A Very Stinky XXXmas (2005)

It's that time of year again.

For nearly a decade, StinkyLulu's been waging a personal War on Christmas via mixtape. Drawing upon the worst, the most surprising and the most inappropriate Christmas music out there, StinkyLulu's annual XXXMas mix aims to remind one and all that deeply misguided holiday recordings are themselves a "Reason for the Season." And just this weekend -- only about 2 weeks too late (a tardiness that itself is now truly part of the tradition) -- dozens of CDs of "A Very Stinky XXXMas" (fancy cover design courtesy of MrStinky) hit the postal circuit, on their way to -- ahem -- lucky listeners nationwide.

But if you just can't wait for your postal personnel, StinkyLu's gone ahead and published "A Very Stinky XXXMas" as an iMix on iTunes
-- or at least a partial version, anyway. (No Faye McKay, RuPaul or Wing for that iTunes... reserving some pleasures exclusively for StinkyLulu's loyal listeners.)

So -- Be Naughty. Be Nice. And Be Merry Merry.

Who Ya Calling a Fuzzy Ho?

Your Elf Name Is...

Fuzzy Ho-Ho-Ho


At Long Last, On All Fours

Heard a radio interview the other morning with an always smart funny author talking about her new book -- basically a survey of the linguistic trends in U.S. popular language & how some popular phrases actually contribute to a distinctive hostility in daily discourse,a default hostility manifest in the daily speech of grade schoolers as well as the leaders of the land. Rilly rilly innersting.

Then, a little bit later, bumped into this meme over at Queering The Apparatus.

So, StinkyLulu -- in a jab at getting this blog out of the End-Of-Semester Doldrums -- offers the newly-named "On All Fours" meme (featuring an all-new category created just for you, beloved Stinky readers: "Four 'pop phrases' you loathe").


Four jobs you've had in your life
- College Professor
- Phone Sex Operator
- Advance Sales Rep for the Circus
- Sex Club Doorman/Bartender

Four movies you could watch over and over
- Myra Breckenridge
- West Side Story
- The Young & The Hung
- Steel Magnolias

Four places you've lived
- Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Providence, RI
- New York, NY
- New Haven, CT

Four TV shows you love to watch
- America's Next Top Model &/or Project Runway
- Starting Over
- The Young & The Restless
- Designing Women

Four "pop phrases" you loathe
- It is what it is.
- Hell-O!
- WhatEVer!
- The Liberal Media

Four places you've been on vacation
- Carlsbad, NM (most recent)
- NYC (most everything)
- Amsterdam (most storyworthy)
- Lama Foundation, NM (most returnworthy)

Four websites you visit daily
- towleroad
- DukeCityFix
- The Chronicle Forums
- Crooks & Liars

Four of your favorite foods
- Grilled Cheese'n'Bacon Sandwich
- Tater Tots
- Pork Chop
- Pudding

Four places you'd rather be right now
- At the movies
- On the road
- With MrStinky
- On the road to the movies with MrStinky

Four Blogs you've tagged with this meme
- Gunjilaganga
- Your Mom
- GoodMountain
- AfroFuturist


StinkyLulu Needs To See MORE Movies!

Sitting in Chicago O'Hare, waiting for a teensy little plane to whisk me off to Amish country for two days of campus visiting (& non-stop tap-dancing)...

Saw the new Harry Potter with MrStinky yestiddy.
Started the Lu to wondering: "Is there a ratio between StinkyLulu's frequency of moviegoing & the relative harshness of StinkyLulu's critical eye?" Or, put another way: the fewer the movies, the harsher the Lu? It really does seem that StinkyLulu -- ever the movie 'ho -- has found most recent screenings to be vaguely (Jarhead, Capote, & Harry) or seriously (Rent) underwhelming...
O'course, the Lu's been crazy busy lately & has been lucky to catch one movie a week. So, one suspects drastic intervention is necessary: MORE MOVIES FOR LULU! Tell your friends! Write your congressman! Hire a blimp! Action must be taken...can't let Lulu devolve into CrabbyLulu, now can we.


Careful where you stuff that bird!

One of StinkyLulu's most favorite newish holiday teevee traditions starts airing around this time of year. This tradition's ostensibly a news item -- often found on local news outlets, especially those with broadcasts at noon or 4pm -- and it never fails to amaze. This glittering & glowing tradition alights upon teevee screens under any number of titles: "Christmas Dinner Danger" or "Hazardous Holiday Homecooking" or "Don't Boil Oil in a Trailer"...the list just goes on and on.

So, in a tribute just for you beloveds, enjoy this homage to the "Flaming Turkeys of Death" for this Thanksgiving season.


What Makes a Gay?

Lulu's back, from outer space, now you just click in, to find Lu here, some sad look on Lu's face, hope you didn't change that stupid bookmark, delete that stupid link... Ok, ok. StinkyLulu did it again. Wasn't it StinkyLulu that said, "It's been two weeks & that's just wrong!" (Thorry, tho tho thorry...)

It's MrStinky's birdie (as in "hippo, birdie, 2 ewe") this week & part of the Stinkys' observance of birdie season involved a nighttime screening of the current flick featuring MrStinky's non-Lulu boyfriend -- the one, the only, Jake Gyllenhaal. Going in, StinkyLu was hardly giddy at the prospect. Nothing against the puppy-eyed boy, either. It's just that war in Iraq -- then or now -- tends to get Lulu all depressy-pissy. But MrStinky likey Jakey. So the Stinkys got to go to Jarhead -- a film with the astonishing tagline "Welcome to the Suck."

The screencap above provides a vivid encapsulation of the film: really pretty, really cynical (ie. santa hat in the dark smoky sky), really spectacular, really focused on Jake at the center. And -- ultimately -- really underwhelming. It's wierd. Most nearly everything is really good, yet something's just missing from the movie. It's powerful; it grabs your attention; it's visually awesome; it's got an f'n amazing soundtrack; it's got gobs and gobs of testosterotics; but...oh yeah, it's even got several exposures of Jake's butt ...but...but it's not even that Lu haaaaaaaated it -- like the Lu did with director Sam Mendes' other big movie -- but it's just that something didn't quite click. Wierd. But it doesn't suck.

Which brings the Lu to the topic of today's rant. Jake's next big movie in which he's ostensibly welcomed to a whole other kind of suck: Brokeback Mountain -- the so-called "gay cowboy" movie (or as the proverbial gay wag might gag, "Bareback Mountain"). Ever since hunka-hunka burning-lugs Heath Ledger and JakeG were signed to the Ang Lee directed adaptation of the Annie Proulx novella, the simple fact of this film has inspired hankys of all color-codes to flutter all the 'mo world over. When oh when have 2 A-List Hollywood Hunks signed on for a majorly & undeniably homo story? Let alone one in which anal sex provides a pivotal plot point? It's all very exciting, really.

So StinkyLulu's unsurprised that all that excitement started to get annoying even before the movie's out. It started last week. Apparently, Jakey's featured in the next Details saying:
"I approached the story believing that these are actually straight guys who fall in love," he says. "That's how I related to the material. These are two straight guys who develop this love, this bond. Love binds you, and you see these guys pulling and pulling and tugging and trying to figure out what they want, and what they will allow themselves to have."
Smarter than the Lu might have expected. A tale as old as them thar hills. But -- presumably Jake's butt -- here's where "gay identity" starts to involve more than the Kinsey scale & where that old adage (oft-uttered by convicts/truckers/fratboys) "a hole's a hole" proves instructive. A predisposition toward homosex doesn't ipso facto make one gay. Even it's upso assho. Not necessarily gay. A man having sex with a man: yes, definitely, no contest. But gay? Not quite.

This -- ahem -- nuance has caused the hankys to flutter all over again. Even Andy Towle over at the indispensable Towleroad has gotten his knickers into something of a kerfluffle over the whole thing, characterizing Jake's comments as "surprising" and "disappointing." It'th all jutht tho thilly.

Just see the frickin' movie.
StinkyLulu hears it's sad.
And hot.


Rosita's Day of the Dead

Friday last was a long day. Starting with the funeral where MrStinky offered an incredible memorial eulogy. Quickly followed by StinkyLu's phone interview with a college in Amish country. Then much schlepping around town doing errands and such. Finalemente, night time -- and what did the Stinkys do?

Go to the theatre.

Or teatro -- as the case may be.
See, the Stinkys had long ago purchased tickets to see some little play going up at the National Hispanic Cultural Center as part of their annual Dia de los Muertos celebration:

Dona Rosita's Day of the Dead

A one-woman show featuring Ruby Nelda Perez.


"Ruby Nelda Perez is one of the most talented and nationally recognized Chicano theatre artists" -- to which StinkyLu was all, who knew?!? -- "eliciting enthusiastic reactions from audiences in the US and the Americas." Well, to give her credit, Ruby Nelda certainly did elicit last Friday -- it was a sweet hoot of a night. Silly little piece about a chismosa trying to get all the food cooked up for her comadre's ofrendas. Very cute. Much fun with accents as Ruby Nelda enacted about 6 or 7 different characters. Silly. Sweet. Not altogether dramaturgically sound. But hey. You can do much worse with only a 10spot on a Friday night.

And Ruby Nelda's best gag? A running one -- when she told every customer to come pick up their tamales or pan de dulce or whatever at "9 o'clock tomorrow! Mas o menos! Sharp!" So true. So true. (If only Ruby Nelda was actually from the 'Querque -- she would have known to conclude every phone call with a quick "buenobye"... Maybe next time.)


Ouch (+Tyralien)

More than a week has passed -- regrets, lovely reader.
Excuses abound. School was busybusybusy. The jobsearch started bobbobbobbing with a couple serious nibbles. But, truth be told, the week reallyreallyreally jumped the track -- becoming a scary loop-the-loop rollercoaster when some news about a veryveryvery close friend of MrStinky hit. And hit hard.

Tragic. Terrifying. Incomprehensible.
Most apt were the words of one friend at this morning's funeral: "Just wanna puke." Eloquent, indeed. Yet not as healing as MrStinky's simple, sweet, & transcendant eulogy. (Occasions like this create crass contrast, don't they?) Lulu got real lucky bumping into that MrStinky. (Fer sher, rillee.)

Sniff. Sigh.

Yet, even amidst the shock, StinkyLu found an incredibly in/appropriate comfort in grief during this week's broadcast of what has clearly become the Lu's most very favorite teevee show of the moment: America's Next Top Model. StinkyLu can barely keep the mini-divas straight but -- jeepers -- ANTM is just perfect teevee. Mindless, absorbing, laughter then tears. (Not Lu's, the "models" -- and maybe a few of Lu's.)

So as a greeting to you beloveds, and in tribute to all beloveds here and gone, StinkyLulu offers FourFour's incomparably satisfying image-capture -- consider this as a visual distillation of StinkyLulu's manymanymany feelings this week...

via the brilliance of FourFour

MrStinky Remembers...

Eulogy delivered by MrStinky.
October 28, 2005 - Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe - ABQ.

In memory of Carlos Esquibel:
October 9, 1968 - October 24, 2005.

I want to thank you all for being here and I especially want to thank Carlos’ mother for asking me to speak.

I needed to write this down because I was afraid I would forget all the things I wanted to say. That is how my week has been since I heard the news about Carlos. As I’ve been going about my day I start to think about Carlos and I find myself lost in thoughts of him. What happened to him. Why it happened to him. I become confused and sad and angry. But then I would get a phone call or decide to make a call and reach out to one of the many people in this room that Carlos has brought into my life and I get all the love, support and understanding to help me through the next few moments, the next few hours.

Carlos came into my life just over two years ago. He walked into a room of Alcoholics Anonymous and I immediately knew he was someone I wanted to know. I’m sure it had something to do with what he was wearing. I started as his mentor, or what we call a sponsor in AA. In the first few months I asked him to call me every single day. This was something I was taught to do. It was a way of staying connected in the early days of getting sober – which is a difficult time when someone is trying to stop drinking and basically starting a new life. Carlos always called and usually at the time that I needed it the most. When I was stuck in my head or going through a difficult time. It was as if he knew I needed the help.

As the years passed and we grew closer the relationship changed from a sponsor/sponsee to a very close friendship. There were times he didn’t call as much but in the past few months Carlos called every day. He had licked his problem with alcohol but was finding other difficulties in life as people do when they get sober. Carlos was learning to live life on life’s terms and doing very well. But Carlos’ questions were much bigger than what to do about something that may have happened at work or how do handle a relationship.

When people talk about Carlos they most often comment on the clothes and his sense of style ... but behind the Prada glasses, below the snappy hair do and beyond the sharp tongue was a brilliant mind. Brilliant... which means full of light and marked by unusual and impressive intelligence.

His biggest question and one that we talked about on an almost daily basis was how does one balance the material with the spiritual, the light and the dark. How to live like the Dali Lama and still listen to Madonna. Carlos was equally inspired by both Deepak Chopra and Donatella Versace. When I think about how he lived his life, maybe he did find that balance.

I know I’ll miss those conversations. Those are questions that I also ask and I somehow had a feeling that Carlos find the answer and pass it on to me. About 4 months ago I realized after one of our long talks that I was no longer Carlos’ sponsor but in may ways he was teaching me how to live. When someone dies people often say that their time had come. And maybe Carlos had learned what he needed in this life time. But I know Carlos still had some work to do as a teacher making the world a more brilliant, beautiful, shining place.

All of you are living proof and how Carlos spread his spirit and his light. And I’m sure that Carlos, wherever he is, is now nothing but pure light and spirit.

I just want to end with an experience I had last night in a yoga class I took. Yoga was also an important part of Carlos’ life and his transformation in the past year or so. I needed to go visit his teacher up in Santa Fe who he took class with almost every Sunday morning religiously to tell him what had happened. Towards the end of the class I was in a deep forward fold and hip opener. Our teacher, Tias Little, came up to me and put his entire body on mine to bring me deeper into the pose. It was difficult and a little scary at first. I mean I truly thought my hips were going to split open. But I took a couple of deep inhales and even longer exhales and was able to soften into the pose. When I came up slowly out of the pose I started to cry. I was crying because I knew I would not be able to share this experience with Carlos. After a class such as last night I would call him immediately on my drive home because he would understand what it meant, how it felt, he would understand the transformation that occurred. I sat there for a few moments and after the tears stopped I took another deep breath I was able to let Carlos go because at that moment I knew he would always be with me.


Funny Square Laffburgers

It's always fun when someone StinkyLulu knew "once upon a time" starts to get famous. Other than one notorious drag queen that Lu ran with in high school, the famers from Lulu's past have mostly been castmates, friends, classmates, partners in crime, soulsisters, & buds from that very fancy college where Lu matriculated. More recently, one or two former students have caught the brush of fame's spotlight (one tragically so).

But, since returning to the enchanted land, StinkyLulu's been especially thrilled to see the glow of fame starting around comedian Dana Goldberg.

See, Lu knew Dana when she was but a wee tot. (Or, more precisely, a peevish pubescent.) She's the youngest sister of one Lulu's high school buddies (not the aforementioned drag diva). And StinkyLulu always adored the tweenage butch wisecracker. Fast forward to 2005: that surly & silly sixth grader is a seriously working comic who's developed quite the devoted local following. (Not to mention an impressive array of merch.)

Now, Little Miss Dana (ha!) is the only woman among the 15 finalists in the Wendy's Comedy Challenge. Yes, the home of the square burger's now in the comedy biz, inviting comics to submit a few minutes of "clean" or "family friendly" material for a national competition. Dana's by far the funniest among the crew & so deserves the shot on The Ellen Degeneres Show (or at least a trip to Vegas).


(The way it's set up you have to register with lotsa info & then watch all the comics which is sorta hard. But Lu discovered that you can vote anytime after the comic starts trying to be funny which speeds things along. Some Mac users may be screwed.)

Even More Violence Thoughts

Just bumped into some more comments about A History of Violence -- this time from a major feminist theorist of performance and theater. Turns out she hated it too -- and for the same reasons that MovieDame & her moviebuddy found the movie disappointing. So, where StinkyLulu saw ironic stylization, The Feminist Spectator sees cynical literalism -- reveling & reifying the Middle American-ness that StinkyLulu thought the film used as the definitive edifice of hollow idealism.

Who's to say?
That's what Lulu loves about the movies.


Standardized Drama & Frito Pie

It's been a kooky week, lovely readers. Teaching in a theatre department can definitely have its share of drama & a brief midterm episode of such took some resolving. Plus, you know that excellent big cash gig that StinkyLulu had off-and-on last Spring? The one where StinkyLulu "scores" the "essays" written under intensely pressurized circumstances by hopeful high schoolers on a brief break from bubble filling? Well, that gig kicked into high gear this week. And then -- just as abruptly -- that gig stopped. See, the Lu was booted from the project for not maintaining "validity" and "calibration" standards. (It seems the Lu could not see the "qualities of a well-reasoned essay" in the way that the muckymucks wanted the Lu to see them. Alas, alack, aloo.) Ohhhh, lovely readers, StinkyLulu has seen the face of standardized educational measurement for post-secondary instruction in the humanities... Ain't pretty.

Oh well. Easy come, easy go. And it's not like StinkyLulu has any lack of real work to do. (But that easy/extra/big cash bit? Ouch. That'll be missed.)

So, in a concerted effort to completely avoid any and all such work, StinkyLulu, MrStinky & MamaStinky hit the road this weekend for a long-planned daytrip up north to El Rito.

El Rito's just north of (but way beyond) the nearest metropole, Espanola. It's a teensy-weensy little burg that the Stinkys would likely have never known to notice but for the fact that PapaStinky lived & worked there for a number of years in the 90s (when the Lu was chomping the big apple & other such urban density.) But during the years of PapaStinky's tenure, MamaStinky became something of an aficionado of an annual event, the El Rito Studio Tour -- where area artists open their home studios & display their crafted wares for perusal & purchase.

MrStinky's always up for an exploration of the enchanted land, so -- through the wind and fog and rain (seriously) -- the Stinky Gang tooled up north. The tour was nice -- a hodgepodge of artsy-craftsy & artsy-fartsy that could really only happen in a venue as tiny as this. The only real standout work was that of the nearly famous retablo painter, Nick Herrera (who MamaStinky started collecting way back in the day & whose prices are now just beyond). Quilter & fiber artist Carol Martin-Davis' studio was probably the most pleasant & friendly. (Plus she let MamaStinky & MrStinky snatch many pears & apples from her trees. Very kind, those quilters.)

But, of course, the real purpose of any road trip is the eating. And the StinkyGang got some real good eating in. Fresh fruit snatched from the ground. Cookies offered in home studios. "Death By Chocolate" at the library. A single misfire came in the form of a nasty homemade apple pie that MrStinky bought (looked pretty, tasted evil). The true highlight, though, was lunch from El Rito's only (yet nonetheless legendary) restaurant: El Faralito. The impossibly cute shackalack seats about 20 & the place was crammed with stuffy old white people in town for the studio tour. So the StinkyGang opted for take-out, devoured on picnic tables at the college.

StinkyLulu made the wise choice to order the Frito Pie. Now, many of you lovely readers know that Frito Pie is among StinkyLulu's most favorite dishes, tasted & tested at fine restaurants and taco stands the world over. A simple concept: frito chips, piled with beans, chile, cheese & -- well -- whatever; sometimes served in the frito chip bag, more commonly in a paper or styrofoam take-out bowl/box. Like most simple concept foods, it's easy to get done proficiently. Yet there are those magical, marvelous, magnificent frito pies -- so few & far between -- that remind the Lu just why this dish is an all-time fave. Of course, the Frito Pie from El Farolito was just such a concoction. The beans were whole & stewed on their own; the chile was fresh green chile stew with small but hearty chunks of pan seared pork. Plus, Lu's Frito Pie leaked all over MrStinky. That's the true sign of magical frito pie. It'll leak all over your fancy airs, reminding you that "this is Northern New Mexico, ese." And seeing that gloopy slop of chile & bean juice all down MrStinky's expensive sweater, StinkyLulu just got all full of Hispanic Hillbilly Pride.

Home is where the frito pie leaks.

So after much artful adventuring -- just to make the Northern New Mexico Cultural Encounter complete -- the Stinkys popped into a casino. (Where MrStinky dropped $5, had enough, & retired to the car for some civilized reading.) Not so StinkyLulu & MamaStinky, who stuck around dropping enough on penny slots to return the initial investment plus twenty bucks or so. 'Twasn't enough to qualify as big winners at Cities of Gold. (Nor was the extra $20 enough to counterbalance the pain of StinkyLu's recently lost cash gig.) Nonetheless, the Stinky gang hit the high road home, flush & full of the pleasures to be found in the Land of Enchantment -- especially, leaky frito pie.


More Violence

A conversation has emerged between the Lu & a good friend -- we'll call her "MovieDame"-- who loves movies but remained deeply unimpressed with A History of Violence. Last evening, MovieDame forwarded some observations & criticisms expressed by a good moviebuddy of MovieDame's. This morning, StinkyLulu responded with the text included below (edited slightly for this forum). FYI, lovely reader...

Your friend's reaction makes total sense. It may be an issue of "point of engagement" -- most of the questions raised by your friend have to do with reality & believability & plausibility, which StinkyLulu would agree that the movie doesn't do much of a job of explaining/justifying. Yet, for the Lu, such questions never really became that important. And with regard to the other issue: "I felt like I'd seen it before." StinkyLu's response: "Precisely. That seemed to be the point."

Beginning with the first scene outside the motel, StinkyLulu never thought we were dealing with a "real world" story. Rather, it seemed to the Lu that Cronenberg was guiding us into an already familiar fantasy world that looked a lot like Mayberry or some other received notion of Middle America wholesome. It was all a little too cutely constructed to be "real" -- c'mon, that first family scene with the tow-headed daddy's girl & all that giddiness over cereal?

What StinkyLulu enjoyed about the film is that it toyed with the Lu. And it did so expertly, consciously. Most especially, it toyed with the Lu's mounting sense of unease -- that something was fundamentally wrong with this picture. And StinkyLulu quickly started really wanting to know what was "off" in this world reeling before the Lu's eyes. Perhaps because of this, it became fun -- sometimes in a giddy way, sometimes in a more sicko way -- to see which of StinkyLulu's movie-bred expectations Cronenberg would be tweaking next. And all the while, the film felt familiar... the way a movie from the early 50s might have -- not a noir, but a western. It seems there are good guys and bad guys but... And Viggo Mortenson has a similar kind power as Gary Cooper or Robert Mitchum -- moral clarity sullied or twisted by life. It read to StinkyLulu as a great fakey allegory like some of those coded early 50s flicks. (Albeit with more sex, filth & gore.)

And, yes, StinkyLu too noticed all kinds of things in the film that didn't seem real, didn't line up quite right. Like the end of movie dinner was a huge meat & potatoes affair for a single working mother recently abandoned by her deceiving husband. And -- in that wierdly familiar moment where the littlest angel broke the family's desperate silence -- how the tow-head set the daddy's place upside-down. (Not to mention the water glasses.) And though StinkyLulu wouldn't go so far as to say all that was planned, the Lu would argue that the elements of continuity/reality that so characterize most film productions were operating in a slightly off-kilter way in this film.

Your friend notes that she will likely not spend a lot of time thinking about this film. Interestingly, were it not for this conversation, StinkyLulu probably would not have spent a whole lot more time either. The film didn't stick with Lu the way that JUNEBUG seems to have stuck with you. Yet, StinkyLulu -- unlike you & your friend -- found the experience of watching this film electrifying. Not satisfying, not enjoyable, not fun. Electrifying -- in the way that so rarely StinkyLulu finds in the cinema where the Lu's brain, body & emotions are all on point anticipating what (StinkyLulu fears) might be coming next. StinkyLulu suspects some similarly electric engagement might be undergirding some of the critical enthusiasm.

So, there are some more of StinkyLu's thoughts.
It makes total sense that the film didn't work for you. It's that kind of
movie, it seems. It'll either click with you or it won't.

Trailer Redux

These have been twiddling around the web for some time now, but it's worth registering StinkyLu's fondness for these excellent redeployments in "trailer" form...

First, of course, is:
THE HORROR of West Side Story
and, then,
SHINING as directed by Nora Ephron. (Click on the link beneath Jack: "Shining Redux").


StinkyLulu? A Socialist? Big sooooo-prise.

Just did one of those little testy things...
StinkyLulu: A Socialist.
Who'da thunk it? (heheh)
The cute part is the testy people have a little visual where they place your results on a collage of images of famous people, with the famous faces ostensibly placed the on the graph corresponding to their perceived politics (or at least so one would 'spose).
Well: They've got Lu smack between Ghandi & Hillary Clinton.
Sounds about accurate. Check it out for yourself at...
The Politics Test


A History of Violence

StinkyLulu just yesterday caught the latest David Cronenberg pic -- A History of Violence -- at the local googaplex & -- wowiekazowie.

Apparently the Lu's not alone in this reaction, as a brief glance at the reaction of the critics suggests. Indeed, the critic's blurbs touch on most of the film's more interesting formal elements: the use of gruesome violence, the questions of genre & plotting, the collection of crackerjack performances, etc. [If for nothing else, you -- lovely reader -- should check out the film for the acting by the boys (Maria Bello is shockingly good but nevertheless somehow miscast). Look for: William Hurt in an electrifying cameo (possibly the actor's first non-annoying role in more than a decade); Ashton Holmes in a breakout performance as the kid, & Viggo Mortenson (watch the final shot of the film closely to see just how good his work in this film is).] Yet, the "hidden" or "secret" identity storyline, the mystery narrative at the center, itself strangely absent from most of all this critical praise/commentary.

To StinkyLulu's eyes at least, the "hidden identity" piece of the puzzle actually works so well because -- at its core -- A History of Violence is a story about "passing": a tale about shedding an ethnically/racially marked identity of family, history & dna to craft a new identity cloaked in the banality of idealized American whiteness. And it's Viggo Mortenson's exceptionally nuanced performance that makes this legible. As his affect (& his accent) slips almost undetectably between that of a normal "regular guy" whiteness and that of a corrupted, violent white ethnicity tainted by city high/low-life (& a melange of Irish and Jewish cadences), Mortenson's deceptively simple performance makes this movie. (And really, isn't Viggo the most/only interesting MovieStar/LeadingMan of his generation working today? See this movie & just imagine the horror of Matt Damon, Tom Cruise or even Russell Crowe in the part & you'll feel what StinkyLu's saying.)

O'course this is not to say that A History of Violence is in any way a "racial drama" -- far from it. But it works like one. Just like Cronenberg's The Fly worked like a "queer contagion drama" -- but wasn't. This what StinkyLu so appreciates about the Crone: for a straight white guy director with typical straight white guy obsessions Cronenberg sure can tap into fears of fundamental, intrinsic or "ontological" difference & how those fears actually work WITHOUT laying the blame at the feet of queers or people of color. Always a great lesson for the Lu in the power of a cinematic allegory...which is one way of thinking about this thrilling & effective film: it's a "passing" allegory (that literalizes the spritual violence of "passing"). And, rilly, StinkyLulu had little idea A History of Violence would be this worthwhile, but hey: that's the magic of the googaplex.


StinkyLulu's Televidiocy

Started this entry thinking it'd be a "week in review" kinda thing -- talking about the two really interesting & totally different movies StinkyLulu caught this week, Grizzly Man & RollBounce -- each very poignant, each very odd. Yet it seems that the realm of televidiocy beckons...so StinkyLu takes that familiar dive into the idiot box.

See -- the thrilling annual torturefest of Big Brother 6 finally ended last week -- with Janelle smelling like a rose & EEEEEvette & Skaggie just smelling -- & StinkyLu's reality-tv plate needed some fresh filling. Gratefully, two favorites dishes are on the fall menu. At the same time. Decisions decisions.

Option #1:
NBC's favorite ex-con has been catching grief from all sides -- particularly for her irreality showcase, The Apprentice: Martha -- what with folks picking on her ratings, her vibe, and even her opening credits. But StinkyLulu -- ever the contrarian -- just loves this kindler gentler & wierder Martha Stewart. (And -- goldarnit -- running "Sweet Dreams" under that opening montage gives StinkyLu the chills everytime.) If only the "Apprentice" famewhores weren't so intent on insipid (& nearly unwatchable) bickering. YET -- alas, lovely reader, StinkyLu must confess to an embarassing fixation on the worst of this bunch, Jim -- a particularly evil, loathsome yet captivating version of one of StinkyLu's favorite genres of cuteboy, The Snerk (you know the type -- snarky, skinny, primped, overripe with entitlement). And he hasn't been fired yet.
Gotta love that Martha!

Option #2:
Over on UPN, StinkyLu's becoming increasing weary of Tyra at the helm of Martha's main competition. Nonethe, Ms.Banks' franchise, America's Next Top Model 5, remains one of the simplest & most reliable pleasures on television today. With a reality formula at least as solid as any of Mark Burnett's or Bunim-Murray's, this season of ANTM promises to be as good as any (even without uber-freak Janice Dickinson -- who will be sorely missed, I'm sure). Even better, Lu recently discovered FourFour's brilliant screencaps -- such a noble & heroic effort, making all the best fun of ANTM available to those without the benefit of broadcast. (Though Lu won't miss a one.) Not sure if there's a Lulu fave yet, though something about Coryn did stand out even before those -- hee!hee! -- terrible rumors started swirling. But no-matter, Lulu always ends up pulling for the "non-a-model/transformer" who never wins anyway -- hi Elyse, Shandi, YaYa & Kahlen!). And it's not really clear who that would be in this bunch. So, 'twill keep y'all posted.

Thankfully the wonders of technology permit Lu generous servings of both.
StinkyLu does love that reality-teevee. Yum yumyum yum.


Taco Chick, Salsa Girl, Mimi the Donkey & Deliriously Jen!

It's astonishing how easily StinkyLu can forget the importance of "movie therapy" (without which StinkyLu quickly devolves into a StinkyMeanie). Gratefully, as part of StinkyLu's personal contribuution to The Sophia Sorority's Season of Celebration, MrStinky & Lu took in a pile of flicks toward the beginning of the week.

Starting with the "Boys Shorts" bill at the increasingly impressive 2005 Southwest Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. The Lu does love the assemblage of gay short films (indeed, as a child StinkyLu's favorite kind of dinner was "smorgasboard" and, while a roster of 6-10 gay films will inevitably provide some disappointments, there's inevitably at least one delectable delight to savor). And -- without doubt -- the prize of StinkyLulu's favorite short gay film ever (or at least since Monday) goest to Kurt Koehler's freakin'ilarious Taco Chick and Salsa Girl.

Mexicamp queerness at its finest: Oscar Quintero (as "Kay Sedia") and J.P. Torres (as "Anita Nacho") are simply brilliant in the title roles -- the whole production reminiscent of a latin episode of StinkyLu's favorite teevee show (& lunchbox) circa 1977: ElectraWoman & DynaGirl.

Other highlights of the festival included the sweet, sexy & surreal Sadness of Johnson Joe Jangles -- a movie that is possibly the only genderfuck Cowboy romantic soap opera -- the forthcoming Brokeback Mountain notwithstanding -- where the title character gives birth to a donkey puppet (named "Mimi"). The birth of Mimi the donkey, the pivotal musical number, the striptease in front of a bunch of drunken frontierswomen -- Jeffrey St. Jules' strange little film is extraordinarily effective. See it if you can. (StinkyLu was just as pleasantly surprised by Oedipus N+1, a queer-cyborg-dystopic romantic thriller from France! Dare ya to buy a ticket for that at your nearest googaplex...)

But the unexpected surprise of the festival had to be Angus Oblong's Deliriously Jen, a tv pilot featuring the impossibly funny Jen Manley in the title role. Now, this movie/tv show/whatever has had MrStinky choking with laughter all week. All the Lu has to do is repeat a line ("I'm making a poo--" or "No thanks, I'm really good at this--" or "From the homeless--") and MrStinky's wheezing & gasping with giggles all over again. As the credits finished, MrStinky's uncharacteristically loud sustained laughs got the crowd chortling all over again. (And, truth be told, StinkyLu thought the film funny but nothing special at first glance.) But now? Having witnessed its impact on MrStinky over this past week? Priceless... So, count StinkyLu a huge fan of not only of Mr. Oblong's short-lived animated series, The Oblongs, but also of his latest creation of wrongess, Deliriously Jen... (see the delirum of Jen for yourself by clicking the previous link).

That was some of the fun had on Monday night alone. And, think, StinkyLu's not even had the chance to recap the amazing movie Junebug or the brilliant work of ex-con Martha Stewart on her new reality show... Good things all.


Buon Compleanno, Sophia!

Not everyone gets to grace a magazine cover so remarkably. (And just a few days before their birthday, no less!) But today -- September 20 -- marks that special day for Ms. Sophia Loren (& for StinkyLu too)!

So here's a happy birthday shout-out to all September 20th babies. That means YOU Kristen Johnston and Your Mom and MrStinky's mom and Gunnar & Matthew Nelson and Asia Argento and Dr. Joyce Brothers -- it's your day! Put on that extra-special outfit & join StinkyLulu in doing your best Sophia impression! Cuz, if you're a September 20th baby, you're part of the Sophia sisterhood!

Happy happy, babies.


deProdundis @ Quarai

Just in from a delicious nuevomexicano afternoon with MrStinky -- barely/finally back from his week of yogadventures in SanFran -- as well as a motley gaggle of fabulons. (Well, that is, IF "gaggle" can be construed to refer to the gents of Thistlecot & Pablito of "magic fingers" fame...)

See, a week or so ago some bee settled in StinkyLulu's bonnet to get some culture & some out-of-doors. So, the Stinky gaggle piled into a borrowed Sporty Utility Vehicle, braved the perils of carsickness, & dragged off/up/over the Manzano mountains to the ruins of a 17th century Franciscan church. There, the astonishing ruins at Quarai created a truly wondrous setting for an afternoon of surprising, smart & skilled acapella singing from the men of de Profundis.

Now ere a couple weeks ago, StinkyLu knew not of either Quarai or de Profundis, but somehow it happened that the Stinky gaggle got themselves sitting there, within the walls of this ancient church of a forgotten pueblo. Flagstone and sandstone bricks, still securely stacked after 300 or so years, reached to meet a ceiling of New Mexico sky. Where a roof might have met the walls, wildflowers sprouted, creating a surprising fringe of color several stories above our heads. And before us, where a colonizing priest might have ministered a few centuries prior, stood 13 tidy men standing in a cozy semi-circle. At first glance, these guys looked "churchy" -- in that way of prissy nerds & nerdy sissies, you know -- but then those boys started to singing. Or -- more precisely -- singing, hollering, yodeling, & yelling, in careful harmonic precision. The first song -- a three part, call & response folk song traditionally sung by groups of male field workers in Georgia (the former Soviet Republic, that is...) -- started the afternoon's program &, had StinkyLu been wearing socks, might have knocked 'em right off. The next hour brought all kinds of male choral music (not StinkyLu's favorite genre, to be sure) with de Profundis' selections blending the ancient & contemporary, global and local, all with an ear toward the abstract. All told, the combination made for a uncommonly exhilarating convergence of voice & scene.

Then the Stinky gaggle toddled over to some benches for a delicious picnic of cherry cider, Pablito's homemade oatmeal-nut-raisin cookies, assorted crudite & Lulu's very first try at a muffaleta sandwich -- a New Orleans (via the Italian deli) sandwich/casserole which, when wrapped & prepped & popped in the fridge is about the size of a moderately sized watermelon, or securely swaddled infant. Amazingly tasty pile of cold cuts. Yum yumyum yum.

A delightful afternoon, really.
And the whole thing was just so...so...so...civilized.
Who knew the Lu could behave like that?


Muppet Reality

How's this for the blend of 2 of StinkyLulu's most treasured televidiocies?
Apparently, the genius of Muppetland has imagined an American Idol-America's Next Top Model-ish spoof of reality-tv called America's Next Muppet where Kermit, Piggy & the gang go looking for the next big Muppet thing.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.


You know? The web is a wonderful thing. Sometimes one just stumbles upon a website that's just hours & hours of fun for the whole family. The latest to fall into StinkyLu's path -- StuffOnMyCat.com -- a website where folks send in pictures of their cats in all kinds of compromised and compromising positions, as below:

via the shutterbugs at StuffOnMyCat.com

Silly pussies just make StinkyLu giggle.
Have fun.


StinkyLulu's "Manthems" Mix now available on iTunes

StinkyLulu's Manthems mix is now available for your perusal as an "iMix" -- just the most recent innovation by iTunes (a baby-step really in the long march of transforming how even yahoos like StinkyLu encounter and purchase music). O'course, the link requires that you open iTunes -- so sorry for the overt corporate shilling...

StinkyLulu's Manthems mix is -- as the little blurb suggests -- a collection of diva ditties done over & delivered fresh by dudes. StinkyLu spent a goodly portion of last spring researching & compiling the list of songs, the only criteria for which is that it should be nearly-to-totally iconic for some diva (& then that some guy do it over as well or better). The mix has a nice alternarock edge to it that Lu didn't anticipate (see "I Will Survive" by Cake for the best example). But there should be something for nearly every taste... so check it out (it rate it kindly should you so wish). It's sorta appropos that Lu can list it on iTunes as many of the songs were unearthed there (& nearly entirely acquired through StinkyLulu's favorite product-promo of the year-- the one where they have iTunes codes under every 3rd Pepsi bottle-cap. It's the only way to get StinkyLu to willingly switch over to the Diet Pepsi column...) So enjoy.. & do "holla backatch" laLu with your thoughts...


Why they call it academentia...

...StinkyLulu just encountered this parodic assemblage of "academic interviews."

'Twould be funny even if'n'tweren't so twue... (Lu had to look twice to be sure that the "Trauma Scholar" & the "Irish Rave Ethnographer" weren't former colleagues...)


Sad face

The Katrina situation is just...a wow. The whole thing makes Lu just heartsick. And all the moreso with the tragically ineffectual response of DaPrez & his crewe... Who cut Gulf Coast flood-preparedness funding by upwards of 40% since 2001? Who created the newest/biggest/least effective federal bureaucracy -- which has been MIA during the last week -- for the sole purpose of emergency preparedness? Who sent the 1000s of Louisiana/Mississippi National Guard troops so far away? Who expects private donations to foot the FEMA bill? The one thing StinkyLulu had to say for the Doofus-In-Chief was, that four years ago, he somehow became sorta Presidential... This week -- having long-squandered that singular moment of StinkyLulu's goodwill -- the Doofus has accomplished what StinkyLulu once thought impossible: StinkyLu's expectations of his leadership ability and his administration's competence are substantially lower than they were just a week ago. Wow.

What's that Bonnie Tyler song? "Holding Out For a Hero"? As silly as it sounds... that's where StinkyLulu's at...

Sad. Sad. Very very sad.

...gratefully, MrStinky & Lu are off to the mountains for a weekend of rest, relaxation and retreat. 'Twill be nice to be away... Sweet peace, beloveds...


The Peril of Piles

(For those of you 'specting musings about health & hygiene "down there" -- move right along now... Now. Get along with yourself. G'head.)

StinkyLulu's been on a several year journey of "organization" -- of trying to simplify while also trying to determine what's useful, possibly essential, among the piles and piles and piles of papers (not to mention the piles & piles OF piles) amassed via a long meandering path through the wilds of academentia...

This bit over at Academic Coach offered both consolation and admonition. "There but for the grace of the Goddess goes StinkyLu..."

The peril of piles, yea verily...


StinkyLulu's Bad Taste in Music Meme

Well, it's been a long week & StinkyLulu really needs a bit of mindless piddling. So, it seemed as good as time as any to do a meme. Saw this one over at New Kid on The Hallway & thought it sounded fun enough...

The premise (memise?) is to go find the list of the top 100 songs from the year you graduated from high school. Bold the ones you like(d), strikeout the ones you don't. O'course, StinkyLulu's a doof & doesn't know how to do the strikeout thing; so StinkyLu's agonna italicize the ditties for which the reaction is "feh".


1. That's What Friends Are For, Dionne Warwick, Elton John, and Gladys Knight
2. Say You, Say Me, Lionel Richie
3. I Miss You, Klymaxx
4. On My Own , Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald
5. Broken Wings, Mr. Mister
6. How Will I Know, Whitney Houston
7. Party All The Time, Eddie Murphy
8. Burning Heart, Survivor
9. Kyrie, Mr. Mister
10. Addicted To Love, Robert Palmer
11. Greatest Love Of All, Whitney Houston
12. Secret Lovers, Atlantic Starr
13. Friends And Lovers, Carl Anderson and Gloria Loring
14. Glory Of Love, Peter Cetera
15. West End Girls, Pet Shop Boys
16. There'll Be Sad Songs, Billy Ocean
17. Alive And Kicking, Simple Minds
18. Never, Heart
19. Kiss, Prince and The Revolution
20. Higher Love, Steve Winwood
21. Stuck With You, Huey Lewis and The News
22. Holding Back The Years, Simply Red
23. Sledgehammer, Peter Gabriel
24. Sara, Starship
25. Human, Human League
26. I Can't Wait, Nu Shooz
27. Take My Breath Away, Berlin
28. Rock Me Amadeus, Falco
29. Papa Don't Preach, Madonna
30. You Give Love A Bad Name, Bon Jovi
31. When The Going Gets Tough, Billy Ocean
32. When I Think Of You, Janet Jackson
33. These Dreams, Heart
34. Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone), Glass Tiger
35. Live To Tell, Madonna
36. Mad About You, Belinda Carlisle
37. Something About You, Level 42
38. Venus, Bananarama
39. Dancing On The Ceiling, Lionel Richie
40. Conga, Miami Sound Machine
41. True Colors, Cyndi Lauper
42. Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins
43. What Have You Done For Me Lately, Janet Jackson
44. No One Is To Blame, Howard Jones
45. Let's Go All The Way, Sly Fox
46. I Didn't Mean To Turn You On, Robert Palmer
47. Words Get In The Way, Miami Sound Machine
48. Manic Monday, Bangles
49. Walk Of Life, Dire Straits
50. Amanda, Boston
51. Two Of Hearts, Stacey Q
52. Crush On You, Jets
53. If You Leave, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
54. Invisible Touch, Genesis
55. The Sweetest Taboo, Sade
56. What You Need, INXS
57. Talk To Me, Stevie Nicks
58. Nasty, Janet Jackson
59. Take Me Home Tonight, Eddie Money
60. We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off, Jermaine Stewart
61. All Cried Out, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam With Full Force
62. Your Love, Outfield
63. I'm Your Man, Wham!
64. Perfect Way, Scritti Politti
65. Living In America, James Brown
66. R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A., John Cougar Mellencamp
67. Who's Johnny, El Debarge
68. Word Up, Cameo
69. Why Can't This Be Love, Van Halen
70. Silent Running, Mike and The Mechanics
71. Typical Male, Tina Turner
72. Small Town, John Cougar Mellencamp
73. Tarzan Boy, Baltimora
74. All I Need Is A Miracle, Mike and The Mechanics
75. Sweet Freedom, Michael McDonald
76. True Blue, Madonna
77. Rumors, Timex Social Club
78. Life In A Northern Town, Dream Academy
79. Bad Boy, Miami Sound Machine
80. Sleeping Bag, ZZ Top
81. Tonight She Comes, Cars
82. Love Touch, Rod Stewart
83. A Love Bizarre, Sheila E.
84. Throwing It All Away, Genesis
85. Baby Love, Regina
86. Election Day, Arcadia
87. Nikita, Elton John
88. Take Me Home, Phil Collins
89. Walk This Way, Run-D.M.C.
90. Sweet Love, Anita Baker
91. Your Wildest Dreams, Moody Blues
92. Spies Like Us, Paul McCartney
93. Object Of My Desire, Starpoint
94. Dreamtime, Daryl Hall
95. Tender Love, Force M.D.'s
96. King For A Day, Thompson Twins
97. Love Will Conquer All, Lionel Richie
98. A Different Corner, George Michael
99. I'll Be Over You, Toto
100. Go Home, Stevie Wonder


Roiling Academentia

Boy howdy. Busy coupla weeks. Sorry, dear reader, for once again violating the "it's been two weeks & that's just wrong" axiom...

Basically, the Lu's been caught in the roiling tidal pools of academentia, and going under in the last days before the semester... (Classes started Monday, & StinkyLu's first teaching day was Tuesday.) But last week? An extended, required, all-day-for-five-days-with-no-$$$-compensation "orientation" for "new teachers" in the department where StinkyLu'll be teaching one (1) class for purely mercenary reasons.

Ah well -- as StinkyLulu kept repeating (eyes clenched, rocking back and forth): "It's always good to stop and reflect about the process of teaching...
itsalwaysgoodtostopnflectboutprocessoteaching... salwaysgootstopnflectboutprossoteach...


MrStinky & Lu were able to snag a screening of the new cool movie thing Broken Flowers. It's cute. Nice in a meditative sorta way -- a meandering quiet flick about the process of reflecting on the wreckage of your past & beginning to discover the willingness to be honest. O'course, the movie's actually about the collaboration of those two modern masters of melancholic irony: Bill Murray & Jim Jarmusch. But that's not really StinkyLulu's bag. The Lu liked the gourmet cameos all those great ladies -- Jessica, Frances, Tilda, Sharon, Chloe, Julie -- each putting in a great day's work, with the electric Jeffrey Wright in a zingy framing device/supporting role. I imagine some will find the stubborn flouting of genre conventions -- a mystery without a climactic reveal?!?! egads!!! -- too frustrating, but it's a nice quiet movie, filmed in a really pretty way...


Who said there's no shopping in ABQ?

So far as is known, this does not refer to anyone in StinkyLulu's circle.

(via the shutterbugs at dukecityfix)


El Otro Vegas

The weekend arrived suddenly. Busy busy busy. (And school's not even started yet -- eeps.) Gratifyingly, though, MrStinky & Lulu had long ago made plans for a weekend getaway to Vegas -- el otro Vegas -- Las Vegas, NEW MEXICO.

THIS Las Vegas -- founded a full century before the shinier one -- is the hometown of StinkyLulu's pops (aka PapaStinky) & the home of Highlands University, where PapaStinky met MamaStinky -- causing something of a local scandal -- lo so many years ago. The town's realy a crazy burg: rural trading hub in the mid 1800s; railroad boomtown toward the turn of the century; small college town circa 1950; in decline pretty much ever since. But the funky hispanic hinterlands location -- combined with the pretty amazing blend of nuevomexicano & victorian & midcentury modern architecture -- gives this Vegas a nifty vibe. It's one of those amazing but decaying small towns: so easy to fall in love with & next to impossible to make a life in. And perfect -- winkwink -- for a weekend getaway with your sweetie!

But the Stinkys' adventure really started on Old Las Vegas Highway, just north of Santa Fe, at Bobcat Bite: a perfect place to get your certification as a carnivore renewed. It's a burger shack -- complete with calendar prints of bobcats framed on the walls, ancient wood veneer tables, simple menu, cash-only vintage cash register dingalinging away -- with the food served fast & fresh when, and only when they finally get to you. The burgers were good: a sizable glop of hamburger grilled on a filthy -- oops -- seasoned cast iron griddle, served hot & juicy on a simple bun. And the thronging crowd was palpably pleased with itself for having the good taste to devour seared cow-flesh in such authentic environs. (MrStinky aptly observed that it felt like being in the Hamptons: richie rich out-of-towners cramming into a tacky food shack & just inhaling the local color. So right, that MrStinky: Martha would totally eat at Bobcat.)

Colons contentedly full of cow, the Stinkys ventured north, arriving to the Inn on the Santa Fe Trail with plenty of time to freshen up for the evening's main event: the recent Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson flick Wedding Crashers.

"A road trip for a movie currently being screened on nearly every screen in the country?" Legitimate query, lovely reader. StinkyLu's omitted but one crucial detail. In this Las Vegas, recent hits are screened -- at least during the summer months -- at the Fort Union Drive-In. Yes, dear reader, at a drive-in. Tickets? $10 a carload. Refreshments? $9.50 for popcorn, hotdog & candy. To share MrStinky's first time. At a drive-in. Priceless....

(Good thing the drive-in experience was there to counteract the Stinkys' general disappointment in the mooovie. The first 20 minutes or so are freakin'ilarious. After that, though, the movie careens into too too many plots & loads of ill-conceived caricatures. Not even the charisma & comic chops of Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams & the incredible Isla Fisher can redeem this one. {StinkyLu will leave Owen Wilson unmentioned as Lulu realizes that some people like that sort of thing.} The Stinkys have seen worse, but then again the Stinkys have seen way better.)

Morning had MrStinky & Lu joining up with StinkyLulu's favorite cousin & her new beau at the astonishingly named local bistro, Spic & Span. Good food, better tortillas, and -- hey -- when in this Las Vegas, you just sorta hafta eat at a place called "Spic & Span"...it's a local law. And you know what they say: what happens in this Las Vegas stays in this Las Vegas...cuz barely anybody knows this Las Vegas even exists.

But, hey, this Las Vegas makes for a sweet weekend getaway...


Beyond, So Beyond...

"This is my happening & it freaks me out!" -- Z-Man

Sunday rolled in & The Stinkys were off to a special early afternoon screening of the incomparably crazed Beyond the Valley of the Dolls at Albuquerque's rough little gem, The Guild Cinema. MrStinky & Lu converged with Inez & Beth Love for the BVD screening to benefit Albuqueerque's LGBT Film Fest.

If you haven't seen it, BVD defies simple summary. Directed by Russ Meyer, and scripted by Roger Ebert -- yes, THAT Roger Ebert, BVD has next to nothing at all directly to do with Jacqueline Susann, Neely O'Hara, Sharon Tate or any part of MrStinky's favorite film, The Valley of the Dolls. Rather, BVD has much more in common with one of StinkyLulu's all time favorite movies, Myra Breckenridge, another big budget 20th Century Fox production released in 1970 that aimed to cash in on the emergent sexploitation/midnight movie market & instead, in tandem, nearly bankrupted the studio altogether. (StinkyLulu loves both BVD & Myra -- both with their terrorizing trannies & frenzied narrative/editing style, ala an acid-washed Laugh-In. It's just that BVD's freaky violent climax sorta reallyreally scares StinkyLu &, well, Myra has a trashtastic Hollywood aspect what with Mr.Howell, Farrah & Mae West all in small parts. Honestly, StinkyLu could watch Myra every day, while BVD obliges a respite of several years between screenings.)

It sorta makes sense that BVD would have the loyal hipster following that it does: it's just awful. And yet, while it's got the big boobies & potsmoking=promiscuity & vicious violence that earned its x-rating, it's also oddly innocent -- like the Partridge Family or Josie & The Pussycats actually showed up in LA one day...only to be met by Z-Man, a "mysterious host" whose innate perversity makes both Count Dracula & Frank N. Furter seem frilly & innocent by comparison. Zowie. It really is quite a mooovie.

Possibly fascinating side note: During StinkyLulu's NYC days on the chacha circuit, a favorite co-worker was a beautiful black woman named "Petrenella" who was named for the character in BVD. She said her mother was pregnant with her when she saw BVD & loved the movie & loved the name. Imagine that...


A Cool Contemporary Hispanic Market (& A Not So Fantastic Four)

Like La Lu said, 'twas a fully loaded weekend.

...Friday night brought Salsa Under the Stars where MrStinky shook his thang while StinkyLu was all shy.

...and Saturday morn swept the Stinkys off to FantaSe for the 19th Annual Contemporary Hispanic Market where the Stinkys really liked work by assemblage artist Kenny Chavez, papel picado auteur Catalina Delgado Trunk & digital visionary Alex Chavez.

And since Saturday evening promised a glorious repast at Chez de QueLinda, StinkyLulu elected to take the afternoon off & away in the air-conditioned shade of the googaplex, finally catching a screening of...
...The Fantastic Four. In a word? Feh. Now, it's been but a post since StinkyLu confessed a weakness for flicks where folks get to "discover their powers" but even that, a substantial helping of cute boys, & some nifty product tie-ins can't get StinkyLu on board this train. Too bad, really. Johnny Storm (the fire guy) was one of StinkyLulu's first comicboy crushes -- a weakness for flamers from way back, 'spose. But, while Chris Evans is hot (badumdum), the character's possibly the most assertively het superhero we've seen in some time. Then, the sheer idiocy of the casting of Jessica Alba as the blonde, blue-eyed Sue Storm/Invisible Girl? Just don't see it. Badumdum...dum. Even Julian McMahon's trademark scenery-chewing sexy sleazoid-ness lacks its usual magnetism. Badumdum...doh, never mind. Only Michael Chiklis' Thing is solid. (hee!) Consider yourself warned...


Super Sky High

Staring down at a busy weekend, MrStinky & Lulu were a bit overwhelmed by the depth of movie options. So many new movies, so many movies still not screened. But it proved somewhat amazingly clear which new release would gather the Stinky movie bucks on opening day: Sky High.

StinkyLulu just loves movies about kids "discovering their powers" -- it's a thrill & a fascination that extends from Harry Potter to X-Men to Carrie. So this flick about Sky High, a high school for emerging superheroes & their sidekicks, was right up StinkyLu's alley. Plus, it promised Lynda Carter in a cameo. What more could StinkyLulu wish?
Turns out the movie's quite good (Michael Angaramo -- who you might remember as Elliot from Will and Grace -- is really dear in the lead) & often very funny (Cloris Leachman in a cameo as the school nurse is hi-larious) & sometimes really clever (the bit with the cheerleader whose superpower is the ability to multiply into an overwhelmingly identical throng of scary popular girls -- pretty brilliant).
But you must remember that it's a kids' movie set in high school... It's quite a lot of silly surrounding a very very sweet center, which -- truth be told -- The Stinkys found quite agreeable.


Another reason to love Towleroad...

This morning, StinkyLulu happened to catch Diane Sawyer do a report on the controversy surrounding "Love In Action" -- an evangelical "ex-gay" ministry/intervention/indoctrination program (which, notably, uses a recovery model -- including moral inventories -- to overcome homosexuality). "Love In Action" gained notoriety recently when a teen known as "Zach" reported on his blog that his parents were sending him to "Love In Action" because, in a nut, they refused to accept Zach's homosexuality as legitimate -- ever. ("Zach" is scheduled for release tomorrow, hence the new national attention to this story which has flown just under the MSM radar.)

Having viewed Sawyer's interview, and having followed Zach's story on the blogosphere for the last coupla months, StinkyLulu just has to hand it to Towleroad for his succinct & precise handling of the whole hooha. Towleroad's account of the GMA Segment is spot on.

And is yet another reason why Towleroad is a daily (or several times daily) stop for StinkyLulu...


Racial Oompa-Loomplications

It's been an interesting coupla weeks to be contemplating the racial turns taken by Tim Burton's Oompa Loompas (in addition to the racial motifs -- Mudbloods, House Elves, Giants, Dark Lords -- in the Harry Potter saga) while hearing broadcasted homilies about Britain's culture of multicultural tolerance having been compromised subsequent the recent bombings. Truly, the multiraciality of British society creates a fascinating surround for both Dahl's and Rowling's work, both examples of British juvenile literature transmogrified into US-circulated entertainment empires. All of which, of course, serves to underscore the conundrum of the Post-Millenial Oompa Loompa.

The racial genealogy of Oompa Loompas has been fraught with controversy. First, OompaLoompas were mini-pygmies rescued by their savior/Wonkoverseer; then, they were leaf-hugging hippies transplanted into the delicately pure ecology of the Wonkavironment. Then when Hollywonka happened the first time, the OompaLoomperformers consisted of 10-15 "little people" (all male) wearing orange-faces, goofy green wigs, white-eyebrows & matching jodphurs. Now, in Hollywonka's second go at OompaLoomperformance, digital animation/imaging permitted one veteran actor to not only become each and every OompaLoompa but also do so in miniature. Noneless, in each incarnation, the OompaLoompas are visibly distinct laborers brought from another land by Wonkacorporated to replace untrustworthy native British workers. Docile, diligent, childlike -- occasionally good for a culture shock of a laugh -- the OompaLoompas exist across these variants as a fantastical yet racialized safety valve for the necessarily inhumane realities of the corporate production of tasty treats.

So it's no real surprise that people've always gotten pissed about OompaLoompas. Are they slaves? Scabs? Roald Dahl himself rebutted a scathing, if tut-tutting, proto-culture wars critique in the early 1970s. PETOL, or People for the Ethical Treament of Oompa Loompas [pop-ups ahead] formed in the 1990s, a not-entirely-ironic online federation of OompaLoompa Rights Activists (& itself possibly a precursor of Hermione's HELF -- House Elf Liberation Front). All of which suggests -- to StinkyLulu at least -- that Dahl probably scripted the OompaLoompas to carry a not-so-oblique reference to the racial & colonial history of the sugar/cocoa/marzipan industries & so underscoring the historical realities of racialized labor in the creation of confections.

All of which is to say: Oompa Loompas are fundamentally racial characters. And various productions have negotiated this in variously honest ways. Notably, the 1971 film version stylized the difference via makeup/costume & extended the vaudevillian/circus "amusing midget" schtick beyond Oz and to the 1970s. (StinkyLulu's surely not the only one to have spent late night adolescent musing sessions tracing the history of ominous/amusing "little char/actors" from the munchkins to the Oompas to the jawas/Yoda/ewoks to ET?) But, in the 2005 film, there's something provocative about Tim Burton's casting of Deep Roy -- a Kenya-born South Asian actor who has made a career in "little parts" -- to portray all the OompaLoompas: it's a knowing reference to all these histories. And while the digital replication of Roy does certainly suggest the "using one one to stand in for all" problematic haunting so much of US racial performance, the fact that Roy performs all the OompaLoompas underscores the fact of Roy's performance, the fact that Roy is an actor. It's an interesting -- and possibly not entirely effective -- strategy by Burton to accommodate the complex racial challenge of OompaLoomperformance.

So, StinkyLu'll stop here. Without even mentioning the songs. But having at least gestured to some Racial OompaLoomplications... (Thanks for the nudge, afrofuturist. PS: MrStinky & Lu screened Xanadu just last night...)


Johnny Depp as the Wonky Chocolatier: The Curious Implications of The Michael Jackson Effect

It's been an at once quite busy & somehow quiet since StinkyLu's last posting. Apologies -- the Lu's really trying to get at least one post a week on the board...

So, to the most important issue first: Tim Burton's Charlie & The Chocolate Factory was brilliant. You may have heard a whole batch of naysaying voices weigh in with their grudging praise or terrorized compliments or ambivalent dismissals. You may have contributed your own voice to that strange chorus. Fans of the book admit this flick's closer than the 1971 version, but wail about the invented backstory for Willy Wonka. Fans of the 1971 movie acknowledge that this one's good but (a) nowhere as magical or (b) far too weird. And if StinkyLulu hears one more "clever" riff on "too many sweets" or "sour candy" -- well, may Christopher Lee become your dentist too...

And then there's Johnny Depp...people just love him or hate him for his surrogation of the Wonky Chocolatier. Roger Ebert (among others) thought Depp's characterization evoked (& possibly found inspiration in) the spectre of Michael Jackson, assessing it as a misguided choice that subsequently came close to derailing the film. Obviously, the claim that Depp Jacksonified Wonka uses Michael Jackson, in a kind of cultural shorthand, to signal freak/monster with a hefty "taint" of perversity (especially where boychildren, like "Charlie" of the film's title, are concerned). More subtly, however, the argument that Depp Jacksonified Wonka alleges two crimes at once. On the one hand, it's an accusation that Depp's characterization perpetrated a kind of perverted violence upon a beloved childhood icon; on the other, it's an insinuation that Depp's characterization itself somehow transformed that beloved childhood icon into a perpetrator.

It's an interesting rebuke to Depp's work in this film. Notably, it arrives as Depp's riding his highest wave of critical appreciation & mere months since the actor's second career Oscar nomination for his portrayal of J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. As Barrie, Depp adopted one of his least idiosyncratic performance styles. The actor channelled his exceptional sweetness, playfulness & charisma through his extraordinary physical prettiness to create an embraceable portrait of a man seemingly "innocent" of adulthood, most especially adult sexuality. (For StinkyLulu, these connections between J.M. Barrie & Michael Jackson were much more vivid and much more creepy.)

Curiously, the criticism of Depp's idiosyncracy as Wonka almost inevitably references his work as Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribeean, where his idiosyncratically "swishy swashbuckler" seemed to singlehandedly revive the whole idea of a pirate movie. Depp's Sparrow was, for StinkyLulu, a thrilling example of a male actor toying with an excess of gender as he crafted his anti-hero as a gender outlaw as well. (Depp's work in that film became additionally impressive for its instigation of physical and audible reactions in the boychildren sitting to StinkyLu's left on opening day. The older kid who was about 12 was squirming, saying "ew" and "eyechh," nearly any time Depp's Sparrow appeared on the screen; in contrast, his younger brother -- maybe 10 years old? -- was enthralled, giggling and cheering and staring in slack-jawed amazement.)

There's something curious, then, in the revulsion throbbing in the idea that Depp Jacksonified Wonka. If you actually think about it, Depp's Wonka -- while undeniably and incredibly strange -- is nowhere near as perverse as his other recent, and more celebrated roles. Rather, it seems to StinkyLulu that Depp's Wonka is best appreciated as part of a particular Depp tradition, begun in some of the actor's earlier mysterious, titular roles (Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood), each a delicately passionate creature misunderstood & maligned by the incriminating normalcy of the world surrounding him.

And placing Michael Jackson as an interpretive overlay on Depp's Wonka crucially misunderstands exteriorized difference as a signal of danger. This is a mistake StinkyLulu hears running all through the evocations of Gene Wilder's "charm" and "whimsy" in the 1971 film. People. Get real. Reflect honestly on your experience of Wilder's Wonka. Didn't Wilder's Wonka make you at least as nervous, as least as tense, as Depp's -- at least some of the time? StinkyLu suspects that much of Wilder's freaky weirdo manipulation as Wonka is forgiven (& forgotten) in the magical transformation (some would say revelation) of Wilder's Wonka in the "everlasting gobstopper" moment -- where Peter Ostrum's Charlie returns the secret candy & where Wilder's Wonka sheds his forbiddingly strange exterior to become an unabashedly kind man whose madness was (to a whim) methodical. For StinkyLulu, ever since the days of being a wee little Stinky, this revelation cheapened the character of Wonka, making him less trustworthy (not more) for his elaborate manipulations and partial truths. Depp's Wonka has no revelatory transformation & remains as defiantly irreal even as Charlie (here, the luminous Freddie Highmore) guides him toward fuller personhood through a reaffirmation of the importance of family ties.

So, while this more recent Chocolate Factory movie did at times make StinkyLulu long for the more familiar one, Depp's Wonka consistently reminded Lu of the often frightening but most excellent delight of finding a whole 'nother Chocolate Factory -- just as cool, just as scary, just as thrilling... And to be alert, lovely reader, to the curious implications of all the allegations that Depp Jacksonified Wonka...

P.S. Check back for more on the racial oompa-loomplications & thoughts on StinkyLulu's favorite character -- then and now -- Mike Teevee.


StinkyLulu's Summer Movies

Hello Lovelies...
It's been nearly two weeks & that's just wrong. So. Even though StinkyLu hasn't a blog-agenda today, post Lulu will...

The trip to NYC was great. Perfect, actually. Just time enough to do pretty much everything, but not so long that the traveling started to get too tiresome. The best part? Being with MrStinky, o'course. The real best part? Good eatin' all 'round. The other like totally best part? The movies. And the surprisingly good part? The shopping. (Who'da thunk't? See, MrStinky -- being the shopping-fiend that he is -- dragged the Lu all around SoHo a few different times. Actually sorta fun. StinkyLulu's totally the "weary husband holding the little lady's bags" but it was sorta neat. And StinkyLu wasn't even frightened at the sight of the pricetags. Generally mortified, horrified & appalled -- but not frightened. That scores progress.)

And despite the headlines about cinema attendance being down, The Stinkys have been doing more than their fair share to boost the movie economy -- both in NYC and since -- in the last 2 weeks. (All without seeing that soul sucking alien attempt world domination via the googaplex; the Stinkys haven't seen the movie starring his newly Scientologized fiancee either.)

StinkyLulu's movie notes -- in brief:
Me and You and Everyone We Know: Highly mannered, more than a touch precious, overrun with pretension...and yet, one of the most emotionally provocative films StinkyLulu's seen in eons. Filmmaker Miranda July disregards basic cinematic conventions of narrative & character development and creates a gorgeous story of regular people behaving in the banal (yet inscrutable) ways of everyday life. Really good acting from the kids, too.
Mysterious Skin: Y'all know how much StinkyLu's been looking forward to this flick. Well, no disappointment -- at all. Stellar acting on all sides -- scary, real, even more scary, even more real. Catch it if you can. You'll never think of alien abduction stories in quite the same way again. Even more, you might just think of pedophilia in a totally new way too... Wow. Just wow.
The Heights: Wanna fall in love with NYC all over again? See this flick. This is the kind of movie that -- had StinkyLulu seen it in high school or college -- would have fueled StinkyLu's already stoked passion to move to NYC & "experience life"; can be hard to remember that thrill now that StinkyLu is old & jaded. But this movie's a gorgeous soap opera for folks who consider themselves way too literate/smart/cultured for daytime tv. The kind of layered, not-ironic NYC relationship drama that no one makes anymore...
Howl's Moving Castle: It's Miyazaki, so it's wierd. But this one's possibly the least comprehensible of any Miyazaki movie StinkyLulu's ever seen. Nonetheless, Lulu's basic thrill with Miyazaki ("check your brain & your expectations at the door & just thrill with the ride") is totally there. Might be a highly encrusted metaphorical tale of the spiritual costs of grandiosity & emotional disconnection, but StinkyLulu's not sure. Fabulously strange & defiantly unsummarizable -- weird but Lulu loved it.
Saving Face: Sweet, confidently told story of Chinese Americans in NYC, alternately dealing and not dealing with how unexpected love changes the contours of family. The underrated & always impossibly gorgeous Joan Chen anchors this film with a simple, beautiful, intense sincerity that lets both the broad comedy & brazen sentiment glow. Watch it with your honey or your mom. (And try not to count how many queer romances end with the exact same scene.)
Bewitched: Goofy sloppy piffle. Fine, but. Think of it like tapas. Lots of tasty little bits (especially from the incredible supporting cast) with a generally agreeable vibe (thanks to the luminous charm of Nicole Kidman) but not altogether satisfying. Wanted a bit more Maclaine, maybe a bit less Ferrell -- not too much of any one thing to make me nauseous or cranky...but, all told, not enough to leave StinkyLulu satisfied.

So, a good coupla weeks at the movies.
And StinkyLulu hasn't even mentioned MrStinky's latest favorite tvd show: Entourage. (Watched the entire first season in the last two weeks. Now The Stinkys are looking to scam HBO from unsuspecting beloveds to catch season2.)


Big Stinky Apple

StinkyLulu joins you today from the road, or the circle, as the case may be. Columbus Circle, in fact, in the hot hazy humid glamor of New York City.
Presently, StinkyLulu's trying to be patient sitting in the cushy Special Collections Reading Room of the glamorously remodeled New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. (See: there are some boxes of "special manuscript materials" that StinkyLu asked for yesterday, which were to have arrived today, and they did actually arrive to the library facility; however, those "special manuscript materials" are presently sitting on the dock of the loading bay wayaysting time while someone's at lunch. Ah well. You know how those New Yorker's get about their food.)

So, StinkyLulu turns to you, lovely reader, to offer a brief account of NYC where MrStinky & Lu arrived this past weekend to join MrStinky's many brothers for a fantabulous Father's Day feast of lasagna & filial devotion. But that seems nearly a gazillion years ago... So here are some highlights of the last 4 days:

:: Saw Mad Hot Ballroom at a ghettoplex -- an urban subspecies of a googaplex -- in MrStinky's homeland (Staten Island). Amazing & sweet movie. Too bad the sound of the theatre disintegrating from within made it sometimes hard to hear the movie...

:: MrStinky took StinkyLu to Coney Island for the first time. Neato. Gritty grimy gorgeous -- just as a pubic beach should be. On the boardwalk, a mural of The Warriors was just down from an event/attraction that offered the chance to "Shoot the Freak!" (blast paintballs at a skinny young man dodging through a maze of broken refrigerators and other detritus). Just as it should be.

:: Played pictionary with a buncha MrStinky's nearest/dearest/oldest friends. The Stinkys won o'course.

:: Stayed for (thankfully) one night at a glamorous place on the upper west side: The Mount Royal Hotel, perhaps more appropriately appreciated as a hostel. One would certainly become hostel staying there more than one night. Badumdum. Complete with cold running water (it might warm up if you let it run long enough) and shared bathroom with cigarette butt accents/floor treatments. Niiiiiiiiiiiice. But try & beat that price!

:: And lotsa real good eatin'!
Breakfast at Cafe LuluC in Brooklyn.
Lunch at Nathan's on Coney Island -- best hot dog ever.
Thin crust pizza from pizzabolla on the upper west side.
Breakfast at SaraBeth's with a college friend of StinkyLulu's (& her twin seven year old sons) -- amazing french toast & brilliant preserves.
And that's just two days into the adventure...
Tonight promises the big fancy dinner of the trip at Blue Hill with afrofuturist, his partner & a friend of MrStinky's. Itsa hot time in food city tonite!

SO: The city's good.
The food's better.
And StinkyLu's "special manuscript materials" are still not here.
Gotta love NYC.


Mid School Girls Gone Wild

It's always fun (in an infuriating kind of way) to have a sexpanic unfold before one's eyes (or ears). Well, that happened today. See, on Wednesday, StinkyLulu drives around ABQ, delivering a local free rag to fine local establishments. This, of course, means that -- on Wednesdays -- StinkyLulu listens to a lot of talk radio. This Wednesday, the following story was burning up the local airwaves... (It's pasted in its entirety cuz it's not available yet for linkage.)

Police Say Porn Taped at Mid-High School

By Michael Davis
A trio of students are being investigated for making a pornographic videotape at Rio Rancho Mid-High School during their lunch hour last month. "We are conducting an investigation of a video that was made at the mid-high, allegedly made near the end of the school year," Department of Public Safety spokesman John Francis said. "The tape was allegedly made by students." He said he could not reveal more details because the case remains under investigation. According to a Sandoval County sheriff's supplemental narrative, two female students were caught kissing and engaging in other sexual acts during second lunch hour. They were being videotaped by a male student. The students' ages were not available; the mid-high serves eighth- and ninth-graders. "There weren't any adults involved, but it's still pornography," Sheriff John Paul Trujillo said Tuesday. Sheriff's deputy Joe Harris said he was called to assist Rio Rancho Mid-High's school resource officer Joe Chavez with a situation involving a very irate parent, the supplemental report says. The parent was upset because her daughter was caught participating in a lesbian sex video, the report says. When the woman asked her daughter how long she had been engaging in lesbian acts, the girl replied "since sixth grade" because her mother didn't let her go out with boys, the report says. Assistant principal Donna Stotts told the woman that some students had video cameras because they were doing a project for journalism class, according to the report. Stotts told the woman the tape and camera in question had been locked in a desk and would be turned over to Rio Rancho police as evidence. Rio Rancho Public Schools spokeswoman Kim Vesely confirmed Tuesday an incident involved students videotaping inappropriate behavior, and that it resulted in suspensions. Vesely said she could not comment further because it is a disciplinary incident. No charges have been filed at this time. But Sandoval County District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said the incident could result in felony charges for violations of New Mexico's Sexual Exploitation of Children statute, even though the students are minors. Rio Rancho Deputy Police Chief Steve Shaw said that once the investigation was complete, the file would be sent to the state Juvenile Probation Office to determine whether charges will be filed. (Copyright 2005 Albuquerque Journal)

So. The citizens of the greater Albuquerque area were all aflutter about this -- using this situation as a springboard for righteous pronouncements about all society's ills: public schools are a menace; whatsamatter with kids today; those hollywood degenerates; homosexuality is ruining this country; when did schoolgirls start offering hummers... The usual.

What astonished (& riled) the Lulu was that the girls were demonized as slutty perverted lesbos while the boy was either not mentioned at all or dismissed as 'just doing what boys do' (like your voice cracks & then you start filming sex acts). But as things went on, the whole fandango became an example of how this culture uses "sex acts" to describe identity without even being able to name what those "sex acts" are. Rather than interpreting this incident as an example of teenage girls using their sexuality to "act out" and gain the attention of boys, the moralistic handwringing emphasized how Paris Hilton & hip-hop culture has turned girls into sluts. Never mind that this sounds like a midschooler filming his own entry into the hugely successful "Girls Gone Wild" video ouevre. Never mind that one radio host spent his morning breathlessly grilling 13-14 year old callers on the details of sexual behavior they had witnessed at their school. Never mind that another whined for hours about how girls never hummed when he was in school. And the only local female host clucked squeamishly wondering when 14 year olds started being lesbians. (Like two babydykes in love would do anything in front of a teenboy's camera.)

Ironically, the last time this school was in the news it was when they suspended a kid for trying to stop his own farting. And when Dick Cheney spoke there the same week his daughter Mary's lesbianism became a campaign issue.

But now, it's the week of the Jackson verdict, and the continuing obsession with that missing Aruba girl, and stories like this continue to enthrall the masses. No harm, right? I mean, it's not like there's a war going on or anything...