Thursday, May 31, 2007

(an old Lynch post I made to another blog)

"Through the darkness of futures past.
 The magician longs to see.
 One chants out between two worlds.
 Fire Walk With Me."

Psychogenic Fugue.
 The Angriest Dog In The World.
 Transcedental Meditation.
 "It's Strange Calling Yourself." 
 The Excitement of Fear. 
 The Numbness of Denial. 
 Submerging Consciousness, Waking Subconscious.
 "My Dog Barks, Some."

"Let's Rock."

Naked Lynch
January 17, 2007

Why does Lynch still do it for me after all these years? Why does it feel like every other director I grew up loving and rooting for just as fervently (esp. Cronenberg, Lucas, Scorcese, Spielberg, and Ridley Scott) has long ago traded in their ability to take creative risks for increasingly narcissistic retreads of glories past?

 To each his own, of course. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who much prefer GANGS OF NEW YORK and GANGS OF BOSTON (I mean, THE DEPARTED) to TAXI DRIVER and RAGING BULL, but I'm not one of them. A lot depends on a viewer's age at the time of first viewing when playing the favorites game... I grew up trying to convince people that Roger Moore was better than Sean Connery, so I know from which I speak. 

I remain impressed that as I grow older, and my viewing relationship with Lynch's film and TV work is now over 25 years old, I still feel in sync with the guy. In a recent interview flogging his newest book Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, Lynch said:

"To be a grown-up and to do what you want to do is the most beautiful thing"

That is such an uncool thing to say, and yet it resonates in me like a banshee's howl. He's living his dream, and although my dream is far removed from his in many ways (I just can't get it up for yogic flying) his relentless pursuit of somehow EXTERNALLY communicating what's INSIDE of him butters my muffin.

 Because he not only does it as a director, he also composes music and lyrics (with longtime collaborator and frequent conductor of my own dream/nightmare soundtrack Angelo Badalamenti), builds his own furniture, paints, writes, makes coffee, and so on.

ah to be zen and angry.

I love it that he refuses to record director's commentary for DVD's of his films. I hate it when people he's invited into his world turn their backs on him, but karmic payback is often swift (see Lara Flynn Boyle's career after her refusal to appear in
TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME and Balthazar Getty's career after refusing to take his role in LOST HIGHWAY seriously.)

 I still remember how angry I got reading David Foster Wallace's article "David Lynch Keeps His Head" from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again:

"the single most annoying thing about Balthazar Getty was (that) when Lynch wasn't around Getty would make fun of him and do an unkind imitation of his distinctive speaking voice that... was clearly intended to be disrespectful and mean."

Can you imagine getting your big break as an actor and then OPENLY MAKING FUN OF DAVID LYNCH ON THE SET WHEN A REPORTER WAS AROUND?

 What an asshole.

 Plenty of ink has been spilled on Lynch's behalf and I'm pretty sure "Lynchian" has made it into the vocabulary of most film fans. What inspires me is how hard Lynch has to work this late in his career to get his vision to the screen time and time again.

 MULHOLLAND DRIVE is arguably the best movie he's ever made, was on every critic's top ten list, garnered Lynch his third Oscar Nomination for Best Director, and made Naomi Watts a star overnight. And, it lost money.

INLAND EMPIRE, which Lynch shot over the course of two years by calling in a lot of favors and shooting on video, is the first film in his career that Lynch is distributing himself. Because, apparently, nobody else knows how to. Maybe Lynch doesn't even know what to do with himself (as far as I can tell, the film has barely grossed over $100,000 in over a month of release).

 It's weird, I know that most of you won't like INLAND EMPIRE that much. I'm still not sure how much i quote-unquote LIKED it myself, but I do know that I felt about as ALIVE as a person can feel while sitting motionless in a dark room for three hours.

 You may feel something you're not used to too. Enjoy a filmmaker who's (as Laura Dern's Nikki says in EMPIRE) "reaping what he's sowing."

"Fucker been sowing some pretty heavy shit."

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Wikipediaization of Film and Television

LOST: the world's biggest book club?

Making Pop Culture references in movies and TV shows is a high-risk, high-reward proposition. Producers gladly endure blank stares Thursday for a big laugh today. Pop culture references require no education or sophistication from audiences, just the safe bet that most Americans have watched tens of thousands of hours of programming in their lives to choose from.

Some will know that I just made a pop-culture reference to Wimpy, a supporting character from the Popeye comics and cartoons known for his famous (?) catchphrase "I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." Those not familiar with Wimpy will wonder what the hell I'm talking about. In this case, the tiebreaker is my long held belief that once a character has risen up beyond the page and the screen and manifested into a fast-food chain (see UK burger chain Wimpy's) they are fair game for referencing.

spinach=good, hamburgers=bad

Anyway... is it possible to please those in the know while not alienating the uninitiated? What is the rate for acceptable "losses"?

Lately, the cover-every-base strategy seems to pour in avalanches of so-called "high culture" references too in hope that the two-pronged attack will include something for everyone.

I'm a big fan of ABC's LOST, which has just completed it's third season and has been the topic of much discussion and deconstruction by critics and fans virtually since day one. Following is an excerpt from a column regarding the Season 3 finale (posted 5/24) on Entertainment Weekly's website, written by Jeff Jenson :

"We got it wrong, didn't we? All the so-called clues in the text, all the suspected hints tucked in the subtext — Stephen Hawking and his time-warping black holes, Ms. Hawking and her symbolically loaded ouroboros pin, the Room 23 film and its hidden message, ''Only fools are trapped in time and space.'' For much of season 3, the freaky theorists among us suspected that Lost was setting us up for some continuum-contorting twist of Hiro Nakamura-esque proportions."

Is populist mag Entertainment Weekly willing to risk ticking off the presumably sizeable segment of readers who don't know their ouroboros from their outer boroughs and have never heard of the anime director or quantum physicist or whoever this Nakamura guy is?

this ouroborous is from Staten Island

Not any more! Why? Because we the non-MENSA readers and viewers are expected to become temporary faux Renaissance men and women in the LOST loop using the very same methods that the writing staff of LOST used to become instant experts on the symbolism of the ouroborous, Hermann Minkowski's theory of four-dimensional space-time, Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan's philosophy of psychoanalysis, and the hundreds of other high-minded high culture references that we're meant to believe is propelling the show's mysterious narrative.

How, you ask? Why Wikipedia of course! Wikipedia has become "The Entirety of Humankind's Knowledge for Dummies." As long as we're not asked to provide any sort of depth to that message board post on wormholes or ever engage in conversation in a "live" setting, everybody with a keyboard and an ounce of curiosity is an expert in all fields. sadly, many of us have also become opinionated experts on these topics that we just learned two sentences about last week, but that's another rant. This is no knock on the smarts or creativity of creators/showrunners Carlton Cuse (48, Harvard grad) and Damon Lindelof (34, NYU Film School), I just doubt that they were able to amass PhD level educations in philosophy, literature, physics, etc. and absorb every comic book, horror novel and sci-fi pulp of the 20th century all while cranking out episodes of BRISCO COUNTY, JR., CROSSING JORDAN and NASH BRIDGES. Fortunately, the internet doesn't require a library card and is damn good at summarizing enormous amounts of info into easily digestible paragraphs.

PS. As some of you knew immediately and others like myself had no clue about (until I Wiki'd him), "Hiro Nakamura" is a character from a show I've never seen but apparently is also rich in references- NBC's HEROES. I wonder if it's meaningful that his name sounds a lot like the show's name?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dog Ears #1: The Count of Monte Cristo

I know it's silly to buy "classic" books when there's a perfectly good library walking distance from the house (especially when said house's bookshelves are already double-stacked) but you just can't dog ear pages from library books.

The classic in question is Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, written in 1844-45. I'm presently on p. 978 (of 1462) and am still completely enthralled by the narrative, the characters and, especially, the exquisitely vivid prose. Many books from the canon can feel like work or eating your vegetables from start to finish, but this one's a joy. To list the subsequent books and films who've made use of/paid homage to/stolen from Count's plot points, literary devices and character motivations would require a separate blog.

Suffice it to say that the saying "Revenge is a dish best served cold" might as well be tattooed across protag Edmond Dantes's shoulderblades.

Anyway, because of the exceptional length of the book, I wanted to jot down some of the select interesting words, timeless observations, lightning-bolt quotes and sly turns of phrase that caught my eye before I reach the conclusion. So, without further ado...

p195 "to learn is not to know; there are the learners and the learned. Memory makes the one, philosophy the other."

p255 "Pain, thou art not an evil."

p380 "yataghan" |ˈyatəgən; -ˌgan| noun, chiefly historical, a sword without a guard and typically with a double-curved blade, used in Muslim countries.
that's a mighty long yataghan you have there.

p538 "cavil" |ˈkavəl| verb [ intrans. ] make petty or unnecessary objections : they caviled at the cost.

p538 "Punctuality is the politeness of kings."

p665 "non bis in idem" | Latin for "not twice for the same thing"

p680 "Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish," said Emmanuel, "know not what is the real happiness of life; just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone estimate the value of a clear and serene sky."

p713 "Eh indeed, does mankind ever lose anything? The arts are removed, and make a tour of the world! Things change their names, and the vulgar do not follow them- that is all; but there is always the same result."

p895 "parvenu" |ˈpärvəˌn(y)oō| often derogatory noun a person of obscure origin who has gained wealth, influence, or celebrity : the political inexperience of a parvenu. adjective having recently achieved, or associated with someone who has recently achieved wealth, influence, or celebrity despite obscure origins : he concealed the details of his parvenu lifestyle. ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from French, literally ‘arrived,’ past participle of parvenir, from Latin pervenire ‘come to, reach.’

p933 "myosotis" |ˌmīəˈsōtəs| noun a plant of a genus that includes the forget-me-nots. • Genus Myosotis, family Boraginaceae.ORIGIN modern Latin, from Greek muosōtis, from mus, mu- ‘mouse’ + ous, ōt- ‘ear.’

"let me show you somethin'"

that's all for now. pray I don't pull my paperbacks down one by one and un-dog ear the dog ears of the past...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm Talkin' HUGE

You know how there are some words that seem real but aren't, and some words that seem fake but are authentic? I discovered today that one of my favorite "fake" words is in the damn dictionary.


Part of Speech: adj
Definition: simply huge; extremely large
Etymology: 1948-53; giant + enormous
Usage: ginormously, adv

Thursday, May 10, 2007

We've All Been There

BIRTHDAY: noun, the annual anniversary of the day on which a person was born, typically treated as an occasion for celebration and present-giving: "I'm getting a dollhouse for my birthday" | [as adj. ] a birthday cake | the birthday boy.

the day of one's birth: "she shares a birthday with Paul McCartney."

the anniversary of something starting or being founded: "the staff celebrated the twenty-fifth birthday of the paper."

PHRASES: in one's birthday suit: naked.

I LOVE celebrating my birthday, and today Mrs. Word Player and I took the day off to celebrate the 27th birthday of Mz. Art Designer.

And it was good.

And it is good.

And it shall be good, for goodness' sakes.

I wonder if parents think of a child's "birth day" as often/fondly/reluctantly/angrily/etc. as the actual celebrant does. obviously, no one has a memory of their own birth day, yet I'd wager every parent remembers the birth days they went through first hand (even if they forget the actual date it occured).


the date on the calendat that our birthday falls upon is so completely out of OUR control that it's curious that THAT's the day that most of us step into or out of the spotlight reserved for us once a year.

why isn't "Mother's Day" celebrated on the day that the mother gave birth and became a mother (doesn't matter if it's for the first, second, or tenth time), and everybody's birthday celebrated on the day that...


the day that we all...


wait, wait... it'll come to me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Tie-ins of the Damned

Because of an uptick in the number of clients I've been writing for, I've been doing a lot more writing in my sleep lately. Some of the work I've been able to remember in the morning has already made it into print, but most of it (sadly?) is for make-believe clients and projects.

For instance, last night as I slept I was working on a cross-promotion for Crystal Light ("Cause I believe in ME!") and the newest FRIDAY THE 13th sequel (which doesn't exist, to my knowledge.)

The promotion is "Camp Crystal Light," where winning entrants get to spend a fun-filled weekend drinking the many fine flavors of Crystal Light while avoiding "death" at the maniacal hands of Jason Voorhees.

Hey, it could happen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Getting Some Words in Edgewise

At last, I can finally add "blogger" to my CV.

The other purpose of this blog is to have some fun with words; written, spoken, performed, and otherwise. I read and write and research for work and for pleasure, and over the course of a day I usually come across a good quote or underused word or phrase or idiom that is new or interesting to me. Mrs. Word Player and I are also amateur neologists, but we are shy about introducing our new concoctions at cocktail parties.

Artist Trish Grantham's "Must Find Solid Ground"

Now, I have someplace to play around with these words of my day and record the moments we shared for posterity.

The first quote I'll share was almost repurposed for the name of the blog itself, as it's a longtime favorite.

"I hate water. Fish fuck in it."
W.C. Fields (comedian/actor/misanthrope)

Upon reflection, that one's pretty self-explanatory.