Five Dope Things About St. Louis
- Escape from New York was shot there
- those 16 games or whatever Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky played for the Blues together
- Ozzie Smith
- Chuck Berry (music only)
- that big-ass croquet hoop they've got
Here are ten things.
I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools, the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic, used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine, abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves, gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies, leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil, turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods, the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose, the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot. —Jim Harrison, “I Believe”
Here are ten things.
I've been loving the Blank Check miniseries on the films of the great John Carpenter. Their last episode at time of writing was on the Chevy Chase vehicle Memoirs of an Invisible Man. This movie is by most accounts Carpenter's first out-and-out dud, snapping an impressive 11-movie winning streak that lasted from 1974 to 1988. Who else had comparable runs? QT? Miyazaki? Malick? Kurosawa?
This leads to my hot take of the week: if you don't have a run of ten good movies (not even masterpieces, just good movies), you're disqualified from the GOAT conversation. Sorry, Steven Spielberg!
I went on a writing retreat out east with nine other writers and it was fun as hell. Aside from getting some actual work done, the experience reminded me of all the positive parts of dorm life (communal meals, drifting in and out of several coversations, spontaneous group activities). My freind Laura went HAM and made the lot of us a four-course meal on the Saturday. I ate panna cotta for the first time. It was rad.
The new Elvis Costello & the Imposters single “Magnificent Hurt” fucking whips.
What are the records in your Autumn Album Canon? This thread has some dope answers, but my fall listening habits consist of alternating between Neil Young's Harvest and the Clientele's Strange Geometry.
Goth Derek paid me a visit: I got a wild hair up my ass and painted my nails for the first time in over 15 years. My girlfriend Steph said it best: “It's good to be adorned.” For those playing the home game, this is what I ended up using.
In an effort to get people to look into each other’s eyes more, and also to appease the mutes, the government has decided to allot each person exactly one hundred and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear without saying hello. In the restaurant I point at chicken noodle soup. I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover, proudly say I only used fifty-nine today. I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn’t respond, I know she’s used up all her words, so I slowly whisper I love you thirty-two and a third times. After that, we just sit on the line and listen to each other breathe.
—Jeffrey McDaniel, “The Quiet World”
Here are ten things.
It was said the lights
were clearer on the eve of
a lunar New Year
Now we gather worshipful.
The gears in his legs shine down.
He lifts his head.
Here he comes!
We’re erecting a maypole with green ribbons.
His legs are four probes.
And his back is a ship and his eyes are holes in the curtain.
We’re eating cookies in the shape of him.
The icing is gold and silver.
He’s’ shedding gears, here he comes tripping!
He is casting off the elastic bindings.
Now we’re hanging giant flags.
The wind-up key sticks in his side like a blade.
The wind rocks him on his wheels.
Here he comes, crawling!
The bright obvious shines in his body.
Here comes the electric, the burning mystery!
—Sarah Manguso, “The Deer Comes Down the Mountain”
Here are ten things.
Like most of the world, I watched Bo Burnham's latest special Inside on Netflix. It appears to be pretty divisive in my circles, but I quite enjoyed it as a collection of skits and songs about the performances we all put on, for everyone and no one, on the Internet.
Auckland-via-Detroit filmmaker/festival programmer Doug Dillaman challenged people to program a film festival to “replace” the postponed New Zealand International Film Festival using a specific set of rules. Here's my crack at it.
Reporter Lee Sanderlin finished dead last in his fantasy football league, and as punishment, had to eat his way out of a 24-hour stay at Waffle House. This is his saga.
Quinton Reviews goes waaaaay long on two artifacts of millennial junk culture, Fred and iCarly. The only conclusion I can draw after watching 8.5 hours of this is that this is media criticism as a form of self-flagellation. #FREDPILLED
On the most recent episode of The Big Picture, co-host Sean Fennessey spoke with filmmaker Alex Ross Perry about home video distribution, how canons get built, and movies that fall into the cracks of history.
I filled a big gap in my personal filmography by finally sitting down and watching Singin' in the Rain. I was winded just watching this movie. Here's Donald O'Connor doing “Make 'em Laugh,” and keep in mind, this dude smoked four packs a day and was hospitalized after this because he simply went in too hard.
I revistied Brian Eno's Another Green World, which is a great piece of work. I love it when Robert Fripp's distinctive guitar shows up anywhere.
I wrote a poem about bathroom smells, but not the ones you're thinking of. It's called “Sense of Smell, Sense of Time.”
This is a lightly-edited list of king shlockmeister Joe Bob Briggs's advice for budding writers. Like all writing advice, it boils down to “apply ass to chair,” but with a fair bit more Job Bob colour:
- The way you become a writer is you WRITE. Every day. No exceptions.
- What you write is not important.
- Nobody is going to steal your idea.
- THERE ARE NO NEW IDEAS. There are only individual expressions of old ideas.
- Be honest. It always works.
- Don't listen to anybody's opinions about what you write, especially your friends and family. (I don't mean ignore these people. I mean listen to the voice inside you that says "That's good" and "That stinks." It's the only voice that doesn't lie.)
- Never be afraid to write something that stinks. The more stinky stuff you put out, the more risks you take. And the more risks you take, the better chance you have of creating something beautiful. No great writer has ever been a wimp.
- If you can explain how to write a book, then you don't know how to write one. If you can write a book, then you won't be able to explain how you did it. It's stupid, but it's true.
- There are no membership cards or initiation rites for this profession. Anybody with a sheet of paper can do it. So you become a writer on the day you say "I'm a writer." It doesn't matter where your income comes from. The work you take joy from is writing.
- Nobody can tell you how to write, but there are certain things you can do to get to a PLACE where you can write. There are three of them: Write every day. Write every day. Write every day.
This is all I know.
I am back in the swing of things at work, which is great for my livelihood but not so good for my writing. Thankfully, I love writing lists, and since it was both Hayao Miyazaki's birthday (happy 80th to the GOAT) and just another day on the internet (nerds having opinions about Wes Anderson, yours truly included), I wrote up some lists. I love making lists. And I hope you love reading (or arguing with, whichever suits your fancy) them.
The Grand Budapest Hotel. It took me a long time to admit to myself that not only is it my favourite, but that it's a five-star film.
Moonrise Kingdom. Maybe I just like the cute/funny Wes movies rather than the sad ones.
Rushmore. The first one I saw. For a kid from the sticks, the movies Wes makes might has well have been set on Mars, but that was part of the appeal. What wasn't alien was kick-ass rock music, crushes on people I had no business having crushes on, and, in retrospect, being an annoying precocious asswipe.
The Royal Tenenbaums. Bet you 20 bucks this goes up two spots on rewatch.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. See above. Might resonate with me more now that I'm over 30.
Fantastic Mr. Fox. Can't help but feel I lowballed this on the first go.
Bottle Rocket. Wes's first is his least quintessential, but I love how shaggy it is. Come back to us, Owen Wilson, all is forgiven.
Isle of Dogs. Uh, well... the dogs are cute? The sushi prep scene is cool? Strong weeb vibes coming off this one.
The Darjeeling Limited. Man, I don't want to talk about this one, this one's kinda of rough. I think it's the only complete misfire in the run.
Boogie Nights. It's not the Great American Novel if there's no dick and no cocaine.
The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Inherent Vice. Up in smoke.
There Will Be Blood. I'm starting to suspect that PTA is attracted to these widescreen American tragedies with mad barons and charlatans and shit in them.
The Master. This is what Joaquin should have gotten his Oscar for. Either this or You Were Never Really Here.
Phantom Thread. Motherfucker really went and named his character "Woodcock," huh.
The Royal Tenenbaums.
Event Horizon. Hell is outer space.
N/A: Porco Rosso, Ponyo. I'll get to them eventually, I swear.
D tier: Hayao Miyazaki has never made anything less than good and to claim otherwise would be heresy of the highest order.
C tier: Castle in the Sky. As with any of these lists, this is subjective, but this is the only one that doesn't, you know, move me.
B tier: The Castle of Caglisotro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle. The first one is really fun heist movie, and Howl might be Miyazaki's most phantasmagorical film, and yes, I'm aware Spirited Away is a thing.
A tier: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, The Wind Rises. I especially like The Wind Rises, because it's the most politically complex film of the bunch. What does it mean when the thing you love is turned into something that brings hell on Earth?
S tier: My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke. Two perfect films, what can I say. Two very different way of communing with nature. Sometimes it comes to you softly, and sometimes it comes to you with a vengeance. Plus Totoro is south of God's Runtime, which as we all know, is 87 minutes.