Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yes, it's been awhile, and so much has happened.......

I realized I needed to blog or I was going to burst a blood vessel in my head. And whatever moon I was under that had me needing space from everyone I knew, even more so from people who neeeeeeeeded me, seems to have passed.

SO here I am.

And I could jump in and start telling stories, but I'm not really sure where to begin. To summarize briefly: I'm okay. I'm doing well. I have a job. Things are starting to shape up into the semblence of a "life" versus "chaos" ; a bit of well-deserved stillness versus living drama to drama that seemed to be the case before. That's nice. Angel is well. We have a bit of money now to occasionally indulge in some pampering, and it has made things more enjoyable and peaceful. On the down side, still no Good Boyfriend Material around; that makes me sad and lonely. My boss is a control freak who doesn't want to take responsibility for any conflict, and the constant meaningless critiscism is like being pecked at by ducks all the time, but I like everyone else. what I do is relatively simple,and the perks and the hours, are beyond swell, so I try to cope. Still, my health is generally good, meds are stable, therapist has turned out to be a great blessing.There were some pretty surreal and intense peaks in there: my dental health is in the toilet, and I'm sure you'll be hearing alot about the adventure as it continues. Jeannie and Joannie were staying with me; she's trying to leave Irv, who has escalated in his abuse. My good pal John up and flipped it and put all of us through some scary shit and abandonded all his friends as well as his relative sanity. I'll try to update you about all that, too, if for no other reason than the stories are high on the "truth is better than fiction" scale, and as a lot of my friends keep urging me to write a screenplay/book/ et al about mi vida loca, it might be good practice. (And cathartic. Which is part of the purpose of a blog anyway, isn't it?)

All in all, I'm doing good despite the stuff on my plate, and I feel relatively secure and *okay* for the first time in a long time. And that's really good. Hopefully this little hiatus has helped me to learn to focus on good more instead of making such a habit of bitching because it makes for a better blog. I don't really want this blog to be only THAT anymore. I'm smart enough- I can find another "voice" to speak in that has room for both sides of things, I think.

Anyway, I'll begin my updates by starting shallow, and get into deep later. I think I'll start here with this list:


1.) "Across The Universe", the Julie Taymor film.

No, it's not a musical. Really. Trust me, I know. I loathe musicals, as a general rule.
It's this beautiful, visually stunning use of Beatles songs to help embellish a simple but moving story, and it blows your mind. It's also more than just a long sequence of music videos with a weak thread running through them. It's more like a bit of a postmodern ( you know how I love that word, but it's accurate in this case) way of seeing those songs and that time through current, not nostalgic eyes. To elucidate that obtuse statement, the figures, characters and setting are finely sketched so as to be specific enough for people to really invest in the film as a narrative and for you to say, "oh, that song so fits that moment, and it's perfect for that person to be singing that song, how moving", AND yet that loose enough to serve as globally or vaguely noted pinpoints to the various in-jokes, references and layering of subtexts that are present.( In other words, it's a FILM, stupid. That happens to have music in it. NOT a musical, or a music VIDEO. It sounds like fine hairs to split, but I swear, they're not. The distinction makes all the difference in the world here. ) .
The postmodern part comes in when some of those global in-jokes and subtexts are things that we can only know AFTER the fact of Then , in the Now. To attempt to situate both the suspended reality of the story on top of the constant undercurrent of assuming the audience knows it's watching a film and using that device to both add to the suspension and also make a commentary on the settings and songs themselves is no mean feat! ( Yes, figuring all that out made my head hurt. Can you believe I used to function like this every DAY in college? Neither can I.) And works and its brilliant. Just fucking brilliant.

2.) "The Pick-Up Artist", its host and creator, Mystery, and sexual negotiations between men and women at the beginning of the 21st century.
I spend most of the summer driving my friends crazy with this VH1 reality show and all the complicated ideas/dillemmas it presented for my poor fragile feminist-yet-man-loving mind. I could not help but pontificate on, obsess over and discuss ad nauseum this show meant to shape up dateless, sexless dorks into, ahem "pick-up artists" ( not MY term, thank you), who could conceivably negotiate the social landscape of the club scene and learn to date successfully. After watching it a few times I realized I needed to get out of the house more and quit watching reality tv, because a.) it really did push every button I had, b.) it made me realize I don't really date, either, so was I a lame-o chump for sitting around watching tv about dating instead of doing it? and c.) getting philosophically riled was one thing, but getting so invested that I was becoming boring to my friends just pointed to my need to develop other hobbies.
In a nutshell, Mystery ( who, unfortunately, pushed my --long-ago installed-by-an-early-affection-for-80's-New-Wave-boys-- Attraction to Skinny, Goth Rock n' Roll Cowboy Men Button, which was distracting and irritating since I couldn't help but find him an astute if sexist genius of social interaction) has a very successful, very precise "method" for picking up girls. We're talking seminars, we're talking books, we're talking an NY Times article with a reporter going undercover and eventually writing a book about it ( more on that later), we're talking testimonials. And subsequently, lots of dollars.

Okay. So what, right? Guy wants to get laid, and who doesn't? Fine by me! Needs help? Dude, go for it. Kudos for you for being brave enough to admit when you don't know what to do.
EXCEPT ( and you knew this was coming, come on! I already told you it got me riled!):
this "method" makes certain assumptions about women that I cannot help but object to. It's subtle, and it goes by fast if you're not paying attention, these little skewed ideas about the fairer sex. And unfortunately, some of his observations ( like how women will want you more the less you pay attention to them; you need to "disqualify" yourself as a potential suitor by "negging" her- i.e., insulting her ever so slightly to show your disinterest) really burn my biscuit. I mean, I get it: it's all based on the very true but sad fact of women's self esteem in the dating realm, which is, essentially that Nice Sincere Boys end up in the dreaded "Let's Just Be Friends" pile while Exciting, Caddish Boys get their brains fucked out on a regular basis. But is it right to take advantage of that? I know we're not curing cancer here, but does this actually move society forward in any way, or does it just perpetuate the madness between the sexes on this playing field??? Is this about power or just being horny or...or...what??
It seems to me to simply work with what's there in a Naughty John Gray Men-Are-From-Mars, Et Al kind of way. Mr. Mystery prances around like he's this generation's Hugh Hefner, and frankly, I'd buy it. Hugh did start out just like M does- with pontifications about love and sex and men and women that really wanted to shake up the status quo ( he really did; go look it up!!) and push the paradigm of sex and relationships forward. Hef pretty much just ended up about airbrushed booty and nookie in The Grotto. Needless to say, you can imagine where this show and book and attendant seminars appear to be ending up. ( See Neil Strauss' The Game

for further elucidation on that fact). Not there's anything wrong with either nice booty or some fine nookie ( certainly not from MY perspective, wink wink, nudge nudge.....), and no one would ever call me a prude or a moralist ( that I'm aware of, anyway!!!) about sex or anything thusly related. But um, hey, dude? You're 35 years old. Hugh is 78. Let's face it, boys, the other 10% of life you're not thinking about/participating in/trying to get some sex is about more than dipping your wick, otherwise, what have you got to show for it? Illegitemate kids and gonnorhea? I'm just sayin'......and sayin'...and sayin'.....til I can't shut up about it.

3.) Maroon 5's latest video for their single "Wake Up Call"

Okay, now everybody knows I love me some Maroon 5. How can I help it? Part of it is me holding on to the last vestiges of street cred that my 38-old-self can muster, the "I Liked Them Before They Were Famous" status that somehow means I had my ear to the ground and the pulse of pop music under my fingertips. ( Actually I just had two free tickets to see Nikka Costa- who also isn't famous enough YET and who rocks!- and they were the Nobodies Living Out of a Cheapo Van Opening Act. Still, I was won over. They were just really compelling. Needing a hot shower, but completely compelling.). Part of it is that I'm always a sucker for a catchy well-crafted pop song, and they have them in spades. It's not an Elvis Costello level of genius or anything, but damn. They're tight.

Anyhoo, they have THE most clever video for this song of theirs, nothing like I've ever seen before. It's basically set up to be a trailer for a (nonexistent) movie in which the storyline of the song plays out ( "wake up call/caught you in the morning with another man in my bed/don't you care about me anymore?/care about me- I don't think so./six-foot tall, came without a warning/so I had to shoot him dead/he won't come around here anymore/come around here- I don't feel so bad/I don't feel so bad." A decent plot to start with, I'd say.... ). It has the fly-by green ratings screen in the beginning, the credits screen at the end, and the most inflammatory, sexy, violent shots interspersed in quick succession ( like most trailers) while occasional lyrics pop up like tag words, and band members get "starring ___________" billing."

**( A heads-up: unfortunately, this clip and the subsequent others have brief but annoting commercials before the actual content. Hang in for the selected video. Sorry.)**

I know it sounds like just a snarky-smart trip, but it actually works : when you think about it, most bands would be content to just have a plain old video full of babes and tough-guy posturing following the narrative of the song. Isn't that what hip-hop is all about (okay, now I'm being snarky. But if I see one more goddamned video of gyrating, oil-slicked, Cristal-drenched women while the nappy, ugly, toothless-except-for-my-grill rapper goes on and on about his bitches and hos and neck full of glow, I may retch. It's tired, people! T-I-R-E-D!) ? Instead, Jonas Akurland saw a way to put all that selling-point stuff in it and still make it a smart, funny, titallating video that has actual artistry to it. Kudos to him and Maroon 5 for not giving in to the temptation of playing Big Rock Stars with a Cooler-Than-Cool video and ending up with one anyway.

4.) Kristen Wiig, "SNL"'s newest funny lady.

Oh. My. God, this woman is funny. And what's so unbelievably great about her is that she has this kind of maniacal committment to the moment in whatever she's doing that makes you think she's either going crack like a walnut or she's got the concentration of a lama. Not only is she fearless like Gilda Radner and adorably sarcastic like Amy Poehler, she's got a coeterie of characters up her sleeve already that make your drink shoot out your nose with laughter. It's like she lives in her own little world where she makes all of it real: the crazy midwestern bitter aunt giving worthless movie reviews, the dead-on Jessica Simpson impression,

and my personal favorite, the dim, spoiled, bored and oblivious rich snot girlfriend chomping gum and demanding ridiculous services from public employees.

And in making it real for herself, it's so-real-it's-scary for the viewer, which makes for some hysterical moments. I assure you, she is not to be missed.

5.) Looney Toons DVD Box Sets / Old Eddie Murphy stand-up routines

The former started about last Christmas when I noticed the box sets. I have always, always, always been completely enamoured of old Warner Bros cartoons, and in the last few years, been longing desperately to watch them again. ( I've also been longing desperately to watch all the old "Sesame Street" episodes from the early-to-mid 70's; remember "Kermit the Frog heeeere, reporting"? The goofy pink furry aliens who stumble upon a telephone and then stand there and mimic it: "brrrrrrrring! brrrrrinnnng!" ? Then "Yup, yup, yup, yup", they confirm to each other? Oh my god! Classic stuff! I can't find it anywhere. If you see it, let me know, okay????) I can't say exactly what piqued my fixation, except that for some reason, Jeannie and I got on some tangent where we'd constantly quote this old Bugs Bunny bit where he's hypnotized into chanting, "My name is Elmer J. Fudd. I own a mansion and a yacht." Then when B and I travelling together we got on this thing where we kept doing this old Bugs thing, "Siiiiingin' in the bathtub, la dee dah dee dah...." ( Okay, you had to be there for both of them, I admit.....). Anyhoo, R had one of the box sets laying about ( he gets these things for free from time to time, the lucky bastard) and as soon as I found out, I HAD TO HAVE IT. (Like I was calling him all the time: "Did you send Looney Toons? " ) Finally I got them and of course, hilarity ensued. As well it should when a big red monster is getting a manicure ( jog your memory. You know you know what I'm talking about. ) .
As for Mr. Murphy, Kit and I were up late hanging out one night and stumbled onto "Raw" being aired on Bravo. Of course it was bleeped to high heaven, but it made me laugh like I haven't laughed in a looooooong time. I'd forgotten, in the wake of his current pablum career choices, how bleeping funny he was Back In The Day. And so, facing endless rounds of dental work , I went looking for amusing things to keep me occuppied while I was trapped in the house eating pudding and strung out on drugs. R once again came through ( where does he FIND these things???) and soon I was doubled over with laughter at Eddie's impression of his drunk dad doing Motown, only with the incorrect words. ( Singing, to his wife, who keeps trying to get out of the house til he sobers up): "I know you wanna leave me. But I REFUSE to let you go. If I have to beg, and plead to the SYMPHONY.....!!!!" Then Eddie calls after getting into a fight at a club, and instead of getting his sympathetic mom on the phone, he gets dad on a tear. He refuses to tell dad what happened, and this is what he gets:" Eddie, what happened. Don't tell me nothing. What happened. Don't tell me nothing. Eddie, tell me... you got in a fight? What did you do? Don't tell me nothing. What did you do? I SAID, don't tell me nothing! (Singing): "Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. You gotta have something, if you got punched in the mouth"!"
Stand-up doesn't translate on to the page well, so I encourage you to go watch it yourself. The material itself and his exceptional delivery still does translate well, 20 years later.

That's how I've been keeping myself amused these days, and sane, in the midst of a bustling life and some tangential drama. I can't complain TOO much- god knows it's a big improvement over last year! And you'll hear all about it, in the weeks to come, so thanks for your patience during my short hiatus, and stay tuned! Til then, peace out.....