The man shuffled into my office to tell his troubles. He sat down where I had to look at him.
Taxes were ruining him, his wife didn’t understand things, his bills were piling up, he didn’t like the weather, his car was on the bum, his children avoided him, a pet hamster had died.
“Even my cat committed suicide,” he said. “He went in the road during the night to fight a truck. The truck won. Found him next morning, his head all flat, his brains shooting out his ear holes like grey toothpaste. It nearly broke my heart. We buried it and the hamster together in a spot in the backyard. My kids prayed, and then looked at me as if it were my fault. I didn’t know what to tell them. God, why …why my cat?”
He sat there, waiting for an answer.
“Did I ever tell you about the dog I had when I was a kid?”
I didn’t want to hear this.
“He was a big cuddly mutt named Elmer.”
Now I really didn’t want to hear this.
“Fred,” I interrupted. “You’re in no state to talk about a dog from your childhood. Especially if his name was Elmer. It’ll only depress you further.”
“Old Elmer,” my friend mumbled, as though he hadn’t heard my warning. But something must have gotten through, because he changed the subject. “They say it’s going to rain.”
“They’re often as wrong as they’re right,” I said.
“I know,” he replied. “Can’t trust anyone these days.”
I tried to change the subject. “How’s—?”
“Don’t ask,” he interrupted. “Don’t make me think about it. Let’s just sit here in silence in some animal warmth.”
We were sitting together like that for about five minutes, me getting impatient to get back to my work, Fred comforted by the warmth, when the boss walked in and said,
“Say, have you seen the report on … oh, Fred, hello. How are you?”
“My cat’s dead,” Fred said. He got up and walked to the door. “Elmer’s long-gone, too.” And he left.
My boss said, “Who’s Elmer?”
“You really want to know about it?”
He did. He was the boss. It was his job to know about such things. So I told him.
After hearing everything, he was silent for a long while.
“I had a dog named Buster who died when I was a kid.”
Sharing some more animal warmth was about to happen in my office again, and it wasn’t even nine thirty-five in the morning on a Monday.
Archive for October, 2011
Video of the illustrated version of my humor book “How to Find Yourself (or a reasonable facsimile)”Thursday, October 20th, 2011
First there was my “How to find yourself (or a reasonable facsimile)”—-now there comes the real live super exciting mind-blowing not nearly over-hyped enough ILLUSTRATED VERSION of this classic that’s only been around a year or two (in its non-illustrated version).
So I made a video about it. To give my massive fan base a slurpy mouth-watering idea of the laughs and joy and the by god sheer freshness and marketing adjective marketing adjective marketing adjective so that each and every one of you and you and you won’t be able to contain yourselves and go buy one. Or two. Or more. For friends, relatives and those smarter, more upmarket pets of yours.
Oh, and see the video. Of course. Click here to view it and bring a little joy in your flippant modern day heart.
Thanks for reading to this discursive advertising message that wasn’t.
I’m done here for now.
“I love you, Mam. Oh how I looooove you. So much and double so much.” The daughter opened her mouth for more.
Mam said back, giving her more, “And I love you. You are so perfect.”
Daughter ate it up and said right back, “Mam, you can do anything. Just anything.”
They wanted to hug, but couldn’t because the daughter did not have arms. Or legs. Or any appendage. She was simply one big mouth with lips, tongue, teeth, moisture and love. Love for her Mam.
“I looooove you, mam.”
“I waaaaaaant, mam.”
“What do you want, my dearest of dears?”
The big mouth smacked its lips.
“I want something you can get for me.”
“That’s why I’m here.” The Mam beamed. She could not help herself, she had to say it again. “You are perfect. Just perfect.”
“And when I do something wrong, mam? When I’m older and am bad, what will you do?”
“I will scold you, correct you, teach you, forgive you, and everything will go back to what it was before you were bad.”
“You’re the best mam ever!”
Mam went out and bought three books, a pair of gloves, five pairs of shoes, eyeglasses in a fancy frame, chocolate bars, four types of cakes so she could have a bite of each, and a new toothbrush and toothpaste.
“Oh, Mam, stuff! Stuff! Lots of stuff! You thought of me! But mam. Mam! Shoes? Eyeglasses? Gloves? What are they for?”
“For when you grow older and develop.”
“Oh mam! Mam, you think of everything! Everything!” The mouth loved using exclamation marks. She couldn’t help it if everything was wonderful. Wonderful! “Feed me, Mam. Feed me everything. I am made for it. One big happy need! You fulfill me!”
Mam went to the kitchen, stayed there a while, came back with three mounds of food, which she spoon and fork fed to her open-mouthed daughter.
“Mmmmm, Mam. You’re the best!”
“No, you’re the best.”
“No, you’re the best.”
And so forth until Mam went to get dessert.
And mam asked, defining future needs she looked forward to providing, “And what does my perfect baby darling forever want from me?”
“Hug me, give to me, forgive me, buy for me, feed me, squeeze me, fulfill me, shape me, take me, make me.”
“Oh my daughter!”
“Oh my mammy!”
“We were made for each other.”
“Oh, yes, mammy! Oh! Yes!”
And the daughter began hungrily nibbling her mother and the mam said, “My darling. My perfect, loving little girl. Ouch.”
Recently I made a short video based on a poem, “Losing a Glove,” written by a friend of mine, Jeannette Cook.
I have edited another slightly different version of the video, and read the poem myself.
The incidental music is by Explosions in the Sky, from the CD Memorial (track is “Memorial”).
You can see / hear it by clicking on this sentence!
You can hear Jeannette read it in a slightly different video cut & music, if you missed it the first time around: Jeannette Cook reads the same poem, “Losing a Glove”.
Thanks for coming by. – Vincent
Last Friday, getting over an illness, I hauled my buns into a darkened recording studio where five other Belgian-based Americans gathered. We were there to be part of hubbub crowd scenes in Julie Delpy’s next feature film .“2 Days in New York”.
Usually for such work, someone connected to the film tells you when to make what kind of sounds or words that will be crafted as a sort of background soundscape by the sound engineer. For this film, there were scenes in restaurants, airports, gallery openings, and suchlike. The talent tries to make it fun, knowing we will end up as unrecognizable background.
So we sat down, all six of us, three men, three women, lined up in chairs, with me taking one on the end near the door in the event I felt something physical coming on from my illness. It was going to be a three to four hour session. We started with a woman suggesting, and it became your-turn, my-turn, our-turn, doing variations of sentences or conversational improv, until about forty-five minutes in, we had an entrance.
Light suddenly streamed into the darkened room and a woman saying, in French, “There are no taxis in Brussels. I called at 8:45 for a taxi and was told there would be none until 10:00. No taxis in Brussels. Impossible! Sorry I am late. How is it going?” It was Julie Delpy, writer-directer-actress-singer.
Okay, this was unusual. And she took off her coat, took control, and wanted to see what we had done, saying bonjour and started adjusting what had already happened. She took up residence at the table next to me. She was not well, wore no make-up or attempt at actress glamor and placed a see-through plastic bag of medicines before her. I felt empathy.
Often, between takes, she was sticking sprays up her nose, blowing said nose, sucking on a throat lozenge, taking a pill, digging around in her bag for something extra. I remarked, “I see you brought your pharmacy.” That lead to talking illnesses going around. Never heard her complain once about her feeling bad, although while waiting for the engineer to find the next scene I’d glance over and she’d be holding her head bent into her hands, very still.
Mentioning illness, she talked of her mother dying from cancer two years ago, and her own giving up smoking last year (“I began smoking when I was 14”), and the horror of her mother going through chemo, and “it may have been worse than her disease.” Then we speculated on how DNA and cigarettes impact, and diet. I told her my grandmother smoked until she was 65, gave them up and died of natural caused in her sleep at 96. “See!” she said. “It’s all a roll of the dice,” I replied.
Before working on a scene, we watched each individual scene to get a sense of it. Many of the scenes everyone laughed quite heartily (it’s a nervous comedy from what I saw). It must have pleased her, since we were, in a way, her first test audience, and I glanced and she was smiling at the laughter. There was one scene in a restaurant where the man playing her character’s father (her father in real life) complains that the prices on the menu was so high. Her character replies something like, “It’s not euros, dad, it’s dollars. They are not worth anything. So order whatever you want.” Our little audience roared, and Julie mentioned that many in the USA didn’t get that joke, “They say, what is so funny? Which is funny.” Seems even in Hollywood they don’t get the dollar’s weakness abroad. She said, “Everyone outside the USA always gets it and laughs.“
Later on, when there was a technical breakdown, a microphone going mysteriously screwy, I turned to Julie and asked, “So, “Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset”. When’s the next one?” She said that after this film she was going to begin working on the script. “But I have no ideas. I don’t know what to write. I have nothing more to say about relationships. I don’t know anything about relationships. I want to write about computers and aliens, things that explodes. Anything, just not relationships!” She paused. “But Ethan will have ideas. He always has ideas. That will help. I need a couple of months break.”
I can report that Julie Delpy’s fingerprints will be on every sound mumble and frame of the film because she really does care. There was not one moment when she wasn’t completely frank, spontaneous and enthusiastic. Couldn’t detect any artifice. As the dubbing progressed, she made real effort to get everyone’s name, and had them all by the end of the dubbing session. She was unrelentingly kind, treating us all like artistic colleagues, and even accepted some script change suggestions. “Americans say pictures, not photos,” someone remarked, and she replied, “Really? Okay.”
I departed thinking highly of this talented artist, and I hope her film is extremely successful so she’ll be given the budget to make one with high-tech exploding gadgets that go off whenever some character says the word “relationship”.
To quote Roger Ebert, the film critic, “…Julie Delpy is an original, a woman who refuses to be defined or limited. Her first great roles were in Bertrand Tavernier’s “Beatrice” (1987), Agnieszka Holland’s “Europa Europa” (1990) and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “White” (1994); she was in Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” “Waking Life” and “Before Sunset” and she dumped Bill Murray at the beginning of Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers.” In between, she studied film at NYU and made herself available for 30 student productions.”
If you want to get a quick idea of her humor, CLICK HERE.