Wednesday, September 27, 2006

elliott's watch

Looking for my Dad's old cufflinks for John to wear with his tux to the New York Film Festival opening night, I come upon this watch. And it cracks me up. It's Elliott's watch. I've kept it for years to remind me of a guy who didn't care about me so much, he never bothered to pick up his watch. Why is that funny? I don't know. But it amuses me deeply.

This was back in 1979. Elliott was a security guard at the rock 'n roll club where I was waitressing. And I thought he was hot. Though we didn't use that word that way in those days. He flirted like mad. But he also did tons of coke, so frankly, was less interesting to follow through with. We had a couple of encounters. The last time he forgot his watch. And so it remained. Though I taunted him. And I have it still. All these years later. Where it still brings a smile to my face. Not rage or pain or humiliation, just compassion and humor.

Glorious night. The dance continues.

Glorious night here in Austin. The heat has finally cracked. It's still warm but now there's a touch of cool in the breeze.

Went back to salsa after a week away (movies! yes!). It felt like years. Not as nervous as usual. Not as needy. My real life providing a kind of cushion. I was back in the studio because I wanted to be. Familiar faces all around but I didn't engage. The instructor, who I find charming and funny, winked. The lesson began, I joined the crowd. First we do a warm up facing the mirror. Then we're told to find a partner. The look is so subtle as to barely exist. But we know each other now, so all it takes is the imperceptible nod. A guy I really like dancing with, doesn't nod, actually moves quickly across the room. Later, when we rotate together he says, "I haven't seen you in awhile." Oh. He noticed. But before that, for the first dance, another good guy sends the signal. In fact, tonight is nice because all the guys are ok. The dancing is starting to happen. Feeling more and more comfortable with all of them. A couple of guys ask if I'm testing out. "I've only been here two months. The teacher said to wait for three." They feign surprise, which I take as a great vote of support. There's a new guy in the room, bald, rotound, who's the coolest to dance with. And that's a delight. It's exciting to dance well with a stranger. It's actually fun. Since he's so good, are all his partners a pleasure? Wonder who he prefers to dance with.

It's been up and down over these last two months but tonight felt great. Oh still a little weird, how could it not be. Should I be pleased the super old guy really likes to dance with me? It kinda creeps me out but then again, he's not doing too fact his lead is strong. And who am I to complain he's old? Will I ever let go of worrying what they each think of me? That would be glorious. But it's ok anyway. It's harmless, it's fun, it's what feels right, right now.

This made my day

This was a gift I received today:
I am in this dull little town, surrounded by many many acquaintances and even family, yet I haven't ever found a friend as satisfactory as you. It's probably partly just the years that we've known each other, the history that you know that no one here does, the fact that I tend not to make close friends because of the time it takes, etc., BUT mainly it's just because there is no one like you for talking with, stimulating and easy and right on. I miss you !

Thanks Pal -bff :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

He's fascinating

Recently Lya mentioned talking about my husband to a third party, using him as a grad school enticement even though she doesn't really know him. I responded, "John is fascinating." She wrote back, "It's a rare wife that will say their husband is fascinating."

Can that be true? How can that be true? How can people live together and not be fascinated? I know our engagement more single focused than most but still, that's a sad thought to consider. What would be the point otherwise? Fun? Safe? Is it just a matter of semantics? Might other wives find their husbands funny? Or kind? Or sexy? And are those different categories than fascinating? Not to me they wouldn't be, but I'm trying to understand what this means.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Great movie week here in Austin

Just had a terrifically exciting movie week here at home in Austin thanks to many of our favorite people and places.

Tuesday started it out with a SXSW/Fantastic Fest/Matt Dentler sneak of Science of Sleep, directed by Michel Gondry. I know I already raved about it but it's worth repeating. Romantic, magical and moving. One of my very favorites in a long time.

Wednesday, Nick Robinson turned us on to a Myspace sneak of Borat at our beloved Alamo Draughthouse. Yes, it's hilarious. Truly.

Friday, had an advance look at a friend's new work. Don't know if I'm supposed to talk about it yet but it was great to see. Highly engaging. I love how talented the filmmaker is. He's using every experience in his life to further his work at a lightning speed. And he's a super nice guy. Later that evening, after sampling Chuck Norris' World Combat League at the Erwin Center, John, Georgia and I headed out to the midnight show of Jackass 2. Ok, I know I'm on record for hating Jackass and calling it decadent, but actually, back here in America, in 2006, knowing what to expect - it was funny and wild. It's not what I'm looking for in entertainment exactly but gotta say, they do a great job. They're really surprising and you can't help but laugh. Until the numbing sets in. A particularly potent double bill with the World Combat League although we could have just have easily been coming from Friday Night High School football. Always sobering for me to remember that I'm a minority in not loving fighting. Always interesting to ponder what makes it so exciting for everyone else. And of course, couldn't stop thinking of how brilliant Mike Judge's Idiocracy spin was with "Aw my balls!" Just a hair breadth away. Fascinated too by Johnny Knoxville's naked legs, covered with bruises and scars. They're completely fucked up. Earlier I'd been starting to consider how they fake some of the moves (like didn't buy that opening mouse and snake deal at all. The mouse owners' facial expressions didn't change enough) but those damaged legs expose the harsh truth.

Saturday was our first foray to the Fantastic Fest, the relatively new festival programmed by Harry Knowles, Tim League of the Alamo Draughthouse, filmmaker Tim McCanlies, and sxsw film producer Matt Dentler. After an excellent acquisitions panel with John, Dustin Smith, Jason Beck, moderated by Matt, we lined up for the super secret 9pm screening. It turned out to be Apocalypto with Mel Gibson and his star in attendance for the Q&A. I was totally out of it - expecting a post Passion of the Christ take on Revelations (this morning John said, you didn't read ANY of the one line descriptions during all that arrest stuff? You don't remember hearing about the shooting in Mexico and his long beard? Ah, no. What can I say? For someone who spends a lot of time turning in, sometimes I'm just very tuned out.) Not quite finished, it was viscerally exciting and a visual treat. The body art alone, fantastic and mesmerizing.

Just a really fun week. Great to see so many strong movies. Great to run into so many good friends. One of those moments that confirms just how much fun it is to live in Austin.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Movies to go see NOW 9.20.06

Trying to figure out how to add a recommended movie list to the sidebar, but until I do, erratic postings will have to suffice.

My favorite films so far this year? Half Nelson (!!!!) and Science of Sleep (!!!!). Wildly different, both extremely moving and artful. You don't need me to describe or criticize them. Run don't walk.

And for all of you who loved Little Miss Sunshine. I'm sorry. Great actors, some funny stuff, but a bit too calculated quirkiness for my taste. See Science of Sleep for real quirkiness and romance. And Half Nelson for an exciting acting triumph.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another one of my favorites from Anna Q

About her feisty courageous daughter - something we have in common. This is no longer available by simple link so here it is:

December 13, 2004

I'll Never Stop Saying Maria
Swimming underwater at 2, jumping off the diving board at 3, barreling off a cliff into the Caribbean at 5--that's my wild, brave girl.
By Anna Quindlen

Sixteen years ago something unexpected happened: I became the mother of a daughter. Our assumptions about the unlikelihood of this had a weird logic, my husband the eldest in a family of six boys, our first two children sons. Third time around I looked exactly the same (enormous), and my habitual nausea had given way to my habitual urge to eat anything with salt or sugar and most of what lay in between. Which explains why, when our doctor said, "A little girl," I upended that newborn right there in the birthing bed and double-checked. Having a daughter can be a complex matter for a woman. Despite those who burble about someone to shop and chat with, the truth is that in their search for self, girls challenge their mothers in a way that boys rarely do. The ruling principle of burgeoning female identity seems to be a variation on Descartes: I am not my mom, therefore I am. Prudence Quindlen's revenge, my father once called our youngest child, figuring she would give me the agita that I had given my own gentle mother. Certainly that has sometimes been the case. But Maria has done something for me that I never anticipated. She made me want to be a better woman.

If I were pressed for one word to describe my only daughter, it would be courageous. Swimming underwater at 2, jumping off the diving board at 3, barreling off a 40-foot cliff into the Caribbean in Negril at 5 as drunken college students cheered--that's my wild, brave girl. The orthopedic surgeon put Maria in a hot-pink cast after repairing her knee because she was convinced her 14-year-old patient was incapable of being cautious. (Smart doctor--day two and the patient was up on the roof, crutches wound with glittery tinsel, celebrating the new year with a clutch of friends.) After all, she'd torn her meniscus in the first place chasing a loose ball on the basketball court so aggressively that she hit the gym wall with a sound like a sonic boom.

She is the girl who effortlessly emceed the school Battle of the Bands and sobbed unabashedly onstage as the terrified wife in "A View From the Bridge." At her summer camp the counselors were allowed to create ad hoc daily activities, to share skills and talents; some years ago one of them offered a session titled "Getting to Know Maria," and more than two dozen campers signed up. She makes me believe in evolution. She's an authentic human being in a way I was not at 16, less good girl, more real person. She and her wonderful group of friends--yeah, Phat Rebels, you know who you are--deal with one another more honestly and more productively than my friends and I did at the same age. It took me decades to learn what these girls seem to understand intuitively: not to confuse disagreement and rupture, conflict and loss of love.

They've hit the ground running because of the changes in the lives of women. The culture grants them opportunities that were once male-only, but it still gives to girls with one hand and takes back with the other. I wonder sometimes about the tradeoffs: aprons for eating disorders, strictures for stress, limits for deceptively limitless choices. Still, while my mother's generation couldn't even imagine certain freedoms and my generation grew up fighting for them, liberation is the birthright of this group of young women. You can feel it in their strength.

Each wave of feminism has believed in something called the New Woman. The woman who could vote, who could work, who could be truly free. I am the mother of the New Woman. She doesn't waste a lot of time tailoring the cut of her character to suit the demands of a world that has always had mediocre taste. She never milks her gender, and she is not cowed by guys. She has taught me to dare more and conform less, to cut down on my hypocrisy because she shames me by seeing right through it. Being her mother is like playing basketball with a crack player (and she is that); she raises the level of the game of life just by showing up.

Sixteen years ago I got a second chance at my own life, like reincarnation without the death part. As Martina McBride sings about her own daughter, "The truth is plain to see: she was sent to rescue me." I read a book called "Mother Daughter Revolution" when Maria was a toddler and underlined this sentence: "Suddenly, through birthing a daughter, a woman finds herself face to face not only with an infant, a little girl, a woman-to-be, but also with her own unresolved conflicts from the past and her hopes and dreams for the future."

My hope and my dream for the future of women comes trudging up the stairs every afternoon, her hair bundled into a bun. Last year she gave almost a foot of it away to make a wig for a kid going through chemo, but she mourned her lost length tearfully for a week afterward. Don't get me wrong: she's no saint. But she is strong and smart and funny, everything I've ever treasured. Oh, if I could grow up to be Maria, to be the kind of person who could jump off that cliff without thinking twice or looking down. For decades my role model was my mother. Now it's my daughter. I'm just the woman who was lucky enough to come between the two.

Copyright (c) 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

Anna Q and taking chances

In the 1980s, when I was in my 20s, Anna Quindlen published a column in the New York Times called "Life in the 30s." I read it religiously. I loved her voice. I loved what she had to say. In fact, it was eerie how often her subject reflected exactly what I had been talking or thinking about just when it came out. I applaud her impressive career - as a columnist, novelist, and as much as anything, carrying that off as she's also an active mother, wife and friend. (And since I'm lucky enough to have a mutual friend... I know this is indeed true and not just publicity fodder.) I don't hang on each column the way I used to (are all politics personal?), but every once and awhile there's one that makes me jump up and shout. Like this one.

I come from a line of worriers. My mother called her mother everyday. She tends to play it safe. I worry too but I fight against it. In fact, that was the greatest gift I learned in moving to Fiji for a year. The exhilaration that it was possible, that it was fun, that it was manageable, that all the safeguards we cling to so often in our coddled American lives just aren't necessary. I don't need excessive risk either - that carries its own life comprising addiction, but joive de vivre? Yes.

Monday, September 18, 2006

planting, then harvest

God I'm uncomfortable with the last entry. But I'm keeping it - at least til the morning. Because maybe one has to give in to the whine to tame it.

And while I hate thinking about what I'm doing, actually, I love thinking about what everyone else is. I mean really. The true nitty gritty behind their titles. I should probably read Studs Terkel Working to see if it covers the waterfront or not. I used to walk around with a little notepad just for the purpose of detailing people's real activities. Many jobs aren't what you think from the outside. Of course schoozing counts. My mother spends her days ghostwriting letters for an executive director and listening to office gossip and complaints. Lately I've noticed how much working mothers chat during the day about their kids. I used to try to keep those parts of my life completely separate. (Hmmm, until we produced a movie with us all togehter. HA!) What's it like to think for a living? And are we talking about making a living or making a life. When I moved to the country years ago, I placed a book on gardening, cooking and sewing by my bed. None of them took. But it was what occupied most of my neighbors, particularly if you upgraded the sewing to all things having to do with home improvement. In NYC, going to the movies is serious business. Back again to my life in the country, often I'd train in to NYC to catch up - scheduling three back to back in a day. I remember when I mentioned that to Roxanne, she said she'd kill for my life. "Sorry, can't do that, have to go to a screening." Love the way that sounds. But it's all how you judge at the end of the day. Does each activity have to create an income stream? Of course it doesn't work that way. There's planting, then later harvest.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So what are you doing now?

So the woman who used to spend her time arranging events to help girls sustain their virginity, says to me "So what are you doing now.... You!?" She's happy with her, "and I told them I'm a wife first, then mother, then the job" but she wants to know about me, after I've filled her in on John and the kids. I come up with an answer but I'm pissed. It's a normal simple question. One I've uttered myself oh, a billion times? But I still hate it. Because in me, it triggers defensiveness. I've never had the bluster to say with a straightface I'm doing ______and feel it enough. I've never had the simple answer. Ten years ago I was complaining about this to my friend Peggy Orenstein and she included it in her book, Flux: My wish for an __er. You know, as in a writer, orator, landscaper, lawyer.

Because my life, while highly enjoyable and full, is hard to define. Yesterday, checking into my Saturday salsa class, I ask the receptionist, "so what were you doing at the TXMPA/screen door party earlier this week?" "I'm a filmmaker" she responds. No hesitation, no irony. Turns out her partner is a cameraman. She's had a couple of shorts at Sxsw but had to take the last two years off, nursing her Dad with cancer. Now she's ready to get back into it. "I'm a filmmaker" she proudly says from behind the dance counter as she checks me in. I never say that. I shuffle and stutter. Sometimes I manage a "oh, lots of different stuff in the film business." John of course, just laughs. Because he's so sure. Sometimes he grabs an easy handle. Somedays he deflects the question. We live through it together but our public faces,are very, very different.

And what do I do? Spent hours today screening talking seriously with John & the filmmakers about an interesting new doc that's not quite finished. Yesterday took a lovely Peruvian grad student to lunch, mentoring her on how to capitalize on her indigenious connections here in the U.S. and discussing a thorny legal situation. Friday, I met with an ambitious young enterainment lawyer who hopes to produce eventually. Thursday, spent some hours with a highly committed serious doc filmmaker passing through. Earlier in the week enjoyed quality time with a wonderful filmmaking duo here for John's class who we'd already helped make an impact in the world. As an aside, I make a connection for them with a software rep who lives to support filmmakers. There's the recent grad who's waiting to hear if the pr woman I set him up with is calling with a job offer. God this sounds defensive and grasping. SK wants me to participate in her new interactive blog venture. Blah, blah, blah. Some broad strokes anyway. There were other emails and phone calls and hashing out of various film related issues in the community. What do you call that? What am I doing? And wouldn't it be the best thing in the world if I could laugh and outgrow this pathetic defensiveness? If I could answer to the perennial, "And what are you doing?" could in all good conscience, reply, "Really enjoying my life."

Friday, September 15, 2006

A different kind of dance

A different kind of dance going on with this blog. Here I'm writing about some pretty personal stuff, yet I'm not actually writing about my public life. Sure there are allusions and it's easy to put the pieces together if one is so inclined. But I very much haven't exposed my more normal day to day real world reality and I'm not sure why. It's almost like the dichotomy between blow jobs and kissing. One's "more" yet you can do it while really avoiding intimacy. That may be what's going on here - that I'm exposing "more" while still keeping my distance.

My friend Bryan recently explained why he liked blogs, his own and others. He said, "Why not make my friends the ones worth reading about? Why would I want to spend my time reading about Brad and Angelina? I prefer to make my friends into celebrities."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Keith Olbermann on Bush

Tommy just sent me this

First time I've seen this newscaster. Powerful.

Reflected glory

Is it too much about salsa already?

Tonight was brutal. Caught in a downpour on the way in, my hair, simple black tee, and black pants drenched. Rushing on my new lower-heeled latin practice dance shoes, I make my way to a spot in front of the room. In each studio, one wall is covered in mirrors. On Tuesday, it's a larger room, with larger mirrors. Everyone around me is looking at themselves, studying their technique. I keep my eyes focused on the teacher or off to the side. I can't look at myself. When I try, it's all I can do to stay in the room. I can't bear the sight. I can't stand the way I look in the mirror. I look away. I just try and feel the dance. I think about the man who loves me waiting at home. I mentally grab onto my wonderful life with great kids and too many friends to even keep up with. It takes all my will to remain in the class dancing. I know I shouldn't give into the downward emotional spiral but it's almost impossible. I remain but I'm miserable.

I don't know anyone in this class outside this room. Have no idea where they live or what they do. We speak only the barest of exchanges. I know what they look like and how they move. We recognize each other week to week. The laughs are coming more easily. But I can't stand the fear of judgment and the sureness that the judgement is harsh. I can hear my friends rally, "But you've a beautiful smile." I smile a lot, laugh often. But it's not enough to feel OK. There's nothing to do but keep dancing. I can't help but see the extra attention to the more lovely girls. The moment is ruined.

My sister, who I think looks like a super model says, I don't know what you see. My accolades, always coming with a comparative edge I suppose, make her uncomfortable. It's not really my word against hers. Anyone who sees the photos easily sees the difference. But who said it was a race? And why does it matter now that I'm overweight? Because even when I wasn't, I was. I've spent my entire life trying to grow more comfortable with my image. I try to live my life is spite of it. In hindsight, of course, I recognize the waste of the negativity. In the present, I'm paralyzed.

Monday, September 11, 2006

color coded guide ranking homeland threats

This is the kind of thing John and I always talk about. What are the real chances of danger? Someone like me sees disaster and danger everywhere. I think of the film "Real Men Don't Leave" everyday. A loving husband drives out for a pack of cigarettes and never returns - a hit and run five minutes away. I guess it doesn't really help to see the real stats for car accidents. But for all other anxieties, this kind of chart can really help.

Thanks to Wired.

Someday, Burning Man.

Since so many of you don't even read blogs, I can't imagine you've ever heard of Burning Man. This is a time of year there are many places I'd love to go - Telluride Film Festival for sure, and the Toronto Film Festival right after, but someday, where I'm really dying to go is Burning Man.

It's a temporary city created in an uninhabitable stretch of desert where performance and art reign for the duration. A temporary city, with temporary art. For a brief spell of time, a community is created with its own rules and rituals. I saw an unfinished doc on it years ago and it's been burning in my imagination since. It's not my style to parade either in costume or naked, but otherwise, very much my scene.

Which is all the funnier to contemplate having just come through a lovely weekend in Austin. Saturday, the first big Longhorn (UT Texas) football game of the season vs their main rival, Ohio State. OK, three years ago I couldn't have even uttered that line. But here I am happily enscounced in my adopted home state of Texas, surprised and delighted by the hordes of burnt orange clad homies who descend on the town for the big game. The identical clothes are the supermarket, walking down the street. Hordes of proudly clad Longhorns. Talk about aliens! Or lemmings! I don't think I could ever do that! Unless of course black counts, the proud color of NYC?

But here I am, a transplanted, non-sports loving book & movie geek, having spent my Friday night cheering on the local High School football team, and Saturday in front of a friend's new HD TV, cheering on the Longhorns, amused by the barbs and bon mots of my new Texas pals. This is a magic city. Next stop, Burning Man.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Scenes from a marriage

Around year 12 in this 24 year+ marriage, an older woman at a party was talking to someone else about how marriage involved hard work. I butt in, "I don't know what you're talking about. People always talk about the hard work involved and I don't see marriage has been so easy." The woman looked straight at me and said, "You haven't been married long enough!" The next year, my marriage went into a nose dive. Miscommunication, anger, and hurt feelings rampant. We struggled our way out of it. But I remember that conversation all the time and with it, the warning to pay attention and keep working. Not as in drudgework - but with consciousness.

Like everyday, since our car was stolen from in front of our house, (keys grabbed off the dining room table by a thief who hopped in an open window while we were all sleeping...) we park the car in the garage. This entails sliding back a gate on the street, heading into the garage to push the motorized garage door opener, and closing both door and gate again. Every morning when I'm sluggish and still sleepy and heading out, John says, I'll help you - and runs out to open the street gate first, check the traffic, then close the gate and door after I'm gone. Many nights, when I'm returning and he hears the car, he runs out to lend an assist. It's a simple thing, but it's very, very considerate. To me that's what so wonderful about a working partnership - the anticipation and appreciation. And you can never take it for granted. I mean I could do it alone - open the gate, the door, drive the car out, pull over to the side, walk back in, shut the door and the gate...but it's so much sweeter to have the other looking out for you and lending a hand. A tangible representation of I'm here for you.


I don't know how I got on this mailing list but I've been getting weekly emails from the RNC. Unfortunately, couldn't transfer the dynamic graphics to this blog, but reading the text, you still get the point. I'm not knee jerk in my politics but find this name-calling and fear mongering truly frightening.

Dear Jane ,

Impeachment. Cutting and running from the War on Terror. Key defense systems dismantled. Tax cuts repealed. Speaker Pelosi.

That's what America could look like one year from now if Democrats take the majority. Don't wait a year find out how Democrats have weakened America - after it's too late. Get a sneak peak at what the news would be like in September 2007 - based on the Democrats' actual record - with America Weakly, the newspaper of record for the Democrat majority.

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-Vote for Your Favorite Democrat Leader. Will it be Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean or Impeachment Czar John Conyers? The winner will earn a special commemorative plaque to proudly display in their office.
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-Watch the America Weakly Video and share it with friends.

It doesn't take a wild leap of the imagination to figure out what government by the far-left would look like. The Democrats are already bragging about "killing" the Patriot Act, openly discussing impeachment, and at every turn they fight to undercut the tools we need to win the War on Terror. If they're this extreme now, imagine how extreme they'd be if they had total power in Congress? Find out with America Weakly.

Visit the site. Send a link to all your friends and neighbors. And let's make it so the real headlines a year from now look nothing like America Weakly.


Ken Mehlman
Chairman, Republican National Committee


To Forward This Email To Your Friends And Family,
Please Click Here

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Nichols and May

Today I came across a terrific conversation between Mike Nichols and Elaine May on the occasion of an Ishtar screening at the Walter Reade Cinema in February 2006. Thanks to Film Comment.

July/August 2006


A Film Comment Selects special event, February 26, 2006

Following a sold-out screening of her unfairly maligned 1987 comedy Ishtar, writer-director Elaine May took to the stage of New York’s Walter Reade Theater for an hour-long interview with her former collaborator and old friend Mike Nichols. Nichols began with an observation about the experience of watching Ishtar in 2006.

Mike Nichols: I do think that you put your finger on what is central about making movies, what makes it something that you—that I—never want to stop. Just as you never want to stop seeing them. There is something that happens among people and what it finally is, is a sort of melding of unconscious. When you do your best, you’re depending to a large extent on your unconscious, when you’ve done this for some length of time, because you’re waiting for the thing you can’t think of. You’re waiting for the surprise of shooting that day. And when a large group of people is waiting for today’s surprise, and they’re all in the same place, and you have the people that you do it with every time, and you love them and they love you, something begins to happen. Over the weekend I went to see Oprah do a thing she does in a theater, telling people how to be their best, live their best life. And she charges a lot for it, and the money goes to the charity of the town in which she’s done it. And she has this gift, she can hear 2,500 people sitting in the dark. She can connect with what they’re thinking.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Either the guys are gay or we think they are

A year ago I was having lunch with two really cute, hardworking thirty year olds. Both said they hadn't been on a date in a year. "Either the guys are gay or we think they they are." Funny, but also really, really sad.

Found this recent Village Voice article on the subject quite interesting: "Gay Until Penetration."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Idiocracy....really, really, funny

This is the weekend for serious film buffs to trek to Telluride. For those of us left behind, in the few cities possible, it's the weekend to see Idiocracy, Mike Judge's latest film that's opened with no reviews, no ads, no support. We were there yesterday morning. The film is hilarious. Not the best film ever made, but really, really, funny. Thirty hours later I'm still chuckling over the brilliant concepts of life in the future. Dead on satire and brilliance. See it.

salsa a month in

Still going to the dance studio. Tuesdays and Saturdays, salsa along with cha cha and merengue. Some days it feels better. Others it's "I suck." The universal feeling. My private teacher said it about his own work last Wednesday. One of the guys I danced with today, said it about himself. No variance. No "I have no rhythm" or "This is harder than expected." Just the simple, very clear, "I suck." "I can't believe how much I suck at this."

But today was a good day. A new cycle. I'm relieved to be starting anew for the second time. My moves are getting cleaner and clearer. My anxiety, so ever present, not as high. I hadn't counted on the same partners over and over and it's kind of nice. Especially the guys who're a pleasure to dance with. We're growing in familiarity. I still don't want to know their names though repetition via name tag is starting to seep in. The questions are starting. "What do you do for a living" "I'm in in the film business." "Ah." "And you?" "I'm a doctor." With the others I can only guess. One of my favorites I think is an illegal immigrant - smooth in his moves, I imagine coming to class for a little female touch and taste of home. It's still the strangest damned thing, dancing with strange men week after week, for a few minutes at a time. We all say "thank you" after each rotation. We smile in recognition as we face each other again. I worry that some guys dread me coming. Of course I dread the anxiety of the worry.

We have some moments of free choice, and I try not to spiral down as I see the better dancers, aiming for the cuter girls. It's not high school. I have my own waiting man to return to each day, yet the edge is ever present. Am I too old, too big? Do I suck? We're judging each other purely on looks and movement. I know who I prefer. I try to shut down my monitoring for who's not prefering me. I beam at my favorites. I try hard to hold on to the compassionate moments, the guys with sweet smiles and genuine rapport. I try not to mind the guys who never smile or chat . Sometimes there are surprising quips in the quick liasons. Latin dance very steeped in gender formality. He leads, she follows. He dominates. Under his breath today a guy whispers with glee, "Ah submit!" Another pleads stiffly, "Let me lead, it's the only time I get to be in charge." It's my job to let them lead, to help them feel good about leading even when they suck.

There's this one guy who's so fu*king weird. A David Byrne lookalike, he commits seriously to the moves but just has a terrible sense of rhythm. I try to be on my best behavior with him, he's trying so hard. Earlier today I found myself laughing, actually laughing at him as he was totally going in the wrong direction. I even uttered those damning words out loud. Then became mortified... realized there's nothing worse than laughing at a guy's wrong moves. Next minute I wondered if I was in err and not he. Working down the line... no, it was him. I come to him again, really not looking forward to it. He stares at me extra hard and aggressively starts the routine. Thankfully it's all right this time. He stares deep into me, truly locked on, not letting up. "You're just so intense" escapes from my lips, and I wonder if I've crossed a dangerous line. Thankfully he laughs and seems to relax, even appreciating the line. We're strangers, dancing close, communicating without words. In another time, this was normal. Now, it's a total re-education for me - touching and moving without sex as part of the equation.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I read EW every week. Not that I like to. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. The shortening of reader's attention spans. The emphasis on box office and gossip over content. The dripping attitude. But I'm in the film world so I read it. This week, (Sept 1), it contained a highly unusual article, "Welcome to Utopia" by Karen Valby. It was a thoughtful journalistic piece on a sleepy town 80 miles outside of San Antonio. (Amazing how once you move to Texas you realize how often Texas looms large in our media. As a self centered NYer I never noticed. Now I do.) This passage reminded me so much of Fiji:

From the article:
"I didn't have a big dream to go off," she said. "Now when kids get to high school, all they want to do is get the hell out of here...Things were different when I was younger. When we were little - this was in the 60's- well, at night you ate supper and then we got into the old pickup and we drove over to Aunt Erma's house or Aunt Annie's and you went and visited for an hour and then you went home and went to bed. We didn't watch TV, because you couldn't hardly get it. Now you can get any channel you want, and it's changed that type of gathering for the worse. Fellowship is probably the main thing a small community has over a big city."

Fellowship is the word my friends used in Fiji. They didn't have pick up trucks. Aunt Erma's shack would be feet away from Aunt Aunnie's but the sensibility is the same. Fellowship the bedrock of that island community. Endless coming together defined by rituals both formal and less so. And with it rampant gossip, competition, sexual affairs, and what we now in the U.S. call, blended families. (There, just everyone is a 'sister cousin'.) I enjoyed fellowship in our old Hudson Vally community as well. Food appeared on doorsteps in time of sickness and stress, babysitting and rides easily offered. There is a particular kind of fellowship in a small town, but you can find it in a city too. Because in a city you have your community of circumstance and of choice.