A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Ireland's The Thrills played Portland last night. That's the most creative intro I'm feeling inclined to give them. I'm going toe-to-toe with them on effort, really.

Okay, that's a bit harsh. It was actually a good show. They were louder and more ragged than I'd have expected. Songs like "Your Love Is Like Las Vegas" were filed down, more svelte, quicker and sharper. Someone shaved the twee right off. Though, while lead singer Conor Deasy proved to be a natural, affable front man, his cries of "WE'RE THE FUCKING THRILLS...MAKE SOME FUCKING NOISE" were far from convincing--but almost in an endearingly clueless way. Like the nerd asking the cheerleader to the prom.


Let's be honest. Encores are generally bullshit. They're so contrived, so not spontaneous, they plan them in the set list. They're like tips. They're not actually rewards for good work, they're cursory. I remember early Suede gigs where they'd play a full set and exit, end it right there. The Dandy Warhols often comically sit on the stage and smoke. Those bands had it figured out.

The Thrills had no reason to ever leave the stage. Their main set didn't even reach 45 minutes, and even with the two extra songs, allegedly performed by popular demand, they weren't even close to an hour. I know they have more songs. They didn't play everything off the album (though, to be honest, I was glad no "Hollywood Kids," since that song kind of grates). What about their Smiths or R.E.M. covers? It was a bare bones show, and I don't think they deserved the full pretensions afforded rock bands that actually put in the work.

"Awww...do we really have to get up for this?"

Started reading Brad Meltzer's The Zero Game, and damn if I'm not hooked. He had me completely ensnared by page 50, and that was even before the first of several big twists. Every time my bus approaches my stop, I want the driver to keep going. Excellent premise, too: the lower-level staffers in Congress play a secret game where they bet on each other's ability to manipulate the system. If you know anything about Brad's work, you know the possibilities for it all going wrong he's going to be able to wring out of that. Looks like another taut Meltzer thriller. (And those who may recall my 7/06 entry on point-of-view and how it used Meltzer's The Millionaires as an example--he really plays a trick with narrative voie in this one that ends up blind-siding the reader. In a good way, of course.)

I am alternating my "light" books now with a heavy one, Growing Up With Audrey Hepburn by Rachel Moseley. It's a dense critical study of Hepburn's films and her image's impact on British women across the generations. I have barely cracked it, and I have to admit, it's a bit heady for me. I'm not used to reading such intensely critical work. It's about as difficult as the Susan Sontag book I was dabbling in last summer. I see it as a challenge, though. I want to stretch the parts of my feeble brain that does this kind of work. (Both Moseley and Sontag's books were gift from braniac McQuain. He pities my stupidity, methinks.)

Unrelated, I dabbled in some unfamiliar writing territory polishing up the bio for the band Audio Learning Center, who I am friends with. They weren't happy with what they had, so I took a crack at it. Not my usual thing, but interesting. Not sure how much they'll use. Similarly, I’m pretty proud of this Blue Monday press release. A nice bit of fluff. And I'm procrastinating starting my new Tokyopop project. Can you tell?

Current Soundtrack: Starsailor, Silence Is Easy

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Monday, January 26, 2004


Part 2 of "Chance Meetings" is now online. It’s free. You have no excuse.

I went up to Seattle for the weekend to hang out with Christopher McQuain and to see David Bowie perform at the Paramount--a great venue and certainly smaller than anyplace the man generally plays on a full-scale tour. I had seen him on the Area2 tour a couple of summers back, when he was promoting Heathen, and it was fantastic. His career, to my ears, has been on a creative upswing since Outside, each album getting progressively better. That last performance was outdoors, at Washington's amazingly beautiful Gorge amphitheatre, but the Oni gang got really close and were able to witness the man's obvious joy at performing. Unlike his peers who increasingly rely on their own image and end up selling us their pose (Jagger), "reinvent" themselves by regressing (Rod Stewart), or just don’t seem to have a clue (McCartney, Elton John), Bowie manages to remain vital, adapting his sound to match current standards without going for what’s popular (this is the '90s we’re talking about, not the Tommy Stone-'80s). He, instead, looks to the fringe for inspiration, and be it alternative, industrial, techno, or the resurgence in garage rock, he manages to make it his own the way he so masterfully did with glam, soul, and other genres in the '70s.

This was clearly in evidence Sunday night. Playing with a solid sextet, Bowie created a party atmosphere and focused on a big rock sound (though, with acoustic respites like "Days" off the new album or the unparalleled gorgeousness of "Life on Mars?" recast as a piano ballad). Looking svelte in a sleeveless T-shirt, Bowie looked more like a rock star pin-up than he ever did in his youth. And with his voice taking on a mature smoothness to match his body, it's evident that what may have been considered his prime was just the beginning.

The set list was spread across his entire career, with the oldest song being "The Man Who Sold The World" and the most recent being three songs taken off his 2003 album. There were also a lot of covers, including songs by Neil Young and the Pixies, as well as a blistering "White Light/White Heat" and the classic he gave to Mott the Hoople, "All The Young Dudes." And while an encore of "Five Years/Suffragette City/Ziggy Stardust" was about as sublime as one could dream, the quartet from Low--"New Career In A New Town," "Breaking Glass," "Be My Wife," and "Always Crashing in the Same Car"--was beyond my dreams. Low is the first Bowie album I owned (bought, shallowly enough, because its cover appeared on the wall of a Suede promo shot taken in Brett Anderson's bedroom), and so it holds a special spot for me. For him to have gone for the less obvious choices ("Sound and Vision," neither seen nor heard) was a manic pop thrill.

People-watching was relatively interesting, also. There was an extremely drunk and/or stoned guy in front of us who kept high-fiving his friends ("Dude, 'Five Years.' 'Fiiiiiive Years'!!!") and raising his hands in the air, rocking around like he was on an imaginary rollercoaster, more than once landing on his ass in the aisle. Two older Doobie Brothers next to me sparked up twice, yet their joints had no odor and they remained stiff as a board the entire night. You have to wonder what really was in those little cigarettes, as they had no effect at all, left no trace that they had ever even been there.

Most interesting to me, though, was the attractive female in the satin, floral-print, strapless dress in front of me—and not for the obvious reason (the phrase "God-given ass" comes to mind, though). No, I was impressed more for the preparedness of the female species. She exited at one point, sporting bare shoulders and ample cleavage, only to return with a much less revealing view and evident support. Two blue straps now rose out of the dress and over her shoulders. Apparently, she had carried a bra with her, perhaps thinking the dress might not be able to withstand the dancing. I know I have shown up for gigs in outfits that later proved somewhat implausible (though, in my case, more restrictive than revealing), and so admired the forethought and practical approach to fashion. I love details like that, they often make for interesting background in writing. And, yes, I am a dirty old man.

(Seriously, ladies, is this a common practice?)

On the train ride to Seattle I finished the Eggers book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It never veered off the path the way I feared, leading me to believe that the long and contrived preamble was either the author protesting too much, afeared that us common folk may be shocked when the prose took a metafictional divergence, or just overly indulgent in the too-clever side of himself he will deride often throughout the narrative. Either way, it is unnecessary and nearly harmful. I have encountered at least one person who has twice failed in his attempts to penetrate the text and put it down. I assured him that once you get into the novel proper, and get the swing of Eggers's loose voice, it is quite engrossing.

The ending was satisfying without taking the easy route. He lets the more conventional climax pass many pages before the ending he settled on, leaving the reader in a much more complex and less tidy place. While the final thoughts are somewhat conflicted, the narration itself opens up--simultaneously summarizing what has preceded the final passages and moving past them, to a mental state full of possibility, the hopeful moments before the breakthrough.

Current Soundtrack: Relaxed Muscle, A Heavy Nite With...

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


The meeting with the other editor went really well, and provided the project rolls along as he envisions, I'm in. He liked my story and only had one suggestion, which I heartily agreed with. It was a part that felt a little too convenient for me, and he was right to call me on it. There's nothing to say it wouldn't have gotten fixed when the actual script was written, but no harm in having that be a goal from the get-go. He brought up a good point, too, relating to why he had noticed it. He said anytime he reads a pitch and the words "of course" appear amidst a description of action, it is like a bell ringing. If it's so obvious to the author, one must ask if it will be obvious to the reader. It's generally an alternative to using the word "coincidentally." There are only so many coincidences one is allowed to get away with in a story, and even then, you need to work to mask those, to make them acceptable. Sometimes I think Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut dream world is the best option, because then you don’t have to worry about if Tom Cruise would really be able to encounter so many things relating to his personal thematic crisis in one night. (I always considered the final third of Cut My Hair to be a bit similar to that. I usually referred to that bit as "Mason Goes To Hell," and generally looked at it as a journey where I had to pile the bad shit on, and it meant, sure, he ran into a lot of different things, but it was sort of necessary for the overload.)

Both anthology stories have an artist attached now, too. Both really exceptional artists, that I am very shocked and pleased to have agree to draw my scribbles. I'll, of course, promote the hell out of these things when they are getting nailed down.

Finally, Jake at Tokyopop says the reaction to Ai Yori Aoshi has been really positive, that everyone really likes the adaptation. I think this is my best work since Wish when it comes to sticking close to the original while still making it more jazzy.

Current Soundtrack: Yaz, Upstairs At Eric's

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Sunday, January 18, 2004


The first part of the comic strip I did with Patrick Scherberger, "Chance Meetings," is now online and free to read. There are three installments in all. For a little more on the project, you can also go here.

I also turned in Ai Yori Aoshi five yesterday. My next Tokyopop assignment is something a little different, but can't be discussed, as it is still being ironed out.

Finally, I have been invited to contribute to two different comics anthologies. I have one pitch turned in and accepted, so I need to sort out the art. I am going to meet with the editor of the other later this week. I was actually pretty pleased with my interaction with the second editor, as he was worried about me bending to the genre and not delivering something that would be representative of me. I said I'd like to avoid my pigeon holes of punk rockers and teen angst, and he responded that he'd never stick me in those boxes, but he was hoping I'd bring the emotion I bring to my own work, which would set my story apart from most of the others. I thought that was a rather insightful bit of direction.

My weekend movie viewing brought together two films with interesting similarities. Bombay Talkie from the Merchant Ivory team, and The Last Tycoon, an adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel by director Elia Kazan and screenwriter/playwrite Harold Pinter. Though set in different times and in different movie capitols, both advance complex metaphors centered around moviemaking and the dream builders whose lives have become tangled in the fiction they create.

Made in the early '70s, Bombay Talkie uses the Indian film industry (commonly known as Bollywood) as a backdrop for a love triangle involving the frustrated poet/screenwriter, the handsome cinema star, and the American romance novelist they are both pursuing. Taking their plot both from the colorfully emotional Indian films the two men have a hand in and the modern bodice-rippers the woman writes, the story is familiar (though, frankly, the supposed satirical elements seem to me to be the weakest parts of the film, lacking either the smoldering lust or the abandon of the material Merchant Ivory claim to be sending-up). What sets Bombay Talkie apart is how life and narrative intersect.

Interestingly, Bombay Talkie doesn't play coy with its images, choosing instead to just lay them out for the audience. The first time we are introduced to the theme is when Lucia Lane (the writer, as played by Jennifer Kendal) steps onto the Bollywood set. The actor, Vikram (Kendal's real-life husband and Bollywood heartthrob Shashi Kapoor), is involved in a dance number that takes place atop a giant typewriter. The director informs her that this is meant to represent how we dictate the course of our lives, the dance across the keys typing out our own biography. Presumably, the scene was created by Hari, the screenwriter (Zia Mohyeddin).

Hari immediately makes his intentions clear, even going so far as to invite Lucia out for a poetry reading (har!). But once she has decided on Vikram, she too is going to lay out her own plan, revealing to all that she has been inspired to start a new novel about a foreign woman in India who meets a sensual Indian man. The implication by her following actions is that she is going to go one step beyond typing her life out--she is going to bring her fiction into reality.

The two men fall into Lucia's plot outline. For his part, Vikram's life only works when he follows the script he was originally given. When he strays from wife and career to suffer at Lucia's whim, his world begins to crumble. By the time he chooses to reassert control, it's too late. Additionally, he is wrecked by his own shallowness of feeling. Too long has he lived his emotional life in front of a camera, and his poor choices indicate he never developed it for real.

On the flipside is Hari, who feels too much. He likes to speak of doomed poets, and he certainly brings that to bear. But he is also caught up in the lurid world of the movies, and in a sense, the personal tragedy he seeks is shoved aside for the macho heroics of an over-the-top, filmic romance. He was given a knife by Vikram that Hari claims once belonged to another poet, who killed himself with it; however, Hari ends up murdering Vikram after the actor has spurned Lucia, succumbing to the more traditional movie action while at the same time trying to kill the embodiment of said movies.

The Last Tycoon takes place in depression-era Hollywood. Robert DeNiro is Monroe Stahr, a movie mogul modeled after Irving Thalberg. Stahr is a genius, single-handedly propelling his studio to success through his dogged belief in the power of film. He has an uncanny instinct to shape a story, to know what a picture needs to make it work, and he often does so without thought for the bottom line. At one point, the board of directors wants to know why he would insist on making a movie where the budget is twice as much as he hopes to recoup at the box office. He simply tells them that it has to be done for the good of humanity, for the art of moviemaking itself, to give something back.

But Stahr represents an old Hollywood, one that is being washed away like the props afloat on an artificial flood early in the film. His golden age of making movies for the sake of it has died, much like the famous actress that was the love of his life has died. When he sees a girl who looks exactly like her (herself riding one of those drifting props), he tries to recapture what he had, turn back the clock, but it all explodes in his face.

There is a crucial scene where Stahr is instructing a writer about writing a good screenplay by acting out a sequence all by himself, setting the scene. It's an intriguing scenario, brought to life by a charismatic DeNiro, that ultimately leads the writer to ask what happens next. Stahr simply says that he does not know, he's just making pictures. This is Stahr boiled down to one sentence. He is just making movies, that's all he is. He is a function. When we revisit the moment at the end, Stahr has either lost everything he holds dear or is about to. This time, the viewer is his audience, as he once again runs through his story--but this time also cross-cut with the girl, performing a portion of it in his mind, showing us the parallels of Stahr's fact and fiction. At one point, the girl makes mention of him living alone in a giant house watching movies by himself--but really, he is alone in the giant narrative he has created, the movie of his life. When last we see Stahr, he walks away from us, swallowed by an empty soundstage.

I suppose some may be getting bored with me droning on and on about narrative and the layers of storytelling, but I can't shake my fascination with it. It keeps popping up, whether I expect it to or not. When it does, I can't resist peeling it back and looking inside.

It may come back, too, given that I am currently reading Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a self-conscious pseudo-memoir. Thirty or so pages of metafictional exposition precede the actual start of the novel, and it was actually pretty tough work getting through it. Eggers was coming off as a little too pleased with himself. But once I started reading the story of how he, as the narrator, came to live with his little brother, Toph, I started to get into it. I like the flow of the writing. There is a naturalness to it, and he somehow manages to be very repetitive with his word choices while maintaining a vibrancy. By his own warning in that troublesome preamble, I turn each page with fear it's all going to go wrong again, though, so I am reserving final judgment.

Hell, I almost expect we'll discover Toph doesn't exist at all. At one point, a conversation between the two sees the ten-year-old boy essentially turn into Eggers's doppelganger, deconstructing the pages that preceded (and even calling Eggers out for the bits that frustrated me). So, we shall see...

Current Soundtrack: Martin L. Gore, "Loverman" EP; The La's, The La's

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Sunday, January 11, 2004


Sunday brought a little over 2,500 words in the book. Not a bad run at it for an afternoon, especially since some time was spent reading over the section I was in. This actually inches the amount of pages written in a straight line (that is, from the beginning on) to now over 100 typed pages. Makes it a little easier to assess how far I've gotten if I'm not jumping around as much, if I can start sewing the pieces together.

Lars Von Trier's latest film, Dogville, is an arty headrush of ideas. Having just finished the three-hour tour de force, part of me wants to simply start the film over and watch it again, and the other part of me (which is winning) wants me to sit down and let my reactions fall out. NOTE: This film is not going to be out for a bit still in North America, so there may be plot points spoiled ahead of here. In fact, this film may be best entered with zero expectations. The filmmakers seem to be doing a good job of keeping some of the elements under wraps. The trailer is a fascinating piece of work in itself, giving zero indication of what the film is actually like.

The plot of the film is simple. Nicole Kidman plays Grace, a woman on the run from something. Her character's name is an obvious symbol. One need only read the many definitions of the word to get it. She is meant to embody all these things, a blonde figure from the city coming into the very brown town of Dogville--an American mountain community that we're told by the ads is "a quiet town not far from here." It's set during the Depression, so the people are dirt poor, and except for the one man who isn't originally from Dogville and the other who transports goods in and out of it, they don't know much of the world Grace is coming from. They don't even know really what is going on down the hill, as they turn off the radio anytime the music stops and information follows.

Dogville is parable. It's meant to be unreal, meant to be representative. The very first thing we see is an explanation that the story will be told in nine parts plus a prologue. Each chapter is preceded by a description telling us what is actually going to happen in the section that follows, almost like directions in a script book. There is an omniscient narrator who explains things to us as we go, who will make no bones about who is feeling what and maybe even tell us what a specific happening means. It's a fascinating technique for a film that ultimately tells us not to ask what the meaning of the story is, and suggests that to do so is dangerous?only slightly less so than actually attempting the answer. An artful conceit, one that is immediately confounded by the closing credits--a collage of images of poverty set to David Bowie's "Young Americans." It's impossible to, at that point, not ask, "What the hell did I just see?"

There are a couple of different levels that Dogville immediately works on. It could be religious allegory, with Grace as a stand-in for Christ. She certainly represents an example of purity and human dignity that ultimately makes those that surround her feel lesser by example--to the point they eventually turn on her, turn on their own sense of right and wrong. This interpretation makes Grace's eventual decision to give up on them all the more exciting and perplexing. Or perhaps we should dig deeper back into the Bible and consider the case of Noah and the Flood, when God decided His people had ruined his precious gifts and perhaps the planet was better without them.

Or, given the closing credits, maybe it's more of a political allegory. Is the Danish Von Trier considering the case of class in America? Is he reversing the roles, putting a privileged member of society in the hands of the underprivileged, putting her in their care, only for them to abuse her much as they have been abused? That doesn't end up being a very generous view of the lower classes, though, so it may be better to not lay that trip on Von Trier. Rather, I would lend more weight to the film's discussions of power and humanity, and say it's more an indictment of our species as a whole, which is ultimately selfish. We live in Dogville because we are no more than animals--though, even there, Von Trier confounds us. There is a dog in the film. He is named Moses, and as his name suggests, his function is to point the way for the lost people that surround him. In reality, he is the only one whom Grace has committed a grievance against, the only one who could rightfully have quarrel with her, but none of the humans can see that, too concerned with their own selfishness, what they can gain.

I say there is a dog in the film, but that's not entirely true. The dog for the most part appears as a chalk outline, and the word "Dog" appearing next to him--an idea of a dog, not the physical thing. This is just one part of an abstract soundstage set that has more in common with theatre than film. The only walls that exist in Dogville are ones needed so that props may be hung upon them. The rest of the space is open, with doors and other elements existing only through pantomime. In fact, we often see the town through aerial shots, where every street, dwelling, and essential prop can be seen as drawn out on the soundstage floor, clearly demarcated and labeled. As one of the men behind the invention of the Dogme school of filmmaking, at one point Von Trier advocated a "more natural" approach to motion pictures, using only natural light and a minimum of camera trickery (though, the more, um, dogmatic of the group insisted on only natural camera movement, as well). It was an attempt to remove artifice from moviemaking, and in some ways, Von Trier is still adhering to that by taking it to another logical extreme. Here he drops artifice in favor of the abstract, sure, but by removing all the elements that might otherwise get in the way of what is central: drama. Rather than replicating the reality of our world, he creates his own, the reality of story. (Truthfully, this is his most stylized film since The Element of Crime.)

Kidman is fantastic as Grace. It's a tough role, requiring a lot of restraint and compassion. There aren?t a lot of moments to show off, and it requires more reaction than action at times. The cast that surrounds her is so phenomenal, that it's even a more laudable feat that she manages to do so much with so little when surrounded by such exceptional people as Patricia Clarkson, Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazarra, Jeremy Davies, Chloe Sevigny, Philip Baker Hall, and Stellan Skarsgard. Hell, you know it must be some kind of film when an actor like Udo Kier signs on for a three-line role.

Though meant as parable, Dogville doesn't have the obvious meanings often associated with the form. It's more a riddle, a spool of storytelling thread to unravel. I'll be curious to see the reaction to the film upon its release. I am sure it's going to inspire just as much hatred as it will love.

Current Soundtrack: The Simpsons

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Saturday, January 10, 2004


I still keep returning to the Pet Shop Boys' PopArt collection. I have the two main discs as one big file on my MP3 player, and there isn't a clunker in the bunch. Listening today while walking down to see Eyes Without A Face, I noticed for the first time the symmetry of starting with "Go West" (a Village People cover) and ending with "Somewhere" (from West Side Story). Each is a song about someplace other than where we are at, someplace where lovers can be free to love as they choose unencumbered by societal pressures. Now, most pop bands would probably decide to reverse that order, so that it ends with the fantasy, with the picture of a utopia that exists rather than merely the hope that there might be one (and, indeed, the first time "Go West" appeared on an album, it was at the end). However, that would not only subvert the Pop and the Art layout of the discs, but also go against the Pet Shop Boys' overriding feeling of needing to escape, but not yet having the perfection to escape to. "Somewhere" is more romantic in its cynicism, more real (and their mix even has police sirens on either side of the song). "Go West" is a set up for the fantasy, the statement that this is the dream, this is where we travel from, rather than to. The choice of a second track on the Pop disc is "Suburbia," naturally enough. Looking at the freedom in the boring moment, the sinister and violent turns that "normal" can take. Tennant and Lowe are too intelligent to leave their summation at a spot where, essentially, they have nowhere left to go. It's not an image they can honestly sell. Rather, despite the leaps and bounds they have made in exploring the life of the heart (and sometimes the mind), there are still miles to go before they can sleep.

Snow continues to plague us. I'm calling it a silent conspiracy. They hide it from us by having Portland's slogan be "The City That Works," but it's not true. Everything is set up so that we will shut down at the slightest breeze. Seriously. They've even painted the lines on the road with this white paint that disappears at night when the streets get wet. I swear you can't see 'em.

The new thing to watch for in the streets is now that the ice is melting, the sewer is filling and the drains are being clogged. This happens every fall when it first rains, and every street corner fills up with leaves. The drains are at that spot in the sidewalk that slopes for pedestrians, so you actually have to walk around these giant puddles to get across the intersection. But with the snow, the puddles are hiding under these chunks of slush, and sometimes you can't see how deep it really is.

I did manage to tinker around some on The Everlasting before going out to the film, though. Just a random bit that came to me, a three-page sequence that may not make the final cut. Who knows, though, with Lance Scott intended to be my Rabbit (Updike, not Eminem), my continuing protagonist in my Glass family, all these bits and bobs that may end up in a cutting room folder could be useful someday somewhere else.

Current Soundtrack: The Thrills, So Much For the City

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Thursday, January 08, 2004


Three days snowed in. The problem here is that it snows and lays down a powder. Then, the next day, it rains, and the rain freezes. It even melts a little of the powder, and that freezes too, creating a hard layer of ice on top of everything. Or, worse, under everything, where you can’t see it, which is particularly dangerous for the roads. Alternately, when the snow isn't hard as a rock, it's brittle and cracks and you drop into it unaware. It just took one shoe full of snow for me to dig my old boots out of the closet. Not like I keep snow gear around, so it's back to the old punk fashion.

So, it's been a lot of movies. Pale Flower, an obtuse, existential Yakuza movie; Mulholland Drive, which I hated the first time I saw it, and after some time and some reading, loved it this second time around; Le Trou, a Jacques Becker prison break picture, full of some great twists and palpable atmosphere. I'll probably round things off with some more Fellini, a little Nights of Cabiria. Crime in the afternoons, women searching for something in the evenings.

Also am getting busy on Ai Yori Aoshi volume 5. Need to get in the swing of things. This has become a pretty natural book for me, along with Gravitation. By this point, all hands involved are in a groove. The translations get better, so I get better--we simply are more familiar with the components of the book than when we started. Tokyopop is also dangling other assignments in front of me, but not sure what will actually come to fruition yet. A surprise script dropped in my lap yesterday was taken out of it today. Crazy.

Need to do some comics brainstorming, too. There are a couple of possible pitches in my future for some short and long work. Also, expect an announcement soon about when "Chance Meeting" by myself and Patrick Scherberger will actually go online. The snow has kept the Oni brains from being put together, and I actually haven't heard back from the colorist since Monday, so it isn't going to hit this Sunday like we thought might be possible.

Hmmm...and is that The Everlasting waving at me from over there?

Current Soundtrack: Pet Shop Boys, Bilingual remaster, disc 2

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Tuesday, January 06, 2004


We had snow here today. Portland isn't quite equipped for this weather, and it's actually the worst storm the city has had in a decade. I think they predicted six inches, and given that the town shuts down at the barest hint of powder on concrete, pretty much everything ground to a halt. I look at it as a gift to those of us who had a winter break that was busier than expected. It was nice to laze about with the cat and watch DVDs (The Ben Stiller Show and Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West).

I spent a lot of my time off with a vehicle, which meant that my reading took a hit (getting most of my reading done on the bus these days). I chose a slim volume out of the stack I received for Christmas: Meat Is Murder by Joe Pernice, part of the 33 1/3 series, where an author takes a record that was influential to them and writes a 100-page treatise on it. Pernice (himself a musician, part of the Pernice Bros.) took the approach of writing a book of fiction, a confessional narrative about a young boy in a dull town and his fumbling for identity, his liberation through music. For the most part, it's pretty good. It may have been a little light on its actual discussion of the Smiths' record, but it managed to avoid being too precious about it when it did. Perhaps my only complaint was that I think Pernice stretched a little too hard to show he was a writer, pushing a simile to breaking point or choosing a word out of his thesaurus when just the basic one would do.

On the flipside, CLAMP's Shirahime-Syo tries to say as little as possible, instead working its manga magic with a subtle finesse that is quite effective. Published by Tokyopop in a gorgeous hardcover edition, this decade-old graphic novel has three separate stories about the Snow Goddess' influence on three separate lives (generally, doomed romantics), wrapped in a framing device that drives home a larger point about humanity. It's reminiscent of the film Kwaidan and, in turn, the graphic novel it inspired, Scott Morse’s Visitations.

Having gotten so used to reading the more light-hearted material from CLAMP, due to my rewriting a lot of it, it was refreshing to sit down with something different from the studio. Shirahime-Syo is full of gorgeous brush work and subtle storytelling. Why show a killing, for instance, when a simple splash of blood on the white snow will do?

Movie-wise, Fellini's ! Vitelloni (the exclamation point is supposed to be upside-down, but that's too advanced for me; it can also be referred to as I Vitelloni) is currently doing the art house circuit. Kino has done a new print that is at times a little soft, but generally crisp. The story is about a quintet of Italian boys in the mid-'50s who are stuck in an aimless life in a nowhere town. Fellini plays with the sort of archetypes typical of the teen movie genre, showing the different personalities of the group (the lothario, the artist, the intellectual, the man's man, the dreamer) and using each to show different options a life can take. The ending reminded me of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, a big influence on me.

But perhaps what stuck with me the most after ! Vitelloni was the narrative device. There is a voiceover by an unseen character who insinuates himself into the social circle. He refers to the boys as "we," yet himself never appears on screen. He could be a sixth member, or he could just be an authorial voice, a conceit. I wonder if anyone has ever done this in prose?

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