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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dear Portland,*

I say this out of love, because I care about me.

If you are out at a nightclub, and the DJ plays "Paper Planes" by M.I.A., it is not cool if you shoot finger guns into the air every time they use the gunshot sample in the song. It's really lame.** In fact, if someone with an actual gun on their person shot you at that very moment, no jury would convict them.

So, for the well being of all of us, cut it out.

Jamie S. Rich

* This may also happen in other parts of the world. Apply as appropriate.

** My friend Eliza was thankful for this behavior, as it made her own dorkiness seem less dorky. When I suggested she "make it clap," she reached back and slapped her butt, not realizing that "making it clap" was the dance equivalent of soccer, and it's a foul to use your hands. She is a redhead, though, and thus whiter than most.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


While digging through an old back-up disc today, I found a long-forgotten project that never quite happened. The basic gist of it is, back in 2001, Christine Norrie was posting sketches to her website. If I recall, it was on a daily basis. Somewhere along the way, one of us had the notion that I would answer these sketches with sketches of my own. The process was simple: I would look at her drawings and write whatever came to mind. Short, to the point, just whatever they inspired.

We were supposed to collect them into a minicomic and call in Romantica. One even made it into a Spookoo teaser book that Christine did (the first entry below), but the project was basically abandoned when she realized that the web scans wouldn't print well and she had no idea where the original sketches were.

Below are a couple of the better ones. I have ten in all. None of them are great, by any means, but I do like the simplicity of them. Not a lot of fuss, a certain clarity to the writing. Some have things I would reuse later, at least one has a line that actually predated the exercise and was part of a short story I had written ten years prior.

Hopefully Christine won't kill me for digging these out. Thankfully, she's easy to distract. Hey, Christine, look! Over there!

Phew. Okay, quickly now, before she comes back...


This is what he wanted, wasn’t it? He wanted her in his arms, her lips so close he could almost feel them, the smell of chocolate on her breath.

“Wait,” he said. “We can’t do this.”

“Why?” she asked, still holding him, but seconds from letting go.

“You’re still…you’re still with him. And it has to be over…it has to be over before anything new can start.”

She stepped back. She sighed. “You’re right. You are.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. If only I’d met you before, things would be different.”

He put his hands in his pockets and couldn’t help but chuckle a little. “No, they wouldn’t. You’d only be my friend and tell me how there was this guy you liked and you wished he liked you back, and I’d still be left thinking it would never be me.”


Last night had been Roxanne’s best date in a long while. Pizza ordered in, ice cream from the carton, and old Chinese cold from the fridge. She got to drink as much as she wanted to drink and eat as much as she wanted to eat, smoke as much as she wanted to smoke and watch whatever film she wanted to watch. She walked around the house with nothing on, and there was no one else around to care. She’d sent her lover away because she didn’t love him anymore. He had become tedious. Now, she was free--free to wake up and enjoy another smoke and possibly have a cheeseburger--the proven, hands-down best cure for morning breath--for breakfast. What would it matter? The only kiss Roxanne would have to make was to herself in the mirror, a big thanks for having the wherewithal to cut the bum loose, and the mirror, unlike the newly departed, was never one to complain.


Her hair smelled like citrus.
His shirt was soft on her arms.
Her toes crackled like livewires and sent electric signals all up her body.
His cheek was cold from the night air.
Her thoughts turned to fuzz.
His breath became slow. Air felt less necessary.
They didn’t want to move in fear it would all go away.


It came in a plain manila envelope with a card. The tape had a sticker on it that said, “Play Me.” The lyrics to Bjork’s “Headphones” were the only words on the card, meant to serve as a sort of instruction. Robbie had left six weeks before, had gone to a different school. It was the first time he and Rachel had been apart in two years. He knew she missed the Friday nights they’d spend in his bedroom laying on the floor, shuffling CDs in and out of the player and listening to their favorite songs. They’d turn out the lights. Robbie had plastic stars that glowed in the dark stuck to his ceiling. They’d stare at them and listen to Belle & Sebastian, Pet Shop Boys, Roxy Music. No one else was ever at home and they could turn it up as loud as they wanted. They’d fall asleep to something soft, like the Tindersticks or Cowboy Junkies, and when they woke up the sun would be out and the stars had disappeared into the whiteness of his ceiling.

Rachel put on her headphones, put the tape in the stereo, pressed play. She heard everything she needed to hear from Robbie, and he didn’t even have to say a word.

Sadly, I didn't have a separate file for the art on that last one the way I did for the other drawings, it was embedded in a word file, so it's super small. That was one of my all-time favorite little Xtine drawings, though. I think it was my desktop pattern for a while.

Most of these now read almost like what you would write if you were doing a parody of my style. Especially "Mix Tape." Keep in mind, though, 2001--only Cut My Hair had been released, I hadn't touched I Was Someone Dead in about eight years, and The Everlasting was about sixty-typed pages long. None of my other stuff existed.

To finish this post, for shits and giggles, cartoons Christine drew of me, and to close, an example of what some artists do when they are in trouble and are hoping to butter an editor up. (It usually works best if you send the original, hint hint.)

Current Soundtrack: Marina Céleste, Cinéma Enchanté; Mike and Herb with the Silver Strings, "Let 'Em Come/I've Been A Fool"

Current Mood:

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich

Monday, August 25, 2008


Syndicate Product Covert HQ has a new review of Love the Way You Love vol. 6 this morning:

I've admitted before to having a mad writerly crush on Jamie S. Rich (and his sideburns)...In all, a sweet comic romance that even gave me a slight case of the fuzzies, not an easy task.

Johanna at Comics Worth Reading has also updated her Love the Way You Love page to include the finale.

All of the personal struggles and conflicts are addressed by the end, but the business storylines are left unresolved. Instead, there’s a new character introduced who’s too clever for his own good, although by the end, he has plenty of reason to be...It’s a great conclusion to the romance, with lots of insight — I just wanted to know how the band worked things out as well.

I would like to note in response to Johanna's pondering about whether the ending changed due to the delays, that in fact, it did not. The script was done before #5 was finished being drawn. The stories about the professional lives of the characters were going to be a large focus of the next story arc, and still will be if that ever happens. So, essentially, I agree with her--I want to see that, too!

Thanks for the great write-ups, guys!

Current Soundtrack: Monkey, Journey to the West

Current Mood:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Learning more and more about less and less and less
On the edge of your seat in some dark movie
Can you memorize the scenes
They'll be different next week


This week's reviews written specifically for the site are:

* Jubilee, Derek Jarman's hybrid of a punk documentary and a post-apocalyptic nightmare.


* Delicatessen: Special Edition, a straight-up reissue of the Jean-Pierre Jeunet dark comedy from 1991.

* The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Complete Collection, a metafictional anime about a strange girl who doesn't just think she's the center of the universe, but really is. Like the female version of FLCL.

* Moontide, in which Jean Gabin washes ashore in Hollywood to find Ida Lupino, only to make a so-so thriller with her.

* Pete Kelly's Blues, a stiff Jack Webb vehicle elevated by appearances by Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee.

* Road House, a mullet-free 1948 noir with fantastic performances by Ida Lupino and Richard Widmark. If you've seen the Swayze movie and not this one, you're what's wrong with with this country. 'm just sayin'.

* Twenty-Four Eyes - Criterion Collection, a lovely Japanese drama following the lives of one teacher and the first class she taught, starting in the late 1920s and continuing through WWII. (Also at Criterion Confessions.)

* * *

And a meme...

>Your result for The Director Who Films Your Life Test...

Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Your film will be 49% romantic, 22% comedy, 34% complex plot, and a $ 33 million budget.

Ed Wood will get your film done waaaaay under budget, and will likely make it into a classic film of all time -- for all the wrong reasons. Let's face it, your life isn't terribly exciting to begin with, and it needs some camping up. His resume includes classics such as Plan Nine From Outer Space and Glen or Glenda? He's not afraid to tackle controversial topics, and may insist on portraying a transvestite in your film -- even if you've never seen a transvestite before. He was immortalized in the Academy Award winning Tim Burton film, Ed Wood -- go see it.

Take The Director Who Films Your Life Test at HelloQuizzy

Current Soundtrack: Bloc Party, Intimacy (digital version)

Current Mood:

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich

When this post from the Book Pirate, complete with jagged-toothed drunken photo, showed up in my reader, I was already considering a post here regarding what I was planning to call my "alcoholic menopause." Over the last few weeks, I've been noticing a distinct change in how drinking effects me, and given the major emotional rollercoaster a certain level of booze seems to inspire, it made me think of the changes that women go through in middle life. (No disrespect intended in the appropriation of the term.)

My old routine used to be that as the night wore on, I got louder and more chatty, and that was the major arc of any drinking binge. I would likely get pretty goofy (often depending on how much I had to eat before starting the whiskey flowing), too, and I'd go until I either got sick or just got home and passed out, and usually woke up fresh and dandy the next day, raring to go. I often joked that my mutant power, were I an X-Man, would have been to never be hungover, which would suck in battle but would be quite handy if one were to spend any social time with Wolverine.

Lately, however, not only has a small headache become a common morning-after symptom, but I find my rocketship ride into obnoxiousness now takes dips into other emotional territory. Most obviously, it riles up both my dark humor and my dark humours, leading me from picking on you, good sir, to then turning that same force upon myself, full blast. Also in there somewhere is a crying jag, an eruptive burst of tears that I am powerless to stop. This has happened three times in the last month, and since that actually encompasses most of my drinking in the period, it's a disturbing trend. The weeping tends to be sparked by something real emotionally, but the expession is a severe overreaction. The worst was the night I ended up sitting in an alley as I was walking home, waiting for it to pass. That was the same night that I went home and, in a baffling move, made an enemies list, Richard Nixon-style, detailing who at the festivities I did not trust. I'm happy to report, though, that did not include anyone who I had not just met that evening, the actual friends I had been out with were rock solid. (On that list, I did identify one real danger in bar culture: the end-of-the-night moral relativist. You know the guy, who starts saying things like, "Hey, man, whatever happens, happens--we're all adults here," just before last call.)

Another amusing moment came this past Friday when I was talking to a table of gentlemen that included the Book Pirate, and I suddenly had a flash that I had been in that spot before, speaking to a table of gentlemen, but without any idea of when or whom. This, I would guess, is deja vu. I have never had deja vu before. If this particular instance of it is indicative of what it's really like, it is not so much recognizing a familiar coincidence, but a weird feeling of being haunted by something you can't make fully materialize. It was eerie.

I have no idea what any of this means, nor if I will ever report on it again, but it's something I'm going to be keeping an eye on to see how it develops. I have always been blessed with an excellent drunk's memory, so I do have the ability to sort and analyze the experience the morning after. And lest anyone start to think I have a drinking problem, again let me stress that I imbibe maybe once a week, twice on rare occasions. I am not out of control, I'm just a freak of some kind.

But then, we knew that, didn't we?

"I can haz champagne, and you can't stops me."

Current Soundtrack: Stereolab, "The Nth Degress/Magne-Music;" the Moonglows, Best of...

Current Mood:

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich

Monday, August 18, 2008


Madman Atomic Comics #10, on sale this Wednesday.

Read a sample here.

I've been using the library to get my hands on boxed sets collecting old soul and R&B singles by the big labels, including these marvelous, mammoth Stax/Volt collections that have felt like a portal into a whole new world of music I somehow never got exposed to. (Keep in mind, my dad decided those drug-taking, sexpot Beatles ruined music; he also thinks the Beach Boys were clean-cut young men.)

In the latest set I have, collecting tunes from 1968 through 1971, I found a song that I must public ally declare my new favorite sad song of all time:

Carla Thomas - "I Loved You Like I Love My Very Life"

My goodness, that is so direct, so honest. I used to say Spiritualized's "Broken Heart" was my favorite for that reason, but now that song sounds like 18th-century verse in comparison to Carla Thomas' track. Every time she sings about having a hard time breathing, I realize I have a lump in my throat, too. There is no pretense, no need to hide behind metaphor or glossy language. Carla just sings it like it is.

I've been a Carla Thomas fan for a little over a year now, ever since I decided to finally track down earlier versions of the song "You'll Lose a Good Thing," which I know from the mournful, almost contemptuous McAlmont & Butler version. Her voice has a warm, syrupy quality, but at the same time, her delivery is very unassuming, like she is so confident she doesn't need to show off by over harmonizing or tossing around unnecessary notes. She can mess around and have fun (her duet with Otis Redding, "Tramp," is fantastic) when she wants to, but when she goes for the emotional jugular as she does on "I Loved You..." the depth of meaning she manages to convey is astounding. The song particularly struck me right about now as it's like a compact version of 5 1/2. Songs like this that make me think of my books end up soundtracking trailers I cut in my head, helping me to get directly to the mood I am hoping to achieve in the story.

And, of course, there is the finality of it all. This song is all past tense. Not just the love she had for whomever she is singing about, but you can also interpret the phrase "I loved you like I love my very life" that she is placing her life in the past, too: I loved both of these things, and now they are gone. What happens next to her is still in question, but she's making it clear that just about everything she cared for is now gone. There is still hope, sure, she hasn't yet changed it to "I loved my very life," but it sure feels like things are going that way.

"I Loved You Like I Love My Very Life" will join the ever-expanding playlist for 5 1/2, perhaps starting a second playlist, as I like the complete nature of the first list (which has been amended since I posted it, with Otis' "Try a Little Tenderness" being dropped in after the Suede). It will likely be followed by the recently discovered Baby Washington and her song, "Hey Lonely." I found it at Mod-Centric, and you can download it from them. It's amazing how songs come along at just the right time, that you hear them and think, "Gosh, that makes so much sense, that's exactly what I want right now." Suddenly your iPod becomes like those Russian dolls, each one opening up to reveal another one. So, the Carla Thomas track leads to the Baby Washington track, and so on. This morning, as I was climbing out of the shower, my shuffle landed on Elvis Costello's "Sleep of the Just," off of the King of America album, and it was like, "Oh, yes," and now the playlist has a third song. LastFM has the full track.

Pecking around on YouTube to find sharable versions of some of these songs, I found some cool alternate versions of both "Sleep of the Just" and "You'll Lose a Good Thing" that I thought were worth sharing.

Current Soundtrack: shufflin' paint: Camera Obscura, the Thrills (anyoen else ever notice the Gatsby reference in "No More Empty Words"?), Del the Funkee Homosapien, Blur, Patti Smith (covering "Gimme Shelter"), Dr. Octagon, Morrissey, N*E*R*D

Current Mood: how does it feel to feel?

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Hi, guys, Jamie here, courtesy of the fine manga avatar-generating program at Face Your Manga. It seemed like this incarnation of me would be a fitting host to share some new art with you on this scorching Saturday.

Vitor Cafaggi, a graphic designer in Brazil and proprietor of the fun Puny Parker blog, dropped me a note today to tell me how much he liked 12 Reasons Why I Love Her. He did some searching around to find out about myself and Joëlle Jones and he discovered what a huge Audrey Hepburn fan I am. So, he sent me a drawing he did for his sister that I think is quite lovely:

Apparently the Brazilian edition of 12 Reasons, titled 12 razões para amá-la, was released last year, and according to Vitor, it received really good reviews down there. I haven't seen it yet, so I will have to bug Oni to find out what the deal is. I think the German edition should be out by now, too.

Also in my inbox today, a drawing of Tristan from Love the Way You Love by my friend Terry Blas.

It's a lot of fun. I like it. The coloring reminds me of Phil Noto.

Don't forget to preorder your copy of Love the Way You Love, Side B: Songs of Devotion. It's on its way through the printing process.

ISBN: 978-1-932664-95-9
Diamond Code: JUN08 4144

Current Soundtrack: shufflupagus: Massive Attack, the Who (live), Plaid, Cat Stevens, Amityville

Current Mood:

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, August 15, 2008


I sometimes get nostalgic for my old bus commuting days, usually in reference to the fact that I devoured so many books when I was riding public transit to and from work. It was my most prolific reading period since leaving college, and I loved that I had all this time to devote to other people's words.

All it takes is one good bus ride, however, to squash any such dreams of the past. I actually live near a hospital, which has always made bus rides in and out of the neighborhood interesting, because all sorts of people go to the hospital for all sorts of reasons, and the ones who have to take public transportation to get there often have pretty good reasons for needing to do so.

Yet, one can't really appreciate how Dante-esque a bus ride is unless one takes a longer trip and crosses the river. I rarely cross the river. Portland is cut into four quarters. The street Burnside cuts the city between North and South, and the East/West dividing line is the Willamette River. I'm straight up Westside, represent. We keep all the hippies on the Eastside, anyway, and I like having a big body of water between them and me. I say take the bridges down, make them swim over here if they want to hang in my 'hood. At least then they'll be clean. (And don't even get me started on this Fifth Quadrant business.)

Today, however, I had to go across the water because a friend was having a tryout for a new hair salon and needed models, and hell, a new haircut is worth a $1.85 in bus fare. Not surprisingly, the ride over was smooth, and the bus wasn't even half full. No one was going to the SE; not so on the way back. The bus was packed with people clamoring to get back to the West. Right now, we're in the middle of heatwave, too, and that's never good. The city was already starting to boil and people were getting cranky and weird.

To make matters worse, on the way over the bridge, we got stuck waiting for the drawbridge to let a boat through. All of these cranks and weirdos locked in a big metal thermos on wheels with me. Great. At least we had air conditioning in our cylinder. The bus I was on goes by the courthouse, and so at least one person was freaking out that this delay was going to make her late for her arraignment or trial or whatever. Most likely she wasn't the only one. I am not sure if "poor commuter planning" is an official legal plea.

I was standing at this point. When I first got on the bus, the only seats were up front, and when a couple of people with canes and walkers got on the bus, I was one of those to surrender my seat. This put me by the back door, and also near a visiting Chinese family that consisted of an older couple and their two younger children, and their high school-aged cousin who was showing them around. I only knew this because a clean-cut man in his late '20s was quizzing the girl after hearing her explain things to her visiting relatives in their native tongue. At first he just seemed inquisitive, but I should have recognized the uniform. He had on a necklace with a rather large gold cross, and it was draped over a red T-shirt with the American flag sitting side by side with the Old Navy logo. Commercially sponsored pride of country.

After getting the rundown on where the Chinese family was from and what they were up to, the young man asks the translator to tell her family that Jesus loves them. He repeats himself multiple times, and asks her to do the same thing again multiple times even after she had done it once. I think he had a little OCD because once I looked around and he was air scratching at his face, the way my cat does when I hit that sweet spot behind her ear and she has to resist joining in with the action. The high school girl, who I think said her name was Carmen, translated something to her relatives, but who knows what. The poor girl. Every time it seemed like he was going to leave her alone, the dude starts quizzing her again. "Do you go to church?" "Do you know that Jesus is the ever-livin', ever-lovin' God?" and other such things. Stuff like this is always a weird situation, because part of me wants to jump in and tell the guy to shut up, and another part of me says there is no point and I'm just going to cause more trouble, particularly in a confined space where tensions are mounting.

Eventually, the guy decides to pack it in, and he asks Carmen to translate one last thing for him. She agrees, and he launches into some complicated, obtuse selection of verses about Abraham and his trust in God and loving God with the eyes of a child. I grew up in a church and I could barely make sense of it, I don't know how he expected this kid to translate such convoluted rhetoric for people who likely did not know or care who Abraham was. Then again, I guess if he realized this, he'd not be bugging other folks in the first place. To use another pet analogy, religious people are like dog owners. They want to take their dogs out in public, show them off, and get you to acknowledge their weird relationship with said animals. Cat people are just as weird, but we keep it to ourselves more, I like to be alone with my psychosis. (Anyone who has worked retail in an establishment that allows dogs knows what I mean.)

As this is going on, there is another contingent on the bus who are insisting on opening the windows, despite the signs on the windows that ask people to leave them shut when the A.C. is on. Signs are the most useless thing in the world. Be they informative or instructional, people don't read them, they are just there for the rest of us so we can point to them when someone does the thing the sign warns them against and say, "See? You should have known better!"

A couple of different people were trying to open their windows, and they were getting told to close them by the bus driver, and one guy near the bus driver even walked back and shut a window on her behalf. A lady in pink was insisting she could not breathe, which I don't understand. It was very cool in the bus. I am a guy who runs hot most of the time. Even in a snowstorm I sweat like a ham in an oven. I felt just fine. Not Pink Lady, though, and eventually she and the other window people, who turn out to be a group that has scattered themselves across the bus like a sleeper cell, decide they will not wait any longer. They rise as one and come to the back door where I am standing and suddenly crowd all around me and the men in the quartet start shouting for the driver to let them out.

The driver tells them that she cannot let them out on the middle of the bridge, she is required to let them out at designated stops. In response to this, Pink Lady bellows at the top of her lungs, "YOU HAVE TO LET ME OUT BECAUSE I AM ASKING POLITELY!"

Here again life is offering me a choice. My brain immediately wants to correct her and note that not only is that the first time she spoke regarding anything but the window, so she in fact never actually asked to be let out, but barking a command of this kind is anything but polite. It's like that girl who got kicked off of Project Runway last week who claimed her designs were surreal. I don't know what she thinks surrealism is, but whatever that may be it's different than the rest of us define it; likewise Pink Lady and politeness.

Thankfully, I didn't have to make a decision at this crossroad, because the driver here decided to let this band of idiots off of the bus. Even better, the Bible thumper jumps up and follows after them, maybe to witness to them about when God closes a window, he opens a door, I don't know. Part of me suspects that the driver saw the bridge was lowering, something we could not see from our vantage point, because the bus started moving almost immediately after their shoes hit pavement. If I were her, I know it would have caused me no end of pleasure.

At last we were were on our way and I was two stops from freedom. Traffic was bad, though, and we were just off the Hawthorne Bridge in the Park Blocks were a two-lane one-way street is split in the center by a statue of a reindeer or something. We were on the curve coming around the statue when a pair of the courthouse people, a man and a woman, had realized they had missed the stop they needed. Traffic is just starting to move when they wake up to this error and they start shouting at the bus driver to let them out right there. Even if she wanted to, this is not a spot that a reasonable person would think she could stop her bus without causing disruptions to the flow of traffic, and she refuses. The man, who could not even find a T-shirt for his court appearance that was better than one that was the color of Gatorade and had its sleeves ripped off, exposing more of his armpits than any of us needed to see, decided this was the height of illogical, and he starts cursing out the bus driver. "Fuck you. You're on the goddamn side of the street already. You can stop anywhere. Now we have to walk four fucking blocks back to where we were going."

That's right. Four whole blocks. His mistake constituted having to walk four blocks. Except, no, it wasn't his mistake, clearly it was the bus driver's fault. I can only imagine the justifications he had prepared to offer a judge.

Last I looked, Yahoo was claiming Portland was currently 101 degrees, though it apparently "feels like" 104. How did I not notice the "feels like" index prior to this? I'd say it feels like the world has lost its mind, but that would suggest I believe it had one to begin with. On my way out of downtown, I stopped at a Rite-Aid Drugs to get some cat food. As I was looking for the right aisle, I noticed that one aisle, in addition to carrying other things, advertised that it was also where you could find "Douches." In fact, "Douches" was top of the list on the overhanging sign. As if I needed any help finding any of those!

Current Soundtrack: shufffffle: Midlake, Diablo ("Jail flock...ahh!"), Beatles, Lonnie Donegan ("Frankie and Johnny"), Charlie Parker, Doris Troy, Cutting Crew, Buzzcocks, the Jam, the Clash, the Fratellis, James, Bryan Ferry, Supergrass, Yardbirds, Elastica, Depeche Mode, George Michael & Elton John, Placebo, Paul Weller

Current Mood:

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich

More character work from Natalie for our Image short story...

And Joëlle posted to her blog an image featuring the characters from You Have Killed Me in a pose from a poster for In the Mood for Love. You must see this, click now!

Current Soundtrack: NPR news podcast; the Fewdle Lords

Thursday, August 14, 2008



* Tropic Thunder, a knock-out brawl between Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. and the Hollywood that spawned them.

For more on the Tropic Thunder controversy, keep reading.

* Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen goes abroad for a scintillating romantic drama about passionate, pretty people.


This week's reviews written specifically for the site are:

* Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11, two from the largely unknown Russian director, her first film Wings and her last, The Ascent


* The Anton Chekhov Collection, six discs with ten BBC adaptations of the master playwright's stage work.

* Blues in the Night, Anatole Litvak's lively 1941 picture attempting to bring jazz to Hollywood. Features director Elia Kazan in a supporting role.

* Derek, an illuminating documentary about pioneering queer filmmaker Derek Jarman.

* Extasis, featuring a young Javier Bardem in a Spanish thriller suitable for Tom Ripley.

* Joy House. Speaking of Tom Ripley, this film teams up Rene Clement and Alain Delon, the Purple Noon team, for a disappointing but interesting thriller released as a lacklustre DVD. With a very young, so very hot, Jane Fonda.

I wrote my review of Tropic Thunder before the controversy over the "r-word" had erupted, and actually had posted it through the site before I had heard how much steam the protest had gathered. You can read an editorial by Timothy Shriver, the director of the Special Olympics, here. I can essentially see where he is coming from. I know for me when I hear the word "gay" used in a pejorative manner to mean "stupid" or "not cool," it bugs me, because there are so many other words that a person can use rather than one that also refers to a group of people and thus ends up equating that group with whatever bad thing the speaker is intending to denigrate. I considered amending my review, just to avoid punching the hot button with my full fist, but when it came down to it, I felt like my reference to the Simple Jack portion of the movie was all that really needed to be said about it. I think the reaction to the movie--which more or less has been a reaction to marketing using out-of-context lines from the film, which DreamWorks has since stopped--kind of misses the point. The exaggeration of Ben Stiller's Simple Jack character is a satire of actors trying to earn themselves a serious name by playing someone developmentally challenged. Naturally, since this is a satire, the portrayal of such is pushed to the next extreme, but one need only be paying a scintilla of attention to see who is really being made fun of in the context of the film. Stiller's Simple Jack is not much more exaggerated than Cuba Gooding Jr.'s Radio, and it's quite obvious that the point of its inclusion is to ridicule the exploitation that such movies represent. No one is making fun of people with actual developmental or intellectual problems, but those in Hollywood that would presume to use their stories for a quick injection of "credibility" and the self-importance of such actors.

What really convinced me not to change what I wrote to kowtow to the protesters was hearing Shriver on NPR. You can listen here. In the clip, Shriver admits to never having seen the film, meaning he is making assumptions about how the humor plays and beating his chest without having the whole story. I don't fault him for his compassion or his concern, but think about if this were a religious group making the same complaints about a movie with religious themes. When churches of various faiths complain about and demand boycotts of those films without actually seeing the final product, they are blasted by free speech advocates as being intolerant and for judging without having all the facts. Does this not cut both ways? Should not liberal causes be held to the same standards? And while a boycott is one thing we are all free to do, it seems like a touchy area when any group starts demanding changes be made. Who is the arbiter of what has gone too far, and who decides then to what degree it has to be dialed back?

Arguably, there is as much of a case to be made for a very small subplot in the movie regarding a character's homosexuality. It's featured in only two scenes, but based on the first scene and the other characters' reactions when his preference is mentined, you could judge solely from that one moment that what you are seeing is a negative portrayal of homosexuality without ever giving the movie its full due for how it ultimately handled the subject. Redemption is part of Tropic Thunder's thematic arc, but some would have us never make it to the point where anyone is redeemed.

Where something comes from and where it is going is of equal importance, I think, before praising or condemning any work of art or entertainment. Granted, Tropic Thunder never pauses and says, "Hey, that stuff you said about 'retards,' that's not good. You shouldn't even use the word," but I don't really think it should have to. Sure, some people may not get it without it being spoon fed to them, but I also think they'd spit the lesson out as soon as the spoon is pulled away. We shouldn't forget that the period of the Hays Code in Hollywood is not looked on entirely fondly. In fact, the self-imposed censorship by the Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors Association is the reason a lot of regularly lampooned Hollywood clichés exist, and their dictum that all criminals must be punished by the end of a movie is as laughed at today as we would likely scoff at any such mandate that all people with misguided points of view learn the error of their ways before closing credits. Hays existed to try to keep the government from censoring movies, but when corporations band together to stifle art so that they won't lose their revenue stream, it might as well be the government that's doing it. The line is very, very fine. With such readiness for capitulation already in place, is it any wonder that the blacklist was able to take such a firm hold in Hollywood? Despite the recent neoconservative spin on HUAC, trying to retrofit Joseph McCarthy's bully costume into a patriotic uniform, the suppression of ideas is never good and is a decidedly un-American activity. And it's in that spirit why I would never suggest Timothy Shriver not express his views, just ask him to gather more information before reacting. It's like Harlan Ellison says, "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions."

For some other voices, I point you to BadAzz Mofo, and David Walker's review. Dave is not afraid to be political when its required, or to call it like he sees it. You should track down any of his reviews of the aforementioned Mr. Gooding Jr.'s movies if you want some hilarious reading. Another good review, and like mine also likely written before the Simple Jack explosion, I point you to Eric Kohn's write-up at Premiere.com. Kohn gets even deeper into the meta than I do, and he also invokes the great Pauline Kael and quotes her to remind us of the difference between the humor Stiller is striving for and that which he is tearing apart:

From Downey Jr.'s purposely racist embodiment of African-American anachronisms to Black's scatological humor, everything in Tropic Thunder qualifies as satire, not spoof. It's an important distinction. Pauline Kael once noted that "unlike satire, spoofing has no serious objectives; it doesn't attack anything that anyone could take seriously; it has no cleansing power." Thus, the movie opens with inane fake trailers to introduce its fictional stars, surpassing the ones in Grindhouse for espousing actual ideas. Stiller offers a catharsis for everyone overburdened by bombastic storytelling, but even when the movie becomes playfully self-reflexive, it remains a keenly layered narrative. He returns to the movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie metafilter so many times that the gimmick forces you to pay close attention and believe in the events as they transpire, without sacrificing the absurd edge of the equation.

As far as I'm concerned, it's up to Ben Stiller and his collaborators to listen to the voices inside themselves and know why they are doing what they are doing and stick to that. It's what we should demand of any of our artists: trust your own instincts to know that you need to say what you're going to say. By way of a personal anecdote, I have often amended my own work before I've released it because I've questioned how something might be taken. There is an important distinction, though, in that I do so before anyone else sees it. Once a work is out, criticism can lead to all kinds of self-doubt, but that can lead to dishonest knee-jerk reactions on the part of the artist and should be avoided.

For myself, I remember a scene in Cut My Hair when we first meet a minor character named Phil. Mason doesn't like him, and he judges Phil in much the same way he hates being judged. As it reads now, Mason says, "Phil didn't like me because I didn't get excited about clothes like he did." Originally, he called Phil a "clothes fag," and someone who read an early version objected to that. I listened, I weighed the options, and concluded that in the long run it didn't really affect the story one way or another. Sure, my intention was to show Mason honestly, and as an imperfect person, but did I need to do it that particular way and risk my word choice hurting someone's feelings who might otherwise enjoy the book? It seems simple enough, to be sure, but you know what? All this time later, and I've never been positive that it was the right choice. I can't help but think that I let my own instincts take a backseat to the influence of someone else, and that maybe that was me being untrue to the story. I don't think it hurt anything, but that change of phrase has informed every decision I have made since.

Anyway, as always, I welcome all other thoughts on the subject in the comments section. These are my thoughts on the matter, and they are offered in the interest of encouraging civil debate.

Current Soundtrack: Richard Ashcroft, "Why Not Nothing?" & Arthur Lee, "Hamburger Breath Stinkfinger"

Current Mood:

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


In stores this week is a one-off manhwa I wrote the English script for: Too Long by Park Hee-jung.

I really liked this book. It was a nice change of pace. It's a collection of strange, elliptical short stories, and the art is really pretty. Give it a look if you happen to stumble upon it.

Current Soundtrack: Janelle Monae, Metropolis: The Chase Suite

Current Mood:

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Matt Grigsby sent over the following addition to his renditions of the Like A Dog band members, though he mixed up my birthday with Marc Ellerby, who turned 12 today. If he eats enough cake, he may also finally hit his goal of weighing 98 pounds.

From what I understand, Love the Way You Love, Side B finally went to the printer this past week. I'm guessing we'll see it in stores the first couple of weeks of September.

This is what my hand looks like following a party on Wednsday where there was a henna artist. I have no idea how to get it off. It's the Trident of Shiva. In addition to randomly thinking I have chocolate on my hand and wondering how, since I wasn't eating chocolate, every time I go to the bathroom and am in the midst of post-game maintenance, I do a double-take thinking my wipe went off horribly off-course.

Current Soundtrack: Alina Simone, Everyone Is Crying Out to Me, Beware

Current Mood: La Tristesse Durera

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

All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich