25 January, 2009

America = Friendship City?

When I got back to America I had two things on my mind: The first was how smug I probably looked walking through JFK with a carton of duty-free Marlboros in tow, tucked beneath my arm; listen, America, my demeanor said, I'm not sweating it even a little bit. The second thing on my mind was how happy I felt to be in the same country as my friends again. I had anticipated this, in fact, and had readied my American SIM card into my phone all the way back in London so I could call these wonderful people as soon as possible. Once I was through customs and was in baggage claim, I plopped down on an out-of-use carousel and dialed for Bellingham, WA. To my joy, my homeboys and homegirls, who had been stretched across countries and time zones this past fall, were all hanging out together at the old hang zone, the Vanilla Dome.

Throughout the fall I had talked with basically everyone present in some fashion or another, but to be on the same continent, and moreover hear all their voices at once, was like someone had dipped my ears in magic. Karl captured the charm and delight of the moment deftly:

speaker phone in the middle.

This moment supplied me with an amazing lightness I can still feel.

A bit over a week ago I was eating dinner with my aunt and uncle and a close friend of theirs in Bellingham, WA. I was explaining to them how hard it has been for me saying goodbye to so many friends just every few months, and I was offered a piece of advice that eased a lot of my anxieties. They told me it's not going to get easier, but that it gets better. The friends I've developed intimate relationships with will never be easy to say goodbye to, but through time the friendships will only become more fulfilling and rich. I was struck by that, because even in my limited experience as an adult I could see this already operating. Despite the four month gap of time shared between my friends and me, the excitement of being around each other again, of sharing jokes and insights, was tremendous. My anxieties turned to optimism. These old people are pretty cool, I thought.

Later that night, Karl took this picture of Sean, Nick, and me.

Of SEAWIND fame.

Friendship, I've noticed, is the best.

15 January, 2009

Two Parter: Shoes and Pizza

Today Nick and I were strolling about town, getting coffee, window shopping, when we passed by the world famous Left, Right, Left shoe boutique. I said to myself, you know, maybe it's time I get some shoes. Mr. Nick and I stepped inside the warm world of shoe smells and friendly young women and began browsing. To describe myself as anything other than a finicky shopper would be a bald-faced lie, but today God had different plans for me. He all but literally split the Red Sea in two, just for me, as I was divinely guided to a pair of shoes that I saw and said, "Wow. Those look like shoes an astronaut would wear." And you wouldn't believe it, but not only did Left, Right, Left have them in my size, but the nice girl working pointed out to me that the shoes were 20% off. I walked out of the store with my old shoes in the box, and my new shoes on my feet. Boom.

"Shoes an astronaut would wear."

In the wonky Spring of 2007, I invented the greatest comic series in the world. The premise was simple: There was a widower who had also lost a son. The man ended up remarrying, and his new bride turned out a to be a witch of some kind. Turning lemons into lemon aide, the man proposed he and his wife perform a seance so he could catch up on what his dead son had been up to all these years. Well, it's tough to say what went wrong exactly, but the witch must have been a bit too enthusiastic when beckoning the dead son's soul, because it shot into the room at an enormous speed, ricocheted off a chandelier, and landed in a near-by pizza box. The next thing they know, the pizza box is the the widower's son reincarnate. The comic series is called Pizza is For the Children, and it chronicles the more tender moments of raising a son who also happens to be a pizza box. After a two year hiatus from the series, I made a triumphant return last evening. This drawing, which I've titled "Bed Time Story," is a real testament to my personal development and creative processes over the past two years. I'm very pleased, and very excited to share this with my readership. It's been a long time coming.

14 January, 2009

Talkies -- A Year in Review

Each year I go through three to four little notebooks, and in each book I keep two pages dedicated to logging every movie I see so I can keep track of them all. About this time of year, I usually compile the lists from all my notebooks into one list, giving myself the opportunity to stroll down memory lane and relive some nice moments. For the past two years I've written them into larger notebooks, but these notebooks typically get lost in the shuffle at some point, and then they're lost. So, this year I'm using Runjustforfun as my batch capture device.

Here we go, from first to last:

Lust, Caution -- Ang Lee
I'm Not There -- Todd Haynes

Bernard and the Genie -- Paul Welland I borrowed this VHS tape from Kyle Roe, and it supplied me with one of the laughiest-nights in all of 2008. It's a Brittish comedy from either the late 80s or early 90s, and it's essentially dedicated to "fish-out-of-water" humor; the genie adjusting to modern life, Bernard not fully understanding what possessing a genie means, etc. To be honest, my roommates and I had gotten pretty silly before watching this, and it enhanced the experience times a million.

Loves of a Blonde -- Milos Forman This story is about a young woman in love with a touring pianist. The simplicity of Forman's craft is prodigious, and should be admired by anyone aspiring to create film. Very little happens in the movie's story, but Forman utilizes his surroundings (post-war Czechoslovakia) to evoke an unstable enviroment for his tale of innocence and romance.

Being There -- Hal Ashby
Margot at the Wedding -- Noah Baumbach
Muppets Take Manhatten -- Frank Oz
The Great Muppet Caper -- Jim Henson

Spirit of the Beehive -- Victor Erice This is probably my favorite movie of the year. It's so wonderful and innocent, yet mysterious and cunning. Set in the Spanish countryside during the Franco years, this is the quientessential film on childhood. It made me wish I had a younger sister and a big pasture to look at.

Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown -- Almodovar
Zoo -- Robinson Devor
M -- Fritz Lang
Ten -- David Wain
The Dark Crystal -- Frank Oz and Jim Henson
The Eternal Jew -- Fritz Hippler
Red Squirrel -- Julio Medem
The Savages -- Tamarah Perkins
The Double Life of Veronique -- Kiezlowski
Chain Reaction -- Andrew Davies
Belly of an Architect -- Peter Greenaway
Sullivan's Travels -- Preston Sturges
Flower of My Secret -- Almodovar
MASH -- Robert Altman

Beach Blanket Bingo - Willam Asher This was my first Frankie and Annette movie, and let me just say -- loved it! It wasn't a musical musical, but it was in the same sense the TV show California Dreams is; everyone was just in a band, and it was cool. Plus the bad guys were in a gang called The Rats, and they had fantastic leather jackets with a white outline of a rat on the back.

CB4 -- Tamra Davis
Ghostbusters -- Ivan Reitman
La Pointe Court -- Agnes Varda
George Washington -- David Gordon Green
Passion -- Jean-Luc Godard
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly -- Julian Schnabel
The Orphanage -- Juan Antonio Bayona
Cafe Lumiere -- Hsino-hsien Hou
La Bonhuer -- Agnes Varda
Be Kind, Rewind -- Michel Gondry
La Vie en Rose -- Olivier Dahan

2010: The Year We Make Contact -- Peter Hyans Better.On.Paper.

Man Bites Dog -- Remy Belvaux, Andre Benzel, Benoit Poelvoorde If there were ever a movie that nails the meta-film, this is it. The film presents itself as a documentary about a serial killer (a la a Maysles doc), and slowly the film crew becomes part of the movie's plot. Most amazing scene: During a shoot out the boom-mic operator is seen hiding for his life in the background. The audio remains faithful to his location, placing the film's observer into two locations at once, highlighting cinema as both a visual, as well as an audio, apparatus.

Stripes -- Ivan Reitman
Interkosmos -- Jeff Finn
The Joke -- Jaromil Jires
Flowers of Saint Francis -- Roberto Rossellini
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days -- Cristian Mungiu
Rome, Open City -- Roberto Rossellini

Duck Soup -- Marx Brothers Funny!

Vidas Secas -- Nelson Periera des Santos

For all Mankind -- Al Reinert The shots from the lunar rover on the moon are probably the greatest tracking shots in the history of cinema. Absolutely. No doubt in my mind.

National Treasure -- John Turtletomb A professor of mine described this film by saying it was like watching a machine destroy itself. He was right.

Vagabond -- Agnes Varda
Battle of Algiers -- Gillo Pontecorvo
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou -- Wes Anderson
Xala -- Ousame Sembene
Live Flesh -- Almodovar
National Treasure II -- John Turteltomb
Salesman -- Maysles
The 400 Blows -- Francois Truffaut
Point Break -- Kathryn Bigelow
Confederate Park -- Bill Brown
Rosemary's Baby -- Roman Polanski

Oratorio for Prague -- Jan Nemec This film was shot during the days of the USSR invasion of Prague, and is the only footage that made it out of the city untouched by the Soviets. The filmmakers were originally creating a film about the emerging youth culture in the city, when the tanks started rolling in. I don't know if it's on DVD, but Film is Truth had it on VHS.

What Time is it There -- Tsai Ming-Liang
Trekkies -- Roger Nygard
Field of Dreams -- Phil Alden Robinson
Superbad -- Greg Motolla
Southland Tales -- Richard Kelly
Manufactured Landscapes -- Jennifer Baichwell
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul -- Fassbinder
Branded to Kill -- Suzuki
Uncle Buck -- John Hughes
Man of the House -- James Orr
Grey Gardens -- Maysles
All About My Mother -- Almodovar
Young Frankenstein -- Mel Brooks
Wayne's World II -- Stephen Surjik
Airplane! -- Jim Abrahams, Dave Zucker, Jerry Zucker
On a Wing and a Prayer -- Max Kaiser
Blackboards -- Samira Makhmalbaf
The Celebration -- Thomas Vinterberg
Gates of Heaven -- Earl Morris
Blow Out -- Brian de Palma
Bottle Rocket -- Wes Anderson
2 Days in Paris -- Julie Delpy
Dans Paris -- Chrstophe Hanore

Robinson Crusoe on Mars -- Byron Haskin If this is what the 1950s were all about, then I'm all of a sudden way more sympathetic toward the Neo-Con movement.

Antonio Gaudi -- Hiroshi Teshigahara
Russian Arc -- Aleksandr Sokurov
Wall-E -- Andrew Stanton
I Heart Huckabees -- David O'Russell
The Dark Night -- Christopher Nolan
The Fall -- Tarsem Singh
Mr. Freedom -- William Klein
Funny Games -- Michael Haneke
Lola -- Jacques Demy
Encounters at the End of the World -- Werner Herzog
Talk with Her -- Almodovar
Zero de Conduit -- Jean Vigo
Be Kind, Rewind -- Michel Gondry
Forbidden Planet -- Fred M. Wilcox
Tropic Thunder -- Ben Stiller
Wild at Heart -- David Lynch
Darjeeling Limited -- Wes Anderson
La Bonheur -- Agnes Varda
A Woman is a Woman -- Jean-Luc Godard
Jules and Jim -- Francois Truffaut
Vicky Christina Barcelona -- Woody Allen
You Don't Mess with the Zohan -- Dennis Dugan
Written on the Wind -- Douglas Sirk
Bodon Saved from Drowning -- Jean Renoir
Summer of Sam -- Spike Lee
Lucian lacombe -- Louis Malle
The Siren of Mississippi -- Francois Truffaut
The Passanger -- Michelangelo Antonioni
Zero de Conduit -- Jean Vigo
Do the Right Thing -- Spike Lee

Entres les murs -- Laurent Cantet This won Cannes? Snooooooooozer.

The Dreamers -- Bernardo Bertolucci
Forbidden Games -- Rene Clement
Crimes and Misdemeanors -- Woody Allen
Hannah and her Sisters -- Woody Allen

La monde du silence -- Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle

Cut -- ??
A Woman is a Woman -- Jean-Luc Godard
Trainspotting -- Danny Boyle
Lady From Shanghai -- Orson Welles
Basquiat -- Julian Schnabel
My Night at Maud's -- Eric Rohmer
Affects of Gamm Rays on Man-on-the-Moon Marigolds -- Paul Newman
Love and Death -- Woody Allen
La Jetee -- Chris Marker
Who the Fuck is Jackson Pollock -- Harry Moses
Swimming Pool -- Francois Ozon
Muppet Christmas Carol -- Brian Henson
It's a Wonderful Life -- Frank Capra
2001: A Space Odyssey -- Stanley Kubrick
Forrest Gump -- Robert Zemeckes

Wendy and Lucy -- Kelly Reichardt This film is unfortunately getting over-looked this award season, but it shouldn't. It's the best piece of American cinema I've seen this year. It doesn't try to make a big statement, and it doesn't reach for any brass rings. I'm very excited about what Kelly Reichardt is going to do next. Her voice is entirely fresh,well-informed, and timely.

Frost/Nixon -- Ron Howard
Cosmic Collisions -- Carter Emmart
Aladdin -- Ron Clements and John Musker
So I Married and Axe Murderer -- Tom Schlamme
The Spirit -- Frank Miller
Afraid to Merge -- Caleb and Joshua Young
Mall Robbers -- Anthony Watkins

What a year. I traveled around the world and through time. Special thanks to Woody Allen and Pedro Almodovar for being my most frequently visited directors in 2008. You both make enjoyable movies; I like them.

If you watched any of these movies with me and would like to share with everyone a brief anecdote, please direct yourself to the comment section.

11 January, 2009

Everything Gets Better: 2009 Means Progress; Resolutions

Learn how to Dance: Now just hold on a moment, you should be thinking, why would Jimmy need to learn how to dance in 2009? After all, he's already the best at it, says your concluding thought on the idea. Here's the truth, while I greatly appreciate your confidence in my movement abilities, in reality I've had you fooled this entire time: I don't know how to dance. On the other hand, I do know how to drink, as do most of my friends, providing a sufficient illusion to make it appear like my flailings are coherent and rhythmically timed; but, no. For the moments in 2009 when there is no booze, or it's too expensive to buy, I'm going to need a solid plan B. Now that I'm an adult, house dance parties are becoming more and more a thing of the past, while dancing in clubs around strangers is apparently the future. This is the grounds for my dancing resolution: While my friends know I'm nice, it's these strangers I've got to impress (they have no idea!). Everyone knows that there's nothing more charming than a boy who can dance, making this resolution a natural in with anyone (whether they be dancing strangers, bank tellers, police officers, or whoever -- they'll all start giving me the benefit of the doubt when they see my great moves).

Start Hustlin': From here on out my projects are going to be more ambitious, requiring larger budgets, and someone's going to have to finance that bill. There's a lot of money in this world, and I'm going to have to start convincing people it's a good idea to give me some.

Be More Mysterious

Stop Using the Word "Really": But only as an adjective. I'm still fine using the word to confirm something. But done are my days of saying something was really good. If something's good, then it's good. If it's something's really good, then it's great, and so on. I'm going to stop using it as an adverb, too. If I love something, that's good enough for me. I shouldn't really love it. I guess this resolution could alternately be called something like, "Letting definitions do their jobs."

Learn how to Spell "Reastoraunt": Incidentally, it's spelled restaurant.

Draw and Post More Comics: Like my current header, or this one:

A comic series I started in 2007 where a Dad winds up possessing a Pizza with his son's soul during a botched seance. Subdued zaniness ensues.