Month: April 2017

Jonathan Demme, a Eulogy

Jonathan Demme’s film Swimming to Cambodia is one of a few I could use to explain who I am as a filmmaker. At first glance, particularly if you are not a filmmaker, it seems more like a document of a stage play, which to some extent it is. However, Spalding Gray’s play was 4 hours long. The film runs 85 minutes.

This gets to the heart of what film is, as an artform: distillation – whether it’s cutting down hours of documentary footage; conveying a complex, internal novel in a few telling sequences; selecting the best take; or simply imposing a frame to say: this is the important bit to look at, from here.

That’s why interactive film doesn’t work, or choose-your-own ending. I don’t think VR sandbox stuff will work either – at least not as a movie. Film is not theater, or a videogame. It’s not interactive. It doesn’t change when you go back.

And it’s why, even in an age of sprawling high-budget prestige television, TV does not feel like a movie. Television is expansive. Film contracts. The limits are the medium. (I’ll leave it to you to guess whether endless franchises like Marvel and Disney Star Wars strike me as films or very long commercials.)

Here’s to you, Jonathan Demme. You made very big things small enough to fit in my head; to stab me in the heart; to tap me on the shoulder in an empty room.

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Prank Calls to VOICE Hotline

There have been a lot of prank calls to Trump’s just-launched VOICE line, which you call to share stories about how you’ve been victimized by illegal aliens. A lot of prank calls. A lot of prank calls about Alien aliens. Which has somehow come as a surprise to them.

Adding to the frenzy was the fact that VOICE’s launch date of April 26 was also “Alien Day”—a reference to the moon featured in James Cameron’s 1986 classic, Aliens (LV-426. Get it?).

“Marine veteran Alexander McCoy told Buzzfeed News that he was inspired to call VOICE’s hotline after seeing #AlienDay trending on Twitter.

“I told them I’d been abducted by a UFO,” he told the site. “There was a long pause. I heard them do a big sigh. And they closed out the conversation saying that they’d make a note of it and I should wait for the DHS to investigate my report.”

—”We Asked ICE About the Prank Calls to Their Anti-Immigrant Hotline and They Kind of Lost Their Shit” (Fusion, Rafi Schwartz)

The fatal flaw of Big Brother “report on your neighbor” programs nobody wanted, like this and the fabled Muslim registry, is that resistance is easy and fun, and ICE is going up against both meme culture and an army of people used to making daily calls to congress. What’s one more number on the list? Keep making that rough music, American heroes.


Callers have also bravely snitched on bigfoot and some muggles.

Accidental Meat Grinder

I’m a pretty friendly person who sincerely believes in the value of winning hearts and turning the other cheek, but I do sometimes encounter people who I know within two sentences I’d be happy to accidentally knock into a meat grinder. Guess they’re pretty lucky nobody leaves meat grinders lying around to facilitate that kind of clumsiness.

Relatedly, I have a new infrastructure spending plan.


Phase two is building train tracks I can tie people on without disrupting mail delivery.

Lady Bowtie

Although neither chokers nor pussy bows light me on fire, I think I might be a huge fan of bowties on women, worn with a collarless shirt like a sweater.

By which I mean I’m wearing that.

By which I mean I have stolen someone’s bowtie.

This is probably exhibit E for why it’s best for the world that I don’t run a fashion house.


Marci says: I think I wore that in high school at some point.

When a Wall is a Dam on the Floodplain of the Rio Grande

Turns out a 30-foot-tall concrete wall in a floodplain is a dam.

Mexico Worries That A New Border Wall Will Worsen Flooding” (Morning Edition, NPR)

Rex says: None of the border states want a wall. Trump has no idea. It is a whim. If he didn’t have such great hair I would doubt a lot of his plans. But that hair is great! Mt. Rushmore great. Build that wall !!

Feminists Understand Compromise

It’s stunning how many men seem to think feminists don’t understand “this isn’t perfect, but is the least actively harmful option available, so I’m going to go with it,” when that is where I have lived every hour of my life.


How can I possibly learn to compromise when I am already the grand master of compromise? It’s like a zen koan.