Sunday, July 30, 2006

Buckeye statement.

I went with my mother to Ohio this weekend.

Ohio's not that interesting, and, when I'm there, neither am I.

I beat my grandpa at checkers, which was impossible to do before he had a series of strokes. He's not so much himself anymore, which bums me out because he's always been a stubborn, mean, condescending, take-no-prisoners prankster. The way he'd teach you how to play a game was simple. He'd beat the hell out of you every game and badmouth you to your face until, years later, you caught on and didn't take every defeat so damn personally. (Of course, should you beat him at a game, he'd take it hard, which was fun in its own way. But he rarely lost.)

My mom used her "They may die before we're here again!" tactic for getting family members to visit elderly friends in her hometown, but I was largely immune to most of her guilt trips this time. I mean, any time you see someone, it could be the last time you see them, so you shouldn't plan your trips around potential mortality. And how rude would it be if my mom's friends knew that was why she came calling?

"Hi Doris, it's so nice to see you ... ALIVE," my mom should say.

On the first night of the visit to my mom's hometown of Paulding, which she says is the site of "a famous crop circle," I retreated with my cousin Holly and her husband to this trashy dive bar we've discovered in town. We stayed there until 1:30 a.m. playing bad songs on the jukebox ("Look, it's Nelson!") and talking about how good our relatives have become at fake-smiling and pretending to be happy.

I spent much time reading my book while aunts and uncles circled around me, talking nonsense. I had a really good conversation with a favorite uncle about playing Sudoku.

I barely had a moment alone with my mother, which upset me a bit, for this was the first year in a long time where we travelled someplace alone. (My brother's wife is giving birth in two weeks, so they couldn't come with us. And they couldn't do their usual schtick of smuggling their small dog on the plane.)

On the flight home, my mom ended up in a conversation with the woman sitting next to us on the plane. She talked to that woman more than she talked to me the entire trip. I listened some, getting jealous, for it was that stranger who got to hear how my mother really felt about watching her father's health get worse. It was that stranger who got to hear how genuinely excited she was about the new baby coming. It was that stranger who got to hear about how I was, in my mother's words, "an eccentric" who writes funny essays about Waffle House and read them at pop culture conferences.

The strange lady was equally as confessional to my mom. They talked the whole flight about how her 18-year-old daughter's car was hit by a drunk driver. The stranger was also in Ohio visiting her sick father. Her 15-year-old son, apparently, has been experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

I became involved in the conversation only after the woman asked my mom if she'd ever tried marijuana. Mom said no. She said she'd been around some people using it at parties a couple times, but she had never indulged.

So, because I enjoyed being included in their conversation after hearing it for an hour while trying to read, I told this strange woman and my mother the truth about my experience with the demon weed.

"I have several friends who do it, but I never have," I said. "One of my friends said that it would probably go badly for me, for I'm already a complete paranoid, so he told me never to do it outside of an extremely controlled environment."

My mom laughed. The stranger first wanted to know why I was a paranoid eccentric, and I wasn't able to answer her.

Then, she asked me, "Do I see a wedding ring?"

"No, I'm gay," I said quickly. (I already knew that this woman had gay friends and worked at Starbucks, based on what she'd told my mother.)

I don't think my mom even flinched, though that's the first time I've just told some stranger in front of her. For once, I wasn't trying to push my mom's buttons. I was just answering the woman's question. "Gay" speaks more volumes than "eccentric," I thought.

"Do you have a partner or boyfriend?" the woman asked.

"Nope," I said, "I've not had any luck there."

At this, my mom piped up and said, like she was bragging, "Benjie went to his best friend's wedding a couple weeks ago in Massachusetts. His name's Lupo, and he's a film professor. He's really nice. And his partner - or husband - got a master's degree in furniture design from SCAD."

This tickled me. My mom uses people as status symbols. Marriages, salaries and grandchildren are her conversational currency, and I've provided her with none of these so far. The fact that I'm single, poor and childless doesn't make her look good in conversations with strangers. If I don't have a girlfriend for her to brag about, my mom will apparently brag about any boyfriend I might have. And if I don't have a boyfriend or husband for her to brag about, she'll apparently brag about the fact that I'm close to people who do have boyfriends or husbands, as if the accomplishment were somehow also mine by proximity.

I called up Lupo after the flight and told him that he was my mom's favorite.

The more I think about the flight home, I'm less jealous about the time that stranger spent befriending my mother. After all, my mother broke the magic of their mutual confessions almost immediately after we left the plane.

"I think that lady was drunk!" my mom whispered to me.

I replied, "Well, if everything she said about her family was true, I don't blame her."

The moment couldn't last, I guess. At least my mother was open to someone about her real feelings on the trip. About her family. About me. And I got to feel close to her, by proximity.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I found these letters among my old files. I wrote this after visiting this place called the Parliament House in Augusta. They're long and sorta explicit, but I thought you guys might find them amusing.


August 3,1999

To David, whom I will likely never see again,

I wanted to thank you for considering me atypical.

When you told me Saturday that I wasn't the sort to come to the motel, it
was exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to hear. My entire lousy week was
made better by your kisses, which were sorely needed. The oddity that
surrounded us had bothered me until I spoke to you.

You helped me understand the motel, not the sort of place I was expecting to
find ten minutes from home, and you helped me understand myself a little
better that night. You were perfect, David. If not completely beautiful in
body, your mind was one that I would've enjoyed coming across outside of the
realm of anonymous sex.

Wait, maybe not "coming across." Wrong words. Flashbacks. Not entirely bad
ones, but I'm still having a little difficulty being completely comfortable
with what I did.

You were right when you said in your suite that I assign guilt to things,
give myself huge guilt trips. I think I explained why. Guilt's not a
religious thing for me, though. I just couldn't really allow myself to
relax. Until you helped me. You and that guy whose face I couldn't see.

You seemed to think that I put my heart into things, even in places like

I didn't know that no one else would really be into talking. They should
post that rule somewhere, for I bet that I'm not the only one who didn't
understand "unwritten" policy. I mean, if it weren't for talking, I would've
gotten lost the first time I went through that maze. (Yes, I'm not stupid. I
now realize that's half the damn point. Hey, you know that I feigned more
innocence than I actually had, but it takes me a little bit to come to grips
with it.)

I'm trying to be funny. I'm nervous. I should stop trying.

When I walked in the door, I wasn't breathing right. Ted, the guy on the
phone, told me that the "House" was a social environment, but there was no
dancing and no bar. He said he was surprised that I hadn't been partying out
there before, but I told him I live like a hermit here in Augusta. I tried
that bar here a couple times, and it just didn't work out. I mean, one guy
shit on me, and another guy stopped calling out of the blue. And the music
was bad. And I couldn't drink.

When Ted told me there was no bar, that made me feel good, for I can't drink
much anyway when I'm alone. When he said there was no dancing or loud
music, I told my telethon joke and said I was relieved. He told me it was a
"very social atmosphere" and that I should try it.

The only gay people I really know in town, who I don't try to completely
avoid, are my florist and my ex-boyfriend Greg, also a hermit. My florist Charles
told me that the motel was a good place to meet people and hang out, that
he'd been there a couple times. (He's the sweetest guy. He told me I would
like it if I went, but that was months ago. In retrospect, I probably
should've paid more mind to his leather fetish.)

That's why I called the place, for Charles told me it was nice but left out
what there was to do there. On the phone, Ted told me that it was "social."
It was geared toward meeting people, and it was relatively crowded on the

He made it sound good, really good to me. I hadn't left my apartment in two
days after a really, really bad week, so I was determined to go out and do
something in this damn soulless community. I thought I would go there, have
a drink and maybe talk with some people, see what the place was about. He
told me the place starting picking up around 10 p.m.

Then Ted told me about the $15 cover charge.

"Fifteen dollars?" I asked. "What do you have there to merit that?"

"Well, we're a resort," Ted said. "The $15 is a day pass. It allows for full use of the facilities."

"Oh OK," I said. A resort.

My ex Larry also told me months ago that I should see what the motel was
about. He'd seen an ad in Etc. Magazine, which talked about the 8-foot fence
separating the hotel from the street. I remember telling him that I didn't
want to go because I didn't have a date to get a room with. In typical Larry
fashion, he told me to go there and find one. (David, dear, I didn't have
this in mind when I talked to you.)

Anyway, when I got off the phone with Ted, who probably thought I was talky
and awkward, my curiosity was peaked. I changed clothes, like, three or four
times because I didn't know what to wear to the place. I tried on a T-shirt
and shorts, pants and a button-up shirt. I even considered sunglasses, even
though it was about 9:30 p.m.

But it was 105 degrees, and I only knew from the ad I saw that there was a
pool. I figured the shorts and T-shirt were a safe bet. (I thought about a
swimsuit for a second, but then I didn't want to take up some valuable pool
space from an actual hotel guest.)

And, after knocking on the door of my friends down the hall to see if they
wanted to go and calling around to other friends to see if a $15 cover was a
blessing or curse, I went to get gas and cash and headed over.

I've driven by the place a million times. The giant wooden fence is a little
off-putting because it looks dark and makes it seem like there's no one
there. The fact that it has a run-down Alamo motif going and no windows
doesn't discourage that.

But I drove in, not knowing where to park exactly but finding my way. And
then I went into curious but cautious mode.

The guy at the front desk, the older one with the beard and the
owl-and-marijuana tattoo, probably thought I was still in the closet. I was
acting so frantic. Every now and then, people kept coming in from the resort
area through that door with the crescent moon on it. It made me think of old
outhouses, and it didn't really add to my ease.

The thing that startled me most, though, was that sign on the desk.

"There will be a voluntary Leather demonstration at 2 a.m. in the Tower. All
interested may attend."

I think my first question to the front desk was, "You have a tower?"

Then, I think I said something like this.

"Hi, I ... uhhh... I called here and spoke to you. I was interested in
getting a day pass. I heard that it was $15. Um, leather demonstration, that
sounds interesting. Hi."

The bearded guy told me to hold on for a second, then went to get Ted, who
was very cute and had that eye twitch that made me think he kept winking,
like he was interested in my reaction or, more likely, like he had a big

I kept stammering over my words, so much so that, when I told Ted I wasn't a
closet case, he said, "Yeah right." I was serious. I was just a little
stunned over what I imagined was going on at the other side of that door. I
mean, I didn't really have all that much of an idea about what I was walking
into, even though I figured the "facilities" were probably something
clandestine. Stupid me, looking for some frame of reference, kept picturing
that masked orgy scene in "Eyes Wide Shut." I asked questions, paid the $15
day pass, the $10 membership fee. Ted was happy that I had Discover. I was,
too, but only because I did this in spite of being broke. I was too curious.

Apparently, it was out of sorts to refuse the towel, lube and locker, but I
figured I could save money by following a simple rule: Keep my shorts on.

And Ted winked. And he showed me the map. And Ted winked as he pointed out
where the pool was, where the rooms were, the place marked TV room, Laundry
Room. And he showed me a square on the map labeled "Maze." It was between
the TV room, the laundry room and the game room, which I thought were the
place's typical hotel staples.

"There's a maze here?" I asked.

"Have you not been in a maze before?" Ted asked.

"I've never done anything like this before."

"You'll have fun in there," he said. "It's difficult in the dark, though. Try not to get lost, and you should be able to find your way out."

At that point, I became more naive than I had been all evening, and I'd been
pretty naive all evening.

I remember thinking, "Well, at least there's something for people to do if
they're not interested in having sex or taking off their clothes."

You came into the lobby while I was talking to Ted. I thought you worked
there, David. You seemed relaxed, in your extra-extra-large fireman's
T-shirt and that Carolina Panthers hat. I thought you were my age. Truth be
told, which is good because I never intend for you to see this, I didn't
really look you over much. You're not what I would like to consider my type
as being. (Clearly, you must be a little bit my type, considering. But, as I
told you, sometimes my standards lower if someone is just nice enough to pay
attention to me.)

That doctor guy who came in later, the one that everyone stared at, is what
I'd like to consider my type. But then, I think most everyone liked him,
particularly when he went parading around the pool in boxer briefs. I'm
still a little embarassed over what I said to him, even now because of how
he reacted.

At least that got me talking to you, though.

And I shouldn't worry so much about what he thought of me, if what I think
happened actually occurred.

Ted told me when I left the lobby the first time, smiling at you and talking
too much, that I should be able to find whatever it is I was looking for at
the resort.

"I don't know what I'm looking for or if I'm looking for anything, but I
think you're right," I said. "I think I might find it here."

As I walked out the door down that silly little path through the weeds, I
hope I added, "What in the hell am I doing here?"

I'll be more specific later, I guess. Now, I should go to sleep. I have to
be at work early.



Friday, July 21, 2006

Things to do with the summer's hot reads.

- This week, I read an article that said there's not yet been a breakout hit, top-of-the-bestseller-lists summer beach read yet. Supposedly, booksellers like me are nervous because there's been no next big thing, like last year's HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE or THE HISTORIAN, to whet our appetites for the written word. (Granted, a friend of mine wrote a New York Times bestseller that's outselling John Updike's latest, so I personally think it's been a great summer for books.) Anyway, THE MEMORY KEEPER'S DAUGHTER - which I've not read - is selling consistently, in spite of a plot that sounded to me like an old soap opera. Some people think it might eventually be as big as Sue Monk Kidd's THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, which I sell all the time to the book club yentas. Of course, my pick for this year's big summer book is Scott Smith's Mexican vacation nightmare novel, THE RUINS, which already has gotten great reviews from Stephen King and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Of course, a rave from the latter usually doesn't signify much ...) I picked it up earlier this week, and I can't wait to jump into it. I hear THE RUINS is the sort of book that grips you and must in one eight-hour sitting. My store keeps selling out of it. Expect big things.

- Now, I didn't like M. Night Shyamalan's last movie, THE VILLAGE. In fact, I fucking hated the damn thing. The only good things to come out of THE VILLAGE were Bryce Dallas Howard and the yearlong argument I had with Chris Brandon over just how much that movie sucked. Hell, I'm still angry about THE VILLAGE's bullshit ending. Today, Shyamalan's follow-up movie, LADY IN THE WATER, hits theaters, and it's apparently based upon a bedtime story he told his daughters. From what I hear, it thankfully doesn't have a twist ending. But I also hear that it sucks. Ba-a-a-ad. Sucks worse than THE VILLAGE. I mean, the fairy tale movie apparently sucks like it's the illegitimate demonspawn of GIGLI and ISHTAR. Over on Ebert's site, the guest critic calls it "a poorly written, stiffly directed, audience-insulting story-without-a-cause." Hell, even the AJC's Eleanor Ringel Gillespie gave it an F. Maybe now Night'll just go away.

- I didn't like Kevin Smith's last movie, either. But I imagine that CLERKS II, which allowed Smith to return to his roots, is a hell of a lot better than JERSEY GIRL.

- MONSTER HOUSE looks entertaining. The preview made me laugh, at least.
- I still haven't seen AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Every time I could've seen it, I talked my friends into watching THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, which I've now seen three times. Somebody let me know if I'm missing something by skipping the mastery of Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation altogether.
- I feel fat. I need to exercise.
- My friend (or friend-of-a-friend) Erik helped design some of the special effects for MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND. Last month at a wedding, I kept asking him how they managed to throw the live shark through a window in the trailer.

- Lots of people keep asking me to STRANGERS WITH CANDY, but I never watched the show. Would I like it, not knowing much about the show?
- About a half-hour after I arrived in Savannah last week, while Lupo and I were walking his nervous dog Mr. Jones, I tripped over a stick and banged my arm on the sidewalk. I was mostly fine, except for one bleeding scrape on my arm, but Lupo immediately jumped into "nursing mode," led me back to his house, found three bottles of Neosporin and some giant bandages and did his best to patch me up with care. After dressing my wound, Lupo said that reading the MAISIE DOBBS books had helped prepare him for my injuries. I've been walking around all week with this wicked cool bruise on my right arm. The bruise reminds me of when I was a kid, for I was always ridiculously banged up, bruised, covered in poison ivy, bitten, stung, sunburned or otherwise hurt. Thus, by the time I was 7, I avoided going outside at all. Instead of playing in the yard, I sat inside on the couch and memorized the babysitter's TV GUIDE. I wouldn't meet any kids in my neighborhood until my little brother brought them into the house for cookies and Kool-Aid. Sometimes, they'd stare at me from the kitchen while I sat in the dark, watching TV, and ask my brother who I was. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, my bruise. Anyway, Lupo's excellent at applying bandages. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Did you have a good childhood or a bad one? What do you miss most about being a kid? What do you regret doing (or regret not doing) when you were younger? Would you relive your childhood if you could?

Monday, July 17, 2006

How to live.

I read an essay in the New York Times book review this week by Benjamin Kunkel, and it indirectly suggested to me that there's something really wrong with the way I write about my life, the way I think about myself and how I live my life. Of course, according to Kunkel, I am in really good company by writing about myself as the survivor of dysfunction and tragedy - which is, sadly, how I view myself or talk about myself in stories. Augusten Burroughs writes like that and manages to keep things funny and lively, and he sells books. James Frey lies like that, and his jackass self sells books, even now that his memoirs have been proven as largely false.

Kunkel says that the current influx of memoirs is about overcoming some sort of addiction, dysfunction and such. Nowadays, he says, popular memoirs only show how to survive. They don't begin to examine or give examples of how to live a fulfilled, complete life. Religious devotionals do that. Self-help books try that.

Henry David Thoreau, of course, is invoked in the essay, speaking of WALDEN as a memoir of an examined, contemplative existence. Kunkel seems to wonder why no one writes WALDEN anymore.

My friend Vic will tell you that I hate Thoreau, even though I've never read him. She once laid into me, during my journalism days, about how exposure to newspapers, media and the world outside of my own day-to-day existence was just a way of complicating my life. It gave me things to worry about, from the frivolous concerns of my neighbors to how a war between two small nations on the other side of the world might affect the price of Corn Flakes here.

"Thoreau believed in abandoning the newspaper," Vic would speak of him like he were a deity. "The outside world didn't concern him while he was in his cabin at Walden Pond. Sometimes I wonder why we don't live like that."

"Didn't he go home everyday and eat lunch with his mother?" I asked. "I thought I heard that somewhere. How detached from the world and free from worry can you be if you go hang out with your parents everyday?"

"He tried to limit himself to a contemplative, examined life," she argued.

"He sounds fucking crazy," I said. "Just some guy without a job living in a cabin who has to depend upon other people for food. Of course, because he writes about it, that makes him a noble man - instead of some unwashed vagrant. Or the Unabomber."

Vic rolled her eyes.

"Thoreau merely thought the key to living life was to 'simplify, simplify,'" she quoted.

"Um, if he was so interested in keeping things simple, why didn't he just say 'simplify' once?" I asked her. "He was either being ironic or stupid."

Anyway, so the Kunkel essay led me to wonder if I should try to figure out "how to live." But I've realized that's what me and all the other dysfunction survivors have been trying to do, anyway. The best that we've been able to manage, thus far, is survival.

Part of the current memoir trend is market-based. Survival memoirs have been selling well lately, so that's what the publishing industry snatches up and sells. The publishing industry has changed vastly since Thoreau's days, and, if Thoreau were around nowadays, he would likely be regarded with ire and ridicule. I mean, Thoreau would be against the Internet. Thoreau's contemplative solitude at Walden, if it were to occur now, would probably end with some standoff involving ATF agents.

People used to have the time and freedom necessary to discover how to live. The world nowadays requires you to merely survive. Songs are written about how people work all day to buy enough gas to get to work everyday. If you met a modern philosopher or prophet on the street, you'd run from them or suggest that they get medicated. However, tell a story of drug addiction and inspiring recovery, and you'll end up friends with Oprah.

Take me. I exist in an atmosphere of perpetual drama and anxiety. I'm happy sometimes. I've been labeled a worrywart, fatalist and stressball. I am most certainly not the spokesman for my generation, though I don't think there likely could be anyone to completely fit the bill. The most relief I get from my day-to-day existence is a good movie, an episode of GILMORE GIRLS, some funny clip from YouTube. There's always something for me to worry about, except when I'm on vacation, and even then I have to worry about getting home.

Big philosophical questions are now the luxury of undergraduates playing card games in dorm lobbies. They read Ayn Rand. They read Thoreau.

I used to seek God, too. Now I'm just trying to make the rent.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Things to do with an AK-47.

- So my friend Kenn is finishing up his master's in furniture design at Savannah College of Art and Design, and his thesis show closes this weekend. So I'm venturing down to the coast to see it - and see Kenn and Lupo before they flee Savannah, which they hate, forever. One of the central pieces that Kenn's been working on since October, at least, is this love seat that I've been calling "the bullet couch." If I remember correctly, Kenn designed the couch, then bought an AK-47, shot at the couch, then sealed up the bullet holes. The number of bullet holes in the love seat reflects the exact number of gun deaths in America within one day, I think. (I'm not sure if I have the base time correct. Nonetheless, the whole thing is anti-gun and infuses a political statement into practical design. It sounds daring and over-the-top, and Kenn's ridiculously talented.) Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the bullet couch to share. This is an earlier project he did through the program. I'm probably not doing Kenn's work justice. Perhaps a follow-up blog will be necessary after my trip this weekend.

- YOU, ME AND DUPREE looks stupid, and Owen Wilson is ugly. He should just write movies, not appear in them. His brother Luke is super cute. And just because Kate Hudson looks like her mother, does that mean we have to watch her in movies? I mean, she's made ONE good movie, and that's it. I wish she'd go away. Thinking about this movie puts me in a bad mood.
- A lot of customers in the bookstore highly recommend Ken Follett's THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH to me, but I don't think I'd like it because it sounds really, really religious.

- Lupo and I have discussed going to a revival house on Saturday to see SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, which is a great, great movie if you haven't seen it. Gene Kelly is amazing. Jean Hagen is hilarious. And Debbie Reynolds is charming. The American Film Institute, ranking the best American films of all time, named SINGIN' IN THE RAIN the 10th greatest, which surprised me until I watched it again.
- Another AFI movie list suggested that Billy Wilder's genius film SOME LIKE IT HOT, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, was the funniest film ever made. Again, if you've never seen it, you're missing out. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What's the funniest movie you've ever seen?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Things to do in bed with George Clooney.

- I'm writing this just after midnight. I would've written it sooner, but the whole holiday weekend thing has thrown me off. I mean, I forgot what day it is. So, a few minutes ago, I was on my couch watching one of my favorite movies, thinking that I should blog about the film the next time I do a "Things to Do ..." list. Then, I realize the next list should go up immediately. So the lead item on the list should be the movie that reminded me to write the list, I guess. And that movie is OUT OF SIGHT, Steven Soderbergh's 1998 crime-caper-romance-comedy masterpiece starring a suave, fast-talking, sexy-as-all-hell George Clooney and a beautiful, talented, interesting, intelligent, top-of-her-game Jennifer Lopez. (Trust me, it's good, and she's amazing in it.) The movie also stars Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener and Albert Brooks, and, because it's based on an Elmore Leonard novel, it has this wicked cool Tarantino feel to it. It's maybe Clooney's best performance, if only because he's charming in the movie, and Lopez, whose shotgun-toting federal marshal character was given a spinoff television series called KAREN SISCO, hasn't been as good in any movie since. As often as I watch OUT OF SIGHT, which is available again on DVD after a couple years, I'm always surprised by just how clever it is. The opening bank robbery's great. The trunk scene alone is worth the price of a rental. And the central caper is twisted and clever. So, because it cheered me up again, I highly recommend you watch OUT OF SIGHT if you've not seen it. And, if you've already seen it, watch it again.

- OK, so the reviews I've read for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST are about what I was expecting. I'm still going to see it. I didn't mean to suggest I wasn't enthusiastic, for Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow is a fantastic character. And Keira Knightley's great lately. I'm just nervous that the movie won't have a plot as focused as the last one's. Plus, I'm scared that they might try and have Orlando Bloom emote. (I didn't see KINGDOM OF HEAVEN or ELIZABETHTOWN, guys. Did I miss anything? My friend Jenipher says that, unless he's Legolas, Orlando Bloom sucks.)

- When is A SCANNER DARKLY coming to Atlanta? After watching Richard Linklater's DAZED AND CONFUSED last week, I'm more excited about this animated Keanu Reeves futuristic thriller than ever. If successful, the Philip K. Dick adaptation might be scary good.

- So, since there's a heavy dose of criminal movies on my list this week, I think I should go ahead and recommend KISS KISS, BANG BANG, a very funny caper movie starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan that I watched this week. It was made last year by Shane Black, the guy who wrote LETHAL WEAPON, but it only saw a limited release, probably because it's ridiculously hard to categorize. It's based upon a pulp fiction detective novel. It's sorta gay-themed but not schmaltzy. It has ridiculously good, quotable dialogue. The girl in it is hot and funny. It's satire of Hollywood. It's self-aware. And it's violent. And the three leads are really good in it. I was surprised.
- Before my bank account went haywire this week, I managed to buy the new Panic! at the Disco album called A FEVER YOU CAN'T SWEAT OUT. Some songs on it are really catchy, but it has yet to completely grab me. Still, I like the one song I bought the thing for. It's more panic than disco, and I was disappointed.
- Someone told me that the last HARRY POTTER book may come out exactly one year from today, and the date seems like a marketing dream. Get it? The seventh book on 07-07-07. Anyway, that's just a rumor I heard.
- I saw that Fiona Apple's coming to Chastain in August, and I want to see her. Her last album is a regular in my car stereo.
- Some friends of mine went with me to THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA over the Fourth weekend. The movie was really good, and I had a lot of fun with my friends. Still, a situation from the outing has stayed in my mind, and I hope that my friends don't mind me taking a question from it. My friend's boyfriend was invited to come to the movies with us. A week before the movie, the two of them broke up. Still, my friend said he wanted to remain friendly despite the end of the romance, so the ex tagged along to the movie with us. Everything went smoothly, for my friend was way cooler about the situation than *I* would've been. Still, there were moments during the outing when I kept my eye on the ex to see that he didn't pull something shady or mess with my friend. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What's the oddest or most awkward run-in you've had with an ex? Are there exes you're still mad about or mad at even years later? Any particularly dramatic bad breakup stories? Do you find it difficult or easy to maintain friendships with your exes?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Went to Scott's for a Fourth of July barbecue. He bought sparklers.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Notes on an unwritten nothing.

Step One: Decide that you're going to write.

OK, done.

Step Two: Decide what you're going to write.

A soap opera. A mystery. A dysfunctional family story. A story of a guy struggling with adulthood, trying to make it. A sexual comedy. Something with a makeover in it. Something with good dialogue. Somebody should get shot/burned/hit with a car. Stuff about religion. Maybe a musical. Should be something I know about but should be fictionalized. Characters first, then plot just happens to them. Modern but key and resonant. Something original, something fun. Pick a small issue to address. Don't try for a magnum opus.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


OK, yeah, you guys were right. Great movie.

Matthew McConaughey. Parker Posey. Anthony Rapp. Rory Cochrane. Joey Lauren Adams. Jason London. Wiley Wiggins. Adam Goldberg. Nicky Katt. And Ben Affleck behaving like a jackass megatool. I loved it.

Once again, Richard Linklater is my hero.

I may have to try drugs now.