Snow day

We’re on snow lockdown, here at La Maison des Moucheron. La mouison, if you will. There’s snow, there’s sleet and a predicted drop in temperature down to 4F (-15 in C) here in Cambridge.

So, like… fuck that, right? I can’t be alone in saying that.

I am tucked up in bed with an entire bottle of cranberry juice, a box of tissues, two peanut butter and banana sandwiches and a copy of Interview With The Vampire I procured yesterday when running around doing snow panic chores.

Mostly I’ve been sleeping.

January is a slow month for my brain under the best of circumstances. Currently,, in addition to the pervasive januiarity, I have a cold that will not die.

I have, therefore, not been to any movies so far this year. I have, in fact, been mostly re-watching the first 3 seasons of That 70s Show while playing The Sims 4. Because: cotton brain.

The Sims is such a bad drug, you guys. So bad. It takes away your ability to recognize the passage of time while sucking you in to a bespoke soap opera except with more aliens. I love it. It is the enemy of all my productivity.

But with a cotton brain, it’s not as though productivity is really in the cards. And when I so much as talk to people my throat winds up hurting worse. Really, laying around and playing video games in between bouts of sleep is probably the best thing I could be doing right now.

So I shall be grateful for this weekend of enforced rest. I hauled out my good comforter. (It has the Avengers on it, because in spite of being 41, I am ten at heart. You should see my action figure collection.) I have all I need in this small, cozy world in the heart of sleet and concrete.

I know I have a lot of movie catching-up to do, both in terms of this year’s watching and in terms of last year’s writing, but right now the task is to breathe and wait. Brain hibernation.


Today’s high was 94 degrees (34 in most of the world). My work is air conditioned but now that I’m home, I’m literally laying in front of a fan with chunks of ice tucked inside my clothing and my brain cells are still telling me to fuck off.

Might be an evening of very trashy video games (wheee Fallout Shelter) and laying still.

I saw two movies in the theater over the weekend.

The Spy Who Dumped Me – A fucking delight. Funny and the action was good.

Momma Mia: Here We Go Again – Even schmaltzier than the first one.  I cried a lot. Like the giant port-wine cheese appetizer that I am.

In home viewing I have watched a bunch of X-Men: The Animated Series, which I watched when it was airing back in the early nineties and which was the thing that turned me on to superhero comics in the first place.

It also made me fall in love with Beast. I still don’t know if I want to marry him or be him, to be honest. Since he’s fictional and I am aggressively not, it’s moot, of course.

I’ve also watched:

Room – I have no idea why I’ve gone in for crying things lately. I may have to watch a few eps of This Is Us before the mood passes. This film felt pretty true to a very ugly situation, to me.

Iliza Schlesinger: Elder Millennial – The roomie and I agreed that we’ve enjoyed her more recent specials less than her first two. There will still laughs though.

The Break With Michelle Wolf – I was a fan of Wolf on The Daily Show and Late Night With Seth Meyers and I’m jazzed she has her own show. I’m not sure it’s hit its stride, yet, but there have been plenty of very funny bits and I’m into continuing to watch.

It is, by the way, safe to assume that I’m constantly watching a stream of political comedy. I stan John Oliver pretty hardcore.

But yeah. In tumultuous times (and when are they not?) satire keeps me sane. More or less.

I’ve also re-watched some of the early Mission Impossible movies and the beginning of Chuck. Instead of, y’know, catching up on the latest seasons of anything I previously watched or starting something new.

I am PSYCHED also, because Netflix has Ex Machina, which means maybe I’ll finally follow through with my goal of watching it again now that buying it is no longer a hurdle.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’m off to let my brain continue its melting process and to have ice and cucumber for dinner.

No Bus, No Fuss

I have a rant about public transportation and people’s behavior on it brewing inside me. Trust that I will repress it till a more appropriate time and a better place (in all probability never and nowhere, because rants about public transportation behavior are venting and many of them tend to be pretty much “get off my lawn”-y and achieve nothing positive).

Let’s talk a little, instead, about road trips.

The hero’s journey has been a part of fiction as long as fiction has been written down, as far as I can tell. And it seems that frequently the movement through space often parallels some inner movement or growth. I mean – this is litcrit 101 stuff, really.

But a road trip is something that I think is often both more specific and more vague than just a journey. A road trip is definitely at least as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

The mere concept of a road trip strikes me as really American and rooted in American’s notions of independent lateral movement as one of our fundamental freedoms or something inherent to the American spirit. Road trips in life can be spontaneous, self-directed, and contain arbitrary diversions and twists. This is often echoed when they come up in pop culture, in my experience.

The vital aspects that define a road trip in my head are thus:

  • the traveler is moving at their own pace – there is lots of room for schedule shift
  • stops happen when and as the traveler is feeling it
  • there may be an objective but there is not a point-by-point plan on reaching that objective
  • the traveler is open to the possibilities of the universe or fate or whatever you want to call it and also open to eating some truly awful diner food

The venerable and gravitational TV Tropes claims road trip fictions are usually comedies and are vulnerable to cascades of cliches and to sappiness. And frankly, I am frequently vulnerable to those things myself, and so may not be the best judge of the depth of their truth, there. The road trip stories I like the best, though, often share characteristics I find more poignant than that.

Close Quarters – Magnified Interactions

Anyone who has been in a car with someone for four hours or more knows how it can make a relationship closer or leave it cracked and teetering on the edge of an abyss or even both, by turns. Fictions that use road trips often take advantage of this and give us moments of emotional intensity that is tangential to any intensity of situation.

Sensory Immersion

Real life road trips are steeped in a sense of place and of passing. Movies often echo this and give us a sense of the landscape being traveled through that includes soundscapes, vistas and even visions of foods and scents that can only be transported to the viewer via imagination.

Inner Journey with the Outer

Road trips are not just about getting somewhere. They are deeply about the experience of the interval between leaving and arriving. There’s something mindful about bringing your brain through space and through the different environments and experiences it represents. And even if you just wind up back at home, the brain you come back with isn’t the one you left with. And the only thing that connects the story together is the path that brain took.

Meandering or Lateral Narrative Structure

Like a road trip itself, a road trip story often doesn’t take a direct approach to moving its characters through the story. Emotional beats can switch quickly with place and the shifts in physical space can be like a renewal of the mental – one doesn’t exactly start fresh in each location, but it’s easier to move from one beat to another without direct cause and effect.

Ordinary Obstacles: New Frameworks

People on road trips aren’t exempt from the boring business of keeping the body alive, and often the beats in a road trip story have something to do with meeting a usual need in an unusual location or being forced to meet it in an unusual way.

* * *

Of course, all of this really hinges on what is and isn’t a road trip movie. And certainly there are lots of arguments to be made and definitions one could mete out here. By these criteria, Magic Mike 2 and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert are road trip movies, sure, but so are The Wizard of Oz, or Mad Max: Fury Road. 

I mean – even the TV Tropes folks would agree, I think, that when you start *really* building boxes for stories to go in, you can wind up defining almost as many as there are stories.

And my list isn’t really intended to be a definition, just a group of qualities I enjoy about road trip movies (and about road trips, for that matter). I’ll leave the boundary-painting to other folks.

Pegged As The Comic Relief

I saw Mission Impossible: Fallout, this weekend. I really don’t want to review it because I feel like, as an nth sequel of an action film, you know whether you want to see it or not already and it has nothing to do with whether the film is good or not.

I will say, I enjoyed this one more than I did the last one, largely due to the re-inclusion of two female characters from the past of the franchise, both of whom were given significant and plot-pushing roles. And one who was a cast-aside past love of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise’s hero spy in the films) had a new husband and was moving on with her life and was happy without him.

Also I love Henry Cavill as antagonist. Though I’m on the fence about whether he is actually pulling off the facial hair he’s wearing in the film.

I came back to this film series largely because of Simon Pegg, my relatively un-problematic nerd hero. It’s a little sad to me that he is so much comic relief and isn’t given more scope in the films. Though he’s excellent comic relief, he can also tear me up inside, and has done so in his indie films. World’s End in particular came into my life at a time I was dealing with my own depression and bitter about how it was playing out (still am, some days), and Pegg’s character’s journey in the film really punched me in the stomach.

It was one of those things that can lay you out and lift you up at the same time. And while I’m delighted to see Pegg living some kind of nerd-vana dream being in a bunch of big (many geeky) franchises, I do hope we get more of his independent work as time goes forward as well.

Little as he’s given in MI:F, he still manages to draw you into his character and show you a window into a complex emotional life.

Or maybe I was just paying the most attention to him because of my brain-crush.

Anyhow, I have actually been watching the old Mission Impossible TV show of late, on which the movie series is (loosely) based. Considering the series debuted in 1966, I’ve been finding it surprisingly engaging and relatively un-cringey (relative, here, to The Man From Uncle, which I watched a bunch of in the wake of adoring the fuck out of Guy Ritchie’s film version).

It was the sort of thing I occasionally caught in deep re-runs growing up. I think most of us of my era had. Everyone knew the theme song and the broad tropes of the series.

The first film came out the year I graduated high school. And while it’s old-fashioned by action movie standards, I think it’s still a pretty awesome film.

And all of these films have absolutely ludicrous plots. So did the old show. The ludicrousity is clearly baked into the schtick. One of the episodes of the show I watched involved someone being placed in a time-lock safe in a hotel in a piece of luggage to recover some nukes that were being kept there. You can’t say that the scene in the alleged Langley server room from the first film is more ridiculous than that.

Certainly, I love any excuse for a motorcycle stunt-scene and Fallout really came through on that score.

Anyhow. The upshots of this are: the old MI tv show is well worth watching, MI:Fallout is fun if you liked any of the other MI movies (particularly Ghost Protocol and after) and I love Simon Pegg’s and wish I could take a writing class with him (and yes-it’d be total bonus if it were with him *and* Edgar Wright).

The Fry-Day

Been having a bad brain week so I will probably spend the weekend largely avoiding human contact. But I will probs go see some stuff.

On the table as probable is Mission Impossible: Fallout, other possibilities include: Momma Mia – Here We Go AgainEighth Grade and Hotel Transylvania 3.

Sorry To Bother You is still in theaters and you should consider seeing it. For reals.

Here are some streaming recs, in case your goal is to sit very still and just let moisture evaporate off yourself, as mine is.


There’s a new Iliza Shlesinger special that I’ll probably be watching this weekend. Her comedy is a mixed bag for me. It often makes me feel like I’m taking an anthropology class about straight white people. But she has some of the best timing and rhythm of any stand-up comedian I’ve ever seen.

One of my favorite fucking comedy movies containing romance (definitely doesn’t feel like a romcom qua romcom) is on the netflix right now – Obvious Child. I have forced many, many people to sit through this film, including my mother. I adore it and it is what caused me to begin adoring Jenny Slate.

If you’d rather watch something more serious, check out Finding Neverland (which is a crying movie) or Real Genius (which holds up pretty well, for those of you who haven’t seen it since the 80s.

They also have the atmospheric horror film Under The Skin. It’s a lot more atmospheric than it is horrific, in my opinion. It stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien who eats people’s life force. It’s dark and atmospheric and paints the feelings of alienation well. (CW for sexual assault.)


Here we find Embrace of the Serpent, a rich and heavy story of colonialism, independence and nature.


For something a bit less intense, Hulu also has the original Planet of the Apes, or the cheesy and delightful pseudo-Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice.


Amazon has some of my all-time favorite movies including Stripes (an early Bill Murray film), Sneakers (classic hacker/heist flick), the Indiana Jones movies and the Bill & Ted movies.

They also have Snowden the biopic about Edward Snowden, the guy who revealed how pervasively the government had been surveilling us.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a tremendous job in the titular role. It’s an important story and well-told, here.

* * *

That’s all I’ve got, kids and kittens. See you next week.

Ever since I started to be self-analytical, I have realized that I use media as some kind of emotional anesthesia. A constant flow of *story* is one of the most reliable thing to keep my personal demons at a dull roar.

When I was younger, this meant I would sneak in reading pages of a book between school or work tasks. Then later, I’d listen to audio dramas and still later I’d sneak dvds in to work to have them playing in the background of my computer.

Modern technology has really opened up my ability to do this. I can just have a steady stream of podcasts, or netflix shows or youtube videos in my ear as I go about my daily business. Like some kind of a reverse Harrison Bergeron, the constant stream of distraction allows me to do more and live in greater peace.

I truly am more productive with it than without it. There are days when it’s all that keeps me from just falling into a giant pit of existentialism.

I have wondered if I could somehow break myself of this habit if it wouldn’t be better for me in the long-term, somehow, but it’s really difficult to value long-term growth over near-term functionality.

And maybe it wouldn’t be better after all. Who knows? It’s impossible to say, from here. And it’d certainly be a shame to do all the work to hollow myself out and build a different me if it turned out they were no better at achieving life goals than I am.

Narrative – especially character exploration and development – is my favorite drug. And probably it always will be.

Of course a given narrative, even a true one, is never the whole story. And I do worry, sometimes, if one of the main negative effects of feeding my addiction isn’t delusions of plot arc. Lives don’t go the way stories go. There’s no climax and denouement. There are no morals or lessons. There is character development, but it’s a strange, fungus-like outward creep rather than an arrow pointed at a particular goal.

It is difficult, maybe even impossible, to keep from looking at isolated sectional views of my life as narrative arcs. It doesn’t fit in well with the narrow, reactive day-to-day business of survival. It feels like…if life is to have meaning, it needs to have that arc. But life is bigger than that. It has all the details that get left out of a good story and lacks the interpretive thrust that gets put in to one.

Which isn’t to say that I will stop trying to spin stories out of my life – stories are how we teach and learn and understand. From ‘one train leaves St. Louis travelling at 40 miles and hour and another leaves Chicago travelling at 65’ to ‘What is Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba’ to even ‘in the beginning was the word’ or ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’ we use stories to give us new frameworks for our own lives, to interpret current and past events, to find the harmonic resonances in ourselves, to admonish, to grow, to learn and to teach.

A story doesn’t have to be true to contain Truth. And it doesn’t have to tell the whole truth and nothing but to elucidate important things.

After all, humanity is the storytelling animal. Our ability to draw sense out of chaotic events and bullshit our way into the truth is what separates us from other fauna.

If telling myself the story of my own life helps me to interpret it and understand myself better that isn’t a bad thing, nor a small one. It’s only when I bow under the weight of an old narrative and can’t create something newer that serves me that it becomes a problem.

A lifetime is a host of stories. They don’t all wrap up neatly and they don’t have a moral. They aren’t neat and pat and they intersect wildly. As long as I can hold onto the notion that I am not a story, but a rampaging herd of them, that framing is as useful as any to apply meaning to life.

I mean…probably, right?

I remember saying once to my therapist that trying to address my mental illness felt like living in a crumbling house while I was trying to fix it. And getting therapy felt like putting up scaffolding on the crumbling house – you feel safer on it than inside. It also makes it easier to work on the wreck of a house. It doesn’t mean it’s actually easy. Nor does it mean you won’t be envious of people whose houses already keep all the rain out.

It’s also a little like trying to read, write and market a novel at the same time as you’re constantly editing and polishing it. Nightmare. But feels better than getting no writing done at all….most days.

Anyhow. The metaphors are stories, too. So where do they end? They don’t. They’ll always be coming into me and going out till I cease to draw breath. And then they’ll still be happening everywhere else. Maybe even, if I’m lucky, about me…

In the meantime, if stories are what gets me through the day, I’m not going to avoid them out of some neo-Calvanist sense of self-denial equaling virtue. Whether they’re the ones I tell to myself or the ones I get other people to tell me, I’ll accept their smoothing of my road.



I went on a few trips this month, had some very stressful times at work and what with the news being what it is….

Blah blah blah excuses. It’s been over a month since I blithered at you.

I spent the time I was away watching a ton of movies, reading some comics, re-reading a novel I haven’t touched in over a decade, and listening to Dirty Computer obsessively.

Also recovering from a severe case of sunburn from my first real beach trip in a very long time. I should know better. I work in a cave. I have always burned easily. I should go to the beach in kevlar suits with in-built cooling systems. Though that would, perhaps, defeat the purpose.

Here’s what I’ve seen in the time I was away, and (briefly) what I thought of it.

Tag: Lots of genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Some moving ones, too. Popcorny and fun, all-in-all. [cw for pregnancy and miscarriage talk]

Won’t You Be My Neighbor:  Incredible and moving. I cried. If you grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood or value public television, definitely worth a watch.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: EXACTLY my brand of cheesypoofs. I enjoyed it immensely. I would love to see the promise of the last 10 minutes played out in the next one.

Incredibles 2: It was really good. I am glad I saw it when it came out instead of 8 years late like the first one. Was really glad we got some character development on the female characters and delighted to see a lot more of Frozone.

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Popcorny fun. Did not blow my world away (even though one of my most cherished fannish predictions came true in it). Bonus: tardigrades. Gave me hope for a future Young Avengers flick. (GIVE ME YOUNG AVENGERS YOU FUCKING COWARDS. GIVE ME THE GAYEST SUPERHERO TEAM THAT EVER QUEERED UP THE MARVEL UNIVERSE.)

Hearts Beat Loud: It was described to me as really sweet and heartwarming. It was those things but also almost unbearably sad the way it engaged with huge life changes. The music was pretty damned good and the acting was amazing.

Skyscraper: Reasonably fun and popcorny. I think they were trying to sell it as a nouveax Die Hard but it wound up seeming more like a Die-Hard-flavored San Andreas clone. That being said, I spent a lot of edge-of-my seat time and cried at the scmaltzy ending. I dis-recommend it to anyone who is bothered by heights.

Sorry To Bother You: Fucking amazing indie magical realism comedy film about labor rights, organizing, art, relationships, wage-slavery, actual slavery and corporate hegemony that pulls zero punches. See it. SEE IT. No description would remotely do it justice.

Outside theater-going, I saw Game Night, which I missed while it was in the theater. It was fine. Some genuine laughing moments. A lot more cringe-and-cower moments brought on by people not realizing the level of danger they were in and/or painfully misreading situations. CW for lots of violence, much of which is played for laughs.




I got to pet a retired guide dog, today. So there’s a firm tick in the plus column.

I hope your day is also delightful.

The thing I am definitely seeing this weekend is Tag.

I may also get to Hotel ArtemisIncredibles 2Won’t You Be My Neighbor, and/or Hearts Beat Loud. I may also do a second go-round of Ocean’s 8.

Here are a few streaming recommendations, in case you’d rather stay in.


Thor: Ragnarok is on Netflix streaming, if you haven’t seen it. Or indeed, if you have. It is a lot of fun. Taika Waititi is a national treasure. Of New Zealand. Not here. Maybe an international treasure. An Earth treasure? We need a phrase for this in times of increasing globalization.

If you want something kid-friendly, the goofy comedy Cats & Dogs may fit the bill. Talking animals. An international secret dog organization. Jeff Goldblum as the dad/scientist. It’s cheesy but fun.

And season 2 of Queer Eye. I will be watching all of it very soon.


If you’ve never seen it, you may want to check out the epic Japanese animation film engaging with nuclear fear, Akira. They have both subtitled and English dubbed versions.

If that is not your speed, you may want to check out the crime classic The Untouchables (1987) or the slightly creepy kids movie Nanny McPhee.


Amazon has Lady Bird, a film that lived up to its substantial hype, as well as the comedic take on the 90s tv series, Baywatch the movie. The former is as good as everyone said it was. The latter was better than it had any earthly right to be.

For something a little different, consider the romance film Hello, My Name is Doris. I have mixed feelings about this movie, but it’s well-done and has an interesting take on the romance genre tropes. And Sally Field is freaking adorable in it.

For something more kid-friendly, there are some classic 80s movies aimed at young people on Amazon right now. There’ The Karate Kid and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

* * *

That’s it for this week’s roundup, folks. See you on the flip-side.

We’re here, We’re queer…And we’re on TV

Hey all.

Let’s do some streaming recs. Summer is here. Hot weather is as good for lazing around in the shade as it is for running about. If you’re lazing by a device with streaming, this weekend, consider some of these LGBT options:


– Paris is Burning: An amazing documentary about the drag scene in Harlem in the 80s

– Carol: Todd Haynes’ beautiful and moving drama about a married woman in the 50s coming to terms with her sexuality.

Milk: Bio-pic about gay civil rights figure Harvey Milk. Moving and inspiring.

-This Filthy World: John Waters’ speaking about his life, his career and his opinions on anything.


-Tom Of Finland: Far-ranging bio-pic about artist Touko Laaksonen. I reviewed it here.

-I Am Divine: A documentary about John Water’s muse, fabulous Baltimore drag queen, actress and singer, Divine.


-Moonlight: Stunning drama about a gay man growing up in a harsh Miami neighborhood.

-Queer As Folk: Prime streaming includes the original British series, which, as I recall, was a bit soap-opera-y for my tastes, but well acted, etc.

* * *

For the record, both Netflix and Hulu have LGBT sections under genre. On Amazon, you have to search, but you can search ‘LGBT’ and it comes up with quite a list. Also – all three platforms have many more queer-focused movies & shows than I’ve mentioned, here. I haven’t seen as many as I feel I should.

I don’t always mention this, but if you’re an Apple-ite, the itunes store has a bunch of queer-focused movies on sale this month for under $10. If you’re not sure what to check out, try:

-But I’m A Cheerleader: An essential comedy about young love at an absurd over-the-top orientation-change center. Hilarious and sweet.

-Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: Drag queens, a bus and just thousands of miles of Australian bush. Drama and hijinks by turns. An absolute classic.

-The Skeleton Twins: A brother and sister who haven’t seen each other for ages come back together after a suicide attempt and try to mend their lives together.

-Kill Your Darlings: Drama based on real events in the life of poet Allen Ginsburg. Daniel Radcliffe (the guy who played Harry Potter) plays Ginsburg and he’s amazing in the role.

-Grandma: Lily Tomlin stars as a lesbian grandmother in this dramedy about family and family planning. Funny and sweet.

I am in great danger of spending major $$ in this sale. JOIN ME IN PERIL! AHAHAHHAHA.


Pride and Prostration

The spring semester is well and truly over, here. And after it finished my department was finishing up a huge and time-sensitive job, and then I had to move out of my office, because basically my entire life is being diverted for construction this summer.

I am starting to recover from the exhaustion and just general lack-of-fucks-given that the rush times at work give me.

And it is summer! Hurrah! Happy Pride to everyone. I plan to be queering it up all over the place and have, in fact, been invited to march in Boston’s parade, which is awesome.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to talk to y’all about some films that are worth watching but which aren’t available (as far as I can tell) digitally streaming at all. Since it is pride, I’m going to start, today, with 1995’s Jeffrey.

The movie was derived from a play by Paul Rudnick that began in off-Broadway theaters in the early nineties. Rudnick also wrote the screenplay. Directed by Christopher Ashley (who primarily directs live theater) the film takes good advantage of the shift in media while still being a relatively stage-y piece.

The title character spends a lot of the movie speaking directly to the audience. His fantasies come to life on the screen. The film is hilarious and moving and romantic in spite of its central theme of a gay man in New York coming to grips with the AIDS crisis in his own, slow and bullheaded way.

Filled with a sense of magical realism, the film features Patrick Stewart as a well-to-do interior decorator living with a Broadway dancer and also features cameos by Nathan Lane and Sigourney Weaver.

You will laugh, you will cry, and you will be baffled by the repeated appearances of Mother Theresa (not the real Mother Theresa, but still).

This was the first work about the AIDS crisis with which I became deeply familiar, having watched it about a jillion times in my twenties (I had it on VHS #pretentiousOld). Steven Weber (or ‘That guy from Wings‘, as I used to know him) is fantastic in the title role and Michael Weiss is magnetic as his love interest.

This film is well worth getting your paws on, if you can. May I suggest you see if it’s available at your local library? And if it isn’t, perhaps you could buy a DVD and donate to them after you’ve watched it. Adding some gay culture to the public archive is, I think, a great way to celebrate pride.