Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Eyes aka Woody Allen

Going to the ophthalmologist makes me feel particularly maudlin, because I don’t like knowing that I have degenerative eye problems.  Maybe technology will save me from ever having anything go that wrong.  In any event, when I am in a darkened room with a doctor whose face is so close to my own and they are looking into my eyes with mirrors and reflected bright light, it makes me feel just about as lonely as can be.  It always reminds me of the scenes in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors that take place in an ophthalmologist’s office (obvi).  The movie is sort of a morality tale that ends with an existential lack of a moral, and the eye doctor scenes are among the most … I can’t explain it, but it’s like the amoral protagonist wishes there was a God or some order to the world but knows there isn’t, and when he treats the eyes of a very kind, religious man who is losing his sight, it’s the injustice of this good man having such bad luck that really gets to the protagonist.  I so wanted to find a good film still of one of those scenes, but I couldn’t.  so instead, I decided to RATE all the Woody Allen movies I’ve seen, in reverse order from my least to most favorite.  Isn’t that a neurotic project to take on?  Very fitting.  Remember, I’m starting with my LEAST favorite to favorite.  Since there are so many films, it might seem hard to tell if I’m criticizing him but I absolutely adore him and sometimes find it spooky how well I empathize with his protagonists, who I don’t generally like.

Anything Else (2003)
Celebrity (1998)
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex … (1972)
Sleeper (1973)
Everyone Says I love You (1996)
Melinda and Melinda (2004)
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)
Hollywood Endings (2002)
Small Time Crooks (2000)
Scoop (2006)
Match Point (2004)
Cassandra’s Dream (2007)
Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)
Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
Scenes from a Mall (1991)
To Rome with Love (2012)
Interiors (1978)
Manhattan (1979)
Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
New York Stories (1989)
Shadows and Fog (1991)
Husbands and Wives (1992)
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
Radio Days (1987)
Annie Hall (1977)
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Whatever Works (2009)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Deconstructing Harry (1997)
Alice (1990)
Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Stardust Memories (1980)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Poem

I’m a nobody trying to make me a name
I sit at my desk and read Mickey Spillane
And when lunchtime comes my onlyest care
Is an elevator ride where the strangers don’t stare

They stare at my rotund, irrepressible tummy
They want to say something to keep the ride chummy
But I just want quiet, no diets, no small talk
I want high art and low art, the hereafter and cock

I’m an old bag a sick hag an ER repeater
But also a woman who reaches into the ether
I pull out a jacket, I pull out a doll,
I bundle up my son and he sleeps,

And that’s all.

Guido Cagnacci Allegoria della vita umana

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kira Yustak (I love this artist)

Brer Rabbit Acrylic on Canvas, 20"x16"
Talking Elephants Acrylic on Canvas 24" x 30"

Chatter Phone Acrylic on Canvas 20" x 16"



images from Mikey and Nicky (1976) by Elaine May

Hey tenderfoot
You are kaput
Why don’t you sign on the dotted line?
Why don’t you sign on a valentine?
I have a hunch you laugh a bunch
And then you cry when the party’s through
Hey tenderfoot
Do you think it’s cool
That the night is always night
And the day is always day?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

unstuck in time again

I’m always mentioning on here how I try to make dead things from my past (dead people, friendships, places) come back to life by researching them online.  Well I spent hours trying to use Google maps to get an aerial view of a house of a friend of my mom’s that she doesn’t know anymore.  This man was a packrat, but if you have to be one, he was a pretty good one – his floors were littered with money and old paperback books of Peanuts cartoons, his favorite, and also weir things like that Snoopy Sno-Cone maker from the 1980’s that many of us my age may remember.  This packrat indoors was cool in its way but I’m way too used to packrat environs to be interested in all the half-buried treasure trash for long, but he lived in a pretty neighborhood, and his back yard was absolutely one of a kind.  Hidden in the overgrown grass was some of the most beautiful tilework I’ve ever seen.  I had a suspicion that some famous tile person must’ve made and laid these tiles him/herself they were so lovely.  I can’t go back to that house but I thought if I spent long enough on the computer, I could find a picture of it, at least, but no dice. 

However, I did find a current picture of the Glendale bungalow where the ghost that leads me, Bill Tunilla, used to live, also from google maps, and I’ll share it here.  I remember one time when I parked in the lot to the side of the bungalow, I walked past his bedroom window to get to courtyard and his front yard, and I heard him say “Hi Robin,” and, straining to see through the window screen, I saw him laying in bed, reading a novel, maybe Saul Bellow or Barbara Pym, with his cat laying down with him, and I just loved him so much then.  My mom told me a serial killer used to live at his apartment (after him) but I tried looking this up, and, nope.

Sketches by my wonderful friend Valerie

Friday, August 16, 2013

Alphabet of Good Words

Agatha Christie
Harry Potter

umbrellas (from

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jesus Don’t Want Me For a Sunbeam

I wasn’t raised to be religious, but when I was a kid our local school district was very bad, so I did go to a private Christian school for 2 years.  My dad was assured by the principal that they wouldn’t manipulate me with religion, like that they don’t have primers that are about how you’ll go to hell if you don’t obey your teachers, and he told me to let him know if the teachers ever said anything manipulative along those lines, so I knew from the outset that I didn’t have to obey any of the religious principles, but I was really young, and this early exposure did turn me into a semi-religious, privately practicing Christian.  I prayed every night and when the house made a noise at the same time I was having a dirty thought, I thought it was Jesus warning me to stop.  Then one night when I was at dinner with the family in sixth grade, I got one of my occasional sinking feelings of depression, and this one was really strong, and I just knew that God and the afterlife weren’t real.  I telegraphed one last mental message to Jesus in case he was real, letting him know that I was through with him, and that’s the end of that.  But sometimes when I have panic attacks I get scared that God and the afterlife are real; it’s a really common theme that runs (and runs and runs, at top speed) through my mind during panic attacks, in fact.  One instance of this, in particular, stands out – I used to like Marilyn Manson, in a tongue in cheek way, in high school.  My real favorite music was Bikini Kill and David Bowie, so I was too cool for Marilyn Manson, who is after all a mainstream band, Satanism and all.  But I really hated Christianity in high school, so I appreciated the band’s stylized blasphemy.  One night, though, shortly before I was leaving for college, I had a really horrible half-awake panic attack, and the whole time, I was just fixated on how I’d been so wrong to listen to Marilyn Manson, and I was worried I was going to go crazy and kill myself from having listened to them so much.  My second notable hell-related freak-out happened on Monday.  Oh god, I had to go to the ER for a migraine again.  I try to always be very brave, but the pain of migraines is a pain I find completely unbearable, so while I always feel embarrassed and depressed about the state of my well-being when I end up going to the ER for a migraine, it’s happened more than once (twice for sure, but maybe as many as four times).  I usually get panic attacks when this happens.  I finally saw the film This is the End on Sunday, and it was hilarious.  It was about movie stars who aren’t transported to heaven when the rapture happens, and who consequentially are witness to the flood, fires and demons that destroy the world.  The movie is very clearly irreligious, and I didn’t even think twice about it, like, it wasn’t titillating or naughty-feeling at all, because disbelief is much more common than belief, and while I could never be good friends with a Christian, I don’t hate religion anymore and am only slightly disdainful to neutral about Christianity.  The only reason I hated Christianity so much in high school is because all my bullies were heavy duty Christians.  But the stupid Christian hidden in the recesses where my soul would be if I had one must’ve been spooked by this movie, because as I had my Monday morning, pre-ER, migraine-fueled, diarrhea and vomit-filled, death-scared panic attack, I kept thinking of the movie and feeling certain that there really is going to be a day of reckoning soon, and duh, I would definitely be going to hell.  Just last week I ran over and broke the hazard cones a tree-trimming company had set up in the road, very much on purpose, making eye contact with the trimmers all the while, because I was pissed off that they were parked so dangerously and were making me drive on the wrong side of a narrow street around a blind corner.  Yes, of course I’m right, but only a stone-cold sinner acts on her urges like that.  Anyway, that movie and my guilt over having liked it and my fear of the rapture were weird and constant thoughts I had all Monday morning.

On a side note, lately I wonder more and more what life is like in a small town as opposed to the big city I was born and raised in.  I always assume that, wherever I am, anything goes and nothing is shocking.  This is often a good life to have, but sometimes I think, “Does anything leave an impression on anyone anymore?”  That’s what I was thinking in the ER, which is always a really devil-may-care environment in my experience of Los Angeles and Philly emergency rooms, having never been to one in some small town in the Midwest.  On Monday’s visit to the hospital, there was a drunk guy who kept threatening violence, and going to the bathroom to throw up, and then on the way back from the bathroom, standing like 3 feet from my bed, silently watching me, in full view of the nurse and security guard on duty, and they didn’t seem to notice or, if so, to be bothered.  For my own part, I pretended to be asleep whenever he did this.  Part of me knew he’d be drawn to me the second I started hearing him bellow.  Another weird thing is that there was an emergency button on the wall right outside where my hospital bed was, and apparently it had stopped working, so like 3 electricians crowded into the space where I was holed away crying and closing my eyes, and they were just pressing on this button that makes a siren noise over and over again, and talking as loud as possible, with me right there.  Are there just too many people in L.A. to start caring about strangers?  I started trying to desensitize myself to everything at a very young age, because the world is a bizarrely dangerous place, but maybe I’m actually deficient in de-sensitivity?  I do cry every time I watch a Harry Potter movie (aka once a day) but I’d always chalked that up to craziness.      


Harry Potter

Friday, August 9, 2013

Is this a Movie Review?: Spring Breakers

What makes a piece of film a feminist issue?  As I put the dvd of Spring Breakers (2012), an R-rated Harmony Korine film of  about a foursome of college girls gone very wild on a spring break trip to Florida, I knew I would be watching it critically, as a feminist.  If I were a Black person interested in Black issues, I think I also would have known in advance to watch the film critically, because the advance press makes one aware that the white characters in the film emulate Black ‘ratchet’ culture, with grills and corn rows.  I knew that watching it was going to be a feminist issue because all the stills show four college girls in bikinis, and lord knows the bikini has always been a gender-political outfit – the automatic sexiness of it creates a lot of opportunity for exploitation.  Anything sexy on a woman can be said to attract the unwanted male gaze, I suppose.  Anyway, I had to put on my thinking cap as I started to watch this film (and also start wishing I didn’t have problems with anxiety, sometimes set off by upsetting movies, because in general, Harmony Korine films are unwatchable to me, as is every Lars Von Trier film besides Melancholia – they give me panic attacks).  What can I say? – I enjoyed it.  It is sort of exploitive of young women, at least in that it shows a whole bunch of titties all the time.  I think this was intended to be an art film with potential for mainstream crossover success because of the big-name movie stars in it, and as an art film, I can’t blame Korine for all the titties, because the artist in me couldn’t help but appreciate all the shots of beautiful women.  Is it sexist or a testament to women that all the girls in the movie were beautiful and almost all the men absolutely disgusting?  -- if it were a female film-maker I probably would have felt it to be empowering, but with a boy behind the camera, it’s sort of hard not to feel like he’s just rubbing it in about the double standard whereby totally ugly men can attract totally beautiful women much more often than the other way around.  In general it feels good to be attractive by average standards and often shitty to be considered unattractive, and no amount of beautiful women to ugly men ratio in Spring Breakers is going to make that less true, so I’ll try not to put the weight of the aesthetic world on Korine’s shoulders – he knows people like to look at beautiful women.  Some of the arty touches felt like affects to me, like the use of often-repeated dialogue, and some of the slow motion.  I like the plot though.  I’ve definitely never seen a film about a group of young women who go down to Florida for spring break and are transformed into blood-hungry criminals.  It’s one of those plot ideas that are so flashily perfect, like, so tantalizing, it almost seems like once you got such a good, fun idea, the story would write itself, though I’m sure it’s not true.  It reminds me of when I read Virgin Suicides – a novel about a family of blonde, Catholic, teenage sisters who all commit suicide.  I felt envious of writer Jeffrey Euginides for having had the idea for the plot, and I felt the same way about Spring Breakers.  I think it could be said that the women in this movie are horrible people and that that in itself makes it a sexist film.  However, if I had to choose between the two extremes of the female protagonists being portrayed as weak and boring OR as crazy and extreme, I prefer that they’re crazy and extreme.  I’d definitely rather a man be scared of me than think he can overpower me.  I’ve been a victim of violent crime, so it was of course impossible for me to get swept up in the excitement of the senseless violence these girls indulge in when they go on their crime spree – it’s fucked up and horrible to put a gun to a stranger’s face for no reason, just because you can, and even though these pretty girls had such cool Pussy Riot-like fashion (cute dresses paired with ski masks) as they committed these crimes, calling out to the aesthetic sense of the Riot Grrrl in me, BIG TIME, I never let myself think “Cool!” during the thrillingly executed scenes of violence – it’s just too amoral to get swept up in (now if it were REVENGE killing … that’s another story).  Nonetheless, I appreciated Korine’s answer to the question “what if a bunch of bikini-clad college girls went crazy from boredom, and turned their white girl fantasies of being ‘gangsta’ into a real thing.”  I also appreciated the twisted sentimentality he wove in to the story, with the strength of the female friendships (they sweetly play with each other's hair as they beg one another not to flee back to the boring safety of home, not wanting to be abandoned by each other), and also, the character of Alien, who off-hand you'd guess to be the antagonist, ends of being pretty much the slave of these girls, when I'd assumed that he was going to pimp them out or brainwash them.  He tells them in the beginning of their group relationship that he's going to protect them and you think "oh no, that means he's going to hurt them," but no, he remains awe-inspired by them, subject to their whims, and protective throughout, and it's kind of sweet.  If I were queen of all and everyone had to do as I say, I wouldn’t let anyone under 17 see this movie, because it’s a study of dangerous nihilism that I’d hate to know any kid has been influenced by.  By the time someone is 17, I think they’ve decided for themselves if they’re going to be a dangerous nihilist.  I also wouldn’t let anyone over 50 see this, unless they were very pop-culture literate, because I think it would give them too much of a reactionary feeling of “These dang young people, with their g-strings and their rap music.”  It is definitely about the something bad inside bored young people, and it’s scary to watch unfold.  Yes, if I were the queen of all, I would only let unimpressionable liberals between 17 and 49 watch this flashy, dub-step, tittie-laden and depressing movie.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


update:  i sort of hate this post, because it makes me sound like a plain jane, and i'm still a wild animal and a hungry heart.  but i always feel a little wimpy when i delete posts i don't like. xo robin

The past few nights I’ve had dreams that people who used to know me have just run into me and are disappointed with how I’ve turned out, both in appearance and in fate, like the fate of be being an office drone, and the appearance of a spare tire in the ol’ tummy region.  I should mention that I have an overactive imagination slanted towards the negative, but I have definitely, definitively noticed people who’ve been disappointed by me after not seeing me in a while, when it comes to medical professionals, but then again,  It’s a singular experience going to the doctor in Los Angeles, and probably in most big cities, where the class gap is so extreme.  I have normal insurance but was able to request a pretty classy medical group to choose doctors from (this medical group is supposed to have advanced technology and research regarding heart surgery and my connective tissue disorder, so that’s why I favored them), so all the doctor’s offices I visit are in Beverly Hills, where cosmetic surgery borders on being considered a medical necessity, from what I’ve noticed.  Anyway, in case you are Googling me to see what I look like these days, since my glory days in the 1990’s riot grrrl scene, or my Los Angeles nightlife glory days in the early 2000’s when I always made the mistake of ordering that 4th drink, here is me at my desk, on an average day of the week.  Tah dah.   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

At Sixes and Sevens

To be at sixes and sevens is a British way of saying one feels confused or disarrayed, but my mom and I always used it to mean the feeling of being bummed, but not severely so, and for no known reason.  That is how I feel today.  Maybe it has to do with the new mood stabilizer I recently started taking again since I have been displaying symptoms of Bipolar II disorder again (since Metta World Peace and Catherine Zeta-Jones have gone public about their mental health issues, I'm allowed to mention my own without it being a big deal, right?  or am I committing the worst of the social sins here, "TMI"?).  I had one idea for a good blog post that I thought would pan out well -- it has to do with an earlier post, where I wrote ridiculous responses to scam emails -- one of the scammers wrote me back and tried to interest me in giving my personal information and, I think, setting up a bank account.  This person believed that my profession was "waxer," and that my name was Amanda Huggenkiss, and that I was really excited about the opportunity to make millions because my house was in foreclosure and I have nine kids.  Somehow, I thought it would all gel to make an interesting story, the fact of seeing "Mrs. Amanda Huggenkiss" on an incredibly dishonest contract from someone who doesn't care that the person they're attempting to trick is so poor, but it didn't really turn out interesting, more like an April Fool's Day prank that falls flat, like when me and a housemate screwed up our other housemate's bathroom to look like a stabbing murder scene and the housemate that was pranked was like "Um, can you clean up my bathroom now?".  I couldn't think of any foreseeable ideas for blog posts so this one is just like a "Dear Diary" thing.  if there's any strong message I would like to sum up with it's that I think the whole concept of shutting someone down with the suggestion that it's TMI is a really hurtful reaction to human vulnerability and honesty and this is not a TMI-friendly space.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Everyone All the Time

 I like art where the preferences or habits of a group of people are juxtaposed.  The two such projects that come to mind are both photo projects, one of teenagers in their bedrooms, and one of homeless encampments.  My project is me asking my friends and family for these pieces of information:

Hello friends of me,
Recently I put out a call for contributions to a project I wanted to do for my blog, and I got 22 yes’s, but only one actual response, from my husband, who would help me with anything just for fear of seeing me cry from failing.  The last project concept, though, was a little vulnerable-making, so I can’t blame you guys for not responding.  This is a new project I’m asking for your contributions to.  It’s inspired by the type of art project I like, where there are a bunch of photos of different teenagers’ rooms or something…just a glimpse into a bunch of people’s insides, but also something that’s aesthetically pleasing or just, like, interesting, in an unchallenging way, not like reading a 5 page long paragraph in New Yorker or something.  This is what I would like you to contribute, if you are interested.

Favorite photo of yourself of all time
Favorite tv show
Favorite movie
Favorite iconic person/idol
Favorite book
Favorite writer
Favorite song
Favorite band
Favorite image (it could be of you, it could be of a cat trying to catch a squirrel that’s taunting it from the other side of the screen door, etc) (send as a jpg)
Ideal life plan (win lotto, buy compound for friends and family in Nebraska, play bluegrass all day, buy dresses from anthropologie, have 3 kids, etc).

In retrospect, this smacks of Miranda July, but what doesn’t, these days?  Here are my beautiful findings.


Favorite tv show: Breaking Bad
Favorite movie: Friday
Favorite iconic person/idol:  Moses 
Favorite book: Siddharta by Hermann Hesse
Favorite writer: Garsh, this one is hard, but off the bat, J.R.R. Tolkien. He takes me worlds away and I get lost in the imagery of his books.
Favorite song: "Enjoy It Now" by Tortured Soul because it makes me want to get on the dance floor and get lost out there in soul-space!
Favorite band: DANZIG! OK, so I'm more in love with Glenn than his music. :/ Music-wise, it'd have to be the Buena Vista Social Club.
Ideal life plan: to live a life filled with health and peace in all aspects, stress-free. I don't care where I am, as long as my family and I have our good health and peace, I'll be good with that. I'd also like to be surrounded by only loving family/friends who bring positivity and laughter into our lives. 

Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt

Valerie on the dance floor


Favorite band: Blind faith
Favorite author: Raymond Chandler or William Faulkner
Favorite Book: Dream Tigers (Jorge Luis Borges)
Idol: Muhammad Ali
Favorite Song: All Along the Watch Tower (Dylan of course but as performed by Hendrix)
Favorite Movie: Chinatown
Favorite TV Show:  Big C
Life Plan: Retire to a small Subtropical beach town (while keeping close tabs on my far flung family)

Jon with sister Abbi

Current Favorite Image


right now i like the big bang theory and NCIS for tv.
my favorite movies are wuthering heights and reds.
song is danny boy.
who can think of the names of bands.
writer right now- wilbur smith.  i liked iris murdoch too.
book-i like long historical novels.  anthony adverse was my first.
life plan-to get the most out of each day.                   

Beautiful Elayne in her Youth

on vacation


Favorite tv show: It’s a tie between Star Trek: The Next Generation and Farscape
Favorite movie: Amelie
Favorite iconic person/idol: Jim Henson
Favorite book: Jurassic Park
Favorite writer: Michael Crichton
Favorite song: Don’t have one. But one that is always on my list is Feed My Frankenstein – Alice Cooper
Favorite band: Oingo Boingo
Favorite image: It changes every day. Today it happens to be the one attached 
Ideal life plan: Nothing too specific. Be happy, live comfortably, draw as much as possible and spend time with loved ones.