“And if I show you my dark side, will you still hold me… tonight? And if I open my heart to you, and show you my weak side, what would you do?”
“The Final Cut”, Roger Waters (1983)
“A list poem is one of the easiest kinds of poems to write because it doesn’t require either rhythm or rhyme. But that doesn’t mean you should write down anything helter skelter. Here’s a list of elements that makes a list poem a poem instead of just a list:
1) The writer is telling you something–pointing something out–saying, “Look at this” or, “Think about this.”
2) There’s a beginning and an end to it, like in a story.
3) Each item in the list is written the same way.”
“How to Write a “What Bugs Me” List Poem”, by Bruce Lansky (1996)
“My advice, to anyone willing to listen, is to find a notebook that fits into your pants pocket. Use a pen with a cap so it doesn’t explode in your pocket, and start writing down whatever you can remember. Even if it’s a favourite colour. Then, later, write down why it’s your favourite colour…. and pretty soon you’ve got a list.”
Me on my last post
The Third Five: My Ultimate Twenty Five Movies
This is a list I finished last spring. It was part of, what ended up being, a very successful method of regaining my memory. It took me two years to put this list together. The lists I’m posting, about the embarrassing memories, and these movies and the others to come, are meant to show the value in writing memories down.
Pi (π) (1998) b/w (Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis) My reasons for wanting to keep the doors locked were different than Max, but I could so relate when he jammed that drill into his head. I’ve never been excessively paranoid, the people who haven’t liked me over the years have made their feelings readily available to the general public. I’ve also been lucky enough not to experience “the voices” or regular migraines. This is a movie about a brilliant mathematician who — along with suffering from all three thanks to an early childhood incident, accidentally gets the true name of God stuck in his head while looking for patterns in the stock market. If you went out and ripped off a liquor store you’d almost have more of a budget for your movie than these guys did for theirs. On a budget of US$60,000 a lot of the atmosphere comes from the fact they couldn’t afford new film. Some of the math gets messed up, but the philosophical issues of numbers, God, the stock market, mental illness, trepanning and the game of “Go” all being discussed it’s easy to forgive any a+b mistakes.
Apocalypse Now (Redux) (1979) (Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall) This one is on the list and not the original because of the dinner scene at the French Plantation, all the other “add-ins” mostly sucked and dragged the story down. Listening to the French dudes talk about France’s expedition into Vietnam gave the film a sense of history it lacked in the original. But nothing beats The Doors doing “This Is The End” as a chunk of Vietnam goes up in napalm while the heavy-bass beating helicopters fly past the camera. Or when Brando finally shows up and you realize the movie’s not about “Willard” at all. First time I saw the original I was fifteen-years old and I ended up watching it eight times in two days.
Willard: [voiceover] “Saigon… shit; I’m still only in Saigon… Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle. When I was home after my first tour, it was worse. I’d wake up and there’d be nothing. I hardly said a word to my wife, until I said “yes” to a divorce. When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I’m here a week now… waiting for a mission… getting softer; every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I looked around, the walls moved in a little tighter.”
The Killing Fields (1984) (Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor, Spalding Gray) I spent most of my early high school days debating in favour of the Communist Way. Did you know the Constitution of the Soviet Socialist Republic guarantees the equality of women and men, while the American Constitution only gives it to men? I even had the Soviet flag proudly on display in my bedroom window. I saw this movie in 1986, I was 16-years old and I couldn’t figure out what the fuck was going on… who was killing whom, what ideology was winning and which deserved to lose. I didn’t know until the end it was based on real events. Before I saw the movie I was such an idiot I thought Jello Biafra, at the end of The Dead Kennedy’s classic “Holiday In Cambodia”, was chanting “cold, hot” instead of “Pol Pot”. Watching this movie, about the insanity of Pot’s “Year Zero” extermination campaign and a Cambodian interpreter for an American reporter getting lost in it, was a fork in the road for me as a young idealist.
Cool Hand Luke (1967) (Paul Newman, George Kennedy) Honest to God the first time I saw this movie I was channel flipping (manually) and there was Joy Harmon washing her car… holy crap that dress was tight. It took me a couple of viewings but I finally started to see the religious themes in the movie. Based on the novel, and screenplay, of Donn Pearce, this movie has layers upon layers that I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet after at least twelve times… now, replace “Old Man” with “Father” as Luke finally stops and asks God for help and you’ll get a sense for the movie:
Luke: “Anybody here? Hey, Old Man. You home tonight? Can You spare a minute. It’s about time we had a little talk. I know I’m a pretty evil fellow… killed people in the war and got drunk… and chewed up municipal property and the like. I know I got no call to ask for much… but even so, You’ve got to admit You ain’t dealt me no cards in a long time. It’s beginning to look like You got things fixed so I can’t never win out. Inside, outside, all of them… rules and regulations and bosses. You made me like I am. Now just where am I supposed to fit in? Old Man, I gotta tell You. I started out pretty strong and fast. But it’s beginning to get to me. When does it end? What do You got in mind for me? What do I do now? Right. All right.”
[Gets on knees, closes eyes and begins to pray]
Luke: “On my knees, asking.”
[Peeks up with one eye, waits. Then opens eyes and crosses arms]
Luke: “Yeah, that’s what I thought. I guess I’m pretty tough to deal with, huh? A hard case.”
Luke: “Yeah, I guess I gotta find my own way.”
[Police headlights shine through windows, backs up]
Luke: [Shakes head and smiles] “Is that Your answer, Old Man? I guess You’re a hard case, too.”
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif) This is The movie everyone must experience on a large screen. I haven’t, yet. The first time I watched this was as CFCF Channel 12’s late night movie on a tiny 19″ colour RCA. I was about 13 or 14 and we were living way, way out in the country so there was nothing, no sound anywhere, except my breathing and this movie. CFCF’s movies were on two hours past my bedtime so I’d sneak downstairs, keep the volume turned almost to mute, pull the chair up to the screen and watch without moving for as long as I could with my nose three inches from the screen. Back then “letterbox” format was pretty rare so people were always talking off screen, or the closups were really, really closeup. But even with no sound and two thirds of the movie happening off screen I was hooked, everything about this movie is perfect… even before it clues in this was a biography.