Friday, March 27, 2009

Oh Comely Kooks

The way he wore his beard, just beyond the edge of trim, where the occasional hair would stick out from the cheek revealing its successful escape from the shears, left the plane of his jaw active and moving as if it were a wave whose movements signified the tides of ideal diner sandwiches and the currents of coffee rings. Like her, he was an active cafe goer whose enterprise had to begin on the lip of full mug, as if he were jumping into a volcano.

That he winked as he passed sent her eye darting about his face, diving beneath the surface of those bristling waves down to the bed where the silt of his features lay. His mouth was lips and line across that which was hard to know but looked to have rested closer to a smile.

She had seen that smile in a dream the week before. She was with a boy from school, a face only partially known for a few years in middle school, once and only once fantasized over. They walked in the dream and found themselves in a woods to have sex. Crunching pines needles under their feet lead the way to a wooden bridge that ran across the river in their town. A railing connected up to the bridge and the sloping floor of the woods, and the other side came out on a bank toward the road. Not many people ever used the bridge because this end was far from the edge of town and there was another trail-head that let out closer by.

The bridge pushed away from everyone, from the town, and that was where he wanted to have sex, to get away from everything they knew while she wanted to do it by the railing at the trail's mouth, which wasn't over the water. She was afraid of the water, and the idea of having sex was the idea of moving away and she wasn't sure that she was ready to leave, but the thought of doing it in mid-air where the wind was blowing, over the flowing water pulled at her, tugging her away even with her uncertainty weighing her down.

They agreed to do it on the platform, and images started to spiral in the skies. They were images of the town, shapes like sculptures of the people of the town spinning in the sky around them between the silhouettes of the trees and the purple shadows on the underside of the clouds, showing her and the boy the hidden chambers tucked away behind the walls of their home. The world passed through them, guiding them through the places they'd stared into everyday whenever they saw a front door.

She saw her friend Nicole, who was already having sex, and lights blossomed showing her everything they had never been able to talk about. And how similar this boy was to her friend. Always an outsider, walking in the shadow of his name. She wanted to talk with him about the ways they liked each other, the way it could made them feel as if they knew the answer to every test they'd ever have to take, and if they had been able to, if they had risked it all and had sex then, they would have been able to draw the shape of the world.

When she looked at him she saw herself reflected as a paper toy in the center of his dark eyes, and the darkness wasn't bad, and the innocence he saw in her wasn't good. These were alloyed emotions, empathy and sorrow and loneliness and happiness all stirred together and fired into a metallic glass that reflected not the light but the consequences of their actions.

He was not someone she'd ever spoken with, but once, without knowing why, she had seen him smile and thought of seducing him. She remembered his smile in that dream and saw it again on the street with a wink .while it snowed.

He had put up his small grin just as soon as he left the subway. The smile for its own sake and for the weather and for the small falling snow. He put his hands in the pockets of his jeans rather than his jacket, where they might be cooler, but would help him feel as if he didn't need the extra level of protection. Flaunting daylight on a day off of work he pulled back his shoulders, arched his spine and raised his head, feeling as if a string pulled up on the crown of his head. He was embarrassed when, just as he passed the girl and met her eyes in a way a conditional introvert rarely chanced, a flake blew into the corner of his eye and melted just on the lower lid, and the cold and the wet tapped at his sensory nerves and shut the eye, and he knew that she had seen him wink and he worried the rest of the day what she had thought of him.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mid-Week Fundraising: Writing Off of the Ass

HEEeEY Everybody,

So this is one of the best things I do, because a) it helps to raise all kinds of money for a great, great cause, and b) gives me an excuse to spend the day writing.

New York Writer's Coalition helps at-risk youth, battered women, the formerly homeless and others to find a voice. It gives them something great and he chance to create, and that's a good thing by any means.

I am going to be writing my ass off, and believe me, there is still a lot there after the holidays, so help out and donate to a great cause:


Friday, March 20, 2009

Up Up and Away

With the tip of my tongue I tack the stir-stick in my mouth against my palette and try spitting it through the beige drywall by the coffee maker.

I can see every bit of lower and west Manhattan from where I am standing in the pantry – this being a sink, a fridge, and a cupboard – as well as a good chunk north whenever I sneak into the boss office. Some important sales rep is in town for a few days and staked out a cubical on the dark side of the building, the northwest side around the corner from the coffee maker. This rep is staying away from the windows.

He looks like Toby Flenderson from the US version of the Office.

There is some of that smacking steam sound as the coffee maker fills my conveniently sized cup. Toby doesn’t look up. I pour in sugar and make sure to spill some on the counter.

This is just good business.

Spilled sugar on the counter shows visitors, competitors, and ne’er-do-wells that people are working here by gum. These people are working at and thinking about their jobs, not about their coffee, and they are eager to get back to it.

I have to walk back to my desk because we don’t have moving walkways in our office. If our office was laid out in any kind of regular sort of order, then maybe there would be moving walkways, although we aren’t really THAT kind of company. The path through the office snakes, more like a maze instead something more regular, and it becomes an experience just to use the lavatory. There isn’t a track that leads you around in a logical pattern. There aren’t uniform corridors – spaces and walkways weave around exposed, painted I-beams in some kind of hard-nosed industrial chic. There isn’t that sense of normal here.

This doesn’t create an aggressive office decorum per se, but it certainly makes things a bit edgier in an unmarketable sort of sense. We’re just a bit more aware.

I sit in a corner and try not to get so bored I fall asleep, and try not to overly invest in my work, which I find stressful. I understand some people masturbate at work. I’ve never masturbated at work. I remain detached, and can’t really see how you’d want to suddenly touch yourself pouring over a spreadsheet or project report. Maybe it’s the people on the phone all day.

Sex in the office is another matter.

If Toby Flenderson wasn’t squatting in that nook I’d go back over and take a yogurt out since I haven’t eaten yet today. It’s almost 1PM. 1 hour to go. 4 hour Fridays.

I don’t hate my job. I’m not a dick to people. Really. Like I said this isn’t an aggressive atmosphere. Some days you can’t help but feel that the patterns we walk as we move about this obstructed realm are tracing out some large, intricate cosmological pattern, and this pervading sense of the place is to wonder exactly whose cosmos we are contributing too.

Actually I feel sorry for Toby, which is why I don’t want to walk back over there. I felt sorry for him for the 42 seconds it took for my pristine little cup of coffee to brew but the journey back to my desk has altered how I view the world. He’s wearing a suit, something that cost him what my apartment costs each month, which is a lot to some people, people like me, and I’ve risen above that. He hasn’t walked around enough in here, so he looks at me disdainfully as I am wearing sandals and a short-sleeve plaid shirt, but the fact is I look –and think- better than he does.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Apartment Overlooking the Park

Her room overlooks a park with two ball-fields and the evenings pose as summer by mid spring. Basking, rich, golden sunlight glances off windows shining over the grass, diffusing in the atmosphere as if a spell had been cast, of loose churned dirt kicked up from the base-paths and hung like a web from the corners of the buildings over the whole park, while the chatter of co-ed teams cheering their mate at bat never quite dies away as she allows herself to stroll home from work. She listens from the tiny kitchen where she cooks her dinner, pausing with her mouth open wide from reading silently aloud in strange languages one worn book or another, to peer at the branches and the families walking in the darkening evenings over a lightly sweating bottle of beer. In the living room she keeps a circle of cold-wrought iron wire set into the floor in a ring carved in the dark wood and sealed with wax scented with myrrh poured from white and red candles. Among other purposes the wax keeps the dog from playing with the ring and disrupting the circle much to both creatures’ – the dog and the thing in the circle – chagrin.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Watchmen: The Good, the Bad, and some awkward Shtupping

I think, having gone in with the lowest possible expectations, that overall I liked this movie, that it was as good a film as could have been made from what is one of the best and most complex stories ever told about ladies and lads who run around in their underwear or less beating people up - but I will have to see it again to have a better sense of it (ah netflix, how I will wait for thee). The first 45 minutes were utterly entertaining. The Comedian's death I thought was exciting, and the flashback sequence that followed was excellent. Then the movie really slowed down.

In trying to make this film as true to the book as they could, they tried to cram as much of the story in as they could, and it seems like they just ran out of steam. They didn't go back in and take their scenes to task with the same even-ness. Dan Drieberg coming home to find Rorschach eating beans in his kitchen was head an shoulders above the flashback scene to when the "The Watchmen" fail just after take-off and The Comedian teaches the Smartest Man in the World a lesson. The second act, with all its suspicion building and interactions between the characters should have been building those characters up, delving into them, making them full and well rounded. They went straight to exposition instead, speaking out the plot, like so many failed Star Wars movies(PM, AotC, RotS).

I thought Rorschach, The Comedian, and Adrian Veidt were developed characters with interesting narrative arcs, and Jackie Earle Haley is firmly someone I am looking for in cast lists from now on. The problem I had was the rest of the characters - they were not allowed to develop, and this is what slowed the movie down.

Dr. Manhattan was close to be being complete, but they stayed too tight to the chest reaching toward his dispassionate level. Nite Owl was an odd miss, since I think Patrick Wilson did a really very good job with the character - he looked the part and I thought had the right tone in his voice - but his lines just didn't hit. Bad writing undid this guy. In the book I always saw him more as stifled rather than impotent, more boxed in by the events surrounding him and his desire to see his friends through it, always uncertain about what he should do. In the movie he was too often just a sounding board for plot exposition for the more powerful, more knowing characters, which was unfortunate.

Uncertainty was the great sin in Watchmen the Film, and its most uncertain character must of course be the most poorly developed. The female characters were outright neglected, but Laurie Juspeczyk gets a big, flat gray wall as her character's emotional canvas in the film.

Laurie's uncertainty was for me the strongest emotional undercurrent in the book, because it best reflects the overarching question - what does a person need to become in order to do what they must. In the book the male characters, without fail, responded to that uncertainty as if it were a weakness, as a sign that Laurie was a damsel in distress, always needing protection and rescue. But Laurie proves her uncertainty is anything but a weakness. She is decisive, choosing to leave John and then go with him to Mars, choosing to take up fighting again with Dan, and in doing so shows how the men's failure to accurately perceive her reflects their inability to understand precisely what is happening until it is too late. In that way she always seemed to be stronger than the guys, who move about waiting to know better what is happening, but the movie doesn't have that realization of her uncertainty, it doesn't get into it enough that we care about her conflict.

Speaking of conflict, the highs of Watchmen were, ironically, some of the best fight scenes I have seen since Sayid took on Kimi. A fight scene for me has a simple test - does it bring up that feeling my younger, more erstwhile self would have felt, causing me to run out of the theatre and across the hoods of cars in the parking lot, jump around on street signs, or otherwise engage in stunts I'm not sure I can manage anymore. The Matrix was a prime example, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon another. Watchmen has this feeling. And it does make for entertaining cinema.

My biggest problem with the movie was Laurie and Dan's fight scene in the alley, where they take on 15 gangmembers then slowly make love in Archie(and ruined an otherwise excellent song in the process). The fact they were able to take out so many guys just smacks of "superpowers", of some super-fu that allows them to dash evil upon the rocks of justice as unceasingly as a wave and then follows it up with a very typically hollywood, very awkward, slow, and unexciting movie sex scene.

In the book I remember them only taking on 4-5 guys and then, pardon my french, fucking. The whole point is they are adrenaline junkies who have been clean for years and all of a sudden get another taste, and all they can do afterwards is rip each others clothes off and get down to it. All of these characters need that stimulation in order to feel anything but the slowing of the blood in their veins.

The lack of any allure in that scene is kind of telling the story of Watchmen the film for me, because Watchmen is a lot like sex - it doesn't have to be as good as the book to enjoy it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Wave

This is the only wave, breaking with the blood and all its’ substantive nutrients, its calcium deposits and the flecks of oxygen and iron together racing past purple to black, drying beneath the skin, the split open heart of the knuckle, like the faces of wood that you can peel away from one another. It’s terror that you can swallow up hoping it’ll choke down easily enough.

It’ll be forward and together until it strikes the wall to hand itself out as flyers on the street, it separates so easily you’d never even know one side was not near the other anymore. The pain left you and there was only the absoluteness of clenching your fist that helped you feel the pressure inside where all of it was just waiting, storing itself up until you decided to test it out and see if the whole system worked.

You curl up your fist in front of a smooth concrete wall, or brick since their roughness does feel that much better, and you let it fly, without pistoning, without that posturing cock of the arm, just the snap back you should be striving for beyond the surface. You let it run, a bull out of the gates speeding with that willpower to bring your world of flesh and bone through to the other side, or to feel the pieces of it separate and go off where ever they might, to leave you with that broken, silly wave.