2012 At the Movies

Logan Theater

After seeing only two movies in the theater last year, I resolved to see at least one movie per month in 2012. We’re halfway through the year, and I’ve seen ten, the majority of which were at gloriously restored or gloriously run down theaters like the Michigan or the Logan (pictured above and below). What have you seen?

  1. The Adventures of Tintin – I grew up reading the Tintin books, so I had high hopes and low expectations for the movie. The motion-capture was good enough that I forgot at times that I was watching an animated film.
  2. My Week With Marilyn – Jen and Phillipa and I saw this at a charmingly run-down theater in Encinitas. People were on the fence about Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, but I thought she was luminous.
  3. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Convoluted and slow-moving, but I’ve watched enough British TV that this didn’t really bother me. I loved the suiting. Also: does it ever get less awkward to watch movies with sex scenes on the big screen with your parents?
  4. The Artist – Lovely, but it took a long time for me to get hooked, which is kind of a problem at a silent film. Honestly, I’m not sure why it won Best Picture.
  5. The Skin I Live In – It’s been several years since I saw an Almodóvar film. I forgot how fucked up they frequently are.
  6. Joy Division – Dharma and I went to a screening of this documentary at the Michigan even though you can actually watch the full movie on Hulu. I loved the way they talked about how Joy Division’s music captured the sonic experience of life in Manchester. The documentary was paired with a remarkable new hand-colored restoration of Le voyage dans le lune which features a new score by the band Air.
  7. Shame – In case you were wondering, a movie about sex addiction isn’t the most uplifting thing to watch when you’re going through a break up and are already very emotionally fragile.
  8. The Cabin in the Woods – I don’t like scary movies, so I definitely wouldn’t have seen this one if it hadn’t been the only appealing option on a day when Michael and Tim and I needed a break from the unrelenting heat. I’m sure I didn’t get half of the references, but I really enjoyed it.
  9. Your Sister’s Sister – I identified with a lot of this movie, particularly the scene when Mark Duplass’s character smashes the shit out of his bike. Problematic, but worth seeing.
  10. The Hunger Games – I haven’t read the books (even though basically every other librarian in the world has), so I had no expectations and was consequently surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie and continued to think about it after. Carrie and I rode our bikes to and from the Logan Theatre for the movie. It was a perfect evening.

Logan Theater

Logan Theater Marquee

Logan Theater

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Around the Internets

First, proof that I did actually 1) bike to and from Logan Square in a skirt and heels and 2) lie down on the sidewalk to take a photo of the Logan Theatre marquee:

And second, some random places where my Flickr photos have turned up lately:

Good ol’ CC BY-NC-ND.

Ernest Hemingway on Letter-Writing

I picked up the first volume of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway after reading a fascinating piece in Vanity Fair about the challenges and sneakiness involved in retrieving Hemingway’s correspondence from his estate in Cuba. Depending on who you ask, at the time of his suicide either the Hemingway estate was given to the Cuban government, or the Cuban government seized the estate – either way, the net effect was that for the last fifty years, most people, including scholars, have had no idea what all was still there. This volume of previously unpublished letters is the first in a series of 15 that will be published over the next 20 years. I haven’t yet made it past the introduction, and already I’m in love:

In a 1950 letter to [F. Scott] Fitzgerald’s biographer, Hemingway recalled Ford Madox Ford’s advice that “a man should always write a letter thinking of how it would read to posterity.” He remarked, “This made such a bad impression on met that I burned every letter in the flat includeing Ford’s.” He continued:

Should you save the hulls a .50 cal shucks out for posterity? Save them. o.k. But they should be written or fired not for posterity but for the day and the hour and posterity will always look after herself . . . . I write letters because it is fun to get letters back. But not for posterity. What the hell is posterity anyway? It sounds as though it meant you were on your ass.

Worth reading: The Hunt for Hemingway – Vanity Fair, October 2011

Friend Feature: Karina L.

Do you see the gorgeous girl on my left?

That’s my girl, Karina, and my gorgeous date to New Wave Prom at Neo last week.

Karina’s also a force of nature, and one of the most amazing women I’ve had the privilege to know. I met her six years ago, when we were more likely to wear gowns like these:

Ms Karina

I know Karina from gyne instruction, and it’s safe to say that there’s no part of me that Karina hasn’t seen – and vice versa. Aside from the challenges and closeness inherent in this work, we also shared some beautifully intimate experiences during gyne instruction, and I’m so thankful to have had her having my back throughout my work with the program.

We parted ways when she moved to Vermont and I moved to DC, but remained correspondents and online friends, and have reconnected since my move to Chicago started to happen earlier this year. Karina is a tremendously wise, thoughtful, and intelligent woman – and she’s also a total knockout ball of energy on the dance floor. Every time I spend time with her, I come away with my spirits recharged and my heart and mind challenged.

Here’s looking at you, amazing girl. Thank you for being in my life.

My Hair in Curls: A Case Study

Subtitled: a bunch of hilarious photos of me for your Friday enjoyment

Like many babies of Western European persuasion, I was born with brown hair and bluish eyes. I didn’t have a whole lot of hair, but I was clearly my dad’s daughter:

By the time I was a year old, my hair was blonde-ish and curly, which would mark the last time I had anything resembling natural texture in my hair:

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It is also worth noting that if you tickle me now, 31 years later, I’ll likely still make that face, though I’ll also likely punch you.

My sister’s hair went through the same arc of blonde-curly-straight. Here we are circa 1986, all piled into Grandpa’s lap in his oversized naugahyde chair.

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I was not immune to the appeal of the 80s perm, though I’m not sure this photo captures the majesty of it – bangs AND a perm AND a hopelessly “timeless” dress at my aunt and uncle’s wedding:

Wedding photos

Apart from a brief Dorothy Hamill-esque cut, my hair remained long, thick, and straight until the late 90s. And I remained hopelessly unable to do anything with it, and so was subject to Mom’s best attempts at styling. Like this:

Glamorous 13

The sheer amount of hair also made those fancy up-dos that everyone else got for prom impractical on me. Mom set my hair in rollers, and this was all that remained of the curl within an hour, much less by the end of the night:

Prom

Man, I loved my prom dress. LOVED it. I’m still not sure why Dustin wore teal, though.

From 1997-2003, I was in a relationship with someone who insisted that my hair always be longer than his. It took 80 bobby pins to secure my hair for Mary’s wedding, and for Noelle’s, the sheer mass of my hair made me taller than the gentleman of the same height who escorted me down the aisle. When we broke up, I immediately chopped my hair short-short, then was too poor and inept to maintain it, which resulted in a year or two of experimenting with styles intended to keep my hair off the back of my neck, and that would occasionally result in lovely waves:

great hair

I was also swimming every day and riding my bike everywhere, resulting in lovely bleached-out streaks that I haven’t been able to replicate since. And then I chopped it off. Like, OFF. And kept it that way for four years:

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I’ve been growing it out for a while now, and this time around, I’m determined to actually learn how to do something with my hair. I bought rollers, and dammit, I’m learning how to use them. What I haven’t quite figured out is how to make the curls stay.

Exhibit A: Foam rollers that I wore out to breakfast and then for the entire five hour drive to Chicago for Keem and Paul’s wedding. The curls lasted through a museum visit, a shitty bar, the ceremony, dinner, and a lot of dancing. Total time: 6-8 hours.

Vintage E

Exhibit B: Foam rollers that I wore out to the store while prepping for my birthday party. The curls lasted through dinner, dancing at Innjoy, and part of the night at Neo. Total time: 4-5 hours.

Birthday Curls

Exhibit C: Hot sticks. The curls lasted through dinner, occupying the loft, and a super shitty bar experience. I have no idea how to use the hot sticks.

Exhibit D: Late evening foam rollers for my friend’s DJ night at Neo. Pinned-up curls lasted (well, sort of) til 2am on a very sweaty dance floor. Total time: 4 hours.

Pinup hair?

Exhibit E: Hot rollers for Annette’s birthday. Note that my hair looked AMAZING when I left the house, but that the curl was almost completely gone by the time I got to the train. Total time: about 10 minutes.

Monroe hair

Exhibit F: Hot rollers for the Panic! 6th anniversary. No photos, alas, so you’ll have to take my word that I set my hair for 20 minutes, then danced at Panic, slept on it, and still had texture and a little curl all the next (95 degree) day.

Exhibit G: Hot rollers for New Wave Prom at Neo. 10 minutes to heat the rollers, and 20 minutes in my hair between my house and Neo. Photos forthcoming, but curls lasted barely an hour on the sweaty dance floor.

So what have we learned here? I have no idea, but I was amused by pulling all of this together, and there are now naked photos of me on the internet.

2/3 Book Challenge: The Lifespan of a Fact

I’ve been holding off on writing about The Lifespan of a Fact until my new book club could discuss it – and also because I still have a lot of questions about the specific nature of the book.

Let me back up.

A couple of months ago, there were several interesting publishing stories in the news. Since I was ostensibly working for/with a publisher and since publishing was my dream job back in the day, these stories piqued my interest. First: the questions of intellectual property related to 50 Shades of Grey. Then Vanity Fair’s profile-cum-ebook on The Art of Fielding, both of which are on my To Read list. And finally, measuring truth versus fact in The Lifespan of a Fact.

The premise of The Lifespan of a Fact is this: in 2003, John D’Agata was commissioned to write an essay for Harper’s Magazine on the suicide of a teenager in Las Vegas. Jim Fingal was his fact-checker. The book presents the original essay, the verified and controverted facts, and a conversation between the two men spread over seven years as Fingal challenged the veracity of D’Agata’s work, and D’Agata in turn challenged the legitimacy of Fingal’s complaints.

The format of the book made knowing how to read it challenging. The original essay is in a square in the center of each page, with the fact-checking surrounding it in black (verified) and red (challenged). Fingal and D’Agata’s conversation follows in the appropriate color. I originally started reading the essay straight through, then cycling back to the beginning of each chapter to read the fact-checking, but eventually got into a flow of reading the two simultaneously, laughing out loud at the absurd things Fingal found to challenge:

“…archaeologists unearthed parts of the world’s oldest bottle of Tabasco-brand sauce from underneath a bar called Buckets of Blood…” Factual Dispute: This happened on June 28, 2002, fifteen days before Levi Presley killed himself, so it wasn’t discovered the same day he died. In addition, the bottle was discovered in Virginia City, which is 20 miles southeast of Reno – about 450 miles away from Las Vegas. So the relevance of this bottle’s discovery to Las Vegas is a little specious.

Also:

“My mom was beading jewelry to make some extra cash.” Since he won’t give me his mother’s contact information, I can’t confirm this, nor whether or not she really has a cat, and a need for “some extra cash.” Though she must be quite the artist to be able to sell her handicrafts for extra cash.

D’Agata repeatedly pushes back on the challenges, often placing more weight on the “flow” of the narrative than on the truthfulness of the facts. And admittedly, he’s right. In one case, thirty-four flows better than thirty-one. Referencing the coroner as County Coroner – rather than the suggested “the former coroner” or “the then-coroner” – makes more sense to the reader, who frankly probably doesn’t care that the coronership has changed hands since the original interview.

But for the reader, these small untruths add up to an unsettling sense that all non-fiction is inherently fictitious. And we know this, right? We know that even if events are documented as they are happening, they are captured through a particular lens with a particular set of biases and values. Even the most uninvolved observer brings a part of themselves to the act of observation.

It’s just that we selectively ignore these facts when we’re reading non-fiction.

Because we’re adolescent when it comes to art. We’ve almost entirely disenfranchised art in our public schools, in our homes, in our culture at large. Of course we’re going to stomp our feet and scream when we’re suddenly thrown a curveball after emotionally opening ourselves up to something and then learning that that thing isn’t exactly what it seems. And of course that’s going to feel like a betrayal. Because we don’t have enough deep experiences with art to know that is what art is for: to break us open, to make us raw, to destabilize our understanding of ourselves and of our world so that we can experience both anew, with fresh eyes, and with therefore the possibility of recognizing something that we had not recognized before. Art is supposed to change us, to challenge us, and yes, even to trick us.

And that? That is why I loved this book. Because it reminded me that the lines between truth and fact and between art and artifice are inherently blurry, and that crossing that line should be painful and exhilarating.

This is the fifth of at least 15 books that I plan to read in the next year for my friend Mark’s 2/3 Challenge.