here's how the yanks do it, again using my favorite Vegas trip anthem. Music, its universal!
This one, despite its homoeroticism, is almost community theater worthy, and I mean that in the best way (I support community theater!) Isn't the beefy guy just irresistible!?!
This video proves its been going on for a while, as its three years old. Not as much dancing but some interesting b-roll nonetheless.
I wonder if this is the same company or is this song just a great jam for working the streets of Iraq. I love how they're dancing while on patrol in the neighborhoods, confusing the locals but hopefully in a good way.
Perhaps it all started here?
Because I know you are dying to know, tonight I made beef stir fry. I tweaked the recipe from something I found online, in the process discovering "the secret for beef stir fry is frying the beef in a cup of oil." A WHOLE CUP OF OIL. Nuts. I would never. What would you do with all that goddamn hot oil? Thankfully, we didn't even have any oil, so I wasn't tempted. I sprayed Pam on the wok and it was still very good. So fie on you, internet recipes.
Speaking of Pam, have we ever talked about The Office? One night years ago the Irish Carpenter introduced me to the BBC version. It was...uncomfortable at first. And then, suddenly, something in your brain switches and everything is HILARIOUS. It is not the same watching the NBC version, which is funny from the get go, but not as HILARIOUS because you don't have to pass through that discomfort zone. It's sort of like Ricky Gervais makes you earn the funny. Steve Carrell, on the other hand, is just funny. I mean, look at him! He's just one of those people who look funny. I often randomly say "I stabbed a man in the HEART!" Just 'cause. I suppose there is some larger theme, about the subtlety of British humor vs. blunt American comedy but I don't think I am in the proper mental state to draw that one out. Plus, some British stuff is as unsubtle as all get out. Say...Little Britain? Whackadoo. Now my argument is all effed up. Rats.
And NOW I have to publish this crap-ass post without any links because Typepad seems to be broken and the text editor is not working. I don't have the gumption to use my trident on Typepad.
Hope you all had super Saturdays. I will try my hardest to be more interesting tomorrow.
A. sez: How was your weekend, faire reader? We intend to write more about the events of our respective weekends (romantic getaway in the "Live Free or DIE" state for me, and romantic rawk spectacle for gal E.)
The FYC and I drove home on Sunday, a little worse for wear, and I sunk into a "what do I do with myself" afternoon. I didn't want to watch TV or read. I didn't want to go for an aimless walk or sit in a coffeeshop. I fussed and squirmed for a while and then remembered something I LOVE to do that I haven't done for a long time - go to a Sunday matinee by myself! So I chose something that the Boy would never want to see and took off. Before I left I sent E. a wishful jokey text Going to see Smart People at 3:15. Meet me there before your concert!
Well...GUESS WHERE E. WAS AT THAT VERY MOMENT???
Tell 'em, E.!
E: I was at the Davis watching Smart People, thinking how much A. would like it.
Crazy coincidence indeed! Just another incidence of our bizzaro parallel lives...
So here is our joint review of Smaht People.
As you may imagine I am a sucker for movies about cranky academics, since Wonder Boys is one of my all-time faves (book and movie) and BOY did this one fill that bill. The similarities between SP and WB are striking. Role call: the crusty old academic (here we have a widower instead of a philanderer, but whatever), the woman who brings him back to his senses, back to life, out of his butt, whatever, who get
pre - err, plot point I won't reveal - smarty-pants kids, shiftless brother (or brother substitute), grotty old cars, Pittsburgh setting, etc etc. Even inappropriate pot smoking!
There weren't quite as many laughs for me in SP, but I didn't need them - I went all oozy with sympathy for this group of willfully isolated lonely people.
Maybe it was the grey Sunday and the hangover but I almost cried - a bunch. I love Dennis Quaid and he just keeps getting better - and in this role he was perfect, entirely without vanity and verging on unlikeable. But I never stopped caring about him - the very way he sat was heartbreaking. The rest of the cast ably supported him - Thomas Haden Church was hilarious and Ellen Page echoed the irritable/sympathetic vibe of her on-screen dad. The son character was a bit of a throw-away and I could have used a bit more backstory from the lady Doctor played by Miss Carrie Bradshaw. The ending felt a bit rushed, too, but overall - a perfect Sunday afternoon flick.
p.s. Wondering how we came to the title of the post?
I had just come from brunch with the new beau, meeting some of his friends for the first time. Which was scary, but I did good, apart from one disparaging comment about Indiana. I realized about ten minutes later that two of them were from there. What can I do about Indiana though? Hell I'm from Cleveland so anything I say is bunk. But at any rate, it was a beautiful day in the square. I had eyed the movie times while cruising by on my bicycle and then after buying a few greeting cards, having a cup of jasmine tea and starting a letter to Ireland, I realized I could get to the library and see the movie too. I too love a solo Sunday in the theatre and settled right in. I was in the mood for something called "Smart People," I knew in the least the humor would try not to insult anyone's intelligence, and I found it delightful.
These are not the kind of people I grew up with. Its very east coast, academic, all that matters is the New Yorker Magazine type mentality. The general sensibility reminded me of The Squid and the Whale, except a lot more light hearted and a hell of a lot funnier. The dialogue was tight, spot on, relevant. And it's always a treat to see SJP. I dunno there's something about her that is effervescent without being stupid. She makes me happy. Ellen Page corners the market on young , too intelligent for her own good smart ass and I hope she keeps it up. But it would have been a total snooze fest without Thomas Haden Church, who represents the only blue collar/slacker/free spirit in this dysfunctionally functioning family. I like what the film has to say about people (smart people) who feel superior to others, who feel their life must take a higher track, but who also experience the crushing pressure of performing, publishing, scoring well. Which lifestyle is really more fulfilling? How do you let your guard down enough to go ahead and experience life, instead of just judging it all the time?
So when I came out and turned on my phone and saw A.'s text I stopped dead in the middle of the theatre lobby. Of course she did. Of course she saw the movie with me. 'Cos I was thinking of her.
My Poet's Kitchen co-producer and gorgeous on-screen correspondent is launching a new arts magazine. And you are herein invited to the launch party!
Hope to see you there! This also means I have to have the first segment finished by 1 March. Wish us luck.
I wish I could say I'm past my crazytime. We prepare for this all year and it still astounds me. I can't explain exactly what it is that keeps me so tied up, strung out, and exhausted. Its your run of the mill phone ringing and emails coming, and FTP site updating, and juggle without leaving your seat type of stress. After Friday it should calm down. And then my coworker f's off to Europe while I handle her new productions. And then I go to Florida to see the new baby there, take care of my buddy and maybe help her move. The sun will be enough break for me.
But at any rate, all is well and I'm on my third vodka tonic here in the homestead. My new favorite show is The Millionare Matchmaker. Writer's strike wha?
I was at yoga last week and realized I had so much going on in my wee mind anyway. Not only all this work crunch, but also on Saturday B & I shot our first episode of the new webisode series we're launching before 1 March. We interviewed a very prominent Chicago poet. As producer I secured the camera, lights, reference interviews and editing capabilities. I shot it. Also I will edit and learn Final Cut Pro. Quite a load in this time of year. Also after Sunday Salon I'm seriously considering writing a book of short stories based on my two years living hedonistically and paranoid in Ireland. It's like Felicity, except with a lot more Guinness, and coffee, and Irish accents. I'm walking down Grafton Street, I've lost my wallet, but I'm having an epiphany! I've also decided to enter the dating world again, albeit electronically for now. I haven't even checked the site in a few days but was shocked - nay amazed! - that my inbox was not full upon the first night. Should I have left out the Harry Potter reference in the first question?
So for one who appreciates the life of leisure, in my free time I watch a lot of movies, in a still and comatose manner, which is healing for me. As of late: Transformers, which someone I went out with twice once likened to "a commercial for the armed forces." He has a point, but it was fucking brilliantly hilarious. Best to watch with SH who is a self professed fan from the glory days in the 80s. Waitress - I wasn't too engaged to begin with, but once you accept the sappy dialogue and hokey setup you'll be in store for a nice finish. The Simpsons Movie - why did it seem so entirely weird and disjointed? Was I too stressed out for it? Quirky French film called My Best Friend. Total treat if you can get over the French man-on-man love. Very sweet. The Lives of Others. Oh my goodness. I guess it won an Oscar for best foreign film last year and it was completely deserved. I was prepared for something gruesome and sad and strained, and it had a lot of heart. On Sunday I went downtown, somewhat hungover from wrap night wine party, and saw There Will Be Blood with Chel. Two hours and forty minutes and I don't know what to say. Not sure the story was carrying me along, the acting and cinematography was great, but I was jolted awake every two minutes by the overactive guy behind me, putting his feet up and down and around the seat next to me. What is that saying, hell is other people? By the time I got home I just wanted to go to a cabin in Wisconsin for two weeks with nothing but books and a roaring fire. It was good to see Chel tho.
Also, I managed to watch eight episodes of 30 Rock between Friday and Saturday, while prepping for my shoot.
Don't mess! More soon.
Many weekends are simply a respite from my life - just sleeping and movies and bottles of wine and not being in the office. Some are consumed with travel - which I love but leave me drained and hankering for the former type of vacation. This last one really hit all the good notes.
I had a hella week. It was fun, and busy, and I was out most every night and working my arse off during the day. Tuesday and and Thursday I was up until 2am. Come Friday I knew I had my friend Kerry's art show. (And I love how I promoted it on this here blog but didn't give the address.) I worked until nearly 7pm and taxied to Pilsen to her shared studio space, the Chicago Art Department.
At the time I was so jangled and tired and needing my couch, I told myself I'd only stay for a few hours. But it was such a great show, and a good buzz, and friendly people, and of course the open bar got a second wind in me. When I went out to smoke I noticed that the other studios on the street were virtually empty. EVERYONE was coming in to Kerry's show and staying. I was kindof waiting for my friend M's signal to go, hoping to get a ride at least back up north as far as Fullerton. But I got to talking to new people, and taking pictures on my phone, the next thing I knew we were walking down the street to the Skylark. SW had the hiccups and four inch heels on, so M I were holding her up as Kerry and her BF walked ahead of us. I tried to show SW my hiccup trick. To wit: take a deep breath, hold your nose, bend over enough to squeeze the diaphragm, count to ten and exhale slowly. Remember to stay centered and zen when you return. SW did this dutifully, but didn't seem to mind the hiccups as much as I apparently do. Something else hilarious happened when SW came up for air but I'll spare M the embarrassment here. Needless to say we were laughing uproariously in the street , with Kerry across the way having no idea. Probs looked like typical drunkeness.
I had a good lie-in Saturday and cleaned house and prepared for my Sunday Salons. A bit of grocery shopping, taking down of the holiday decor (sad), garbage duty. I stayed in Saturday night and watched a great documentary called Crazy Love. It's about a Bronx couple that met in the late 50s. They dated for a while but she found out he was married. She went to Florida for a vacation and met someone else - someone normal, handsome, loving. She was engaged to be married when the previous bf hired some thugs to come to her door and throw acid on her face, blinding her. The story has been legion in NYC ever since because after he got out of jail he proposed to her on a local news broadcast and ... she took him back! The documentary chronicles all of this and more and even has a surprise twist. Top top recos from me.
Sunday Salons, our inaugural arts and discussion brunch, was a total hit. Roommie made an apple sausage and goat cheese egg strada (not to be outdone by mom's "Eric Estrada" but we'll call it "Oudda Da Stradosphere" haw haw). We also had tea, coffee, mimosas, salad, vegetables and hummus, donuts and almond coffee cake. And then we finally got around to discussing our art. SW read a piece of mine I jotted down about two years ago about my first few days in Ireland. I was kind of horrified but people seemed to like it, and I forgot the hidden humor in it. I read some of roommate's poetry which was really lovely and haunting and had hints of nature and rebirth. Chelle read from a piece of a novel she's written, which she's submitting to MFA courses in CA, and it blew us all away. I had tears in my eyes and can't wait to see more. Other people knitted or just listened. B came a bit later and we talked about her new magazine project.
So that left me in such high spirits, I'm going to pursue writing some more short stories about my hedonistic and confused few years in Ireland. As a treat to a long day I settled in to watch another documentary that night, Air Guitar Nation. All I can say is I have at least seven new major boy crushes (one being one of the founders - oh you geeky blue eyed babe!). And you must rent it stat. And come with me to the finals in Finland for the world championships next year. I am going to lay an air guitar god if its the last thing I do. And it just might be.