Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wild Things, I think you moved me, but I want to know for sure

Where the Wild Things Are.

This was my favorite children's book as a very young boy and I see the Spike Jonze movie adaption comes out in the fall.

It looks promising. It's got a lot to live up to for me personally.

It was my first 'favorite' book.

Chester The Horse was my actual first book that had words I could read, but that story was a snoozer (sorry, Syd - but you'll be happy to know I own a copy of your equine opus this very day, for posterity).

Wild Things, though, was the shit.
My mom taught us to read at a pretty young age and books allowed me to escape from the Cirrhosis, Strokes, Smokes and Manic Depression that otherwise enveloped our (un)Pleasantville style home (sort of like the executioner giving you a blindfold and showing you how to tie it before signaling the firing squad to start shooting for the next 15 years).

'Cirrhosis, Strokes, Smokes and Manic Depression' - it's got a ring to it, eh? If I ever start a rock band, Mom & Dad, I've got the name and you'll be the inspiration ...

I was 3 or 4 when Chester arrived and a year or so older for Wild Things. Until I graduated to Dr. Doolittle, Encyclopedia Brown and The Phantom Tollbooth (which became my new best-est favorite), Max and his Monsters kicked ass.

So, Spike - this better be good. Ya made some wonderful flicks (Adapation and Being John Malkovich) but Charlie Kaufman didn't write this one and you've been uneven without Chuck at the pen. Do Maurice proud.

Looks to be a great cast of characters (Claire Fisher, Tony Soprano, Lola Heatherton, Charles Jefferson, Maxine Lund) but you've been fiddling with it for over a year, Spike, which worries me some. And there's talk the studio is influencing you to make it "more family oriented."

Stand your ground.

Fuck the family. This is for grown up kids. My childhood memories are depending on it.

Speaking of books that are the shit, I'm re-reading yet again Kirsten Bakis's wonderfully fantastic flight of canine 19th century Canadian rebellion and 21st century Manhattan society, 'Lives of the Monster Dogs.' If you ain't read it, I can't recommend it enough. Utterly original. Mops Hacker is dead - Long live Mops Hacker! Twelve years on and it's her only book but I hear tell she's working on a new one. I will be at the head of the line to read that one too.

For the techno-geeks, I'm taking David Astel's Jolt Award winning TDD guide for another spin. Really well written and engaging (two things I don't tend to find in tech books not written by Martin Fowler). As fresh and relevant today as it was when he wrote it in 2003 as it will be in 2013. It teaches you how to develop all over again, step at a time. How not to get ahead of yourself and how to truly design through code. Great stuff.

'Why so Serious, Son? Let me put a Smile on that Face of Yours!'

I figured that I should slip in a somewhat more coherent post in the midst of my goofy drivel.

I'm sure those inane attempts at satire or slapstick are likely positively confusing and confounding to those that aren't familiar with my particular sense of 'humor' (which I fully understand might not qualify as such to many).

I figured if anyone happened upon this blog and were either confused, bored silly, or offended by any of my scribblings, they've long since gone away never to return.

Then I said to myself, 'Well, there are likely a lot of masochists out there in the wide, wide web of sports. Maybe they stuck around. And I don't know their safety words.'

So, for you all ...

Know that my literary gods are Hunter Thompson and Lester Bangs and I regularly rip off both of them in equal measure as they spin uncontrollably in their graves.
[I have quit attempting to emulate their extra curricular activities once I figured out that a.) those things did not, contrary to popular belief, fuel their writing and b.) I might like to stick around on the planet a few more years and maybe even write a little if only for my own amusement.]

That should frame pretty much anything I write. Be forewarned.

I also admire (and therefore attempt to steal from every chance I get) a number of other writers F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Kennedy Toole, Chuck Klosterman, William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, Maureen Dowd, Joseph Heller, Kirsten Bakis, Truman Capote, Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, Tom Wolfe, John Irving, Martin Fowler, Bob Woodward, Joseph Conrad, Samuel Clemens, James Frey and Ralph Ellison come to mind. Some of these guys are very prolific but several only popped to the surface with one or two amazing pieces of work.

From the world of screenwriting, I'd add to the list David Mamet, Diablo Cody (Juno is the start of something special I think), Charlie Kaufman, Quentin Tarantino, Billy Wilder, the Cohen Brothers and Woody Allen. And the Marx Brothers. And Orson Welles.

From the world of TV writing: Larry David, all the writers associated with the Simpsons through the 1990s, Michael O'Donoghue, Tiny Fey, Christopher Titus, John Stewart, David Chase. And Chris Carter, David Lynch (Twin Peaks! Yeah, he's done movies too, but ...), Ernie Kovacs, and Danny Arnold. And perhaps most especially Rod Serling.

From the world of music specifically as it relates to their words, see Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Liz Phair, Velvet Underground (Lou Reed), Clash and Gang of Four.

Why list all these folks?

In the spirit of full disclosure.

Disclosure of what for godsake!?!?

Disclosure that I'm a thief and a sponge (an absorbent crook). The Depends of Bloggers. Somebody else's Depends. Get the picture? No, not that one. Don't be so literal - the analogy. Geez.

Oh, and speaking of crooks, I forgot one of my biggest 'influences': Richard M. Nixon. The biggest Dick the world has ever known. I'm sure he's looking up at us now and smiling. Throw another log on the fire, Beelzebub, looks like Dick is gettin' chilly!

Anyway, primarily a thief. In case you vaguely recognize something but it just doesn't seem right - like maybe it might be an overripe version of something from someone of note but that it's now past its expiration date and there's a faint odor emanating from the general direction of your browser.

So, primarily a thief and not to be taken seriously. Or taken at all.

I relate perhaps most of all to that Groucho Marx line, "I would never want to belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member."

Finally, Congrats to the newest Supreme Court Associate Justice, Sonia Sotomayor! Here's hoping that Scalia and Thomas for some reason opt for early retirement in the next couple of years. And Roberts, isn't it time you left? Come on, it's been over three and half years now!

Nobody beats the Wiz! Beat it, beat it! Method, Madness, and easing toward the great and powerful Oz

This is what became of Willard's friend, Ben?

Nesting in some $20.00 bills in an ATM?

You remember Ben, the Rat that Michael Jackson loved as a child.

No not really Ben (rats don't live that long). Rather, his great, great grandchild.

The little rat is only claiming what is rightfully his. I think until now, only Ben and his relatives knew the story that I will share with you here. The cash in the ATM is hush money, meant to keep the little rat silent. Trace those torn up bills the rodent was nesting in and you'll follow the money trail to the heights of Hollywood power and corruption.

This is all, I think, linked to a revelation I had while lying in bed this morning. The TV was still on from the night before when I fell asleep watching some second rate 50s flick I had never heard of before and can't remember now on the Retro Channel. As I wiped the gunk from my eyes around 9:30am and things came into focus, I saw that 'The Wiz' was playing on the tube.

That's, right: the 1970s blaxploitation, disco-fueled Wizard of Oz remake.

Diana Ross (sans Supremes and not long past her Oscar nominated turn as Billie Holiday) as Dorothy, Nipsey Russell as the tin man, Richard Pryor as The Wiz, Lena Horne(!) as Glinda. Quincy Jones in an uncredited role as the Emerald City Gold Pianist.

And Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow.

Instead of trying to 'follow the yellow brick road!', they instead were going to 'ease on down, ease on down the rooaad!' Getting into see the Wiz was akin to slipping past the velvet ropes of Studio 54 without appearing on the guest list: a tough sell. A fine, fine flick!

A small revelation was that it was directed by Sidney Lumet. Sidney is much more well known for gritty, realer-than-real, method-acting classics like Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, and Network and completely out of his element in Wiz land.

But the big revelation is that I now know who killed Michael Jackson.

I'm positive.

At first I thought it must be the people who did Michael Jackson's makeup for The Wiz.

Look closely at him here. See that black crap smeared all over his nose?

When did his nose start shrinking?

No need to think, I'll tell you: long about just after the Wiz finished up filming, that's when.

The horrible truthiness of it is frightening.

And the rest of the makeup! It's much harder to see it, since it blends into the color of his flesh. Well, to be specific, the color of his flesh circa 1978.

My supposition is that this insidious, toxic pigment-destroying makeup gestated in MJ's DNA, slowly releasing Diprivan into his system, hooking him on the shit, while simultaneously robbing him of color and eventually of his life.

Then it hit me: no, it couldn't be the makeup folks ..

Perhaps the makeup people were merely unwitting accomplices in this grand conspiracy.

But follow the evidence trail: Who supplied the makeup? Who manufactured it? Or maybe the truth(iness) is closer to home: Who had access to it on set? Diana? Nipsey? Pryor?

Or maybe Sidney Lumet?

Yes, yes. Sidney!

Perhaps - oh, I'm sure now, no 'perhaps'! - he had Michael in mind to play the teenage poet/heroin addict Jim Carroll in a screen adaption of his book, 'The Basketball Diaries'.

A real method-actor's writer/director would salivate at such a challenge!

He needed first to turn Michael into a drug addicted and very pale Irish/Catholic kid.
But Michael mustn't know! It had to be 'real'!

Michael needed to 'feel' Jim Carroll, it needed to be a 'natural' transformation.

Sidney, you mad, mad, method genius!

But something went wrong.

Sidney had, in all his meticulous planning, forgotten a basic truth: Michael couldn't act.

It all fell apart at that point.

Michael became the Moonwalker, his nose slowly dissolved away, he vanished into a translucent fog of pigmentation and Neverland fantasies.

And Leo DiCaprio eventually played Jim Carroll many, many years later in the mid-90s to deafening indifference.

I must bring this Strasberg-ion, madness-in-the-method travesty to light!

A book! A movie!

And Sidney will direct!