Category Archives: Movies

I love Hugh Jackman, but…

This looks like the silliest movie ever:

I can’t wait.

Tell me I don’t have to have sex out there.

A group of boys, who look no older than fourteen, talk on a crowded New York City subway car—loud—about bitches, and fucking, and fucking bitches.  They carry tennis racquets in zipped cases.  I assume they’re teammates.  The loudest and youngest looking one says, “I could’ve fucked two bitches the same night.  I had them both at my place.  But I didn’t, because one of the bitches was on her period.”

I look around, wanting to see if anyone else’s ears have unwittingly become victim to this conversation.  Some people have headphones on.  Some people might not know English.  I make eye contact with one woman, but her neutral expression doesn’t change.  If anything, she seems to communicate, “Are you really upset?  Are you really surprised or offended?”  Yes.  I am!  I’m upset that these boys boast and talk about female peers that way as if it’s okay.  Or, knowing it’s not okay, making it more appealing.  I don’t care if they’re insecure pubescent boys just making things up or repeating overheard things.  I’m upset that I sit with my book open on my lap, not reading it, listening to them instead, saying nothing.  If girls they have sexual feelings for (if not romantic) are called bitches, what would they call me—some 24-year-old girl scolding them?  Surely they wouldn’t politely apologize.  How would that boost their apparent status as big, sex-havin’ men?

Yesterday was one of distasteful sex-related happenings that made me question the world and the people in it.  Everyone’s entitled to say what they want, do and think what they want.  But that freedom can seriously hurt others.  It can make you think, Man.  This is how so many people approach sex, this is how the media makes sex out to be?  I don’t want any part of that. It’s scary.  Who really wants to be the subject of a nonchalant recap between buddies—“Yeah, I fucked her.  It was all right.”   

When I woke up late yesterday morning I had a notification that I’d received a Facebook message just after 8 a.m.  It started, “Hi, how’ve u been?”  But the sender’s name was one I didn’t recognize, so I assumed it was a spam message.  Someone trying to get me to attend an event, or buy a product, or support some cause.  Turned out to be something very different.  The message was from someone I did vaguely know—a security guard of all things.  You know.  Someone whose job is to make you feel more secure.  I’d forgotten that this man and I were connected on Facebook at all.  He guards a building I used to regularly enter and was someone I would say hello to and small talk with occasionally.  I stopped the small talk, though, after we bonded about our mutual interest in making music and he invited me to see the recording studio he uses—inside of his apartment. 

I hadn’t thought about this person or heard from this person, and then, all of a sudden, a message.  It’s pretty crude stuff and the only reason I’m sharing it is to make a point.  Skip it if you don’t want some graphic imagery in your head.

Hi, how’ve u been?  I don’t mean to be forward, but seriously I’ll like you to know that it’ll be a pleasure to munch on your shaven apple pie haven. If you give me a chance I promise I’ll lick and suck every drop of crease all around and inside of it like no one has ever done b4.

Now am guessing u might have a boyfriend and since I wouldn’t want to be that guy that comes between you two, for the fact that I wouldn’t want the same to happen between me and my girl, that is why I have requested for this alone and nothing else.

However if ever you turn the opposite cheek to this once in a lifetime opportunity, I’ll also like you to know that I will hold no grudge against you and I will still cherish the moments of friendship we shared at [omitted]. Take care and bye for now.

[Name omitted.]

P.S.. Let me be that very private guy in your life that turns u into that glowing mature woman every girl wants to be like…

How kind of him to not hold a grudge against me if I turn down his “once in a lifetime” proposal.  How unselfish, too, to consider my boyfriend (and his girlfriend) in this arrangement!  And how opposite of presumptuous of him to suppose how I groom my “apple pie haven” or that I need to be transformed from a girl into a “glowing mature woman.” 

Granted I probably shouldn’t have even allowed myself to be connected online to this semi-stranger.  My mistake.  I can be naive.  It just wouldn’t occur to me that people might take the time to craft such a message. I would never think of this as everyday, normal fare for a man to send a woman at 8 a.m. on a Monday. 

I’ve watched a lot of romantic comedies in my day, which, admittedly, have probably given me some skewed ideas about heterosexual sex and relationships.  But after watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ride off into the sunset, or Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, I’ve never approached a male love interest and said, “Hey, how’ve you been?  Will you meet me on top of the Empire State Building and kiss me long and passionately and marry me and raise my babies?”  Maybe some people do hold those expectations.  And maybe some people develop their own expectations after regularly watching certain porn, listening to certain music, or talking to certain people.  Just like kids playing violent video games makes them more likely to shoot people, right…?  It’s more than possible that a person would predominantly see inappropriate or unhealthy social and sexual behaviors and use those cues in their own life.  Because inappropriate and unhealthy can be relative concepts.

I told a male friend of mine about the Facebook message.  He advised me to use the block function, but to first send the guy a picture of STD-ridden female genitalia.  “Speaking of which,” he said, “there’s a guy I know who’s HIV positive.”  He went on to say that the person, before settling down with a partner, claimed to regularly have unprotected sex without broaching the subject of any risk.  And apparently, if questioned, would outright lie. 

There’s a scene in When Harry Met Sally after Harry and Sally have sex with each other for the first time.  Neither are satisfied with how it went.  They individually call their best friends, Jess and Marie, who pick up their individual phones from the nightstands of the bed they share as a couple.  Jess listens to Harry.  Marie listens to Sally.  When they hang up, after hearing their friends’ most recent dating disappointments, Marie turns to Jess and says, exhaustedly, “Tell me I never have to be out there again.”  Jess looks her in the eye and firmly responds, “You never have to be out there again.” 

Yesterday, after the things I was told and the things I overheard and the things proposed to me, I felt similarly exhausted.  Out there felt like a scary place.  A place that will compromise physical and emotional health.  A place where women are just vaginas and men are cads.  A place where very few ride off into the sunset.

Life and the Academy this year

I really love awards shows. In the past few weeks I’ve watched the Golden Globes, the SAGs, part of the Independent Spirit Awards, and last night the Oscars.

Last year I posted part of an acceptance speech that inspired me.  This year I  recorded the broadcast, but I couldn’t bring myself to fast forward through any of the speeches because I kept thinking of last year and how if I had fast forwarded through the Best Original Score category, I would have missed something pretty great. 

Pretty great this year was when David Seidler won for Best Original Screenplay for The King’s Speech.  He’s an older gentleman and when he got to the stage he had to ask Josh Brolin where the microphone was.  And one of the first things he said was, “My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer.  I believe I am the oldest person to win this particular award.  I hope that record is broken quickly and often.”

He went on to mention his own struggle with a stammer.  I think I loved his speech even more than Tom Hooper’s when he thanked his mom for making The King’s Speech happen.

After I finished watching I thought for a moment about why I love awards shows so much.  I find myself smiling through most of the 3+ hours.  If you haven’t placed monetary bets on the winners, most people agree that these shows of excess and ego are boring.  So why do they leave me feeling so…good?  I mean, I even love the In Memorium segment–honoring deceased people I usually have never heard of.

If I’m really honest with myself, the reason I love these Hollywood awards shows is because I think I’ll be there one day.  I don’t particularly have a plan on how that will happen.  And I won’t be bitter or resentful if it doesn’t happen.  I don’t want to live a life of excess or ego or celebrity, but I do want to live a creative life and a passionate life.  So, you know.  Why not.

Impending lay off and it feels so good. Impending lay off like we knew we would.

More and more lay offs have begun taking effect at my workplace.  My own release date is still a few weeks off.  But the goodbye hugs and the “Nice working with you”s have made it all more real.

Made me think of that movie from last year, Up in the Air, with George Clooney.  I saw it in the theater by myself and I snuck in a calzone.  Made me think of one scene in particular, the one when Anna Kendrick’s character fires her first man using the remote system she pioneered.  Kendrick tells him over a computer webcam that he’s been fired.  And the look on his face.  That man’s performance affected me more than the film as a whole.

But I couldn’t find it!  So here’s something else from it:

“Anybody who ever built an empire or changed the world sat where you are right now.  And it’s because they sat there that they were able to do it.  That’s the truth.”

That “truth” makes me feel equal parts suspicious and inspired.  Because of course it’s not as simple as that.  Being laid off alone doesn’t automatically give you the tools or opportunity to change the world or build an empire.  But I do think it can get the fire in your belly burning enough for you to make steps in that direction. 

If, of course, you can find the means to feed and shelter yourself and survive while heading in that direction.  If you’re George Clooney?  No problem.  If you’re anybody else…

Four weddings and a quote about a funeral

It’s been an epic Labor Day weekend. Wedding Four of the summer was attended, thus concluding the Summer of Four Weddings.

From all this exposure to vows and receptions and DJs, I’ve concluded that I have no idea what kind of wedding I myself would have were I to have one. Unlike Jennifer Lopez in 2001’s The Wedding Planner, I didn’t spend my every waking moment as a child planning how I would get hitched to Matthew McConaughey. (I think it involved a Breyer horse ridden to a chapel and then a tiny woman being carried over the threshold of a doll house.)

In the lead up to Wedding Four, by accident or perhaps by no accident at all, I happened to be reading Dan Savage’s book about gay marriage and the overall institution of marriage, The Commitment. I initially picked it up because I was looking for inspiration to continue with my own book-writing, and I’ve always appreciated the no-nonsense style of Savage’s advice column. The subject matter of Savage’s book, as summed up in the subtitle, was a draw, too: “Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family.”

I didn’t know it for a while, but I’m a romantic. I eschewed serious romantic relationships for a long time, instead getting a sad vicarious fix from romantic comedies like, yeah, The Wedding Planner. I’ve since taken a long, hard look at myself and my fears and exactly what was prompting my plan to turn into a lonely reclusive cat woman and thankfully, I no longer have much use for Matthew McConaughey. (Note: I still plan to be a semi-reclusive cat woman, I’ve just nixed the lonely part.)

Back to Dan Savage. A signature viewpoint of his that he brings up in his column, podcast, and in this book, is that a relationship doesn’t need to necessary last for years and years for it to be deemed a success. Therefore, even if a marriage ends in painful divorce, it shouldn’t automatically be categorized as a failure. Likewise, he says it’s too bad that marriages are only deemed a success when “death do us part.”

Toward the end of one chapter, Savage shares a short excerpt from Ovid’s Metamorphoses about a couple who helps traveling-in-disguise gods Jupiter and Mercury. The couple is hospitable and in return they receive a favor. They redeem it by asking that neither of them outlive the other: “Since we have spent our happy years together, / May one hour take us both away.”

Savage writes, “That’s how I want to go–with Terry, not before him, neither of us outliving the other. Death is a perverse measure of success, as I said, and I don’t believe that someone has to die in order for a relationship to be considered a success. But I live in hope that when our time comes, after many more happy years together, we’re both taken to Maloney’s [Funeral Home] on the same day, at the same hour.”

You know that’s some serious romance because not only did Ovid write about it, but so did Nicholas effin’ Sparks in his book turned movie The Notebook. (Spoiler Alert:) James Garner and Gena Rowlands dead and HOLDING HANDS in a nursing home bed together–that scene alone provided months of vicarious romantic satisfaction.

Hmm. What’s my point. Weddings. Love. Family. If I’ve learned one thing this summer, it’s that I’m pro those things. Maybe not holding one of my own, but I’m at least pro attending weddings. And I’m pro family. They’re good fodder for books. And love! I’m so pro love that I leave you with a compilation of all four of the first dance songs I’ve experienced this summer in chronological wedding order:

A video that mistakes Fred Astaire for Frank Sinatra at one point:

Lyrics that truly encapsulate love: “Cause every time I see your bubbly face, / I get the tingles in a silly place”:

A video tribute to Carrie Underwood that features a country song, but not one of her own:

And finally, a wonderfully bizarre mix of random images paired with movie stills and posters from Titanic and Moulin Rouge:

American-ness

There’s a tunnel in the subway system that goes between 7th and 8th Avenues at Times Square and I have to walk it all the time.   It’s hot down there and there’s a lot of people handing out religious pamphlets.  And all along the wall of the tunnel are advertisements.  I don’t understand why really, but the same ads get repeated lots of times.  If you walk through the tunnel right now you see this advertisement about 10 times–

And y0u also see this advertisement an equal number of times–

And it’s hard because there’s nothing else to look at in the tunnel really, so you sort have no choice but to look at the ads for “The American” and American Apparel.  And then I got to thinking that by placing so many of these ads next to each other, a sort of dialogue on American-ness has been created.  The Clooney ad puts it right out there: “George Clooney is ‘The American'”.  In other words, when you look at this ad, he is the representation of all things American and man.  And then you look at the American Apparel ad and it’s this young woman and when you look there, she acts as a representation of all things American and woman.  

I don’t have the energy to make a conclusion about all this right now except to say, there’s a buttload of advertisements in New York.  And sometimes it bums me out.  Because you can’t avoid it!  And advertising people are paid to put ideas into our head about how we spend our money and I think they even put ideas into our head about other things–like what it means to be an American.  And what it means to be a man or a woman.  Or they play into what they think we think it means to be an American, etc. 

On the upside: “American Apparel faces bankruptcy as store chain unravels.”

Happy ‘4th of July’, indeed!

There’s a tab at the top of my browser that’s a shortcut for adding a new post on this here blog, and I’m happy to announce that this very post is the inaugural post for which I’ve used that shortcut.  Here’s to many more clicks on the shortcut and in turn many more posts.

In the past year or so I’ve realized my intense love for all things “road”.  I love road movies.  Road books.  Songs about the road.  There was a “This American Life” episode that reaired a few weeks ago, #102–entitled “Roadtrip!”  Ira Glass says at the beginning, after listing a slew of road movies and other road-related pieces of culture, “It is hard for an American to just hit the road without some expectations.”  I’ve experienced this.  I was even asked at one point in the trip, “What?  Did you think it would be like a movie?”  Still, I retain idyllic ideas about the road.  It calls to me.  It inspires me.  It even softens me toward cars–because that’s how I picture myself traveling on the road.  In a car.  Even better, though, are road-related things that involve the most inspiring, the most exciting and perfect form of transportation I can think of–the RV. 

The closest I’ve ever come to experiencing an RV was a rundown camper that was attached to the back of my grandfather’s truck when I was a child.  I heard stories about my parents taking it camping when my oldest brother was a newborn.  By the time I was born, though, everyone had stopped using the old camper.  The family had graduated to something much less exciting and mobile–a tent.  In our town there was a RV dealership that intrigued me and mocked me each time we passed it in the minivan to and from a trip to the grocery store or dance class or most frequently, the dump.  I remember the feeling of complete awe when I realized what those two letters stood for–Recreational Vehicle.  Wow.  A vehicle whose sole purpose is recreation.  On camping trips I’d stare longingly at the RVs.  I’d watch them pull up to the station where they unloaded their sewage.  Even that seemed romantic. 

My favorite part about stranger’s RVs, though, was when they had maps decorating the side.  These maps were the coolest idea in the history of everything because the owners of the RV could attach little magnets in the shape of US states to mark where they’d traveled.  Specifically, where they’d traveled in their RV.  It was like the maps inside of tourist destinations that visitors put colorful thumbtacks in to signify wherever they came from.  Oh, the status of being the visitor to put a thumbtack on some far-off locale–Nepal, Portugal, Madagascar.  What are Nepalese/Portuguese/Madagascarean tourists doing at this ice cream stand on Route 28 in Hyannis, Massachusetts?   

I digress.  Point is, I badly want to travel around in a “dusty old RV.”  I want to “ride shotgun from town to town.”  I want a man as my RV companion who hasn’t shaved in days and is starting to smell.  But it won’t matter because we’ve still got half a tank of gas, a bag of chips in between our seats, and we’re singing along with the radio and “staking a claim on the world we found.”  Basically I want something exactly like this Shooter Jennings song, aptly entitled “4th of July”–