Thursday, April 28, 2011

More on Consumerism

My reading of Peter N. Stearns' Consumerism in World History continues. Apparently consumerism started in the western world in the 1700s. Gained speed in the 1800s. And by the early part of the 1900s was in full swing. America started out slow, but picked up speed to the point of dominance, especially in the early 20th century.

Women were pointed out as particularly vulnerable to consumerism and many women expressed delight in going to department stores and handling goods for sale. It became a social event for women. And a new disease, kleptomania, was born from so many goods being so delightfully displayed.

Conflict between men and women began to brew as women became targets for attack for spending too much money. But a survey in 1920 showed that while women derived more pleasure from shopping and spent more time shopping, men actually spent more money on clothes and items for leisure activities. Clubs were all the rage and men needed special clothes to be part of their club. Men also spent a lot of money on watching sports and participating in sports, buying equipment, etc... Still, in newspapers and divorce proceedings, men continually accused women of spending too much money.

I wonder if that still holds true today? Do women shop more, but men actually buy the larger ticket items? (golf fees, super bowl tickets, big screen televisions, etc...) I hate shopping and so does husband so we don't really have any conflict there, but I do wonder in general.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Those Zany Brontes

I've been trying to read Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey, but keep getting caught up in learning more about the Bronte family, plus a lengthy introduction so I haven't yet waded into the text. Wow, for some women who were unmarried and mostly stayed at home, there was quite a lot of drama. (Which may explain the tone and content of their novels.)

Here are some recently learned tidbits:

During their lifetimes, there were quite a few more women in England than there were men. Something like 350,000 more women, plus an additional 150,000 men who were counted as English were living abroad. So that explains why in so many novels of the time period there are always all these "old maids" and gentlewomen of no fortune who live in fear of never marrying. Apparently, unless you had the cash to buy a husband, it was pretty slim pickins.

There were two older sisters who died of neglect that turned into tuberculous while they attended a boarding school. Apparently, Charlotte also attended the school and her her descriptions of the horrible school in Jane Eyre are actually autobiographical.

Branwell, the only son, was a complete waste, but still pampered by the family. He was sent to study portrait painting in London, but returned home a few months later, penniless. He'd never applied to the school and spent the large amount of money he'd been given for tuition on drink. Later, when his sister Anne got him a place as a tutor in a home where she was the governess, he started a relationship with the mistress of the household, Mrs. Robinson, an older and still married woman. There is some belief the characters in The Graduate were based on this affair. After being discharged and getting his sister discharged, Bramwell sunk into a funk and was pampered some more. He died at 24 of tuberculosis complicated by alcoholism and an addiction to laudanum. I remember reading someplace that he died leaning against a fireplace mantle having bet a friend that it was possible to die standing up.

Anne is the least known of the Bronte sisters, but that turns out to be because after her death at 29 of tuberculosis, Charlotte suppressed the reprinting of her novels. There was a demand for them and the publisher offered to reprint them, but Charlotte said they weren't worth bothering over. Nice.

Friday, April 22, 2011

P.J. Soles Interview - Part II

AA - I know you lived abroad when you were growing up, but if you couldn’t live in the United States, what country would you live in and why?

PJ - My father was from Holland and my mother was from New Jersey. They met in Germany. Her first husband was killed in war and she went to visit his grave. My father had been captured and was a prisoner of war for his work on the underground.

So maybe Holland. I have a lot of really cool cousins in Holland.

In my heart I’ve always had a special place for Switzerland. As I’ve grown a lot of the political aspects have changed, but maybe Lugano Switzerland, if I could afford it.

Having said that, I love California.

AA - I love the idea of a line of shoes called P.J. Soles. If you were to design a line of clothes, handbags, furniture, whatever, what would it be?

PJ - I thought of a clothing line called Riff Raff from my character in Rock and Roll High School, especially after Madonna came out with her line, but they’d be kind of similar. If I did do a shoe line, they should be slippers that go with pajamas. So you’d have your soles for your PJs. PJs for your soles. P.J. Soles.

AA - What kind of conventions do you usually do and where will you be appearing next?

PJ - I’ll be at Chiller April 29th – May 1st. That’s probably the biggest horror convention out there.

I’m also very excited about something I’m doing with my friend, Mike Clark, actually we became friends through a convention. He owns Movie Madness Video in Portland. It’s their 20th anniversary and he pointed out that’s it’s the 30th anniversary of Stripes. I said thanks a lot for reminding me, but we decided we’re going to do a screening. He went out and talked to Columbia and actually got a 35mm print of the film. So the viewing is going to be on film, not DVD, it’ll be just like in the theater. I’m going to introduce the movie and do a Q&A. We were talking and we decided we’re going to do it on Armed Forces Day. All military personnel get in for free with a military ID and I’ll give them a singed photo. Plus, we’re going to donate anything else to The Fisher House foundation. I don’t know if you know who they are but they do a lot of good stuff for injured military personnel and their families. My son is a commander of a coast guard cutter in Key West so anything we can do for military personnel.

AA - What’s a movie you worked on that you think deserves more attention than it’s received?

PJ - Probably Soggy Bottom USA. If they’d change the title that would have made it more interesting. The list of actors in that was incredible. Soggy Bottom was the name of the town where it took place.

That and I guess Sweet Dreams. It got a lot of attention but maybe deserves a little more. Jessica Lange was fantastic. I played Ed Harris’ girlfriend before he meets Pasty Cline. Then he goes back to her when his wife is in labor. That was kind of a rotten thing to do. I didn’t play a nice girl.

AA - What can you tell us about your role in Private Benjamin?

PJ - That’s funny because my son just recently watched that movie with his girlfriend and he asked me about my character, Wanda Winter. He asked me, “How did you know how to play somebody like that because I know a lot of people that are like that?”

My mother is the one that taught me about hospital corners and how to bounce a quarter off the bed.

Poor Wanda Winders. She was a goodie two shoes that gets caught sleeping with Craig Nelson. (laughter)

AA - What’s the project you have coming out next that you’re excited about?

PJ - I am going to be in a short film called The Show by Matt Russell. I met him at a convention in Chicago when he was just a kid. Maybe about fifteen. He kept coming back in the line to my booth and just desperately wanted to talk about how much he loved Halloween. Finally I said, meet me after the convention and we’ll talk. He told me how much he loved John Carpenter and just loved all of his movies. Right now he has a screener job for a studio at the moment, but is working on a short film adapted from a book called The Show. He wants me to play Mom and he’s putting together funding. I told him it’s going to take ten years if he really wants to be a screenwriter, but he’s doing it. He’s been out here three years, but he’s making a lot of progress.

AA - What are you working on currently?

PJ - I’ve always written poetry and always written song. My first husband was a singer songwriter. I’ve married to a musician, an actor and a stunt pilot so I’ve got everything covered. My marriages have been as varied as my movies.

I actually wrote a song for Soggy Bottom, but the producer’s son got his song in instead. I wonder why?

Current my boyfriend is a musician and my daughter is in a band called Jo Nash with her boyfriend. (You can check it out on Youtube under Ashley Holm songwriting session number 5

They have eight songs on a CD that they are currently getting mastered.

I have written poetry and lyrics my whole life, but in the last two years I’ve been working with my daughter's boyfriend and my boyfriend. We’ve written five country songs. T-bone Burnett is a friend of mine, he’s heard them and he loves them so we’re trying to get them out there.

One’s called Going, Going, Gone. It’s about a guy trying to get over the death of his girl who died in the war. There aren’t any songs out there about a female soldier dying so I thought that would be interesting. I guess we’ll see what happens and if anybody wants to record them.

AA - Anything else you’d like me to include?

PJ - Not really, just everybody get along and try to be nice to each other.

Thank you P.J. Soles!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jason McNamara Interview!

The Martian Confederacy Volume 2: From Mars With Love

AA - What are the details of the second book in The Martian Confederacy series, From Mars with Love, launching right now?

JM - The second volume finds our trio of outlaw anti-heroes leaving Mars and venturing into space to save a group of children who have been kidnapped for mysterious purposes. Along the way they sell each other into slavery, fall in love and discover the hidden secret of Mars’ orbiting moon.

The book is illustrated by the fantastic Paige Braddock and published through her company, Girl Twirl Comics. It’s 150 pages of blockbuster fun in moody blue hues and retails for 15 dollars.

AA - How did you first start working on the project?

JM - Paige approached me a few years ago to write a sci-fi book for her and gave me a handful of sketches to inspire me. She was looking to step outside her comfort zone and have someone else do the writing. At that point she had the talking bear figured out and had a few sketches of beautiful women hanging around trailers on the Martian landscape. I tacked her concept artwork on the wall and let the images bounce around my head until I had the basic story. I write the scripts specifically for her sensibilities.

AA - Where did you come up with the idea for The Martian Confederacy?

JM - I was influenced by post-colonial writers like Jamaica Kincaid and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Mars is a stand-in for many third world nations that regain control of their country only after all of their natural resources and culture have been obliterated. The plot of the first book is a sci-fi riff on the privatization of the drinking water in Brazil.

AA - I know you to be a huge horror fan. What’s your favorite horror movie and why?

JM - My father, god bless his parenting skills, would take me to see all sorts of horror films when I was a child, but none convinced me that I was about to meet a bloody death as much as Halloween. The simplicity, the expressionless-masked villain, the general sense of the unknown, only serve to make it more terrifying. Your mind attempts to rationalize what cannot be understood or explained. Carpenter’s film is also a perfect slow burn of atmosphere and creeping terror leading into a perfect third act. I’d also highly recommend Dead Of Night (aka Death Dream), Eyes Without a Face. (Les yeux sans visage), Deep Red (aka The Hatchet Murders) and Cemetery Man.

AA - What’s so fabulous about your girlfriend, Phoenix Zoellick?

JM - The thing that impresses me most about Phoenix is she gets an idea for a project and she makes it happen. Be it making her own clothes, writing and illustrating a kids book, starting a line of beast hats, painting fine art portraits or logo designs commissions…she does many things well and is constantly driven to do more. I’m very impressed by that. She’s not exactly hard on the eyes either…

AA - Besides writing comics, you also write for video games. How did that come about?

JM - I was tapped by a fan of my comic book work to co-create the PIE THEORY alternate reality game for a Sun Microsystems product launch in 2009. The game was about an alien that had instigated major technological change at key points in history and was about to return. It was a massive undertaking to interact with and write around an international online community of thousands. Many times we had to pivot the story line to stay ahead of the gamers or to cover our asses when game challenges were solved too soon. In addition to writing daily content for the duration of the 40-day game, I also played a character in the video segments. It was the most challenging job I’ve ever had and I would do it again in a second.

AA - What is your favorite font?

JM - I’ve always enjoyed Comic Craft’s Jose Laddron font. I lettered my first comic book with it and I still get excited when I see the font in other books. It’s like seeing an old flame.

AA - Why do red heads have more fun?

JM - As a protected species we can act without consequence. Also we can park wherever we want.

AA - What convention will you be attending next?

JM - This August, Phoenix and I will be promoting her line of Beast Hats at the Rocky Mountain Fur Con in Denver, if you can believe it. After that I’ll be appearing at the Alternative Press Expo here in San Francisco.

AA - What are you working on now?

JM - I am finishing up The Rattler, a horror graphic novel about a man who is forced to become a serial killer in order to find his kidnapped girlfriend. It’s being illustrated by Greg Hinkle, an amazing up-and-coming artist. I can’t wait for people to read this book; I’m very excited about it.

AA - If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

JM - I’d still be on the ol’ clam boat with my dad.

AA - Who is your least favorite super hero and why?

JM - I’ve been reading comics for nearly 30 years and I’ve never bought a Superman comic. He’s a character that can’t be hurt and doesn’t have character flaws; I just don’t see the appeal.

Thank you, Jason!

Monday, April 18, 2011

P.J. Soles Interview - Part I

As promised, here is the first half of my interview with the fabulous P.J. Soles:

AA- When did you first realize that you had become a cult icon?

PJ - I don’t know if I’ve still realized it.

I’ve known it when I’ve gone to conventions or things like the Johnny Ramone tribute at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. There was just all these fans there and they all wanted autographs and to talk about the movies I’ve been in.

People who primarily go to horror conventions love to get posters and DVDs signed from as many people as they can that were in a specific film. When they get to my table I’ve got photos from Carrie and Halloween and The Devil’s Rejects, but I also have photos from Stripes and Private Benjamin and Rock and Roll High School. People see it and they say stuff like, “Oh my God, Rock and Roll High School was my favorite movie!” So it’s really nice. I’m known as scream queen, which is kind of strange because I’ve only done three horror movies, but I’ve also done a lot of comedy as well.

Rock and Roll High School has more fans now than it did twenty years ago. Some of the movies I did have really stood the test of time. So, I guess, just like Ramones it took a long time for me to be recognized.


AA - Carrie seems like the first movie where you started drawing attention. How did you land the part of Norma Watson?

PJ - I went to this joint audition with Brian De Palma for Carrie and George Lucas for Star Wars and I was wearing this red baseball hat and these overalls. Brian looked at me and said, “I’ll put her on my list.” And then he told me, “When you come back, bring your hat.”

We went through quite a few auditions and he always told me that for the next one I should bring my hat. After I was cast, when he first saw me on set, I had the hat, but I wasn’t wearing it. He came right up to me and said, “Where’s your hat? I want you to always wear that hat.” When it was time to film the prom scene he asked, “Where’s your hat?” and I said, “You want me to wear a red baseball hat with a prom dress?” and he said, “Absolutely.” That’s why, for joke, in the scene where we’re getting ready for the prom and I’m under a hairdryer with curlers in my hair, the hat in on top of dryer. I told him, “Okay it’s here.”

AA – Sounds like an exciting audition.

PJ - At the time it was no big deal. It was just go see these two guys. They weren’t that famous. Since then I’ve signed a ton of red baseball hats.

AA - Do you still have that hat?

PJ - No, it disintegrated over time. It was made of this felt-ish material and I wore it all the time when I first moved to L.A. to keep the sun off my face. It was ruined after the first couple of washings.

Carrie was a lot of fun for us to make but none of us thought it would last like it did. When we were filming we were all just trying to get as much screen time as possible.

AA - Rock and Roll High School looks like it was such a fun movie to make. Can you give us a little vignette from making the movie, hopefully one involving the Ramones?

PJ - They were very, very quiet and they always sat on the floor in a corner. Not on a chair or a couch or anything. They wouldn’t come to lunch unless we dragged them. I guess they thought because they weren’t actors they shouldn’t get lunch, but we were like, you are part of this movie, you can have lunch. In the original script they had a lot of lines, but after the first couple of days shooting we realized they were really having trouble and a lot of the lines had to be cut. It actually ended up being so endearing in the movie when they do flub their line. It’s the flubs that make it so special. They did have a lot more dialogue but it couldn’t end up in the film because they were musicians, not actors.

Streaming Stripes Online.

AA - I always think you and Sean Young have good chemistry as friends in the movie Stripes. You’re working with two very funny male actors, but what was it like working with her?

PJ - Sean had come in from New York and she already had the part by the time I auditioned. They’d auditioned like 300 girls for both our roles. I had just finished filming Soggy Bottom U.S.A. and they asked me to go to Louisville to audition So, I did and by the time I landed back in L.A. they’d decided I had the role and I had to fly back again.

I remember I used to call her Sean Very Young. It was her first film and I was ten years older than her so we didn’t have a lot in common. She was fun and interesting. She was always surprising in her boldness and I think she continued to be that way.

With Stripes, I think it’s the two couples in the film and the way they interact that make the film interesting.

AA - Every time I see you in a movie I think, “Wow, that’s some amazing hair.” Is there a specific relative that you know you inherited your hair from or does everyone in your family have such thick hair? What’s the history of the hair?

PJ - Let me give you my younger brother’s phone number. He’s bald. Every time I see him he grabs the back of my head, pulls my hair and says, “Thanks a lot! You took it all!”

I’ve always hated my hair. I grew up in Brussels and it rains 361 out of 365 days a year there so my hair would always frizz. I used to iron it with a real iron, not like girls today. I could have invented the flat iron if I was smarter. Brian DePalma knew. That’s why he gave me that hat to wear, to hide the hair.

Although, when I first started out in New York I three spots for Alberto Balsam where they divided my hair in half, the frizzy half and the smooth half after using their product. That’s the only time I liked my hair because it got me those lucrative commercials. At the end I say, “Now can you do the other side?”

AA - What influence has the word “totally” had in your life?

PJ - Oh my God, it’s been very beneficial. When I sign autographs, I just write, “Totally, PG Soles”. When I pose for a picture with someone they don’t want me to say cheese, the want me to say totally. Whenever I hear it from somebody else, my daughter always says, “You started that word.” I’ve been very slowly trying to write my autobiography and I’m thinking of calling it The Totally Girl. It has sort of defined my career. If you can get one word associated with you, that’s a good thing.

AA – You’re writing your autobiography?

PJ - Yes, I just feel like at convention I should offer more. I have pictures, but I’d like to offer something new. I don’t have any childhood trauma or anything like that. I grew up around the world. That to me is the most interesting part. I’d actually be writing it for me really even though I’d call it The Totally Girl.

Stay tuned for Part II in the next day or so.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Phil Gelatt Update!

Phil Gelatt's film The Bleeding House got picked up by the Tribeca Film Festival!

It'll also be on cable pay-per-view from April 20th - June 20th and available on DVD sometime after that. It seemed like a good time to find out what Phil has been up to since his first interview, so I asked him a few questions. Enjoy!:

1) You are both writer and director of The Bleeding House which will premier at the Tribeca Film Festival. How did you get involved with the project?

I originated the project myself, years and years ago. I used to be an assistant to some independent film producers in New York. And then I quit my job to start writing, and one of the first things I wrote was the script that would eventually become The Bleeding House. It was a much much different story back then. I never intended to direct it myself but eventually that idea became very appealing and luckily I wrote it to be a very very low budget movie so we were able to raise the money from family and friends. And I'm still a bit in shock that Tribeca picked it up. It'll be in a festival AND on Video on Demand AND on DVD. I even got to do a director's commentary... on which I sound completely silly.

2) How did you come up with the story?

I really started with the setting (old house in the middle of nowhere) and an interest in doing some genre tweaking (I wanted to play with some of the formal aspects of a slasher film and make them do something else). And from there a story just kind of formed bit by bit. I was listening to a lot of Nick Cave at the time so I can feel a heavy Cave influence in the whole thing, in particular in the figure of the villain of the piece who is even named Nick. Luckily, I had producers working with me who are talented at story development, they were an enormous resource in refining and developing the whole thing.

3) Are you a big horror fan or just a versatile writer?

I am a big horror fan but in a kind of an odd way. I guess I self-identify as a horror fan but I have very specific types of horror, flavors of horror, if you will, that I like. I'm a discerning (read: picky) fan. Like Clive Barker? yes. Stephen King? Not really, no thanks. H.P. Lovecraft? Definitely. The Saw franchise? Never. Argento? Oh yeah. Eli Roth? Jury's still out. I'm a big fan of heavily atmospheric horror, somewhere between suspense and nightmare; I usually like the sinister over the explicit. And I like horror that is blended and mixed with other genres; horror that is masquerading as something else.

4) I hear that Victoria Dalpe is quite the hot little number. Were you tempted to break out the old casting couch when you knew she was up for the part of Beth?

She is QUITE the hot little number. I tried to get her onto the old casting couch but she thwarted me. She has a very particular process, you know.

(Okay, for those of you who don't know Phil, Victoria is his wife.)

5) What's the best / worst thing about directing?

God, that's a hard one. The best thing is really everything you do that isn't on set. Editing is great, writing is great, pre-production is great. Being on set is incredibly hard, at least it was for me. You have to be completely focused and making quick decisions, correctly, for 12+ hours a day. It is exhausting.

5 ½) how bossy are you in your regular life?

I'm not terribly bossy in my regular life, I'm more stern and occasionally asshole-y, especially when in discussions on certain topics. Strangely, I don't think any of that came out while I was directing. I was more terrified that I was going to screw something up.

6) Looks like your graphic novel Petrograd will be out with Oni Press soon. What else are you working on?

Right now I'm finishing up a screenplay that I was hired to write almost a year ago. It's been a long process but I think it's some of my best work as a writer actually. Here's hoping it actually gets made. I'm also putting the finishing touches on a series called PARIAH that is coming out this summer from Sea Lion Books.