Tuesday, January 30, 2007

War Dead

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Temecula Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Capt. Brian S. Freeman of Temecula, CA:

"Capt. Freeman fulfilled a tremendous duty in serving and protecting our country here and abroad. Maria and I offer our sympathies to Brian's family and friends. His loss is a painful reminder of the sacrifices our servicemen and women make for our freedoms."

Freeman, 31, died Jan. 20 as a result of wounds received when his meeting area came under attack by mortar and small arms fire in Karbala, Iraq. He was assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, Whitehall, OH.

In honor of Capt. Freeman, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Hayward Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pvc. Michael C. Balsley of Hayward, CA:

"Pvc. Balsley's dedication and brave obedience to civic duty has protected the lives of his fellow Americans. Maria and I join with all Californians in offering our condolences to Michael's family, friends and fellow soldiers as they mourn his loss. His honorable sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Balsley, 23, died Jan. 25 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, CO.

In honor of Pvc. Balsley, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Vista Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Jeffrey D. Bisson of Vista, CA:

"Spc. Bisson made the ultimate sacrifice in serving our country and valiantly preserved the freedoms that we treasure. Maria and I offer our sincere condolences to Jeffrey's loved ones. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers as they endure this painful loss."

Bisson, 22, died Jan. 20 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee in Karma, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, AK.

In honor of Spc. Bisson, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Two Camp Pendleton Marines

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the deaths of Lance Cpl. Andrew G. Matus of Chetek, WI and Lance Cpl. Emilian D. Sanchez of Santa Ana Pueblo, NM:

"The men and women of our nation's armed forces bravely defend us with unsurpassed honor and courage. Lance Cpl. Matus and Lance Cpl. Sanchez willingly risked their lives to protect us and our freedoms. Maria and I offer our condolences to Andrew's family and Emilian's family and we will pray for their comfort during this difficult time."

Matus, 19, and Sanchez, 20, died Jan. 21 as a result of wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. They were assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Matus and Lance Cpl. Sanchez, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Sacramento National Guard Member

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Art Laguna of Sacramento, CA:

"California has suffered a great loss with the death of Chief Warrant Officer Laguna. Art's tremendous courage and profound allegiance to the California National Guard warrants the appreciation and gratitude of all Californians. Maria and I offer our deepest sympathies and our prayers are with his family as they endure this painful loss."

Laguna, 52, died Jan. 23 as a result of injuries sustained when his helicopter came under attack during routine protection detail in Baghdad, Iraq. He was working for a civilian contractor in Iraq.

In honor of Chief Warrant Officer Laguna, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Film Nerd: "Stoned"

The coming of the Brian Jones biopic "Stoned," was ballyhooed here at highwayscribery, and we thought it a fun exercise to scoop up the DVD and dish after viewing.

highwayscribery liked this film.

The director, Stephen Woolley, loves his subject: the groundbreaking tow-headed guitarist of The Rolling Stones gone wrong. He alternates between a historian’s loyalty to detail, down to the very clothes Stones fanatics will recognize from episodes in the much-photographed band’s life, and dedicating his project to dramatizing the proposal that Jones was killed by a live-in building contractor, Frank Thorogood.

Woolley’s roundabout narrative games, starting with Jones’ life passing before our eyes as he is pulled moribund from the bottom of his swimming pool by two very hot sixtease girls, and the cutting back and forth between the time of his decline and that of his stratospheric rise, shake up the storytelling without going post-modern and losing coherence.

There was not much buzz about “Stoned” in the press and the few reviews highwayscribery read were not flattering, but one hopes the film found profit in an audience of Stones fans, ’60s nostalgia-types, rock historians, and good old-fashioned libertines it should appeal to.

[They do the above “market paragraph” thing in “Variety” all the time.]

Aiming for an audience of ’60s aesthetes has its risks for there are calls to be made regarding the fashion, soundtrack, and attitudes of a much picked-over era. When Woolley opts for Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” as underlay to a first LSD shared by Jones and legendary Rock ‘n Roll galfriend Anita Pallenberg, it seems a bit on the nose.

In the end, however, it works wonderfully, the sound guy cheating a little, raising the volume as Grace Slick thunders, “Feed your head! FEED YOUR HEAD!” as the editing’s pacing heads into warp speed.

And so it goes, the director shedding light on Brian’s mystical dreamworld at his Olde Ynglish mansion, on the way he was fired from the band, on his sad descent into weakness and self-pity, or choosing merely to reproduce, verbatim, famous moments known to Stones freaks everywhere, such as his musical encounter with the drumming Jajouka of Morocco.

And that works, too.

The film is a visual smorgasbord always within rather now-conventional ’60s parameters, starting with the Rolling Stones playing “Little Red Rooster” in a black-and-white club scene, and unspooling a kaleidoscopic Moroccan palette as the boys head toward Marakesh’s heart of darkness, ensconced in a Rolls Royce, to share drugs and thoughts with writer and artist Brion Gysin.

the scribe’s not much at weighing thespian performance, but he’s secure enough to say that the actress Monet Mazur looks good on screen, and that the sex-drenched script plays to her strong suit.

The guy portraying Jagger is dead-on where both looks and voice are concerned. Frank, the purported murderer - the closing credits claim he confessed on his death bed - is a fantastic foil, a working-class schmutz completely taken in by the far away and stoned-out paradise Jones has constructed for himself. The film slowly heightens Frank’s (Paddy Considine) sexual frustration, his growing awareness of books and songs previously unknown, and his meanspirited mistreatment at the hands of a spoiled rock star.

Please don’t say that is who Brian Jones was.

Leo Gregory, who plays Jones, isn’t nearly as good-looking as the real item, but takes to the job with a passion that seems to have permeated all the crew and players behind “Stoned.”

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Liquid Life (installment eleven)

"The Liquid Life" is an early novela written by the scribe, circa 1987. It runs every weekend.


One day Elendele came home with negligee and modeled for Saturnina. It was a debate over mauve or sepia. They chose neither and decided Elendele should wear what she looked best in.

I knew what that meant. I asked where she was going then, and Elendele said she was going to the islands with a wealthy stepchild of the Narcostocracy. His time was his own, she explained, it was all books, movies and discussions over café latte.

“Coffee,” I grimed her, “I wonder what’ll he’ll do when he learns it stops working as well as in the beginning.”

“He’s 27, he already has,” she scathed me, packed her little overnight, and was gone.

“All actresses are whores, Saturnina.”

“The work it takes to become an exciting woman deserves every recompense,” she shocks me with her sister solidarities. “You just can’t afford her full-time. Less money, more scorn, and ipso facto dear Achilles…”


The stained sheet afternoons went on into the new network television season, through the ongoing writers strike and another settlement with the Costumers Guild.

Meanwhile, the United Stage and Craft Employees were so dissatisfied with their shrinking pie piece, so convinced they were victims of the new and concentrated world corporatia, that they barricaded themselves into the union hall with guns and ammo and charged the leadership with hopeless ties to the Mafia. A tattered agreement was finally thrown together so that the renegades might save face in a battle they could not win. Elendele was apparently called in to round up the radical faction led by former union guys from El Salvador. There had been settlement and blood-spatter, too. Gina Night’s father’s name had been mentioned and he came away shaken from the police questioning.

Elendele said it had been a bad year for unions.

There was no film work through the desert clear days of February when the fan was turned off and the winds from the south turned on. The girls lay about for curtain calls at a light-paying theater production, wrapped in double ski sweaters bought by Saturn, at a fiesta in the mountains outside Granada.

We easily accessed one another and each had examined the other completely, from skin surface to spiritual components you would have thought the secrets of the universe were contained within. They weren’t, but in the meantime we’d made ourselves our own and my favorite thing was the strip of butterscotch skin there was, on the inside of Saturn’s ripe thigh.

“It’s from a difficult birth,” Elendele rendered positively. “The girl didn’t want to come out and play, but when she finally did it was pure jet plane joy baby.”

Each was President of the other’s fan club and I was a member in both.
“We aren’t poor and ignorant where we come from,” she explained. “We’re just poor and ignorant here.”

She hated the Mexican music from the building across the alleyway at least as much as Elendele and considered those people to be of low stock.

So when the new cleaning girl named Lydia came with a reference as daughter to one of the great cleaners in the cleaning game, Elendele decreed it a matter of genes that she do it just as well.

Cortez saw this as discriminatory on its face. Elendele’s dealer also thought it was a stupid idea. Trevor didn’t care. Elendele and Saturn considered it a great plan, because it would leave them with lots of time to read and tape operas off the public television station.

“And what about you my rake?” she gilded me, volted me. Elendele knew how to get me right there, and I went down easily, casting my vote in favor of the house-cleaning proposal, because Saturn wore a pink satin slip under her sailor dress, and the lace was showing at the bottom.

But Lydia didn’t do anything except get up early to leave the Salon and come in just before midnight to eat. One time she came back with a tattoo. It was a link chain, just a centimeter in size, etched round her little ankle.

“We get this!” Elendele points her, “after all that research I did on ways to get around employer sanctions provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.”

Later there were always problems with phone calls to Managua and reverse charges from the city of parrots, Guyaquil.

And Lydia’s youth did not affect her seriousness about doing the job she thought
she’d been hired for – mugging me. Nothing but the state’s penal sticks could keep me from biting the carrot she kept waving.

What kind of families made creatures like these? What loincloth mentality? In what distant city was this strange philosophy of life without clocks and clothes born?

I was so easily had. Work no longer mattered, nor the recriminations from a boss of stress who couldn’t begin to comprehend the pillow softness of my new world. I did believe, that without clocks, time did not pass. That change would never knock on the door in her commissar’s cloak, tisane on her suffocating breath.

When fired, I was convinced everything would turn out fine, but allowed Elendele to spend hours assuring me of it. I liked the way she woke early to talk and whisper me in the kitchen, showering me in secretive laughings, dancing her eyebrows for amplification so as not to wake up Saturnina and the bad house cleaner.

Then one day I walked in on her and she was lost in the bloodstained sheets of Garcia Lorca’s love. Crying because she was just now realizing how difficult becoming great would be.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Exchange With An Assemblyman

We don't know how people get to highwayscribery. And we don't know how a full-fledged member of the California Assembly got to highwayscribery and left a pair of comments, but Republican Chuck DeVore did, horns raised, ready to rumble. Devore is coauthor of a bill that got some rough treatment in the scribe's previous post, "highwayscribery: Nuts But Not a Terrorist Organization," and he had some things to say in response. We played it straight and reproduce the exchange here for your reading pleasure.

Dear Scribe [he didn't really write that],

I appreciate the comments, but clearly you have not read the bill, AB 137. Also, I know full well the difference between "terrorist" and "communist" having studied comparative political thought at Claremont McKenna College and American University in Cairo, Egypt. That there is a difference in the above two categories of people in their beliefs and methods does not render invalid the adaptation of law on the books meant for one group into a new law for another. As for an "exhaustive analysis" of the differences between the two, allow me to provide one: the chief means of qualifying to be one of the 42 foreign terrorist organizations is by kidnapping or killing an American citizen in the past five years. As for the "scribe’s problem with the legislation" regarding donating to a foreign terrorist organization, if one reads the bill, one will readily discover that the bill mirrors current federal prohibitions. Further, that the bill proscribes knowing membership or financial donations to a foreign terrorist organization while on the state payroll. Similar provisions against active members of the Communist Party (vs. a democratic Marxist), have, in fact, been upheld by the Courts as reasonable restrictions on employment. Thus, in the hypothetical case suggested, the "scribe’s sister-in-law" who gave to a charitable cause to assist "Afghani women" would first of all have to be on the state payroll, and second of all have to be knowingly assisting a foreign terrorist organization.Your second hypothetical doesn’t really even make much sense. Past support for terrorism is not prohibited in the law (again, it helps if the "scribe" were to first READ the bill, rather than simply WRITE about it). Knowing support for a foreign terrorist organization while on the state payroll is, however, prohibited. As for the teaching of "untruths" on the state payroll while a member or financial contributor of a foreign terrorist organization, please allow me to elaborate. I do not think it helpful for the peace and welfare of the people of the State of California that a professor on the state payroll would teach that the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is a truthful document, rather than the Tsarist-era secret police forgery that it is, designed to justify pogroms and the killing of Jewish people in Russia. Yet, many foreign terrorist organizations today use "Protocols," along with Holocaust denial, as part of their propaganda arsenal to justify the killing of certain people and the destruction of an internationally recognized state, Israel. Now, the bill does not outlaw Holocaust denial conferences (as is the case in Germany), nor does it outlaw the teaching of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as fact – it only does so by people who are members of foreign terrorist organizations and are trying to advance their hateful and destructive agendas while on the payroll of the people of the State of California. I hope this clears a few things up for you. I look forward to the ongoing debate as I try to repeal the nine Cold War era statutes in California’s Education Code and Government Code and replace some or all of them with appropriate and reasoned restrictions on using a position of trust or authority in state government to advance a violent and hateful cause.

All the best,
Chuck DeVore
California State Assemblyman,
70th District


What the..what are you doing here? Listen, (and first) the scribe studies comparative political thought every day of his life at home with resources from the public library, so no pulling rank on us small fries big guy. Second, the highway scribe thinks the difference DOES invalidate the adaptation. Life is nuanced and legislation is too important to be dropping in one pariah where another once existed. Third, that's a very neat and clean definition of terrorist. Do you think it applies to everyone under suspicion of the charge right now? Mark Twain warned that, "lawmakers know the laws they draft by their words, not by their effects." Fourth, mirroring federal legislation is not a virtue here at highwayscribery (but you couldn't know that). Fifth, same goes for earlier litigation targeting leftists in the U.S. We didn't like what the courts said then and hope to avoid another generation of witch hunts now. Sixth, who said she wasn't a state employee? Anyway, what we on the left see in such provisions is a hallmark of creeping Fascism, wherein one group at a time is done away with until those remaining have nowhere to turn, never having cared, because the persecution was always someone else's problem. Seventh, the scribe's sister-in-law might rot in jail and then, if lucky, get to spend a lot of money proving the fact she didn't "knowingly" assist a foreign terror organization. Most federal cases turn on this simple distinction. Scooter Libby is a good and current case in point. Eighth, point taken, the scribe will hold his nose and read the bill, but thinks you know his critique is general rather than particular: that we shouldn't go around making terrorism the new communism. The old charge of "red" destroyed a lot of lives unnecessarily. Finally, the "untruth" provisions sound well-intentioned, but the scribe's fear revolves around the need to tar someone with the "terrorist supporter" brush before slamming them with the "untruths" charge, which is a double slam made worse by the fearful and suspicious environment such a law creates. But thanks for dropping by.

the highway scribe

My pleasure. I enjoy the debate.

All the best, Chuck DeVore
State Assemblyman,
70th District

highwayscribery: Nuts, But Not a Terrorist Organization

People are buzzing about the response of Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb’s televised response to w.’s STATE OF THE UNION(!) speech.

the scribe hasn’t watched one of these spectacles in seven years, because the scribe has never recognized the little usurper as true leader of the American people.

You have to do more than steal an election to gain the highwayscribery imprimatur.

Webb, a novelist, made waves before even taking his oath when this exchange with w. became fodder for the chattering classes.

w.: How’s your boy Jim?

[editorial note: Jim’s “boy” is an infantry Marine in Iraq.]

Jim: I’d like to get him outta there Mr. [p]resident.

w. That’s not what I asked you. I asked how’s your boy?

Jim: That’s between me and my boy.

George Will, who makes much of how the deeply Democratic (as in Party) District of Columbia is out of touch with America, was APPALLED. He dedicated his valuable column space nationwide to a piece in which he called Webb, “a boor.”

What D.C. George didn’t understand is that people all over the country, no, the world, have been waiting for someone to get within shouting distance of the little man and say something similar...for a long time.

Rather than get laughed out of the capital city for diverging from the usual comity, Webb got a shot at addressing the nation and dished more of the same.

But important writers like the “Washington Post’s” E.J. Dionne Jr., are covering the address and the good things it means for Democrats, so highwayscribery thought it was time to do a little blogger’s work and shed light on news that falls into the interstices and canyons of coverage left undeveloped by the big boys.

At issue then is an article in the “Contra Costa (California) Times” written by one Steve Geissinger.

It’s about a new proposed law by Assemblyman Michael Duvall (R) and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R), that would, Geissinger writes, “give authorities power to grill and fire state and local government workers tied to terrorist groups or donating to them, as well as public educators who teach, ‘untruths’ about terrorism.”

That’s a stupid law and, as Senate Majority Leader Dom Perata (D) said in the same piece, wreaks of McCarthyism.

It is an article of faith at highwayscribery that the American right wing is very good at playing on inherent nativist sentiments in our noble and rather isolated people, and that nothing works better in cowing political activism than cooking up a bogeyman with which to, yes, terrorize everybody.

This Web log has said, on more than one occasion, that following a decade-long dry spell, the 9-11 attacks had given the Republican Party [we freely interchange “GOP” with “right wing”] a perfect club with which to beat the American people.

By way of proof we have the DeVore/Duvall legislation (AB137) in which DeVore says he sought the deletion of obsolete laws from the 1950s dealing with the great Red scare, “but saved some parts, inserting provisions to guard against terrorists.”

And so you can see that (r)epublicans engage in a free interchange of the nouns “terrorist” and “communist,” aiming to apply old laws against the latter, to pounce on the former.

We promise to stop if they do.

A communist is someone who believes in a collective society and, in many cases, thinks it must be attained through violent revolution. A terrorist is someone who blows up people in market places and office buildings, for any number of reasons, rational, religious, or nihilistic.

There are many differences between the two, but that would involve an exhaustive analysis.

We promise to do one if Duvall and DeVore promise the same.

the scribe’s problem with the legislation can be found in the paragraph quoted above: that business about firing people who are “tied” to terrorist groups, or have “donated” to them.

The definition of “terrorist,” and/or “tied” being the government’s call, thank you.

A hypothetical: the scribe’s sister-in-law gave a party some years ago and, apropos of nothing, asked for donations to a group supporting Afghani women who were presumed to be in trouble for any number of reasons, starting with the U.S. war against their homeland.

People gave and went back to the keg for a refill.

Let’s say that group supporting Afghani women found their name on a flyer, with a bunch of other groups, calling for an end to “the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.” Let’s say the kid who was manning the underfunded storefront office was on her cellphone with a buddy and got a call on the land-line from the coalition asking permission to use her group’s name on the flyer and she said “yes” before getting back to her buddy.

Now let’s say a group or two in that coalition listed on the flyer are legitimate terror organizations as defined by the United States Government.

Are the people at the sister-in-law’s party guilty of donating to terrorist organizations?

Very possibly, and if they are, it’s going to cause them a lot of grief and misery proving otherwise.

Another hypothetical: During the first Iraq war, the scribe and his allies in the poetry troupe “the Elegant mob,” thought it proper to revive their moribund literary review “READ” and pipe-up about their opposition to that conflict.

Old as it is, that issue of READ encapsulates far-left and artnick sentiment on the whole ghastly business still going on over there. It is a sentiment characterized by horror at the mere idea of Usama bin-Laden or Moqta al-Sadr, but satisfied the U.S. got up their noses and the noses of bad people like him with regional policies it should have been wiser in applying.

In the central manifesto of that issue, the highway scribe (in making some point or other) noted that our country lived in a dangerous bubble reality different from the world around, and that it was, “nothing a few well guided missiles landing in Austin, Texas wouldn’t cure.”

You have to admit, that was mighty prescient of the scribe. But you’re (we hope) not a federal agent who could easily construe the statement as proof of the scribe’s PAST SUPPORT FOR TERRORISM.

And that would be a tough fight, because of the difficulty in reconstructing the far-left, smokey-roomed, up-all-night, avant-garde art world in which the scribe’s words were scribbled, and because a jury might not take kindly, at all, to the angry and sarcastic portrayals of the American war effort his collaborators concocted.

And that is if there were a fight. Remember, a lot of people caught in these kinds of quandaries are “enemy combatants” rotting in Guantanamo or some CIA secret prison when a simple hearing might sort them out from the true “evil doers.”

And as highwayscribery made clear in "Gitmo Girl (or Lady Lawyer in Yemen)", a lot of guys kooling their Korans in jail may simply have been guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The DeVore/Duvall provision against teaching “untruths” is also scary. As much as the right-wing rails at the idea of moral relativism, determining truth is a tricky business.

Unless of course, you’ve been indicted by the government, whose definition of truth trumps yours: whose terrorist may be your freedom fighter, or the freedom fighter of an acquaintance you made one night.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

2nd Lt. Daily

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Irvine Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of 2nd Lt. Mark J. Daily of Irvine, CA:

"Maria and I have such a strong admiration for the men and women of our nation's armed forces. 2nd Lt. Daily served with determination and bravery, making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fellow soldiers as they mourn the loss of a cherished individual."

Daily, 23, died January 15 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Mosul, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, TX.

In honor of 2nd Lt. Daily, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

"Vedette": A Consideration

The Historical Novel Society just published its review of the highway scribe's novel "Vedette or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows."

Vedette: or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows
Stephen Siciliano, iUniverse, Inc., 2004, $21.95, pb, 369pp, 0595315119

On the surface, Vedette is the tale of a girl who grows and matures through the tumultuous times of the Spanish Revolution. The novel follows Vedette from her humble peasant origins to flamenco singer and dancer and ultimately to being the sole survivor of an idealistic, but doomed, revolutionary movement.

Vedette is more than a protagonist. She is a metaphor of all the ideals of Andalusia and embodies the diversity of cultures, the music, the contradictions, and the simmering passion that characterizes the region. She moves in the story as a muse and a catalyst of events far beyond the reaches of a normal woman.

The author has made this more of an immersive experience than a simple novel. The book includes hand-drawn illustrations of objects in the story, poetry, song lyrics, Spanish idioms, and a musical CD which was included with the review copy. The author uses the dreamy hallucinatory imagery of magical realism against the harsh and gruesome realities of revolution to create a captivating dynamic that will jar and interest readers. The novel remains apolitical for the most part, telling the tale of a revolution through sensual experience instead of political discourse.

Masterfully, the author weaves together a vibrant world that touches on the fantastic around the experiences of Vedette. The metaphors are tight and well constructed throughout the novel, though the imagery and pacing are a little slow on occasion. Overall the story is engrossing, and in the end, haunting, as it addresses history and the passage of time.

Amanda Yesilbas


Also... Vedette has changed the music on her My Space Page to Omar Torrez and the scribe's "Marfil's Furious Salsa." (p. 275 in your book).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Film Nerd: "And God Created Woman"

Saturday night Mr. and Mrs. Scribe cozied up to work through writer/director Roger Vadim’s “And God Created Woman,” (AGCW) frantically jumping back and forth between his acerbic dialogue and Brigitte Bardot’s all-commanding screen presence.


The impulse for this particular selection had its roots in the scribe’s mom having sent him a copy of Vadim’s book, “Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda: My Life With The World’s Three Most Beautiful Women.”

Oh screw you Vadim.

The book’s a delightful account of surging Parisian culture in the years after the Nazi’s were thrown out. He partied the left bank with Sartre and Beauvoir, got his first positive film review from an unknown Francois Truffaut, and recommended a script written on a matchbox by an equally anonymous Jean-Luc Godard. He introduced Brigitte to Bohemian circles at a party attended by “a young U.S. Senator named John F. Kennedy.”

You get the idea.

What prompted the actual going out to look for the film was Vadim’s art-imitating-life/life-imitating art account of how he lost Bardot to the “always secretive and slightly Machiavellian” male lead of AGCW, one Louis Trintingnant.

In the film, Bardot marries Trintingnant’s character Michel, but it’s not really working thanks to the temptations of older, essentially better men; she can’t resist the sexual lure of Michel’s older brother Antoine, who lives in the same house, together with yet another younger brother and their mother, in the old-fashioned way.

One has Bardot imploring the love out of Michel and then settling into the sand calmly to declare, “It’s difficult to be happy.”

Wrote Vadim, “Never before had Brigitte, the actress, been so profoundly desperate. She was really Juliette [the character] who wanted to love her husband and save her marriage but knew that she would never succeed. She was also Brigitte, still attached to her husband and terrified at the idea of leaving him for a man whom she had just met, and whom she could not resist. It was like a world of reflecting mirrors, with Pirandellian subtlety.”

After the scene was shot Vadim confronted Bardot and she admitted to loving Trintingnant, putting the period to their argument with an utterance of, “It’s difficult to be happy.”

“Even to this day,” Vadim concluded in his 1986 book, “I am not sure whether she had deliberately repeated a phrase from the dialogue of the film, or whether she was saying what she felt.”

The film is also a delight. It was the young Bardot’s (20!) seventeenth and the one that broke her big time.

Vadim’s directing is most evident in the unique, if self-conscious, set shots he configured, characterized by strange bifurcations, the use of mirrors, second and third depth levels into which Bardot sashays, retreating and smaller, ever the unobtainable young peasant girl.

The direction is evident in his hands-off approach to Brigitte, whom he was consciously helping to bloom.

the scribe suspects that, directing the climactic scene in the waterfront whore’s bar, Vadim just folded his arms and set the one-time ballerina to melding with the samba band and the saxy kind of updated bolero soundtrack sunk into the proceedings.

The subtle battle between a rigid social order still existing in the Old World, and the young-girl-with-a-crappy attitude that Bardot both popularized and perfected in this film, is probably beyond the understanding of anyone born after 1960.

Something of a natural foil for the Catholic bourgeois culture she was raised in, Bardot tapped into her most authentic self, pouting and huffing, absentmindedly opening and closing parasols while a bilious and asexual coterie of older women lash her with predictions of eternal damnation.

Vadim said the response to AGCW was testimony to the film’s revolutionary appeal, but, at heart, the tale is both reactionary and a truthful measure of the world as it was. For all her persistence and head-banging, Juliette loses again and again to “the system.”

She is expunged from the household which took her up following her parents’ death. Her marriage to Michel is engineered from beyond by a wealthy shipbuilder who needs Michel’s brother to sign over the family land so he can build a casino in St. Tropez; still a fishing village (and magical, natural film set) at the time.

That an object of his own desire should be married hardly disturbs the magnate. “When your hair is gray, you can wait,” he tells Juliette. “Only the young are impatient.”

Juliette loses again when she must marry somebody she doesn’t love to stay “free” when she is merely trading prison for a halfway-house.

The film suggests that for all her attractive and potent protestations, the order which conspires against Juliette knows a horny and unreasonable young girl when it sees one, and has effective old-school remedies for handling her.

It suggests that Juliette’s overheated sexuality is dangerous to others, yes, but mostly to Juliette largely because it is subversive of an order into which she must ultimately fit. In the end, the man she resists most, her husband, turns out to be the best match of all.

Chastened, she lives happily every after, European style.

In American film, you give the farm a big kiss-off and move to the city where you meet the real deal and live happily ever after in a new and imagined kind of way.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Liquid Life (installment ten)

Somewhere around 1987-88, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban on gays in the military. With Cocteau and Breton as guiding lights, scandal the ultimate goal, the highway scribe prepared this episode of "The Liquid Life" for the lit-zine he and Antonio Mendoza were editing at the time called "READ"


“High Court Strikes Down Army Ban on Gays,” Elendele reads from the paper by a morning light, too bright, for those of us just losing the graytime of our magic crystals.

“Fucking great,” she profanes, “what a victory for decadent revolutionists everywhere who like it every way. Faggots in the army, khaki green worm eaten from within…the death of war everywhere! Gun and fun finally meet and it’s only a matter of time before one of them has won…You know that whole thing about gun lovers are really faggots, but they just don’t know? Oh excuse me,” she covers her mouth, “Did I say faggot. Excuse me gay. Gay ’ol time hey! Wait until Lafayette hears we are here, that now they’re over there…All of them…what an army. The heroic pink brigades. Can’t you just see it? The hookers out of business by all the forts and army bases, rampant buttfucking throughout the American south. Squeal like a pig indeed…And spreading to the Navy, now a Hollywood musical, “Sodomy on the High Seas,” starring Elendele, taking it right there, “spreading her pink-pantied self for those interested, “if she could, if some sailor boy would, but the high court has just struck the butt bang ban down…what a frown from the Republican ranks and fascist cranks finally throwing in the towel on morality. It may be embarrassing, but now the law says it’s so. So let’s go all you television electronic evangelists, into the sack you odd fans of God.

“Oh God!!!” standing and spinning around the kitchen now, ridiculous, begging for
attention, holding the paper to her breast and yelling quite loud, “‘by fuck let’s fuck’ de Sade did say, and he’s finally had his day, exonerated by the highest court in the world…He should hear, sodomy without fear. Like the church rules about hell or fish on Friday…now it’s a thank God it’s high day, when everyone gets rocked on whatever it is that rocks them, and makes them forget. Do the apostles regret? No!!! Jesus was a guy who could go for some good head in a more promiscuous time, like now, were he not dead.”

“Elendele,” Trevor groans down from out of his otherworld, “Please shut up.”

Then she goes back to smoking her Maria and reading the grains in her coffee. “Like I said,” she matter-of-facts us, “crystal makes me very horny.”


All knowledge and historical technique in bed, the girls lacked maturity and consistency of character in the world beyond the room filled with books they locked themselves in, after a run through the daily soap operas.

For a while, Elendele was inside out, off-colored for days at a time. Always highlighting and taking notice of a marvelous coincidences that weren’t really there, she fell into long periods of unproductive depression, out of which no one could find the tools to pry her. The writers’ strike was really tolling her hell bell.

Then having one day lost her birth controls, Saturn razed Elendele’s purse in search of her anti-baby to borrow, and came up instead, with the evil roots of the spiritual swirling.

“She’s overwhelmed by Westernism,” Saturn moaned, flinging two books across the room as if they carried a contagious disease. One was by Elendele’s hero Breton, and the other, “God forbid,” she says, Louis Ferdinand Celine.

Saturn, for her part, had fallen under the unreasonable sway of Chopin’s traumatic snowfalls and babbling brooks, and in general, spent way too much time lamenting what a beautiful world it had been in years passed.

Only me and my 7:00 o’clock news, my Sunday mornings stacked with gray senators, secretaries of doom and of transportation, could serve as brake on the two candleburners – as a shake from their musty ivory towers.

Oaxaca Redux

Today highwayscribery updates the situation in Oaxaca where prior posts have been done on the little-commented death of journalist Brad Will, and the new Calderón government’s decision to repress with violence the potent uprising of APPO, or the Peoples Popular Assembly of Oaxaca.

A few weeks ago, our primary source for information on Oaxaca, “La Jornada,” published an account by a student/demonstrator who was detained when Presidente Calderón unleashed federal shock troops on the commune established by APPO in the capital city.

His chilling account included “the crackle of condom wrappers opening,” the gagging sounds of forced oral sex, and the taunting by rapist/soldiers of those who moaned at being sodomized.

"¿Mmmm qué?” said a federale at his victim’s muffled expression of pain. The witness said that at one point the police were looking for a particular young man they coveted and lifted his face up by the hair and then shoved it back down into his chest because his was not the coveted flesh.


Meantime, the “San Diego Union-Tribune” ran an unsigned editorial lauding Calderón’s firm-hand in putting down the uprising, citing charges of violence and terrorism made exclusively by the governor, Ulíses Ruiz, whom the rebels want out of power for corruption and institutional violence.

Only “La Jornada,” a left-wing outfit out of Mexico City, had much to say about the student’s claims, and the Revolutionary Democratic Party, which promised denunciations and filings before the proper tribunes.

Now a more impartial source, the International Commission for Human Rights Observation, issued a report covered in this article by Octavio Velez Ascencio, regarding what it said were the, “grave violations” of APPO members and sympathizers’ individual rights and guarantees.

During one month of investigation the group conducted 350 interviews with APPO members, non governmental organizations, indigenous groups and communities, media outlets as well as public functionaries at the state and federal levels.

What they found were violations of the right to free movement, the right to demonstrate, to self-expression, and to occupy a public space. Illegal detentions, inhumane or degrading treatment and, God help them, extra-judicial executions at the hand of paramilitary forces organized by Ruíz and his government of thugs, were also on the laundry list of transgressions.

It is unconscionable that these things can happen in so beautiful and rich a country populated with so many noble persons. It is inexplicable that, coming out of hotly contested elections which almost tore Mexico apart (or did they?), the new president thought violence and a 40 percent increase in the price of the tortilla were the best ways of meeting his pledge to heal the county.

It is worse that this government was desired and supported by the United States of America and that nobody has said a damn thing about the crushing of lives, aspirations and hopes of Oaxacans whom, really, the government is supposed to be serving.

In Oaxaca the age-old anarcho-syndicalist query rears its noble head yet again: Who is to protect us from the protectors?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Plame Game

Even highwayscribery has “sources”.

Sources are people who call up writers, famous or otherwise, and prod them in desired directions through the proffering of inside tidbits and snippets of political literature.

Tidbits and snippets of information they believe it is crucial all 12 of you be aware of.

Sources are at the heart of Dick Cheney helper I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr.'s trial, which is just getting underway.

No one familiar with highwayscribery would suggest this Web log is taken-in by mainstream media reportage. They might even posit that the highway scribe is nothing if not a cop poking and prodding at the information beast’s soft underbelly.

But it must be admitted that the scribe was swayed by news that Richard Armitage - and not Dick Cheney or Karl Rove or (w.) himself - had outed CIA agent Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband Joe Wilson’s sock to the administration’s jaw over the Niger yellow cake claim.

Why? Hey, ease up. It’s tough enough shedding light on the
Mexican presidential elections, the rebellion in Oaxaca, the anarcho-syndicalist movement, books old and new, while writing one’s own novels.

And besides, Armitage’s name seemed to recall that gentler time when (r)epublicans dined in "time-out" comity with their Democrat opposites; when permanently baring their incisors was not yet a GOP fashion must.

No less than a top-notch guy like David Broder, in an article entitled “One Leak and a Flood of Silliness,” suggested a lot of reporters and bloggers owed Karl Rove an apology.

While the scribe wasn’t about to get involved in any apology-making, he was persuaded by the column's general sentiment and moved on from the Plame Game.

After all, important as a free press is, our media can quickly fall into the role of a lynching mob that ruins lives and sorts the facts out later.

Then a source dropped something in the scribe’s hopper.

It was an
article published on something called “Consortiumnews.com” and written by one Robert Parry.

Full disclosure: highwayscribery has never heard of Robert Parry and has never profited from not knowing Robert Parry.

the scribe suspects the source provided the article in response to a Jan. 17, soft-love piece in the “New York Times,” by Scot Shane entitled,
“As Trial Begins, Cheney’s Ex-Aide Is Still a Puzzle.”

Shane’s piece portrays Scooter “The Paradox” with charming anecdotes about how, when he was a young Yalie, his hair was long and he helped silkscreen some t-shirts expressing solidarity with the Black Panthers Party.

How bipartisan!

And he’s quirky, too, so well-versed in “Star Trek” that he knows the titles to all 79 episodes.

A “broad gauge” man like those detailed by C. Wright Mills in “The Power Elite,” Libby has even written
a novel that was lovingly praised by the “Washington Post.”

You gotta love white-collar suspects when they are so hard to hate.

Libby, Shane continues, lunched with “a liberal, pacifist local columnist” [they found one in Colorado] last summer and together they, “had a long talk about wilderness and recited some poetry from memory.”

the scribe hopes that, if he is ever trapped in the maws of the federal justice system, free versing accrues to his benefit, too.

But even poetic trekkies can be pushed too far. C. Dean McGrath Jr., a one-time deputy of Libby’s, told the “New York Times” reporter that,
“after the shock of 9/11, ‘Scooter considered it to be part of his job to think about the dire possibilities’.”


You remember 9/11? That was the tragic day some 3,000 Americans lost their lives and the rest lost their rights. The official date when the U.S., somewhat belatedly, kicked-off its end of the WAR ON TERROR in which your shoes became suspicious, that bottle of Evian the spark for MASS MURDER ON AN UNIMAGINABLE SCALE!

Not content with grilling Scooter’s former employees, Shane also queried Republican mouthpiece Mary Matalin, who said Libby’s,
“going to be the poster boy for the criminalization of politics, and he’s not even political.”

If you saw the recent "Frontline" (The Dark Side) in which Richard Clarke describes Libby leaning on him about pre-war intelligence, you know at least one part of that statement is true.

Why Shane would seek out Matalin - given that we all know what she’ll say ahead of time - is a mystery of his own keeping and makes the Parry article all the more important, because with a pedigree like that, and the legal fund to match it, why should somebody go to jail?

Entitled, “Scooter Libby’s Time-Travel Trial,” Parry’s piece tries to undermine the conventional media wisdom going into the proceedings; namely, that Libby’s troubles are not about criminal policy-making or outing a CIA agent, rather attributable to his unfortunate role in the BIG COVER UP, which apparently only involved one person.

Here’s Parry:

“[T]he trial could be a kind of time machine for transporting America back to that earlier era of not so long ago when Bush and his team felt they controlled reality itself and were justified in tricking the American people into bloody adventures overseas.

“It was a time when President Bush swaggered across the political landscape, a modern-day king fawned over by courtiers in the government and press - and protected by legions of followers who bullied citizens who dared to dissent.

“Libby may be going on trial for five felony counts of lying and obstructing justice, but the essence of his criminal behavior was his work as a top enforcer responsible for intimidating Americans who wouldn’t stay in line behind the infallible Bush.”

The piece goes on to reconstruct a time line of the Plame Game complete with winks and nods from Vice President Dick Cheney (who’s not out of the woods yet), Karl Rove, (w.) and a series of poor-performing reporters including the “N.Y. Times’” Judith Miller, syndicated small-shot Robert Novak, “Time” scribes Joe Dickerson and Matthew Cooper, and “Hardball” blowhard Chris Matthews; all practitioners of the seamy “inside” Washington reporting that requires journalists to leave their guns at home.

the scribe is ignorant as to whether any reporter has called Rove up and apologized, but suggests that this cast of overpaid clowns offer one to the American people.

Probably wary of being branded a “looney left Bush-hater,” Parry makes good use of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s actual criminal filing against Scooter, which found that the administration had engaged in a “concerted” effort to “discredit, punish, or seek revenge” against Wilson for penning an Op-ed piece crapping on the fib in (w.)’s state of the union speech.

Finally, Parry seeks to reset the media’s focus on the criminal “essence” of the thing Libby was involved in.

To that end, he goes about debunking the notion that Armitage was someone outside the neo-con cabal pushing for war at all costs - a pillar of the old reliable GOP not associated with what everybody now considers a sub-par gang of policymakers at the White House.

“Armitage and Rove developed a friendship and a close working relationship when Bush was lining up Powell to be his Secretary of State, the source said [another “source”). In those negotiations, Armitage stood in for Powell and Rove represented Bush - and after that, the two men provided a back channel for sensitive information to pass between the White House and the State Department, the source said."

Why does everybody use the back-channels? What do they think the front channels are for?

Parry thinks this tidbit significant because it undermines the conventional wisdom that Armitage acted on his own, and innocently, in coughing up Plame’s name to Novak, the butcher in this sausage factory.

Maybe. It’s all a little cloak and dagger-ish and who knows what the hell these people are up to in Washington. Maybe we should sic the entertainment press on the D.C.-establishment and let the serious folk get a little funnin' and learnin’ our here in Hollywood.

Parry's larger point is that the court will be narrowly focused on the charges before it, that it does not concern itself with the “essence” of the overall narrative, but that writers and reporters do and that they can find that essence in the back story... if they choose to.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Book Report: "Talk Talk" by T.C. Boyle

The hardest thing about being an unconsecrated novelist for the highway scribe, is being an unconsecrated novelist.

Or at least it used to be. There is nothing more boring after 20 years of scribbling to sit around and stew in one’s own bitter brew of what writer Steve Almond calls “fame angst.”

In the end, all the clichés apply. As an artist, you’re not racing anybody, rather engaged in a most particular and personal journey of learning that has nothing to do with other creatives.

The point being that the scribe is at a good place where he knows being the BEST BIGGEST WRITER IN THE WORLD, COUNTRY, STATE (or just on the block), is an illusory goal, that such things are hard to quantify, least of all through immediate commercial success.

And so it’s nice to sit and read a novel by someone like T.C. Boyle, with fame and many, many more novels and achievements to his credit than the scribe, and simply be able to enjoy it for the good writing it is, as opposed to the good writing it is next to the scribe’s equally good writing etc.

the scribe’s sister Rosemany (Ro) sent Boyle’s latest, Talk Talkas a gift for Christmas.

Ro turned the scribe onto Boyle with a book of short stories she loaned him a few years ago. the scribe took it to a Boyle reading and had the author sign it to the sister, which he sent back to her. It (the book) soon found its way to another Boyle reading on the very same tour, but in Boston.

One of us (probably her) must have made an impression because a minor character in “Talk Talk” is a pizza chef named, Skip Siciliano.

Anyway, who the hell cares about that. “Talk Talk,” is a wonderful novel and a great read. Go out and get it and rip through it the way the scribe did.

Boyle’s been at this for so long, done so many (he’s at a clip of one novel per year), that “Talk Talk” reads like he wrote it off the top of his head in a weekend.

The story is simple enough: a deaf woman is a victim of identity theft. She and her digital nerd boyfriend take off to parts mostly unknown in search of the thief, and wind up on the other side of the country, in new lives not easily shaken off.

Super contemporary, there’s something almost “potboiler-ish” about this story of Dana Halter, Dana Halter, and Bridger Martin. No tricks, no experimentation: a straight narrative that only on occasion pulls up to provide a little background, but this, too, is done seamlessly.

Despite the straight ahead and forging plot, the literature is there, so unobtrusively, it serves as a great lesson for scribes both aspiring and accomplished.

It’s there in the neat contrasting Boyle achieves by switching back and forth between Dana and Bridger, the identity theft victims, and Dana Halter (nee, Will Peck Williams) the identity thief.

If taste is the same as class, a low-rent upstate New York boy, can certainly acquire class. Williams knows about the best things (or at least the agreed-upon best things) and possesses them thanks to his excellent performance as a thief of personhood.

As Dana and Bridger sleep in crappy motels, eat crappier food, and wear thin the fabric of the strained relationship (she is, after all, deaf), Dr. Halter (that’s Peck Williams) bones his beautiful Russian wife after preparing dinners described with such culinary delectation by Boyle that one finds their gastronomic juices flowing again and again.

“Talk Talk,” will make you hungry if you don’t eat ahead of time.

The literature is found in the dead-on contrast between central California’s coastal world and the muggy, mossy, watery summers of upstate New York.

It’s there in the simple metaphors, verbal and contextual, that Boyle constructs so easily.

Of course, if you’ve read Terry Eagleton, you know literature can’t truly be defined.

As has been suggested, the story is simple enough. A road movie if you will, with the images in your mind instead of on-screen. Dana and Bridger follow their antagonist all the way back to upstate New York, the thief’s identity (or lack thereon) begins to unravel in both the public and private sense as they slowly, almost unwittingly corner him.

He’s stolen identities before and things have gone smoothly. He’s just never done it to someone as persistent as Dana Halter.

Boyle’s end has good guys and bad, while still dishing out the right touch of ambiguity and space for personal interpretation that elevates “Talk Talk” just above a thin yarn.

It’s hard to know where he’s going until the end when Bridger, now single, spends a moment graphically exalting his ex-girlfriend Dana on his weapon of the choice, the computer screen. Dana’s personal quest has cost him, and others, dear and the obstinacy with which she pursues the man who had her temporarily jailed makes those around Dana want to wring her neck.

“Talk Talk,” is what deaf people call their own conversational get togethers and, at the end, we realize Boyle has given us a portrait in deafness; the soul of someone defined by the silent yet histrionic world around them; the portrait of a learning curve and final product somewhat beyond the norm.

A story about the special someone, and then some.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Dr. King.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, or the holiday that commemorates his birthday or something like that. the highway scribe is torn between working in remembrance of Dr. King, a personal hero, and taking the day off in his honor.

Okay, maybe not so torn. the highway scribe is a very lazy man who works extremely hard, so today’s a day off.

In the meantime, highwayscribery directs all twelve of you to Kiko’s House, where Shaun Mullen, who has a more direct and personal remembrance of Dr. King and his times, has done the real work on this subject.

Mullen starts out his post talking about how in his days as a cub reporter, he was often dispatched to the home of an African-American boy who had just been killed in Vietnam. (the scribe was playing with his GI-Joe):

“I was always treated with respect because these were good people and they knew that I wold give their now departed son or brother a respectful sendoff in the next day’s Wilmington (Delaware) ‘Morning News’ or ‘Evening Journal.’

The living rooms always were modest and always had a photograph of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a place of honor, often the same color rotogravure portrait scissored from an old ‘Philadelphia Bulletin’ Sunday magazine.

I have no idea how many times I sat on a lumpy couch, pen and reporter’s notebook in one hand, a snapshot of the victim in the other, with the wizened Dr. King looking down on me as I listened to the story of a young life snuffed out by war that none of us understood and few supported.”

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Enjoy the post over at Kiko’s.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Liquid Life (installment nine)


Something had to be done for money. Work was beyond the bounds of what Elendele considered acceptable behavior, convinced as she was that the planet’s every evil could somehow be traced to it. So they decided on acting.

It was no big surprise really. Elendele already had done some studying, small theater, and short films. So she gave Saturnina lessons herself and the flounce thing cozied right up to the craft. People thought they were pretty good. Who wasn't going to like them?

“Our secret is that we don’t put too much into it,” Elendele often explained after not having really been asked.

Gina Night came over and gave the girls singing lessons. Then she would do cartwheels with her voice, bound across the Alps of Sound, as Elendele opened the window in a payback to the Mexicans next door for their rude music habits.

“Some culture for the barbarians Gina, please,” she would smile at her fifth favorite friend, four back of Saturnina.

If my mom could see me with my delectable collection of step-sisters. What liberty might grow out of that rupture! Revelations of activities that had confirmed for me a maxim I still hold to regarding actresses and the amount of the time they spend on their backs with all manner of guests.

So the girls started doing auditions for commercials, but nothing much worked out.

When they needed a little bit of money, they would show-up at look-sees for models and get the editorial work. They were good at that. They did their twin thing, wearing the same white Chanel suit and bare feet, in a hat-tipping to their favorite designing step-sisters in Dallas, the sassy Barboglios.

But editorial wasn’t what they wanted. They wanted to be moving images. I often suggested they weren’t doing well in the film and TV auditions because they were going to the wrong ones.

“What you two need is a good agent,” I kept telling them, so we could talk about something else.

Elendele said they should just be patient and they would learn, but one night she got up and went and cried in the bathroom, and we could hear it. Saturn stopped me from going to see what was wrong.

“She had a tough day,” Saturnina explained. “A producer grabbed her sides right in the middle of the audition…”

“Th….that’s sexual harassment,” I went green.

“Sides, silly,” she whispered me, “sides is actress-talk for script. He grabbed them and told her the part didn’t call for a shango.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means she didn’t get the job.”


They had just started getting call-backs for auditions and inquiries from personal managers and agents and others who saw profit in their talents, when the Writers Union called a strike.

It was said by Elendele to be an act of bad economics and pure defiance. It nearly
stopped the city and it fogged the air with strange, if slow, joys. Business columns were forced to discuss the subtleties of plot and their profound shock at the enduring importance of the written word – at how well it had withstood the onslaught of duplication.

Elendele and Saturnina had stopped going to auditions because there weren’t any. The girls typed, did gardening on the roof, and passed little packages at the door to stay alive, because there was no show business.

The studios were shut down. Typists could find no scripts to type. Equipment renters were forced to give breaks to smaller, poorer, non-union crews and their stuff always came back broken. Caterers found no mouths to feed and producers could find no one to sculpt for them the plaster Paris of their notions. The conversation at gallery openings was laced with arsenic and leeriness and everything in town got tensed and tensed.

Saturn was horrified and didn’t understand why Elendele said that the strike was about her, too.

“Man, why can’t these writers just settle up?” she whined.

Elendele didn’t care that her life was going to hell. She lived for the larger question and gave herself a role in history where she could find it.

“But everyone says that the union got taken over by a bunch of writers who don’t believe in work so much as they do in striking,” Saturnina shuffled.

“Yeah, but most of those are the great writers,” said Elendele, who had involved herself in the dispute personally.

“Elendele, you’re always for the union, even when it’s wrong. You’re always defending the rights of the mediocre to do nothing for money,” charged Saturn in her offensive taking.

“And you, Saturn, have forfeited the revolutionary birthright of our cruel and ambitious family,” Elendele stripped her complete.

As the strike went on, Saturnina was stripped of the family birthright many times, until it was decided in a caucus of Cortez, Trevor, Saturn, and Dominique, Gina
Night, and Elendele’s dealer, that a birthright was something that could only be forfeited once. And then we censured her – party style.

She was flummoxed, backknocked, but quick to regain composure, accept the verdict, and write an unsigned and contrary pamphlet on the toilet paper roll two days later.

Two More

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Cathedral City Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Ming Sun of Cathedral City, CA:

"Pfc. Sun showed extraordinary courage in serving his fellow Americans at home and abroad. Maria and I send our condolences to Ming's family and pray for their comfort during this difficult time. His courageous example will live on in our hearts."

Sun, 20, died Jan. 9 as a result of injuries sustained during combat operations when he came under enemy forces using small arms fire in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, CO.

In honor of Pfc. Sun, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Miramar Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Aron C. Blum of Tucson, AZ:

"The members of the United States armed forces courageously risk their lives to protect our freedoms and preserve the peace. Sgt. Blum risked his life to safeguard our freedoms and we will remain forever indebted to him. Maria and I offer our condolences to Aron's loved ones and our thoughts and prayers are with them."

Blum, 22, died Dec. 28 at Naval Medical Center, San Diego as a result of non-hostile injuries sustained in Al Anbar Province, Iraq on Dec. 8. He was assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA.

In honor of Sgt. Blum, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

night animal; a poem by Charles Bukowski

Here is a poem by Charles Bukowski:

night animal

I have never seen such an animal
except perhaps once,
but that is another story-
there it stood,
no lion
yet no dog
no deer yet deer
frozen nose
and eye, all eye gathering all the
moonlight that hung in the trees;
and everywhere the people slept;
I saw bombers over Brazil,
cathedrals choked in silk
the gray dice of Vegas,
a Van Gogh over the kitchen sink.

home, I poured a drink
took off my gloves you god damned thing
why could you have not been a woman
with all your beauty,
with all your beauty,
I have not found her yet.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Book Report: "The Other Women's Movement" by Dorothy Sue Cobble

highwayscribery wanted to tell you about "The Other Women's Movement,"by a Rutgers University professor named Dorothy Sue Cobble.

The text relates specifically to organized labor and focusing on it through a patented highwayscribery "book report" maintains continuity with the previous post’s theme - the Teamsters organizing victory at the L.A. Times.

The reason for reading this academic thesis was a little primary research for a screenplay dramatizing the 1964 Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union drive to organize bunnies at the Detroit Playboy Club.

The force behind this effort was a left-over from 1930s union activism, one Myra Wolfgang, “the battling belle of Detroit.” A rebel woman who had helped organize the Woolworths lunch counters during the Great Depression.

Years later, she was something of a national figure to the extent women were paid attention to at all and held a position as a national vice president of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union.

She was old school. Betty Friedan called her an “Aunt Tom,” for what she considered Wolfgang's subservience to union bosses. Wolfgang responded that Friedan was the Chamber of Commerce’s Aunt Tom.

Anyway, Wolfgang sent her 17-year old daughter into the Playboy Club as a union “salt”- an insider - and began the successful drive.

She said Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy Philosophy” perpetuated the notion that women should be, “Obscene and Not Heard.”

That’s the scribe’s title. Go ahead and try to steal it, he can use the publicity.

Anyway, Cobble knows a lot about Myra Wolfgang, waitress unions, and the Playboy campaign in particular so the scribe went out and ordered her book from Princeton University Press.

It was the wrong book. The one (hopefully) with all the Playboy stuff is in “Dishing It Out: Waitresses and Their Unions in the 20th Century.”

But this book was interesting and will serve to deepen the scribe's indoctrination prior to scribbling that story.

“The Other Women’s Movement,” is what Cobble believes to have been a forgotten generation largely excluded from the story of feminism as currently redacted.

That story, and the scribe admits to not having known this, involved a “first wave” of feminists in the suffragettes’ era (early 1900s) and a “second wave” of the 1960s spawned and led by the Betty Friedans and Gloria Steinems of the world.

Cobble’s thesis is that in between these two waves was a crucial period peopled with a special breed of “labor feminists” who took root and then cover in their unions during what was the heyday of organized syndicates in the United States. They took the form of activists in large feminine “auxiliaries” to the unions, and later as members and leaders themselves.

The labor feminists tackled, early, the questions women are still dealing with today; the need to make employers understand that “time” itself is the most valuable commodity to a woman with family; and that less work, rather than more money, is preferable to them.

This book reviews the debate between working class women in unions and those in a more conservative outfit called the National Women’s Party, which first (and the scribe did not know this either) floated the idea of that Equal Rights Amendment feminists pushed until the mid-‘80s.

Later, all feminists were behind ERA, but in the beginning, the factory girls and servers felt it was a Republican ruse for allowing employers to circumvent the real issues of industrial democracy, wages, and job security they fought for in statehouses and at the collective bargaining table.

Cobble successfully renders the exciting rebel-girl beginnings of, Wolfgang, Anne Draper, Ruth Young, Esther Peterson, Gladys Dickason, and a long cast of worthwhile characters you’ve never heard of, and follows the threads of each’s long career dedicated to the same issues that fired their youths.

Labor feminists were split amongst themselves and others in the women's movement over whether special labor laws protecting women in particular (capping hours, preventing dismissal for pregnancy) actually kept women apart, or separate, and thus more vulnerable to being judged as “less” than men.

Others wanted no special protections, just the same rights everybody else had. These latter eventually won out, but only with the slow passing of the labor feminists and their influence on women in America

So that is what was interesting about the thesis; the airing out of bread and butter issues afoot in the land or at least among the womanry. It shows the cracks and coalescence and the interests that separated women by class and race when it came to defining exactly the kind of “progress” women should aspire to.

It reminds us that these debates are going on today and provides a primer on the roots of those debates.

More than anything, and as was to be expected, the labor feminists were concerned with the workplace and Cobble argues that such should be the focus today, work having the feature role it does in most our lives.

The sixties wave of feminism offered some correctives to the labor feminist doctrine, Cobble says, but also accepted, rather quietly, some if its most important analyses of work, class and their relation to women’s position in society, beyond gender itself.

One More

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of South Gate Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Luis G. Ayala of South Gate, CA:

"Every time we lose a member of our armed forces we are reminded of the courageous service and sacrifices that our servicemen and women make for our country and our freedoms. Maria and I send our condolences to Luis' family and friends. He will be remembered for his commitment to bravely defending this nation."

Ayala, 21, died Dec. 28 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit while on combat patrol in Taji, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX.

In honor of Spc. Ayala, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Roll The Union Over

The “L.A. Times” reported on Sunday that its press operators had voted to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Graphic Communications Conference.

Voted for a union, that is.

Those who don’t know the history of labor relations at the “L.A. Times” should understand it is a long-time bastion of anti-union sentiment, both in praxis and print.

This enmity probably predates Oct. 1, 1910, which is when it truly crystallized. Someone bombed the newspaper’s building and the “Times,” assuming the role of judge and jury trumpeted a headline that read: “Unionist Bombs Wreck The Times; Many Seriously Hurt.”

Harry Andrews, the managing editor wrote beneath the banner, “The elements that conspired to perpetrate this horror must not be permitted to pursue their awful campaign of intimidation and terror. Never will the Times cease in its warfare against them.”

Reactionary lore has it that the International Workers of the World, the “Wobblies,” were behind the violence.

Crazy anarcho-syndicalists.

Progressive lore has it that Los Angeles was on the verge of electing a socialist mayor and that the timing of the bombings was somewhat suspicious given the ensuing backlash against their team.

But enough of the past.

The Teamsters’ is big news, because the “Times” has been an open shop since...since forever. At least the scribe thought the building's anti-union bulwark had never beenn breached.

But James Rainey’s piece informed that the Teamsters got in once before in 1967, only to be thrown out two years later.

“We finally got ‘em! It took 40 years,” the union’s lead organizer, Marty Keegan, told the reporter.

It’s not always a good idea to derive larger lessons from a family squabble like the one which led to the union’s nine-vote victory (140-131), but the scribe would suggest that this time, it is.

There is a bigger story here, which you won’t read much about in the pages of the big boya. And that is that things are turning, that we are entering an age of progressive push around the world as new classes, formed and then beaten down by 15 years of globalization, formulate an agenda and act upon that agenda.

The "Times," you know, was converted from the privately run feud of the Chandler family - the Los Angeles Chandlers - to a dancing bear for the stockholders of the midwest Tribune Company.

Like just about every other dinosaur, the "Times" was caught off-guard by Internet-wrought changes in the news delivery market and the whole crazy daisywheel of electronic technologies you can fit in your shirt-pocket.

So despite the fact it was winning more Pulitzer Prizes than ever in the paper's history, the Tribune company responded with, to put it mildly, a thinning of the "Times" workforce; reporters included.

A guy named Carroll, who always rejected the scribe's annual request for employ at the behemoth with grace and gentle candor, long ago walked away from the top editor's job. After him, another guy, Bacquet, if memory serves, also fell on his sword rather than agree to firing more reporters. And then the guy above him, too (or something like that).

The "Times" piece is pretty well-hidden in the seven-pound brick that is its Sunday edition. The editors opted to cover the union victory in their house through gritted teet and noted that a journeyman press operator makes $61,000 a year.

That’s a good and fair salary a small family could get by on, even advance under certain, other fortuitous circumstances. It’s the kind of job union guys and girls could find across America in its post-war, manufacturing hedyay, and it’s the kind of job that is hard to come by anymore.

The pressman got the hint from what was going on around them. “Keegan [the organizer] said Times’ pressroom workers appeared to be most concerned about job security in a time of retrenchment for the newspaper industry. They also hope for better benefits and wages...”

So they joined the union crowd.

Hopefully it is a harbinger of things to come. Unions – when they’re run right – bring wages up, protect workers from arbitrary employer actions against them, and lead to safer, happier working places.

The Teamsters are no Wobblies and certainly not syndicalists of the anarchist type. They are a strange hybrid, a kind of right-wing union. But they have big chestnuts and do industrial warfare better than some of their more progressive and democratic union brethren.

And for that, highwayscribery dedicates today’s post to the Teamsters Union and its newest members.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Liquid Life (installment eight)

Maybe the scribe is showing his age, but this is pretty sexy (if not downright naughty) stuff rendered in adventurous, experimental prose rendered by the 20-something scribe that, while annoying or overdone in some places, works nicely in this vignette. Looking back, it's a little shocking who the highway scribe felt it was okay to pass this manuscript onto, and little shocking to remember how shocked he was that right and good-thinking friends were shocked. Shocking!


“As did Dalí,” says Saturn, “I believe that money is the only reason for doing anything.”

Reclining again in bed before the fan we are an entangled three of twitching skins and flinching reflexes in a winddown of talk and restful poses. Rich, though there’s no real money to speak of. Elendele is reading up on Antonio Gramsci and the Turin Factory Councils. Saturn is spoonfeeding me Malarmé.

Elendele mocks her step-sister then, and sticks her middle finger up inside herself. Checks her pocket for some money for her step-sister.

“Nothing in here,” she teases.

“But the nectar of Narcissus,” I vex her and get that wet finger flashed in return.

Fired by the silly rhetoric of afterblow Saturn sparks back, “I’m here to save you,” she points me with her tongue, “and any others like you my step-sister has managed to manacle,” and then she sticks her finger up inside Elendele, who masks her face with pepper ecstasies and tries to lock Saturn in. But she can’t.

Saturn slips her. Gives her the taunt, then the smile. “Not eighteen anymore,” and they both break out in a laughing rash.

Saturn composes herself, says she just doesn’t see it. “You! You could have it all. Those eyes, that skin, that hair cascading you like waves over momentary sandcastles.

“You must want to screw up your life more than her,” she jabs Elendele knowingly, and me more innocently. Saturn, a woman of analytical tendencies, can see that I am a nobody, and a dandy one at that.

“All those assets and you throw yourself to her lions. Journalists. Hah! The officeholders of the low paid poetic world, blessed by low rank in officialdom and a paycheck that’s nothing more than the difference between themselves and the street.

Sweet and thin senator. When she’s done with you and the hair is gone, all anybody will remember of you is your big nose.”


“Wait until she’s finished you, shared your bone oh creative one. Let her inspire, but nurture never. Fetal yourself close to her through the sunlit particles of unwound afternoons. Fall into her debt. Then watch Elendele spread her butter stuffs.”

“Saturnina I can’t tell when you’re reading Malarmé and when you’re being you.”

But this came too late. Now, her finger in the air, standing on the bed, half revealed in sheets like some pink statuess, some oracle sworn of an acropolis, “The clay people! The steady dreamers! Fountains of whatever! Crushed again by conglomeration and commerce! Road-railed by the wily entrepreneur that I am. And I am the wily entrepreneur…” and she collapses exhausted into the pillows.

Such speechifying must have run in the family and, out of rhetorical courtesy, Elendele dismissed her as a lackey of the merchant class and then colors in the confusion for me.

“Saturn has come to stay with us because of the devastation she feels over the recent death of her cat, Marcel.”

Saturn smiles her good witch’s smile, they turn to their books, and the matinee performance draws to a close. Gracious in its brevity, in its serious caprice.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Washington Post GlobalChat

"Washington Post" GlobalChat's question for the week was:

"Give us an unexpected prediction," from David Ignatius.

the scribe's answer was:

"And love becomes the universal God and highest prize of human endeavors. The wealth of the world flows like manna enriching so many lands of milk and honey and mercy. We smile upon each other's mere presence in passing; for to be human is the same as to be good and we are no longer surprised nor suspicious of kindness given. Faced with tremendous peril, the oldest rules of salvation become clear as does our common cause against death and the darkest mysteries with which we have yet to initiate even the sparest dialogue."

Some of the answers were fun and/or interesting. Join the conversation here.

Book Report/Script Analysis: "The Devil Wears Prada"

“The Devil Wears Prada”?

Where are all those snooty Euro-socialist, fancy-schmanzy lit airs you take so much pleasure in showing off highway scribe?

Alas! the scribe received a review of his novel,
“The Sidewalk Smokers Club,” done by none other than his loving mother, remarking on the excellent prose, but lack of storytelling prowess.

That hurt. Once the dart was delivered, Mom tried to pass it off as the commentary of woman who doesn’t know much about such things, but that didn’t wash because a big shot N.Y. agent named Paul Cirone told the scribe pretty much the same, noting there were too many mini-sermons on the state of modern life hindering the narrative

And they can’t both be wrong, can they?

Sure they can. “The Sidewalk Smokers Club,” is intended as social commentary and satire; the kind of stuff you read here daily, hung upon the skeleton of a loose, but fast-paced narrative.

The goings-on of some preposterous people staking their futures over cigarettes are hardly as important as the way they relate to those things contained in the mini-sermons on modern life.

Nonetheless, the scribe took Mom’s advice - which she grafted from an interview with that guy who sells millions of books, Grisham - and read a recent bestseller just to see what’s-what out there in the corporate chain store book market.

“The Devil Wears Prada” seemed like a good choice. When it turned out not to be, the scribe persisted to the end because he thought an analysis of how the ensuing blockbuster movie – featuring Meryl Streep and a hotty named Anne Hathaway – compared with Lauren Weisberger’s original text, would be interesting for you, the highwayscribery nation.

(See? the scribe’s already been commercially influenced).

Where, you ask, does the scribe get off doing script analysis from his shaky perch as low-rent bloggenator?

Well, on top of having a produced feature-length movie to his credit, and 12 more scripts collecting dust on a shelf behind him, the scribe worked as a script analyst during a two-year period for Hollywood’s mid-level ten-percentery (that’s showbiz prose) United Talent Agency and the glossy Creative Artists Agency.

So take that.

Anyway, “The Devil Wears Prada” (TDWP) did not strike the scribe as very good literature, but he learned a few tricks from the savvy Ms. Weisberger, who is living mighty high now thanks to a mostly mediocre effort.

TDWP must have hit all the “write” notes along Sixth Avenue; what with its focus upon the most glamorous sections of New York City society, its weaving of the publishing industry and sundry related characters into the narrative, and the thinly-veiled portrait of a classic Manhattan monster.

The devil in TDWP is one Miranda Priestly editor of the fictional “Runway” magazine. the scribe’s wife, a marvelous and successful fashion designer in what they call the “women’s better contemporary market” informs that Priestly is a not-so-fictional rendering of one Anna Wintour, the top editor at “Vogue.”

Weisberger would seemed to have worked for her as personal assistant, or knew someone who did, or made up a lot of things that rendered a more-than-compelling caricature of the lady.

The story trundles along in a sixteen-year old girl’s prose and while that may have made it a giant hit with sixteen-year-olds coddling “Vogue”-fueled fantasies of New York fashion, it certainly grates on the ears of more seasoned readers.

Similarly, Ms. Weisberger has a poor ear for dialogue in as much as hers is repetitive, overstated, and, again, somewhat sophomoric.

In TDWP, the writer strings together a long rosary of abuse and cruelty wrought by the elder woman upon the younger. Stories of excess.

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “they are different than you and I.” (or something like that).

Weisberger’s wisest, and probably unintentional, device is the viewing of all this greed, egotism, and waste through her own middle-class eyes.

Familiar with fashion, big cities, and aristocratic classes, and long fallen out of the middle-class, the highway scribe found very little that was revealing, but Weisberger and her handlers were aiming elsewhere and those people see such things with the same eyes she did.

In this book, Miranda Priestly has little, if anything at all, to say to her assistant. She is trash, a narrow necessity, of little consequence, and this aspect of the piece rings quite true. Authentic even.

The set-up involves the protagonist and first-person narrator, Andreah (Andy), recently graduated from Brown University in Rhode Island, trying to get through just one year of abuse, for thereafter Priestly becomes a potent godmother punching literary tickets for those who have survived her.

The abuses are dispersed in between the subtexts of Andy’s unraveling relationship to her long-time boyfriend Alex (a fledgling teacher of troubled kids), and her wacky hippy-like, bottle-tippling, boy-sipping childhood friend and roommate Lily, who is coming undone.

Alex is losing interest with Andy as Miranda sucks every minute out of her waking life with demands for steaks she will not eat and the trademark white Hermés scarves she loses as if they were tissue paper.

As Alex fades, a hot young writer (Bret Easton Ellis?) continues his pursuit of the no-nonsense and unaffected Andy; his adorable curls and easy charm harbingers of life working at the “New Yorker” and endless nights out to dinner with “interesting people.”

The resolution occurs in Paris where Andy is thrust into a role supposedly reserved for her workplace rival, Emily.

She is at the end of the long year with this one test remaining. All goes well, great even, on one magic evening when the Hot Young Writer surprises Andy with lots of money-honeyed romance and Miranda surprises her with a little positive feedback and a promise to get her in at the “New Yorker.”

Returning home to her suite at the Paris Ritz, Andy learns her best friend Lily has been in a drunken car accident and reduced to a coma. Boyfriend Alex and her Dad think it’s time to cut out all this silly fashion nonsense and come home to await Emily’s awakening.

the scribe is no rabid careerist, but that seemed rather stupid and Andy agreed, choosing to stay on, have a little more fun in Paris, and gain a career while her friend slept off the near-tragedy.

But Miranda has other plans, or at least one more insurmountable demand that obligates Andy to kiss-off the whole damn thing and go home unemployed, where pretty good things (not fabulous things) happen to her and she lives happily ever after.

For those of you who haven’t seen the Hollywood version, the rosary of cruelties and such are broken down into a few set pieces and one long montage of fast-cutting daily abuse.

All the exciting and secondary characters fleshed out in the novel as a parade of fashion crazies are reduced to one rather conservative gay fashion editor assayed by Stanley Tucci. Andy, in the film, is no longer from Brown, rather Chicago and you can draw your own conclusions as to why the film makers found that adjustment necessary.

Best friend Lily becomes somebody else altogether, murky and undefined and unnecessary. Alex is morphed into Nate and drops from over-educated educator to an assistant sous chef at an indeterminate local eatery. Again, draw your own conclusions.

The screenwriter, Aline Brosh McKenna, saw fit to give the odd couple - Andy and Miranda - a relationship that does not exist in the book (the part the scribe thought was “authentic” sounding). It’s a relationship that starts out cold, but which, and thanks to the good-hearted efforts of our beloved Andy, grows slowly warmer - Miranda unwillingly softening.

That’s not authentic at all, rather very Hollywoody and damaging to the cause given the point the novelist was trying to make about “those people” lording it above the rest of us.

Whereas in the novel, Miranda is married to a happy-go-lucky rich guy that she adores, McKenna thought she needed a divorce-bound marriage that would, in the end, make her seem more “vulnerable” and human.

But Weisberger only once gives Miranda a softer side, and that’s through the eyes of Andy who thinks she finds her looking sad one elegant evening.

Thanks to the miracle of DVD technology, the stuff which ended up on the cutting room floor shows the lengths to which the director sought to fluff up their nonexistent friendship when an important thrust to TDWP is just how inhuman these rich wack-jobs can be.

And finally, McKenna concocts some crazy machine at the end whereby Stanley Tucci’s sweet gay guy is promised, in Paris, an important slot as president of a new company featuring a Hot Young Designer the suits have decided to take global. After learning this, Andy beds down with the Hot Young Writer who ruins the morning next by revealing himself to be a vile salamander colluding with the magazine’s French editor to squeeze Miranda out of her job and set himself up as an editorial baron all at the same time.

Despite a year of denigration, Weisberger’s rather retrograde protagonist tries to warn and protect Miranda who, of course, needs no help at all, managing to shuffle the French editor into what was going to be Stanley Tucci’s position (cruel fashionistas!) and leaving the Hot Young Writer out in the cold, as it were.


The big ending is hardly woven into what comes before, feels tacked on. That’s not the end of the world. the scribe has done that to decent effect in ending a screenplay. From a literary point of view, film can be very limiting at times.

But this ending is worse than then novel’s; mucks things up when, whatever the book’s flaws, the choice between friendship and career is more simply posed without a bunch of rave-up dialogue about Andy have “changed into someone else” and gone (yes) “over to the dark side.”

This is the stuff that makes Hollywood an unfriendly place for writers. The need of many people to justify overpaid middle positions by sticking their grimy minds into something that already works fine, just so they can point to SOMETHING they have contributed.

And it’s paragraphs like the last one that are responsible for the long antagonism between writers and the film colony, and the reason why they saw fit to take a character like the Hot Young Writer, crafted in the novel as a shiny and appealing apparition, and turn him into a worm for the purpose of...of...of...