Slowly, Surely

Writing to publish demands concentrated effort.

You’re not going to finish anything–and that’s all anyone will read, something that’s complete–if you keep the T.V. on.

Writing is a lonely job. Accept that. Commit to that. Or find something else to do.

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High School: THE BOOK OF HIGHS

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A collection of brief takes on non-chemical ways to alter your brain on a budget, Edward Rosenfeld’s THE BOOK OF HIGHS is a case of truth in packaging. Look at the cover and you know what you’re going to get. Resenfeld doesn’t go into any depth because then he’d be straining the attention span of the Dorito-munching target reader, but he does a great job of touching on a variety of ways to get outside your head without turning on. From “Semantic awareness” to “Myths, tales and koans,” from “Suffering and pain” to “Fasting,” the topics are brought up, briefly described, and wrapped up with references to further reading.

It’s not a source book as much as it is a quick intro to getting out of your brain’s bubble. It’s disappointing in its skimpiness–Why couldn’t he have given some starter tips on “Demonic possession”?–unless you’re just looking for suggestions for alternative trips. Lucid dreaming, “Zen morning laughs”, Gestalt therapy–the variety of ideas presented is the book’s great strength.

If you’ve been stuck on the sofa or your books and music aren’t giving you a kick anymore, give this a look. Reading “Finnegans Wake” might be more frightening than “Near-death experiences,” but who’s gonna stop ya if that’s your thing?

The Stepford Yardworker : GET OUT

Random thoughts on GET OUT:

After a shaky opening half hour, the plot pieces slowly come together until, at the one-hour mark, our hero is in a real tight spot.

Daniel Kaluuya¬† and the writer/director Jordan Peele get us into the character’s skin as he encounters a family of patronizing liberal whites. This is not a small achievement (for a white audience) and a brilliant way to get the viewer’s defenses down. Siding with Chris is easy with such a-holes around. I’m not kidding when I say this ‘just entertainment’ movie could get racists to actually think about racism in a new way–one of the uses for genre material.

Peele has to be a fan of Richard Matheson and Ira Levin; it has a sequence out of Stir of Echoes, and so many ‘parallels’ to The Stepford Wives…

Good, traditional score; no pounding drums.

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Good supporting characters, especially Betty Gabriel as a creepy maid whose big scene involves her walking toward our hero and apologizing for touching his iphone. Her smiling-through-tears response is shocking and scary.

Erika Alexander as a cop is hilarious. Lil Rel Howery is funny, until he’s not anymore.

The hero falls for an incredibly boring girl.

After the amusing idea that the evil racist villains aren’t rednecks but white liberals is exhausted, there’s nowhere else to go but routine capture-and-escape and violence. I’ts well done but routine. I kind of checked out.

It feels good when the hero fights back. I was grateful it didn’t go for a cynical ending. But the humor hurts it.

Most of the humor comes in the last half hour, when things should be most tense. And the really stupid stuff happens here.

This is supposed to be some kind of statement on race, but when the hero asks, “Why are you doing this to black people?” the Evil Explainer says “I don’t know…” and gives some vague explanation about difference, or change–EVERYONE involved wants to do this to a black person? I get it, the libs who are envious of blacks thing. But it doesn’t make sense.

Why go to all that trouble to become someone who chops wood and takes care of the kitchen? If these are just performances to put on a show, why not have them be regular neighbors–less suspicious than all these robotic servants.

Why is there a tape AND an Explainer explaining things to the person they captured? Just kill him! (The explanation is along the lines of “it helps with the transition”–you don’t need a transition to have your brain scooped out.)

The climactic action involves a super-brilliant villain giving a gun to someone who’s just been turned back into a good guy right in front of her. She KNOWS the flash ‘scrambles’ the possessed person, and she SEES it happen. Maybe she was tired.

Watchable, slick, a lead who deserved his Oscar nomination, but the last half hour really hurts it. I suspect it won’t be considered a classic in the long run, once the applause for it being about racism fades.

Bummer

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Today’s audience might find MARTY dated, but if you have any sense of movies of the fifties you’ll see just how groundbreaking MARTY was. Paddy Chayefsky’s TV hit was adapted for film and was an award-winning hit. Then as now, its subject matter is one rarely dealt with in entertainment media: the loneliness of unattractive people.

Chayefsky’s dialogue is still vivid and interesting, and it’s clear he was an influence on Aaron Sorkin. But Delbert Mann’s direction and Joseph Lashelle’s photography are impressive, with location photography and long takes that build a sense of emptiness of Marty’s world. This is a gentle but straightforward look at middle-class lives that aren’t usually featured in fifties Hollywood flicks.

A good flick, just keep the guns locked up.

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ROOM TO DREAM by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna

I may have to write a book about Neglecting One’s Blog.

ROOM TO DREAM is a unique look at the life of David Lynch, particularly in the way the book is organized.

Following Lynch’s life chronologically, writer Kristine McKenna interviews friends, family and co-workers about Lynch.

Then, each chapter is followed by Lynch himself commenting on the same period/events. It makes for some interesting bits (Mel Brooks insists Anthony Hopkins didn’t try to get Lynch fired from THE ELEPHANT MAN; Lynch insists he did), but more importantly it gives a fuller view of Lynch than one could get from either a straight bio or a memoir.

Strongly Recommended for Lynch fans.

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