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.