Maybe we could do a Hump Day Grab Bag every week w/ a different one of us writing about things we like.
I always imagine myself giving interviews. It’s not only because I love to hear myself talk. But I like long, intense conversations. And I usually judge people on whether they are capable of having those. That’s wrong because maybe they just can’t have them with me because they’re intimidated or don’t share my interests or don’t like my conversational style. Maybe they aren’t in the mood for a long conversation. Maybe they have a pimple and think I’m staring at it (I don’t care about your pimple). I’ll stop judging people for that now. Last year I thought, “I know, I’m going to write a book that consists of a series of women being interviewed. It’ll play to my strengths. I’m great at imagining conversations. I’m so bad at physical description and also, (perhaps consequently) not much interested in it. This is probably because when I was younger I was always afraid to look up. I looked down alot. So the reason I couldn’t describe the physical world is because I never looked at it. Maybe that’s why I was bad at geometry. I’m working on changing that now, just for the purpose of describing things better during conversation. But I still don’t want to describe what the door looks like when I’m writing. I’m more interested in what the door might make someone feel, or of what it reminds them. Man, this book is going to be incredible.” Then I realized that I can’t write anything longer than two pages and that David Foster Wallace had already written that book but with dudes. Now that I’ve read some of his essays I don’t hate DFW, but it’s funny when people think I or they should. One day maybe I will be interviewed. If that day were today and if someone asked me, “What are you reading, watching and listening to?” this is what I would say.
I think Max, Tommy, Jess, Tatyana, and others who are at work or who like to plan emotions would like this song.* (Oh that? That’s my Crying Hoodie. See the pockets? I stuff tissues and regret in there.) It’s for my mom.
Most days I just want to have a screening of Tyson in my apartment. If my description almost made Tommy cry, imagine what the real thing would make you feel? It’s basically a 90-minute therapy session; the director would prompt him with questions and then Tyson would just ramble on about a subject until he lost steam and they kept doing this until they had a movie. At some point I realized that I had been looking at Mike Tyson’s face for 15 minutes but hadn’t noticed because of how vivid his descriptions were. It was so deep, man, I saw everything in my head, man. Nas The Prophet/Street’s Disciple (never forget!) provides the background music to Tyson’s self-sketching. And the man can sketch!
Mary Gaitskill remembers a cat, has a sister with fibromyalgia and tries to mentor a poor kid. Awkwardness ensues, but she keeps it real. Real guilty. I love Mary Gaitskill. Because when she writes about a little white girl inserting a toothbrush up another little white girl’s vagina, you KNOW that Mary Gaitskill really did that to some little girl. Put the toothbrush down, little Mary. There are other ways to go about this. You can tease her until she develops an eating disorder, okay? All her fiction deals with sex, but in this memoir you can barely find it at all:
Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler talk about Funny People. Charlie Rose doesn’t ask the questions he should ask and I want his job. Apatow says he would’ve ended up depressed, selfish and alone if he had not decided to get married and have children. Many thoughts emerge from this, none of them easy. Adam Sandler is real uncomfortable during this interview because he doesn’t understand half the questions, and Judd speaks for him because he knows & that’s what friends do. Funny People is still brilliant even though it totes validates the nuclear family’s tyranny over social relations.
David Simon is just the smartest, most eloquent man. Share my fervor. His curiosity about the world is endless, his sense of race, class and labor history relentless. If I could do with mental health, pharmaceutical companies and poor people what he did with the drug war, government bureaucracies and communities of color then and only then would I die happy. Everyone should read his books, then curl up with me and Miu-Miu on the couch to watch all of The Wire and talk about the underclass! On a Friday night! I know how to have fun! I think I need another exclamation mark!
Why didn’t I mention or think of Blazing Saddles in my last post? I don’t know, but it complicates the argument. Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor co-wrote. Alot of great scenes like this one.
Have a great workday, y’all.
*Correction: I think Max, Tommy, Jess, Tatyana, both Laurens, Gigi, Roy, Diego, Michelle and Daniel would all love this song and in my dream we’re all listening to it together while we make zines. And eat pie. This Friday. I mean PieDay, you know, the day that comes before Caturday and Punday.
This Saturday is the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, and I’m not sure what to feel. I have a strange relationship with SNL, for reasons I will come to, but I do think that watching it is a good way to get used to certain inevitable feelings that arise when you’re watching comedy, specifically live comedy. Because alot of SNL isn’t funny. There will be stretches of 10, 15, 20 minutes where, in a group of viewers, no one laughs at all, where a room just sits, waiting for real laughter to break through all that control. And in those moments, aspects of individual personalities reveal themselves. Someone in the room will give a fake titter after a long lack, to try and ease the room. Someone in the room will say, with authority, “That’s funny” without laughing, because comedy is like sadness: you can have the feeling without the tears. Someone in the room will try to anticipate the laughter of others because they just don’t get it but fear their non-laughter would somehow turn against them. Someone in the room will laugh at everything, because it’s just one of those nights. And someone on the floor will laugh at something completely different because they are really, really high and just noticed that the two people onscreen do not get along in real life. I could isolate reactions all day, it’s part of what my brain does, and it’s one of my own reactions to social situations.
But this is part of the problem with SNL for me. I never really lose that ‘reaction isolator’ part of my brain when watching it, because for the most part, it’s not consistently funny enough to turn that off. So if it’s like stand-up at all, it’s like a Five Buck Yucks kind of deal, where you pay a flat fee to see several different comedians who you’ve usually never heard of. And some of ’em are really, really bad. (When you see a comedian actually say, “That’s one of those jokes you’ll get later on,” it produces this sympathy-disgust beast that teaches me so much about myself for a second because I’m like “I am not gonna laugh until you are funnier I am not gonna laugh until you are funnier I am not gonna laugh” and it may not be an ethical reaction but it also really may be.) Other sketches though, are such straight-up game-changers that it makes comedy feel purposive, essential, and political if for no other reason than the fact that giggles can be hard to come by. Maybe this is what certain viewers felt when they watched Eddie Murphy sing “Kill the White People” on SNL in the early eighties.
Mary Bronstein’s YEAST is an emotional horror film. People who study film might have access to more precise language. But I like emotional horror. I like this film because it’s about toxicity among women. Three women locked into habits of relating, feeling, thinking. Limping dead friendship around. Mary Bronstein understands relationality. She knows that negativistic, resistant people are often attracted to passive, dependent people. She knows the opposite is true. ‘You can tell me what to do,’ says one. ‘You listen,’ says the other. Not in the film do they say these things but this dynamic is what their relationship enacts. Laura said something beautiful the other night when we watched this. She said, ‘Sometimes I think I don’t know anything as well as I know what it’s like to have friendships with women.’ I’m horribly mis-quoting but the sentiment was very deep. So many of us have intense kinds of knowledge just from being on the bottom or being big or whatever. Some people are interpersonal geniuses. I think Mary Bronstein is, I think she knows.
“‘Break On Through to the Other Side.’ That’s better poetry than like, Yeats or whatever.” “I hate Yeats. That’s what I was reading in high school when my teacher molested me.”
Party Down is a new comedy from Starz, created and produced by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars), Paul Rudd (that one) and two other dudes whose names I don’t recognize. The show follows an L.A. catering team so it’s certainly apart of the job-com trend, but not merely so. Since the caterers are a motley group of aspiring Hollywood performers, this allows the writers to examine various levels of aspiration and comportment with respect to the Hollywood machine. The emotionally abused guy from HBO’s short-lived (because uneven) couples therapy show Tell Me You Love Me stars as Henry, an actor made famous by a beer commercial who has returned to bartending somewhat defiantly, constantly reminding his co-workers that he has “quit” Hollywood to avoid the fact that he was forgotten by it. On the other end of the psychic spectrum we get the deliciously earnest Kyle Bradway, (played by VM alum Ryan Hansen) a would-be model/American Idol star/recurring character on ABC Family’s Greek. Somewhere in the middle we find Ron Donald, the boss who is willing to threaten the life of a seventeen year old if it means getting a bad catering review. Read the rest of this entry »
“I just don’t get poetry.”
As the TA for an American literature survey last semester, I heard this phrase more than a handful of times. When my students refused to dive into the spiritual riddles of America’s first Metaphysical poet, Edward Taylor, and slept through Joel Barlow’s mock epic about cornmeal, I tried to turn their generalized bafflement at poetry into a teaching moment. I did this by steering students away from such evasive and potentially self-destructing phrasing (“don’t get it, never will”) and toward greater precision in their self-expression, by asking them two questions:
1. What don’t you get?
2. How is prose different?
These questions led to a larger discussion of “Poetry” and its connotations. Poetry, for my young novel-hungry students, is associated with dense metaphors, revelations that are abstracted from daily life, monologic expression, a formal structure so over-determined as to be suspicious, and–quite notably for my research purposes–feeling. These assumptions were hilarious to me because of how irrelevant they are to contemporary poetry that matters a damn. Many poems I love possess all of these qualities, but most of them do not. As we talked, I tried to get students to realize that poetry, specifically in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, is not endemically non-narrative, nor does it sacrifice thought in favor of some petrified notion of “pure expression,” nor is it incapable of being preoccupied and conversant with other people. Below, find five books you may want to check out if you are a self-proclaimed “fiction person.” Read the rest of this entry »
“The Snake Pit is a 1948 film which tells the story of a woman who finds herself in an insane asylum and cannot remember how she got there.” Thanks but no thanks Wiki, the film is so much more. It stars Olivia de Havilland, and other people who don’t matter, because Havilland is the jammest jam ever. This inspired madness narratives you know, like The Bell Jar. Without further ado, The Stream of Consciousness Film Review: real-time reviewing, without editing (although I’m sparing everyone certain musings). All quotes are from the movie, as I heard them. Emboldened phrases = correct theory. Asterisks denote the theories I had which were refuted as the narrative continued…
Oh yes, I know the reason for your madness. It’s familial.
“Do you know who I am? Somehow people don’t remember my face.” Wow, this therapist has a really subtle way of discerning abnormalities in perception.
Forties affect is so dated. Why is the husband dude laughing at her nervous breakdown? Decorum blows. He’s just inadequate for her feelings. Haha, mid-century madness narratives (and Cassavetes films, but that’s another post) involve thirty different symptoms and I love it: Hears voices, mood swings, weedthoughts: “I don’t think I’ll ever sleep again,” loves to gape eerily out the window, lost time, fugue state, amnesiac selves, word salad, anger mis-management, multiple personalities, repressed trauma.
I bet it comes down to this: Heart Belongs to Daddy. Read the rest of this entry »