On Rogerebert.com: Favorite Uplifting Movies

The news being what it is, the critics at Rogerebert.com each submitted an entry into this really entertaining list: Favorite Uplifting Movies.

It gave me a chance to write about a movie I’ve always wanted to write about.

Posted in Movies | 11 Comments

Happy Birthday, Gerard Manley Hopkins


Gerard Manley Hopkins is a poet near and dear to my heart. I wrote a long post about him here. Biographical information, thoughts on his verse, his philosophy, at that link.

Tangent, Yet Related
And funny how connections remain, dovetailing, the details of certain experiences will never be lodged free of the brain, even if they bring a pang of pain (fainter now, but still present – always? – present) – Gerard Manley Hopkins makes me think of a night long ago now, a crazy birthday party in Soho, one of the most memorable New York nights I have experienced in my entire time living here. I fell in love at first sight that night (an experience I do NOT recommend), and Gerard Manley Hopkins came up during the marathon night, and it was … meaningful? In a way that felt beyond meaning. Like: I settled in to what the night provided. I NEVER settle in. Life is lonely. When you find members of your tribe, you don’t forget. And that guy was a member of my tribe. Every time I saw him afterwards – mostly by accident, but a couple of times deliberately, one night being the SECOND most memorable New York night in my time living here (some violence in that story, just FYI. What else were we gonna do. A kiss just would not cut it.) – that thing was there, every time we met, and I finally learned to just … never see him again, basically. I wrote an essay about that first night in Soho, and so I’ll share it here: Grace Note (or: Love In a Time of Constitutional Crisis.

If someone throws around a reference to Gerard Manley Hopkins, and then shouts a line of his poetry into the 3 a.m. Soho night, you can bet I’ll pay close attention. And – of course – because it was that kind of night – the Manley Hopkins line that that guy quoted – was from my favorite poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

I still love the poem, although when I read it now, what I see is darkened sleeping Soho, the cobblestones, the city humming still but muffled, the only real sound our voices, talking and laughing, and also all that came after, good and bad.

Here ’tis.

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Posted in On This Day, writers | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Side Porch Here Isn’t Creepy At All


The rocking chair is facing into the forest, just FYI. A friend saw the picture and said, “Where is Lillian Gish and her gun?”

And yes. That is exactly what that side porch looks like.

Posted in Personal | Leave a comment

The Bachelorette and Her Bachelors: A FB Discussion


I think I watched the first season of The Bachelor, which was practically 20 years ago. Never kept up with it. A couple weeks ago, someone Tweeted a link to Ali Barthwell’s re-caps of The Bachelorette on Vulture, and I read one – having no idea what she was talking about or who any of these people were – and found myself in TEARS of laughter. (She is a funny funny writer.) So I thought, “Lemme check this out.” And here we are today. I’m up to speed on Season 12, and I am totally invested. I have my favorite, and it’s almost like the Super Bowl or the World Series is approaching, and the Red Sox and the Patriots will be competing. Like, maybe not THAT level of investment, but close. There is some other stuff going on in my life that is making this show seem intensely interesting to me – particularly now. I’m looking at it almost sociologically, or anthropologically. And so stuff is being churned up because of where I’m at, and I don’t say stuff like that to be coy, I say it to be honest but also to keep what is “in development” to myself because Boundaries. But that “other stuff” impacts how I watch this three-ring-circus. I don’t have a lot of free time, so when I choose to add something else to the mix – like watching this show – it’s because I want to. So I’ll leave my in-depth psychological response to what is happening on this show – or, the sheer CONCEPT of the show, and what that means to me right now – for another day, for maybe never.

In the meantime, I had a dream about my favorite bachelor. Like, this is the level I’ve reached. I almost never remember my dreams. So clearly I’m so into this damn thing that my subconscious tossed him up in front of my face as I slept. I decided to throw a post up on Facebook about it. 5 seconds after I posted it, people came SWARMING out of the woodworks to converse about the show. It was such a fun thread (and it’s still going on), with no condescending nitwits making comments like, “You do realize the show is edited, right?” No! REALLY??? I HAD NO IDEA THEY EDITED THIS FOOTAGE! WOW!

You would be wrong if you assumed that most people commenting on this thread were women. There were more men than women commenting. Gay men, straight men, the whole nine yards. Friends and family. And one TV writer. And of course myself. A broad spectrum. The person who is one of the most avid watchers below, giving me the low-down on fantasy suites and recommending past seasons, is a straight male. For the most part, I won’t differentiate between voices but you can probably tell where I am in this mix. There are some off-shoot conversations about different aspects. And then one-off comments I am still laughing about.

Thought I would share it all here.

My initial Facebook post

I am suddenly so into The Bachelorette Season 12 that I actually had a dream about one of the guys last night. We were boogie-boarding on Narragansett Beach. It was super fun, thanks so much for asking! Probably should be ashamed to admit – well – any of this, but I’m way past caring about stuff like that. My sister and I text off and on all day after each episode airs, sharing our impressions, and the texts are laugh-out-loud funny. “I feel like Derek is … pretty delusional at this point”, so far is my favorite. But I so rarely dream! And by “so rarely” I mean “never.” Maybe because my heart is a piece of coal? So to have my first dream in years star one of the freakin’ Bachelors on The Bachelorette – is sooooo funny to me. I mean, I want to go boogie-boarding with Alain Delon. Why hasn’t THAT happened? But, happy to report, it was my favorite bachelor in my dream. it wasn’t delusional Derek or terrifying AWESOME Chad (I miss Chad. He was awful but he was also so great.: “I mean, it was like having a bunch of Care Bears come up and confront me …. slightly.”) or dead-eyed shell-of-a-man Robbie or carefully-coiffed totally incoherent country-boy Luke or that weirdo from Vancouver who once tied a girl to a bed and chopped off a lock of her hair. It wasn’t any of those clowns. It was my favorite. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, by the way. Pleasure is pleasure. Don’t knock any of it. Life is STINGY, man. Soak up pleasure where you can get it and feel no guilt about it. Well, if you get pleasure from doing shitty things to people/animals/the-environment, then yes, feel guilt. But when I find something entertaining or pleasurable, I don’t second-guess it. I love this show and I am finding the dynamic FA-SCI-NA-TING. I haven’t watched any of those Bachelor/Bachelorette shows in years – I’m way off the reality TV train – and now I’m so onboard that my mind has tossed up the image of my favorite bachelor hovering on an imaginary boogie-board. Life is good.

A hodgepodge of comments

“i think luke is innocuous but a total snooze.”

“robbie can kiss my ass. if he says he is the front runner one more time, i might send the fucker anthrax in the mail.”
“i might send fucking anthrax in the mail”
“i laughed as i wrote it. so 2001….”

“i suspect jordan is seeking fame out of the whole thing and if she ends up with him i doubt it will last.”

“i’m afraid she might turn away our favorite. boo on jo jo. it really is fascinating and it’s not all staged like so many people think. sure they edit the shit out of it but there is also a lot of authenticity there. i remember when i worked on the real world when i was at MTV and the cast members all said that there was a specific point where they adapted to the fishbowl situation and stopped thinking about the cameras. they all had some version of this same notion. that they forgot the cameras were there and i believe that. of course they don’t literally forget the cameras are there but they become desensitized to them and go about their lives as they otherwise would. it’s such a weird phenomenon. i’m sure many psych phd candidates have written their thesis about this. is it a book yet? if not, it needs to be and i would read it.” (These are all from my friend Allison. I have told her before that I think she needs to write a book about working on “The Real World”.)

“I thought she should have kept James around too. Robbie instead of James??”
“james was a peach!”

“I was also gunning for the hot boxing club owner. who barely got a chance. But jumped into the pool with his suit on and seemed like a good guy.”

“poor james. he probably would have been really good for her. but our favorite also seems very promising.”
“I feel like she and my favorite are actually ready right now to turn the cameras off and get started. Like, it feels super real and intense and all the rest. My fear is that that poor wounded-bird-HOT-MAN is going to get his heart fucking CRUSHED by this”

“I liked wells…he was my favorite but he probably weighed 92 pounds. i liked his attitude though….always trying to be the peace keeper. he seemed sweet but very unready for all this.”
“I loved his speech at the “funeral” for Chad.”
“I don’t remember his speech….but he stood out to me from the beginning and now i stalk him on instagram. he is a radio dj somewhere in tennessee and he partners with a local pet rescue organization, posting regular pictures with him and dogs looking for homes. so you know i’m a gonner on that.”
“Oh so he is just as awesome as he seems.”
“he grew up in california, i think. he’s doing that broadcaster thing where they slowly work themselves up to the biggest markets. just loved him though. i wish he could be the next bachelor. what was his speech at chad’s funeral?”
“He was holding up Chad’s protein powder – and he made a speech that incorporated a couple of Shakespearean phrases – all as James played a guitar in the background. It was so stupid and so funny.”
“hahaha! i don’t know how i missed that…..but the protein powder and shakespeare AND james taylor (!!) playing guitar?? that is so funny. is there irony in there somewhere? i feel like there is. i just googled this to no avail: ‘wells’ speech protein powder chad’s funeral the bachelorette jo jo'”
“i am DYING”
“i am laughing, too. i am cackling. as though you were in the room with me.”
“I think ‘jo jo’ tacked on at the end is what put it over the edge for me”

“there are people who will try to make you feel shallow for being interested in this shit. fuck them. i can NOT look away and i totally agree with the guilty pleasure thing. fuck that. i enjoy it so deal with it. and by the way in the past 5 years, so many of the couples have gotten married….it’s happening more often now than not so who says people can’t find love on a reality show. bah humbug. you must watch bachelor in paradise, which starts right after the bachelorette ends. it is a different kind of entertainment but riveting. i invited the couple (jade and tanner) who got married last season to present at hero dog awards last year and they were exactly the same people in person that they were on tv….no difference at all. that says a lot.”
“also, I’m actually learning a lot but I don’t want to talk about it in this forum. when next I see you. and we can look up Wells’ speech together. I actually feel like I AM Chase. That’s what the dream was really about and that’s why he showed up. but that’s getting too deep for this conversation.”
“let’s definitely break it down when we get together.” (Also Allison, who now works for the Hallmark Channel, hence the reference to “Hero Dog Awards.”)

“I think if you had to go boogie boarding with Chad that would be a nightmare, not a good dream!”

“I mean, for ME the choice is SO. CLEAR. But I’m feeling like Luke might be the one she picked? But my prediction is she’d be bored out of her mind with him within 7 months. WHAT would they talk about?”

“I have to say , though, that with the hometown dates, I did find my two least faves (robbie and luke) a little bit more endearing. I loved Robbie’s family!”

“I still love Jordan. I think he is a little love bug. I love his funky hair and his skinny jeans!”

“I really need to know WHY Aaron Rodgers doesn’t talk to his family.”
“Well…. If you must know, it’s because his girlfriend, Olivia Munn, spoke opening about their sex life on some late night tv show… That didn’t sit well with momma Rodgers…. So Aaron chose her over the family….. Or so say those of extreme importance over at E! News and ESPN….”
“this seems like a very small thing to just shut the whole family off over! i feel like there must be more. somebody needs to break this story WIDE OPEN!”

“I’m not going to even start with how invested I was in last night’s Coupled, a HORRIBLE Bachelor/Bachelorette rip-off on FOX that we’ve been watching this year. But if Alex doesn’t find happiness, I’m going to be very upset. In all honesty, I spoil Bachelor/Bachelorette for myself (but don’t tell Lauren), so I can then appreciate it as a glorious example of reality TV editing, seeing how they shape the narrative of the final four early on and how they edit in a way that points to the winner from the very beginning. It’s kind of fascinating.”
“It really is fascinating – the editing, especially. I’m now so into my one guy in the final four – that I went back to watch some of the earlier episodes – and I was actually seeing a lot of stuff going on between them in the background and in the periphery of group scenes – and like a delusional person, it gave me hope that she’ll choose the RIGHT guy, which is HIM. Like: foreshadowing in Week 1??”
“You can see the Final Four getting more screen time and narrative from the VERY first episode.”
“Yup. It’s the background stuff that fascinates me. Chase and Jo Jo went on that hot yoga date early on, right? Awkward, embarrassing, hot kissing, etc. A whole episode later – where Chase barely plays a part – they’re having a pool party. Everyone’s just hanging out and all the guys are there so there’s a lot of stuff going on in the background. The wonderfully entertaining Chad was bitching about how awful the rest of the guys are – and in the background – not even a “scene” – juts something happening over on the side – Chase and Jo Jo were trying one of their yoga poses and Chad points over at them making fun of them. It took me a couple of viewings to catch it. I was like, ‘Oh my God, they’re practicing what they learned two days ago.’ I love continuity like that – especially when it isn’t made a big deal of.”
“I’m also fascinated by the clearly ‘written’ or at least amplified storylines they give the final four – the one with the ex, the one with the brother problem, the one who can’t say I love you, etc. – and then how they return to them throughout the season, making them characters about whom you feel like you know when you really know almost nothing, but the repetition creates the impression of familiarity.”
“Right, and so it’s a relationship in microcosm. Stuff comes up – you have to deal with it. Some of those plot-points feel manipulated to me and others feel organic – some guys just are more shy than others, some guys are more emotional, or distant, or whatever. And there’s some behavior that cannot be faked. It’s why Robbie comes off as false to me, and Chase does not. in re: subplots, etc: this week’s ‘cliffhanger’ was whether or not Luke would say I love you. and Chase had the same issue, right? But Chase all along has been a guy who is VISIBLY uncomfortable talking about his feelings whereas Luke is verbose (yes, he only has about 50 words in his vocabulary, but still.) Luke is like, ‘You have all of my heart.’ ‘I see the future with you in it.’ He’s been saying that from day one, all as Chase seems actually full of real emotion but is unable to say it because he is afraid. Like I say, some behavior cannot be faked. So the whole ‘cliffhanger’ of Luke not saying the magic words ‘I have fallen in love with you’ and that’s why he’s on the chopping block … I didn’t buy it – I get it, they need to SOMEHOW knock Luke back a peg! They need to give Luke SOME problems so people stay at least interested in him. I’m bored out of my mind by him at this point.”(This is a conversation with Brian Tallerico, managing editor of Rogerebert.com.)

“I really have no idea how it’s going to go.”

“To me, he seems like the real-lest guy. In that he has all these problems expressing himself – and it feels HONEST – whereas Robbie is like “The stars twinkle like your eyes, my darling, and my heart is filled with fairy-tale love, Jo Jo My Darling” and I’m like, are you for REAL, Mr. Man with the dead eyes?”

“Robbie is a creepy, over-manicured Ken Doll Man.”

“(I just want to poke my head in here and say you guys are cracking me up. Carry on with your conversation but it’s kind of making my night right now, and I’ve not seen one episode)”

“On a very shallow note, I just don’t find him attractive. He is too coiffed.”

“And I don’t enjoy the profile of his nose. There. I said it.”

“I think JoJo is right to be nervous about a guy that ended a four year relationship 3 months before!”

“Oh, Hope will definitely rise again.”
“i hear this in a voice over voice.”
“accompanied by crack of thunder”
“i mean, the way this show works–i wouldn’t be surprised if they gave her a plane ticket, and a map to the house so that she could supposedly “show up unexpectedly” in one of the final episodes. i’d love every second of it”
“I NEED to see Hope.”
“the double entendres with her name are worth it for the appearance alone! “Hope is gone.” “I didn’t ever think I’d see Hope again.” “Hope is the worst.””
“and it’s my cat’s name so it makes me feel really weird to say it. When my cat was lost for 3 days, I wandered around the neighborhood shouting “HOPE! HOPE! HOPE!” – which is so hilarious in retrospect. Like I was “hope”-less and trying to rectify it.”

“I think Luke is nice, and I think he’s on the level, unlike Robbie, and I appreciate how he served his country and us – AND when his Dad choked up, I thought my head would explode – but … besides hot/steamy/hands-on-thighs chemistry …. what is there between them? Does he have ANY words in his vocabulary other than, ‘You have all of my heart’??”

“I’ve thought from the beginning that it was Jordan. And I didn’t love this. I don’t *hate* Jordan. But there’s something fishy about him.”

“I think Jordan would be a good friends-with-benefits guy. Not necessarily what she wants though. I am currently so invested in Chase finding happiness that it’s taking up 80% of my brain space.”

“now i’m thinking of the sad P.A whose job it is to make a big heart road in a field.”
“In scorching Texas heat.”
“He’s like, “I got a BFA in theatre for this shit?!””

“i think she’ll still send Luke home. it’s a classic Bach moment to have him finally say he loves her and then send him home in the next moment. it’s like….. too little, too late pal! and i think she picks Jordan in the end and i think it doesn’t last. she probably should pick Chase. but i think she feels this sexy connection with Jordan. and even though everything is telling her there’s something wrong, she can’t resist her urge to discount doublecheck his brains out!”

“what the hell with keeping Robbie on. Is it just good television? I don’t feel the vibe and I think she seems a little … I don’t know – it’s AWKWARD between them. He says all these flowery words – unconnected to anything – and she just sits there. Robbie is definitely gonna bite it, big time. Chase, though, honestly, seems just like a regular guy – who has flaws, knows them, and is trying to be better because he wants it to work out. In other words: RECOGNIZABLE HUMAN BEHAVIOR. I don’t get the Robbie thing!”

“then again, if she is smart. she will fantasy suite every single dude she wants to sleep with, get it out of her system. and then go with the guy that will be the best in the long run!”
“well, who they all are in bed – what they’re like – would be incredibly revealing but I’m not familiar with the show – do they ever discuss “well, he was wonderful in bed” or “that didn’t go well” – probably not, right? I think Robbie is awful in bed, Jordan is fun, Luke is a sensuous snooze, and Chase is a tiger.”
“when it is down to just two choices left (i.e. if say, she chooses chase and jordan and they are the last two left standing)–they each have an night with her in the “fantasy suite”. No cameras allowed. So we just hear about it in euphemisms afterwards.”
“I literally cannot wait for this. I need to get a life. Euphemism! Is it always complimentary euphemisms? Or is there ever anything said like, “I don’t know if we clicked” etc.”
“actually sometimes they fantasy suite THREE! which is amazing. but they don’t often ask all three to the fantasy suite.”
“the bachelor or bachelorette will snub someone and not give them the card?”
“in recent seasons, some great things have happened in the fantasy suite. most often, someone having sex with someone then dogging them. like with andie and juan pablo.”
“CLEARLY according to the preview SOMEONE is going to be totally unmasked. and we only saw his shoulder. He was very tall. Jordan’s tall, right? Chase seems tall and Luke does not – but I just couldn’t tell from the glimpse of shoulder I saw – I’m guessing Robbie or Jordan. what the hell would Chase have to hide? He literally bursts into tears when he sees his mother.”
“when i first started, i think it was with Emily the mom. she didn’t even use the fantasy suites because she didn’t want to send the wrong message. but then i heard later through some people close to the show that she still slept with peeps just not then so she could still appear mom like. but more recently, girls and guys alike they go for it! which i think is natural and why not?”
“I totally would are you kidding me?”
“what’s fun is…. they used to just use these euphemisms. and say like they wanted to spend more time and “talk”. which you knew just meant let’s screw. but then in the season with ben and claire, she basically said on camera that they had sex in the ocean and then he kind of slut shamed her afterwards. so the recent trend is to kiss and tell. which makes for glorious trashy reality tv!”
“I definitely hope there will be kissing and telling.”
“i think the most dastardly but reality pitch perfect move was last season where the dude said he loved both girls TO THEIR FACE(which is almost verboten, most bach’s don’t say how they feel to preserve suspense) so after that, you knew he could with a straight face ask both girls to the fantasy suite.”
“none of these guys seem like kiss and tell types. Chad definitely would have kissed and told.”
“if Chad has a chance to go back to the “buffet” more than once, you know he will!”
“yes. I loved Andi for that reason. She was so blunt. “you didn’t ask one question about me. You have no idea where I’m from, what religion I am or what I like.” She handed him his ass on a platter”

“If I were to watch another season of Bachelorette, which one should I pick?”
“I mean, near and dear to me are the Ben season(so many Bens) but the one of Ben and Courtney. That was the first season I watched. Courtney is such a great villain. And then I think Juan Pablo season. Just for pure silliness. There are other seasons that perhaps are better for more romance. But those two really did it for me for stupid reality trashiness! Plus in JP’s season you get to meet Tierra. Who is an amazing reality character. Bache seasons are good too. But I enjoy the crazy women more than the crazy men.”
“In my humble opinion – the power dynamic is better when the woman chooses the man – as opposed to a man choosing from his harem – but granted I haven’t seen much. It must be so DIFFERENT with 25 girls in the house!! – although this season the guys were acting like they were in high school too, gossiping about Chad, forming cliques, etc. I do like the villains – I find them very entertaining”
“well, you’ll have to try both and see! my deal is—i think the men tend to blend into each other a lot. they just don’t stand out. the women tend to. and they find a way to have problems with each other. this is a good season for the men having problems with each other. most seasons, they don’t. like there’s one villain but then… that’s it. i like the conflict. except for the “all the right reasons” crap. i mean, NO ONE is there for the right reasons. because, there is no right reason to be there. it’s a stupid idea, to find love on a game show. but it’s fun to watch!”
“Courtney was and probably remains to be a terrible human being. But fascinating for television! I also loved the last bachelor. That might have been my fave Ben is adorable and so funny and you get why every girl would want to date him. And leaving Olivia on an island was the funniest, most karmic thing”

“As ususally, I am utterly on your train … even in regard to missing Chad. I miss Wells!”
“Chad was the best. ‘I think Chad is just here for the free food.’ Cut to Chad eating with turkey falling out of his mouth. And I think Evan actually had that coming. The stand-up about steroid use was over the line. I mean, whatever, he ripped your shirt, but stop acting like it was an Armani shirt. It was a T-shirt. Move the fuck on.”
“I love when they go off the standard script – Chad had that in spades. I recall an especially great Bachelorette season when many of the bachelors just started leaving the show because they didn’t like her. It was like three in one episode. Brilliant.”

“For some reason I loved when Chad went on his meat eating binge.”
“So so so funny.”
“We all crave a caveman now and then.”
“During the rose ceremony!! He still was eating during the rose ceremony!”
“And it was fucking lunch meat! Slices of smoked ham from Stop & Shop. Probably Ralph’s since we’re in LA”
“he literally is a meathead.”
“Whistling as he walked through the woods after he was sent home. member when Evan got the first bloody nose of many when diving into the pool – and later Chad was pointing out all his competition, saying contemptuously that none of them were as good as him. Shot of Evan, Chad saying: ‘We have a weeping bleeding man over here …’ I mean, the guy could be funny.”
“To repeat – I miss Chad.”

“I can confirm for the record that your heart is not a lump of coal. It is the absolute opposite. It is the hope diamond. It is a bolt of lightning on a deserted beach. It is cracking brain waves and shimmering talent. I know this. I saw the x-ray.”
“I want to print this comment out.”

“and what about Alex in his gaucho outfit?”
“He was a clueless man. To the tune of ‘fat guy in a little coat’: short guy in a pair of gauchos / short guy In a pair of gauchossss”
“When she said, ‘You are such a cute little gaucho’ I knew Alex was toast.”

“People, if I weren’t afraid of seeming like a creep, I would like every comment of this conversation. You are awesome.”

“thank you for that image of Alain Delon boogie boarding”
“I need him to do this. You KNOW he could pull it off!! With cigarette dangling.”
“and fedora”
“pistol tucked in his swim shorts.”

“I know nothing about any of this show, nor 99% of anyone on this thread, yet now feel compelled to invite every single one of you to come sit on my deck and have a season finale party.”

“Luke looks like Billy Crudup. It didn’t occur to me till now.”
“With very tall hair. I continue to believe that Jo Jo would be bored out of her mind with him in 6 months flat. He seems very nice, though. Pretty genuine. Unlike Robbie who seems empty as a man. Don’t believe a word he says to her!”

“Don’t hate me for weighing in without reading this entire thread, but that Robbie just creeps, man. He reminds me of Will Forte and I have an inexplicable red ass for Will Forte. Chase is my favorite at this point but it took me a while to distinguish him looks-wise from Jordan, who, duh, is just a playah. All the guys this season seem like they came from the same Ken doll factory. And Luke with your last-minute, hope it saves my ass declaration of love! I spit on your high stupid hair!”
“Chase was the one in my dream! Not only is he my favorite – but I’m having a rather profound response to him that has nothing to do with attraction and I actually have been trying to write about it because it’s so bizarre and tapping into something rather deep. I think it’s that I see myself in him – which … how? why? I just did a mini re-watch of some of the one on one dates and Robbie … I don’t get what she sees in him. It seems to be that Jo Jo, like a lot of women, believes in the power of words. If he SAYS the right thing, if he SAYS what I want to hear, then that means it MUST be in his heart. She’s young. She’ll get over THAT hopefully. I like Jordan – especially in his interviews – where he comes off honest – and I also like him in group settings where the focus isn’t on him. He seems smart and funny. But not ready for marriage at ALL. Luke? He’s another one where he seems much more funny and smart when he’s hanging out with the other guys than when he’s with Jo Jo. This is clearly a matter of editing – but still – I don’t get playful or funny at ALL from Luke. So who knows. Something BIG is coming. Some huge teary-eyed betrayal in Thailand and I can’t wait!! For me, Chase is the only clear choice.”

Posted in Television | 4 Comments

Review: Don’t Think Twice (2016)


My review of Don’t Think Twice is up at Rogerebert.com.

I love Mike Birbiglia. I’ve seen his standup act and adore him. I love Sleepwalk With Me. His latest, Don’t Think Twice, is amazing. Making a film like this – and making it good – is NOT easy. Creating a multi-million-dollar blockbuster filled with CGI is a far easier project than making something like Don’t Think Twice. I enjoyed every second of it.

(This is a humorous side note but this guy makes a cameo appearance. Not in the film, but in my review. Listen, it had to be brought up. I know that whole environment so well. If he runs across that review – as I am sure he will since it’s a movie about his whole world – a movie that opens with a couple of quotes and anecdotes about his own personal mentor, the improv guru Del Close – he will see his name and go, “What the hell. Worlds collide.” Whoda thunk that those two crazy kids crawling through windows in the dead of night and soldiering through dangerously high fevers to see each other, would ever make it to where they are now? The movie brought up so many memories. It understands that world so so well.)

Don’t Think Twice is one of my favorite movies of the year.

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Review: Quitters (2016)


I didn’t really care for this one. I attempted to express why in my review at Rogerebert.com.

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Today In History: July 20, 1969


President Kennedy to the joint session of Congress on May 25 1961:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Here’s an incredible photo of their approach to the landing spot, taken from the lunar module:


Buzz Aldrin to NASA, after landing on the moon:

“This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

Neil Armstrong to Mission Control:

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

The Walter Cronkite telecast as it all happened gives me goosebumps. Of course I didn’t see it at the time, but it puts you right back there.

From The New York Times article on July 21, 1969:

His first step on the moon came at 10:56:20 P.M., as a television camera outside the craft transmitted his every move to an awed and excited audience of hundreds of millions of people on earth.


Neil Armstrong reporting back as he stepped out onto the moon:

“The surface is fine and powdery. I can kick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers, like powdered charcoal, to the sole and sides of my boots.”

Buzz Aldrin

And Buzz Aldrin describes what he sees, in my favorite phrase of that momentous day:

“Magnificent desolation.”

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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, which used to be a regular feature.

— I went to the beach on Saturday to escape the mugginess, the stickiness, and because I am bogged down with two deadlines, huge ones, and my apartment felt like a prison. I hate the summer except for the prospect of ocean-swimming, and I haven’t swum in the ocean once this summer. I tried to go to my normal beach but the street-parking was impossible. There was no way I would ever find a spot. I drove on along the coast until I found a parking spot, and then just went onto whatever beach it was at the end of the road. Love the Shore like that. I brought some work to do, because I like it when the beach is my office. It was a blaring summer day, and I was covered in SPF 50 because if I get yet another freckle I will jump off the Triboro Bridge. I swam in the ocean and wept salty tears of gratitude for how awesome it felt. Not really. But you know. An hour after I got there, I felt …. something approaching. I turned around.


Huh. So … clearly rain is coming. I don’t care about that, it also looked like it would pass pretty quickly. So I turned back around. Then things started getting more dramatic as the cloud moved directly overhead. The light out at sea got cold and almost … white. It looked very very still out there. Eerie, because it was the last light before it got snuffed out. Because then this started happening.


The cloud rumbled with thunder. It was beautiful and I took 972 pictures of the cloud’s progression. Behind me now, there was a clear black line where the cloud ended, and the sky underneath that black line glowed bright white-orange-y, which looked distinctly tornado-ish. For the first time I thought, “Yeah. This is a bit more than your everyday summer shower.” Finally, the hot lifeguards started bellowing through megaphones and over the loud-speakers that it was time to evacuate the beach. What was happening was so magnificent I almost disobeyed. I love dangerous weather. I drove to the beach on Block Island in the middle of a nor’easter – a storm so strong that the shutters were ripped off of my house by the wind – so I could watch the waves roll in. I have never seen such a chaotic ocean in my life, the waves heaving about like monsters. It was stupid of me to be there. When I got back into my car, my hair was crusted with sand and sea-foam, because all of that shit was up in the air as opposed to down on the land or in the water. So. Sunday. I saw the black line of cloud with the clear sky beneath and felt: Danger. Reluctantly, I gathered up my stuff to head back to my car. As I walked by the little inland body of water right next to the beach, this is what I saw.


And although my camera never captured it, huge white forks of lightning were shooting out of that black cloud and coming directly down onto the earth. It was GORGEOUS. It wasn’t even raining yet, although that would come, just as I reached my car. It rained so torrentially that I hung out in my car for a while waiting for it to pass. In about 40 minutes, the sun came out again. I drove home.

Yesterday morning I woke up and saw some headlines on my FB page from the town I had been in the day before. Two women had been struck by lightning as they walked back to their cars. At the same moment (2:35) that I was walking back to my car. One was struck by lightning IN her car. They were half a football field away from me, IF that. They were both rushed to the hospital (I do remember sirens), and it appears they’re both going to be okay, thankfully.

Sometimes a sky really is as dangerous as it looks.

— I have spent the last two weeks immersed in Leonardo DiCaprio and Dean Stockwell for these two upcoming essays, both of which I pitched to different outlets. Sometimes you pitch stuff and you don’t hear back, or you hear, “Thanks but no thanks.” I’ve got skin as tough as a rhino: try being an actress for 15, 20 years. NOTHING gets to you after that. But sometimes – on the same day – two separate editors say, “Yes! Would love for you to write that piece!” Then begins the hard work and of course I overdo the hard work, and practically pull out the Dead Sea Scrolls to find out if there might be a relevant quote in there I could use. Nevertheless, it’s been super-fun and I feel so strongly about both of those guys that it was a pleasure to write about them.

— Vacation next week. Going off the grid. Buh-bye world.

— Had a wonderful time last Thursday night at a screening for the Polish film Into the Spiral at the Tribeca Film Center (trailer below). Directed by Konrad Aksinowicz, and starring Kasia Warnke, Piotr Stramowski and Tamir Halperin, it tells the story of a couple on the rocks taking a road trip to an isolated country house, and they pick up a hippie-ish-guru Jewish man named Tamir. Told in a non-linear way, looping back on itself like a spiral, the film runs only 70 minutes and uses each second well. It feels like a much longer movie, considering how much happens: but overall it is spare, taut, gripping, and gorgeous. Shot on 35 mm by cinematographer Wojtek Zielinski, Into the Spiral is a strange and beautiful psychological thriller, and the acting is superb. The characters unfold by stealth: the film withholds information, then loops back so you can see more, more context provided, before looping back forward in time to push the story forward. It hasn’t been released here in the States yet, and if I’m not mistaken the screening at the Tribeca Film Center was the first time it screened in the US. Kasia and Piotr, the two stars – who fell in love during the film shoot and are getting married in two weeks’ time – were in attendance. It was their first time in New York City (and maybe America too? I can’t remember.) I was there to moderate the audience QA afterwards, which was a ton of fun. The actors are both super-smart, kind, excited, and forthcoming about the film, their process, the talented director (who had directed a feature before, but it was more “for hire”, and Into the Spiral represents his own vision). They both looked stunning – Piotr in a tuxedo, with his mohawk growing out (he’s starring in a hugely popular Polish franchise right now, where he appears in full-on mohawk. It’s going to be a trilogy, apparently. Piotr gave me a copy of the first installment, called Pit Bull and I look forward to watching it!) Stars in Poland (and you can see why: both are magnificent actors) Kasia and Piotr were thrilled to show their film here, maybe a bit nervous beforehand, but beautifully relaxed onstage answering questions, so happy to share their work. Afterwards there was a reception down in DeNiro’s Tribeca Grill, and I met a super cool filmmaker, of Polish descent (as most people present were), who told me about his projects (they sound AMAZING), and I told him the films I’ve seen that I flipped over this year (The Fits, Krisha), he typed the titles into his phone, we discussed The Lobster, we discussed film financing, distribution issues, documentary series. He mentioned a short film he had done, where he tricked out his apartment “to look like a Polish apartment.” “What does that mean?” He gave me a look and I said, “I’m Irish. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He said, “Well, you know, pictures of Pope John Paul II everywhere.” “Of course. Well, Irish houses all have that too so I get what you’re saying.” I’ve done a couple of QAs for this organization, Polish Filmmakers NYC basically because I was on an Ida panel up at Columbia last year. I love this organization, and I love the films I’ve been lucky enough to see because of my participation. Keep your eyes peeled for Into the Spiral.

— Thanks to Jessie, I have discovered the 2010 TV series Terriers. This all came about because I just saw Michael Raymond-James as Brick in the production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the Berkshires, and was so impressed by him. I have never seen True Blood, even though Sam Trammell is a part of my brother/cousins circle of friends in Los Angeles. (Sam’s partner, Missy Yager, brilliant actress, was the first to play “Neve” in the very first reading of one of the scenes in my script – please excuse how crazy I sound there – or, don’t excuse it. I was extremely sick at the time and about to descend into such craziness that in looking back I should have been hospitalized in July of that year. I’m lucky I’m still topside after July 2009. So, you know. There it is. Missy also directed the LA workshop of my script in 2011– and was such an enormous help in script analysis that I can’t thank her enough. Initially we had talked about Missy and Sam playing the lead roles, they were both perfect for them, but then Missy got pregnant so the timing was off, and when she directed the workshop, she was extremely pregnant – like Third Trimester pregnant. She had her flip-flopped feet up over the seat in front of her in the little theatre we rehearsed in, and someone remarked that they looked like blown-up surgical gloves. Or maybe she said it. Tears of laughter all around.) ANYWAY. Jessie mentioned Terriers and it’s streaming on Netflix. It’s the Donal Logue-Michael Raymond-James Show, and from the pilot I was hooked. It only ran for one season, but it’s an extremely rich and eccentric season. Noel Murray (whose Terriers re-caps on AV Club I devoured after I saw the whole thing) said that there had been a proposed Rockford Files re-boot and then it fell through, and he was kind of bummed, but then he realized that the next best thing, as well as a similar thing, was to watch Terriers. I loved Rockford Files, appointment television for my parents, and I totally see what Murray was saying in that comparison. A scrappy detective, no resources, a lone wolf, having to fly by the seat of his pants. Terriers was a terrific series and I highly recommend it if you missed it the first time around.

— My illness acts up in the summer. And in the late fall. And in the early spring. So basically I’m screwed all year round. Doing my best, though. It’s all you can do.

— My nephew Cashel – who has basically grown up in the time I have had this site – when I first started my site, I was going out to Brooklyn every weekend to baby-sit the guy!! And now he’s a high school graduate. He’s coming East for college. I can’t believe it. I’ve seen him once a year ever since they moved to California. And we have a very good relationship, and we have very good talks, and we text each other from time to time, but there’s nothing like a little Face Time. I think he’s excited too.

— I am currently reading a wonderful book by Timothy Egan called The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero, sent to me by my cousin Kerry (sister to cousin Mike. My life is – and always has been – about the juggernaut of O’Malley cousins.) The book is about Thomas Francis Meagher, an Irish (and American) hero whom I know nothing about. A rich kid in 1840s Ireland, with a father in Parliament, he was radicalized (as so many were) by Black ’47. He tried to organize Ireland into a proper rebellion, but he wasn’t a soldier. His talent was in oratory and writing. (He was a Hamilton-esque figure: a prodigy). He had a love affair with the woman known as “Speranza,” an Irish radical – or, a woman who completely re-invented herself as an Irish radical (one of my favorite things about Ireland’s various rebellions is that women were always included. In the prose, and on the front-lines. Egalitarian. In the announcement of the new free Irish Republic post-the Easter rising, it starts with the address: “IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN.” Nice to be included explicitly in any political storm.) Speranza, of course, would go on to give birth to a man you might heard of, Oscar Wilde. But before Oscar came along, his mother was also famous around Ireland and the British Isles, a radical fire-breathing patriot. Meagher was arrested, sentenced to death, and this fact got worldwide attention from the massive Irish diaspora who had fled Ireland during Black ’47. The British balked, and reduced the sentence to a lifetime of imprisonment down on Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land.) So off he goes around the globe to live in the prison colony with all the other Irish patriots. And THEN Meagher escaped – and you can’t even believe he got away with it, it was extremely complicated – and arrived in New York to much fanfare. He arrived in America just in time for the breakout of the Civil War, and he threw himself into the fight, organizing Irish brigades with fervor. The whole thing is fascinating. He died pretty young, and I’m not reading ahead, so don’t tell me what happens. I wish my father were still alive so I could talk to him about this because I’m sure he knew everything about all of this and could walk to his bookshelf, taking down a book without hesitation, because he knew where it was in all his 100s of books, he knew where to find the quote he wanted to share with me.

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Happy Birthday, Hunter S. Thompson: “Free Enterprise. The American Dream. Horatio Alger gone mad on drugs in Las Vegas. Do it now. Pure Gonzo journalism.”


Thompson on his favorite meal of the day:

I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon; anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours, and mine is breakfast. In Hong Kong, Dallas, or at home — and regardless of whether or not I have been to bed — breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert …Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty-four hours, and at least one source of good music … all of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked.

A brutally honest passage from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream:

But what is sane? Especially here in “our own country” – in this dumbstruck era of Nixon. We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the Sixties. Uppers are going out of style. This was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him too seriously. After West Point and the Priesthood, LSD must have seemed entirely logical to him … but there is not much satisfaction in knowing that he blew it very badly for himself, because he took too many others down with him.

Not that they didn’t deserve it: No doubt they all Got What Was Coming To Them. All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours, too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create … a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody – or at least some force – is tending that Light at the end of the tunnel.


Thompson’s suicide note:

“No more games. No more bombs. No more walking. No more Fun. No more swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. You are getting Greedy. Act your (old) age. Relax — this won’t hurt.”

Damn you, Thompson, I wish you had stuck around. We need you more than ever.

Posted in On This Day, writers | 4 Comments

Phantom Boy (2016)


Phantom Boy, the latest animated film from Oscar-nominated team Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol is really enjoyable.

My review of Phantom Boy is now up at Rogerebert.com.

Posted in Movies | Tagged | 7 Comments