Thursday, December 31, 2009

SIN-E-FILE (Remembering the 00s)

Gotta get it in.

As the seconds literally tick away on 2009, I am realizing that the best film I have seen this decade is one that came out just as the decade was beginning, but which I just viewed two months ago on DVD - Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies (2000). I watched it hot on the heels of, by far, the most significant movie going experience of my entire life- Tarr's Satantango at MoMA. Am I just hot for this guy or is he really THAT good? Let me put it this way: First there was Griffith (birth) then there was Godard (change) now there's Tarr. Everything else is, more or less, by- product.

I have no desire to own these two films on DVD, nor will I watch them again in that format. The state of Tarr's art relies heavily on immersion, and, generally, that simply cannot fully happen right now in my "home theater". So, as a result, I think it wouldn't be exaggerating to say that I actually haven't really seen Werckmeister Harmonies. And I won't until I do on a big screen. Rather than suffering through a series of bumbling words written in an attempt to describe why this film is great, just trust me and go see it when it comes back around (Which it does). I will let you know when it comes.

There is another film that I watched 6 times on the big screen, and just because it came from a relatively large studio and has Hollywood stars in it, that doesn't diminish my appreciation for the work that is done in it and the totally satisfying experience that was created. I am speaking of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This is one of the only films that I can share an affinity for with large numbers of the Hollywood movie-going audience. This makes me happy. I don't really know why. Charlie Kaufman gets my vote for the CineMan of the Decade.

But really, this was the decade of the small film, the personal film, the "no money" film; films that come entirely from one brain or that are pretty much made entirely by one person. Coppola's "fat little girl in Ohio" vision has really come true. Here is a short list of some titles to discover or remember when everyone else is talking about Avatar. Spread the word about these significant motion pictures. Feel free to add to the list.

(in no particular order)
-I am a Sex Addict
-Dear Zachary (A Letter to a son about his father)
-The Windmill Movie
-Quiet City
-The Brown Bunny
-The Cats of Mirikitani
-Funny Ha Ha

-Peter Rinaldi

Bedbugs C

Bedbugs C

Click here for an explanation of how Bedbugs is created.

Click here for the previous Bedbugs.

It's come down to this in time made troublesome
by our own hands and minds. Fighting inside
the maelstrom again, raging and stunned by
a charred, flourescent-lit future of potentials
unwanted by on a cold day in March I'm
reminded of the best and worst kinds of love.
Not as a concept but something out of the
stories and real, if temporary. As she throws
sticks I smiled, delaying the inevitable.
Then she was gone. But the best and worst of
trying and joyous times still represented one thing:
the music in the basement- is the language of
spies, and, forcing clear thought, everyone
realizes it's a welcome distraction but a
distraction nonetheless. Too deep under
bridges lay my ambition. Layers of regret
grown on one's face like moldy beards.
But in a nanosecond of clarity allowed,
green ribbons notwithstanding, I
decide the house and record cannot hurt
me without my consent.

I sit down and create. Undistracted. Noises
ignored. Friendship and romance delayed. And
things get done. Ideas bloom. She wanted
to be in the mountains, one day I hope to
find her again- but a complete being
this time. Daily I force the footwork
until it sprouts other ideas, and...
MOTIVATION. Doing the creative work,
truly, prioritized, turned off the phonograph. I don't
even know where it is. It could return at
anytime but I do not let it. I'm young again.
A blank page before me will soon be filled-
with what? Doesn't matter. What I forgot
to say was....

-Adam Barnick

100 chapters completed

The end.

Better Living Through Absurdity -The Ass End of Asinine

So the year is coming to a close. In a matter of hours, 2009 will be over and 2010 ushered in. And for my part, all I can say is, thank god. What a shit fucking year. I can't recall when I've felt so tired just from contemplating all that happened in a year...but when I mentally review this one, I just want to stop every few seconds to reach for a bottle of bourbon and a tally sheet. The "pro's" column looks decidedly grim, I must say, though at least it isn't entirely empty. And of course with 2010 upon us, the glut of catastrophic doom-and-gloom prophecies regarding the year 2012, star of the blockbuster apocalyptic world-ending extravaganza of the same name, will begin to fall fast and heavy, though with less horrific appeal than acid rain, and far less amusement than frogs. When I hear about some of these things, I confess that a line from the song 'Dogma' by KMFDM pops into my head, "We all just want to die a little bit." While that may seem extreme, let's face it, if we're not currently embroiled in a conflict, we're making movies about being embroiled in conflicts. If said conflicts are of the standard man against bomb against man carrying bombs against robots with bombs against god against god with bombs against life against man kind of deal, well we then make movies about being embroiled in conflicts with aliens, murderous plants, zombies, redneck mutants, giant insects, irrational robots, aborted-then-reconstituted fetal tissue, rats and other vermin, people with an array of sports-themed masks, guys with Grim Reaper fetishes, hookers with cybernetic body parts, maleficent energy masses, conscious and bloodthirsty bodies of water, junkies, gamers, ravers, non-organic food products, religious organizations, elderly people with grudges and much, much more. I went to see the movie Paranormal Activity and what did I get as a bonus? A glut of trailers which were all for movies which pretty much spelled out "YOU ARE FUCKED." From post-apocalyptic fare like The Road, to alien abduction fodder like The Fourth Kind, (Close Encounters ripoff anyone?) to "We'sa all gonna die!" tripe like The Crazies (George Romero, can't you stop these people?) It seems that the more we're watching ourselves die in ever-complex and fantastical ways, the happier we are. If it isn't a probable scenario like bio-warfare or the wrath of global warming, it's a fantastical scenario like alien invasion or the wrath of god. (Yes, that was intentional.) I am including a trailer for a movie I happened to stumble upon...and I have to say -what seems initially like some new-fangled tween or teen movie like Harry Potter or Twilight, is actually a seriously creepy trailer in a lot of ways -take note of the creepy, midgety little scythe-wielding and masked about trauma-inducing!

So, in light of the coming darkness, I've taken a few moments to reflect on some of the more amusing aspects of this past year, culled as always (and perhaps alarmingly) from my personal life and experiences...

1. Things my mother says

My mother is a never-ending source of joy for me. Though we went through a really rough patch in our relationship, we weathered it and came out with a much better appreciation and understanding of each other -and a shared love for comic book and science fiction movies. My mother is known for saying bizarrely random or ridiculous things, immediately followed by laughter as she realizes what she's just uttered -here are a few examples:

"So did I tell you that someone left a monkey in the dishwasher and it died?"

"What are your thoughts on the original Nutty Professor movie with Jerry Lewis?"

Me: "I have some news that will make you happy -they just finished filming the Wolverine movie."
Mom: "Oooh really -what's it going to be called?!"
Me: "I don't know Mom -here's a hunch though, maybe...Wolverine?"

You see what I'm talking about. She is also known for sending me emails regarding parts of movies that she remembers and she's trying to figure out what they might be -here is an example of that:

Hi Therese,
Thanks for sending-my computer-dial up is soo sloow that I will have to open it at work!
Can you help me?
I am trying to remember the scene in the Harry Potter movie where Harry is in the house that I think was his parents and the wallpaper has faces in it and they talk and come to life-I think-do you remember that scene and what the wallpaper was saying?
Also, going back a little farther, do you remember the first or second (or 3rd) Harry Potter where the tree outside the school tries to capture Harry or maybe it is Hermoine?
And, another strange request-do you remember the movie-I think it is the Matrix but I am not sure, where, I think it is Neo wearing black is in a very modern apt and gets out of an elevator and the scene is a very modern-posh lobby?
Thanks so much!
Hope all is well!

For the record, I sent her a bunch of clips that were Matrix-related but she said none of them were right -apparently my sister eventually helped her figure it out so at least that part of her query was answered.

And, despite the fact that my mother isn't a big fan of extreme violence or gore or sex, (she was a little upset that District 9 wasn't what she expected,) after telling her about the movie Repo Men coming out, and saying it was something she probably wouldn't see, she asked me in a kind of quiet voice, "What's the name of it? I think I'll go see it." Yeah -my mom is going to go see Repo Men. Kick ass.

I am definitely looking forward to another year with my mom and hopefully to getting to see her more than I've been able to in the past -if anything, it always makes for a good story!

2. The year of the first date

I went on on more first dates (and subsequently, last dates) this year than I think I've ever been on. The result...nothing that could be called a 'relationship' but a good many anecdotes regarding the process. A few of the more notable ones are...

You know you're going to have an awesome evening when the sentence, "So my band has this song called 'Raging in Excrement' " comes out of your date's mouth.

Pre-empting the drowning of the shows up, hands me two bottles of wine, goes to put parking permit in his car, doesn't come back.

The inconsistency of such things as, "You're everything a man could want in a woman -beautiful, smart, sexy, funny, charming -just everything a man could ever ask for. And if you lost 20 lbs, you'd be everything I could ever want too."

And of course, the always appealing first-date line, meant to let you know that your date has more than just a friendly interest in you..."So, I say you take me back to my place and I can ram the shit out of your pussy. How's that sound?"

God only knows what awaits me next year -but if it's anything like 2009, I'll probably start hoping that the Mayan calendar prediction of doom might be off by a couple of years. Sometimes, I truly do feel that a natural disaster epic catastrophe would be preferable to continuing to slog through the plague-riddled, poxy whore of a minefield known as "dating."

3. Edumacation

So I graduated this month -I have an official degree and enough combined coursework to equal three degrees and two minors. I am pretty proud of this accomplishment and I'll be heading into a MA program in summer. But it does give one pause, when meeting with advisors, and after looking over all of your classes taken and credits earned, the best they can come up with is, "Well, it's a pity that all of your coursework seems to be in non-essential fields." Really? Really?! I'm willing to let Criminology pass (despite the consistency and inevitability of crime,) and Film (since I'm a film scholar and not a filmmaker) but since when is English is a non-essential field? ENGLISH? Non-essential?!?! In America? Land of the "speak our way or forever hold your peace?" English -the language we assume will magically be spoken to us no matter where we might venture in the world because after all, as any American can tell you, it's the only civilized language out there! I'd say English is definitely essential -at least for a few more years until all of our street signs and maps and textbooks and great works of literature can be rewritten in text-speak. I'm essential for a little bit longer, dammit!

I think the final blow to my literary soul was from my father, who has always been an avid reader and has always encouraged my habit -he informed me that he got a Kindle...a KINDLE. AN ELECTRONIC BOOK. A DIGI-BOOK. Fuck you, environmental conservationists -I want paper -I want rustling and the smell of glue and the acrid tang of ink and the ability to write notes in margins or stick notes in-between certain papers...I don't want to have to scroll down to hit an arrow key when I want to turn a page -I'm still traumatized by the death of my Speak 'n' Spell!! Unless you're doing a lot of traveling and don't want to pay for a tonnage of books, a Kindle is not necessary. Paper should not be relegated to just something we wipe our asses with. Cherish your books people -and every chance you get -steal from libraries.

So there you have it -just a little bit of a recap of things that happened this year. I have thought about making resolutions for the coming year but really, I dislike the pressure and the faux accountability and pseudo-good intentions that come with it -I might as well just say that I am resolved to make it through the year, with minimal property damage, no unwanted pregnancies, no shotgun weddings and no cannibalization of babies. Unless it's warranted.

I wish you all the best, and please - be safe if you are engaging in year-end celebrations, including parties, bar-hopping, concerts, coitus with unfamiliar people, coitus with familiar people, family gatherings, over-priced food offerings and all of those other things which seem like really awesome ideas when you're liquored up and the countdown has begun, but which, upon waking up in the new year, just seem like a really horrible way to kick things off. Think twice...think once more for good measure -and then, make sure you've got enough money to post bail.

As for me...I'm spending a quiet night in with the kitties, movies, coffee and popcorn...while I wait eagerly for January 22nd, when Legion comes out and I can watch the world get god-fucked by a horde of angels who are after a pregnant chick guarded by Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, some underwear model guy and a hell of a lot of illicitly-procured firearms. Nothing says "Welcome to a New Year!" like the age-old struggle of good versus evil at a roadside diner in the middle of a desert with a demented ice cream man and an artery-chomping grandmother!


Bedbugs XCVIX

Bedbugs XCVIX

Click here for an explanation of how Bedbugs is created.

Click here for the previous Bedbugs.

Working out the wickedness and black stains on
all our souls we keep from country and tell them
what happens on the next page, higher ups! They'd
panic less, if done! Time is so short..if you
decide it's that way. Isolated, so you don't have
to be. Go live your inauthentic gameplan you ordered
out of a catalog. She stopped caring who I am years
ago and I let it take years of love, of discovery,
of pages filled with words of knowledge and perfect..
whatever. Focus. The music won't go away, staying
up late to watch life unravel won't help. Just ignore
what you hear and sit at the desk daily and
fill pages. This is it. This can fix things.
I whisper to an office cellmate and we do.
The next day, the world is in color. Fantastic, pain-free
plans for all of us sounds like the right idea. Just
do the brave footwork others refuse. This may be it..
but when I wake upon day 3, I'm in a basement
from years ago. The record's there, not playing anything.
Swatting nails into your emotional patchwork as it
mesmerises and distracts others who are trapped here. Eager
doctors and needles are waiting. What do we
do? How to we..they're taking over, my hand starts
straining and the creative urge is sifting away..this
is almost the end..

The last chapter's seven phrases/groups of words:

-On a cold day in March
-as shethrows sticks
-is the language of spies
-too deep under bridges
-green ribbons
-she wanted to be in the mountains
-what I forgot to say was...


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

MMIX (The Greater Good)

Found Footage
No Sound
Goodbye you decade from hell.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bedbugs XCVIII

Bedbugs XCVIII

Click here for an explanation of how Bedbugs is created.

Click here for the previous Bedbugs.

Simultaneously gaining and losing
strength but I'll lose in the end
bat a second glance at a past failure
and you're done, kid. Intensity wings
strapped on back as a miscalculation
she should have been more sanitary get out
of my mind! Find out where I can and
how to get back on track with lives and
history and elements that could maybe
wipe out this horrible lonely place I'm growing
old in. Professional victims watch ticking
clocks while trying to drive and look back
simultaneously. Knowing feelings remain
won't five and two make disorientation.
Lie down but not for long. The song plays in
the basement but I know how to ignore it!
I think. Help me be my true self,
somebody! Are they becoming free?

Next chapter's seven phrases/groups of words:

-tell them what happens on the next page
-isolated, so you don't have to be
-she stopped caring who I am years ago
-staying up late to watch
-fantastic pain-free plans for all of us
-swatting nails into your emotional
-this is almost the end


Monday, December 28, 2009

Bedbugs XCVII

Bedbugs XCVII

Click here for an explanation of how Bedbugs is created.

Click here for the previous Bedbugs.

Coming to consciousness faster than ever
before as someone raises the world volume to
try and defeat me. Tell me your name once
more- probably rhymed with apathy. Step away.
Met her when she was 8. How old was I?
Will they even recognize me? They have been successful
for a long time. I tried but did not try enough.
Inspiration returns as I swim to the surface.
Future can be bright.. snapping sounds
in one's head. Try to focus. Self loathing
friends yearn to dish distracting advice.
Vision blurs a bit. Now what? Tell me who
are all of you?

Next chapter's seven phrases/groups of words:

-bat a second glance
-wings strapped on back
-she should have been more sanitary
-professional victims
-knowing feelings remain
-five and two make
-are they becoming free?



2. On and On and On

An "Arlo" Story

by Brian Hughes

It’s a brisk and clear winter’s evening in New York City. Patients are being picked up and dropped off in wheel chairs outside New York Presbyterian Hospital. A man of slight build, unkempt black hair and bushy dark beard, sits on a bench just outside the main entrance – sobbing. This man of thirty years is Arlo. He rests his head in his two hands, and with elbows resting on his knees, lets the tears flow; with shoulders bouncing up and down, Arlo tries to catch his breath as passersby gawk; and just when Arlo thinks he has pushed out his last tear, more come – unexpectedly.
The scene keeps playing itself over and over again in his mind: how many times did his mother-in-law say it, with that winning smirk:
“It doesn’t matter … because if something happened to Noa, that would be the end of me Arlo. You wouldn’t have to worry about taking care of me. I’d swallow all the pills down right away.”
“Mom! Stop that! You’re nuts,” he remembers Noa saying, in what seems like a film of someone else’s life; because what is happening right now, this suffering, can’t really be happening.


Some of the best times he and Noa shared together were the glorious days of nothingness in their spacious one bedroom apartment. Arlo thrived on doing nothing; it was a trait he took advantage of and deplored in himself.
Waking up, they would stay in bed a little longer, dreaming about the children they hoped to have, volleying possible names back and forth:
“I’ve always loved ‘Hayden’ as a boy or girl name: What do you think of it?” Noa asks, as Arlo happily rubs a callous spot on the bottom of her foot – a spot that – when scratched – brings her enormous pleasure.
“I see Hayden as a girl’s name … it’s feminine. I just don’t see it as a boy’s name. ‘Hank’ – now that is a masculine name! That is one tough son-of-a-bitch.”
“Sounds like he spends his days hugging a beer in some dive bar. Awful. I should cut my hair: Is it getting too long?”
“No – it looks fabulous, what are you talking about?” Arlo says as her runs both his hands through.
“Shit – we have to pay bills tonight Sleepy.”
Noa called Arlo “Sleepy;” it was her nickname for him. Noa playfully envied Arlo’s ability to go to sleep at the drop of a dime – anytime, any place - while Noa fractured her sleep, mostly getting up to pee three or four times each morning.
Noa and Arlo are lying side by side, holding hands and staring at the ceiling as if it were a canvas in which they could paint their hopes. Arlo happily admits to himself that it feels good to finally feel like an adult when it came to his finances, his new friendships, his job, and especially his soul; it was a long time coming, and Arlo feels it’s finally okay to feel good about it – to bask in it’s well earned glory.
“You’ve done this for me, Noa. Since I have met you, I feel as if the shackles of bachelor-hood, of fear, have been blown right off. I look forward to fatherhood, to the challenges, and I look forward to sharing them with you.”
“Aw … Sleepy …”
Arlo feels child-like, hugging Noa a little further down, snuggled inside her, her arms around his shoulders. There is a security of content there he has never quite enjoyed nor known before.
“What are we going to do today?” Noa asks.
“You mean other than bills?”
“Well, yeah …”
“Absolutely nothing of consequence. We should just stay in, order in, the weather is shitty, watch a DVD, play backgammon, do some reading, catch up on some shit – you know, all of that: What about it? Does that sit well?”
“That sounds wonderful.”
There is a lot Arlo has to do. He desperately needs to catch up on some writing, clean up the bathroom, do the laundry; but after all the years of doing nothing and feeling guilty about it, there is very little guilt now, for in these moments in time, he is sharing the nothing with someone special.


Karen, Noa’s sister, is sitting at her mom’s hospital bedside, as Arlo enters the room. The onslaught of tears have washed the makeup from her wrinkled face. Both sets of eyes are red and swollen. Arlo stands against the wall, one sweatpant leg crossed in front of the other, staring at his mother-in-law, as she fights each breath. Neither acknowledges the other visually.
“Doesn’t she love me? Am I not worth living for?” Karen just stares hard at her mom, who has all sorts of tubes coming out of her. “She has grandchildren who want her in their lives and she goes and swallows these pills ; am I supposed to lose a sister and a mom?” Karen starts to sob, clutching to her damp handkerchief. Arlo embraces her around the shoulders. “What are we going to do without Noa? What are we going to do, Arlo? It’s so painful. I never imagined my baby sister would go before me - and with all my health issues. Why Noa? Why? Why? Why? Why?” Karen buries her face in Arlo’s tan corduroy jacket.
“I can’t think - my mind is just blank. I never realized life could be this sad. I don’t know what I’m going to do without Noa either,” Arlo says, unable to hold back his tears. “I waited so long to find her and she is gone like that. I don’t know what I’m going to do, I just don’t know what I am going to do,” Arlo says, energy fully depleted. Tank empty and gone, caressing Karen’s head.
“It’s not fair, I want her back. I want my sister back. It’s not fair…”
“It isn’t, I want her back to. It’s so painful.”
Arlo kneels down and embraces his sister-in-law, both breaking down, as machines click and beep and a game show host dole out the prizes on a small television hanging off the wall.


An 80s station is playing some classic tunes. Arlo sits on the floor in front of the couch – staring off – sobbing, sniffling, snot pouring forth. He wipes his face and nose on his t-shirt. He doesn’t give a rats’ ass about anything right now. Nothing gets in the way of the overwhelming numbness of loss: late bills can’t disturb it, his passion to finish his book is as helpful as used toilet paper; not even music, a faithful brother to Arlo in distressed times his whole life, can ease the ache that pains his heart.
The phone rings – threatening to wake him to his present reality – but he wants nothing of it, throwing a shoe and knocking it from the stand. Fuck the phone. Fuck everyone. Death to everyone! Arlo does not care anymore - for Noa is gone. He is having trouble remembering all the times they shared together, many joyous occasions; the specifics, the particulars, have faded, and this angers him – punching the rug with his fist.
“There will never, ever be anything like Noa Needleman. She will not grace this earth again and I can’t bare it. It was all so original. How her unique quirkiness brightened up the room. Man … so many people loved her. So many. All of them are in pain tonight, but not like my pain. It could never be like my pain."


Noa is sitting on the floor of their dining room, in her favorite pajamas, sorting through milk crates of presents from her “gift closet.”
“When are you going to stop buying presents for people? At some point, I think, you have to start giving them out,” Arlo says. “There is actual dust on them.”
“I know … I know … I have a problem,” Noa says with a smile, “whenever I see a cheapy gift that I know suits one of my friends, I have to pick it up for them.”
“Then you forget you have them!”
“I know! I’m such a spaz!”
“You’re my spaz, and I wouldn’t want you any other way,” Arlo says as he gets down on the floor and hugs her around, giving her a gentle kiss on the forehead.”
“Thank you Sleepy.”
“I can’t keep from kissing you, especially in those precious pajama’s of yours.”
“A elf came up to me today and said that you were going to rub my feet tonight; is that true?”
“That elf must be reading my mail.”
Noa gives a big, goofy smile – the one Arlo fell in love with at The Bowery Ballroom three years back.
“Yes of course I will rub your cute little feet, Arlo says”
Noa applauds rapidly and smiles.


Rabbi Ableman talks from his desk at The Little Israel Synagogue:
“The Jewish way of dealing with death is one part of a larger philosophy of life in which all persons are viewed with dignity and respect. Our people believe that, even after death, the body, which once held a holy human life, retains its sanctity. Our sages have compared the sacredness of the deceased to that of an impaired Torah scroll which, although no longer useable, retains its holiness. In Jewish tradition, therefore, the greatest consideration and respect are accorded the dead. Jewish funerals avoid ostentation; family and visitors reflect in dress and deportment the solemnity of the occasion; flowers and music are inappropriate; embalming and viewing are avoided; and interment takes place as soon as possible after death.”
“So what you are saying is that I can’t bury her with her favorite stuffed animal and with her favorite sweater, and her two favorite albums and..” Arlo begins to become fraught.
“Calm down, Arlo …” Karen says.
“Jewish law prescribes burial in plain white shrouds to demonstrate the equality of all.”
“Noa, as far as I’m concerned, was not equaled with anyone. She was completely and entirely individual, and the world will never see her like again!”
“We accept our equality and humility in the face of death. Thus, we avoid ostentation and adhere to the same simplicity and dignity for the rich and the poor, the influential and the powerless, the famous and the little known. We face death without masquerade son. The hallmark of our practice is dust to dust.”
“Please don’t make this more difficult than it is, Arlo,” Karen says.
“Then why don’t we cremate her.”
“Bite your tongue!” replies Karen.
“It is against Jewish custom to desecrate the body,” the Rabbi says. |
“But what if I have it in writing that she wants to be cremated?”
“She never said she wanted to be cremated! Stop this right now Arlo! We are having a traditional, Jewish burial and that is it.”
“When was the last time you were in a synagogue? Huh? In all the time I was married with Noa, the only time she went to temple was because of circumstances that were not her own. This whole thing is a sham. No one in your immediate family is religious.”
“Rabbi, would you please excuse us.”
“I hope you’re not planning on burying her on Long Island. I strictly forbid it! Noa despised Long Island.”
Karen and Arlo storm out onto the sidewalk.
“Why are you being a pain in the ass? Aren’t we suffering enough?”
“I don’t want to disrespect Noa. She wanted to be cremated …”
“It’s not happening Arlo – get it out of your mind.”
“I will find it, and if she has it in writing, you won’t have a leg to stand on. A leg to stand on!”
“Aren’t we in enough pain? Are you paying for all of this? Who is?”
“I have Noa’s bank account and I can pay for it all myself.”
“Arlo, be reasonable. Noa was bot mitzvah’d. She wanted to put your kids through Hebrew school. She has a strong Jewish side and it will not be denied.”
“I will find it in writing. I will find where she wrote it down. I will.”
“You’re a shit, you know that? A real shit.”
Karen briskly walks back into the synagogue.
“I can’t do this. I can’t make it. I can’t go on without Noa. I can’t. I don’t have the strength,” Arlo says as he crouches at curbside and begins crying.


Arlo walks into their apartment and drops his bag. The welcoming lights of the apartment house across the way beckons him. He keeps the lights killed. Grabbing his binoculars out of the dresser drawer, he zeros in on some locals, carrying on with their lives. I doubt any of these people are suffering through the pain I am right now, while they read their books and do dishes and fumble through laundry bags. I could really use a pair of tits right now. I need a woman to come out of a bathroom completely naked, thinks Arlo as he passes from one window to the next with his voyeur glasses. I will stand here, I will wait, for I have nothing to do, and I have nowhere to go. I am here, with nothing to do, with nothing to love, with nothing to receive love. I am an empty, full-bodied vacuum waiting on you to show me your fucking goods. Come out now, out of your bathrooms, out of your bedrooms, and expose your flesh to me. The real me is the me standing before this window, clutching his cock, waiting for you to disrobe before my binocular eyes.
And then the voice on top of the voice says: how can you engage in this mindless, callous activity, when you have suffered an unspeakable loss? Have you no soul? Arlo drops the binoculars at his side and clutches his face with his hands; a guttural yell follows as he drops his body onto the couch.
The apartment, every corner, contains a memory, a story, every frame and hook: There is the framed Ketubah commemorating their blessed wedding, the tall cd tower from which they plucked the music that soundtracked their lives together; and the tiny, Fisher Price figures created to look exactly like Robert Smith and The Cure, along with the unstable banister that Arlo was just too lazy to fix. I don’t want anything to do with a funeral, with anything, with anything at all. I just want to go, leave – be where no one knows my pain, where I can perhaps start over. How can I start over? She has sustained me and now she is gone. What am I to do? What? Arlo clutches the throw pillow to his face, dampening it with his tears. I have to find where she wrote about being cremated. Yes. I have to do that, there is no time left.
Arlo begins with the small alcove that acted as her home office: spiral notebooks and folders containing receipts, bill stubs, newspaper clippings; Arlo looks through them all, flipping page after page, scanning – nothing. He lifts up pads, looking behind books, sifting through post it notes attached to the wall – nowhere. He turns, feels for his chin, and remembers the lock box she had. He is sure her wishes are stowed away in that little metal box, but where is it? Arlo looks under the bed first, knowing full well it would never be under there. He snatches the step stool and climbs up into the upper shelves of her clothes closet, pushing and parting t-shirts with his hands – scouring behind Noa’s fetish for shoe boots.
I don’t want to be near anyone I know; I know that is selfish, but my heart hurts so bad, that I just want to be in a room alone for as long as it takes – like a withdrawal. I keep playing in my head the moments when she knew she was going to die, that I couldn’t be there to protect her, to hold her, die for her, with her. I don’t know how I am going to deal with me being alive and Noa not being alive. I don’t believe I have the courage to kill myself – maybe. It’s so painful. I just feel as if I’ve been squeezed into this tiny cage of pain, unable to move my arms or legs. I don’t know what to do. I weep openly in public; it is uncontrollable.
And everything is happening so fast – so fucking fast! A few days ago we were talking about what we would name our children, and now I have no plans, no wife, no nothing at all. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone. I would rather slowly suffer on the electric chair than have to endure this.
Arlo pulls on the mattress and lets it slip to the carpet – nothing under there. Next the box spring, tearing into the fabric, he finds nothing inside, underneath or around it. He cries. He has destroyed the box spring. Now he has no bed. Great.
In the cupboards above the microwave, Arlo pulls down the can of peas, the boxes of pasta to get behind them, searching, the sauce shattering glass and red stuff on the linoleum: couscous thrown over his shoulder, and walnuts and vegetable oil. Nowhere in the cupboards does Arlo find a document stating Noa wanted to be cremated.
With a roar, and one arm, he lays to waste the dining room table, with its glass vase and dieing flowers, bills, dirty food plates and yellow stickies with important information scrawled all over. It’s over, nothing lasts, the fruit tree, the vase, Noa, nor the apartment. It all dies, it all suffers and hurts, and Arlo is going to have his physical say with whatever stands in his way.
Does it say anything about cremation on the orange plastic bottles in the medicine cabinet? No – well, trashed to the floor it goes. The toilet seat, the medicine cabinet, nor the mirror is spared Arlo’s brutality, as he smashes a bottle of perfume against it.
Taking a kitchen knife to the fluffy, forest-green couch, he searches the inner lining for his answer and comes up with nothing still.
And by the end of two hours, Arlo sits a defeated soul, bereft of Noa, yet left with all the materials of everyday life shattered and collapsed around him.


Mourners pay their respect by sitting Shiva with Arlo and the rest of he and Noa’s immediate family. They all eat solemnly, mirrors covered up - while Arlo stares off on autopilot, thanking mindlessly those whom have paid their call. He has no desire to head back to work, to be a “sad story” amongst his co-workers, friends and acquaintances. All he wants is to just be a satellite gliding through vast space, not stopping anywhere – circling, drifting. That is his only desire right now.
Maybe I have to go against my core beliefs, he thinks, watching mourners mourn, but not really mourning; perhaps I have to start believing in heaven. Maybe, just maybe it is true. Maybe I’ll see her again there.

Arlo finds himself standing upon the broken steps that lead to the gymnasium of his old Catholic grammar school. A graveled parking lot stretches out behind him. Blue, red and green lights shoot through the crack in the large, metal gym doors, as pop music thumps beyond. Opening the doors, Arlo finds a school social in full swing: seventh and eight graders dancing about, drinking punch, playing practical jokes on one another, and standing mystified before the DJ. Arlo walks the perimeter of the gym, just like he did in the old days – forever a wallflower. It doesn’t shock him at all that he’s walked right into his past, with Ronald Jefferies hanging out with Billy Taben, and the ever popular Jamie Reynolds dancing with sweet Clara Delfinio; and the hall monitors, who were probably mostly dead by now, watching over everything. Miss Scoyak is there – the first teacher Arlo was ever hot for. And the look on Arlo’s face is one of marvel, as he crosses his arms and stands in the shadow, watching all his old classmates dancing with goofy determination. And little Arlo, chubby and self conscious, hangs with a few of his other nervous buddies, happy not to get involved, yet deeply yearning to be popular, to be dancing with the cute girls. Arlo can hardly look at his younger version without squirming. What a site? But on this night, little Arlo will get his chance to be popular for just a little while.
Noa – in her ever graceful, adult form, walks to the center of the dance floor, arms outstretched – beckoning the young tyke to step forward. Little Arlo suddenly has very little fear, as he slowly saunters toward her arms. It’s impossible for little Arlo to envision anyone prettier in the whole entire world. With just a few feet between them, little Arlo leaps forward and allows himself to be enveloped by her comforting arms. A peaceful smile arises on Noa’s face, trying to hold back tears as she smooths the younger Arlo’s hair.
“It seems we stood and talked like this once before,” cries little Arlo.
“It’s going to be okay … shhhhh … it’s going to be okay, Arlo,” Noa says, little Arlo sniffling and squeezing and crying little tears. “You’ll be okay. It’s going to be fine. Shhhh.”
Arlo’s fellow students spread out, grab each other’s hands, and circle the couple, caroling them to a Neil Young ballad.

Read part 1 (a "Yale" Story) - Designed To Die here

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bedbugs XCVI

Bedbugs XCVI

Click here for an explanation of how Bedbugs is created.

Click here for the previous Bedbugs.

Fight it. You're so close to a simple truth uncovered.
Ignore what you hear and create your own stimuli.
Stuck in the mud today are most others- dizzy spells
begin if approached. Run! Anywhere!
The chain pointless junctures punctured like the rib
basement no longer houses the minds of men who are
able to turn away. Wind's picking up.
We're wasting and spanning time, in black and white
spinning wheels for years. Resist. Waiting for a
good line is no excuse! It's so cold..resist.
They look comfortable but they are not. The footwork.
That's it. All that can save you. That's it!
Challenges ahead? Welcomed.

Next chapter's seven phrases/groups of words:

-tell me your name once more
-met her when she was 8
-will they even recognize me?
-inspiration returns
-future can be bright
-self loathing friends
-who are all of you?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bedbugs XCV

Bedbugs XCV

Click here for an explanation of how Bedbugs is created.

Click here for the previous Bedbugs.

The voices told us sit back in our chairs,
everything would be all right. I do, this time.
Omnivores gather at dawn, my mind coughs out.
What was before seven? If we stay here, we die.
All now dead. Even the gibberish here is shallow. Aging
mentally when you say the word don't tell her you love
her again was the other thought I had upon waking.
Angering a false god is on the to-do list.
Will I ever get back where I wanted to be?
Will anyone consider walking that path
with me? Presented for your approval are my sins.
In just weeks- is that music I hear?

Next chapter's seven phrases/groups of words:

-stuck in the mud today
-pointless junctures
-basement no longer houses the
-we're wasting and spanning time
-waiting for a good line
-the footwork. That's it.
-challenges ahead? Welcomed.


Five installments remain in the Bedbugs series,
which will end on New Year's Eve.

Bedbugs XCIV

Bedbugs XCIV

Click here for an explanation of how Bedbugs is created.

Click here for the previous Bedbugs.

Help me get back on track! Why do I need help?
Nobody owes me and my mind, nobody can
stop it, I'm told and it's long overdue. Try to
stay on the road, where's my cut of the income?
Propelled to the a force to behold on stage blasts
through layers of flesh and regret and we have the
proper image now, like it or not. It's in sight.
The horizon-overcast inside, twice if not a million
times. Adjust thought if needed, encouraged. We
are lost again. She doesn't mind. I'm anxious. Now what?
Don't let them hurt you again. Exorcise what's ailing you.
Simple solution? One hopes and prays. No matter what so
very soon now, it ends.

Next chapter's seven phrases/groups of words:

-omnivores gather at dawn
-if we stay here we die

-aging mentally when you say the word
-don't tell her you love her again
-angering a false god
-presented for your approval
-is that music I hear?


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Better Living Through Absurdity...After the Hiatus of the Ridiculous

Like pancakes when you wanted a steak...I happen when you least expect it. Or something.

So, you know how people get drunk and they call friends or former lovers - or friends that they wish were former lovers, or those numbers that are in their phone with names that sound vaguely like former friends, lovers, former friends of lovers or that person they met that one time at that one party that they think was kind of cute and they kind of seemed into them but they can't really peg who they are or why they are even in their phone or if in fact they are a real person and not a figment of bathroom stall fantasies -anyway, they call at really inappropriate times like 3am, and they say really inappropriate things that you always kind of knew they thought but never wanted to hear voiced out loud? And they ask you questions that they answer themselves or that don't even have answers or that you wouldn't ever want to answer because you know it's a horrible trap. And they ask you why, you know, you and they, you know, never, you know, you know, right? And then they manage to simultaneously give you a backhanded compliment and a thinly veiled insult at the same time, and at some point they also call your taste in other people into question, while lamenting the fact that all of the people they've hooked up with are crazy, inadequate, poor, crazy, slaggish, inadequate, crazy, and to quote, "fuckin' whack." And throughout this debacle of a confession, their voice slowly begins to turn mushy, like a marshmallow melting over an open flame, a gooey, saccharine mess of ick that you just want to escape from but it's clinging to you like it's going to embed itself in your pores and worm its way into your marrow and slowly take over your soul, and this is when the "I love you's" start...or, if they're being honest, the, "I really just want to fuck SOMEBODY because I'm drunk and feeling inadequate and crazy and poor and crazy and you were the fifth person I called but the first two don't count because I'm not gay and anyway, I thought of you first but it's not my fault your last name starts with a B, and really isn't the point that you're awake and I'm awake and I'm too drunk to do anything but lie here and drool on my phone in the hopes that you'll get out of bed and come over to my apartment that I share with four other people who probably like you more than they like me, and you'll take me in your arms and tell me I'm the best ever and you'll ignore the smell of stale macaroni, wilted bouquets and wet paper, and we'll go on the tilt-a-whirl and eat cotton candy and...hey who's this sexy lady telling me I need to hang up and dial an operator? Why would I want to call anyone else when I could listen to her dulcet tones informing me that I've totally made an ass of myself, been rejected and I'm too imbecilic to figure it out, but in such a soothing and pleasant way, that the sting of having my 3am attempt for sub-par pseudo sex declined for the fifth time, is erased, leaving a contented blur of operator-lady-induced-euphoria in its wake.

Those people.

I don't do that.

I get jacked up on cold medicine and go without sleep for 24 hours and lose my voice and THEN I call friends at the perfectly respectable time of 10:30am and I tell them how I know I'm sick, namely because it's 23 degrees and snowing and I think it feels like a balmy spring day, and the fact that I looked at my cat and said, "It's okay, Mommy's just a bit 'wooOOOoooo'" while twirling my finger around, and the fact that I walk around the house asking myself questions and I answer all of them with, "'Ave a banana." And that I just wanted to share this part of myself with them, the sick, vulnerable, creaking and borderline homicidal part of me that sounds like aliens came down and ripped out my voice and my dignity and left behind something that sounds like a rusted tin can, a burning orphanage, a piece of corrugated cardboard soaked in turpentine, a bag of hot nickels and a bottle of bottom shelf rum that even the poxiest of dockside whores would say tastes like swill, along with the remnants of a really bad acid trip, Andy Warhol and Diane Sawyer's love child and rejects from a do-it-yourself taxidermy project...because I LOVE them, and I wanted them to know. And I also hope that they remembered to pick up laundry detergent at the store. And then, in a sad, weary tone, I close with the frank and honest admittance that I'm not fit for human conversation. Or consumption. Possibly contortion. And as I say goodbye, with a bit of wonder in my voice I inform them that my fever has broken.

This way -I can totally look them in the eye the next time we meet. Which will be probably a year or more from now, maybe never, since I'm not so jacked up that I didn't remember to call people who are at least a 5 hour plane flight away from me!

(sorry Adam)