Aug 17


I finally, finally, FINALLLLLLLYYYYY saw ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE. I saw it on cable. I meant to go see it in the theater but it was nowhere near me and people slagged it so…however, I enjoyed it, it made me laugh a lot, and seemed simply an extension of the show with a great many more celebrity cameos. (Barry Humphries has a good part in it!) I can see why many Americans were not thrilled by it, I suppose, first of all you need to be a fan of the show, which I am, and second, you have to get past the way that it’s sort of less concentrated, in its movie form–the TV show is visually concentrated in a few sets, the occasional street scene, and we’re very much involved almost face to face. The movie has a sort of movie distancing, at least for awhile; also the accents fly thickly, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve gotten so I often watch British television (a great deal of my tv watching) with the subtitles turned on! And I recommend that with this one. It’s bubbling with bizarre imagery, it’s a farce, Pats is still Pats, Eddy still Eddy, Bubble is still Bubble…played by the fabulous Jane Horrocks… and it had cool music in it too…

There was some controversy about how they had a white person play a Japanese person but this turned out to be *absolutely*, as it were, BULLSHIT…the character was Scottish….And the movie did NOT flop–it cost less than four million to make and made 34 million BEFORE the DVDs and cable…

Mar 14

Phantoms of the OSCARS

I only saw part of the Academy Awards and lost interest, but I liked Ellen Degeneres’s comic hosting, especially her line about Liza Minnelli who was in the audience. ‘”I have to say that is one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” she said, pointing out Minnelli sitting in the audience. “Good job, sir.”‘ Good drag queen joke. Not sure Liza got it, judging from her expression. But if you missed the show, it was a kind of combination of self-adulation, and self-loathing –the latter in the comedy, as if to make up for the narcissism. Here’s a translation of what most people besides Ellen Degeneres said, if they were introducing people or accepting: “I gratefully KISS YOUR ASS. I kiss YOUR ass, Warner Brothers, and I kiss YOUR ass, Paramount, and I kiss YOUR ass, producer, and I kiss YOUR ass, director, and I kiss YOUR ass everybody else.” So just imagine that over and over again and you have the show, except for that hideous backdrop during the “Happiness” song where they actually had a giant non-ironic happy face. Speaking of movies, during that bit I kept thinking, “The horror…the horror…”

Kim Novak is probable getting acidic tweets about her appearance on the Oscars. The poor thing–she’s 81, trying to look 18. Girl, that surgery and that botox is not working. You’re a poster child for “the older you get the less cosmetic surgery works” or possibly “the more cosmetic surgery you get, the less it works.” A little neck tuck, that I can see. But apart from that most of these people look worse with the surgery than if they just let themselves age. It’s as if they have no respect for old people, which is ironic. But also it’s about the fact that they can’t really see themselves as they are *even in a mirror*. They get this extreme and grotesque unworkable surgery and then they *see* something else in the mirror. They mentally edit it. So long as there are no wrinkles they can seemingly see what they want. It’s living satire. Poor kid. i felt bad for her. She was so good in Vertigo. Her cosmetic surgery is now nauseatingly vertiginous. One feels, looking at it, one is falling into another and terrible world, to paraphrase PG Wodehouse.

The last time I remember seeing cosmetic surgery that hideous was on the Academy Awards was when Liberace accepted a special Oscar…That surgery was hideous, looked very new…and he looked terrified. I felt for him too.

I am saying that women in Hollywood should NOT HAVE TO have that kind of surgery–they shouldn’t be bullied into that kind of delusional extreme self modification. I’m saying it does not work and it only opens the poor thing up to ridicule. I feel my post was entirely sympathetic. This is not an ordinary situation. This is not “her dress is awful” or “she’s overweight.” I don’t care about that. this is not about minor cosmetic surgery. This is about self disfiguring due to delusion.

Basically I felt the 2014 Academy Awards lived up to its standard dismalness.

Sep 10

ECSTASY and “Being Congruent”

by JS

I went through a period of taking the drug ecstasy, aka X, aka MDMA, years ago. It did me far more harm than good, but I won’t argue with people who claim that studies showing it causes brain damage are flawed. Maybe, maybe not. Before going on to my main point I’ll just note, briefly, that most of what’s sold as X now isn’t X, and even if it is it may well be a tainted batch as it comes from a bunch of European criminals who don’t make it right (not that the “right” stuff is not dangerous).

Let’s put issues of toxicity and addiction aside. There’s another danger with drugs that induce powerful, ecstatic feelings, like ecstasy and, for example, crack cocaine (or smokable meth, or freebase or speedballs). I’m going to speak about this as plainly as I can. What happens is that your body and the wiring in your brain “learn” that high, and since the brain and body are designed to move toward good feelings, you’re left with a feeling that ordinary life doesn’t offer anything half so satisfying. Everything afterwards is in the shadow of the ecstatic high. Sex may seem dull without it; other ordinary good feelings sometimes seem truncated in comparison.

Does this mean that we are supposed to be always angling for those ecstasy highs, once we’ve discovered them? If we do, we’ll burn out. Also, I’ve by degrees learned that drug-induced ecstasies are sort of “one note”, monotonal. They have a “mere masturbation” quality, a “self titillating” emptiness about them, especially cocaine highs. But the exquisite, intricate feelings that come from what I think of as “being congruent” (and I use the word being, here, with multiple meanings) are ultimately more satisfying. My youngest son skateboards; when he does a complex skateboard move, orienting his hard-learned skill with the physics of the environment, he seems to get a deeply satisfying sweetness out of the whole experience. I’ve felt that sort of thing dancing at times, especially when young; and playing in bands, when I’ve hit the note where I want to hit it, been congruent with the band and my hunger for expression, the inner in perfect relationship with the outer, another, profounder kind of good feeling arises. There are deeper sexual/sensual communings possible, too, superior to ecstasy highs, which come from a kind of mutual “congruence of being”.

A special, highly rewarding congruence may arise partly from just an agreeable confluence of events. Once some years back I was driving on a sunny day with all three of my sons, on a country road. We were listening to music we all liked, and we were happy to be together, going somewhere together. The car’s motion was agreeable, the world seemed to sing to us along with the radio — and I’ve never felt happier. I know — it sounds as if I’m saying, “Just enjoy life! Get high on life, kids!” But I’m not. This “special congruence” only comes at times — and often has to be earned. It’s not just the good feelings of ordinary life. It’s a coming together of things that have a powerful, poignant effect, and it’s something to be looked for, over time. You have to be open to it, reach for it, with real mindfulness — it’s way deeper, way more complex than just getting high on ordinary life.

People stuck in the pursuit of artificially induced ecstatic states are, in my opinion, less likely — and ultimately perhaps less capable — of finding their way to these other highs, these complex satisfactions that arise from a right congruence with the world…