Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween From Dumpkin to You

Happy Halloween, kids. It's a little bit after 7 o'clock, and I have written about one page today...I did, however, make some necessary mental changes in the chapter I'm working on, which inclu---zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, I've just put myself to sleep. Because even I am tired of hearing about this effing dissertation.

I just want to be done.

Anyway, part 2 of the Spader Seminar will be up soon, I hope. As for the other stuff I am working on...well, like the overextended nitwit I am, I singed up to do NaNoWriMo ( which means that, as of midnight tonight, I got one more thing I want to get done. This thing, though, is going to be so deliciously wack. I can't wait. It's called It's Biscuit Time, and it's labelled as literary fiction, but will actually turn out to be some fairly rock hard space opera, I bet. Watch this space, dorklies!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Less Than Zero (1)

Yeah, I know that I should have used "Pretty in Pink" as my tagline for this post, since the inimitable Steff McKee is the one looking askance over this shit like I've just thrown up in his parents' bed after I passed out there during one his killer parties and eeeeee! I can't believe Steff McKee even knows who I am and he was totally going to kiss me and the whole room was spinning and it was so romantic but then I puked and passed out because the room was actually spinning from me drinking all of Steff's dad's single malt scotch and he is so mad at me. I hear his parents are out of town again this weekend and I know he is having another party but I don't think I should go but I really need to get my sister's sweater back. She doesn't even know I borrowed it!

Whoa! Peoples, I am so sorry. I channelled someone there, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't anyone with whom I'm remotely acqainted. There's something about a little James Spader talk that gets me crazy, though, y'all. That muthafucka does something to me that can't be explained (although I am going to attempt to), and furthermore, I'm not the only black woman feeling this particular love jones. If my internet researches point reliably to anything, it's that James Spader has gotten some sisters twisted. The only other white man we can all agree on is... well, there isn't another one. One sister's Brad Pitt is another sister's Hugh Jackman is another sister's Keanu Reeves. And Keanu is biracial!

Anyway, the following represents some very preliminary thoughts I've been thinking about yer man there, James Spader. Because he periodically reappears on the cultural radar and gets people excited; because I still can't quite put my finger on why I love him so much (although I am going to attempt to); and because he seems to exist in a rather specific sort of space in the collective psyche. What is that space? I'm going to tell you (at least, I am going to attempt to).

Fametracker, an online icon exposition-factory, has a regular feature called "The Galaxy of Fame," in which an eternally youthful Harrison Ford shines bright as the most heavenly body in a universe of slightly less dazzling celestial celebrities. In the scheme offered by this site and subscribed to by a large online audience, Harrison Ford embodies and owns the perfect amount of fame. He resides in a space carved seemingly especially for him. Everyone seems to know and like him; his appeal is inter-generational and trans-cultural; he can unironically appeal to those for whom entertainment is to be enjoyed sincerely and at face value, but at the same time, his participation in some of the most iconic films to have been made allows him to be safely enjoyed by hipsters and indie-elites alike. Everyone can cop to liking Indiana Jones. And Han Solo? Forget about it. No one is going to talk shit about Han Solo. There are few actors – and perhaps, Fametracker’s writers are correct, and there are no other actors – with Ford’s broad appeal and hipster cred. Yeah, the last few years, with their peeks at his no longer taut and tanned torso (What Lies Beneath) and oddly-discomforting attempts to catch a trend 20 years after it made any sense (getting his ears pierced) or dating the inexplicable Calista Flockhart – ok, Indy may be losing a few lumens of star power. Of course, this is an age in which Tom Cruise – Tom Cruise! – can see his stock diminish so significantly* that no one can remember anything he did before he started dancing on folks’ furniture and impregnating the Homecoming queen and selling Flintstones vitamins. Man, we never thought we would see the day when Tom Cruise would ever not be on the ascendant, getting more and more famous until he was recognized as some kind of national monument and you had to reserve a spot months in advance just to look at a big rock in South Dakota that had been dynamited to look like him.

Well, I’m not going to argue that Harrison Ford shouldn't be the sun in the Galaxy of Fame. But I want to temporarily place someone else in that position, if only to illustrate something about how fame changes, and fame changes you, even if you’re not the one who’s famous. For me, the sun in that galaxy of fame has always been, and always will be, James Spader. And if Jimmy Spader is the sun, then I’m one of those rogue planets that you occasionally hear about when you accidentally click on the “Science” tab on I’m in a hypothetical adjoining universe. I am a microscopic black body fragment orbiting a comet in the farthest edge of a singularity in an alternate space time continuum.

In the galaxy of fame, as in the galaxy of life, there is no one further from me and my life than James Spader. At least, that’s how it was. And that’s why I was so obsessed with him.

When I first saw Pretty in Pink, in which Spader plays the infinitely-more-interesting-than-Andrew-McCarthy Steff McKee, I think I blacked out everything but him and his white linen-suited persona from my mind. It was not until a re-viewing a few years ago that I remembered that Harry Dean Stanton, Annie Potts, and Jon Cryer had even been in that movie. Something crystallized when I saw Steff McKee – I think I was probably about 10 at the time, and at my most awkward, ugly, socially-maladjusted best by then—and I crushed on him in the way that became my trademark. Frozen stills of the movie would periodically pop into my mind, and while I thought that this was because Spader was so handsome, a part of me realized that I didn't actually find him all that good-looking. I didn’t want to have Spader, I wanted to be Spader. I didn’t necessarily want to be white and male, but I wanted all the privileges that went along with it. And in my mind, if you had to be white, then you had to be a man, too. That was the only way it made any sense. White women [in the John Hughes film universe] held absolutely no interest for me. Andie (Molly Ringwald) was poor, marginally more intelligent than the rest of her schoolmates, but prone to torment and mockery and damn – I had enough of that shit myself. Plus, who wants to be the girl who ends up with Andrew McCarthy? In my mind, on some very basic level, I think I thought that that was what most white women wanted: some version of Andrew McCarthy. I’ve since discovered that this is not at all the case, but hey, I was 10. My understanding of race/gender politics was in its infancy. All I knew was, better to be one of the guys than to be the girl. And best of all to be the guy who did the choosing, who had the parties, who existed in a morally bankrupt mansion of acerbic rejoinders and indifferent glances. Steff McKee skipped class, smoked in the hallways (true, he smoked what appeared to be Benson& Hedges 100s, which did kind of interfere with the whole persona he had cultivated) and managed to be the most interesting and memorable thing about a movie I otherwise care little for.

James Spader exists in a rarefied atmosphere of pure, abstract, solipsistic thought. He elevates introspection to a virtue, and in so doing, transforms it into its exact opposite. In thinking about themselves so much, to the exclusion of all else, his characters achieve a kind of Zen inversion whereby they seem to be focused completely outward. Example: in Pretty in Pink, it is only because he is so selfishly attached to conquering Andie that he becomes so obsessed with who she is, who she thinks she is, why she refuses him, and so on, ad nauseaum. Because his characters are so self-assured, they do not allow for any uncertainty on the part of the viewer. His characters demand an instantaneous chrystallizing of identity and a refusal to move beyond that space. He is what he is/ they are what they are/ you are what you are. It’s arrogance and narcissism as emotional maturity. This is sounding like some kind of Fountainhead malarkey, but really – James Spader makes it interesting to be self-absorbed. Other people don’t do it as well.

Anyway, that's enough for now. Stay tuned to this space, when I'll be moving further into this discussion of Spaders' Army:

Rip in Less Than Zero
JG Ballard in Crash
Nick in Supernova
Edward Whatshisname in Secretary
as well as some of the roles in which the Spadonics started, interestingly, to diminish: Stargate/The Practice/White Palace

The following is taken from something I found online. I'll post the link as soon as I find it.
Tom Cruise's popularity has dropped significantly in the last few months, according to the latest Genius StarPower report. By all measures, the plunge (among 13 to 49 year-olds) is steep for a celebrity of his magnitude:

his StarPower ranking plummeted from 12th to 50th
he went from the 11th most liked celebrity to the 197th
his fan base (those who like or like him a lot) shrank from 33% to 25%
he ranks among the top 5 most controversial actors (those who are heavily disliked and liked), along with David Spade, Tom Green, Pauly Shore and Ashton Kutcher.
The drop follows Cruise's controversial publicity tour for the release of "War Of The Worlds" and his engagement to actress Katie Holmes. The above figures are from the Genius StarPower Summer 2005 report (covering the six months to July 1, 2005) and the Spring 2005 report (covering the six months to April 1, 2005).

Monday, October 24, 2005

[Rough] Draft Dodger

I can’t believe that it’s already been 2 weeks since that damned marathon! I trained for that thing for almost a year, and it’s over. It’s just over! Somehow, I expected to ride a high a little longer than this. But already the whole experience feels slightly disconnected from the rest of my crapstacking existence; it also feels like…and I knew this would happen, and I am trying to silence this nasty little buggery voice…but, yeah, I can’t deny that there is a part of me that feels as if I could do it, then anyone could do it. That’s wack. Why can’t I have an unqualified moment of triumph?

But really, I’m already bored with the whole thing. I’m ready to do something else hard. Like, finish this dissertation. Complete one of my [many many uncompleted] screenplays. Work on the show I’m thinking about for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Lose some weight (I know that’s a banal and fairly wack goal, but I’m not denying that I’d like to be a little less chili and little more broth by the new year. Especially if I am going to be wintering with Varras, which is looking increasingly attractive a prospect). Continue to not smoke.

Oh, just mentioning that sweet, sweet nicotine makes me shake with desire. Oh, I miss it. I miss it. I misssssss it. Smoking was my favoritest thing, ever.

Whatever. The point is, as I read more and more things online, and as I werestle with this unwieldy chunk of writing that takes up 95 percent of my psychic real estate, the less I get interested in my own confessional prose as displayed on this fine, fine blog. Screw all this narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-congratulatory, solipsistic musing. So, from this post on, I am going to be writing [probably] less frequently – maybe one post a week—but the writings will hopefully be more substantive. Now, I am still pretty sure that the only people reading this thing regularly are Orlando, Fergus, and Bernie…I know that Chaput makes the occasional appearance, but as I don’t have any hot news a la Perez Hilton or datalounge, she is barely able to fake an interest. And who can blame her? Likewise Teri, who is only waiting for me to deliver on the hot hot miniature farm advice. Well, Teri, I’m sorry, but that’s not how I want to make my money, anymore.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You'll Never Get Off On Your Own, Girl

2 Fast, 2 Furious, part 2 (Electric Boogaloo, ya heard?)

So, anyway, back to the news you all came here for. Based on my dad's advice, I deliberately scaled back my opening miles in the marathon. According to Mr. Todd P. Hudson, the first 10 miles or so should feel so easy that you feel as if you aren't working at all. I was grinning like an idiot cheesing for the spectators and walking through all the water stops during those first miles, anyway, so there was no chance that I was going to blow my strength reserves. But I wish now that I had kept my mile splits more in mind, and actually started to kick it up after mile 10. I never really felt like putting on a burst of speed, because I was so afraid that I'd shoot my proverbial wad too soon before the end. Well, by Grandma Moseying my way to the finish line, I managed to finish with all the other walkers. Except I wasn't walking! I was jogging that mother! Oh well.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Chocolate 'N' Fruity's Discount Champions

That sound you hear is the gentle soaring strings of the Chariots of Fire theme. Although you wouldn't know it if you were waiting for the news to appear on this site, I did finish the marathon; I did finish in less than six hours; I did have my legs lock up and refuse to move after a couple of hours; but most importantly, I did come out of this whole experience feeling a little bit ... no, a whole lot like a fucking person who can actually finish something she starts. Oh, my children, let me tell you: I had despaired of ever knowing that feeling. I haven't completed anything of note since I decided to take a chance on leaving my mother's womb. But I have now one bold check mark next to an item on my "To Do" list of life, and I fully anticipate getting another in the coming months. As you may or may not know, ducks, I quit smoking in July, and while it's a bit early yet to go ahead and claim the victory on that one (I can relapse like a bitch when it comes to something I want bad enough), I am going to go ahead and tuck my Ex-Smoker's Membership Card into the back pocket of my fat pants and hit the streets. It has been murderously difficult; but the thought of smoking, while tempting in the extreme, carries with it the knowledge that if I start again, eventually, I'll have to quit again. And I don't want to do this shit another time. Let this be it. Let me be the kind of person who can be around smokers with no fear of wrestling them to the ground and sucking the sweet, sweet nicotine off their lips and teeth. Let me be the sort of woman who doesn't stand uncomfortably close to strangers just so I can catch a little downwind secondhand fix. Let me be the sort of badass who can, maybe one day in the far future, have the occasional cigarette at a party, but never really feel like taking up the habit again, much like my good friend, Dorthe. Dorthe defended --SUCCESSFULLY- her dissertation in August, and she remains the spryest little troll doll this side of Lesbiana. Just so you know. As an aside and all that.

ANYWAY. I ran the marathon. Remember, that's how this post began? Well, after 1 year and 1 week of training, I arrived at the starting line full of promise, pee, and the expectations of my supportive family and friends. I got rid of the second in short order. It was not to be the last time I hit a port-o-poopy along the course route, however: I estimate that I hit the head at least 6, but possibly more like 10 times before I even hit mile 20. That's right, bitches! Fear my bladder and move! You don't want none of this! Not on your shoes, anyway!

I had an [unsolicited] running buddy for about .1 of a mile near the start of the race. I had come out of a water stop (Hal Higdon recommends walking through all water stops) to find a woman, about my age, possibly a little older, keeping pace with me. Keeping close pace with me. Like, sticking closer than a brother kind of pace with me. She smiled in my direction. "Ha!" she laughed. "I'm trying to keep up with you!"

Ladies and gentlemen, the only way you could not keep up with me is if you were in a race in another city. I was at the far back of the runners, and not even at the beginning of the walkers. I mean, granted, there are race walkers who can finish a marathon in 3 and a half hours (let me do the math for you: that's consistently doing less than an 8.5 min/mile). I can't run that fast doing a single mile, let alone maintain that pace over 26. But hey -- more power to those big-headed alien dorks.
Anyway, I looked over at my new race buddy with incredulity when she said that she was trying to keep up with me, and I have to admit, I sneered a bit when I said "It ain't gonna be hard." I wasn't trying to be evil, but I was truly amazed that someone could consider my 12 min/mile something to strive for. I mean, I kicked it up a notch later in the day, racking up some 9 and 10 min/miles, but I deliberately turned it way down to conserve my strength. I had no idea what it would feel like later on in the day, and while everyone talks good game about this "race day adrenaline" you're supposed to feel seeping from your pores like so much of that Gatorade-colored sweat in the Nike commercials, I didn't want to count on something that I had never experienced before. But guess what? It's true. The excitement of actually just showing up to run the marathon made me feel invincible. It's like my brain temporarily shut down the bitch-cakin' naysaying department and allowed me to feel like I might actually be able to pull this off. Which I did, by the way. Did I mention that?

More info (and race day photos!) later. No, for real!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

we need a theme song

My best friend, Fergus, sent me something to get me through the marathon. It's the best, most coolest, most awesomest thing EVAH and I love it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Crouching Keno, Hidden Pannido

"Come on, come on, come on now, touch me babe..."
--The Doors, "Soft Parade"

for Julie, who hooked me with up some Carolina barbecue this weekend. It was off the hook, Bernie.

Boy, there are so many things that creep me out. Or rather, there are things that I find profoundly disturbing, and rather than simpy expel them from my brain -- as I suspect most healthy people do -- I construct a mental film-strip (let's call these "creep-strips") of all the unsettling images and force them to play in endless, repeating loops in the sixth grade health class of my tortured brain. Currently featured: the eyeball popping out of its socket on that episode of ER I saw a few weeks ago, and some pictures I stumbled across online of a bedroom literally sprayed with human feces (when I say "stumbled across," I mean "saw in a 'gross things' thread on a message board I frequent. A non-scatological message board, I should add). I can't stop thinking of these horrible things and grossing myself out. I'm making myself sick about the one and worrying myself to death over the other. To be clear, I'm worried about my eyeball popping out, not losing control of my bowels and spray-painting my house with the resultant crap-paint. It's not helping that I am having trouble with my eyes/contacts at the moment. I need to get them checked out, but I've got no money and no insurance so I am just going to cross my fingers and hope it goes away. Usually, that works. Because I'm a hypochondriac and most of the stuff I think is wrong with me is all in my head. Where all my troubles exist. In my brain.

Anyway, previous creep-strips have prominently featured the stars of that photo you see accompanying this post. I watch a fair amount of PBS, and although I never contribute during the pledge drives and I critique the programming with the frequency and vituperation of the perennially hipper-than-thou irony class, I'm still PBS's bitch. I'll watch anything that comes on public television, even if the subject matter bores me (gardening), confuses me (foreign policy in the middle east) or enrages me (My Hero). So, when the twin towers of touch, the Keno brothers, got their own show (Find!), trading on their Antiques Roadshow popularity, I tuned in. Of course, I tuned in. Have you seen the Keno brothers? So life-like! Really, what they're doing with robots these days...

There is something about the blond bespoke boys that leads one to expect a much more elitist kind of bitchery from them, but they're actually quite pleasant. In fact, they are too pleasant. And therein lies the source of my discomfort. The Kenos are very appreciative, very enthusiastic, and very, very tactile. The Kenos stroke, caress, rub, clutch, embrace, fondle, finger, handle, and pat every thing within grasping distance. Now, I realize that they are antiques appraisers, so a certain amount of physical examination is absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, the degree to which the Kenos palm everything around them makes me anxious.

Also...oh, there's just no easy way to say this. Identical twin males...somehow, exponentially creepier than fraternal twin males, or even identical twin females. I apologize to any twin sets who manage to stumble across this blog. But I can't deny that I'd find the Keno Karess a lot less worrying if it wasn't done by the Brothers Grim.

And finally, I'm convinced that one of the Kenos is gay, but I can never remember which one I think it is -- because I think that Leigh and Leslie have carried the ol' twinsteroo-switcheroo into adulthood. I know that one week, the overly-groomed eyebrows of one Keno belonged to "Leigh," and the next week they were sported by someone I was supposed to believe was "Leslie." Anyway, I know that both the Kenos have progeny, and one is married. That's Leslie (maybe), who unfortunately for The Gay One, is also the "better looking" Keno. For Leigh (I think it's Leigh I'm talking about), it must be hard to suffer through life as a closeted antiques dealer (the gayest of gay cliches) and to not even be the better-dressed or better-looking of the set. I mean, when the straight member of an antique-dealin' terrible twosome is the one making more consistent visits to the esthetitican...well, now you're beginning to understand why I was captivated by Find! and why I entreated Julie's friend, Amy, to photoshop the Kenos into my then-current other creepy obsession: Jack 'N' The Box's meat-clay concoction, the pannido.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Coming Soon (and you can quote me on this):

1. An essay about James Spader. Slow your roll, bitches -- I don't want your man.
2. A discussion of what I hope to get out of moving to L.A.
3. Some photos of the a-mazing hair concoctions, confections, and confunkshuns I've been playing with and paying for since I got to the PDX. Holla if ya hear me, sisters. It ain't no joke moving to a new city without someplace to get your hair did. Charlie, I miss you, honey!
4. Dissertation notes : this is more for my sake than yours, but as no one but Bernie, Fergus, and Chaput are reading this here, it don't matter!
5. Excepts from various works-in-progress, including my screenplay, some non-fiction pieces, and some ghetto-soul poetry. Kidding! I no longer write poetry. And any reference you find to an "Ebony Adams" poem online ain't me. See previous post "Sui Generis." You gotta trust me on this one. Please. I mean, hey -- if that other Ebony is reading this...girl, good luck to you in all you do. I'm not saying your stuff is bad; it's just not my style.

Anyway, that's all on its way. Keep your eyes on the prize and your hands where I can see 'em.