Virgin Snow.

As a last word on Alfred Hitchcock, I just wanted to share two quotes I saw just recently, the first being from Hitchcock himself…

“Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”

…which is from an interview he did on TV in 1977.

And then I saw a quote from Ingrid Bergman…

“I’d like to know more about his relationships with women. No, on second thought, I wouldn’t.”

Fitting.

And then I saw this, which I love, and is wonderfully seasonal:

Good Evening!

by Grant Snider, from here.

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A boy’s best friend is his mother.

Good evening.

I saw Hitchcock today. Just a few quick thoughts…

1. The nicest thing you can say about this movie was that it was witty and clever, but it’s ultimately very light fare. So much of this movie is fantasy – and not just the fantasy and daydream sequences – but it’s trivial aspects, imagined insights into the life of the filmmaker and his wife. A documentary about the making of Psycho and this era of Hitchcock’s career, with speculation from more informed opinions would’ve probably proved to be more interesting.

2. This movie has gotten mild Oscar buzz, and I guess it’s there, but primarily for the production design. The story is pretty formulaic, not giving the actors much to do other than say their lines competently.

3. Speaking of which, James Darcy does a fairly accurate seeming impression of Anthony Perkins. It’s funny to me that they make Perkins’ homosexuality not so much an unofficial secret throughout Hollywood, but something that a careful observer can pick up from a distance.

Just imagine the meeting of ScarJo and Bernard Herrmann.

4. This is second movie that I can think of that introduced a character played by ScarJo by doing a close up of her ass.

5. That said, it’s a film, it’s fantasy. The people are better looking. Helen Mirren is obviously much more attractive than the real life Alma Reville, and Anthony Hopkins, even under all the make up, probably still has a much more expressive face than the real Alfred Hitchcock. Also, Danny Huston is a villain in everything, right? That’s good casting.

6. Watching the film, of course, lead me to thinking about Psycho again. And that lead me to thinking about Delillo’s last novel, Point Omega, which has a prologue and epilogue set at the 24 Hour Psycho art installation by Douglas Gordon, which was at the Museum Of Modern Art in 2006. The installation took Hitchcock’s 109 minute movie and stretches it and slows it down so that it plays out over the course of 24 hours. The shower scene, for example, which lasts 45 seconds, takes a whole hour to play out.

In the novel, the 24 Hour Psycho stuff is a fascinating sequence that really informs the rest of the novel and how it deals with the perceptions missed perceptions of time passing. This little section always stuck out with me:

“The less there was to see, the harder he looked, the more he saw. This was the point. To see what’s here, finally to look and to know you’re looking, to feel time passing, to be alive to what is happening in the smallest registers of motion.”

If you’d like to check out an interesting book that takes a nice look back at Psycho, I would highly recommend A Long Hard Look At Psycho by Raymond Durgnat. It would make a nice companion piece to a film like Hitchock, really digging deeper than the fluff.

7. Something the film touches on, but only ever so briefly, is that great art can come from disturbed minds and from desires and fantasies that can’t be beaten and broken down into a box labeled “normal.” Obviously Alfred Hitchcock had some curious interests and obsessions and some continuing issues with women. The same could be said for Woody Allen. And Roman Polanski. There could be a lot of accurately negative things said for them as human beings, as well as a lot of accurately positive things said about their art. You need to pick your medium of release, because dark fantasies don’t have to spill over into reality. Sometimes creativity is born in the shit, and art has to be separated from the artist. Like I’ve repeated in one of my favorite quotes, there’s a difference between make believe and real life.

The difference between make believe and real life.

8. Now, I kind of want to watch that recent  HBO movie with Toby Jones as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren. Since it covers the making of The Birds and Marnie, it’ll be a kind of unofficial sequel to this movie. And it’ll get into some of the trivial parts of history that really interest us (and that Hitchcock only touches on sparingly): Hitch’s obsession and control over his leading ladies.

9. I’m not sure if this makes me really want to go see Bates Motel.

10. When you watch movies in December, and especially the second half of December, you kind of have to keep the idea of the Oscars always present in the back of your mind, right? I haven’t seen Zero Dark Thirty yet but I suspect that the big Oscar buzz will be between that and probably The Life Of Pi. On the Time Travel Murder Mystery podcast Benjie and I talk about the padding you have to do to come up with 10 films to nominate, because at least four and sometimes five of those films have no chance whatsoever. I suspect that Hitchcock is one of those films. It’s a cute movie about a great director and his under appreciated wife and a mid-life crisis (well, slightly later than “mid-life”) and some marital scrapes. And through that time there came about a truly great piece of cinema. Psycho, that is, not Hitchcock.

Uncut.

And so are you.

I repeat this a lot, but this is one of my favorite quotes, and it comes from Klaus Kinski’s autobiography, Kinksi Uncut:

“I once asked a Gypsy girlfriend whether she ever went to the theater or the movies, and she replied: ‘When I was fourteen, two men fought with knives over me. One stabbed the other to death. I touched the dead man; he was really dead. The other was really alive.’

Thats the difference between make-believe life and real life. Mine is real.”

Kinski was very intense, but silly. But ever since I read his book in my early teens that quote has stuck with me.

File this one under: Supplemental, and Ancient Hollywood Weirdness.

I can see you!

from here.

Yesterday.

There is a clear difference between a fact and a factoid. Sometimes that difference becomes clearest in a live fact check and binders full of women. Good health is merely the slowest possible onset of death. Nostalgia clearly isn’t as good now as it used to be. The word “vodka” comes from the Slavic word for “water,” which makes a kind of sense. Whatever happened to Nancy Drew?

There is a correlation between losing sleep and losing memories. It’s humorous for me to think that Ronald Reagan once said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” An owl is an owl is an owl. “High and tight,” “shuck and jive,” “bread and circuses,” and “smoke and mirrors” are all examples of Siamese Twins.

I would like to stand on a beach at night, yelling obscenities into the coming tides. Pictures from here, here, here, here, and here. Is it possible that we’ll find thriving distant life in Alpha Centauri or the ancient remnants of extinguished life on Mars?

Is/was yesterday real, or did we just dream it up?

Brad Bird and Damond Lindelof are doing a movie together, maybe featuring aliens, but shhhh, it’s all a secret. Johnny Depp wants to publish a book about Bob Dylan, which seems totally unnecessary. If young J. G. Ballard looked like Christian Bale, does that mean that Christian Bale will eventually look like old J. G. Ballard? The Wire as a list with no name. Sometimes I feel like I am losing touch with the things really matter, or should really matter. Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell sequel won the 2012 Man Booker Prize. Oscar Wilde’s last words were, “Either that wallpaper goes – or I do!” There as no September 3 through September 13 in 1752. Dark Matter and Trojan Horses. Doppelgänger is still a really cool word. Everything is fine and…

That said, bananas are berries but strawberries are not.

Stories and subjects.

“American pictures usually have no subject, only a story. A pretty woman is not a subject. Julia Roberts doing this and that is not a subject.”

-Jean-Luc Godard, 1994

File this one under: Supplemental, and Ancient Hollywood Weirdness.

Return to Tomorrowland.

Mad Men finally returns tomorrow!

About fucking time, right? Bring on the cure for the common television show.

All I know about tomorrow’s episode is that it’s two hours long and supposedly called “A Little Kiss.” Other than that, I’ve maintained a blissful sense of being unaware… What will year will the show be in when it returns? Will Don have finally married his secretary, or even still be married to her? What will be up with Peggy, and Pete, and the rest of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? Will Joan’s husband have been killed in Vietnam yet? And, sigh, what will be the state of Betty Draper?

Those, of course, are just a few of the burning questions. And oh, how they burn.

I don’t have the answers to any of those questions, not yet anyway. And I guess you could say that I’m ready to be hit over the head here.

Until then though, this is talking about some previous Mad Men episodes and other Mad Men Mania:

Tomorrowland.”

The intoxicating weirdness of Jon Hamm.

Christmas Comes But Once A Year.”

Public Relations.”

The timeless wisdom of Marshall McLuhan.

Shut The Door. Have A Seat.”

The Dream Of The Fisherman’s Wife and the art fetish of Burt Cooper.

The Grown-Ups.”

The Gypsy And The Hobo.”

The Color Blue.”

Wee Small Hours.”

…and many, many more.

Anyway, we’ll definitely be watching tomorrow. And we assume you will too. See you in the future.

Headphones.

An introduction: Months ago the amazing Maria and I had this little chat, and like most of our chats, it started off most interestingly…

Maria Diaz: Hey…

Marco Sparks: What an interesting video. That man stabbed himself in the chest! Multiple times! That is some serious follow through.
MD: Huh? Oh, I sent you the wrong one. But i do love that song. Look at this:
🙂 and…
🙂
Marco: Oh man, that song.
MD: This one is better:
Marco: I just remember hearing it one night, late at night when I was homeless and living with a friend, and I remember loving the song. It’s a tired complaint, I know, but this was back when VH1 and MTV still played… sigh… music videos.
MD: Which one, the Nine Days one? Or Vertical Horizon?
Marco: Oh, the Nine Days one, sorry. But I think a lot part of it had to do with really thinking that the girl in the video was super duper cute.
MD: Yeah, that was probably the real reason. Especially because that Vertical Horizon song is terrible.
Marco: Part of it was also because I was really trying to win over this girl who looked like the girl in the Nine Days video and… I don’t know, maybe I felt justified in my affections by the song/video?
MD: the song is kinda cute, I think.
Marco: She was dating this ginormous drug dealer at the time. Well, not “ginormous,” neither physically not, you know, stature in the suburban drug selling racket, but… well, either way, I just couldn’t compete with the guy. And yeah, the song is fine. Probably better than fine.
MD: Awww. Yeah, drug dealers are very attractive to women. All that money. And all those drugs.
Marco: That particular Vertical Horizon song… I liked it maybe the first time I heard it, but every time after… grating.
MD: It’s the reveal at the end of the song… that HE is the one the girl doesn’t want.
Marco: Of course she doesn’t want him. (He’s hideous.) This…
“Love can be so boring.”
MD: OMG this song.
Marco: There’s a very sad, very tragic playlist of recurring songs that I listened to a lot circa 1999 – 2002ish, and this song was on it intermittently.
MD: I bet we had many of the same songs. This was definitely on mine.
Marco: I feel like I was carrying around this very shallow sense of sadness or regret… like I had lost something that should be crucial but wasn’t, not really, though you at the time you couldn’t convince me of that… and my music reflected that.
MD: Exactly.
Marco: It’s strange that you got me thinking about that cause I was really thinking about a lot of music from back then lately the first summer I moved to this shithole state I live in… I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Ate shitty food. “Ate shitty” as in “ate terribly.” Drank beer. Lots. Laid on the couch in my huge bedroom listening to music and reading. That was it. Oh, and thought up ridiculous plots of silly Clive Cussler-esque thrillers.
…but that one U2 album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind? I associate that album so strongly, oddly enough, with Bret Easton Ellis’ first book and with Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary because I listened to that album on repeat while reading those books for the first time that summer.
MD: The first Bret Easton Ellis, that’s Less Than Zero?
Marco: Yeah, Less Than Zero.
Okay, that invisible pain I mentioned… do you want to see a really bad example of a song from that period?
MD: Of course. Always.
Marco: okay, this artist I’m about to bring up is ridiculous and you kind of knew that when she first debuted, but just how ridiculous and plastic hadn’t quite hit yet…
Anyway, her first two singles were just silly radio pop fluff, but this was her third single, I believe, and I remember hearing this song for the first time on headphones while walking somewhere late at night… and it just seemed to resonate with that tragic void living inside me…
MD: hahaha YES! I felt similarly about this song…
Marco: (Holy shit, Lizzy Caplan is in that video.)
It’s probably been so long since i’ve bought an actual CD i’m sad to say because I still like CDs, I’m still a guy who likes CDs, but I have a lot of bad pop punk CDs from that circa Avril era. I mean, I probably have 700 cds and it’s just this incredibly awesome, sexy music collection, but just figure that 30 or so of those cds are from artists like…
and
MD: Nothing to be ashamed of.
Marco: Well, maybe a little, but it was a time and a place and everything changes and you make explorations and sometimes what’s bad is good and vice versa. And blah blah blah. And anyone who doesn’t get that is an idiot, right? Plus, these tiny revelations made here are hardly the worse musical sins I’ve committed as a listener…
Though, thankfully, this was the time period in which was i also really discovering, like, The Get Up Kids, so it wasn’t all bad. And that said, I gotta tell you, I’m sorry, but I can’t join you on the Jason Mraz journey.
MD: hahahahaha.
When I was flying back from Europe with an ex, we had a HORRIBLE fight. And this is like 10+ hours of flying BTW, and I just listened to this Jason Mraz song over and over again on the airplane radio system. It was really quite sad.
Marco: I can imagine. I think I’d like the song if it was a different artist, you know?
MD: Yeah. Jason Mraz is easy to hate.
Marco: And it’s something about Mraz himself that I just despise.
Okay, so I am about to hit you with two megahits from that time period. i don’t know if you’re ready for it.
MD: I’m so fucking ready.
Marco: That is exactly what I wanted to hear. But first, let me just say… Thinking about that Unwritten Law song… I was working where I am currently already when that song was unleashed on me and it’s so vivid in my memory the girl I had a crush on then that I associate that song with… I mean, nothing ever happened with that girl. She thought I was profoundly weird without ever realizing just how right she was and yet I still think of her when I hear it. Anyways… Prepare thyself!
MD: Getting ready…
Marco: You say that but can ever truly be ready to go back to… this:
…and also this:
BOOM!
MD: OH MAN, that Lifehouse guy. Do you think he made his voice sound like that?
Marco: Ha ha. Do you remember where you were when you first said out loud, “NO WAY, THAT BIG VOICE DOES NOT SOUND LIKE THAT LITTLE GUY FROM THE CALLING.”
MD: Wow. Seriously. I had no idea this band even had a name. It was just a song that was everywhere at the time.
Marco: Like back then, as they were signing their record contract they must’ve known they would not last.
It would be so much easier if we were talking about just the 90s here…
from here.
or late 90’s fin de siècle music, but this period we’re talking about, that early 00s, was just so fucking weird. Here’s a really, really sad fact: I also recall the first mp3 I ever downloaded and while this wasn’t the very first, I believe that lifehouse single was either #2 or #3.
MD: Hmm has this song been on a lot of commercials?
Marco: Probably so very many.
MD: Here’s one for the ages:
Marco: the first comment on that video’s youtube page is:
“I paused my porn for this. (:”
Editor’s note: This was a few months ago, mind.
MD: The ultimate compliment for any music video, really.
Marco: For serious. Yeah,back then I really liked the Bleed American and Futures album, which made me go back and look up Clarity. So emotastic.
MD: yeah, all the emo kids were soooo mad when they got popular for 5 seconds.

Editor’s note: I then told MD again about the 600ish page political novel that Benjamin Light and I started writing back during the time period being covered in this music discussion. (Separate editor’s note: Those 600 pages ended up only being probably 1/8the the novel’s probable length had it lived past its infancy. Jesus.) Anyway, about 75 pages of that book were written to Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity album. -Marco.

Marco: Wow, the neural pathways of memory and musical taste progression that this trip and fall down memory lane is opening up for me…
MD: That’s what it’s supposed to do!
Marco: I remember there was a period where I went to Burger King for lunch every day – ugh – and I’d order my food and sit myself in the corner, with my back to the TV and so I could see everyone there and I’d listen to music on headphones and eat and read articles from the internet I had printed out earlier in the day at work and just write. I was working on so many things back then and I had downloaded the Wicker Park soundtrack of all soundtracks because I had heard it was “hip.” And on it was this song:
MD: Very interesting that the video you found is a fandom vid for The Office.
Marco: …and that begat me downloading their album at the time and I would listen to that Snow Patrol album all the time during that period and write and, of course, it’s strongly associated with a girl at the time and all that blah blah blah. Words and music and women… funny how they’re all so strongly tied together in my head.
And yeah, I thought that was funny too, re: The Office video. I guess Pam/Roy was someone’s OTP at the time?
But anyway, that Snow Patrol thing… I think that was the start of me pushing into a new aeon on musical interests, as far as cruising on the surface of mainstream “alternative rock”ish type music for the masses, and enjoying something about the generic nothingness there.
And that strange sadness that belonged to nothing real in my life? I really think that perhaps it died when I first heard this song…
MD: Ah, such a lovely song…
Marco: I remember listening to this song on headphones on a lunchbreak at work and just breaking down into tears. I had to call in to my job from 100 yards away and tell them I’d be late and I just walked around, listening to this over and over again and feeling terrible, and wonderful, and terrible and sad and wounded, and it was like somewhere around then I stopped feeling sad about nothing and it was like the real regrets and misery entered my life.
MD: Like catharsis, like a breakthrough of sorts.
Marco: Yeah, exactly. I mean, like everyone, I have things that happened when I was younger that I carried the pain of those things with me, but I was always too shallow to really be affected by them properly, I think. I was suffering from a different kind of pain, I think, as my early 20s were crystallizing around me, and with that song… It was like the end of something more innocent and silly in my emotional dealings with the world, and the start of me experiencing real world sadness and hurt? Perhaps.
If all of this right now was a part of a documentary about my sad dealings with music at the dawn of my 20s, then the song that would be playing over the end credits sequence would be this:
MD: Ha ha, nice. And what does the hero learn at the end?
Marco: Nothing. Nothing is ever really learned.
And that end titles sequence, also, would just be sitting on the sidelines of a Quinceañera, watching young Spanish girls in pretty dresses dancing around with their family.
MD: You know, that sounds oddly hopeful.
Marco: Le Sigh. Remember when everything was just so simple and innocent and… BRITPOP?
MD: And it’s probably right there when i realized that this whole conversation would a blog post.
Marco: Yeah, sorry about that, but I think you’re right… Or maybe it’ll even be two!
Editor’s note: TO BE CONTINUED!