Monday, November 28, 2005

My new Friendster profile.

Hee. I like it.

A child in a store, as I walk by, will grab at his mother's pant leg and then whisper to her that I walk funny. Sometimes I clarify the situation, and sometimes I don't. But, here, I'll tell you that I was born different. I walk funny. Not just the post-fucked walking funny, either. I have an uneven gait that the corrective surgeries didn't fix. So, because of that, I adjusted to the fact that not everyone was gonna be keen on what I had to offer. Except maybe fetish-ists. My odd walk, incidentally, is not severe. I'm just saying it first here so that, well, we're all on the same footing. Because of the disability, I've seen little use in attending a gym. Sure, it would help my health, and that's the upbeat, admirable motivation I suppose I should have - yet I don't think most people go to the gym for upbeat, admirable reasons. Because of the disability, as well, I built up my personality. I'm funny. I'm smart. I'm a chatter. I can talk art, movies and music. I like to argue. I'm good to have on a trivia team. I write essays about my big, funny upbringing and my big, funny outlook. My essays are good. No lie. I try not to be sunny. I try to be open and honest. I don't trust happy people because I think they're either up to something or drinking the Jim Jones Kool-Aid. I used to wonder if I was dating weirdos just so that I'd have good anecdotes to share at parties. My friends tell me that I can do better at my jobs, in my relationships and in how I manage my life than I do, but many successful people I know still buy self-help books, which leads me to think that maybe we all are seeking some idealized version of how we want life to be and that maybe we aren't supposed to stop. I try too hard to get people to like me, even assholes that I shouldn't care about who I know deep down aren't worth my time. Haven't we all? I practice my Oscar speech, just in case. I was once asked how I can be arrogant yet have self-esteem issues. I don't fit in. I stand out.

Notes on something I might write.

* Are you who you say you are?
* Do you compromise what you want more than you should?
* Do you hold grudges?
* Do you take risks?
* Are you happy?
* Are you genuine?
* How much do you lie to others?
* How much do you lie to yourself?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Things to do at Thanksgiving's end.

- Nicole Richie is coming to my bookstore, the Barnes & Noble in Buckhead, on Monday to sign her new book, THE TRUTH ABOUT DIAMONDS. My friends and I are intended to go and worship at her altar. Additionally, we intend to keep an eye on the snack table to see if she swipes anything.
- Currently, a group of my friends is waiting on me in the other room to carve the turkey for A Very Kacoon Thanksgiving, but, for some reason, I thought I shouldn't break the tradition of posting a "Things to Do ..." list, however abbreviated it may be, again this week.

- Saw RENT last night, and, sorry, but I walked out of it. It works as a stage show, not as a movie, kind of like THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA last year. I felt sorry for Idina Menzel and the unfortunate shot composition used in her cow-suckling scene. Menzel deserves better.
- I also saw at the movies, because I wanted to leave my mom's house after my stepdad announced to me that he was a proud racist, THE ICE HARVEST and HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE on IMAX. The HARRY POTTER movie was great, but THE ICE HARVEST felt like a retread of better-done noir comedies that I've seen before.
- Anyway, people are here. So I have to go. The question of the week: How was your Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Two thumbs up Oprah.

This news, from OPRAH this week, is too funny to me. Lucky for all of us, they didn't get married.

I mean, picture it, Oprah and Roger Ebert holding hands. Oprah and Roger Ebert sharing popcorn. Oprah and Roger Ebert having hamburgers. Now, Oprah and Roger Ebert making out. Oprah and Roger Ebert having sex.

It's creepier than thinking about your parents doing it.

Things to do with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

- HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, which has received excellent reviews, is the movie to beat at the box office this weekend, and I will, of course, be among the many who head to the cinema to catch it. In this one, if you haven't read it, Harry gets enlisted into this magical Olympics-type event called the Triwizard Tournament, and things get really, really dangerous and really, really scary for him. This book, for awhile, had the best ending of all the books. But then, of course, the sixth book came out this summer, and its ending is jaw-dropping amazing. Anyway, yeah, so go see HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Because you were probably going to already.
- As expected, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion won the National Book Award for nonfiction this week. The fiction prize went to William T. Vollman's EUROPE CENTRAL, a gigantic, footnoted novel about Europe during World War II. I've never even heard of EUROPE CENTRAL, though I suppose I should've looked into it when it was nominated. It's just that I thought E.L. Doctorow's THE MARCH was going to win, even though I've not read THE MARCH either. (THE MARCH is, of all things, about Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War, and the Southerner in me just can't read something like that.)

- There's a new Robert Sabuda pop-up book out called WINTER'S TALE. That should be all you need to know about the book before running out and buying it, for Sabuda is an unparalleled genius when it comes to pop-up books. If you've never seen his WIZARD OF OZ, then you're in for a treat. Sabuda books are good gifts for kids, but they're best for adults who recognize the skill involved in art this glorious. These are the sort of pop-ups you dreamed of having as a child.

- WALK THE LINE, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, also comes out today, and, though it's likely not as good as RAY, any Johnny Cash biopic is bound to be interesting, for Cash was an amazing musician and damn interesting guy. Personally, I've found Joaquin Phoenix, as an adult, to be a bit creepy. Even his work in TO DIE FOR, a movie I loved, is just a little creepy. And in interviews, he's hella creepy. I liked him better as Leaf Phoenix in PARENTHOOD.

- BEE SEASON, which has been getting excellent reviews and strong notices for Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche and newcomer Flora Cross, opens this week at the Landmark. From what I've heard, this story of a girl unnoticed by her family until she shows a talent for spelling - perhaps tapped into Jewish mysticism - is one of the best films of the year, though I've not seen it yet. What I've read of the Myla Goldberg book it's based on, though, is excellent.
- The Thrashers game I went to this week was fun. Seriously, I need to go to another Thrashers game.

- I still haven't made it to the High Museum to see the new exhibition space, even though my brother was the project manager for the concrete company who helped lay the foundation on the expansion. The new galleries apparently show the permanent collection in an entirely new light. I really, really want to see this, and I want to see this soon.
- Kacoon and I have been speaking, and our third "Very Kacoon Thanksgiving" in four years is set for Friday. I love Thanksgiving. I'm breaking out my recipe for sweet potato souffle.
- Finally, after going shopping last weekend and getting lectured this week on my lack of professional focus, I proudly wore a whole bunch of new clothes several days this week. The impact new clothes always have on my mood and attitude is profound and surprises me. (Of course, usually, I don't have time or inclination to do laundry, and I can't afford dry cleaning. And I usually fall into bad habits, so I only end up dressing well on special occasions.) Still, I'm going to try, once again, to develop a favorite, feel-good outfit. This week's question: So what's your favorite outfit to wear? How does it make you feel when you wear it? And why do you love it?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ease on down, ease on down the ice.

Last night, my friend Steven and I attended a Thrashers game at Philips Arena. And we had fantastic seats, too. We were, like, 10 rows from the ice.

Still, neither one of us know much about hockey, and the Thrashers were behind almost from the beginning of the game.

Nonetheless, *I* knew that the best moment of the game was when the Islanders' goalie ended up hitting the ice face-first and his mask went skidding away. Hockey's at its best, for me, when there's blood on the ice.

Of course, Steven's favorite moment, which led to him saying the gayest thing EVER said during a hockey game, happened when the Thrashers scored a goal.

Whenever the Thrashers score a goal, you see, the giant bird's head atop the scoreboard opens its mouth and shoots out a stream of flames.

It looks a bit like this when it happens:

Anyway, Steven saw the flames shoot out from the giant bird's head and said, swear to God, "Oh wow, it's just like in THE WIZ!!!"

Not to be mean to Steven, but I don't think I've ever rolled my eyes more in my life.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Things to do when you hate to love Mr. Darcy.

- It fascinates me that the movie receiving the most praise from critics this week appears to be PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, based on the novel that most everyone's read at least once and already made into an instant classic miniseries. Still, the praise that's been heaped upon Keira Knightley for her performance as Elizabeth Bennet is difficult to ignore. And too much PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, to be fair, isn't exactly a bad thing.
- Sorry for the delay in posting this, but I just found out that one of my creative writings was accepted for presentation at the 2006 national conference of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association in April.

- Though the movie's gotten lukewarm reviews, I've been interested in seeing THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO for personal reasons, for my parents grew up in towns neighboring Defiance, Ohio, during the time this movie was set. In fact, Terry Ryan, the author of the book on which the movie was based, went to the same college as my parents, graduating a couple years ahead of them. (The movie, incidentally, was filmed on location in Defiance.) Now, my parents didn't know Evelyn Ryan and my grandparents probably didn't know her either, but this movie, starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, gives me a chance to see a glimpse of what it might've been like for my parents as kids, who traveled the same roads as the Ryans and looked at the same billboards and probably attended the same movie theaters, for Defiance was the go-to hangout town for my parents.

- The one thing that would get me to the Out on Film Festival, which begins tonight, is that the fest is opening with TRANSAMERICA, a new film starring DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES' Felicity Huffman. In it, Huffman plays Bree, a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual, who discovers that, years before, she fathered a son, who now needs her help. There's been strong, strong Oscar buzz for Huffman.

- I saw THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, which stars Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, earlier this week at the Tara, and it was a very good movie about two writers who get divorced in the 1980s and the odd impact it has on their two sons. Daniels is brilliant in the movie as an arrogant author past his glory days who, when his marriage ends, sees himself as the victim in the situation and declares a passive-agressive war on his ex-wife. Linney, as usual, is good. Though the movie didn't completely bowl me over, it contains strong performances and good writing. I recommend it.

- I mentioned THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING a couple weeks ago on this blog, but I didn't pick up Joan Didion's grief memoir until this week. From what I've read of it, the book is a great, powerful work about how the author coped with several shocks that blindsided her: the sudden death of her husband John Gregory Dunne, her daughter slipping into a coma due to what seemed like a minor illness and other things. The book reads with an urgency, for you sense what Didion was feeling in startling moments when her life changed. Even though the subject matter is notably bleak, how she addresses these changes is affirming. It's fantastic.
- I'm a little behind on my moviegoing, and I should really catch up with stuff. I've still not seen NORTH COUNTRY, JARHEAD, WALLACE AND GROMIT, CHICKEN LITTLE or a dozen others.
- It's a couple weeks until BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN hits theaters, though the early buzz is that the movie is a masterpiece. The soundtrack, though, is in stores already, and it features an eclectic, strong mix of country legends and modern folk artists. Willie Nelson sings a Bob Dylan song. Rufus Wainwright duets with someone on "King of the Road." And the brilliant, always welcome Emmylou Harris appears on several songs. I'm guessing that this soundtrack, perhaps moreso than the ones for RENT and THE PRODUCERS, will be getting Oscar nominations.
- This week, I discovered that, in 2002, a friend of mine was able to lose 90 pounds. Since I'd met him after 2002, I just assumed that he'd always been fit, and the revelation actually surprised me a little bit. He said that the trick was that you just had to find the right motivation to get started, the right goal to inspire you. Now, that I'd heard before, but my motivated friend then put it in a different light. He told me that what drives you can be petty, selfish, greedy or superficial, just so long as it gets you started. Instead of losing weight for health reasons, he told me he did it primarily because he wanted to get laid more. So I'm trying to come up with something that'll motivate me to do any one of the number of things that I keep saying I should do. (I'm talking more than just weight loss, here.) What petty, small, superficial thing have you found to move you? Do you have any reasons you don't say out loud for sticking with good behavior? What's the silliest, most selfish reason you've ever had for doing the right thing?

Monday, November 07, 2005

I dream of Goonie.

Last night, for some reason, I dreamed that I was shopping alongside Martha Plimpton in a grocery store, and we were discussing my career as a child actor. For some reason, I was convinced, in my dream, that I played Kenny Rogers' son in SIX PACK - a film that really was filmed in my hometown - but that my work was overshadowed by the larger role portrayed by Diane Lane in that movie.

As a result, I told Martha that I'd never been up for a part in THE GOONIES but that I appreciated her work in the film.

So then Martha Plimpton, as we passed by the lobster tank in the grocery store, told me that I probably could have used a stronger agent for child actors post-SIX PACK (which -- I repeat -- I was not actually in, but, in my dream logic, I'd played a part in SIX PACK).

Martha Plimpton said I could've played the Sean Astin part in GOONIES.

And I said to her, "Yeah, and I could've been a hobbit, too."

For some reason, I was flirting with Martha Plimpton in my dream, which is why this may have been the strangest dream ever. I mean, honestly, why would I flirt with a) a girl; and b) Martha Plimpton?

Then, she and her small, blond son (whom I don't know actually exists) took me to this large mansion, presumably Martha Plimpton's (though I doubt she lives in a mansion, unless she's got some PARENTHOOD royalties).

So then I told Martha Plimpton that I had an idea for a kid's movie where a child's mother would be transformed into a fire-breathing dragon.

And then, in my dream, Martha Plimpton literally turned into a giant fire-breathing dragon, except her skin wasn't reptilian. It felt like a Nerf ball, actually. Martha Plimpton was a very pretty dragon in my dream.

But the Martha Plimpton dragon kept growing and growing, and eventually her son, the dragon and I were getting crushed against the walls of her mansion (which looked like the mansion in the TOMB RAIDER movies, actually).

So then Martha Plimpton, as a dragon, asked me what was supposed to happen next in the movie. And I told her that the little boy and I were supposed to grab onto her neck, and she was supposed to crash through the roof of the mansion.

So I wrapped my arms around Martha Plimpton's dragon neck, and her son did the same. Then, Martha Plimpton blew fire breath toward the roof of her mansion, and it exploded. And the Martha Plimpton dragon flew through the roof of the house.

Then, my alarm clock went off. And I hit the snooze button and thought more about Martha Plimpton.

And I ended up in a variation on my same dream, except now Martha Plimpton wasn't a dragon. And she and I were alone in her mansion (which now had a roof on it), and we were discussing George Plimpton, who I thought might be her uncle. (In reality, he's not. Turns out Martha's a Carradine.)

Then, for some reason, we re-enacted what would be an interview between George Plimpton and Truman Capote. Except Martha was dressed in drag in a dark suit as George Plimpton, and I was dressed like Truman Capote. The backdrop at the television studio where we conducted the interview was very, very '60s.

And then my alarm clock went off again, and I woke up.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Things to do if you're writing and writing.

- November, as some of you may already have heard, is National Novel Writing Month, and I've signed up to join in on the challenge, though I doubt I'll actually finish 50,000 words -- roughly a 175-page tome -- by November 30. Still, it gets me working. Flannery O'Connor, my latest heroine and a damn good short story writer, apparently wrote and revised her stories all the time, and she didn't give up or let criticism get her down too much. I spoke to my writing prof Sarah, and I'll be back in class on Monday. I'm trying not to get too discouraged. Sarah told me that, as time passes, I should develop a thicker skin when it comes to my writing. She also told me that I just don't trust that this is all going to work out for me, that I have the talent and that I have the ambition. She said I need to have faith in myself.
- If you need advice on the novel you're writing, THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, the classic, essential guide to writing and grammar by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, has just been re-released in a beautiful, illustrated, hardcover edition that keeps all the useful information you'll need. The paperback is still available, if you just want the writing advice, but the pictures by The New Yorker's illustrator Maira Kalman in this new book are really pretty.

- Speaking of things that are really pretty, Jake Gyllenhaal looks really, really good in the new Sam Mendes movie JARHEAD, which gives a soldier's perspective on Operation: Desert Storm. The movie also has Peter Sarsgaard and Jamie Foxx in it, and it could be good. But, um, I've known I was going to see this movie from the moment the trailer showed Jake Gyllenhaal shirtless, wearing a Santa's cap and holding an M-16.
- I worked with Shalewa earlier this week, and she recommended THE MOUSE AND THE MASK by Danger Doom to me. Since it looked like a Gorillaz-flavored rap album, I gave it a listen, and Shalewa, as usual, was right. If you like Danger Mouse or any rock-meets-cartoon creation, give this a listen.

- Amazon's offering some really good DVD box sets at incredibly low prices for a limited time. Of all the ones listed, the two sets I found most appealing were the first seasons of NIP/TUCK and THE WEST WING for under $20. I thought I'd pass the deal along.

- FORTY SHADES OF BLUE, featuring an award-winning performance from Rip Torn (of all people), opens at the Landmark this weekend. The movie won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. SEPARATE LIES, featuring Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson, is also playing at the theater. Of course, the most controversial movie opening at the Landmark this weekend is WHERE THE TRUTH LIES, which battled the MPAA earlier this year over an NC-17 rating. The movie's being released without a rating, for director Atom Egoyan didn't want to remove the pivotal three-way sex scene featuring Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth.

- CHICKEN LITTLE's going to be playing in some Disney Digital 3-D production up at the Mall of Georgia, possibly on the IMAX screen, so I'm going to head there to see it. I love that, despite the fact that I fled Buford, I have to go back there sometimes to see movies in their ideal projection.
- Thinking over books to recommend a teenager this week, I decided to recommend J.D. Salinger's THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, the old standby, and Stephen Chbosky's THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, which is a really good coming-of-age novel that was published by MTV Books a couple years ago. If you've not read THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, you really ought to pick it up. Jenipher showed me this week that it's on several school banned-book lists nowadays, and that usually means that a book is worth reading. Have you ever rebelled and read something you weren't supposed to? What's your favorite banned book? If it were up to you, what book would you have banned?