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

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I've gotten my copies of Love the Way You Love, Side A and given the unconventional slow roll-out it's receiving, I am offering it to my blog readers direct.

This collection brings together the first 3 issues. Marc and I aren't big on the whole "pack it with extras" routine, but there are two new pages slotted in to fill out empty spaces.

Each book is $12, plus $2 postage for the first book. I also have most of my other titles in stock, so if you are looking for something else, drop me a line. golightly [a] confessions123.com is the address for all enquiries and Paypal. Checks/money orders also accepted. Any order of two or more books will receive a flat $4.50 postage rate and sent priority.

Naturally, all books will be autographed, and special requests will be accommodated.

Plenty of copies of my short prose story "Chevelu" are also still available for $3.

Current Soundtrack: Siouxsie Sioux, Mantaray

Current Mood: shill

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Okay, ignore that last post.

I couldn't heed Papa's advice, and though starting at about 11:00 I took maybe an hour-and-half off from working, even did some reading when I did, I couldn't get the script out of my head. I had a vision of the first two pages, and I decided that maybe if I sketched those out, I could stop thinking about it.

Then I had the first two panels of page 3, and I thought, "Sketch those, and then tomorrow, you'll know where to start from there." All I'd have to do in the morning is keep following the frame, creating what happens in relation to that. (The frame is like a folk tale, the main story a present day version.)

Then I decided I might as well type up what I'd thumbnailed.

Then I got to page 4, thought, well, halfway, that's a good night's work.

But then I had all the dialogue for page 5, type that up, and then tomorrow I can figure out what goes in the panels with the dialogue.

Oh, but wait, I have a really good idea for what should be in the last panel, so I should type that in, and with that there, it puts the other panels into perspective, so might as well type those descriptions.

Maybe keep sketching, I can kind of see where 6 and 7 are going.

Type those up, and well, I just have to wrap it up.

Hello, 8-page script. Hello, blog post at 2:19 AM.

If I must say so, well past my prime at this hour as I may be, I think it's a charming little back-up story. Sometimes I wish I could just write 8-page comic book stories all the time.

Current Soundtrack: Britney Spears, Blackout; Bloc Party, "Cain Said to Abel;" Radiohead, In Rainbows

Current Mood: exhausted

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Working late tonight. Joëlle Jones and I went out for Indian food with Geoffery Kleinman from DVDTalk. I had an excellent lamb with curry, and we sampled martinis infused with black tea, mixed with sweet and sour.

I've still got to do my eight-pager for the DC book. I pitched Jann four story ideas that I cooked up last night, two of which were fairly complete and two just half-baked concepts. She picked one of the half-baked. Now I've got about half of it written.

The idea was basically a frame story, as in, "We will have this one little tale as our thread, but the actual tale will be an analogue of it." The frame should point the way to what kind of story happens in response, but alas, that I do not yet have. So, when I say it is half-written, it is actually all too literal. Half of each page is actually written, and the other half...blank.

As I grow bleary eyed, I think it best to leave it for the night and resume in the morning. I have a basic seed to maybe start me, and so I will let it grow in th eback of my brain and see what blossoms tomorrow. The best writing lessons I ever received came from Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, and I always try to remember them.

"I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, 'Don't worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.' [snip] It was in that room too that I learned not to think about anything I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything, I hoped; learning, I hoped; and I would read so that I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to do it."

Of course, I rarely search for truth, instead seeking the most plausible lie. Likewise, the last bit is easier said than done. I tend to chew on stories the way I grind my teeth and chew the inside of my cheek...but yet, one must always strive.

Current Soundtrack: The Creation, The Best of... (Repertoire Records, 1999)

Current Mood: full of thought

I wanted to give a quick update in regards to the sixth issue of Love the Way You Love, which I think was actually solicited for this month, despite Oni's release date on their website of 11/28.

If you've been keeping up with Marc Ellerby's journal (and if you haven't, why not? how else will you know what emo rent boys do for fun in England?), you may have noticed he mentioned not drawing due to a wrist problem. As he himself wrote last week:

"In bad news, my hand fell apart on the Saturday. While drawing a splash page of LTWYL 6, I felt all my knuckles and joints pop and tighten and I tried to work through the pain but it kept happening. Then my wrist went and I was back in my bandage support, looking like a proper cunt*. So I couldn't even draw. I'm not sure if it was just a lapse as it feels slightly better now, but either way I'll pop to the pharmacy for a stronger does of deep heat and a new support. If it doesn't hint at getting better by the end of the week, back to the docs with me."

(*Remember, the Brits use that term differently. Don't start a freakout internet meme about it or nothin'.)

Keep in mind, this is Marc trying to get back into drawing after taking some time off to heal whatever it was he did to himself. At first they thought it was his tendon, but now it may have transferred over to his muscles. He's in a splint, and he'll try to draw as he mends. Obviously, though, this is a very important issue for the series and we're not going to do anything to rush it, so it may take some time. Oni's November date is the last estimate we would have gone for, but I have a feeling we won't clear that. We'd love to have it out for Christmas, but we're not going to call it until we're certain.

Please bear with us. Obviously, we'd rather it not be this way, we'd rather Marc be healthy and the book ship on time, but I think we can all agree that the healthy part is better than the ship on time part at this point.

Naturally, his blog and my blog will continue to have updates.


On a much more light-hearted note, if I disappear for the next couple of months, no, I haven't gone all Have You Seen the Horizon Lately? on you guys. It'll just be me hibernating with DVDs. My editor just dropped off a stack, which includes:

Berlin Alexanderplatz (940 minutes)
Seinfeld - The Complete Series (180 episodes, 104 hours of bonus material, and a book to go with it)
Sopranos - Season Six, Part 2 (9 episodes)

And then there are the five single releases he brought as well.

He laughed when I saw the box. My eyes bugged out, my mouth probably fell open. My social life is going south for the winter!

Current Soundtrack: The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968 disc 2

Current Mood: conflicted

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Look what's on Amazon...

You Have Killed Me

By Jamie S. Rich & Joëlle Jones

Current Soundtrack: Nick Cave covering Leonard Cohen, the Velvet Underground, and something called "Mojo-Soho" (?)

Current Mood: excited

Yeeowch. We sent quite a lot of copies of Have You Seen the Horizon Lately? out for review, and so far there hasn't been much of a nibble. Reader Views, who gave a good notice to The Everlasting (though, granted, from a different writer), posted theirs, and it's none too kind. The first two paragraphs are largely summary, and the summation goes thusly:

"I was somewhat interested in “Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?”, but found it hard to follow because each chapter jumped to a different time period for Percy or Julia. The depression and talk of suicide throughout the entire book was not interesting and many times very cumbersome to read. The novel included excerpts from the characters writings and from interviews with the characters. I found no interest in these portions and skimmed through them."

I have to say, I really think I pulled the wrong reviewer in the bad luck of this draw.


And for the record, yes, they did like me last time.

Current Soundtrack: scrappin' and mixin' it up to Bow Wow Wow, Lily Allen, the Decemberists, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Current Mood: bruised but still swinging

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Sunday, October 21, 2007


g#2 front col
Originally uploaded by andi watson
Look for Glister #2 by Andi Watson in stores this week!

Once again proofread by yours truly. I even appear on the inside back cover.

I've also been proofing Madman Atomic Comics #5. This Joëlle Jones image won't be in the book, but she will be in a future issue.

Current Soundtrack: Nick Drake, Way To Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake; The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack

Current Mood: got a dreadache

Friday, October 19, 2007



* My Kid Could Paint That, an excellent documentary about a child painter that raises questions about what qualifies as art, who gets to judge, and whether or not the whole thing is a scam, anyway.


* Black Sheep, a ridiculous but fun horror comedy from New Zealand. It's about marauding vampire sheep, so it's hard to lose with a concept like that. Just wish it had been a little funnier, maybe a little scarier. Something.

* Breathless - Criterion Collection, a fantastic new two-DVD set of Jean-Luc Godard's groundbreaking debut.

* Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy - Eclipse Series 6, collecting the Spanish director's triptych exploring dance and the way it's performed, both in fictional and non-fictional shells.

* Days of Heaven - Criterion Collection, Terrence Malick's truly remarkable potboiler poetry on a disc worthy of its magnificent reputation.

* Entourage - Season Three, Part 2, the conclusion to the show's extended outing puts the series back on track with a solid clutch of episodes.

* October Road - The Complete First Season, an abysmal pilot about a novelist returning to the hometown he savaged in his fiction somehow turns into a series I ended up liking in spite of myself. What the hell--?!

And just to prove that not all the mail I get is mean and spiteful, I got a nice letter from a reader last week:

I read your review of 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age' and...

Thank you! I cannot believe the mediocre reviews this film is getting from the majority of the critics. I actually went in thinking it might not be that great, but it was. And then some. I absolutely loved it. And not just because I'm a huge fan of the original. Like you said, it truly felt like the original. I'm no film snob, I like and will watch anything. But this film was amazing IMO. I applaud your review.

- Rob

Not everyone thinks I'm a moron, as it turns out. Though give Rob time. He'll come around.

Current Soundtrack: My Life Story, b-sides to "It's a Girl Thing" and "Empire Line"

Current Mood: apathetic

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, October 18, 2007



No updates means simply that, no updates.

It's been quiet around here. I think it's battery recharging time for me, or something.

I've had a headache off and on for four days.

It's been raining, but my ceiling hasn't been leaking.

I bought my Halloween costume, mostly.

I haven't written fuck all. I blame the headache, but the head is on my shoulders, so I'm the problem.

Saw Antonioni's Red Desert for the first time at the Northwest Film Center, with the disappointment that it was a digital copy mastered from a VHS and thus looked like a shitty download, so I don't actually feel like I saw it after all.

Saw The Darjeeling Limited and loved it. Is it me, or is it Wes Anderson's eulogy for his prior films?

Watched a lot of TV.

Saw the new Coen Bros.

Perfunctory e-mail replies.

Chasing the cat around the house and both of us laughing like maniacs, acting like refugees from a Bukowski poem.


Current Soundtrack: Control original soundtrack

Current Mood: nauseated

Saturday, October 13, 2007


It's a random kind of day.

* The script read awesome. I'm actually pretty happy with it. Which makes me think DC will somehow hate it. Because that's the way I roll.

* This picture I took of myself at Matt Grigsby's birthday party last night cracks me up.

I was so drunk that on the way home, listening to a remix of "Shake the Disease," I punched a brick wall because I didn't like the way it was looking at me.

* Firat, a young fellow in Turkey I met through LastFM, posted about me on his blog, talking about my novels. You can read it here, but only if you understand Turkish. I have yet to find a decent translation device online that can handle the language. Check out his user profile on LastFM, though. His alias is "Smithsuede." How cool is that? We are far away, and yet we are so close.

Current Soundtrack: random

Current Mood: constantly starving today

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, October 12, 2007


Hey, comics fans! Marc Ellerby is going to be at the comic book convention in Birmingham tomorrow, October 13. Go visit him. Bring him bags of gooey Swedish fish candy and ask him how his wrist is doing. I think he'll also have the Love the Way You Love trade paperback to show off, too. You can also go and gape at Andi Watson, who is never mistaken for a girl in person, despite the name.


I so wanted to use the Joëlle Jones illustration she did for my review of Elizabeth: The Golden Age as my decoration today, but given the special nature of its inclusion, I would rather you see it at DVD Talk or via her blog. So, you must, must, must click through to the review here. It's an experiment. We may do more as a way to spruce up the theatrical reviews. Isn't it lovely?

To that end, the actual movies:

* The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the long movie with a long title, but that's also long on good, good stuff.

* Elizabeth: The Golden Age, a satisfying sequel to the 1998 original, starring Cate Blanchett. And did you see that Joëlle drawing?

(Regular readers who saw last night's post will note that these are the movies I saw on Tuesday, the monkey wrench in my schedule. I'm not even sure how I managed to write these reviews.)


* A Drowning Man, a really good surreal Japanese film, a really shitty DVD.

* Mala Noche - Criterion Collection, the first ever release of Gus Van Sant's pioneering debut.

Current Soundtrack: Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Close your eyes, and I swear you'll hear Billy Joel. Especially on "The Underdog.")

Current Mood: off-kilter

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Golly, kids, I'm burnt.

At about 3:30 today I finished the complete draft of the one-shot. I don't know whether to call it the first draft or the second, but regardless, it's there. I feel more like it's second, but whatever.

I had two movie screenings come up for Tuesday, so I got a little worrried and stayed up late Monday doing Tuesday's ten pages, but then in an attempt to remain on my new track of being ahead of the game, I stayed up late Tuesday doing another ten. I then did five late last night while drunk, but surprisingly it worked out okay. It's actually kind of funny, because I accompanied Joëlle Jones and Terry Blas to Dr. Sketchy's and while I was trying to sketch this woman, the solution to my last lingering problem finally occurred to me. Maybe there is something to the whole sex and violence thing, since it was figuring out what to do in an action sequence, and it came to me while looking at boobies. The muse is a strange little minx.

When I got home, I was horrified to step into a puddle of water in my kitchen. I think the leak issues I have had in my apartment, documented elsewhere on this blog and not something I feel like digging up at the moment, have been dormant for about a year, I thought they were gone. Thankfully, this one was small and hopefully already fixed. They think it was a rain leak, not a pipe leak, which made it easier.

Anyway, that meant I slept with one ear open all night, worried I'd hear a cascade of water coming out of my ceiling. This also meant I was up early and got right to work, and everything fell into place. The final fifteen rolled right by. Ironically, that final solution last night involved water. It would have been even better if Ty Fyre was doing her fire dance, but alas, she merely posed, no pyrotechnics.

The plan now is to give myself tomorrow off from the script, and then read it Saturday, tweak it, and then read it again Sunday so that it's waiting for Jann on Monday morning.

And by the by, the thing about the story involving water, it tells you nothing. Any speculation you come up with based on that, I guarantee, will be wrong.

Current Soundtrack: Kylie Minogue, Kylie X [Pre-Album 2007]

Current Mood: accomplished

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Posted by Joëlle Jones on her blog:

Now that con season is over, I've taken stock of what is available for T-shirts. All shirts are $20 + $3 for postage and handling, and available in a variety of color and sizes. Since these were all screen printed by hand by me, I took advantage of the situation and made bought a bunch of different shirts. The stock is as follows:

12 Reasons Why I Love Her


Dark Blue with Silver ink - Ringer T, Medium
Dark Gray with Black - Ringer T, Medium
White with Black - Ringer T, XL
Blue with Silver Ink - XL
Gray with Blue ink - XL

Dark Blue with Light Blue Ink - XXL


Dark Blue V-Neck with silver ink, size X-Small
Teal V-neck, size small
White with black ink, XL

You Have Killed Me


Black with Red Ink - Large
Light Gray with Black Ink - XL


White with silver ink - Small
Black with silver - Medium

Interested parties should e-mail Jamie at golightly [at] gmail [dot] com (address protected from roving internet robots). Obviously, first come, first served. International postage will differ.

Current Soundtrack: White Stripes, Icky Thump

Current Mood: distressed

Monday, October 08, 2007


I forgot a short anecdote I was going to put in this morning's post. I'll chalk it up to the weirdness of writing about something you can't really write about in specific terms, and how that makes specifics of all kinds turn into a gray fog in your brain.

My dad turned some ungodly age yesterday, and I called him a couple of days ago to wish him an early happy birthday. I knew his card was going to be late, so I felt like I could split the difference. My dad is a pretty cool guy, and I should stress that he has never once discouraged me from doing what I want to do. Still, what I do is an odd thing for a guy who builds houses for a living to wrap his head around*. This intellectual property thing baffles whole nations, so it's hard for a guy not to worry about his socially awkward son who doesn't have a real job.

So, naturally, I tell him I've gotten a gig, and that it's pretty good. I explain to him about how I got it, etc., and what it will entail.

DAD: That's great. So, basically they want you to edit the comic?
ME: No, dad, they want me to write it.
DAD: Really? You mean it will be your story?
ME: Yeah, top to bottom. It's just their characters.
DAD: Wow.

I could tell he was impressed. Then I told him what it paid, and he was even more impressed. This is a guy who I know tells people that I write and have published books, so I know he is proud of me and gets that I am an author, but I think this is a more tangible validation in his eyes. The fact that I work independently and own my material I don't think registers with him (though, as a guy who just built the house he is going to live in and is selling his current house, which he also built, he should understand the difference of his selling that house for the full profit than working for someone else to take and sell it for their own profit--but I've never put it in those terms for him). This is a big company that he's heard of, and it's willing to let me do stuff with its characters and even pay me for it.

Which, yeah, is pretty cool. So he's right to say, "Wow."

Still, it makes me wonder, back in the '90s when Frank Miller was doing Sin City, did his mom ever say, "That's nice, dear, but won't they let you draw Batman anymore?" I imagine she changed her tune when the Sin City movie came out!

* Odd for most people, actually. Ask any freelancer what people in their life think about their job, and you'll find that most of us have to deal with the belief that just because we work at home, we goof around a lot and are having fun, not really "working."

Current Soundtrack: mix of the 4600 and some odd songs on the new iPod, including Depeche Mode, Ennio Morricone with Joan Baez, ACO, Sandie Shaw, & Brett Anderson

Current Mood: curious

When I was in college, I was concerned about my persistent digestive problems, and so I went to the doctor. After some tests, including a lengthy dietary experiment, it was determined I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a stomach condition triggered by stress. Don't ask me what makes that different than the average condition that your mother called a "nervous stomach," all I know is that a doctor told me this is what I had nearly twenty years ago. Since then, it's become a more popular thing to have, like so many modern syndromes and disorders, that a lot of people make claims to but don't get diagnosed. I should have had the doctor write me a note. "Jamie's butt explodes because he's sensitive."

It's gone in and out of my life over the years based on, you guessed it, my stress level. It's amazing I was so fat working at Oni Press, because I was pooping enough for three people most of the time. Since leaving Oni, bad bowel movements have usually had something to do with with the whiskey from the night before.

Enter DC Comics into my life. Oh, boy. To suggest my Syndrome announced its return in a fanfare of trumpets would be no hyperbole. Have you ever woken yourself up from a deep sleep because your flatulence stank so bad? Well, I have. (You may think this is too much information, but I am pandering to a small segment of my audience here. Namely, fellow comics writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, whose blog is actually called Girl Farts. I suspect her becoming a mother was all an elaborate plan to cultivate more scatological conversation material.)

Anyway, one of the neat things about IBS is that my stomach absorbs some of the stress, so I freak out less on the outside. This means, despite putting a lot of pressure on myself for this comic book, it's manifesting mostly in my toilet.

And on the page--though not in the same way, thank goodness. Last week I established a plan whereby I would create a rough spine for my script by writing ten pages a day. Starting Tuesday, that meant all forty pages of the main story by Friday. I'm pleased to say I reached my goal at around 1:30 A.M. that night. Not bad, considering I went to two movies and had an unexpected personal derailment and a shocking iPod meltdown in the midst of it. My biggest concern was that I would run out of room, I had bitten off more story than I could chew, but I actually came in two pages short, meaning I can loosen the belt elsewhere when I do the big rewrite.

My plan is pretty much the same for this week. I spent the weekend proofing my latest manhwa assignment, Park Hee-Jung's short story collection Too Long (announced here). I really liked it. Delicately drawn stories, loosely connected, all working on a common theme. I made sure to get the clean-up done before I started my DC script, and so proofing my work was a good separator between the two stages of writing. Today I do some side work, as I do every Monday, and also celebrate Columbus Day. (Seriously? Is there a holiday people care less about? I walked to the post office with my packages to mail, and along with three other people, was shocked to discover they were closed. Clearly not an event on most people's radar. It's a holiday for mailmen, bankers, and, as The Sopranos taught us, mobsters. It needs to go away. Plus, no one told the librarians it was a government holiday. They were at work!)

Despite the stress, I'm pretty excited. Too very impressive, very cool artists have signed on for the project, and I think it's going to get a lot of notice. I'm happy with the structure of the story and think it will make for a strong stand-alone.

On that iPod meltdown, can I just sing the praises of Apple Care for a second? I actually find the whole Mac Culture to be repugnant, but I will say Apple Care is a worthwhile investment. I bought my 60G Video iPod a couple of days before Halloween in 2005, when I was traveling to Chynna Clugston's wedding. It's run pretty faithfully for nearly two years. It started freaking out last Monday and none of the troubleshooting worked. I took it into the Mac Store on Thursday, and with 25 days left on my extended warranty, they replaced it with a brand new machine. I was, of course, ecstatic. If something is going to break down, that close to the cut-off date is the time for it to happen. Talk about getting my money's work!

I had almost completely filled the old Pod. It took a while to do, adding music slowly over time. It's oddly freeing to have the opportunity now to start from scratch again. Naturally, there was some music on my laptop already, and that formed the basis for the reconstruction, but now the process of selecting and importing CDs from my collection begins. What suits me now, and how does it differ from what was already on there? Some choices are obvious. Dog Man Star and Louder Than Bombs were the first two things I picked, and outside of a Fall collection, the only things I have ripped from disc so far. I'm taking it slow, biding my time. It's too bad there isn't some record of how each of my various MP3 players have ended their life. It would be like an aural topography of the last six or seven years of my existence. (I would also have my playlists from the last iPod, something I wish I had preserved before I tried to restore it. I had a huge list, in order of my preference, of the singles that have been released this year, as well as mixes I made for Joëlle and collections of Beatles and Smiths covers.) Someone should do a study of what these changes to the music we choose to carry with us say about the ebb and flow of how we live.

Anyway, here I go. Ten pages a day starting tomorrow. By this time next week, if all goes well, Jann Jones will have my script and I will be working on my own stuff again, along with the eight-page back-up for our one-shot. It's all about the kinetic energy, baby!

Current Soundtrack: Zabriskie Point OST

Current Mood: poopy

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich
This happens two or three times a year and lasts for about a week each time, but if you compare to the original photo I posted here (originally taken for Fraction's Deskset pool, which you'll find a link to in the link), perhaps you'll be impressed.

Saturday, October 06, 2007



* Lust, Caution, the new tale of passion and consequences from consummate master of restraint Ang Lee.

I also saw Across the Universe this week. I had to see what all the kerpuffle was about. Besides, I like the Beatles, I like Julie Taymor, it can't be all bad. Can it?

Well, not all bad, no. There were two pieces I really liked. To be honest, I've completely forgotten what one of them was, so it must not have been that great, but the bowling alley performance of "I've Just Seen a Face" is the other. It's the kind of fun, energetic number, combining dance and visual invention, that should have been the constant for the film. At the opposite end was the Eddie Izzard cameo "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite." Constrained and over designed with trite psychedelic imagery, Taymor reined Izzard in when she should have just let him go. Instead, she let Bono have his way with "I am the Walrus," and made every shot about his face and his ego, both of which are much larger than they should be. You ever watch a movie and wish someone on screen would have brushed their teeth, because they just have this palpable stench of morning breath about them? If I ever meet Bono, I'm handing him a toothbrush.

Not that any of the other performers don't deserve a smack, it's just that most of them are merely average rather than egregiously bad. Which is the movie in a nutshell, really. Granted, I might be whistling a different tune if I hadn't gone to a late-night screening with a friend. We giggled and cracked wise through the whole thing, trying to guess which Beatles song each new character would be named after ("Is that Eleanore Rigby?" "Here comes Rocky Raccoon!" "Don't park your car there or Rita might getcha!") or what contrivance would lead to a particular song (I was waiting for someone to bite into a glass onion or make a quick trip to Russia so that he could go back there later). To give you an idea of what you'll be dealing with if you go see Across the Universe, at one point a girl named Prudence crawls into Sexy Sadie's apartment through the bathroom window, and when Sadie asks where she came from, Jude says, "She came in through the bathroom window." Ah-ha! To be honest, I didn't see it coming, because Prudence had said she was from nowhere when Maxwell (without his silver hammer) had asked her the same question, and I was really hoping the explanation would be, "She's from a real nowhere, man."

So, yeah, if you can't go and laugh, it will probably be excruciating. Even having a good time, the last thirty minutes seem to go on forever (it's 131 minutes long, so it's no casual stroll down Blue Jay Way, let me tell you). It's disappointing because it could have really been so good if Julie Taymor had just gone for it with pure wild abandon. The truth is, she just seems wishy-washy about it. For a director known best for her dynamic imagery, she holds back for most of the movie, making the stray scenes with her trademark giant puppets or surreal twists seem out of place rather than the life's blood of the narrative. Some images are gorgeous, such as Jude's "Strawberry Fields" poster, but others just make you wonder what the hell she was thinking (the troupe of dancers made-up to look like the little girl in the infamous napalm photo from Vietnam is a huge "Oh no she didn't!"). Molding "I Want You" into a draft office anthem, complete with Dick Tracy army men, has touches of brilliance, but then the "She's So Heavy" part shows the new inductees shlepping the Statue of Liberty across an Asian jungle. What the hell?! If you're going to go nuts, Julie, go nuts. You have the kids swimming through an hallucinatory ocean, how can they not go down to the Octopus' Garden? And would it have killed you to find a spot for "Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me & My Monkey"?

Ironically, for a rock and roll musical, Taymor has no clue how to show rock and roll. The band within the film, featuring the interracial couple Sadie and JoJo, inexplicable avatars of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, are shot in the most cliche, unimaginative way possible. It's like Taymor only learned about rock music from bad TV shows. Likewise she seems to have only researched the '60s by watching Hair and maybe that TV miniseries "The Sixties" with Julia Stiles that VH-1 shows all the time. Her colorwheel version of Greenwich Village isn't even pop art, the whole thing is just gutless. I mean, you have a 1960s film without any drug use? In one scene, she has a bunch of college kids smoke out, but she has them pantomime the joints! We're not on stage, honey, you can't cop out like that.

Across the Universe is just one big copycat of a film. It's not a cover version, nor is it even a karaoke performance, but more like the cheeseball karaoke backing tracking, complete with video, that some poor session musician had to put together somewhere in between gigs at the Holiday Inn lounge down by the interstate. Even the one bright note, Jim Sturgess, the actor who played Jude and who had a singing voice I quite liked, is ripping someone off, and it's the wrong person to rip off. Watch his stance in the final rooftop performance of "All You Need Is Love," the way he stares off into the middle distance with his hands in his pockets. This poor kid doesn't know the Beatles. He's up there pretending to be Liam Gallagher!


* Day Night Day Night, a fascinating attempt to show us the process of a misguided girl of faith becoming a suicide bomber that doesn't quite meet its potential.

* Felix the Cat: The Complete 1958-1959 Series, another return to my childhood yields much better results than what we'll call "the Woodpecker incident."

Last week's review of Bram Stoker's Dracula has been riding high on top of the DVD Talk chart for a several days now, and debates over the picture quality across the various DVD formats even prompted me to add an updated paragraph to the piece. I've gotten lots of letters telling me I should check out the Blu-Ray DVD before I assess the regular DVD, which is asinine, since they are two different formats. They need to be judged separately, like you'd judge a vinyl record differently than a CD or even hearing the same music live. Better than those letters, though, is this one, from some girl named Isabel:

I read your review of 'Bram Stoker's Dracula - Collector's Edition' and...I do not know how you could have seen Winona & Keanu's characters so unfavorably...I think its a matter of the fault not lying with our stars, but with ourselves... That would be YOUR self in this review.

If it was not for these 2 actors this movie would have been average instead of fabulous, despite the rest of a terrific cast.

Thanks for NOT changing my opinion of movie reviewers one tiny iota.

You're welcome, Isabel. You're welcome.

Current Soundtrack: Britney Spears, "Radar" (click if you dare); various artists, Radio 1 - Established 1967

Current Mood: stressed

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All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich