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

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Two days ago I took a swipe at Dan Clowes and headed for the hills. But today, I'm back, and ready to piss off the other side. Read all about my indie ire in the penultimate Big Talk From The Smallest Face--which kicks off with a Britney Spears reference, no less!

I started a four-nights-a-week job at an arty-farty video store. It's going to overlap with my last two months at Oni, as well as two manga volumes and another CLAMP novel. What have I done?!

Current Soundtrack: I swear, I don't listen to Relaxed Muscle as much as it seems. I would, however, go see the Rock's remake of Walking Tall if they had him strutting to RM's "Billy Jack"

Sunday, March 28, 2004


I don't write about comics much in this forum--though for ages I have had copies of Dan Clowes's Twentieth Century Eightball (Fantagraphics) and Mawil's Beach Safari (Top Shelf) sitting on my filing cabinet in a state of "to be reviewed," my intention being to hold the former up as the stagnation of cartoon nihilism that has plagued the independent industry for the last fifteen years, and the latter as the rare, much-needed example of a similarly minded cartoonist looking at the absurdity of life with a twinkle of joy. But really, I just said probably all I really was going to say, so why belabor it?

On the other hand, what has really drawn me to this subject is the whole of the current DC/Vertigo series Human Target, and the seventh issue in particular.

All seven issues have been written by Peter Milligan, one of my all-time favorite comic book writers. He has a self-reflexive humor that I adore, and once he has lead you through the clever minefield of his irony, he isn't afraid to drop an emotional bomb on you to follow it all up. This made his Shade the Changing Man series from the '90s one of the best ever, particularly for a mainstream monthly. Human Target could rival that. (He also was unafraid to sign my first issue of Shade back when I was a lowly fanboy with the line "Because we're young," inspired by my Suede T-shirt (so, likely 1993). That makes him eternally cool.) (We shold also note how shameful it is that DC has chosen to only collect the first arc of Shade so far. Booo!)

The first issues of Human Target were drawn by Javier Pulido, and now Cliff Chiang has taken over. Lee Loughridge colors, and to tremendous effect. He meets the stylized artists with an equally stylized palette.

The titular Human Target is Christopher Chance. He hires himself out to people in extreme situations, taking over their life through elaborate disguises and a highly developed ability at mimicry. He becomes them, taking them out of harm's way long enough to either solve the problem or be harmed himself--hence, being a target. However, years of doing this has played on Chance's head, and he has lost his sense of identity, who he really is. This makes Chance not unlike Shade, except whereas Shade wanted to find who he really was and used his madness to do so, Chance wants to leave his original self behind and uses his insanity as an excuse to do so.

The first couple of story arcs careened from a serious tale about a man who faked his own death during the 9/11 tragedy to a baseball player mixed up in a drug ring. The new arc, the three-part "Which Way The Wind Blows," looks at '60s radicals, leftovers of the Weather Underground (as well as a namecheck to Baader Meinhof, for those of you fascinated by Caucasian terrorist organizations). A hardcore member of the group, angry that his fellow revolutionaries betrayed the cause, is hunting down who he considers the worst offender--a man who is in hiding because he accidentally shot a cop. Only this buried man doesn't want to leave the mundane life of suburbia--though, the sick suburbia of The Ice Storm, with its extramarital affairs, etc., not some Leave It To Beaver paradise. Chance is being sent in to help the guy out, and I can't wait to see how Milligan approaches the subject of Chance adopting the identity of a man who has adopted another identity. How many layers will there be to the mask?

DC has announced the first collection for this series, Liars & Ghosts. Get it. Also pick up the preceding graphic novels that lead into it, Human Target (art by the late, incomparable Edvin Biukovic) and Human Target: Final Cut. (Wagging tongues will tell you that you need to read those novels to understand where the new series picks up, but those people are full of shit. If you have a brain, you'll figure out what is going on. You can even start with #7. Remember when we used to use our brains to enjoy art? I know when I was a kid you bought whatever issue of a comic was available and you dealt with it; but we were smarter then. We didn't have the internet.)

(On that parenthetical note, also beware of the people who say something like, "Oh, the first issue was all set-up," or "The first 40 minutes was all exposition." That particular charge I've heard leveled at the debut episode of HBO's excellent western series, Deadwood, and it's horseshit, cowboy. Anyone you hear saying that is someone who thinks they are smarter than they are. It's the one tiny thing they've learned about stories, and it's a clear signal they don't know much more. Except maybe, "It has no third act." In other words, Deadwood is dead good.)

"You want some action rather than exposition? How about I shoot you? Is that action enough?"

Current Soundtrack: Muse, Origin of Symmetry; Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Sings Greatest Palace Music

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Friday, March 26, 2004


Day One

Traveling to Newport, Oregon, by bus. Reading Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue, and Maison Ikkoku: Intensive Care. Nancy Mitford waited in my bag, but no time or concentration. When the MP3 player died, I was forced to listen to the chatter around me--the man who pointed out everywhere along the highway where a drug bust had taken place, the boy in his early '20s who couldn't stop talking about how badly he had to pee and expected the driver to pull over for him. I contemplated watching something on my laptop, but had only things that might be a little two attractive for people to look over my shoulder--Infernal Affairs II or an episode of trasheriffic The L Word. Violence and sex. Impossible to read Maison Ikkoku without putting Christine Norrie and her dog in the female lead.

Staying at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, in the Lincoln Steffens room. I am not familiar with his work, so looked through the library available. He's a journalist from the early part of the 20th Century. I've started reading his wry Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens. The room itself is decorated in a spartan style befitting the man, including an old style typewriter. The desk drawer is filled with things people have written on the machine, filed by year. Looked at a couple, don't have the patience for what other people have to say, sadly.

Walked the beach. Discovered the town weekend is on Tuesday and Wednesday, the exact days we are here, and a lot of places are shut down--including the bookstore where I found Kappa last time we were here. The boy on the bus who had to pee had also never seen the ocean, which is honestly baffling to me. Having begun life in Michigan, I know what snow is like; having moved to California in first grade, I know heat and the beach. I've got rain and hail and lightning. I know dust storms. This is all rather strange to me, the not knowing. Being back on a beach--as cold and windy as it is, as unlike Southern California as you're likely to find--is almost a homecoming. It's peaceful here. The hotel has no phones, no internet, no television. The waves rushing in and out ever-present.

A cat named Agatha lives in the hotel. We find her in the Dr. Seuss room. Rebecca warns me that, like my cat, she plays rough, likes to bite. This is true. But she also almost instantly begins cleaning my hand, something my cat also likes to do. It's some sort of weird mutant power I have, to make felines want to mother me. (Though, a later feisty encounter leaves a big scratch on my hand, Aggie purring all the while as she digs in.)

A nighttime beach walk uncovers a strange bundle of meat in the low tide. It's too dark to tell exactly, but it almost looks a huge chunk of a fish, including scaly skin. Sticks are used, to poke, to break apart--but no mystery is uncovered. It's gone by morning. We'll never know what that is.

Lincoln frees the fish guts.

Day Two

Decently early, with a big breakfast. Amazing sour cream muffins. A glazed pepper bacon that is to die for, and so I don't complain when Rebecca tosses her two slices on my plate. (She fails to see how she is implicit in my chubbiness.) I stop off in the gift shop and get some postcards, some Oscar Wilde candy. They have finger puppets of famous painters, a set with Degas, Kahlo, Dali, that is tempting. If only they had authors. I'd love to have a battling Hemingway, a lothario Fitzgerald, a drunken Faulkner, and maybe a pug ugly Gertrude Stein to house on my fingers. I must also have the Sartre and de Beauvoir portrait, that looks like Rebecca and I in twenty years. He is bespectacled, gesticulating an angry point at some unseen person; she is laughing behind him.

Final Vanity Fair article reveals a film I must see: The Best of Everything.

Worked on a graphic novel idea to pitch to Oni following the start of this travelogue. It's an old idea I've been waiting to do.

Rebecca is waiting for high tide, excited to see it. Our last two walks have been at very low tides. I tell her it's pretty much the same, except, well, higher. When we did go out, I decided to wear just shorts and no shoes, so I could run in the water. We chose odd hats from their hat collection, so I had a pink floppy thing on my head, which was fine. It covered the seaside bouffant I was cultivating and protected my ears. By the time we got back, my entire backside was covered in the sand I had kicked up.

The rest of the afternoon was lazy with Uncut magazine and Scrabble. Wine in the evening, Hitchcock's Notorious--spent in, the rain came. The cat also came to our room to visit.

"Quit laughing, Rebecca, this guy needs to hear this..."

Day Three

Up relatively early. Bus leaves at 9:30. You don't get a lot of options going in and out of a town like this. Never going to use the cell phone as an alarm again. It's either not working or simply not loud enough to make any difference. Faye Wong on the stereo. Still raining.

Current Soundtrack: Stream of Morrissey interview on KROQ from 3/26/04

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Saturday, March 20, 2004


I finished In Cold Blood yesterday. The portrait Truman Capote paints of these killers is chilling in its matter-of-factness. Once the pair hit death row and meet other killers, whom Capote introduces the reader to in detail, a sense of normalcy almost settles over the proceedings. Like, this might as well be a book about plumbers. These boys just happened to kill, like a job they got simply because there was an opening. There are many juicy quotes from these murderers that would make splendid epigraphs for "I hate the world" treatises. "It's a rotten world...There's no answer to it but meanness. That's all anybody understands--meanness. Burn down the man's barn--he'll understand that. Poison his dog. Kill him." To which his partner added, "Anyway, anybody you kill, you're doing them a favor." Thank goodness I didn't read this book in high school!

Not that I'm now inspired with murderous fantasies or anything, or that I missed how horrible and chilling the events in the book are--but there is something compelling about these hard men drawing an unwavering line in the sand, something alluring. Ronnie York and James Latham, the boys quoted above, had a sort of cheerful camaraderie, and a primal belief in themselves--I imagine these things sucked Capote in, as well. It's hard to decide whether or not he truly enjoyed writing these characters more than the regular citizens, including the victims. There is an "aw shucks" apple pie overtone to his descriptions of the Clutter family that makes you wonder if their appeal for him wasn't a little kitsch. Or perhaps by showing the normalcy on both sides of the prison bars, on both ends of the shotgun, he was really making the point that the divide between isn't very wide.

Capote's prose has a taut lyricism that achieves the right mix of distance and sympathy. Given Truman's large personality, it's a remarkable achievement that he never really inserted himself into the narrative, only even referring to his own existence once or twice (and then, as "this journalist"). He ends up being an intangible witness, moving through the story without judgment, letting the participants have their say and, for the most part, leaving it at that.

I want to see the movie of In Cold Blood again. If nothing else, just to marvel at the strangeness that Robert Blake plays the charmingly psychotic Perry Smith, the runt who was angry at the human race for never letting him grow up. If you listen to Blake talk, to the bitterness about being a child star, typecast by his fame, there are eerie echoes.

Finished Gravitation 8 on Thursday, and proofed half of it last night. Turning it in Monday, a week early.

N.E.R.D.'s Fly Or Die is the first real musical disappointment of the year. While the two versions of their debut, In Search Of..., were unpredictable and inclusive, this sophomore disc is repetitious and insular. The hiphop element is almost completely gone, as are the off-the-wall soundscapes or inescapable hooks that the Neptunes are known for. With the exceptions of "Don't Worry About It" and the barking single "She Wants To Move," the music industry's leading beat makers don't even bother to come up with an impressive drum riff or anything but the most basic rhythms.

Instead, each song is constructed around half of a single musical line, and then repeated for 3 to 6 minutes until the song is over. Take "Backseat Love." Its parts are one guitar strum, steady but unenergetic pounding, and chanting; its sum is not very much at all. Pharrell's singing has no scope to it. The melodies all go straight ahead, and the range of his fantastic croon is almost entirely absent. He sings like a two-lane highway splitting a flat prairie. Where are the curves? Where is the scenery? Overall, Fly or Die sounds like they set out to make a punk record but accidentally recorded each song in the tempo and length of funk. The result is music that wears out its welcome without ever finding a groove. Depressing.

Current Soundtrack: Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets from the WEA Catalogue, N.E.R.D. Fly or Die - listen to a stream here

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


My review of The Castaways is up at Artbomb.

And in case you missed it in yesterday's noise, my second "Can You Picture That?"

Current Soundtrack: Timbaland & Magoo, Under Construction Part II

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


I don't usually get policitcal here, and I don't want to sound like I'm preaching or telling you how to think, but it's time to get angry. I care enough about what is going on that I need to get this out. The House of Representatives recently passed the Broadcast Indecency Enforcement Act, ratcheting up the restrictions on broadcasters and increasing the fines for infractions by nearly twenty times their previous amount. Additionally, they are adding new provisions to fine individual broadcasters, not just the companies--and not just for a single incident. If they appear on more than one channel, like syndicated whipping boy Howard Stern, they can fine him for every station he appears on. Last I heard, we had free speech in this country, and intelligent human beings could turn off their radio or television if something is being broadcast that they don't like. Given the current regime's consistent attack on detractors, and their increased interaction with their political buddies at corporations like Clear Channel, the agenda here is clear. Not only does it stifle dissent, but it gives the companies with the right connections--who are already getting around monopoly laws thanks to their high-ranking pals--the ability to use the FCC to push competitors out of business through crippling fines.

This is just one of many issues that our country is facing right now. Those of us who believe in the fundamentals of our government, in free and progressive thinking, are under siege by a greedy minority who are seizing power wherever they can. I have personally called and e-mailed my Senators and State Representatives several times over the past few weeks. Recently, I received a policy letter from the Congressman from my district, David Wu, on the FCC issue. I had e-mailed him before he voted and called after I discovered he voted in favor of it. This is my response to his form letter he sent to me:

March 16, 2004

Dear Congressman Wu:

I appreciate you sending me your policy letter regarding the recent vote on the FCC's proposed new regulations and your choice to vote yes on HR 3717, the Broadcast Indecency Enforcement Act.

Unfortunately, I did not particularly care for what the letter had to say. I think your citation of "overwhelming public response" in regards to this matter speaks very little towards what the majority of people feel about recent events. Most of us couldn't care less about Janet Jackson's bared breast and are smart enough to know that if we don't like Howard Stern’s humor, we don’t have to listen to it. As a result, we had no need to contact you and complain, and I would bet that most of what you heard came from a very vocal minority. Passing the buck to the Supreme Court and saying they ultimately decide on these matters makes no difference to me when you have propped yourself up on my vote for you and said you don’t think free speech is important enough to stop this conservative agenda from trampling on our rights.

There is constant talk about protecting the "people's airwaves." If this were the case, wouldn't the true assessment of what the people wanted be what they choose to watch and listen to? If Howard Stern is one of the most popular radio hosts in the country, have the people then not loudly stated that they find his broadcast to be acceptable? Is it really the place of Congress to be debating this issue when, as you say, important issues like health care and the economy still loom before us? Does it matter if some radio DJ said a naughty word when our President lies to us in order to go to war? Do you not feel shameful discussing a nipple on the taxpayer's dollar when people are dying in Haiti, Iraq, and Spain? It all seems rather silly, don't you think?

I am sorry, Congressman, but I am not very pleased with the direction our country is taking. I don't believe that the majority of Americans are being spoken for, and your vote on HR 3717 feels like an attempt to silence our voices further. The Democratic Party is cheating its members by continually running scared from the political right--rather than doing the right thing.

Thank you for listening.

Respectfully, Jamie S. Rich

P.S. You might want to be more careful in your salutations in the future. I am not, nor have I ever been a "Ms." In fact, it clearly indicates otherwise on my voter's registration card.

The Senate has yet to vote on this issue. It's designated SB 2056. It takes two minutes to call or e-mail your Senators. They don't need your in-depth opinion, and you'll be talking to an aide anyway. If you don't know how to get in touch, then just go here. It's easy. (And if you want to tell your Representative that he or she bungled it the way I have, then go here.) You can even tell them how you feel about more than one thing. I used one call to note that I wanted a vote against SB 2056, I am in favor of same-sex marriage, and I think George W. Bush needs to put his ass in a chair and answer some questions regarding September 11.

There is also a petition here that is gathering steam. And if you want to read up on this issue, Howard Stern actually has a lot of information on his site. The final article on his list actually opens up a door to a lot of different pieces on the subject--just check the sidebar for more.

Remember, these people are our employees. We put them where they are with our votes, we pay their salaries with our taxes. They claim to speak for us, and if they don't, we're the only ones who can call them on it! And if you want a true alternative to George W. Bush, then get on John Kerry's case right now. Write him through his campaign site or his Senator's site.

And don't worry, I'll return you to your regularly scheduled dumbass blog soon.

Current Soundtrack: Mandy Moore, Coverage

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website


For months now I've been using the same bookmark for my bus reading. It's one I got from a Las Vegas Blue Monday fan after I made a snide comment about Beck in an early letters column for the The Kids Are Alright series. It had a picture of a fortune teller's hands and the tarot cards she was laying out. The message simply said, "Why is Beck dishonest? If I am going to lose faith in one of my heroes, I should at least know why."

The fear and sadness in the hand-written note always kind of made me smile, such an honest overreaction. It has also served as somewhat of a reminder that things you say can matter, even if they are just offhand and silly. (I wrote the girl back and told her not to listen to me.) It's gotten somewhat worn over the years, but it was an odd curio from my editing career.

Today it fell out of my book (still In Cold Blood). It slid quickly under the partition in front of my seat, which happened to be at the front of the higher section at the back of the bus, and right by the back door. It landed on the floor at the edge of that door. The bus was crowded, and that little area had people in it. The guy directly by the postcard had headphones on, and so I was contemplating how to either get down there swiftly or get his attention when the bus stopped. Before I knew it, people started exiting, and one woman reached down and grabbed the card. She stepped off the bus, and I watched her read it before gently setting it down on the bus bench, picture side up. She started to walk away, but then stopped, turned back, and picked it up again.

The woman departed with my postcard. What was it that intrigued her so, that she would turn back and grab it? Did she simply decide not to litter? Or is the message now passed on? The only solution I can imagine that I will ever be able to discover would be if she pops it back in the mail and sends it to me. Otherwise, it's a literary mystery released to the ether…

The second installement of "Can You Picture That?" is now online. This month's DVDs are Quartet and Blow-Up.

Current Soundtrack: The Roots, Things Fall Apart

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Saturday, March 13, 2004


My new routine on Saturday morning, as started last week and perpetuated this (thus, enough to be a routine in my eyes), is getting up, taking a bath and reading comics, watching a light movie (last week: Laurel Canyon, this: Pieces of April), and then trundling off to a coffee shop to write.

This morning I was at Starbucks by 9:30, and I tore into that comic script I needed to write for an upcoming anthology. It's been a month or two since I had the idea and submitted it, but the story was still fresh thanks to the "outline" of it I wrote at the time. My approach is going to be similar to Brian Bendis' Fortune & Glory in that a cartoon version of me narrates this thing and speaks to the audience. So, back when the inspiration hit, I was walking to work and plotted out the thing almost entirely as a monologue--which I then quickly wrote out when I got in the office. Hence, "outline" in quotes, as it was a bit of an unconventional approach.

I do want to read over it and be sure I am happy with it before I hand it over to Andi Watson to see if he still wants to draw it. I am a little concerned that it's front heavy, with more being crammed into the first couple of pages because I was worried I'd run out of space. At least, though, I know Andi can handle crowded pages and make them work. His style makes everything look decidedly uncrowded.

No release date as of yet, I've just been told that the people putting it together are hoping to have the material in by June.

Current Soundtrack: Trainspotting original soundtrack (I had to blow dust off of it)

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Thursday, March 11, 2004


Musical clues where I am going:

The Everlasting:
Manic Street Preachers - "The Everlasting"
Mansun - "Legacy"
Gene - "Why I Was Born," "Drawn to the Deep End," "You'll Never Walk Again"
T.Rex - "Cosmic Dancing"

They Are All In Love:
The Who - "They Are All In Love," "Blue, Red & Grey"
Geneva - "Have You Seen The Horizon Lately?"
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - "Man Out of Time"
Suede - "By the Sea" (the song they'll play at my funeral)


Started Gravitation volume 8 today, for those keeping track.

Current Soundtrack: Starsailor, "Four to the Floor" 10" single

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Elvis Costello is currently on tour with his piano player Steve Nieve. They do this every couple of years, usually to promote one of the less rock oriented albums. I think the first time was for All This Useless Beauty, then Painted from Memory, and now the jazz-tinged ballad-fest North. It's just the two of them and a piano, a couple of guitars, and maybe the odd melodica, playing stripped down versions of songs from across Costello's oeuvre.

Last night they stopped in Portland at the Arlene Schnitzer Auditorium. We had absolutely shitty seats in the cheap balcony, but lucky for us the event was terribly undersold and the balcony beneath us was nearly empty. So all us cheapos migrated down and got a better view of Elvis's rhinestone-covered shoes. (In our original seats, three men in front of us were absolutely freaking out over these shoes, passing the binoculars back and forth and telling each other to check them out, like monkeys transfixed by jewels. When Elvis began "45," one of them exclaimed, "Hey, this is a good song!…Hey, man, this is that song you like!…This is such a good song!" I think he feels the more you say it, the more it's true. I made sure to grab seats at the front of the lower section when we moved, to make sure they did not end up in front of us again.)

The concert kicked off with "Accidents Will Happen." It's a good choice. Its status as an old classic immediately signals that the show could go anywhere in terms of the discography, and the theme of the tune signals there will be no playing it safe. This proved true, as the pair jumped all over the place. North was heavily represented, but we also got "Almost Blue," "Indoor Fireworks," "Pump It Up," and others from the back catalogue. The highlight for me was the final three songs of the main set--"Man Out of Time," "Shipbuilding," and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?"

The show itself was nearly 2 1/2 hours with three lengthy encores. He did a couple of covers, working "Suspicious Minds" into "Alison," a powerful "You’ll Never Walk Alone," and a smooth "Dark End of the Street." He led the third encore with a great new song, and also treated us to a solo rendition of "Scarlet Tide," his song from Cold Mountain, on ukulele.

I’ve seen Elvis several times, and he is generally more talkative then he was last night. When he did banter between songs, it was incredibly funny, including his declaration of "Fuck Hobbits!" as an intro to "Scarlet Tide" (the song lost the Oscar to the horrible Lord of the Rings: Return of the Boring theme). His comedic commentary reached an all-time high, though, in his monologue in the middle of "God's Comic," touching on the nature of divinity, Mel Gibson, Bush and Cheney, same-sex marriage, and Japanese TV. He noted that Bush's cronies wanted to ban teaching evolution, while positing that Bush secretly looks in the mirror at night and thinks, "What a waste of a good ape." Slowburn of the Night Award went to his joke about the presenter of the above-referenced Japanese TV show telling him that he had learned to speak English from the Beatles's music, to which Elvis quipped, “Too bad the song he chose was 'Michelle.'" The laughter started late and slow, as it sank in…(and if you’re not laughing, think about it a bit more).

All in all, money well-spent. A long show with no opening act (what a treat!), better seats than we paid for, and on my walk home, I noticed the Blockbuster by my house that is closing down reduced everything to 50% off, so I got Together for $7.50. It’s not Chen Kaige’s best, but it takes the sting out of a certain online retailer not only sending me the film three months late, but doing so because they got it mixed up with another DVD of the same name, despite my e-mailing them in November when they changed the ship date to inform them they were confused. Their phone rep basically said my best bet was to return it because from what she could tell the people responsible for actually sending the disc were too dumb to ever send me the right one.

Oops…lost the plot at the end there. Oh, well...Donnie Darko never had one, and people still like that, so I'm sure I'm okay. (No, he didn't! He couldn't have bashed Donnie Dorko. Yup, here comes the hate mail...heh-heh-heh.)

Current Soundtrack: Sugababes, Three

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Every filmmaker…

No, start over.

Every writer should want to be Billy Wilder. There is nothing that guy could not do, no emotion he couldn't wring out of a story. He could be hopeful and silly, or darkly cynical; he could be poignant and meaningful, or bitingly satirical. I've been a fan for a long time, probably discovering him first when I discovered Marilyn Monroe in junior high. Some Like It Hot may be her best film.

Last night, I watched Ace In The Hole. Ian Shaughnessy, a newer Wilder convert, and I were talking about this film. A flop in its time, its cult status has grown through the fact that it has never been commercially released for home viewing. A local video store had what appeared to be a very dubious copy, with the outer sleeve made on someone's home printer, and I decided to give it a try. The picture was fuzzy and at times a little distant, and the AMC logo popped up in the corner of the screen from time to time, but still, I was watching one of Wilder’s best films, and a criminally lost masterpiece.

The basic plot is Kirk Douglas is a down-on-his-luck reporter that has been run out of every major paper in the country. He ends up in New Mexico and blusters his way onto a local paper. His hope is that he can find one big story to propel him back to the big leagues, but a year passes before anything comes along. Then, on his way to cover a rattlesnake festival, he hears about a man trapped in a mine, and his brain goes into overdrive. He hatches a scheme to keep the man down there, prolonging his rescue, and creating a huge media circus in the process (the alternate title of the film is The Big Carnival). The crux of the story that follows is whether or not Douglas will find his soul in time to actually save the man's life.

Ace in the Hole has a saddening freshness to it, because the questions Wilder poses about the downfall of the overly ambitious who see journalism as circulation numbers (ratings) and not a public service to spread the truth are just as important today as any other. In a time when the White House is waging war on dissenting opinion, and the news services join in, reporting what sounds good as opposed to what might be right (you know, Howard Stern is a racist, Howard Dean is crazy, children went blind seeing Janet Jackson's nipple, and we won a war that continues to kill American boys), the muckrakers are more prevalent than ever. There are more people looking to win the Pulitzer by any means necessary than there are simple, honest publishers like the one that hires Douglas, and the needlepoint credo on his wall: "Tell the Truth."

(A coincidental aside, I am about 1/3 into In Cold Blood, and a lot of the same charges that were leveled at the Douglas character in Ace in the Hole were also leveled at Truman Capote. Many suggested there was more he could have done to save the killers he wrote about from hanging, and that he didn't to have a better ending to his book.)

(Second aside: This film partially inspired the episode of The Simpsons when Bart fell down the well, pop culture junkies.)

Apparently last July a Seattle paper reported that Paramount was working on a DVD of Ace in the Hole. In some ways, we need this more than ever, it has the potential to be more subversive in 2004 than it would have been in 1951. People tend to write off old movies as being antiquated curiosities that are no longer relevant. Messages are often more potent when the viewer doesn't know they are receiving them, and Wilder has a great opportunity to insert himself into the brains of a whole new generation and tricking them into thinking about the things they see.

Current Soundtrack: The In Crowd, Disc 2

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Saturday, March 06, 2004


What the fuck just happened?

I was feeling restless this morning. I was going to work on that eight-page comic script, like I mentioned earlier, but I realized I had left the outline on my work computer. I had written it out like a monologue with some vague descriptions when I had the idea, but I didn't have that on me.

I decided to get out of the house and packed up my computer and thought I'd sit and have a coffee and a chocolate muffin with a cheesecake bottom and force myself to write something. I figured I'd either just start jamming on some spot of The Everlasting or I'd tinker with an idea I've been mulling over for a couple of months now. It's a Lance Scott story, set four years after The Everlasting, just a short one-off.

Well, I went with the second option, and in just under two-and-a-half hours, I banged out a 4,732-word story. Complete. Done. I'll probably read it tomorrow and decide it sucks, but that's not important, not in the face of having done it. I haven't been able to finish a short story in several years. My hard drive is littered with half-bodies, dismembered narratives. And this just poured out (soundtracked by Depeche Mode, Aztec Camera, and The Auteurs).

There is no title yet. The file name is "Hair is Love"--and trust me, it's a lot less predictable for me than that tag would have you believe. I just had to call it something.

Current Soundtrack: Dave Gahan, "Bottle Living/Hold On"

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


Portland, OR, has started to hand out marriage licenses to same sex couples. Noble people looked at our law and noted it was not illegal within our city, and the county said they'd do it. Legality of said licenses may be overturned at some point, but wouldn't it be stupid not to try? Change isn't made by wishing and hoping.

Turns out, the courthouse is only a few blocks away from the Oni office. At lunch, we saw the line went down the street. It was lovely.

So, on my walk to my bus stop, I decided to take an alternative route and pass by the throngs waiting. Unfortunately, as I approached, I realized the day had ended there, too, and the line was gone. Only a few remained. A young female couple was walking towards me. They were holding hands and leaning on each other, and one had a manila envelope in her hand that I knew had to be what they had gone there to find. As I passed, I simply said, "Congratulations." They said, "Thanks," and their faces--the joy that these faces held. It was remarkable. I've never seen anything like it.

At the courthouse, protesters remained. There weren't a ton of them, but they were huddled together behind a barricade, blocked off from the normal folks like animals. They had signs that I personally consider to be blasphemy, since their religion has no hatred in it (they'd know that if they looked for themselves and stopped listening to others). A boy of about ten had a sign that said, "God wants me to have a Mom and a Dad." A woman with white hair stood behind him, snug in her sweater vest, her hands on his shoulders. I stuck my hands in my pockets, since the only response I could think of was to punch her in the face. Violence of the mind invokes violence of the body.

I kept walking, pausing only to note to one older man that I found his "Siemens" hat to be ironic. I don't know what Siemens is, and I am not sure that this person knows irony has nothing to do with wrinkled clothes, but I am a smart ass when it's all said and done. He ignored me, anyway. His eyes were cold and unmoving. I smiled. I decided not to tell him that his sign was wrong. It does not take courage to enforce the law, because then the law is on your side; it takes courage to rail against the law when it is unjust, to be an outlaw. (Nor did it seem to matter that he was wrong because the whole point was that our local laws put no restrictions on marriage.)

On the next block were two men, another manila envelope. I asked if congratulations were in order, they said they were, and I extended them. They had the same look as the women. Smiling, their eyes bright, free in the early evening sunshine.

Which faces do you think Jesus looks more kindly upon?

Current soundtrack: The Smiths, The Queen is Dead

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website


Two announcements today.

Announcment the first: Tokyopop has released details of the project I have been working on. I am the author of Clamp School Case Files: Paranormal Investigators. It was a weird and different project. I tried to do some research, but it was strange to get the rough translation and try to read it, because I couldn't make heads or tails of it by just going over it blind. I had to dig in with my fingers and type type type, and that was why I was worried about revision time. I needed enough to go back and try to make it flow, to tie things together properly. There were odd bits of timeframes not lining up, and narrative voice, and, of course, solving the riddles of CLAMP's genderbending. There was also the challenge of all these characters who, typical to the CLAMP style, are sort of ageless and speak in very high-mannered tones (particularly true of the Clamp School books) and finding ways to make them distinct. Not sure how successful I was, but like I said a few posts back, I did enjoy it on my final readthrough before turning it in.

Announcement the second: I am contributing more reviews to Artbomb. The first is up today. It's for the book Gemma Bovery by Posy Simmonds, as recommended to me by Andi Watson (and supposedly Chynna) and loaned to me by Ian Shaughnessy. I liked it a lot, and this has encompassed my reading for the early part of the week.

My other reading, around Gemma and Love & Poison, was digging back into Growing Up with Audrey Hepburn by Rachel Moseley. Given how dense it is, it's easier on my very little brain to take it in chunks. I'm not enjoying it as much as I'd hoped, either. It's a little too scholarly. Moselely sometimes spends five pages laboring a point, and it seems like a more conversational tone with less quotes from other sources would be more interesting. When she finally does talk about the movies, it becomes more engrossing, but the way she excerpts her interviews is too clinical, too anxious to be accurate. Her focus is on the use of Hepburn fashion to change one's social status, to identify with the image, but the human aspect seems shoved aside for the sake of academics.

Current Soundtrack: The Who, Tommy: Deluxe Edition disc 2

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website