Sunday, March 10, 2013

Jersey Boys

The first time I heard Frankie Valli's Can't Take My Eyes Off You that impacted me on a visceral level was during the classic scene in The Deer Hunter when Michael, Nick, Steven, Stan and John return from hunting and proceed to get drunk in John's bar the night before Michael, Nick and Steven head off to Vietnam and their ulitimate fates. The scene is beautifully wrought, hilarious and sad, and ends with a jump cut almost as famous as the one in 2001:A Space Odyssey.

The second time the song hit me on a visceral level was when I saw Jersey Boys in Chicago last spring. Coming off a major life trauma but rescued at the same time, the song, I realized, is an over-the-top declaration of love that almost everyone feels when they've met someone that embodies their 'love' ideal. Most people in real life can't verbalize love to these heights - that's why we have songwriters/singers like Valli, who can take such a strong emotion and wrap it up into a life-affirming song.

When the song came up in the play, I realized how lucky I was to be sitting there at that moment in time, at that time in my life.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dead on Arrival


I had a website from 1998-2002 called Sky-High Picture Show. It was a film review site but with a focus on movies from the '60s, '70s and '80s. In fact, its tagline was, "An in-depth, mostly accurate guide to drive-in movies from the '60s, '70s and '80s."

I did it because I love movies, especially those that aren't necessarily well known or mainstream. I also did it because I thought of myself as a sort of expert, which I'm really not. It was born of obsession and arrogance and when I shut out it's lights, I was relieved.

I found the remnants of Sky-High Picture Show on the Internet Wayback Machine and was thrilled and depressed at the same time. Some of the reviews were okay, fairly well written and observant. Most were not. Most floundered or were simply incorrect.

My thinking, back when I conceived the site, was to be one of those snarky reviewers in the vein of the Medved Brothers' hilarious Golden Turkey Award books that came out in the early 1980s. But that thinking was short-lived as my attempts in that style came off as arrogant and just plain wrong.

I felt stupid writing like that so I decided to write what I truly felt rather than from some sort of false persona. I wrote over 150 reviews, mostly long (750-1,000 words) but some shorter and then attempted to write essays about various thematic issues, subtexts, etc.

Looking back, I realize I was fairly misguided and struggled to find a voice I was happy with, which is a battle every time I sit down to write anything.

I haven't updated this blog since March of 2012 because of this internal struggle. At work, when I have to write something as simple as a press release, I fill with anxiety. I sweat it. I spend much of the time before writing looking at other pieces of writing to find a jumping point. I look at my own writing from the past to see what I can crib to get started. I procrastinate until there's no time left. Then I write it, edit it, send it off, re-read it, find errors, get depressed, then forget it.

I love writing and hate writing in equal measures. Sometimes I consider it the most noble of arts and other times I think its all bullshit. I wonder at the massive output of some authors, how they can stand doing it at all but I get why they do it.

The fantasy is spending your day writing and making money doing it. What fun!

No, its probably not the healthiest way to attempt to make a living. Its an internal struggle, it messes with your head, bends your mind, keeps you sharp and dulls your inner worth. Isolation.

Imagine that life. You might as well be D.O.A.