ocean avenue

Hello, readers.

I discovered this morning there is a version of Beauty and the Beast in which one can find singing and dancing and Rebecca De Mornay.

In other news, great writer Bill Boyle talks shop in this new column by Eli Cranor called Shop Talk.

There’s great stuff here about coffee and laptops and the discipline of desperation. My favorite thing is this thing that Bill quotes by Willy Vlautin.

“Always be a fan first.”

I love this. And I love Bill.

Speaking of fandom and love. I discovered today that Heath Ledger produced in his characterization of The Joker such an embodiment of terror that when Michael Caine first encountered him in a scene he was too scared to remember any of his lines.

I loved The Dark Knight a lot when it came out. I saw it five times in the theater. It’s coming back to theaters in London this summer. Perhaps I will visit it again. Time transforms love, I think, but it rarely erases it.

There’s this great line Michael Chabon wrote in his story, “Ocean Avenue” and it goes like this:

“If you can still see how you could have once loved a person, you are still in love; an extinct love is always wholly incredible.”

Happy Friday, readers.

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wednesday wonders

Hello, readers.

Here are some things of a nature perhaps commensurate with the human capacity for wonder.

Thing one.

Last week, I watched this one film called Dick. It made my heart sing. Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams are two of the best humans who sometimes pretend to be other humans. And, while the story reminded me a bit of Being There or Forrest Gump—in which there is cynicism and there is wonder and people stumble through history, changing its course somewhat haphazardly—this film is not exactly like that. These characters do not just bumble through history—they bumble and they learn and they make choices and take action against what they see as wrong.

I love the energy of this film so much.

Thing two.

Taylor Swift and Stephen Colbert argue about whether or not her song, “Hey, Stephen” is about Stephen Colbert.

Thing three.

I have asked a group of complete strangers to come together with me this Saturday sunset and read a short thing what meant a lot to them during the pandemic.

I know what I will read but I am going to keep it a secret because secrets, particularly temporary and unimportant ones, are fun.

Thing four.

I started this blogging thing a great many years ago when I started blogging for the Ole Miss literary journal. You can visit this original blog here.

It is strange to think that, in one way or another, this blog is the diary I never kept as a child. It is a diary with no lock and perhaps a lot of heart.

Speaking of which.

This is a great thing in which Olivia Laing talks about reparative art and Derek Jarman.

That is all for now, dear readers.

Happy Wednesday.

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alburquerque

Hello, readers.

I keep hearing this voice in my head. It sounds a lot like Bugs Bunny.

Perhaps, for many of us, this is the feeling of being alive in 2021. That feeling that we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Maybe a grimey sort of self-doubt. Perhaps born out of a habit of hiding. Or being asked to hide.

Maybe it feels new. It feels a bit new to me.

I think, perhaps, this is how it always feels, though.

It is like love in that way. Or, at least. Like falling in love. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Something like this happens everyday.

Also. Always. I am suspicious of these visitations of feeling. Like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. This self-doubt could be a bit of undigested nutritional yeast.

And yet. I know, like Scrooge, these ghosts are here as omens. As guardians. As guides.

Everything that protects us is a monster.

Earlier this week, I read some of George Saunders’ A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. I thought. Oh. This is how it feels to wake up inside of trauma. I thought. Would you look at that.

I cried a lot. I’m not sure why. Also I know why. I am lonely. I am grieving for those things not entirely gone. I am filling my life with as much joy as I can stand. And sometimes it’s too much. And sometimes it’s not enough.

It has been a very long time. It has been a very long time for us all. Since we met. Since we held hands. Since we hugged. Since we kissed. Since we made love.

Separation isn’t easy.

Perhaps, for some of us, that grew up in the grips of one form of depression or another, that grew up queer in one form or another, it is easy to imagine things are worse than they are—not just because this is an aspect of depression or loneliness, but because one can remember becoming attached to these feelings of loneliness, of monstrosity. That feeling that no one wants to touch you. That feeling that no one wants to be touched by you. That feeling that there would in holding hands be something overwhelming and scary.

And so much of everything comes down to this.

The desire to hold hands. The fear to touch and be touched.

There’s this scene in It’s a Sin, the new Russell T. Davies show. In this scene there is a character and they scream, “Don’t touch me! You can’t touch me!”

They say, “You can’t touch me because I have AIDS.”

I cried a lot here, as well, and I knew why. I knew because of now. I knew because of growing up in the shadow of a disease that so many used as a confirmation of their culture’s collective nightmares about sex. About touch. About queerness. About pleasure.

There have been days and weeks during these past months that have been some of the clearest and best days and months. It is strange. And, also. I suppose. Really. It’s not strange. My partner and I separated a little while ago. It was maybe not the best time to do that. But, also.

Once, not all that long ago, I heard someone say something like, “Right now, every one of us needs more than anyone has left to give.”

And, so. Rather than sharing all this with any particular person, I have shared it with the internet.

I have written my doubt into the arms of the ether.

I hope it is not too much. I hope.

In other news.

It is Wednesday and, I am reading Neil Gaiman’s retellings of Norse Myths. There are here mostly stories of Thor and Loki. Gaiman, in his introduction, points out the lack of stories concerning other gods and goddesses. He points out that too many stories have been lost.

The other day I asked Em what they thought of Loki. They said that Loki represented the sort of energy I don’t want anymore in my life. They asked me what I thought. I said that Loki, like The Coyote or The Monkey King or Doctor Who, possibly represented something like the energy of the mind, racing, feckless, by turns delightful and infuriating. In the stories Loki seems to be the cause of everyone’s problems and also the source of so many of their blessings—Thor’s hammer, for example, came about from some of Loki’s mischief.

Things I didn’t say: I identify a lot with Loki. I identify a lot with all of these characters defined by their reckless race from one shape to the next.

Em asked who is Coyote. I told them about the trickster and my lamentable lack of knowledge about the specificity of Native American myth.

Wait, Em said. Like. Wile E. Coyote?

Well, I said. It’s right there in his name, isn’t it? The wily one, endlessly chasing that which is unattainable.

I’ll say this for Wile E. Coyote, though. He’s one focused son of a gun. Nothing stops him from going after what he wants, not rock or anvil or gravity. When Wile E. Coyote runs off a cliff, he acknowledges his mistake, and then he falls, and then he tries again.

I wonder if he’s enjoying himself, though?

Perhaps it’s a Sisyphus thing. Perhaps we must imagine him smiling?

I’d rather not.

I’d rather imagine that one day Wile E. Coyote reads adrienne maree brown’s book, Pleasure Activism and begins a journey of recalibration in which he reconnects with those aspects of life which turn him on. I like to imagine this. I like to imagine Wile E. Coyote sitting still, contemplating the beauty of a single flower, remembering what it means to grow.

Happy Wednesday, readers.

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trouble don’t

Hello, readers.

It is Friday.

Friday is the day, of course, on which we celebrate fried food and love*.

I will be making tonight a pan-fried chickpea bread called socca, and also I will be thinking about the episode of Euphoria I just watched called, “Trouble Don’t Last Always.”

In this episode, two characters sit in a diner and talk to each other for an hour. There’s a cigarette break at one point. And there’s sometimes music. Sometimes by Labrinth**. Mostly it is just these two people and their conversation and the space that conversation opens up between and around them and into which we, the viewer, are invited .

It is an episode about death and gods and forgiveness. It is an episode in which two humans share truth and tenderness and touch. It aired first on December 7th and it is, in its way, a Christmas miracle. Perhaps not in the reality of the show. But in our reality. In the reality of distancing—both social and societal. In the reality of demonization—personal and political.

It is an episode that is my favorite ever episode of television right now.

Possibly it is my favorite kind of episode.

It is like when Chandler got trapped in an ATM vestibule.

It is that thing where characters get trapped into intimate surrounds and intimacy abounds. It is that episode where the detective talks to everyone and this is how they solve the crime. It is conversation. It is connection.

It is bacon and eggs and pancakes and your grandfather talking to you about stocks and bonds and life and death.

Maybe this last bit is just me.

Here are other things I have loved this week.

  1. The British Museum: Curator’s Corner.

It is not possible to go to The British Museum. But, I have discovered that it is possible to watch people who work at The British Museum geek out over their favorite bits of the museum.

It is called Curator’s Corner.

I have this week watched a video in which a woman talks about a helmet and also I have watched this video from Imma Ramos about Tantric philosophy.

Here is a slightly longer video in which we are given a tour of the Tantric exhibit.

p.s. Here is Imma Ramos talking about witches and wicked bodies.

2. Taylor Swift

I continue to be in love with the most recent two albums from Taylor Swift. It is nice to be in love.

Also there is the dress in this video.

The Power of Myth.

During the last two years of his life, Joseph Campbell talked with Bill Moyers at Skywalker Ranch. This aired in the U.S. on PBS in 1988, and many years after. It was the thing PBS always showed during fundraiser time.

It is the thing that around the age of fourteen, I watched over the course of one long afternoon with my grandmother and during and after she and I talked about life and death and ghosts and gods.

I am rewatching it for the third or fourth time. Em is watching it for the first time.

She believes I am lucky to have been exposed to this conversation so early in my life.

I believe she is right.

It is also true that we find what we are ready to find and we learn what we are ready to learn.

And, it turned out, that my grandmother and I were ready that day to spend an afternoon in conversation with two men in conversation about the invisible foundations of reality.

And, right now, it turns out that I am ready to learn that this life-changing interview between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyer has the same structure as two characters in a diner talking about addiction or Chandler trapped in an ATM vestibule trying to get a date.

Happy Friday, readers.

I hope that you are having an okay week, readers. I hope if it is not okay that it is, somehow, still okay.

ttfn.

* Friday being the day of Freya, that lady of the forest known for her love of those things in life most delicious—love, sex, war, appetite, possibly pancakes.

** I love this video about Labrinth’s song All for Us.

the body

[source]

Hello, readers.

Recently, I made hot chocolate.

The way I made hot chocolate is that I put some amount of cacao powder in a pan. And also I put into this pan some ground cardamom. Then I toasted these things in the pan before adding some milk and whisking it up and then adding some more milk and warming it to not quite boiling.

Then I tasted this and it was very yummy and I have made it on other days and some days I put inside this hot chocolate a tiny bit of salt and maple syrup and you should be careful with this amount of deliciousness because you should do things with your life other than making and consuming hot chocolate.

Not very many other things, perhaps. But some things.

Speaking of things.

Body (official video) – YouTube

I enjoyed this thing that is a song by Gia Margaret and also less of a song and more a bit of musical bedding for some spoken word by Alan Watts, a British human who is apparently known for popularizing certain mechanisms of thought in English-speaking countries. He published a book in 1957 called The Way of Zen.

Gia Margaret is a Chicago musician whose work you can read about here.

Speaking of bodies.

Em and I are in the midst of rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, Angel. Though for Em it is the first time of seeing Angel.

Tonight, we will watch "The Body." In this episode of Buffy someone is dead and their body is discovered on a sofa. It is an episode of much harrow and humor and there is no music and sometimes people talk about negative space. It is the first work of art, I think, that caused in me actual grief.

Sometimes watching Buffy this time around it has occurred to me that certain moments of this show live in my body the way trauma lives in bodies. It is fascinating to understand how much I identified with this show and how that identification lives still in my body and I get goosebumps sometimes, or my heart races, and it is all a memory of a memory and happening still. These characters. These actors. These moments. These bodies of art and the spaces inside myself into which I imagined them.

Happy Monday, readers.

I hope your body is not a burden. I hope your body is, perhaps, more like Japanese Breakfast imagines it to be—a blade that cuts a path from day to day.

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long, strange trip

Hello, readers.

Here are some things.


Thing one.

Once upon a time there was an episode of X-Files in which Mulder and Scully found themselves reunited in a courtroom. I do not remember why they had been so long apart. I do not remember why they met in a courtroom. I do remember the feeling of them being apart and the feeling of them coming back together.

Sometimes it is possible to feel these feelings in one’s own life.

Sometimes it is possible to feel these feelings not about other people but about various parts of yourself.

When Mulder showed up in that courtroom, Scully hugged him and she smiled and she asked, “Where’ve you been?”

Mulder said, “It’s been a long, strange trip.”


Thing two.

It has been two years since I last posted here.

Many things, as happens, have occurred.

Among them, I have a new story up at Quarterly West. This story is called “Some Things About Love, Magic, and Terror.

It is a sequel of sorts to an earlier story I wrote called “Some Things About Love, Magic, and Hair.”

I did not mean to write a sequel to that earlier short story, but sometimes, as has been noted, things happen whether you meant for them to happen or not.

Perhaps one day I will wake up and happily discover that I have written a five-part trilogy of short stories.


Thing three.

Taylor Swift said this one thing recently. She said that if you’re going to have to recalibrate everything then you might as well start with what you love most.

This other time Taylor Swift sang about the grass in Centennial Park in Tennessee and I cried because I miss Nashville and traveling and, while I don’t miss grass, I do miss sitting in the grass with hundreds of people gathered together to hear someone sing about something as simply and beautifully as Taylor Swift sings about grass.


Thing four.

I have been watching Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass. It is a good class if you like listening to Neil Gaiman and do not mind not being in a class.

One of my favorite things I have taken from this Masterclass is to keep at the back of my notebook pages labelled ‘Compost Heap’ in which I might write down those memories and occurrences and phrases and slants of light which catch my attention.

Listening to Gaiman talk about things reminded me of listening to actors talk about things on Inside the Actor’s Studio. This was a show that aired for a long time on a tv channel called Bravo. It was hosted by James Lipton. It inspired the questionnaire that lives at the end of those interviews I did for that one podcast, Storyological.

Once on Inside the Actor’s Studio there was this exchange between Harrison Ford and a student in the audience. (~46:10)

Q: Hi, there. My question is regarding you being known as a somewhat private person in real life—whether that has ever affected your ability as an actor to extend to your character that intimate side of yourself that we all strive to give to each character we portray.

A: I’m a private person in my private life. In my working life, I expect to grant my audience complete and total access. Everybody’s got a backstage pass. You have to be willing to live in front of people. Let them see the good, the bad, the ugly, the weak, the strong, the conflicted, the terrible. One of the things about acting that gives me the greatest satisfaction is the opportunity for that emotional exercise. That investment to the point that it produces true emotion. It’s not about you. It’s about the continuity between you and the rest of your race. It’s about being human and it’s about sharing and knowing that humanity.

It is the true ambition. To give yourself to that moment.

Welcome to December, readers.

See you again soon.

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edward scissorhands (dir. tim burton, 1990)

Hello, readers. Every Saturday I publish a selection from a monthly newsletter I’m writing for Storyological patrons called, CHRIS REVIEWS EVERYTHING. If you’d like to receive this newsletter, and so receive more of my reviews, visit the Storyological Patreon page to sign up. Thank you. That is all.

edward

We begin with an Avon lady. A woman who sells the modern ideal of beauty—or, more precisely, the appearance and means of achieving that beauty. When she meets Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp)–a leather-shrouded man locked away in a dark house on a tall hill with, literally, scissors for hands–she meets her greatest challenge. A person immune to the means of beauty, but deeply in touch with the meaning of it.

The Avon lady, Peg (Dianne West), takes pity on Edward and brings him home. She attempts to acclimate him to normal life. She begins by getting him to look the part. A fresh, white shirt, an old pair of trousers, snappy suspenders. She dabs his scars with concealer. At dinner, Edward struggles to use his knife and fork. The son, Kevin (Robert Oliveri), struggles not to stare. Peg tells him it’s not polite to stare. The daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder), struggles to hide her frustration and embarrassment at everything. Peg asks her husband how it went at work. There’s nothing so lonely as being surrounded by people pretending that you might be something other than what you are.

Edward Scissorhands has, for a long time, held a special place in my heart. Not for what it meant to me so much as for what it meant to someone I loved. She grew up in Florida, where the film takes place, and she saw in Edward Scissorhands, I think, a mirror of herself. A grotesque creature in love with, and shunned by, the idea of beauty. A tender, if awkwardly assembled, creature who believed themselves unable to touch anything without destroying it.

Edward is a great artist because of his awkward assembly. As a creature constructed from a hodgepodge of curious hope and industrial machinery, Edward knows what it is to construct beauty from the humdrum materials of our world. Women from all over town fall in love with his ability to recognize the beauty tucked away beneath the surface of things. They see him turn hedges into art sculptures and, before long, they get him to style their hair. They hope, I suppose, that as go his skills with topiary, so go his skills with women. They hope that he might cut free the beauty trapped inside of them.

It is the mission of Tim Burton, I believe, to transform fear into tenderness. Edward is not a natural being. Like all of us, he is a constructed one. And, like all of us, he is unfinished. He wears in his body a permanent state of incompleteness. No amount of make-up will make him appear more beautiful. He already contains all the beauty he needs. We hope he understands this. We hope even more that everyone else does. It is a hopeless hope. Most hopes are.

Peg brings Edward down from his dark house atop that tall hill, but she is not really interested in him so much as she’s interested in what she can make of him. She wants to force him into a role that doesn’t quite fit. She is either unwilling or incapable of engaging with Edward as he is. This is true of almost everyone in the film. No one seems capable, or willing, to grapple simultaneously with the horror and pain and tragedy and beauty and rage and love and gentleness which comprise Edward’s life and heart. See how the husband imagines that Edward can just go to the bank and get a loan. See how the son imagines Edward a kind of deadly cool monster thing worth bringing to school for show-and-tell. See how that one neighbor sees him as an exotic creature destined to unleash something warm and dark from inside of her.

Depp plays Edward as an innocent in the way a child is innocent, which is to say not all that much. He wants and feels and loves and when betrayed, when the world, or a person he cares about, fails to live up to his expectations, he goes into a rage. He lets go of all the safeguards that have kept him from destroying himself. In these rages, he confirms his worst ideas of himself. He destroys. He destroys. He destroys.

For most of the film, Edward is happy to play along with what people ask of him. He cuts their hedges and their hair and their dogs. He tries to eat with a fork. We laugh and we cringe and we cry because this doesn’t seem like the life for him or for us. But it does seem to be what we’ve built for ourselves. It seems to be all that we have.

Kim’s boyfriend, at one point, wants Ed to help him break into his own house and steal many of his father’s fine and beautiful things. Kim knows this is wrong. But, she asks Ed for help anyway. It all goes wrong, of course. It was always all going to go wrong. Kim asks him why he ever agreed to do such a thing if he knew that it wasn’t going to work out. Ed has a very simple and heartbreaking answer for her. Because you asked me, he says.

This is, I think, Burton’s most delicate, and perhaps saddest, film. It is the story of a creature perpetually misunderstood and doomed to solitude. In that way, I suppose, it is–like all great art–a description of someone so individual as to contain within them the plight of everyone. Who among us isn’t doomed, in one way or another, to being perpetually misunderstood and, for the most part, entirely alone? If there is any hope here–in this film anyway–it is that Edward experiences a moment of love and connection with Kim.

Still. I’m not sure whether to think of this as hope or tragedy.

I think often of the end of the film. Of how, it turns out, Edward lives on, forever honoring the memory of that moment of love, carving its image over and over, but never finding his way back to it in real life. He is always, and forever it seems, kept separate from the reality of love. He can only ever imagine it. Maybe this is true of all of us. I like to think not, though.

Kim is the teller of this story. She is a grandmother at the beginning and end. The story belongs to her, in this way, more than it has ever belonged to Edward. For most of her life, she has been afraid to go and visit Edward. She arranged his “death” to protect him, and so, perhaps, at the start, she left Edward alone because she needed to protect him from the town. But, now, when her granddaughter asks why she doesn’t go visit Ed, Kim says that she is too old. She doesn’t want him to see her like this.

Has she forgotten, or has she never really known, what Edward was like? Out of all of them, he was the one who could see the hidden shapes inside of bushes. He could see their true form. That she refuses to go and see him, and that she imagines, or truly believes, it is because of how she looks–well, that breaks my heart. I imagine this was Burton’s intent.

I have had trouble with Burton, from time to time, as one can only have trouble with an artist, or lover, or family member, who seems to struggle with many of the same questions as you, but who seems to have made of their life some very different answers.

Where in my own work and in my life, I have worked to see everyone, including monsters, as people, in that they are made of a mess of good and evil and sin and innocence. Burton often works to see monsters as innocent of good and evil and people as monsters of both. I think, at one time, I thought this was too cruel in regards to people and too simple in regards to monsters. I have changed my mind.

Monsters are, for the most part, only symbols. They don’t really exist. And so, by definition, they exist outside of our ideas of good and evil. People do exist. And, in the way that Edward cuts beauty from the heart of the world, people cut good and evil. People aren’t the real monsters. But they are the only species of life, perhaps, capable of creating them.

Of all the monsters here, only Kim seems to have glimpsed something of the true nature of Edward’s soul—and in so doing, perhaps something of her own and of life’s true nature, as well. I like to imagine when she tells Edward, “I love you,” that it is a love that will sustain for her a new way of seeing. That she tells his story to her granddaughter means that perhaps it has. That she refuses to visit him makes me doubt. There is no answer here. I don’t know what Burton meant. I don’t know if I am right. I love this film for so many reasons. It took me a long time to come to terms with that love.

some things about ‘on the way down’

Hello, readers.

It’s been a while.

Here are some things.

Thing one:

A story of mine came out this month. It’s called “On the Way Down.”

You can read it, along with many other wonderful things, in the eleventh issue of  formercactus. They are cool. Look at this cool art, for example:

 

Thing two.

Here are some things about “On the Way Down.”

It can take a long time for a story to get published. People say this all the time. So much so that you probably forget sometimes that it’s true. I bring this up now because “On the Way Down” took about ten years to get published.

I wrote the first draft not long after a friend introduced me to the amazing Stuart Dybek story, “Pet Milk.” My story is not as good as that story. If you only have time to read one yearning, bittersweet short story then you should probably go read that one.

In “On the Way Down,” I wanted to capture something of the way Dybek played around with time in “Pet Milk.”

I wanted to speed it up and slow it down and generally make a mess of it. This is where I began thinking about a story of a couple in a hotel room standing at a window and thinking about the different paths their lives took to get them to this moment.

This is not at all what my story ended up being about. Or, well, this is exactly what the story ended up being about, but not at all in the way that I thought it would be about it.

This is how stories go when they really go. They get away from you. A poem that ends up being about what it started being about is not a very good poem. The same is true of stories.

While working through that first idea of the story–of those people in the hotel room–I heard one of the characters telling the other character about a dream they had where they jumped off a building and ended up floating in front of a woman’s window. I thought this was neat because it would sum up the character’s emotional state—mid free-fall.

But, then, I wondered: why am I writing about someone’s dream in a story when I could just write the story as a dream? Isn’t that what stories are anyway? Shared dreams?

So, a night came when I sat down, and I wrote the dream. I wrote the story of a man who fell off a building and stopped, mid-fall, in front of a woman’s window. I let that moment of magic stretch and encompass everything I felt about time while reading “Pet Milk.”

It was the first time in my writing life that I had that feeling of a story arriving, more or less, complete. This wasn’t really the case, at all, of course–since I had been thinking about it for weeks, but this was how it felt.

I sent it to many places. And I showed it to many people. No one wanted to publish it, and this was sad. But, two people who really enjoyed it told me how to fix it so that it would be the best version of itself, and this was wonderful.

One of these people was a teacher. The other an editor at The Paris Review. Both said the same thing. Alas, I didn’t figure out what they meant, though, until ten years later.

At which point, I sat down one afternoon, and I rewrote the story.

The version I wrote that afternoon is the version you can read in formercactus.

I hope you like it.

 

ttfn.

 

 

 

sometimes things

Hello, readers.

Sometimes I post things. This is one of those times. Here are two things.

Thing one.

I have a new story in Bourbon Penn 15 (available now in e-book or paperbook) called SOMETIMES THINGS ARE TRUE.

If you’re a fan of ninjas, zombies, werewolves, pirates, or epiphanies in which a character stares up at the stars and realizes some truth about life, then this is the story for you. Also there’s a killer unicorn.

You can read a fairly long sample of the story here.

Here’s a fairly short sample.

“It’s not true what they say about werewolves, you know?” Lucy said to Jack. “You can’t become a werewolf by kissing. That’s just a myth. You can’t get it from sex either, unless it’s a very particular kind of sex. There are probably a few days out of the month when you’d probably rather not kiss one, or have sex, I guess. Sometimes things are true.”
 
“Am I even needed in this conversation?” Jack said.
 
“I enjoy listening to you listen,” Lucy said. “The sound of your breathing is very comforting.”

Thing two.

I’ve just sent out the February edition of CHRIS REVIEWS EVERYTHING, a monthly newsletter for Storyological patrons.

In February, I watched and reviewed: seventeen films, four television shows, three podcasts, two soundtracks, a book, a handful of short stories, Natalie Portman’s career (as inspired by her rapping on SNL), a play starring Carey Mulligan, a Bon Iver concert, a quote from John Keats, and two Instagram videos posted by Chloe Bennett, star of Marvel’s: Agents of Shield.

I include a handy, clickable list at the start of the newsletter. This is a picture of that clickable list. Don’t try to click on it. It won’t work. I promise.

Here is a snippet of the introduction I wrote for the newsletter:

I’ve written these reviews, more or less, however the fancy took me. Some of them are silly. Some serious. My favorite manage to be both. My highlights for this month include: The End of the Fxxxing World, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Pride and PrejudiceLady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, Chloe Bennett, and Bon Iver. These might not be your highlights. You’ll have to read them all to find out. The reviews in which I get the most personal are probably: Atonement, Phenomena, and Bon Iver.
 
Maybe don’t try to read it all at once. Maybe save this email in a special folder. Or print it out, even. Stick it on your writing or reading desk. Fold it up and put it in your notebook. Carry it close to your heart. That sort of thing.
 
It’s up to you, really. So many things are.

I’ll be posting samples from this newsletter every Saturday. Here’s a review of Lady Bird I posted a bit ago.

I’m having a lot of fun with this newsletter. I hope you do, too. Emma seems happy with it. ^-^

Happy Wednesday, readers.

ttfn.

look at those faces just look at those faces

Hello, readers.

Yesterday happened to be Thanksgiving. I say happened to be because when you are an American in London sometimes certain holidays seem to happen without much involvement from you. Almost as if you were not at all essential to the process. Imagine that.

Here are some things I am excited about.

Thing one.

tillie walden, whose name I have only ever seen written out in lowercase and whose gentle and ambitious hand I have been admiring, of late, in such comics as The City Inside and On a Beam of Sunshine, is really quite amazing and you should go look at all the things.

Thing two.

In honor of Thanksgiving, here is one of my favorite films. It happens to be about Thanksgiving. It is called Home for the Holidays and it was directed by Jodie Foster and I want to hug it to death.

Thing three.

Yesterday I thought about how Thanksgiving used to mean television marathons. Like that one Buffy marathon that one year called Slaysgiving, or some such. There was, I think, also an X-Files marathon, once, of all the mythology episodes. Remember when programming was not just for museums, and concert halls, but for television? Do they program television anymore, or do the machines do it? I don’t know. I don’t live there anymore.

Thing four

These photos by Randall Slavin of 90s icons in The Hollywood Reporter are beautiful. There is something unremarkably remarkable about them. Almost as if movie stars were just people. like everyone else, trying to find their way to something real in an increasingly unreal world. Or maybe that’s just me. Also. Look at those faces. Just look at them.

Also, also. Don’t worry, readers. I was just kidding. There’s no such thing as an unreal world. This is all really happening.

That is all.

Happy holidays, reader. And, of course, by holidays I mean whichever holidays are closest whenever it is that you might be reading this.

 

ttfn.