Archive for August 2012

A Loving Note to Twin Peaks, Season One



When Laura Palmer dies, David Lynch would have us believe that even the Gods have nothing more important to do than mourn her presence. Every living body in this town, faced with the evacuation of life from Laura's strangely serene face, falls to pieces. So far, so Killing.


Agent Dale Cooper breezes in, a cherry-pie scented breath of fresh air, just when the weeping becomes too much to bear. Sherilyn Fenn's Audrey Horne has the good sense to laugh in the face of the rapturous weeping in the high school classroom. The audience breathes a massive sigh of relief, as we realize that Lynch/Frost intends more for our digestive-hour than the maudlin.

As we settle into the (admittedly strange) rhythms of the show, I genuinely can’t figure out whether David Lynch loves or hates teenage romance. All the characters are whimsically and lovingly drawn apart from Donna and James, who drip water bodies of sentiment wherever they go.


Even Bobby Briggs, douche-jock extraordinaire, seems to have more depth to him than our drippy lovebirds. He moves easily from scene to scene, and we're never quite sure if he's operating from the high-emotional state of an adolescent teenager or from something more clinical, more mercenary. Lynch knows this; even at Bobby's most tender moments, you can always hear the frictional creaks of his faux-leather jacket.

His relationship with Shelley remains compelling even when their existential threats become more and more ridiculous, as Leo can never quite sell the idea that he's some kind of unrepentant misogynistic abuser. The more Eric DaRe tries, the more I want to laugh at his pug-nosed face and its terrible attempts at acting.

But with Twin Peaks, Lynch/Frost have achieved the impossible -- a show where bad acting actually heightens its sense of atmosphere. The gurning, the posing, even the sheer emoting, never quite seem out of place. Sure, there's a murder mystery, but who the hell cares? We want to see Dale Cooper, eccentricating himself up all over the place. We want to see Audrey Horne, Veronica Mars-ing her way through leches and peons alike.


In a show full of one-armed men and dreamed up gophers, one mystery really drives the story forward. Is Audrey Horne quite real? She's everywhere and nowhere, all at once. She's all-seeing, all-knowing, impossibly beautiful, and yet she seems connected to nothing and no one apart from Agent Cooper.

I could never call him Dale. Could you?

A Tale of the Original Mad Men Dismemberment, or, Kisses of Death

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Reader, think back to one gloriously gruesome incident in S3 of Mad Men, when a rapacious Brit was sent crying (screaming) back to Blighty, feet in hand. Well, many of the tent-pole events in Mad Men are inspired by real life incidents, and I wondered, when in real life did a young man find himself so memorably dismembered in a New York office building? To the interwebs, I say!


Once more, with feeling: "Lost life by stab in falling on ink eraser, evading six young women trying to give him birthday kisses in office Metropolitan Life Building." Poor George S. Millet lost his life in a manner most embarrassing.

Serendipity works in wonderful ways. Thank a filmmaker named Pes for discovering this tombstone in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. In his post on Cartoon Brew, he linked a New York Times story that gets to the heart of this mysterious indoor impalement. I recommend reading the entire article (the greatest tragedies are marked with the greatest silliness), but here's the pertinent bit:

Yesterday he came down and remarked that it was the anniversary of the wreck of the Maine. He explained that he knew it because the ship had been blown up on his birthday and that he was 15 yesterday.

At once the girls began to tease him. They told him that on such an occasion he deserved a kiss, and every one of them vowed that as soon as office hours were over she would kiss him once for every year that he had lived. He laughingly declared that not a girl should get near him, and was teased about it all day.

As 4:30 o'clock came, and the boy's work was over, the girls made a rush for him. They tried to hem him in, and he tried to break their line. Suddenly he reeled and fell, crying as he did so.

"I'm stabbed!"

One might say that poor George S. Millet met the real Kiss of Death.

While I cannot be certain that this inspired the great lawnmower incident, it perfectly matches the double bill of hilarity and gore.

Best Book of the Year: Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl

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In A Nutshell: The most perfect novel I've read this year, if not the last few years. Gillian Flynn, a unique literary voice, produces the most twisted psychological tale in recent memory, and does it with black wit and beautiful writing. All the while, she manages to make subtle and effective commentary on the nature of marriage, aging, and gender.


A few pages into Gone Girl, lulled into the subtle lyricism of Gillian Flynn's impeccable voice, you'll probably wonder, "How did things get so bad?" How did Nick and Amy Dunne's perfect marriage end up so mundanely terrible after such a promising start?

By the time the novel's finished, you'll wonder, "how on Earth did things get so much worse than when we started?"

Gone Girl, a masterclass in tension, plotting and character, takes you on a bumpy ride through the minds of some of the most twisted characters in recent fiction. Just when we settle into the novel's Rashomon-like storytelling (we seesaw between Nick and Amy's diary entries, his at the end of their marriage, hers at the beginning of their relationship), the cracks start to spill out of the diary entries and into reality. Little details infect the air in ways you wouldn't expect.

But Flynn's not content to leave this as a post-modern mystery for the reader to solve. At the halfway mark, she introduces a third character, one we vaguely glimpse in the first half of the novel, and one who shocks us most thoroughly. That's when things really get going. She takes all the suspense (oh, so much suspense) she built in the first half, and then lights it on fire, and the bonfire continues through the end of the novel.

I can't say anything more about the plot without spoiling the read. But I can't recommend this one enough. I freely admit that I love many books that I wouldn't recommend to all. Not Gone Girl. What Gillian Flynn achieves with form and narrative is truly worth your time.


What really impresses me about the novel is the meta-narrative sleight of hand Flynn ultimately inflicts upon us. For the first half of the book, "Nick" is merely a construction of Psychopathic Amy. By the end, Nick actually becomes "Nick," a mere character in Amy's narrative, not a real human being in his own right.

Actor Performs Dramatic Reading of a Very Silly Yelp Review

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Inanity to one is art to another. One may complain about the torrential downpour of silliness on social media platforms. Yelp directs conversation to a particular topic - food - but that's possibly the most complicated topic in human history. End result: a veritable orgy of human idiosyncrasy.

And what else does one do with orgiastic human illogicity than read it aloud, slowly and dramatically?

Here's the original review of the Stratford Diner in New Jersey, so that you may read along (dramatically):

I ordered the broiled crab cakes and they were really good and i called and asked if i could speak to the supervisor and the girl that asnswerd the phone wanted to know what it was in reference to and I told her it was regarding the food i ordered and and she said what was wrong with it and i said nothing i just wanted to let him or her know that it was good and then she was like ok hold on. When the manager got on the phone and i thanked him and let him know it was good he said thank you and you welcome but seemed like he was in a rush. I don't think i will be eating their anymore because if the manager is not nice then what does that say about the business they are running and the people in it.


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