Monday, December 21, 2009

blood, guts, and goodbye

And look just there, how the goat guts drip down your scythe. Liquid rubies slipping down the obsidian blade, like your fingertips once slid down the length of my arm, both coming to rest in a warm, messy tangle of life and death. Oh, Dark Lord of the Barrrowlands, we were once something great.

Now we have spent fortnights unnumbered with each other and yet apart. We have always been about our own tasks, yes, but between the cruel ruling of our own lands won with dark magicks and deceit and our respective insatiable appetites for obscene power and raiment, we once found time for one another as pleasurable and simple to make as a virgin sacrifice to the wicked forest warrior priests of the ancients.

We once loved each other as madly and fully as our own ambitions. We oft made the blood and bed and breakfast pledges to each other, to our love, to join our great powers as one High King and High Queen of Endsong. Violent and vicious and wild-eyed, we made love and promises. Grown men shook before us united. Fair kingdoms were ruined. Children were eaten. Now we would sooner share an awkward moment of forced pleasantry than a bed, or even a set of runes. How could there now be so little to say to each other, when once there were tomes? How could we both inwardly cringe at the thought of taking on another joint campaign of dark wizard hellfire?

Though our bed has always wailed with the voices of innocents meeting their doom, another sound has joined their enchanted chorus. And oh, my love, what a dirge it is! A tune much like but far superior to the funeral of a dwarf monarchy I once witnessed briefly before igniting with flames thrown from my Staff of Nether. Sad and slow and sung by the ghost of this, us, what we were and could be but are no longer.

Many moons could be wasted lamenting this loss, our fates. But know this my once-love, my Darkness. If I had a heart I would hold you in it forever, a prisoner being slowly starved for food and hope. I would let your memory fester and die there, in that space inside me that should be.

But since we are heartless folk, I say this. A bit of the old black magic flared when you struck the guts of the goat that would be your final sacrifice to me. Remember what we once had always as I will, riding for strongholds unknown, this intestine pendant round my neck.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"I feel like I'm always learning my opponent."

My friend Philip has been a teacher and writer for longer than I have, and is an undeniable hotshot in both fields. He's all the things good teachers and writers should be: kind, creative, honest, funny, and tough. Plus he's won awards, written under the advisement of the dude who wrote Hotshots, does Kung Fu, and has a downright oldtimey mustache.

Philip: he's pretty great.

So it was great to get to vent and moan and be all the things good teachers and writers are in their off hours with him. To let all the cuckoo-clock-wound muscles unfurl and show their strain. To talk solutions, small losses and wins. To know other teachers have hit walls too, beg signs of life from a sea of blank stares and don't get so much as blinks. To hear of other Larissas and Philips giving up or doubling down, finally walking out or finally getting through.

Philip said something earlier about a cage fight he recently attended. He said, "the guy we were rooting for didn't win but he fought a good fight. He really dominated in the third round, was stronger in the second, but the first...I dunno, it took him too long to learn his opponent."

Earlier, in class, the kids and I were talking about conflict and conflict resolution. It was a great conversation, blooming like the rose at the end of some serious scrub-brush season. It got heavy, with kids opening up about a lot of the hardships they face and wondering about the effect small losses have on the psyche of themselves and others.

One kid said, "well even if we never win, we've still got to try."

I said, "Yes! Why??"

I looked around the room at twenty faces screwed up in thought. Finally, another kid piped up.

"We just have to. Right?"

"Right." I said. Then looked out at the class again. "Right?"

Twenty kids shrugged and nodded. The sound of a small win symphony.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

silver bullet with butterfly wings

“Quit rustling.”

“I’m not rustling.”

“Shut up!”

“You shut up!”

“You…you're lazy, come on.”

“Okay, Dad.”

“Shut up.”

“You’re the one who said I was bad at his.”

“No. I said you’re too loud. You’re slouching. Stand UP, Kyle.”

“I AM!”

“Shh. Puff your shoulders up. Pretend there’s a hanger in them.”

“In my skin? In my body?”

“Like you’re wearing a dinner jacket and there’s a hanger still in it. Like you’re nervous. But also like you’re angry. Like you’re ready to pick up a table and throw it.”

“Do you see this stuff on TV?”

“Kyle!”

“Derek!”

“Jesus!"

“Great. Maybe I should start praying to the patron saint of bad-“

“SHUT UP Kyle. Jesus. I’m trying to help you.”

“You want me to stand like…I am angry…at a dinner party.”

“ Ugh. Yes.”

“Okay.”



“I’ve never been at a dinner party though.”

“It doesn’t matter. Imagine.”

“Oh. Kay.”

“That’s…at least you’re not slouching.”



“I am bad at this.”

“You won’t always be.”

“Yeah, right.”



“Did you…were you bad at it?”

“No.A little, I guess. At first. But then…”

“That girl-“

“Yeah.”

“That’s the part I am going to be really bad at. The standing part, I can figure out. The actual…attacking part. I’m not cut out for it.”

“It's not like how- And you haven’t changed yet. Fully. You have to see how you're...The moon-“

“What is the moon gonna change? It’s not gonna change me. Who I am.”

“So you think it changed who I am?”

“Ow!”

“Do you?”

“No! Ow. I don’t know.”



“It…I didn’t do. What dad thinks. What dad says we should do when the moon is…”

“Like that?”

“Yeah.”

“But you said- the cheerleader-the harvest festival-“

“I made it up.”



“All of it?”

“There was a harvest festival. There was a cheerleader. I just didn’t- We just kinda…talked. And we…kissed, you know. I didn’t make her or anything. It just happened.”

“Because of the moon? Or the talking?”

“I don’t know. Lower your voice.”



“Both, I think.”



“…Oh.”

“…Yeah.”

“But the change? Did it-”

“It didn’t really do anything. It made me a little braver, I guess. It made me feel a little wild. Not killing wild, or anything.”

“Hungry? Like Dad-“

“Kind of hungry. But not to eat, you know?”

“Not …yeah. I guess. Yeah.”



“I think it’s different from when Dad and Granddad felt it. I think the moon is different now. Or we’re different, I don’t know.”

...

“This girl from class. Is she pretty?”

“I think she is. You probably won’t think so.”

“Shut up.”

“You probably won’t though.”

“Do you think she’s pretty, Kyle?”

“Yes.”

“Then she is pretty. Jesus. What is wrong with you?”



“Why are we even out here? It’s cold. And we’re not gonna turn into monsters, apparently.”

“I know.”

“Why then?”

“Because…the moon is gonna come out. And something will happen. And I’m gonna help you figure it out.”



“Okay.”

Monday, December 7, 2009

pearls before swine

Science is almost always the biggest waste of time. We never get to go to the lab because Deongelo and Edwin are idiots. Even when Mr. Wick tries to do easy stuff so we can earn going in the lab, Deongelo and Edwin ruin it because they curse and are playfighting. I mean, it’s hilarious, but it’s also stupid because then we never get to go in the lab and we just do stupid worksheets and that just makes them act up more, so also it’s stupid of Mr. Wick to do that. It’s like our afterschool teacher says, nothing works with seventh graders because we are hellbent on ruining everything. Hellbent is a curse, but she says she’s allowed to say it because it’s in literature and we curse more than her anyway. And we do.

But science has been NOT a waste of time this week, it has been pretty cool but also gross. We are dissecting pigs. They are baby pigs or something, and they look really nasty and kind of see-through but it is cool that we are doing something in Science that is not worksheets. We are working in groups to dissect the pig and learn about its body parts and anatomy. Deongelo and Edwin are actually good at it, go figure. It is disturbing that the only time they don’t talk is when they are cutting a dead pig, but whatever.

I wanted to try to cut it but when it was my turn I got sick. Like, at first I thought I was going to only be a little bit sick in my throat, but I don’t know. It was something about how it felt cutting it, it felt like cutting an orange. Like a really nasty orange. And I just started remembering this pig that used to run around my cousin’s house in Puerto Rico and even though that pig was bigger, I don’t know, I guess I just started confusing the pigs or something because all of a sudden I just missed Puerto Rico a lot and I felt really bad for that pig and I…I puked, man. It was gross.

All of the kids are always mean to me anyways, calling me stupid and ugly and say I look like Shrek, but when I puked they were even more mean. For a second I didn’t think it was as bad as it felt but when I opened my eyes I looked and it was really bad. Some of my puke even got on the pig. They said I puked because I felt bad for cutting up my own kind. Mr. Wick yelled at them to shut up, but even he looked mad that I puked on the pig. I hated my life.

For the rest of the week Mr Wick told me to take it easy and to read articles about Science he had on his computer. One of the articles was about this woman who brought a heart back to life. The heart was a a dead rat heart, and she cleaned it off really good with this chemical from shampoo. And once it was really, really clean she put all these new rat heart cells in it to see what would happen. And the new rat cells brought the dead heart to life. The rat heart started to beat again. It was like a zombie or something, but not evil or anything. Everyone who the woman knew was really happy for her. I guess they think one day we will be able to bring back friends and cousins and people you really miss. People who it just breaks your life to lose, you can bring back one day.

When I asked Mr Wick why she started on a rat heart and not a people heart, he said in Science you have to think big but start small.

I have been thinking. I am going to bring in shampoo tomorrow because tomorrow they get to the heart part of dissecting. I know we need more than a heart to live. But this kind of science is like magic. If you can bring a heart back from the dead, it should just start pumping blood into all the dead things and wake them up. And the legs and the brains and the guts will think they are alive and then soon enough they will actually be alive. And then the pig will wake up and it will be exactly the same except it will not think it is ugly anymore, or gross, even if it still smells like formaldehyde which it probably still will unless I bring in some perfume but even perfume mixed with that smell would be gross. But the pig won’t think it smells gross. It will think it smells like magic. Because no matter what, it broke every rule. It is a magic pig.

I got Mr Wick to print out the article for me. He is glad I am reading more advanced this year.

I am going to go home and study and come here and bring the heart back. Then I will keep the pig as a pet and teach it all new things about life. I am going to be really good to that pig.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the shadow hero

Ale, mead, and honeywine flow freely in the hero hall. It is always a celebration here: a town has been saved, a demon has been slain, a witch outwitted. There are always stories to tell and they are almost always the same.

We heroes come to the hero hall to show off bloody heads, severed from beasts of infamy, from hell, from the deeps. We take time to mention the manner of severing: axe blade, sword, our own teeth. We eat. We drink. We make merry with maids.

From time to time something odd happens in the hero hall. A shadow will darken the hall’s threshold, turn a maid’s fair locks grey, her face white, her hands to shaking birds. Steins will clatter to the ground and grown men will groan or tremble as they face the shadow dead on.

The shadow becomes a man, or a woman. The shadow heaves and sighs. The shadow collapses at the bar, and only picks at the pretzels and popcorn offered there. The shadow man or woman may order a drink, but if they do or don’t they always just stare at the space where the drink is or would be. They sigh ever so. And breathe ever so. And think hard.

After a time of generally killing the rest of the heroes’ buzz, the shadow hero will cry. And wonder why it didn’t work. And blame themselves but try not to. And wish they could just let it go, this very unheroic way they have about them, of worrying and wondering and ruminating. And they will ponder for a moment another life, one where simple mead and empty kisses could heal their wounds. Or true love could strengthen their weak spots. Or belief could rush steady and strong at the base of their spine and out through their limbs and provide that flexibility so needed on the battlefield, in the woods, alone.

The rest of the heroes will watch this awkward hot mess transpire. Most will edge away or look at their shoes; wonder out loud about the time. But one or two or maybe three will sit nearer the shadow hero, and listen to the quiet tears. They will put hands on the shadow’s back, push the popcorn closer and say:

Eat something.

Breathe.

You’re still here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

remember eXistenZ?

The Cronenberg joint from the late 90s about thrills, chills, and escapades in the seedy underbelly (and bioported gamepods) of a not-so-distant future, starring international sensation Jennifer Jason Leigh and a relatively unknown British chap named Jude Law?

I was a pretty big fan of that movie. And that part where Jude Law/Ted Pikul licked ol' JJL's infected bioport in game.

If that sentence sounds like code to you while simultaneously turning you on, do yourself a favor and give this flicker a watch. Even though it's ridiculous, if you equate gamepods to iPhones it will chill you with its on-pointitude about the fetishistic addiciton people have to their personal technology. And if the chills don't impress you, Willem Defoe as (shock!) a madman will at least make you laugh.

DP: And that light is just...right. Thanks for standing in, John!
JUDE: It's Jude.
DP: Thanks Jude! Just think, one of these days this could be you starring and you'll have your own stand-in.
JUDE: I'm actually the actor. I'm not a stand in.
DP: That's the spirit, Jim!

Monday, November 23, 2009

joe tracz is a really great writer

If you ever get a chance to see one of his plays, do it. This is a little snip from one he wrote set at various dance parties in outer space:

Unable to go home, Error began carefully measuring out his remaining jumps, traveling to points of historic interest in the past and future, absorbing art and culture wherever he could, and taking advantage of the unique educational opportunities his situation afforded.

At least he started to do that.

And then he became a teenager.

And then he met a girl.

At a masked ball, at the bottom of the ocean.

A ball we happened to be throwing.

And then he lost her.

He did something stupid and he lost her.

And ever since then…


I feel bad for the guy.

I know how it feels to keep looking for something.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

to die, it's easy


"'No, Darling!

To die, it's easy...but you have to struggle for life!

Until the last moment we must struggle together! I need you! And you'll see that together we'll survive.'


This always I told her."


-Vladek Spiegelman, in Art Spiegelman's MAUS. Which is really Vladek and Art Spiegelman's MAUS, if you think about it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I have an actual goddamned time machine, I am not kidding

If I said to you, "I want to return to 1940 and have a big coupe with big running boards and drive it drunkenly and carefully along dirt roads never causing harm except for frightening chickens out of the road, and I want you standing out there on the running board saying Slow down, or Let me in, and laughing, but I don't stop, because of course you don't mean it, you think as I do that big 1940s coupe and careful drunken driving and one party outside the car and one inside and both laughing and chickens spraying unhurt into ditches is what life was then, is what life was about before it became ruined by us and all our crap," and if I said to you, "I have an actual goddamned time machine, I am not kidding, we can get in the coupe inside thirty seconds if we take off our clothes and push the red button underneath that computer over there, come on, strip, get ready""--would you get ready to go with me, and go? Would you ask a lot of questions? Or would you just say, "Shut up and push the button"?

--Padgett Powell via Ben Platt's facebook page

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

since prince was on appollonia

I've been working on a dream project pretty much nonstop for the past few months. It's an idea I've nursed in some fashion for the past five or so years. We're finally shooting the first episode and then some this weekend.


Of course, all this dedication has meant I've abandoned a bunch of littler projects for awhile. That and had a lot of late nights listening to Bruce Springsteen and Passion Pit at my kitchen table. So *snaps* to some cool stuff that I didn't write that has been keeping my creative brain full in between bites of Snap and Akon and Emon and Springsteen and dance jams and teaching the children and watching The Office and The Guild and all that.

first snaps to Jonathan Goldstein's Ladies & Gentlemen, The Bible!, . It is a book my pal Lindsey is reading, and from this story alone it sounds absolutely wonderful. This is one part:

In the Beginning, when Adam was first created, he spent whole days rubbing his face in the grass. He picked his ear until it bled, tried to fit his fist in his mouth, and yanked out tufts of his own hair. At one point he tried to pinch his own eyes out, in order to examine them, and God had to step in.

Looking down at Adam, God must have felt a bit weird about the whole thing. It must have been something like eating at a cafeteria table all by yourself when a stranger suddenly sits down opposite you. But it's a stranger who you have created. And he is eating a macaroni salad that you have also created. And you have been sitting at the table all by yourself for over a hundred billion years. And yet still, you have nothing to talk about. It was pitiful the way Adam looked up into the sky and squinted. Before He created Adam, God must have been lonely. Now he was still lonely, and so was Adam.

Then came Eve. Since the Garden of Eden was the very first village and since every village needs a mayor as well as a village idiot, it broke down in this way. Eve: mayor. Adam: village idiot. And that is the way it was from the very beginning. Sometimes when Adam would start to speak, Eve would get all hopeful that he was about to impart something important and smart, but he would only say stuff like, "Little things are really great, because you can put them in your hand as well as in your mouth."

Eve would ponder how one minute she was not there, or anywhere, and now she was. Adam would ponder nothing. In her dreams, Eve danced in the tops of trees. Her beautiful thoughts flew out of her ears and lit up the sky like fireflies, and there were all kinds of people to talk to and hug. And then she would hear snoring. She would wake up, and there would be Adam, his yokel face pressed right against hers, his dog-food breath blowing right up her nostrils. Eve stared up at the sky. Adam draped his arm across her chest and brought his knee up onto her stomach. God, watching in Heaven, feared for Adam's broken heart as though the whole universe depended on it.

Adam was close to the animals and spent all day talking to them. Except for God, Eve had no one. She would complain to the Lord any chance she got. "Adam is a nimrod," she would say and the Lord would remain silent. God was the best and all that, and she loved the hell out of Him, but when it came to trash-talk, He was of no use.

Adam was constantly trying to impress her. "Look what I have made," he said one bright morning, his hands cupped together. Eve looked into his hands. She pulled away and shrieked. Adam was holding giraffe feces. "I've sculpted it!" said Adam. "It is for the Lord." He opened his hands wide to reveal to her a tiny little giraffe with a crooked neck.

On some days, Adam galloped about, exploring. His hair was wiry and when it got sweaty, it hung down in his eyes. Adam was cute this way. On one such day, he saw a snake. Adam made the snake's acquaintance by accidentally stepping on his back.

"Wow, that smarts!" said the snake through gritted teeth. Their eyes locked and in that very moment, the snake concluded that, indeed, Adam was a lummox and as King of the Earth, his reign would very soon end. There was a new sheriff in town, and it was he. It was no longer the story of Adam, but the story of the snake. He could tell all of this just by simply looking into his idiot eyes.

"I've seen you around with another one like you," he said to Adam. "But instead of the dead legless snake between the legs, she has chaos there."

"That's Eve!" said Adam, all animated. "I named her that myself. God made her from out of my rib." He showed the snake the scar on his side. The snake looked at Adam in silence. The idea of Adam, Adam the schlemiel, Adam the fool, being God's favorite was enough to give the snake a migraine.

"You aren't at all like I imagined," the snake said. "I thought you'd be closer to the ground. More pliant. Greener. I tried to explain to God that to make you balanced up on your hind legs was architecturally unsound. I don't know why I bother."

Adam sat and listened, wide-eyed. Eve hadn't the patience to sit and chat like this. So when the snake suggested that they get into the habit of meeting every once in a while to talk, Adam was very excited to do so. As they lazed on their backs, staring up at the sky, the snake would brag about how he was older than the whole world and how he used to pal around with God in the dark, back before Creation. He said that in the darkness, it was a truer freer time, that in the darkness was the good ol' days. He told Adam that back in the very beginning, he had all kinds of thoughts on how to make the Garden of Eden a better place -- but God was just too stubborn to listen to reason. "Make the earth out of sugar, I told Him. Instead of stingers, give bees lips they can kiss you with."

Adam didn't always agree with the snake. In fact, a lot of what the snake said went straight over his head. But there was still something about him that made him get into a very particular mood. He made the world feel bigger. Sometimes when Adam was with Eve, sitting there in icy silence, he would think to himself: "I sure could go for a good dose of snake."

You would think after all the time they spent together, the snake would finally find it within himself to like Adam, just a little bit. But instead, he only grew to hate him more. He took to comforting himself with thoughts of Adam's wife, Eve. From what he heard from Adam, she was hot and smart. Often he would imagine running into her, and the instant synergy they would have. "Adam neglected to tell me how leggy you are," he would say, wrapping himself around her calf.

The snake had no idea what he looked like. He was hairless, bucktoothed, four inches tall, and he spoke with a lisp. Adam had the IQ of a coconut husk. But he was still human. The snake, in his arrogance, was unable to grasp this, and so he daydreamed. "Sometimes, I'd think you were watching me," the snake imagined saying to Eve. "Because I felt like there were ribbons wrapped around me. Ribbons made of raw pork intestines. I would turn around to catch you sneaking a peek at me from behind a tree, but all I would see were the hedgehogs who mocked me. Come, my dear. Let us eat from the Tree of Knowledge."

On Eve's very first day, Adam had explained to her the rules of the Garden, just the way God had explained them to him. He had lifted his head up and had made his back stiff. He had spoken the way a radio broadcaster from the 1940's would. Another kind of woman, someone softer than Eve, might have found this charming. He explained that except for the Tree of Knowledge, every tree in the Garden was theirs to eat from.

"I am a fan of the pear," Adam said. "It is not unlike an apple, whose head craves God."

"Tell me more about this Tree of Knowledge," said Eve. She enjoyed the sound of it. The Tree of Knowledge. It sounded very poetic.

"There's not much to tell," said Adam. "If we eat from it, we will die."

From then on, Eve talked about the Tree of Knowledge all the time. It was Tree of Knowledge this and Tree of Knowledge that. It was like it wasn't a tree at all, but a moviestar. Sometimes she would just stand by the Tree and stare at it. It was on such an occasion that she met the snake.
When Eve first caught sight of him, she brought her hand to her mouth and gasped. She had seen some repulsive animals in her day. A boobie that percolated her vomit just below her tonsils. A dingo that instilled in her a sublime sense of nature's cruelty. And a deathwatch beetle that filled her with existential dread. But still, there was something about the snake that made her realize in a flash that the world was anywhere from 60 to 80 percent oilier than she would have ever imagined.

"Hi!" said the snake. "In the mood for some Fruit of Knowledge? It's fruity!"

"We were told not to eat from that tree, or else we would die," said Eve.

"Die? What an ignorant thing to say," said the snake, all chewing on a blade of grass in the side of his mouth. "If there's an escape hatch from Paradise, then it isn't really paradise, is it?"

The snake made interesting points. That appealed to Eve. He could see that he was making an impression.

"All I'm saying is to give it a try. Many things will be made immediately clear to you once you partake. I could talk about it all day and you still won't get it. You have a right to at least try it, right? I'm not saying go out and eat an entire fruit. Have a nibble. A nibble isn't really eating, is it?"

Eve found arguing semantics exhilarating. She looked at the Tree. The way the sun shined through its leaves was beautiful. Everything seemed to point to: nibble the fruit. Then the snake said, "Think about it. Does God want companions who can think for themselves or does he want a bunch of lackeys and yes-men? Wouldn't God want a few surprises? It would seem to me that God telling you not to eat from the fruit was just a test to see if you could think for yourselves, to see if you could exist as equals to God. The day you taste the fruit is the day God will no longer be lonely. At least give it a lick."

Eve looked at the fruit and then she looked at the snake. Then, slowly, she parted her lips and pushed out her tongue, all wet and warm and uncertain. She ran its tip along the smooth flesh of the fruit. The snake smiled. "Has anyone died?" he asked. "Now take a tiny little nibble. Just a speck, just to see."

The fruit was squishy and tart. She smooshed it around in her mouth. She squinted her eyes. It was a bit like trying on new glasses. It was a bit like an amal nitrate popper. It was a bit like a big wet kiss on the lips right at first when you weren't sure whether you wanted to be kissed or not. She felt a thousand little feet kicking at her uterus.

The idea of her own nudity, as well as Adam's, had always felt like a Nordic co-ed health spa thing. Now with the Fruit of Knowledge, it felt more like a Rio de Janeiro carnival thing. Her breasts felt like water balloons filled with blueberry jam and birds. Her nipples were like lit matchsticks. Her thighs, the way they swished against each other, were like scissors cutting through velour. With her lips still glistening in Tree of Knowledge fruit juice, she ran off to find Adam. The snake watched her as he chewed on his slimy blade of grass. And as she receded into the distance, he thought something along the lines of "Now that's what I'm talking about."

"Kiss me, Adam," said Eve. "Taste my lips."

Adam, like any lummox truly worth his salt, could smell the minutest trace of knowledge coming his way, and thus he knew how to avoid it like the plague. But yet, there was also this. Eve had never sought him out in the middle of the day before just to kiss him. It felt like a very lucky thing. When he took her in his arms, he told her that he loved her with his whole entire heart. He closed his eyes tightly and brought his lips to hers. Then he squinted. Then it started to rain and Eve began to cry.

During the darkest days ahead, with the fratricides and whatnot, Adam would often think back to his brief time in Eden. As he became an old man, he would talk about the Garden more and more. A couple of times, he had even tried to find his way back there, but he very soon became lost. He didn't try too hard anyway. He didn't want to bother God any more than he already had.

When Adam met someone that he really liked, he would say, "I so wish you could have been there." It didn't seem fair to him that he was the one who got to be in Eden. "This sunset isn't bad," he'd say, "but the sunsets in Eden, they burned your nosehairs. They made your ears bleed." He couldn't even explain it right. "When you ate the fruit in Eden, it was like eating God," he would say. "And God was delicious! When you wanted Him, you just grabbed Him." Now when he ate fruit, he could only taste what was not there. But it wasn't all bad. After Eden, Eve became much gentler with Adam. After getting them both cast out, she decided to try as hard as she could to give Adam her love. She knew it was the very least she could do. She sometimes even wondered if that was why God had sent the snake to her in the first place.

Adam would tell his grandkids, his great-grandkids, and his great-great-grandkids about how he and Nana Eve had spent their earliest days in a beautiful garden, naked and frolicking, and the kids would say, "Ew!" The children would swarm into the house like a carpet of ants. The youngest ones would head straight for Adam, lifting his shirt to examine his belly for the umpteenth time. They smoothed their hands across his flesh and marveled. "Where's Grandpa's bellybutton?" they all asked. He stared at the children. They were all his children. And as they slid their little hands across his blank stomach, he wondered what it was like to be a kid.


Second snaps to The Legend Of Neil. It is an absolutely hilarious and ridiculous webshow about a dopey guy who falls into a live-action Legend of Zelda after pleasuring/auto-asphyxiating himself while playing the game. It's written by Zaboo from The Guild, yo!



Snippy snaps to DC Pierson, writer of books, solver of mysteries, maker of Sword Clubs. Order this joint now. Or go see his movie, Mystery Team, in theaters (it's in Pheonix now, at somplace called Valley Art). And don't be one of those f*cks who envies someone for "making it". Get of your ass and get on yr grind like this kid. Or rub salt in the wound when I tell you he even DREW THE PICTURES on the cover of his book!



Snaps to Joe Avella, one of my fave people/comedians/fellow Ian McShane enthusiasts. He's one of the Snap writers, and his short Wheelchair Werewolf just took a fancypants prize at a film fest in Wales. Things that win in Wales win with me.


Second round of snaps to Lacy Campbell, badass at large, and her own short stories. I mean for real? What can't this chick do?!?!?! One of my favorites from a perhaps-defunct site: http://thecollectivelens.blogspot.com/

Fernando by Lacy Campbell

We lived so close to the border that THE thing to do, if you were a total badass, was to sneak out in the middle of the night and go to this tiny little town in Mexico, Sangre de Cristo. And once you made it there, you had to get your picture taken in the cantina with Fernando.

Everyone knew who Fernando was – they had all seen his picture and heard stories about him. He had dark eyes that had sunken back into his skull, a wide lipless smile, and a skinny face like a horse. He was a legend. Everyone who came back from Sangre de Cristo had a Fernando story and a photo to go with it.

And, of course, everyone had a story about who he really was. He was a CIA operative. He was a former revolutionary. He was a rapist and a murderer, he was a drug lord, he was the guy who originally wrote La Bamba.

No one talked about the other possibility: that Fernando was some guy who drank at the local bar every night, hoping for one of those nights when a gaggle of giddy, elated American teenagers would swagger in, breathless with their own stupidity and daring, their pockets bulging with beer money and disposable cameras.


Snaps to my new favorite video on the planet. No joke. Love it. I love it so much I don't even have anything witty to say about it.


And snaps to Juliana, and her mom, and all the people I know and don't know pulling for someone amazing. Pull for her too:
http://www.forjuliana.com/

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vikings! Holy Shit!


Lacy Katherine Campbell is your hero.
You may not know this yet, but it's true.

She's an actress/writer/wonder-person, and I first got to know her when she played a twentysomething public-radio-personality frankenstein in a tv pilot I made with some other insanely talented friends. One time I felt famous because she quoted my blog on her blog. And I just got back from her latest + greatest artistic contribution to the world: Beowulf v Grendel (with Barbies.)

Don't mistake this for your auntie's performance art, Beowulf v. Grendel is the REAL DEAL when it comes to awesome things you've got to see. (Sorry, performance art aunties.) For one, that IS a garland of dead strung across the front of the Barbie/Beowulf stage. For two, it's like a play within a play within a fever dream of someone's supersmart, brazenly goofy mind. For three: vikings, dude. VIKINGS.

One of the less-fortunate viking's heads landed near my sis and I during the show:


Seeing B v G was a blast, and reminded me that some of the best, coolest things in life would never happen if the people behind them didn't ride full-throttle into the unknown and the silly. There's really no hard and fast reason to try anything above-and-beyond in this day and age. There are enough workaday things to worry about and achieve, and its devastatingly easy to lose faith in yourself and the phantom viking barbie plays in your mind while you're caught up in the routine. But you don't need hard and fast reasons. You need hot glue and gumption and mad energy to make something that makes people think, and laugh, and generally be happy to be alive.


psst! read Lacy's heroic blog here: http://alifetimeofdubioussuccess.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"The Day I Lost my iPod Forever"

"the day my DS was robbed out of my sister's hands"

"the time I was embarrassed because I fell in the toilet at my birthday sleepover"

All entries in one of my fave 7th grader's composition books.

I guess even when my job sucks, it is awesome.

Monday, November 9, 2009

ewan

you still do it for me.

I really liked The Men Who Stare at Goats, which is based on one of my favorite non-fiction books of all time. I have lots to say about both.

But you know, bros before prose.

conversation with 5th graders about The Future

We've been working on Future Self portraits in Art.

Me: So who can tell me some of the things that might happen in the future?

Class: Flying cars! Robots! Living Underwater!

Me: Okay...and what about something more personal? Who can tell me about a personal future thing?

Lavell, a genius ten-year old, shyly raises his hand. I call on him.

Lavell: Exploding chickens.

Me: Okay, Lavell. Please explain how exploding chickens are personal.

Lavell: ...It's their business.

AWESOME.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

even 7th graders thought this was cool.



Meet Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of In the Heights, a musical I have never seen but damn I want to. I was first exposed to his talents at a songwriter showcase at Northwestern my already-in-the-Miranda-know pal Dyan invited me to. In the words of the seventh graders I showed this clip to today, Lin-Manuel Miranda is pretty raw.

(In case you're lame, Raw means cool now. Liken it to "baller" or "the most!")

Almost all of my students are Puerto Rican, like Miranda. Almost all of them seem to hate reading and learning, unlike Miranda. Seeing an entertainer and obviously smart-cookie from their portion of the melting pot in Lin-Manuel Miranda plus rapping plus the tale of original gangsta Alexander Hamilton? Suddenly a little tiny fraction of a bit more interested in learning! YESSSSSSS!

I have instituted a candy challenge: all of the students in my class who compose and perform their own rap or song about a historical figure of their choice by this time next week will win an entire bag of candy of their choice. Response seems positive. Kids kept singing the "Alexander Hamilton....Alexander Hamilton...." part of the song.

We'll translate "for the love of candy" to "for the love of the game" later.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Half-Ass

Half-Ass

There were supportive girlfriends and there were bitchy girlfriends and Joy Michelle was something in between. She thought of this as she stood in the back of the bar by the doubledoors with her arms crossed and pressed against her chest, watching Michael make a damn fool of himself.

He had gotten the notion to be a stand-up comedian when they had gotten cable. He said comedy “awakened” him, and he was awake alright. Staying up all night to watch comedy specials; angry men talking about dull things and swearing. Joy Michelle hated them. She liked sitcoms. Michael did too, before they got cable. It was a string she pulled with her dad, a little thing to make Michael happy and add a little flair to the home life. Cable is nice to come home to when you work long days. In theory, you get more choices. In reality, you get more crap. This is what Joy Michelle ended up thinking of cable.

When Michael had announced one night while stumbling into bed that he was funnier than half the people on TV, even David Letterman, Joy Michelle had said: Prove it. She’d said it into the pillow, and was mostly thinking out loud. She loved Michael, and she thought he was funny. She laughed when he acted goofy with her. She laughed when he laughed. She liked to hear him talk. But she couldn’t remember a time he had ever cracked an honest joke. She could remember a million times he had told her he could. She could remember a million more where he had blanked out everything around him, soundly focused on whatever angry man had caught his fancy this week, shouting comedy to him from the flickering flat screen.

He had blown up at the Prove It. It exploded his heart. It terrified him, but of course this he did not let on. Instead he laughed meanly and said, I will. Fuck yes I will. They went to sleep with him thinking he would Prove It, and her thinking he used to swear less. He used to be more pleasant. He used to seem happier. He used to make her laugh.

For two days he seemed to prepare to prove it. He sought out an open mic night. He invited their friends. He bought a pack of index cards and a bottle of whiskey. He wrote notes and smoked cigarettes and did not ask Joy Michelle about her day at the hospital. He used to like to hear about the babies on her floor, the names people gave them, if any of them had young brothers and sisters who pretended they were theirs.

But here they were at O’Hallorans and there he was on the stage not looking at his notecards. Not saying what he may or may not have written. Not saying anything, really, except what a drag girlfriends are. Not much more than that. And something hardened in Joy Michelle that she never had expected to. Something stuck in her side. Here she was, wasting her time, watching Michael make a fool of himself and not even having the decency to try.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

tea + whiskey

I'm sorely unpracticed at writing short stories, but I want to get into it. My challenge to myself is to write one little story a day, and eventually get to a point where I write a bit meatier of a tale a month. Because I'm the precious type that likes to name everything I do or make, I'm gonna call these little guys tea & whiskey tales...because they were probably written while consuming a cupful of one or both. I present tea + whiskey tale 1...

Places You No Longer Fear

1. The drum closet in the Band Room.
2. The car, pretty much anywhere.
3. The back of the away-game bus when parked.
4. Your own house at night.

There is still something terrifying to you about the school parking lot. First off, it’s lit up like a 24-hour grocery store. And there is almost always another car there. A janitor, someone from the team, another band kid. There’s a girl in all AP classes who is rumored to never leave the school. They say she sleeps on the rolled-up wrestling mats, stored away on the stage…or with Coach Lanza in the Pool Office.

The parking lot is small but open. The forest preserve stretches out behind it, endless wooded black. Neighborhood homes stand watch just across the street, dark and quiet but full of people you know. Maybe sleeping. Maybe seeing. The place stirs you up and you try to avoid it.

But if you’re there long enough after a game and you’ve managed to wait out the crowd and see the band room exit open, you start to feel good. And those times when you kiss her you pretend you are a soldier defying a general’s command. Advancing instead of falling back. Or just quitting the war. Because you found something better. Even if it’s something you’re still a little afraid of.

Monday, October 5, 2009

100th post!

And all I've got to say is

WORD, Elvis Costello-by-way-of Sondre Lerche. WOOOOOOOORD. (100 times.)

All you toy soldiers and scaremongers
Are you living in this world sometimes I wonder
In between saying you've seen too much and saying you've seen it all before




PS...You know I love you more than slightly.

Yo Teach

I started a new teaching job last week, and it's been rough.

Not just The Kids Like Klimt Better Than Ernst, How Do I Get Them Interested In Ernst rough. The Kids Have Never Had An Art Class in their Lives rough. The Kids Are Sick of Being In School With No Breaks Except for A Half Hour Feeding Period rough. The Kids Think They're Stupid and So Does Everyone Outside of Their Immediate Neighborhood rough. The...the emphatically capitalized letters could go on.

There's only so much taking shit from 7th graders on the chin you can do without feeling something internal start to twist or crack. Today and last week have been a test, of what I am not sure. I knew this would be an "intense" bunch but didn't realize how much threatening, promising, cajoling and handclapping would have to be done to gain even the most pathetic purchase on the 7th/8th grade psychological stomping ground. I'm not a teacher. I'm a candy-briber. Detention-taunter. Square.

It's a wholly bizarre experience to be the authority figure to a group of people who were born when you were in 6th grade. Also: to help said people with math. I'm very far from them in age and maturity, but not so far that the girls shy away from touching my clothes and snatching my tattooed wrists, asqueal with delight at the fashion options available to them once they get out of junior high. The boys ask if I'm romantically involved with virtually any male teacher over the age of 35 (the mean age of most of them), which actually isn't as outlandish as it seems in the moment.

Still, my name gets forgotten. I'm not one of them, not in age or race or style. I'm called Miss...Miss...Mrs...Uh....or Teacher. I had to swallow my giggles when I heard my first Yo Teach, and my bile when called Mrs Lady Person.

Not all of this is completely new, but this time I'm catching a whole new group and dynamic at a time when they would rather do anything but stumble through the next set of algebra problems or Outsiders chapter. They're tired, they're annoyed, they're disheartened, and the scary part is they have every reason to be. These are the kids my friends are afraid of, even though they're sweethearts and nerds and goofs. These are the kids that will grow up hard, either slow or all of a sudden.

These are the kids it's EASY to call stupid, mean, jerks, little shits.

They're not, and I know they're not, but in the middle of getting conspired against and lied to and tricked and begged for candy and sneered at for ruling with a soft lead fist the stuff you know darkens in the bright light of the swift, mean, blinding part of you. Because it's easy then. Because fates were already sealed, far before you arrived on the scene.

So I buy the candy and I do the work and I calm the shrill in my voice. Smooth the hipster librarian sweater out and focus on three things:

1)The good true part
2)What I can do
3)the compliment Juan gave me on my brooch.

Friday, October 2, 2009

sometimes...

I think all I am good at is lying and being a good person. But I still could be better at both.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

shall we dance?

It's no coincidence that Christoph Waltz shares a name with a graceful, gliding dance that can be done while conducting affairs of state, acquiring a hostage, cracking a joke, sexing a bitch, and killing a man.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

dinner and a

Gainful-ish employment is on the horizon for your fair heroine, and the specter of financial relief rises with the sun. And though I am, in fact, the most indebted person you will ever meet in this life and the next, all I can think about are all the movies I am finally going to get to see.

Harry Potter, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Jennifer's Body, Taking Woodstock, It Might Get Loud, I Sell The Dead...and you know what, I am so movie-theatre-movie-starved I'd even take a matinee of Bandslam at this point.

Going to the movies is one of my favorite things to do, and I haven't done it in months. I know this epic list of flicks is not going to get seen overnight, or perhaps even in the coming months. Still, the fata morgana is enough to get me through the next stretch of desert.

Man, real life problems right?

Friday, September 11, 2009

there's a little flier that says this at the school where I'm about to teach

Watch your thoughts, they
become words.
Watch your words, they
become actions.
Watch your actions, they
become habits.
Watch your habits, they
become character.
Watch your character, for it
becomes...
your destiny.

"Be kinder than necessary,
for everyone you meet
is fighting some kind of
battle."


The flier hangs in a line of baseball cards, under a display case of dreamcatchers.

For this reason and many, I am really looking forward to teaching at this school.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

dodging bullets: a fun thing to do/say when your life doesn't consist of dodging real bullets.

If I can package the events and realizations going on in my life into an idiom or generally old-timey sounding saying, I'm going to do it. For better or worse, this is how it is. And boy have I been dodging bullets today. All week, even. Because you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Catch my drift?

I will break it down into non-nonsense terms. This has been a heavy-hitting bad news kind of week. No one is dead and no one is very ill, but the tides are turning kinda suckily for some of the people I love most, and like...me, a little bit. Laying-off of loved ones has taken place. Rejections have been doled out. Boner moves have been made by many, including me and the folks at GoogleMaps and the CTA Trip Planner.

I usually hate using the quaint phrase "everything happens for a reason." I'm all for finding a quarter in your jeans or happening upon a Whole Foods grand opening, but so much random shit is just bad. I don't want it holding high influence over the rest of my day, let alone life. I don't like letting things be, I don't like chalking one up to chance or "how it is." I need to know things. I need to make rain, and I would like the universe's aid in that enterprise.

Long story short, the random bad shit that is just happening...maybe there's reason to be yanked from it, forced free and trotted out like a show pony before being ridden into the Forests of Growth And Change. Losing out could provide an opportunity to not lose out again, or win something greater: understanding, a better job, organic produce...

Maybe sometimes all it takes is a pretty sucky run of it to recharge the waters before dumping them all over your opponents...In this case, the unseen forces that guide bad things towards good people, loss to those who deserve to keep what they have earned, and computer problems to those who need to print lesson plans to finally win gainful employment over.

I don't think everything happens for a reason. But there's a reason the saying doesn't go "when life gives you lemons, just look at the lemons for a while in disgust."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

camp half-blood.


The Percy Jackson books were all the Art Camp kids could talk about. That and their respective kooky Spanish teachers. Still, kids in each age level of camp were gaga for this adventure series by Rick Riordan, featuring a pack of ADHD misfit pre-teens and the greek gods that sired them with mortals...illegally.

I began reading these to know what the heck The Kids were talking about, and because one of my favorite campers lent me his copy the last week of camp. When I returned it to him after reading only the first thirty pages, he kindly informed me about these places? Libraries? You can go and borrow a book there and there are lots of books, and they have this one, probably?

I could further describe the plot and characters of the books to you here, but do yourself a favor and have a ten-year old you know do it. It will be far more entertaining, and set up the conceit of these books much better than maybe even the author does. Book One is shaky going, Book Two hits a few scenes right out of the pre-YA Fantasy/Adventure/Coming-of-Age Series park, and Book Three - well, I just started Book Three.

I mostly read them because the kids from camp worked their way into the fabric of the story. The heroes, the villains, the characters inbetween are all played by campers in my mind. It doesn't hurt that much of the action is set at a summer camp for demigods.

It doesn't hurt one bit.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"whatever. your name's brittany."

Some ladyfriends and I were trading tales recently, and somehow we got on the topic of crazy things crazy people say to you at parties. The title line of this entry was uttered to one said ladyfriend when she accidentally got in someone's way in a keg line. Maybe some other reason brought on the damning- she got caught peeping someone else's boyfriend? Stepped on a toe? Ate the last of the Cheeze Curlz? Whatever it was, what a ridiculous response.

Yesterday, my next door neighbor blasted daddy/daughter dance-style Country Music for three hours straight. I shut the window and turned up the volume on the TV show behind-the-scenes Youtube Video I was watching. Then I laughed at the silliness of one dork trying to tune out another.

I usually walk the line of being an eye-for-an-eye sassbomb and the kind of goody-two shoes that could make Ned Flanders tremble with pride. Still, for all my inherent prickliness/righteousness, I can't get behind people who "hate" subsets of people for ridiculous reasons. And I hereby announce the subset of people I come close to hating.

The People Who Hate People...
named Brittany
who like "bad" music
who say "like" too much
who read books
who watch TV
who use emoticons
who don't know when to use "who" or "whom"
who are gay---oh wait. Too serious!

There are a million better reasons to hate people than the ones listed above! Apathy, self-loathing, superiority complexes masking inferiority complexes: there's a smorgasbord of stupefying traits to despise and crucify each other for. But why even do that? Misanthropy is so cheap. And nobody likes cheapskates!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

converg'd.

Let me start by being real: I've never read anything by Flannery O'Connor in my life. Well, aside from the first few chapters of Wiseblood, which I kept way too long and have yet to pay overdue fines on. I do hope to one day finish it. Crazy preachers and the stories that unfurl around them always interest me - but that's beside the point.

The point is that I learned of the title "Everything that Rises Must Converge" the same way everyone else who's never read anything by Flannery O'Connor did: from an episode of LOST. I'm not sure what the title means in the context of the book. Perhaps it's something bleak or sinister, but what it seemed to mean in reference to that LOST episode and for me, now, is that Shit is Connected Hardcore. And you don't always see how shit's connected, and even if it isn't explicity connected it's almost always thematically connected, and because theme is another name for meaning and observation there is some meaning to find and meaningful observation to be made about pretty much Everything we go through individually or as one big honking cast of sprawlingly-storylined-characters. AKA people.

I've been having an everything rising & converging kind of a time lately. Concepts I've been dwelling on alone, events I've been following in the news, TV shows I've been watching, books I've been reading, realizations I've come to about myself, life, others, life, myself are expressing what seems to be a badass synergy through events personal and global. I know many people criticize the ol' People See Meaning In Meaningless Events In Order To Deal With What They Can't Understand argument for a lot of reasons, but I pretty much like the whole finding-meaning-in-things-and-learning-from-things response. Though it can and has blown up in some faces, I think it's one of the greatest things about being alive and sentient. There's a world we live in. There's stuff we and others do. Sometimes it's pointless and harmful, sometimes it's great; there are realizations waiting to be won and made to make individual and group life better, stronger, fuller - and more willingly connected.

One of the smaller, art-related things that done rised & converged for me recently was discovering the work of Felicia Day, a young writer/actress/filmmaker/webmistress who made a web series called The Guild and was the love interest in Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Maybe you were expecting me to launch into my feelings on health care reform or at least something headier than web tv, and I'll just say: trust that those feelings are there and deal with my expressing powerful beliefs through appreciation of pop culture & its makers.

Felicia Day is a badass, and it isn't because she's a really cute redhead with a sense of humor and wickedly funny friends. It's because she was/is a trembling ball of neuroses that gave herself the benefit of the doubt, worked hard to make something great, and tries to share her thoughts on getting out of neuroses-balls with others. Neuroses-balls. Gross. You get what I'm saying.

Below is an excerpt from Felicia Day's blog about what got her writing. It really rings my bell: way up in the sky with all the other bells, you know?



A lot of people ask me about writing The Guild, but I realize I don’t often say WHY I wrote it. The reason: Because I was tired of doing nothing.

It takes a very brave person to express themselves creatively. I know the paralyzing fear of being bad very well; it’s one of my greatest weaknesses. For years I had a voice inside me telling I “should” do this and I “should” do that, but I couldn’t overcome the possibility of being horrible to actually risk doing something about it. So I did nothing. And I loathed myself for my weakness.

Finally I had a strange realization that time passes whether you’re doing something with it or not. It would be easy to let every day go by easily with no risk and then, at the end of the day (my life), I would look back and realize that fear ruled me: At that point there would be nothing I could do about it. So, I got off my butt! It wasn’t easy and I had a lot of lapses (I still do) but the experience of being ruthless with myself was an amazing lesson to learn.

I don’t want this to be a self-help entry (although it already kinda is, LOL), but I wanted to share a few of the resources that I used to overcome my fear and be willing to suck and start DOING stuff.

-The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron: This is a 12-week program that helps you “discover your creativity.” It is seriously self-help-y and has a large spiritual element to it (an aspect I skimmed over personally), but it does force a lot of introspection, exploring what you enjoy doing, what drives you etc. It also makes you to write every day for the 12-weeks, which was one of the most invaluable aspects.

-If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland: This book was written in 1938, which I find amazing as this authors voice is as fresh as if it were written yesterday. If The Artist’s Way is touchy feely, this book is nothing but pragmatic. The greatest thing I took away from this is the spirit that you can’t care what other people think, you have to create for yourself and no one else. It brings out the fighter in you. It’s geared towards writing but the lessons apply to anything really. This book is a kick in the pants and big warm hug all at once.

-Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This is the best writing book I’ve ever read. The overwhelming idea of sitting down and “writing the whole thing” sets up expectations that are WAY too high! So much pressure This book makes it manageable, and is an enjoyable and frank look at writing by a wonderful author. Actually, I need to reread this as I’m experiencing this right now, LOL.

-Daily 5 Minute Writing Exercises by CM Mayo. After I finished “The Artists Way” I did these writing exercises every day for a year. I love having my notebooks full of these exercises to look back on! Creating the pattern of behavior of writing in the morning really helped me uncensor myself. I’ve lapsed a lot last year, but just started again and it’s amazing, doing the same exercises, how different my entries are.

- Lifehacker.com, zenhabits.net, 43 Folders and lifehack.org helped me get organized and prioritize. I am no saint but subscribing to these sites reminds me to get my act together when I go on a videogame or mystery novel bender.

-Sharing goals with friends. This entry doesn’t have a link, but it could, because your friends can be offline or online. It’s invaluable to share your goals with others so you can see that we all struggle together to make things happen. I had a weekly group I went to that helped me kick my WOW addiction and re-prioritize. I wouldn’t be here without that group of lovely people. We all share the same human weaknesses, but working in a vaccuum makes you lose that perspective. Having people in your life to use as a touchstone is important to get you through the hard days.

If you have any tips or links to resources that get you going, organized and creating, feel free to share!



You can watch The Guild at http://www.watchtheguild.com !

Monday, August 17, 2009

how on earth are we going to narrow it down to like, 5 of these?


BRGC does "The Obama"

and "The 90s Sitcom"
being creative + awesome + photogenic is hard work sometimes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

silver t-strap sneakers!



Young Ian McShane arm wrestling!


Old-timey cthulu arm!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

the interview

LARISSA'S BRAIN
So. How do you feel about that interview?

LARISSA'S STOMACH
Ehhh...

LARISSA'S BRAIN
Stomach! I'm not talking to you. Heart?

LARISSA'S BRAIN
Ehhh...

LARISSA'S BRAIN
Oh come on! It wasn't bad. I think they liked you. You were perfectly smart, friendly, witty. Unflappable, even. You're clearly passionate and creative. Stellar references and track record. They'd be nuts not to hire you. I mean, it's not like you included clips of you advocating safe teen sex through hilarious, if bawdy, sketches you wrote for a hit comedy podcast in your Artist Portfolio.

LARISSA'S HEART
Well...

LARISSA'S BRAIN
Seriously, Heart? SERIOUSLY? Where was I when you were pulling that ace move?

LARISSA'S HEART
Thinking it was a good idea because it's work we're proud of!

LARISSA'S BRAIN
Shit. Well - shit. We're....no, it's cool. That was a good move. We're awesome.

LARISSA'S STOMACH
I hurt a little bit.

LARISSA'S BRAIN & HEART
Shut up!

on being funemployed

Funemployed is not a term I made up. In fact, though it is one of my favorite things etymologically speaking (portmanteaus are my crack), it is a near-stupid thing that does stupid things to my brain.

These things include erasing all sense of proper bedtime. Doesn't matter if the day was full of productive, meticulously planned attack formations laying waste to To Do list items like so many ragtag armies; or loosely planned hours of consuming what the TV on DVD world has to offer me. This chick just don't know when to go to bed when there's nowhere to go at 7 in the AM.

My sister recently got back from a trip to the Dominican Republic. Of all the times she had there, and with all the folks, she was stunned that so many of her fellow travelers were bouncing around the world for indefinite stretches at a time, sort of planning on opening a store someday ("Once I find the right country") or waiting for the right moment to "start a modern-day jugband." Some of my blood boils when I hear about people like this, most likely having their own FUNemployed lives bankrolled by very much EMPLOYED parents, while jokes like me scramble to make rent money on wishes, prayers, and oddjobs. Then the rest of my blood gives a sidelong glance to the boiling blood and wonders when the heck I'll figure out a way to chuck it all and make the world my own personal lazy river ride.

And then my sprightliest blood cell will give its most oxygenated laugh, and reassure its brother and sister blood cells that if ever there is world-traipsing, band-starting, or store-opening, it will come amidst the unfolding of the other wacky plans up my sleeves & arteries.

That is, if I get the sleep to wake and take it all on.

gnight.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

could it be i'm The Fall-ing in love?


Amy and I just finished watching The Fall, a film about anguish and anger and love and perseverance. It's beautiful. And it's got everything: An epic story wrapped inside a common tale. Love. Friendship. Pirates. Dentures. Blue cities, the Taj Mahal, The Great Wall of China, the deep blue sea. Gorgeous, almost ridiculous cinematography. Humor. Insane levels of cuteness (and frustration.) Heartache. Bitterness, pain, triumph. An honest little girl and an angry young man (played by Lee Pace, one of my favorite actors/human beings to look at.)

It's really easy for me to fall in love with TV shows and songs and stories, but hard to fall in love with movies and people. Both have the propensity to be too far off their marks, show so much potential but ultimately fall flat.

This movie doesn't fall flat. If it were a hero it would be one of the meaty, fucked-up ones. The ones who give up a few times before they get the hell back on their half-dead horse and ride, half-doomed, into battle.

Truth be told, I was scared off by the MirrorMask-y styling of this film's poster/DVD case for a long time. What a laugh: the undeniable cheeseball shys away from undeniably cheesy marketing. Whoever designs the jackets and such for amazing stuff like this should just stamp the box with HEY. KID. QUIT PLAYING IT COOL AND RENT THE HEARTFELT MOVIE.

Go see it. Go The Fall in love.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

in cold bloodsausage

My roommates and I recently started a book-club. A booze & brownie-soaked affair/excuse to get together and sound off smartly on books we not-so-smartly ditched out on reading for some reason, some way along the literary line.

Our first selection is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. A true tale of a heinous crime committed (get this) in cold blood.

It's a serious story, and seriously frightening. It's the first book in a while that raised hair on the back of my neck even though I thought I had it pegged, handled, etc. And the first book in a while that's kept me up till 4 in the morning, wide-eyed and sick-stomached, thankful for the little glimmers of goodness that shoot through the bloody, brutal fabric of the story.

We do keep asking each other how the "muuuuuuuurrrrrder mystery" is going. Making ghostly howls in jest. Waggling our fingers like so mancy mincing ghosts out to fix you a cocktail.

But at the end of the night, curled up in our beds with this undeniable proof that people are cold and warm at once or else supremely cold, the goofy can't hold candles to the true.

Friday, July 10, 2009

we live in science fiction.

I sometimes get this wave of intense feeling when I'm on Facebook, liking someone's link or photo or gathering that someone else likes mine or has something to say about such or someone else's. You can break it both ways: anxious or insightful, plain and simple. Forget latest fads, this is the current state of communication. Pony express, parlor cards, even phone calls bow down to the infinitely intricate interactions played out on a binary chessboard with borders that stretch past the edge of forever. We sink so much into this, and being so self-aware snicker at ourselves for it, maybe never realizing that no matter how much we mock the state of affairs, they're still the state of affairs. It's modal, it's systemic, and it's becoming organic. Shit's not going to be unlearned any time soon.

And all the good and bad that holds (because I do believe there's both), I wonder what the future archaeologists and anthropologists of the world will think of us. Given they themselves aren't human/iphone app hybrids, will they find much left of us beside some cryptic references scrawled in the odd paper journal to a Status Change, a Deletion, a blog posting?

All that's everything we want anyone to know is hidden in plain sight, on sites. It's awesome, and mostly fun. But sometimes I think about how communication might be cheapened by it, because it's so damn easy, inconsequential, and easy to write off. Laugh at.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the hard part

WIRE.


Kids love it, and grownups love to give it to them to make stuff.

We're making 3D sculpture/puppets in camp, and entering what I call The Hard Part: frame-making. After withstanding roughly half a million dubious stares after telling the class to simplify their puppet's skeletons, I am pleased to say things paid off big when we got to said Hard Part.

3 times today I sat amidst a sea of smaller-than-mes, warning them that wire is awesome, but fairly frustrating and sharp. Ten minutes after the warning they were banging out asymmetrical circles with the best of them, light dancing in their mad-scientist eyes. I wanted to take those moments and throw them up like a smoke signal to the world. Shit is hard, then it is a cool hand puppet version of a trash can with felt garbage popping out of it. Or a talking cupcake. Or a sock puppet that isn't made out of a sock but looks like it's made out of a sock.

Pretty amped on kids right now. And pretty amped on skeletons.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

modern art camp makes me want to rock out.

I'm teaching at art camp this summer, starting Monday. This week I've been training, which has so far consisted of unpacking a lot of art supplies, asking people what their majors were/are, and giving myself what I think is a bonespur on the heel of my hand from CPR practice on hardbodied plastic models.

I have always loved and hated the beginnings of things, and camp is no different beast. I love that the people and kids who are strangers now won't be in two weeks' time, but hate having to wait for the time when the sea changes from awkward to awesome.

What is already awesome: the size of the art room. 80 kids a day will see the inside of this room, 20 at a shot. They’ll be making puppets, drawing themselves as Rococo vampires, and making oversize sculptures of tiny objects in it. They’ll make friends, get crushes, and learn to love or hate tempera paint. I’m still trying to come up with something really campy and tacky for them to make, a cabin flag of sorts for a city camp with nary a cabin or totem pole in sight. Maybe they’ll just claim The Bean for their own, with craft glue and glitter. We can popsicle-stick over Grant Park.

I love that all these boxes of something will one day be something really cool and full of glue. It’s such a cliché that teaching is inspiring, but really the entire profession and act IS. Your job is to either inform or remind people that it is possible to do such things, spin gold from straw and puppets from newsprint. All anything great takes is some wild enthusiasm, steady hands, and raw materials.

They don't call that shit construction paper for nothing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

French Lovemaking Robots From Outer Space

Outline I wrote for a film when I was 16:

-Smoke ring circles frame. We see a bird's-eye view of Love: a guy. A player, womanizer, whatever. Seductive. Ultraseductive. He has a string of women around him. Not real, meaningless relationships. He meets a man named Courtier who is also seductive, but this man attracts beautiful, intelligent, meaningful women. The first man wants to know the secret. The cool man says it is pointless to divulge. Because he is one of the...

TITLE CARD:
FRENCH LOVEMAKING ROBOTS FROM OUTER SPACE

-French Lovemaking Robots take over the world: University of Chicago campus for beach scenes.
-Robots walk out of water and onto beach.
-Robots wear all black? Silver? Purple???
-How do they take over the world? Putting something in the water? Seducing world leaders? Through informational pamphlets?
-Fred Astaire, Gene Kelley, Buster Keaton: Robot Triumverate? Not French...
-Look up who Sartre is.




I watched a lot of Moulin Rouge in high school.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

glee.

No one makes TV shows about blue-collar teenagers who do arty stuff. People make TV shows about blue-collar teenagers who do football, basketball, somesuch town-pride-saving sport. TV Shows about Arty Teens are reserved for the upper-crusty, and maybe the retarded. But normal folk trying a hand at singing, dancing, a heartening combo of the two? Get a fucking grip. Also: off primetime.

Being a once-upon-a-time blue-collar teenager who did arty stuff, my heart goes out to "glee." It's a dramedy from the peep behind "Nip/Tuck," and its got guts stout with dorkiness and feelings. Read: MY BAG. Even though the kids who star in it are scrubbed to within an inch of pure Hollywood perfection, the words they're saying and feelings they're swimming in seem to sound true, lower-middle-classian depths.

I go crazy for mass media that deigns to plumb the world beyond Real Housewives and High School Musicals made in Hills Heaven. Mostly because it's a world most of us live in. It's not rough & tumble. It's not carefree and provided for, either. It's a socioeconomic bracket where people have cell phones and insurmountable, petty debt. People live paycheck-to-paycheck. People "aspire" to low-end mall department store heights. And while people are not what money they make or products they buy, we live in a culture that wants us to be. And no one wants to be cut-rate. We try to be bigger, better, but we're realistic. We limit our aspirations to the most practical and easily achievable. We don't do Art. It's for Snobs: the only thing worse than being low-class. That caste of people who get everything they want and more without ever trying. Who waste time on celebrating themselves and "exploring" the unneccessary. Who rub their luxury to do so in in everyone else's face.

One of Jane Lynch's lines from the pilot is "You can have your little glee club, but make sure those kids don't think they're something they're not."

Hats off to a show, and its tandem group of makers, who are throwing out a signal that says doing what you love doesn't just amount to killing time. That you are whatever the fuck you think you are. That's the kind of sentiment that can make a town proud. Don't stop believin.

Watch glee:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

fail whale of a tale.


"People who believe intelligence is fixed are less resilient. If you don't believe you can learn anything from your mistakes, you won't welcome failure with open arms.
But students who are taught that the brain is plastic and that they can become smarter and more competent—that the brain grows, like a muscle, when you work it hard—show a spike in grades and enjoy school more. Because they're less afraid to fail, they succeed more."

Read this: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=20090429-000002&page=1
Then this: http://harvardmagazine.com/commencement/the-fringe-benefits-failure-the-importance-imagination
And for good measure, this:

nervy.


If you took the base of someone's spine mid-electrocution and hotwired it with a really fussy game of OPERATION!, then drenched the mess in Diet Dr Pepper, that is how jumpy I am right now.

Mostly because I have been hitting the DDP sauce pretty hard today.

And also because I'm lucky enough to be in a moment in life where I'm "getting it", pretty hard. Not that way. This way: being really happy, making a go at the things I really want to be making a go at, mostly succeeding, and learning a lot from when I don't. Also: about to move into an apartment with two of my favorite people on the planet. People I know are doing well. Feeling good. Getting theirs. Also, also: the weather's getting nicer, and I'm feeling downright saucy.

All this stuff makes up one giant good feeling, sheathing a bunch of smaller good feelings. Knives of possibility poised to be thrown at moving targets: bright patches of color dancing in the dark, just asking for connection.

It's enough to make your nerves shake if you pause to think about it.

Hitting PLAY!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And now a word from Neil Gaiman.

I first came into contact with this poem about a year ago. I was lucky enough to be at a Neil Gaiman event at New York Comic Con, and he read it to the audience- directly after Bill Hader introduced him, and before he read the best chapter from the Graveyard Book.

The end of it really caught me the first time I heard it. It is strange to think a 40some British man who has mostly known success in his life also knows exactly how it feels to wait for a phone call you don't have much business hoping will come. Strange, and comforting.

The poem is called The Day the Saucers Came, and it's just great.

* * * * *
That Day, the saucers landed. Hundreds of them, golden,
Silent, coming down from the sky like great snowflakes,
And the people of Earth stood and
stared as they descended,
Waiting, dry-mouthed, to find out what waited inside for us
And none of us knowing if we would be here tomorrow
But you didn’t notice because

That day, the day the saucers came, by some some coincidence,
Was the day that the graves gave up their dead
And the zombies pushed up through soft earth
or erupted, shambling and dull-eyed, unstoppable,
Came towards us, the living, and we screamed and ran,
But you did not notice this because

On the saucer day, which was zombie day, it was
Ragnarok also, and the television screens showed us
A ship built of dead-men’s nails, a serpent, a wolf,
All bigger than the mind could hold,
and the cameraman could
Not get far enough away, and then the Gods came out
But you did not see them coming because

On the saucer-zombie-battling-gods
day the floodgates broke
And each of us was engulfed by genies and sprites
Offering us wishes and wonders and eternities
And charm and cleverness and true
brave hearts and pots of gold
While giants feefofummed across
the land and killer bees,
But you had no idea of any of this because

That day, the saucer day, the zombie day
The Ragnarok and fairies day,
the day the great winds came
And snows and the cities turned to crystal, the day
All plants died, plastics dissolved, the day the
Computers turned, the screens telling
us we would obey, the day
Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars,
And all the bells of London were sounded, the day
Animals spoke to us in Assyrian, the Yeti day,
The fluttering capes and arrival of
the Time Machine day,
You didn’t notice any of this because
you were sitting in your room, not doing anything
not even reading, not really, just
looking at your telephone,
wondering if I was going to call.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

this is the shit.


http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2009/05/comedy-central.html?xid=rss-popwatch-Comedy+Central+takes+%27Sex+Show%27+to+TV%3A+It+isn%27t+near+as+filthy+as+it+sounds

And I am so happy & proud to be part of it.

Please keep every body part you have crossed for this/us/MTSS!

I got mad peeps.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"For a second I thought he was gonna bust out some RENT action."


My sister, a friend, and I saw the Springsteen show at the United Center last night. My sister astutely observed how awesome, dramatic, and more than a little ridiculous Bruce's stage antics were in that title sentence. I am still processing it, and will probably write more later, but for now know that there were definitely points where you could swear Bruce was going to break out in "525,600 Minutes" AND Jay Weinberg should be called The Dentist cuz that boy knows how to fill!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

best comic video about men's fashion of the day


link stolen from my friend Lacy's blog. Apparently she knows these people. AMAZING!

Monday, May 4, 2009

stripper pretty

I got laid off recently (teen-centric film production companies: not recession-proof) and while searching for new means of employ, I keep getting mad at internships and Hooters.


Hooters was always the joke last-resort in high school and summers between semesters of college. If Borders doesn't hire me, I'll just work at Hooters. Man, if Oberweis and Old Navy don't want me I'm going to have to work at Hooters. Ewww, don't work at Hooters. Get a job at Chuck E Cheese!

Please note my rack has never been stacked. I've got enough to fill a wine-glass, sure- but not a margarita glass the size of a meathead. Hooters has never realistically been an option for me or most of my friends. Still, it was there. The last place on earth I would ever want to work, but would dutifully drag myself to if I ever got knocked up or something and/or had to let go of a more noble daily grind to Make Ends Meet.

Now I look in the mirror and toss mirthless laughs at the pale, quirky reflection staring back at me. I have new last resort options. Opening my own chain of franchise restaurants featuring girls in flirty print frocks, thick-rimmed glasses, toting requisite (conversationally) titillating copies of Dorothy Parker stories and Bruce Springsteen records while serving slobbering onlookers buffalo wings and bourbons, or going back in time to star in German Expressionist films.

There's more money in the restaurant. I think I'll call it Zooey's.