Saturday, August 29, 2009


1. Designed To Die

A "Yale" Story

by Brian Hughes

“This is a real show stopper folks: high, tin ceilings, fluted plaster cornices, pocket doors, raised-panel wood accents, etched glass, custom window treatments, and gleaming pine and hardwood floors,” says a snazzy dressed real estate agent, wearing suspenders and Tom Ford glasses.
“Is there central air and heating throughout?” asks a twenty-something prospective buyer, as he and several couples are escorted around an elegant, pre-war brownstone, on the Upper West Side, New York City.
“Yes, in fact, it’s a relatively new central air and heating system. Let me escort you to the second floor,” says the broker as he guides them up the staircase. “As you’ll see, we have a huge, master suite with skylights, ceiling fan, recessed lighting, his and her California closets, and a full bath with a deep whirlpool tub with separate shower.” The couples nod and smile in approval as the broker opens the master bedroom door. The prospective buyers look on in puzzlement: a mirror and bureau adjacent to the king size bed, has been converted to a makeshift shrine, accented by framed photos, burning candles, incense and two, stuffed toy gorillas. The focal point of the shrine is a middle-age woman with tight, red curls and a slab of gray hair. The broker begins to close the door. “Well, that was the master bedroom, and as you can see …”
“Excuse me, Sir, but I’d like to take a look inside the master bedroom,” says another potential buyer, a gentleman wearing an ascot.
“Why, of course.”
The gentleman walks in. Couples follow behind him. They peruse the spacious bedroom. A preppie resembling a “Kennedy” opens a double-swing door. An avalanche of stuffed, toy gorillas fall to his feet. A few giggles are heard.
“It’s awfully cold and musty: Did someone die in this room?” the gentleman with the ascots asks, pointing toward the shrine.
“No. Not in this house. No,” says the broker, looking down at his watch.
A young woman, flush with rosy cheeks, round, pleasant eyes, and wide hips, makes her way into the master kitchen. She is embarrassed to find a thin man stirring sauce at the stove.
“Oh! Excuse me … I am sorry. I should have known someone was in here. My nose led the way.” The man doesn’t look at her, but carefully sprinkles oregano while churning the sauce. Slash-mouthed with high cheekbones, the man seems entirely unapproachable and morose. Around his waist is tied an apron saying “Margo’s Kitchen.” Unable to get any type of response, the prospective buyer looks about the kitchen, “Do you live here?”
The man turns his head, and with swollen, blood-shot eyes, says, “Can you please direct all your inquisitions to the real estate broker. That’s what I pay him for. Now – if you’ll excuse me.”
“Oh … okay … yes, I’m sorry,” says the rotund woman as she backs out of the kitchen. The man picks up a clear, plastic baggy and scoops out a fine, powdery, gray substance with a teaspoon and dabbles it inside the sauce. He stares after it as it falls.


The broker walks into the kitchen, hands in pocket. The young man eats his pasta and carefully reads The Bhagavad-Gita.
“Hey, Yale.” Yale refuses to look up. “Could you do me a favor? Is it at all possible to act less strange?”
This gets Yale’s attention.
“We are trying to sell this wonderful brownstone, Yale. 4 million dollars, do you understand? I need your help. Potential buyers are getting creeped out.”
“Do your job,” Yale says with menace.
“Could you please remove the shrine for the next open house?”
Yale stands, sauce on his mouth. “I am suffering! What is your excuse? I will suffer and mourn as I see fit. You conduct your job as you see fit. Don’t tell me how to mourn. You do your job, and I’ll do mine!”
“Okay, Yale. All right. Just asking for a little help. Forget it. I’ll call you tomorrow.” The broker storms out of the kitchen


Yale sits upright and with straight posture on a bar stool in front of a Maggiolini style round table. He crazy glues into place a series of Star Trek, Franklin Mint, glass chess pieces onto the board with delicacy. They are becoming frozen in mid play. Yale stares down at the pieces but is slowly losing composure. His hands begin to quiver as tears begin to well up in his eyes. He places his hands at the side of the stool and grips on tightly as if he were going to be propelled into the air. A smattering of horns are heard in the distance, but the lonely chill of the townhouse shatters out the cacophonic world as Yale screams:
“How could you … you …? Fuck! How could you? You make a move and … and … and you fall over – and that’s it? This is how all our memories and love ends? In a flash you bitch! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuuuuuuuuuuuck!!! Yale shakes the stool from both sides as it tips over, sending Yale to the floor. He lifts the stool, and throws it into a mirror, making a thousand pieces of it. He slams the walls with open palms, “Cunt, fuck, cunt, fuck, cunt, fuck, motherfucker!!!” Yale kicks the wall, then crumbles against it, face buried in his open hands. His tears and runny nose garble his words: “You would just never listen … to me, to anyone … you just couldn’t live right …”


Yale walks carefully down the steps of his brownstone carrying a huge box of stuffed gorillas: amusement park gorillas, raffle-winning gorillas, Build-A-Bear gorillas, you name it, all of different shapes and sizes. With one heave, Yale tosses the lot of them into a colossal, metal garbage bin parked outside, bursting with furniture, paintings, rugs, household appliances and memories. Yale steps up onto the bin and looks inside, giving everything lying in there one last look over. There is nothing worth saving anymore. He steps back down and brushes the dust of his golf shirt and khaki pants. He doesn’t know what to do, other than walk. His mind is refusing to think. Has no need to think. He feels like walking as if a small child controlled his movements, as if he were a battery-operated toy. He walks into a Catholic Church. Like so many times before, he’s hoping for something, an answer, an epiphany. Unloading a stack of change, Yale lights every votive candle available in the vestibule. Above the bank of candles is a statue of Mary. Mary and Yale share a solemn look.
A porter with a walrus mustache and a broom stands behind both of them. “What, you trying to burn the whole church down?” says the porter with a chuckle.
Yale turns morosely to the porter. “No,” he replies, and saunters off into Nave.
Walking down a side aisle, past grayness, stone and maroon pews, Yale turns his collar up and stares at the Stations of the Cross. The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls For The Third Time. Yale considers himself lucky as he looks up at the picture of the suffering Christ. Technically he has only fallen this one time. Losing some pets and relatives he didn’t care for all that much could hardly be called a “fall.” Poor Jesus Christ, Yale contemplates, as he walks past the alter, choosing the closest pew. Yale sits for some time – staring straight ahead toward the alter, toward the Presider’s Chair. After a time he gets the attention of the porter, who stairs at Yale from behind a stone column. Feeling nothing but a chill, Yale gets up and walks out of the church, all the candles in the vestibule having been extinguished with his passing.
Yale lets the street lights guide him through an aimless walk, still feeling nothing, yet seeing images of Margo painting her toenails and making toast. Everyday stuff performed by a being like no other, a being that will never grace the face of the earth again. One foot in front of the other without so much as a plan. Margo is gone. That quick. Without a warning or preparation. All the clich├ęs you can think of are just that until the hot spotlight shines on you something fierce. Most of the time it’s just news on television, and you manage to avoid it, but eventually - it catches up with you. Yale was not prepared. Yale’s ego supplied a most beautiful distraction all these years. Now he couldn’t find his ego with a GPS system. All this time – wasted. Why couldn’t he prepare for this moment? Why had he thought, like so many, that he was invincible, that this day would come – but not now.
The frustration and pain is funneling to the top of his head like a tornado as he drops to the concrete floor, writhing in anguish – shaking, convulsing, cheeks blowing in and out, in and out. Beating his face and torso with closed fists, he churns across the cold pavement, passersby stepping out of the way, scurrying away, avoiding this person’s pain with indifference germane to city existence. A patrolman’s car pulls up onto the sidewalk just in front of Yale. Cops approach Yale carefully, hands hovering over their steel.


A mental health professional sits across from Yale, assessing his situation. The room is quite sterile accept for the framed family portraits resting next to an outdated computer atop a beaten up desk. Yale is slumped, tired, bored.
“Are you taking any anti-depressant medications?”
“Have you ever stayed at a mental facility for any length of time?”
“Have you ever been arrested?”
Yale pauses.
“Have you ever contemplated suicide?”
“Have you ever thought of killing someone else?”
“What are you feeling at this present time?”
“I said ‘What are you feeling at this time?’”
“I said ‘no’.”
“Okay … why no?”
Yale pauses again.
The mental health professional sighs and takes some notes while looking over her paperwork. She loves what she does, but assholes like this test her patience.
“Your social security number?”
“No, no, no, dash, no, no, dash, no, no, no.”


Yale is on the telephone. The townhouse is almost completely empty, save for a few pieces of furniture purchased by the new owners.
“Yes, I have it,” Yale says. “I am looking to arrive tomorrow morning. I’m still not certain how long I’ll be staying. The journey is … shall we say… uncertain …” Yale shakes his head, looking up to the ceiling, a hint of a smile – his first. “Thank you very much. I look forward to meeting you.”
Yale walks to the center of the main room, hands comfortably inside the pockets of his drawstring, khaki pants. He gets one more sniff, one more sensory perception of the place. An overstuffed camping backpack awaits his attention.


Yale sits on some rocks at the base of the East River, on the Brooklyn side, Manhattan Bridge overlooking him. He removes the clear, plastic baggy of fine, powdery, gray substance he had in the kitchen. He sticks his nose to the mouth of the baggy and sniffs; then turning the bag upside down, he empties the powder into the river. Yale scrunches up his knees and takes them around with his arms, crying, watching the swirl of powder as it shines against the lights of the bridge.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Five Word Festival

Inspired by Six Word Theater

Boy touches girl. Girl leaves.

Boy touches girl. Girl comes.

Boy touches girl. Girl Bleeds.

Boy touches girl. Girl laughs.

Boy touches girl. Girl's 'it'.

-Peter Rinaldi

Monday, August 10, 2009

Julie & Julia by Frank Palmcoast

When he's not watching, with beads of sweat, his fellow, legally blind, senior citizens parallel park, Frank Palmcoast is catching seven dollar movies at the local multiplex from sunny Pompano Beach, Florida. He's retired, he's angry at the world, he can't spell to save his life, and he hates Hollywood almost as much as Hillary Clinton, but that will not stop our irreverent, dementia fightin', AARP card carrying everyman from giving us a fresh take on all things Hollyweird. Besides, how can he pass up that marvelous senior citizen discount?


Julie and Julia withstand the heat of Palmcoasts' kitchen?


This flick is about two chicks with similar sounding names doing food. Just note how desperate Palmcoast is, having to see Julia Child's bio. Honestly, I had two selfish reasons in seeing Julie & Julia, one, I have often enjoyed Beef Bourguignon and secondly, I have the utmost hopes that this will inspire Mrs. Palmcoast to new culinary heights. This movie is charming and brought to life by the shear genius of Meryl Streep and it sure takes a professional to play a professional. Pardon me, but Streep looks a lot like Susan Boyle when she's done up like Julia Child. Tucci, Julia's husband, is brilliant and for me, one of the best character actors Hollyweird has to offer. Upon seeing this movie, I suspect many will go out and buy a cookbook and I hope my wife is one. Hollyweird had to get political with the line"If I were a Republican, I would have fired you" and all the uunnecessarytalk about McCarthyism. I was happy to see that all the sex was confined to marriage. Over all a well cooked meal and when the movie was over we all had a tremendous appetite for something to eat. Bon Apetit!
The Palmcoast

Thursday, August 6, 2009


-Was "away" for a while. Sometimes that is not a bad thing.

-Funny People should've been called "Slightly amusing 2-dimensionals".

-In the new book Action!: Interviews with directors from classic Hollywood to Contemporary Iran, regarding Manderlay, Lars Von Trier says:

"If I were to criticize this film, it is that it is too smart. Story-wise everything fits too well. It's superficial in that sense. I blame myself for doing things for the smartness of it, instead of for what I really feel. It's not the kind of director I want to be."

He may have touched on something I was having such a hard time articulating lately.
Most modern filmmakers wouldn't beat themselves up for doing something for the "smartness of it". If anything, they would be proud of it. As a result, we have superficial "smartness". I would rather see failed sentiment. But for some odd reason, "smartness" is often knee-jerkingly championed. We need to demand more from our artists.

-Bujalski's Beeswax opens at Film Forum Friday. Let's hope he continues his careering away from "smartness".

-Peter Rinaldi