25 Points: Her

by Trevor L. Sensor

 

joaquin-phoenix

 

1. Joaquin Phoenix’s mustache first attracted me to this film.

 

2. The year 2025 seems like a very lonely, interestingly fashionable time.

 

3. People are so lazy in 2025 that they hire writers to compose love letters forthem.

 

4. Joaquin Phoenix has a picture of a naked, pregnant woman on his phone.

 

5. Who gets off by being strangled with a dead cat?

 

6. Joaquin Phoenix needs to stop going after terrible women.

 

7. Life lesson from this movie: don’t fall in love. Ever.

 

8. This film reminded me how lonely I am.

 

9. Realized that Spike Jonze and I have a similar vision of a day where it becomes fashionable to sport a mustache once more.

 

10. Samantha and all the other Operating Systems reminded me of a friendly version of Skynet.

 

11. Phone sex is apparently a big deal in 2025.

 

12. Realized that the OS companions, such as Phoenix’s Samantha, are a giant metaphor for one-sided relationships.

 

13. The sex surrogate scene is awkward and terribly sad.

 

14. Why doesn’t Hollywood come up with more original ideas like this? (Because Hollywood sucks and doesn’t give a damn about what makes a good story anymore.)

 

15. To go along with point #14, we need more directors and writers like Spike Jonze.

 

16. I wanted to give Joaquin Phoenix a big hug after watching this film.

 

17. Her made me reflect on my own past relationships.

 

18. An indie love story hasn’t made me “feel the feels” like this since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

 

19. I’d rather not live in a world where technology would have this much hold over our lives. Phoenix falls in love with an Operating System to fill a void in his life. People use social media to fill a void in their lives. Both yield negative results.

 

20. This film made me cry.

 

21. Her was probably the best film to come out in 2013.

 

22. Justice was actually served when Jonze won Best Original Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards. (Similar emotions were experienced when Bon Iver won two Grammys in 2012.)

 

23. To the skeptics that haven’t seen this film but heard about it: I promise you it’s not just about a guy falling in love with his computer.

 

24. “2 Atoms In a Molecule” by Noah and the Whale fits the major theme of this film perfectly.

 

25. To wrap up: Her is strangely timeless. It tackles universal themes such as loneliness and existential wonderment on what the point of everything is. I recommend it to anybody and everybody.

 

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25 Points: Go to Work and Do Your Job. Care for Your Children. Pay Your Bills. Obey the Law. Buy Products.

by Richard Brammer

 

cicero
Go to Work and Do Your Job. Care for Your Children. Pay Your Bills. Obey the Law. Buy Products.
by Noah Cicero
Lazy Fascist Press, 2013
188 pages / $12.95 buy from Amazon
 
 

 

1. Still one of the best titles of any novel, ever.

 

2. This book is in two parts. Part 1 is narrated by a reasonably bland, vaguely liberal character named Michael who starts a job at a ‘treatment centre’ (for treatment centre read prison) complex called NEOTAP. Part 2 is narrated by NEOTAP IT employee, work colleague and soon to be girlfriend Monica.

 

3. The whole thing is a mish-mash of different genres, different registers, narrative structures, etc., and is largely concerned with the kind of Orwellian power of the NEOTAP system.

 

4. The NEOTAP system is, roughly speaking, an analogy for American (Global?) Capitalism and its ‘5 pillars’ (the five pillars of the book’s title). I was pleased that it was only a lightly fictionalised dystopia as there is little need to overly fictionalise something that very much seems to me to be the dystopia of contemporary western capitalist reality.

 

5. I’m pleased young Alt-Lit people/novelists are engaging with these kinds of things. It gives the lie to any notion that Alt-Lit is merely just a narcissistic pose (it is sometimes) but clearly there are more possibilities for it and this should be embraced. Continue reading

A THEATRICAL ESSAY ON TRANSFORMATIVE THEATER FROM THE WORKS OF A FEW CONTEMPORARY FEM WRITERS

by Geraldine Kim

 

gurlesque

 

The second e-version of Gurlesque, an anthology of “the new grrly, grotesque, burlesque poetics,” is coming out soon with an expanded number of amazing female writers, including Jennifer Tamayo, Marisa Crawford, K. Lorraine Graham, Kate Durbin, Kate Degentesh, among others— along with the original contributors, one of whom is Stacy Doris.

 

When I read Doris’ funny, edgy, cerebral, and (dis)sensual Paramour in college, I knew I needed to go to San Francisco State for my MFA so that I could work with her in person. Stacy proved to not only be a phenomenal writer but also a caring mentor. Her passing in 2012 still feels raw today.

 

After reading an excerpt of Doris’ book The Cake Part [1] which was published in the first edition of Gurlesque, I decided to read the full version and then (circuitously) write the following essay, incorporating other writers that used theater the way she did (or did not) in that book.

 

Only, since I was writing about transformative theater, I figured the traditional essay format wouldn’t lend itself as well as a more dramatic format…

 

*** Continue reading

A “Conversation” with Rauan Klassnik (1)– (Huh??)

by Rauan Klassnik

 

xx ahhhh the magic of poetry

 

******

 

This is the first of an occasional series in which other people ask me serious and stupid questions about my sex life, how much money I make, gender fluidity, etc, etc. And then I step up on to the stage to give the straight and skinny with as much panache, delicacy and hulking wisdom a human soul can muster post Henry Miller (Ha Ha Ha ha ha):

 

******

 

This started up when I was bored and tweeted:

 

talk shit

 

****** Continue reading

Justin Marks: Why Should I Read YOUR Book ????

by Rauan Klassnik

 

justin-marks

 

ok, Justin, so why should we read YOUR book ???

 

Why should you read my book? I have no fucking clue. I don’t even know why I wrote it, except that doing so was part of a compulsion I have to make things, and the only means I have for doing that, the “talent” I have, is writing. Writing in general, poetry in particular. If it were different, I would have written a novel or a memoir or a scholarly book or something YA.

 

My book is none of those things. There is some narrative, but it’s pretty fractured, as they say. There are characters, but not the kind you really get to know. I present them from my point of view only. It’s poetry, for Chrissakes! The lyric “I.”

 

The book is about me and my life, but also other lives I wish I’d had. Or think I wish I had. It is about struggle, though is decidedly not “My Struggle.”

 

Overall, it’s pretty adult. By which I don’t mean porn, though there is a fairyou going to miss me amount of sex (not) happening in the book. It’s about trying to be a grown up and how much that fucking sucks. It’s about choosing a life and then having to actually live it (auto correct tried to change “live” to “love”). It’s about making decisions and having to live with them, which also fucking sucks.

 

It’s about broken bones. And booze.

 

Life, death, love and (un)happiness. Kids.

 

And then, by the end, it’s about realizing what a sick piece of shit you are and having to live with that. Having to figure out a way to be a better person, behave responsibly because, really, the way things are going, it’s just not going to end well.

 

Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s about something else entirely. I don’t know. You tell me.                         (Justin Marks, 8/2014, NYC)

 

Imaginary Portraits by Joshua Ware

by Alexis Pope

 

tumblr_mn88vlkzSh1qhn45lo7_r1_500-1Imaginary Portraits
by Joshua Ware
Greying Ghost, 2013
Limited Edition / Chapbook Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My thumb surfs Instagram. I sit at my desk to write this. I am constantly distracted by a false reality. There are people I know there. They are eating tacos, taking pictures of sunsets, their partner stares out from a small screen I hold in my palm, I press like to let them know I see them. There is no way to escape our new duality, but I think it helps to be aware of this reality. Here is the problem: what is real or more real. How do we classify reality & does this change through location, movement, isolation. Joshua Ware introduces me to a world I know well. Here it is winter. I am wearing a hat. I am looking at myself as reflection. I am not sure it is really me.

 

A small blue book / It fits well in my hands. Small poems / Coy, they coax & murmur / I know you / the shape of darkness

 

You are dressed for winter, a chill in the air. Waiting. What forms do we take when met with a lens? How do we become a recreation/abstraction? How are we changed?

 

You sit atop a gray river / side rock, as water rush / swallows your voice, drowning you / by volume. The poet relocates to a new city. A traveling between two regions. Wind gusts through our private stillness. We are always somewhere. There is a struggle in always knowing where you are. Is it supposed to make you different? Should we expect change? Your muted / mouth opens a space for / poetry

 

Hello, avoidance. The escape plan proposal is returned, rejected. I sit at my desk with coffee. It is cold now. I feel this speaking to some part of me. No matter how surrounded I am there is loneliness in my body. Continue reading

5 Points: “Strange Tarot” by Jamalieh Haley

by Rauan Klassnik

 

strangetarot_Gray - Copy (4)

 

1) Reading and experiencing “Strange Tarot” is like spying on a tenuous and tense relationship in which one part of a self guides and chides the other. At some points, even, it feels like it incarnates you. (Most Tarot Poetry’s an exhausting exercise in ekphrasis. Yawn. That, or the Tarot Poems range so far afield that there’s nothing Tarot about them. Jamalieh Haley’s “Strange Tarot” is still very much Tarot—superficially, in titles, imagery and in the way the poems on the page are shaped like Tarot cards—but  indeed a strange, strange Tarot, benefiting and enhanced greatly from psychedelic imagery that only issues from a highly pressurized and agitated mental state.)

 

“Arrive inside your silhouette. Open the china. Do anything there.”

 

2) The critical element of Tarot is the relationship between the fortune teller and the supplicant. And, for me, in Strange Tarot the self is telling itself its own fortune. The self betrothed to itself. And this “conversation” (or fortune telling) within the self, which we are privileged to enjoy and shudder at, is rife with flaring tensions and instability, extrusions of cruelty and violence verging constantly towards, like suicide, a kind of desperate, ritualized and salvational make-up sex. Yes, the fire of consummation is what will save and consume.

 

And let me say again how lucky we are to be overhearing and looking in on this lover’s quarrel of the soul (and itself). Continue reading

Crystal Eaters

by Anonymous

 

crystal18220681
Crystal Eaters
by Shane Jones
Two Dollar Radio, 2014
172 pages / $16.00 buy from Two Dollar Radio orAmazon
Rating: 10.0

 

So my dad’s an alcoholic. (That’s really hard to admit. In fact, this is the first time I’ve typed it out, as I’m drafting.) He’s not a monster. He never beat me or did any physical harm to me. Just had outbursts and left me with daddy issues.

 

So the reason why I’m sharing this is because Shane Jones’s Crystal Eaters helped me come to terms with some of my childhood. If you haven’t heard the premise of the novel here’s the rub: people in this village have a crystal count. Crystals are depleted when people get hurt, age, etc. When you reach zero you’re dead. There’s a rumor that eating rare, black crystals will increase your life count, but it’s just a rumor. Black crystals do work like psychedelic drugs though. Basically, The Crystal Eaters is a novel of addiction. Everyone is addicted to something, whether it’s their self-image as a good parent, the idea of extending their life, or they’re addicted to imbibing the psychotropic black crystals, themselves.

 

So the son, Pants, of the main family in the novel feels guilty because his mom is dying and he can’t really do much about it because he’s in jail for tripping balls on black crystal in public. In prison, Pants realizes that he’s an addict because his parents beat him instead of not taking the time out to understand him. That means a fuckton to me because I’m an addict, too—only to porn and alcohol. What I’ve come to realize, and what Jones reinforces in his novel, is that my dad’s fucked-upness is not my fault. It’s just how his parents equipped him. “Her father had done the same to her, and so did Dad’s, and it worked, look at them, adjusted people. She didn’t necessarily believe what she thought, but her family history was stronger than her head.” As a result, the same becomes true for Pants. And even though he feels super guilty and blames himself for his mother and dad and little sister’s misfortunes, it’s not actually his fault.

 

“The universe is a system where children watch their parents die,” which I take to mean, the world just spins, the city grows, the sun gets hotter. Of course there’s the chance that we’ll become addicted, too: it’s a way for our bodies to heal—a coping mechanism. We just need to examine the source of our desires. Why do I need to write? Why do I need to live forever? Why do I need to drink until my brain shuts off? If we can get a grasp as to what our motivations are, maybe we can have an easier time through life. The best we can do is not to fixate on the counting down to zero—because we will all reach zero—and, if we’re lucky, touch a heart or two on the way. Read the novel. Maybe it will help you come to an important realization, too.

 

Inside Madeleine by Paula Bomer

by Idris Kenain

Inside-Madeleine-397x600Inside Madeleine
by Paula Bomer
Soho Press, May 2014
272 pages / $16  Buy from Amazon or Soho Press

The stories in Paula Bomer’s Inside Madeleine take your hand, tell you a secret, and then burp in your face, giggling. They are honest, playful, and cagey, and the very title of the collection suggests these tonal complexities: while Inside Madeleinerefers literally to the various objects one character inserts into her vagina (bars of soap, a rubber ducky, penises), it also suggests something unfiltered, like when a reporter promises to take viewers “inside” an important issue or place. But here, Bomer’s mischief arises again, because programs like Inside Edition (or anything that offers the “inside scoop” on the life of a celebrity) are lurid and full of shit. And so the characters in Inside Madeleine are all these things too: playful, unfiltered, lurid, full of shit. At the beginning of the book, a narrator says that women are “supposed to be nice, well behaved things,” but, thankfully, nothing is nice and well behaved about Bomer’s fiction.

The protagonists of Bomer’s stories are young women in high school or college who struggle with their physical attributes: one character “has the sort of breasts that define a woman”; another character is victimized at school for weighing “well over two hundred pounds by the end of the sixth grade”; a couple others feel self-conscious about their lumpy, padded bras. Some characters find pleasure and power in sexuality, but that turns into a liability when their peers start throwing around labels like “slut” and “whore,” exposing a shameful double standard. The feminine landscape of this book is psychologically brutal, and I’m reminded of Louis C.K.’s routine about the difference between boys and girls: “Boys just do damage to your house that you can measure in dollars, like a hurricane; girls leave scars in your psyche that you find later, like genocide or an atrocity.” Continue reading

Beijing Doll

by Anonymous

beijing-doll-chun-sue-paperback-cover-art
Beijing Doll
by Chun Sue
Riverhead Books, 2004
240 pages / $17.00 buy from Amazon

 

In the world of Chinese lit translated, a common branding method is to plaster somewhere on the cover: China’s Banned Bestseller or The Controversial Banned Sexual Exploration, A New Generation, and so on. Goodreads has at least two lists of China’s Best Banned Books – and it’s become a sort of nerd-o-meter to detect new-to-the-genre readers by seeing if they’re lured to the Banned Bestseller stuff or to more ‘serious’ Classics or Mo Yan (technically banned, but, acceptable). Continue reading