Tuesday, August 31, 2004

So, I haven't whored for McSweeney's for awhile. But recently, on the "McSweeney's recommends" section of their site, they recommended not moving. Which... um, yeah. Pain in the ass. Besides the whole packing things up thing, living in two different places and moving twice in a short span of time ends up in me missing many many shows.

Anyway, yeah, back to the whole talking about movies thing.

Watched Almodovar's Live Flesh. When it was over, I realized the thematic similarity/repetition at the heart of the oeuvre that I hadn't picked up from the other three movies I saw. This one put it over the top. I don't know if it's a bad movie, but in a way it's one I wish I hadn't seen because it tarnishes his other work. I imagine that if I'd been following Almodovar all this time, Talk To Her may not have kicked my ass like I did.

Also watched Tom Tykwer's Heaven. Apparently, when someone I knew saw it in the theater, much of the audience was pissed at the ending. Endings that piss people off tend to make me happy, unless it pisses people off by just being aggressively shitty. (like A.I.) This ending made me happy. Most of the movie... The first two-thirds (excepting the very opening scene) seem vaguely thrillerish. Not so much in execution. It's not much of a nail-biter... A lot of people call the movie hypnotic. But it's compelling, plotwise. The final third takes on a more languid tone, vaguely pastoral. (This opinion is shaped mainly by a few shots very close to the end.) The plot stops developing, basically. And then it ends on rather daring note, the kind of thing that I want to call "magic realism" as someone who has heard the term before but hasn't read Marquez and really has no fucking clue what I'm talking about when I say that. Think the ending to Barton Fink, if everybody took my advice and watched Barton Fink. Or that one scene in Magnolia everyone talks about. Basically movies embracing the fact that they are not real life and doing stuff which might not work according to its own logic, but rather, does something that DEFINES the movie's logic as being much larger than the strict realism-with-some-oddity it seemed to be embracing. Realism with some small oddities, but then one GIANT fucking oddity. I love that shit. Eat it up with a spoon.

Um, my brother bought a copy of Drugstore Cowboy so I watched that. Fun sidenote is that one of the movie's screenwriters is named Daniel Yost. I know a guy with that name. I also liked the moments with flying hats. That movie is just okay, nothing great. The kind of thing where you can imagine the director falling off sharply and creating pieces of shit like Elephant, Finding Forrester, and a Psycho remake, but this was made while they were young and hungry. Like, when you're done watching it, you wouldn't call Gus Van Sant a genius, and you wouldn't give him the benefit of the doubt ever, but you can concede that it's an alright movie. And, even though it's just alright, he never made anything that good again. So you accept it as a fluke, and chalk the quality up to Daniel Yost and William S. Burroughs, and then you go on living your life. (The moments with the floating hats are pretty fucking cool though.)

I saw Melvin Goes To Dinner. Which it turns out is not a comedy. Some of the cameos in there are rather surprising. I recommend it to fans of Richard Linklater. It's based on a play. One of the special features on the DVD is a scene from the play, which really brought home how I don't like plays as an artistic medium. Ugh. Seriously, why make a play when you could make a movie? Fuck plays.

I also saw Blood Simple, which was okay. Coen brothers doing something not a comedy. Which means... it's okay. I borrowed Miller's Crossing from work and will watch it tomorrow, along with Amores Perros. Apparently it's way better.

I also started watching Spartacus on DVD from work but the DVD crapped out. I liked it though. My brother mocked me for getting it, due to the gayness of gladiators.

There are some people I would like to contact but I'm not sure if the information I would use to contact these people is out of date or not. One of these people is Diana Fanelli. She used to read this, but I don't know if she still does, as a) it's rarely updated and it seems like most people should have stopped reading it, and b) I have no way to get in contact with her so I haven't communicated with her since the posting became erratic. Anyway, if you, the person reading this, are Diana Fanelli, contact me while I'm still in Philadelphia.

Which, for those of you keeping track, means sometime in the next two weeks. If I were in Olympia over the next two weeks, I could see Deerhoof.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

So, on reading and writing: I finished Gravity's Rainbow. Yay me. I can't recommend it to anyone though, even though it had its moments. I started Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but yeah I don't know if I really have the drive to read through it, at least in order to finish it before school starts. My brother's been getting David Sedaris books from the library, and my mom's been buying books that aren't crap. (I told her to pick up 100 Years Of Solitude, and she's also bought a handful of ex-hip book-club-style books from Borders' Buy 3, get 1 free table, so she's got the first Augusten Burroughs book, Life of Pi, and some other stuff.) My brother also has some books that he owns and I sometimes think about reading, like William S. Burroughs' The Wild Boys. All of these ae lighter quicker reads than the actually pretty enjoyable and compelling Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. And after Gravity's Rainbow, my brain is going to have to decompress on the light quick reads before reading another ungodly long novel. Oh and yesterday I got a handful of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, (best comic ever) rounding it out, so maybe someday soon I'll be able to spend an afternoon reading that whole run front to back. That would be a fucking great afternoon.

Did I ever write about how my mom has some girl from church living in my room? Okay, technically, it's not my room, it's a guest room, with a lot of my shit there. (i.e. comics, making the room important for my Best Afternoon Ever plan) But anyway, yeah, that's happening, which kind of sucks.

Oh and I told my mom I was stopping going to her church (you know, the one I grew up in) because it was too conservative and I felt consistently more and more alienated from the proceedings. I've had differences in terms of interpretation with the church leadership for fucking forever, but now, you know, I gots me a job, so it's one more reason to stop going. These two things combine so I won't be seeing my mom as much as I have been. Which I'm pretty cool with, except for the kinks in the Best Afternoon Ever plan. That's really all I care about.

So, yeah, writing. I am a slow writer. Here's the latest news. The book I had entitled Get Broken has transmogrified and now is being called Powers Of Observation. I'm pretty excited about it, although I should probably do more research before I write any more. The story I called Shoppe is now called Drawing In Frosting, but isn't quite done. There's a part of me hoping I can finish it by the time school's out.

I have two more short stories that I've written and finished since taking up the short story form in earnest following being kicked out of my dorm room last November. One's called Of Mice And Men, which I submitted in the McSweeney's August Van Zorn contest and a few people have read. The other's called Companion, which no one has read and I might submit for publication after I'm back at Evergreen. I finished writing Companion before the school year ended. But yeah, still haven't finished Drawing In Frosting, which I think I began writing around the same time as Companion. Actually, probably before.

I'm a slow writer. Don't know what I'm going to do when I'm in a writing class, where presumably I'll have to write fiction. Essays and autobio I can pretty much crap out. Maybe other people are faster at writing fiction because they just write thinly-veiled autobiography, or maybe I just suck. I mean, it's not like I'm slow because I'm meticulously crafting sentences, I'm slow because I have to wait for more insights to write down and pace out the thing. Drawing in Frosting had like a three-paragraph meditation on the nature of marriage. And the rest of the story is all about the interaction between a husband and wife. The husband doesn't quite understand the wife, which needs to be made clear, but it's being written from the husband's perspective, so I can't just declare it. So... that's going to be tricky.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

So, computer froze at the tail-end of a long post. Here I go, retyping it.

After my last post, I decided not to write about every movie I see as I rarely have anything to say about said movies.

That said: Gus Van Sant's Elephant is a cinematic abortion, as boring as Lost In Translation and for many of the same reasons. It aims to capture alienation and loneliness, and decides to go about doing so in the same fashion. It's even more bullshit about high school than it was about foreign lands. The other points, when the movie makes the killers players of violent computer games and gay lovers, are even more bullshit. Do not see Elephant. If the point it was trying to make was that high school violence is OK because everyone in high school is a lame-ass with no personality, it succeeded. Holy fuck did this movie have no characterization. I didn't give a shit what happened to anyone. Everyone in the movie could've died and I would've met those deaths with apathy.

That was rented by my brother, along with a copy of the as-yet-unwatched Predator 2. My brother also made me watch Spaceballs. He kept on telling me to keep watching as really funny parts were right around the corner. I left in the middle, feeling sleepy, and mentally added Mel Brooks to my list of dudes that aren't funny at all.

Peter Sellers is still on that list, even though The Party sucked. It was Sellers in slapstick mode. I really don't get the comedy in people falling in water. When Sellers spoke to make jokes, I laughed. But that only happened once.

I borrowed Man Bites Dog and Sunset Boulevard from work. Sunset Boulevard's cool, except for a few elements that I excuse due to when the movie was made. (Melodramatic at parts and the insertion of the score at big moments) Man Bites Dog was good, although I don't like the whole making points about media violence by making a violent movie thing. Yes, I'm sure they were aware of it, and it's a good movie regardless, way better than Natural Born Killers, but... It's really more just an issue of my own idea of what film should be. If I ever make a movie, I'm not going to indict myself and make myself part of the problem. I don't know. If I hadn't seen Natural Born Killers, I probably wouldn't bitch about that element of Man Bites Dog. And again, Natural Born Killers had a lot more wrong with it than just being a part of the problem it railed against.

And I saw Sonic Youth last night. Not as good a show as the one last year. Afterwards I really ironed out the kinks in my whole "hating everything but still I guess loving people" bit. I guess all cultures/subcultures are shit. The only way you can be cool is to pretty much reject all of them, but this doesn't mean rejecting everything, as there are many many people who don't fit into one cliche or scene.

But yeah, try to think of a good culture, because maybe I'm wrong.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

So basically, I work, I steal CDs from work, I borrow DVDs from work.

I also read Gravity's Rainbow, which I'm close to finishing. It's not great. It's decent, and I will be filled with a feeling of satisfaction when the book is complete. Even though it's not going to satisfy my desire for books that just break my mind and flip my shit, I'll just be proud of myself.

So, um, movies.

First off, Natural Born Killers is a total piece of shit. Fuck that movie. Tries too hard, not funny, cliche-ridden.

Flirting With Disaster is smile-funny, not laugh-out-loud funny, and cute but nothing more.

Dog Day Afternoon is pretty damn good. Sidney Lumet knows how to do drama.

Alphaville is better than Weekend, but that says very little. Enjoyable, but I'm not going to recommend it.

Vertigo may or may not make sense, or come together. It's also very slow-paced until shit starts happening. The twist was one I didn't see coming. Has anyone discussed Mulholland Drive (or maybe Lost Highway) in the context of Vertigo? Obviously Vertigo's not as over-the-top, but it does have a long segment where you ask yourself "what the fuck is going on here."

Barton Fink is underrated. What a great movie, which I wasn't quite expecting because no one talks about how awesome it is. I liked it more than Fargo, easily. It's not that funny, but it's damn compelling and kind of entertaining.

Killer's Kiss made my mind wander. I guess the shots looked cool, because it's Kubrick, but slow-paced. Everyone likes Kubrick, but who's seen all of his movies? Fucking no one. People just tend to go based on other stuff about the movie they find interesting, which in itself is kind of fascinating. It's weird how most Stanley Kubrick collection sets don't include all of his work. He wasn't that prolific, he made 10 features, not counting Killer's Kiss and the one, shorter movie he made before that. Killer's Kiss has the great line "you're an old man, and you smell" said by a woman to the gangster who... loves her, I guess. My mind wandered. But that's a great, quotable line.

I also borrowed The Party but will watch that tomorrow.

Oh and I bought and read Caricature by Daniel Clowes. For those not in the know: Daniel Clowes is a cartoonist, does a comic called Eightball, which is mainly an anthology of just his work. It was in this that the comic Ghost World was serialized, which sucked as a comic, but he helped adapt into the movie, which was rather good. The new issue of Eightball's pretty damn good, and it's fascinating to me to read the online discussion because of the ambiguities of it, and people having their own ideas of what it's about. It brings to mind discussions of short stories in English class, only everyone involved in the discussion is smart and it's not being moderated by a complete dumbass. Caricature is a collection of short stories, in the Raymond Carver mold, but funnier. I liked it okay.

Someday soon I'm going to need to buy clothes.

Only music I've purchased is Streethawk: A Seduction by Destroyer, and a copy of Black Eyes' Cough on vinyl for Alez. I want to listen to the Black Eyes more, and I want Pitchfork to review it. It's a fucking crazy record. I've stolen a lot of music, very little of it notable. I now have a copy of Gentlemen by the Afghan Whigs, which makes me a minority for my age bracket. They're a nineties indie rock band, but not one the very good ones, and they've fallen out of fashion. Archers Of Loaf are way better.

Like many of my blog entries, this one ends when my urge to shit becomes to much to take. That is to say, now.