Archive for January, 2013

Boys’ Night

January 31, 2013

I learned from Going Clear (where else?) that Paul Haggis and some friends –– including a peace activist?! –– have a monthly boys’ night during which they make fancy cocktails and talk about any number of topics.  A writer for the Times wrote about this tradition of theirs back in 2005.  Here’s a snippet:

“Until 2000 Mr. Haggis had toiled for almost 25 years as an Emmy-winning but frustrated television writer. He made a lot of money, but he worried that his co-creation of the hokey television series Walker, Texas Ranger would constitute his legacy.

Then, early this year, came the success of Million Dollar Baby. Now he has made his directorial debut with Crash, a searing look at racial and ethnic strife in Los Angeles that he wrote with Bobby Moresco.

The movie, which was produced for $7.5 million, has earned nearly three times as much in the first 10 days after its release on May 6. ‘I thought it could fall flat; who wants to go out on a Friday night to see a movie about race relations?’ said Mr. Haggis, whose film opens with a brutal car accident, which he claims is the only way in which Angelenos interact with strangers.

The maker of Crash wasn’t taking any chances on this evening. After a round of the shudder-inducing cocktails, he suggested to his pals – the actor Josh Brolin, the television writer Stephen Nathan, the film producer Rudy Langlais and the peace activist Blase Bonpane – that they walk to Locanda Portofino, an Italian restaurant nearby.

On the way, the men, who meet every three months or so, talked about earthquakes, Egyptian cotton linens and the preponderance of strip malls.”

You can read the whole thing here.

In Going Clear, Lawrence Wright says that the men decided, after being trailed around by this female reporter, that one lady added nicely to the mix, so they started inviting one lucky woman to every Boys’ Night.  One such invitee was Madeline Stowe, who said it was the funniest night of her life but that she wisely brought her husband.  Possibility of being made the subject of shady misogyny (is there a different kind?) aside, I still want to be invited.


January 30, 2013

My editor and publisher and I were discussing titles for my book and got into a bit of a tiff about books with the word “disappear” in the title, so I went onto Amazon to do a little research.  The first book I found is called How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Doug Richmond, published by a little outfit called Desert Publications, which puts out “scores of modern-day books and manuals that are the finest in survival, self-defense, military and police science, firearms and alternative energy books.”  The summary of Richmond’s book says that, “Doug Richmond has never changed identities. But as a journalist traveling the world, he has collected statements from dozens of people who have. What makes this book so incredible is that every scrap of information is based on case histories that are undeniably true. .. [This book] contains heavy-duty disappearing techniques for those with a ‘need to know.'”

The best part, however, of stumbling upon this title –– which I believe will come in handy for me sooner rather than later –– is reading this reader review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Does exactly what it says on the cover. August 19, 2011
By Davywavy2
I bought a copy of this book, put it down on the coffee table, and when I came back twenty minutes later it had gone and I’ve not seen it since.Fantastic.

Was this review helpful? Amazon asks.  Oh yes.


Living the Dream

January 29, 2013

CB, an inventor, and me, a putterer, discuss our professional lives:

CB: anyway, HOW ARE YOU?

ID: I’m ok

I took yesterday and today off to edit

Last night i was up until 5:30 am

not working but stewing

so today has been slow going

CB: ah, geez

yeah, exhaustion is a real bitch

ID: i mean, i would be more sympathetic to myself if i had been up working

but i was just obsessing

that’s all

so it wasn’t helpful

CB: hahaha

obsessing over what?

ID: if the manuscript will come together in the end

CB: i know the feeling

ID: how i’m ever going to finish it

if it sucks

if i suck


CB: i call those “cliff days”

ID: if the other people in my field who claim to feel self-doubt REALLY feel it

CB: as in you’re standing at the bottom, looking up at the giant cliff

CB: you’re preparing to unveil this thing you’ve created

ID: it’s like a g-ddamn vortex

CB: and it’s terrifying

i can’t tell you how many times i’ve wanted to throw my work in the trash

and pretend like it never happened

ID: totally

i’m like “i know

i’ll buy a one way plane ticket to tulsa

and reinvent myself as a fat administrative assistant at a packaging plant

and no one will ever have to know i had artistic ambitions

CB: hahahahah

well said

ID: maybe i’ll have a cat calendar

and i’ll allow myself to be genuinely emotionally invested in things like the tv show revenge

and we can just forget about all this ambitious nyc baloney”

CB: hahahahahahahaha

ID: i’m going to write a movie

about a woman like that

and someone uncovers her dark past:

she was once a wunderkind painter living on the Bowery

CB: it sounds like a more depressing version of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

ID: with a few gallery shows to her name

but she cracked under pressure, and took refuge in the dull milieu of the plain states

and then her young male colleague, who discovered her secret through some internet sleuthing, professes his artistic ambitions to her

and they fall in love

and come to terms with their past –– and themselves


CB: hahahah

what would it be called

ID: hm

good question

i’ll have to muse on the titles

some options:

1. we were once famous

or we were once artists

CB: They Used to Paint

ID: yes

that’s great

they used to paint

starring garrett hedlund and jennifer jason leigh

CB: i could be a parallel character to yours

i throw my inventions in the trash and move to the hills of west virginia

where i fall in love with a savage mountainwoman

ID: based on jodie foster’s nell

CB: and together

we build things WORTH building


January 29, 2013

“Sexton adored being adored, but the trip left a slightly sour taste in her mouth, which ardent testimonials did not dissolve.  She had been in pain; she had been more put out by bad press than she liked to show; she felt ‘humbled’ by the atmosphere of seriousness in which many of the festival poets worked; and she had been drunk a little too often.  Her dejection spilled over into a letter she wrote to a young admirer shortly after returning, scolding her for being so needy of praise.  ‘[I am] full of self-doubts at this time, having returned from England & hearing more poets who write far better than I.  I do not write to them and ask them to tell me that someday I will be good.  It is something that you do alone –– all the way alone.”

~ Diane Middlebrook, Anne Sexton: A Biography

Something I Learned While Reading US Weekly on the Bus Today

January 28, 2013

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Saarsgard’s daughter, Ramona:



Looks disturbingly like Ramona Quimby (Age 8):

And B

And B

What exactly is going on here?

Scottish Highland Quietude Club

January 26, 2013

“Two Sea Org bases are located on the old Gilman resort, Gold and Int. Gold Base is named after Golden Era Productions, the lavishly equipped film and recording studio set up by Hubbard to make his movies and produce Scientology materials.  Int. Base is the church’s international headquarters.  On the north side of the highway, nestled against the dry hills, is Bonnie View, the house that Hubbard hoped one day to live in.  [David] Miscavige keeps an office on the property.  Few Scientologists, and almost no one outside of the church, knew of its existence.  The local community was told that the bankrupt property on California Highway 79 had been purchased in 1978 by the ‘Scottish Highland Quietude Club.'”

~ Lawrence Wright (again), Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

A cursory Google search indicates that the Scottish Highland Quietude Club doesn’t actually exist.  I’m thinking of starting one.  Who’s with me?


January 24, 2013

“Baby” Lynn Yaeger LV bag: cute, or creepy/enabling Lynn Yaeger’s self-infantilization?

Baby Lynnie!

Baby Lynnie!



January 24, 2013

I’ve owned –– and lost –– the above title at least three times.  Once was decidedly not my fault, and this last time, I think, was the working of a spiteful G-d, as I distinctly remember having the book in my bed, rejoicing at having been reunited with the slim volume, and then POOF!  A day later it was gone, having, it only stands to reason, evaporated into thin air.  It’s always upsetting to me to live without this book, as I like to re-read it once a month, if I can, to re-educate myself of the wisdom contained within.  For me, it is a kind of prayer book, and I like to pick it up and read certain arbitrary sections the same way that I do the Tao or the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

But enough about me and codependency…

In WTCONC, Trow paints a brief portrait of a young woman named Andrea Whips, a “minor Warhol star” who used to put on impromptu performances in the back room of Max’s Kansas City.  In these performances, she would stand on a table and say one phrase over and over again –– Trow’s example was “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes” –– each time stressing a different word, or moving in a specific way to the incantation, hiking up her skirt on “she’ll” or lifting up her arms slowly on “mountain.”  She ended up committing suicide, but I think I learned that via Patti Smith, and not Trow.

About a year ago, I was doing transcription work for a documentary film company that was working on a movie about Marilyn Monroe.  The filmmakers had hired a number of famous actresses to read sections of Monroe’s diary, but for whatever reason, the director of the documentary had instructed these actresses that if they messed up, they should start the sentence over again instead of running through the rest of the monologue and redoing it in another take.  I listened to hours of these tapes, the actresses repeating the often nonsensical, always haunting speeches of this troubled, sad woman, and I kept thinking about Andrea Whips.

“Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs so loose –– girdle hangs light.  Actress must have no mouth, shoulder.  Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on the partner, feeling in the ends of my fingers.

“Actress, actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Everything, though –– actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on partner.  Feeling in the ends of my fingers.

“Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on partner.  Feelings in the end of my fingers.  Actress must have no mouth, no feet –– actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on partner, feelings in the end of my fingers.

“Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs loo… Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Actress… actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs loose, so… no.

“Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on the partner, feelings in the ends of my fingers.”


This is really all there is to this story.


The Self-Affirmations of L. Ron Hubbard

January 23, 2013

I can write.

My mind is still brilliant.

That masturbation is no sin or crime.

That I do not need to have ulcers anymore.

That I am fortunate in losing Polly and my parents, for they never meant well by me.

That I believe in my gods and spiritual things.

That my magical work is powerful and effective.

That the numbers 7, 25 and 16 are not unlucky or evil for me.

That I am not bad to look upon.

That I am not susceptible to colds.

That Sara is always beautiful to me.

That these words and commands are like fire and will sear themselves into every corner of my being, making me happy and well and confident forever!

~ From Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

Alex Kanevsky, aka Adele Lack

January 22, 2013

Yesterday evening, I decided to re-watch Synecdoche, New York while folding my laundry.  I wasn’t feeling terribly happy, so I kind of knew I was picking at a scab there, but I’ve always been more inclined to sink comfortably into sadness rather than try to will myself out of it, so I guess it’s not too surprising I went with Synecdoche over, say, Bridesmaids.  To my credit, though, I only teared up maybe two or three times, and tears actually fell only when Ellen’s mom tells Philip Seymour Hoffman that she’s proud of him.

Anyway, I was thinking about Adele Lack’s paintings, and about how it would be cool if someone would make a poster for the retrospective show she “had” at the Met, a la this:

This is supposed to be PSH...

This is supposed to be PSH…

And then I discovered the work of Alex Kanevsky, the real Adele Lack.  Kanevsky is a Russia-born, Lithuania-educated, Philadelphia-based painter who also teaches and produces drawings.  A little bit of wisdom from Kanevsky, below:

Q: You’re considered by many artists and critics to be extremely at ease in your drawing and painting skills. But you often talk about how difficult you find painting. What are you struggling with right now?

AK: Well, it is the road with no end. As your skills inevitably get better with time, you expect more from yourself. Skills in themselves, beyond certain serviceable level, don’t matter very much, but I always want to function at the limit of my current abilities to keep things exciting. There should always be danger of painting crushing and burning. I want painting to be difficult so that there is always room for failure. Working this way has an unintended consequence of improving the skills.

The struggle then has nothing to do with the technical difficulties and the level of skills. The struggle is mostly to find clarity.

And one of many beautiful pieces here.  Something dreamy about them, no?  The blurriness makes you feel like you’re waking up to the scene.