Myth Happens - And now the parks are full of fugitives, the trees are on fire—what else is new?

Sovay
Date: 2007-04-12 11:59
Subject: And now the parks are full of fugitives, the trees are on fire—what else is new?
Security: Public
Music:Tom Waits, "The Part You Throw Away"
I have a week to catch up on this journal, and an extremely busy week it has been. But first, a heartfelt damn it.

He came up in conversation yesterday: my father asked if I knew the physics of incendiary bombing, how to create a firestorm in a city; and I did, because of Slaughterhouse-Five. But I will remember other stories, too. And grieve that there will be no strange, spiky, bleak, funny more.

For Harry's pleasure, and our pleasure, too, we had him read from the scene where he beats up his wife. It was a play in itself, the way Harry did it, and Tennessee Williams hadn't written it all either. Tennessee Williams didn't write the part, for instance, where Harry, who weighs about one hundred forty-five, who's about five feet, eight inches tall, added fifty pounds to his weight and four inches to his height by just picking up a playbook. He had a short little double-breasted bellows-back grade-school graduation suit coat on and a dinky little red tie with a horsehead on it. He took off the coat and tie, opened his collar, then turned his back to Doris and me, getting up steam for the part. There was a great big rip in the back of his shirt, and it looked like a fairly new shirt too. He'd ripped it on purpose, so he could be that much more like Marlon Brando, right from the first.

When he faced us again, he was huge and handsome and conceited and cruel. Doris read the part of Stella, the wife, and Harry bullied that old, old lady into believing that she was a sweet, pregnant girl married to a sexy gorilla who was going to beat her brains out. She had me believing it too. And I read the lines of Blanche, her sister in the play, and darned if Harry didn’t scare me into feeling like a drunk and faded Southern belle.

And then, while Doris and I were getting over our emotional experiences, like people coming out from under ether, Harry put down the playbook, put on his coat and tie, and turned into the pale hardware-store clerk again.

"Was was that all right?" he said, and he seemed pretty sure he wouldn’t get the part.

"Well," I said, "for a first reading, that wasn't too bad."

"Is there a chance I'll get the part?" he said. I don't know why he always had to pretend there was some doubt about his getting a part, but he did.

"I think we can safely say we're leaning powerfully in your direction," I told him.

He was very pleased. "Thanks! Thanks a lot!" he said, and he shook my hand.


—Kurt Vonnegut, "Who Am I This Time?" (1961)
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Selkie
User: strange_selkie
Date: 2007-04-12 16:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
He was fairly, you know, aged, though. They mostly are nowadays. We are aging.

*goes back to setting out lures for storytellers*
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey
User: sovay
Date: 2007-04-12 16:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey
He was fairly, you know, aged, though. They mostly are nowadays.

I know; so was Menotti. But I still mind.

*goes back to setting out lures for storytellers*

First editions! Prrrr!
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Stephanie Burgis
User: stephanieburgis
Date: 2007-04-12 18:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh wow - thank you for posting that quote! I loved the movie version with Christopher Walken & Susan Sarandon, which I've watched two or three times, but I had no idea it was based on a Vonnegut piece. I don't know why it should make a difference, but knowing that makes me happier today.
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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2007-04-13 00:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconI Claudius
I loved the movie version with Christopher Walken & Susan Sarandon, which I've watched two or three times, but I had no idea it was based on a Vonnegut piece.

I've been wanting to see that for years! The story is one of my favorites.
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Trompé Setsuled: Book Hands
User: setsuled
Date: 2007-04-13 03:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconBook Hands
I've seen it several times, each time in a class usually bearing little or no relation to the film's subject matter (It was shown to class by the teacher in a Shakespeare class, a chemistry class, and I think it was an economics class. Come to think of it, I seem to remember several high school classes where I have no idea what I was supposed to be studying . . .). It's probably my favourite Jonathon Demme movie and it's intriguingly underplayed. It's short, and doesn't try to pad itself. It's also, after The Dead Zone, my favourite Christopher Walken movie.

Slaughterhouse-Five is unfortunately the only Kurt Vonnegut book I've read, though I quite loved it. Crooks and Liars has video of Vonnegut's recent appearance on The Daily Show.
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Sovay
User: sovay
Date: 2007-04-13 04:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's probably my favourite Jonathon Demme movie and it's intriguingly underplayed. It's short, and doesn't try to pad itself. It's also, after The Dead Zone, my favourite Christopher Walken movie.

I am embarrassingly underfamiliar with Christopher Walken, except that every time I see him, I realize he's incredibly talented. Speak to me of The Dead Zone.

Slaughterhouse-Five is unfortunately the only Kurt Vonnegut book I've read, though I quite loved it.

I discovered him first through his collection Welcome to the Monkey House (1968), which is amazing. I read it in eighth or ninth grade and I know it did things to my brain.
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Trompé Setsuled: Watch Television
User: setsuled
Date: 2007-04-13 04:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconWatch Television
I am embarrassingly underfamiliar with Christopher Walken, except that every time I see him, I realize he's incredibly talented.

There's no reason to be embarrassed--most of the movies he's in are terrible (the likes of Joe Dirt and Kangaroo Jack), and he only has small roles in most of the best movies he's in (the likes of Pulp Fiction and Sleepy Hollow). But I agree, he is talented.

Speak to me of The Dead Zone.

It's a David Cronenberg movie based on a Stephen King novel. I haven't seen it in a few years, but I remember it having a nice atmosphere and Christopher Walken gives a subtler and consequently more fundamentally intense performance than some of his more recent work. It's something of a subdued Cronenberg, too, particularly for the period (I can't recommend Videodrome enough). It has a very nice atmosphere.
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Sovay: Psholtii: in a bad mood
User: sovay
Date: 2007-04-15 04:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconPsholtii: in a bad mood
and he only has small roles in most of the best movies he's in (the likes of Pulp Fiction and Sleepy Hollow).

I was thinking of Pulp Fiction and Catch Me If You Can. One of the other reasons Who Am I This Time? has been on my list for years—and essentially unfindable, at least as far as video stores are concerned—is that it seems to be one of his few leading roles.

It's something of a subdued Cronenberg, too, particularly for the period (I can't recommend Videodrome enough).

I have also failed to see anything by David Cronenberg, although I want to see Crash and more than one person has recommended I see Spider. Although for some reason I think I've seen the famous exploding head scene from Scanners with no context at all.
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Trompé Setsuled: La Bete et la Belle
User: setsuled
Date: 2007-04-15 08:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLa Bete et la Belle
I have also failed to see anything by David Cronenberg, although I want to see Crash and more than one person has recommended I see Spider.

Cronenberg's Crash is certainly far better than the Paul Haggis movie of the same name. It's like human sexuality from the perspective of an alien brain and it's endlessly fascinating. I've only seen Spider once, and it was a while ago. But I remember it was a beautifully strange character study (and Amazon seems to have it for three dollars).

My personal favourite Cronenberg movie is Dead Ringers. It's perverted, sad, funny, and utterly absorbing. I also think you in particular might like The Brood, the story of an experimental form of therapy that causes repressed psychological problems to manifest in bizarre, physical ways, most spectacularly in one woman who gives birth to a brood of short-lived, raging psychopathic children.

Although for some reason I think I've seen the famous exploding head scene from Scanners with no context at all.

There's a fairly widely used animated gif of it--I think I've seen some people use it as an lj icon;


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ap_aelfwine
User: ap_aelfwine
Date: 2007-04-12 18:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm saddened as well.

Thanks for the fascinating quotation.
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey
User: sovay
Date: 2007-04-13 00:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey
I'm saddened as well.

Cultural (or countercultural) icons have achieved immortality: they are not supposed to die.
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Erik Amundsen: Cobra Commander
User: cucumberseed
Date: 2007-04-12 19:20 (UTC)
Subject: Much as I hate false, assumed intimacy...
iconCobra Commander
I saw him speak at the Connecticut Forum a few months ago, and even though I knew I wasn't ever going to see him speak again, well, tomorrow I'll blame it on the weather, perhaps.
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Sovay
User: sovay
Date: 2007-04-13 00:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I saw him speak at the Connecticut Forum a few months ago, and even though I knew I wasn't ever going to see him speak again, well, tomorrow I'll blame it on the weather, perhaps.

I never heard him speak. I'm glad you did.
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Erik Amundsen
User: cucumberseed
Date: 2007-04-13 00:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
He was amazing. Better yet, Joyce Carol Oates was in that discussion, and the two of them; she all dark and imposing and he a wrinkled, rambling imp, it was fun to watch them go.

I kept telling myself that I didn't actually meet or know him, but then, how can anyone exposed to him, not. I guess that was his gift.

What a day. I want wine.
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