Saturday, September 30, 2006

Feeling Good and Bruised All Over



I'm currently getting together a Julie London website for its debut October 18. One amusing thing has been reading/transcribing all of the liner notes from her albums. For instance, from 1965's "Feeling Good": "Julie London bruises easily. Placed in juxtaposition with, say, a shaggy-dog vocal quartet from England, singing a song based on three wrong chords, she is apt to turn purple all over." Now, I like the Beatles a lot and am grateful in general for the British Invasion's toppling of smarmy early-60s US singers' hegemony on public attention when they absolutely had nothing left to say. (Funny that Elvis couldn't manage the same feat. He was too in awe of the entertainment powers-that-were and wanted to be like THEM.)

It was an odd statement for the liner-note guy to make, since this is the album where Julie for the first time gets kind of slurry and beatnik-y, what with her versions of "King of the Road" and "Watermelon Man" and "Feeling Good" and "Summertime" and her lesbicly-inclined "Hello Dolly"...I love her. Lots of singers try to be sexy, but she IS sexy, in everything from her initial mid-50s purist vocal/jazz albums to her latter-day late-60s albums like "Yummy Yummy Yummy."

In an aside, I'm also wondering: When is someone going to come blow away all of the idiotic hip-hop/group-dance songs/videos so au courant? Every time I turn on MTV, it's like watching a Broadway musical. Generic, controlled-to-the-core, no real feeling---choreographed dancing is never sexy, regardless of the amount of official ass and heavy breathing. Wonder if those hip-hop studs know how gayly "Chorus Line" they're being, while thinking they're so cool...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rock and Roll Over


Did anyone around here ever dress as KISS when they were kids? I was always Gene Simmons. For makeup, we smeared toothpaste on our faces and sprinkled baby powder on top of that. And drew in the black parts with magic marker. And recruited our little brothers to be Peter.

Gene currently has a new reality show on A&E. While it's fun now to watch him act like the 50-year-old Jewish man that he is---kvetching to his limo driver about hitting every pothole and such---the show itself, despite his wry, funny kids and wife Shannon Tweed, is kind of dull. Most of each week's scenarios are obviously set up: "See Gene and his son compete at a driving test"; "See Gene and Shannon go to a health spa"; etc. I'm reminded of the late, great Osbournes show: Ozzy and Sharon simply WERE. When they were throwing meat into their neighbors' yard, it obviously wasn't a set-up. I miss that.

The death-knell of reality TV is already tolling, and generic shows like Gene's, "Hogan Knows Best," and the billionth season of "Real World" are prime examples. RE the latter: Long gone are the days when uncategorizable kids from different backgrounds would sit around and talk about stuff, a la what me and my friends did in college dorm rooms. Nowadays there's just a stereotypical stud, a hot blonde girl, a Proud Black Woman (or Angry Black Man), a gay guy, a neurotic/artsy girl... and they all aren't particularly bright enough to talk about "ideas" or anything, but just go out and get fucked up. Whoever thought drinking and whoring would be boring. Congratulations, New Gen---you've made it extremely boring.

How Evil Are You?

62%!! Now, how did this happen? It's not like I would ever spit in someone's drink or corrupt a minor! And, besides, what's so "evil" about not remembering the night before? Or about shooting a gun (ya damn lib'rals!)---I wasn't aiming at anyone... OK, Choirboy, take the test yerself! In the meantime, I'll be reading up on Elizabeth of Bathory...tryin' to LEARN somethin'!

You Are 62% Evil

You are very evil. And you're too evil to care.
Those who love you probably also fear you. A lot.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You're a loser, baby


I was just talking today at work with a girl (well, she's 25) who has been putting out a literary magazine for the past year or so. I griped 'cause the thing costs $5, it's 26 pages, and it took me only 15 minutes to read. (And the stuff therein is decent, but kind of tired: for instance, half of the pages were devoted to a story about a lonely girl in a small town who makes friends with a new boy/James Dean-like character who likes to go driving around and act "unconventional" by exploring abandoned buildings, etc.)

After that conversation, the two of us started exchanging "pleasantries" about what's going on with ourselves... The "girl" broke up with her girlfriend a few months ago and is now living at home with her parents, who are not charging her for any rent or bills. Yet, all of her money is somehow gone this month. (I know for a fact that she makes about $5000 less than I do a year; but then I live by myself and pay every single thing by myself and only occasionally have to go to a pawn shop for a loan...) I asked her what in the hell she was spending her money on, since she had no rent or utilities to pay. "Well, I'm still paying for the dog-food." (She and her ex still share dogs.) And: "My therapy is pretty expensive." And: "I'm paying $100 a month for yoga." (She doesn't actually go to yoga, but keeps up a membership just in case.) After all of this, I kept looking at her like she was nuts, so she finally said, "I'm actually just waiting for someone to take care of things for me."

I found this whole thing rather repulsive. For one, the "girl" had been cheating on her girlfriend while living with her, but is still now sleeping with her (oh, and paying for dog-food). And then, spending most of your monthly salary on therapy is just ridiculous. And THEN: "I just want someone to take care of things for me"??? All the while this girl's done up like a "hip" granola-slash-post-punk chick, and talks like a feminist, yet constantly says to me whenever we meet infrequently in the break room, "I can't believe you just said that! You're so opinionated!" (And, really, I don't try to shock, and most people don't think I'm so very shocking.) Seriously, she might as well just get married (to a home-owning man) immediately and start wearing appliques on her sweatshirts!

Which also reminds me of a guy I know who blogs online (in his mid-30s) who quits his job every few months (blaming, every time, his "cunt" boss who never seems to understand him or promote him after 2 days), then runs home to his enabling, weak-ass boyfriend, asking him to support him while he tries to "find himself" and continues to complain about why he's only offered close-to-minimum-wage jobs... (Um, because you don't stick to anything more than 3 months so you never move up?)

Jesus...I was born in '65. I'm in no way part of the "Great Generation" (or whatever the fuck Tom Brokaw was calling WWII-era folks a few years ago). I don't believe one should live on bread and water and/or sacrifice every personal desire for The Greater Good. HOWEVER: What is with the above-mentioned losers? I don't believe I've ever in my life come across two specimens more completely slug-like and repugnant. (Even some other repugnant people I've known have actually held down jobs and supported themselves, for pete's sake.)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Who can turn the world on with her smile?


...Well, not me, which is why I want to move not to Minneapolis but to New York City, where I'm sure my general surly countenance and general approval for honking your car-horn when the jerk in front of you won't move would be a, not necessarily "welcome" but at least apropos, addition to the city-scape.

My problem is, I'm lazy. It's a pain in the ass to try to find another job and to plan a move (and, at 41, to have to ask my mother for thousands of dollars that I don't have saved so I can pay first/last/deposit on the rent, not to mention the moving van). And I'm kind of used to living in an 850-square-foot house with a yard for $825 a month, as opposed to the 450-square-foot one-room studio with annoyingly loud neighbors for $1500 that I'd be sure to find myself in in Manhattan. The "being 41" definitely comes into play here, too: When you're 21, you don't know any better: It's just "an experience" to live in a shit-hole with obnoxious neighbors, etc. At 41, you've already been there and definitely don't see the glamour in it.

But on the plus site of NYC: For one thing, it has Joan movies showing constantly. At the Chelsea, at the MoMA, in Queens, wherever. And it has drag shows. With interesting drag queens, as opposed to schticky drag queens doing tired old fag jokes. And it's got history; I've been there 3 times, and everywhere I look is something that I've either read about or seen in a movie. (Not that "seen in a movie" is a plus just on the surface, but rather that it's interesting to see something and have 3 or 8 or 12 other connotations pop up in your head.) And it's got energy; maybe I was just hyped up the few times I was there because I was new---a distinct possibility. But I also felt a definite, palpable non-sluggish, non-"I've settled" quality to the town.

I live in Austin, and it's a perfectly pleasant, pretty, liberal college-town, gay-friendly and all that. But there's nothing going on here. Nothing. There's the constantly hyped "music scene" (with no particularly innovative or interesting bands) and there are poetry readings and a small theater scene (with no particularly innovative or interesting poets or shows). There's the "gay scene" (with plenty of generic preppy men or club boys and few non-butch lesbians in sight). I drive to work every day to a generic office building, head out to lunch every day in lunch-time generic office-worker traffic, head home again... All without SEEING anything interesting or different. The local weekly "alternative" paper touts the same minor performers with some Austin connection (like Doug Sahm, Charlie Sexton) that they've been talking about for 25 years... I feel like screaming from the inanity of it all. I could see myself retiring in Austin 20 years from now, but right now it's driving me mad.

At least New York City's not inane. And that's not a given just because it's a famed metropolis---I lived in San Francisco, also called a "world-class city," for 2 years in the '90s, and it was EXTREMELY inane, just as dead artistically as Austin is now. I guess I fear that I'll go to NYC and discover that the everyday, petty annoyances (like loud neighbors and stereotypical gay boys and PC lesbians) will be just the same as in Austin, and that I've wasted a whole lot of time, energy, and money for nothing! (But, screw the people---the buildings there are just so pretty!)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Elizabeth of Bathory and Frances of Farmer

OK, I'm not a greedy person. All I had was ideas for 4, just 4, screenplays that I really wanted to see done in my lifetime. By ME, of course. One of which was the story of Elizabeth of Bathory, the insanely depraved medieval Romanian countess who sexually tortured virgins and bathed in their blood in order to keep herself youthful. And now I see the below July 30 article in Variety:


Slovaks wrap pricey epic
Helmer Jakubisko's 'Bathory' budget topped $13 mil

By WILL TIZARD

Slovakia has just wrapped its biggest-budgeted feature ever, an epic by local standards. It's the Gothic historic tale of Elizabeth of Bathory, a notorious countess of Renaissance Europe whom helmer Juraj Jakubisko says has been unfairly maligned by legend.

She was said to bathe in the blood of virgins, but Jakubisko maintains she was simply a powerful woman who got caught up in the politics of men.

The Slovak helmer, known to the local media as "the Fellini of Eastern Europe" and a man who favors white suits and broad-brimmed black hats, has set a new high-water mark for productions in the cash-strapped Central European country with "Bathory."

The $13.3 million shoot, which stretched over the last year, outgunned that of Jan Sverak's Czech World War II romancer "Dark Blue World," in part by incorporating battle scenes from the Turks' invasion of Renaissance Europe.

"We couldn't pass up the Turkish wars," said Jakubisko. "They significantly influenced that time."
... [Well, of COURSE they did!]


Aaaaargh. My idea, my idea! I'm feeling so tense I might just have to go scare me up some virgins... This film should be interesting (!) but one thing annoys me: "Jakubisko maintains she was simply a powerful woman who got caught up in the politics of men." ... Please. The woman was rich and powerful, yes, and she pretty much had leeway to do exactly what she felt like doing. From what I've read, I sincerely doubt that ANY of her evil-doing was the result of getting "caught up in the politics of men." That's either an incredibly PC statement from the Tom-Wolfe-ishly clad director, or an incredibly sexist one. ("Bad men are responsible for women's downfalls" or..."Bad men are responsible for women's downfalls.") Stupid however you look at it. How about: Some women are just evil and mean, and let's explore that psychology in-depth? Nah... battle scenes from the Turkish wars are probably better. And I'm sure that Liz just took up with those girls 'cause it was such a turn-on for her back-from-the-wars boyfriend!

Oh well. I still have 3 film ideas left. One is: Frances Farmer's life with lover Jean Ratcliffe post-asylum. In Farmer's 1972 autobiography "Will There Really Be A Morning?" it's clear that she didn't actually have a lobotomy or a male rescuer as the '82 film fictionalized, but that she was still a mess anyway, yet ended up finding occasional moments of peace in Indianapolis (of all places), where she hosted a local film show and lived with/emotionally abused her younger female "companion" while battling both the bottle and ex-husbands and stalkers that kept turning up... I see this as being a real Summer Blockbuster. (And how cool would it be to have the 25-years-older Jessica Lange star in this one, as well?)

The other two...Oh, they involve Joan. One's completely written, by the way, for any of you agents out there. Give this kid a break!

Friday, September 01, 2006