Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mostly Bullet Points, Some Filler

First, in case you missed it:
Three more reviews have been accepted but not run; a fourth has been accepted but not yet written; a fifth has been written but not yet accepted. I like books.

Also, I put up a six-word story on Medium the other day.

It seems like book reviews and reading therefor are all that's kept me from sleeping through the days I have off. The world is hard to bear right now (fires, literal and figurative) and I am tired and processing the last of jet lag and fighting off viruses from all sides. I'm writing largely on deadline instead of writing ahead, and the time I don't spend on deadline is spent reading and pitching. (The one is lovely and the other is exhausting.)

To keep me honest, here's a list of projects I need to work on for the rest of December and in the year ahead. It's a long list because I'm so behind on everything except reviews. This is about half stuff I should've been working on since summer; some of it is definitely for 2018's spring or even summer, not now; some of it is new to me as of fall 2017 but I should've started on it by now.

  • Essay involving Gayle's book
  • Zine (written)
  • Essay about Five Million Years to Earth (solicited)
  • Essay about a film that never was (solicited)
  • Bits and pieces story for the Cupboard (not solicited) 
  • Celebrity story for Enumerate (not solicited)
  • Casablanca novel
  • Conceptual novel (half done)
  • Essay about blurry love
  • Medium story about YA
  • Medium story about eating disorder
  • Essay about Apocalypse Now
  • Essay about Jeanne Dielman
  • Essay about Last Tango in Paris
  • Short collaborative thing with Higgs
  • Outline for Plan 9 novella
  • Outlines for two workshops (happening by March)
  • Book reviews: nine (9) six for now, more next year, surely
  • Endless, self-renewing pitches and queries and proposals and submittals for essays, stories, book reviews, craft book, Highbinder, secret project, whatever else I finish
  • Put together writing about the following topics:
  1. The tree where I left the blue stone
  2. Visit to Santa Fe and all I saw
  3. The Salton Sea and the St. Andrews Cathedral
  4. Trip to Oregon and the fires there
  5. Meow Wolf
  • Interviews with
  1. Duncan
  2. Samantha
  3. Tomas
  4. People who haven't gotten back to me
  5. Whoever else says yes, later
Damn, that is a long list. No wonder I'm stressed out.

Maybe this is a moment for me to reiterate how I work. Once I get going, I am a fast writer, and according to an external observer I'm a very fast reader (though I don't tend to think so). I can turn around a read and review for a book in about a week. When I'm writing other stuff, I need several months (how many of them depends on the project) to get my thoughts together, but once they are together I can write an essay in just a few sittings. For example, "The Girl on the Bike" came together very quickly, in two drafts a couple weeks apart, but I'd been thinking about the stuff in it for years. I wrote Highbinder (93,000 words) in I think five or six months, where I know many (most?) writers take years to write books.

So even though this list looks really goddamn long, even to me, it'll take me probably a month to write, finish, or execute half of the stuff on it. Which I should really just do, in most cases, instead of sleeping and avoiding it because finishing is scary. The other stuff is longer-term, or I haven't even come up with what to write for it yet, but that's the nature of my profession: some projects cook along in the background, like beans, while others get sauteed and eaten rapidly.

Did I say finishing is scary?

I do this thing where I get hung up immediately before the finish line on a task and then dawdle and stall before doing the rest of it. This is true in all areas of life: cooking & cleaning, my day job, writing projects, reading books, correspondence, research, shopping, thank-you notes, et cetera. Like, I'll get through 47 pages of entering my attorneys' billing slips and then my brain tells me to take a break and eat something and maybe nap before doing the last three. Three pages! After I've been working two and a half hours on the first 47! Whyyyyyy do you do that, brain?

Maybe "scary" is why. If I finish, I won't know what to do with myself. I'll have to start a new task that might not go as smoothly as the almost-done one is going (since it's almost done, after all) and then I'll have to work harder (or be more anxious) and if I sit in this almost-done moment for as long as possible, I won't feel anxious or guilty or frustrated.

Yikes.

This may be an explanation, but there's no excuse for letting my to-do list get as far out of hand as the above is. Get to work, Coldiron. Butt in seat. No solitaire. No YouTube. Get that zine printed up. Update your website. Write a list. Write a pitch. Just do what you gotta.

(secret confession: I get a bit turned on when dudes do that hand-mouth gesture.)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Fate of the Kathy Ireland Story

So this thing I wrote, "Underside," showed up in Rivet: The Journal of Writing that Risks on November 27. I have called it "the Kathy Ireland story" many times in this blog. I wrote it after I read John Haskell's book I am not Jackson Pollock, the experience of which I've written about right here. I tried for myself the thing that Haskell did, the blending of film talk with fiction, the imagining of scenes that never were, and the result was "Underside" (which I know needs a better title but I couldn't think of one).

I wrote it with a kind of abandon I had never known in words before. I worked hard, but with the air of a joyful experiment. I had no idea what it was I'd written when I finished, but soon enough I realized I'd embarked on something meaningful.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Famous Men, Travel, Paradox, and Miscellany

My friend Ravyn told me in September that she was impressed by my ability to hold two contradictory ideas in the same hand. She called it a capacity for paradox. She also said that she thought I had not yet fully explored the power of two yet. I agree with her, inasmuch as my intellectual strength seems to come from threes instead of twos. Right now. I'm not sure about later.

This capacity for paradox is what powers an essay of mine published this week in the Offing: "Famous Men I Have Been Asked to Forgive (Abridged)". It's also what powered the original version of the essay, "Everything I Think About Woody Allen", which I threw out completely in order to write the new one. The original was more of a cinema-focused piece, more experimental, more specifically about Allen and his films than about the wearying topic of Bad Men. In between the time I submitted the original and the Offing said "sure, but can you revise it?", and now, the field of Bad Men and their deeds got wider and deeper than anyone could have imagined. So then I wrote what you see.

The revision used to open with a short discussion of Madonna, and how my father's judgment on her made me ask questions very early on about the relationship of artists to their art. I think the kind, gentle, responsive Offing editors were right to ask me to remove this, but I'm pretty sure it's going to appear somewhere else. It's illustrative.

Paradox seems to drive all my recent work. It's difficult enough to live in that I've been writing mostly book reviews lately, instead. But, for instance, an essay I'm working on (slowly, agonizingly) examines a photograph that could depict any GI, from any time period with war, but also has very specific time and place markers because of the clothes of the non-military people in it. Picking that apart is harder than considering what an author is up to in a novel or a memoir.

I write this at the tail end of a two-week trip that took me to the east coast of the US and then all around the UK, from Scotland to Wales to London. Many people have oohed and aahed over this trip when I explained it, but I've had about 50% of a good time. For the first part I was dogged by migraines, which spoiled a lot of people's fun aside from just mine, and then we had a terrible time with our travel arrangements from the US to the UK.

After that - it may surprise you to learn that November in Scotland is quite cold and wet, and that doesn't suit my disposition very well. Then we had a lot of time on trains in the week that followed, and I did not know until we were in the thick of it that Matt does not consider it fun to sit on a train for a good part of the day. (I do.) But doing so was integral to our vacation. So I felt guilty and he felt anxious and we were tired as dogs from all the trouble before we left Scotland and I had the same experience I always have when I leave home on trips that are not road trips: this is not worth the trouble it took to get here.

Until we got to Portmeirion. Which was magical. Profoundly so.

I took this picture. Click to embiggen. 

It was worth the trouble it took to get there. But - and although I am not conscious of prejudice on my part regarding this statement, there are all kinds of factors that could make me mistaken about it, such as the season or the way we came across or some other variety of cultural disjoint - the Welsh are not a very friendly people. They had this way of saying "no problem" that made it sound like "I hate you" again and again. They didn't laugh at Matt's jokes and they didn't return my smiles, and when we tried to help them with our baggage or dishes or whatnot, to smooth the way, we were treated like children trying to use the stove. No no no. Let me get that. You silly idiot. We could not figure out how to make them not hate us.

EVEN SO, Portmeirion is the second best place I've ever been (after Chautauqua, the place we chose to get married in), and I want very much to go back sometime. Maybe they'll be in better moods in the spring?

I hoped to get a lot of writing done on this trip and I did not. The countryside through which our trains cut so beautifully was too interesting, and our plans left us too little idle time that was not spent sleeping or just recovering. There's still an 11-hour plane ride ahead, but I find it very hard to concentrate on planes. On this trip, I wrote one book review, completed edits on the Offing piece, read a few books, and pitched a couple of reviews, but I'd hoped to write my next Medium piece and two more reviews as well as working on essays and the novel. Oh, well. December will be calmer, I think.

Of late my thoughts have been running too often to uninteresting topics (my weight, my wallet), and I don't always know what to say here. My work has appeared in a lot of places that make me happy and proud, but my newsletter is the self-promotion place, not this blog. I am reading interesting books and talking to interesting people, and some private things are difficult for me right now. None of that can really be communicated here. I don't know how to talk about what I'm doing without giving away what's coming next, and I don't know how to talk about what I'm feeling without being dull or hurtful. What I'm thinking keeps going into the work.

A consequence of finding publication and gaining momentum as a writer is that my thoughts don't have to go to a ground wire. They can go right to the third rail, to power the work. That's good, but it leaves this space empty.

What do you think? What would you like to see me write about here?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Evidence, Part II

WELL. WHAT A MONTH IT'S BEEN.

I don't know if you're aware of this but I write things, and in the last several weeks I've received evidence from multiple sources that I write things pretty well. This evidence is not yet visible to the public, but if you want to know about it when it happens, subscribe to my newsletter now, and the next issue - which I think will go out during Thanksgiving week sometime - will link you to as many of them as it can.

In the meantime I wanted to write a post, because the next post is already in the can and it's going to be an examination of one of the invisible pieces of evidence, and that would be two of those posts in a row, so here's a something-else post.

And what I want to write about today is severalfold. I'm on a plane right now, having finished a book this afternoon that I'll be recommending for years, Code Name Verity-level interesting, which made me almost cry twice near the end. I want to explain about that, how it feels to not be able to cry during the majority of your waking life because of the medication you're on, and knowing that books rarely make you cry anyway because you're engaged in the language more than the experience of them (movies make you cry more easily, but...still, the medication), and still almost crying at this terrific fucking book, but seeing very well with your analytic mind that the book is too weird for the mainstream, too densely intelligent for most readers, too much and yet so astonishing that you can't even begin to strategize about reviewing it like a normal person, without making the review only three words: READ IT YOURSELF.

I'm thinking at length about this post, though. Much news has come to me in November that is just the same: stuff that Mean Brain can't explain away as not a big deal or due to favoritism. That was two years ago, nearly three, and this is now, and I thought it would take forever and now it's all happening too fast, almost too fast to enjoy.

Some days ago I put up a post on Medium, and I'll tell you why. I knew that the tentpole of it was the kind of mellow life lesson that would play well on self-improvement blogs, to broad audiences, but I did not want to go to the trouble of pitching those places and then having editors "smooth out" my writing. Basically: the same reason that people self-publish. I self-published a gleeful VC Andrews knock-off through Lulu some years ago (and I regret it, for reasons too practical to go into in this post), but I learned at that time that people generally self-publish to maintain editorial control and because they have the marketing chops (or the platform) not to need a press's help. I don't really have a platform, and I definitely have zero marketing chops. But I understand Medium, I wasn't trying to sell anything, what I'd written was short and appealing, and I have a decent social network now.

Lessons. Expertise. Hanging around and listening.


And the problem is that I have no time, I have no time, my life is exploding with opportunities and good news and books to read and people to meet and topics to write about and essays to think about and experiences to have, but what do I do about feeling unmoored and torn in two? Prioritizing writing (REALLY DOING THAT, not lip-servicing that) is one thing; truly having the physical space to unroll my creativity (such a blessing!) is a second thing; keeping the parts of my life from falling in on each other, like cards set against each other too perilously, is a completely other thing, a thing on the other side of some kind of line.

Yet I have the evidence that it is worthwhile. That it is happening, that it has its own momentum now. People are clapping for my Medium story. [redacted]. That's tangible, visible.

From certain political perspectives, the world is kind of burning down a little bit. 2017 has been a very bad year for many of my friends and loved ones. But my shit is blowing up, as the kids say, in 2017, and I feel guilty and grateful in equal measure. What do I do with that? How do I arrange my face? How do I square my next publication announcement with the next school shooting? As ever, life is all things happening at once, not tidily portioned out as in a math problem.

Enough rambling. I have work to do.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Anatomy of an Essay

Last time we were together, I pointed you toward this essay I wrote, which the Los Angeles Review (online) saw fit to publish. I am so glad about this, because it's a very LA-steeped story, from the location to the pretentious people to the title being a riff on Joan Didion,* who's always prominent in picture collages of LA writers.

People who've read it have asked me how much of it is fictionalized. The answer is almost none. The parts where the sentences begin with "I imagine" are not true to life, and I changed a name due to circumstances too tangled to explain. But the rest I described as I saw it. You can go to the Standard Hotel, 550 S. Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071, if you don't believe me, and see the well-dressed douchebags and vagina waterbed pods for yourself. I wrote it with a starkness, an aggressiveness, that is not my usual register, and I juxtaposed things kind of unnaturally to make a series of points, and I don't have, like, JAMA studies proving the thing about babies and yellow (though the internet has loads of information about that - I didn't just make it up). But everything I describe in the story happened the way I describe.

You can see the aforementioned pods in the left center of this photo. 

The backstory: two friends were staying at the Standard. They'd come to LA for AWP in March-April of 2016. We were joined in the restaurant by two additional friends, one in town for the same reason but staying elsewhere, the other a resident of Los Angeles; the LA friend stayed for the rooftop experience while the other friend left. That's why the numbers and names get a little jumbled. Trying to explain these circumstances artfully sounded less appealing than just letting it dangle.

The three of us, the two friends staying at the Standard and I, made much of the insane patriarchal environment of the hotel while we were there. It wasn't something I noticed, alone, afterward, and decided to explore. All of us talked about it, laughed about it, yelled about it, and all of us wrote essays. The original plan was to see if someone would publish all three of them, three different takes on the same experience. That didn't work out, alas, but I still love the idea.

I wrote mine pretty quickly, and pretty soon after the event. Not much of my usual stewing & brewing. I wrote it in time to hand it in as a final project for one of my CSUN classes in late April or early May, and I read some aloud to the class. They laughed, and gasped, and asked me how much of it was true.

Then I sent it out - only, as it happens, to the Los Angeles Review. It seemed so intrinsically an LA story that I didn't know if any of my other goal publications would give a damn about it. My memory is that I waited a while to see if my friends wanted to send their essays out too, and once that possibility closed, I'd missed the open submissions period for the LAR and had to wait a few more months. I sent it in late November of 2016, six or seven months after I finished it, and I got a positive reply in mid-June of 2017, about seven months later, and it appeared in August of 2017, not quite a year and a half after the events in it.  On this occasion I wasn't deterred by revision time; the piece was hardly edited at all from how I initially set it down. (Sometimes that happens. Usually not.)

Above: the anatomy of an essay, from inspiration to publication. I'm explaining this because I rarely have such a strong, fact- and date-based memory of how a piece came to be, and such specific detail feels helpfully illustrative to me. This was an easy go, aside from the lag time between finishing & sending and between sending & hearing back.

It isn't always so. A fraught piece I have on my mind right now, about Woody Allen - I don't remember which of the news stories I read about him inspired it, and I don't remember when I drafted it, or whether I edited it with a strategy or not. I have information in my email about when I submitted it and when a publication asked for revisions, and I can tell you exactly why I've been putting off doing those revisions ( = they're too hard). But the beginnings are murkier, and that's the norm for me.

Sometimes I use this blog as a primary source for research on when I wrote things and how I worked on them. But in the last couple of years I have become unhelpfully vague, here, about the stuff I'm working on. Part of this is because my writing practice has changed, grown looser (lazier?), become more binge-y than bit-by-bit-y. I can't tell a serial story about any of it: the idea comes in one day and the essay whooshes out two days (or six months) later, in one big blurt, so there's nothing to say.

Another part is that Caitlin Moran thing when you stop talking to your friends about the guy. My writing process is much less interesting to me now than all the other stuff I've taken to writing about on this blog, and anyway it can't be that unique: I sit down and I write, or I stare at the page, or I read my own words and try to figure out how to replace them with better ones. Sometimes this takes place in longhand, and sometimes I type. Sometimes deadlines help me, but mostly they don't. I hit the same walls a lot: running out of enthusiasm for the idea I started with, feeling like I don't have enough time to do justice to an idea, finding I don't have enough load-bearing walls to build a room. If this isn't interesting to me, surely it isn't to you.

This blog still interests me, for the record. But I'm in the process of determining how to use it for anything other than a promotional tool. I was thinking of explaining a significant hour I spent on the road between I-10 and Mecca, California, but I might knead it into an essay instead. I wanted to talk about my experience at a writing workshop in Santa Fe, but I don't want to step on the toes of the people I met there. The more topics I come up with, the more I divert them away from this space, for one reason or another. It's a puzzle, but I'll solve it.


*After I announced this influence in my newsletter (are you subscribed to my newsletter?), a helpful person pointed out that Yeats originated the phrase "slouching towards Bethlehem," and Didion appropriated it. This is true. However, the appropriation is arguably more famous at this time than the origin, and there's more than a little Los Angeles in that.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Things that Are Happening

Earlier this week I wrote a scary post about a big change I'm initiating gradually over the next few months, a change that's directly related to privileging creativity in my life. Which is basically what this blog is about. But I chickened out on it at the last minute. There are good reasons why I should not put up that post, and I decided to acknowledge them instead of going forward and possibly ending up like this


. But there's so much stuff I want to write about in this space that I kind of have to start blogging after a three-month break so here's a post and I'm sorry it's not the more daring one.

So! Here we are!

1. I have made a zine, and it's called Aphorisms on Surrealism, and it's $3. Please Paypal me, masonklc at gmail dot com, if you'd like one. Include your mailing address and I will send it to you; if you don't include your mailing address I'll just keep your money.

I've never seen zines bound with safety pins, but it was what I had on hand.

In case you know a thing or two about surrealism, yes, the project of writing aphorisms related to surrealism is by its very nature contradictory and improper, and that is the point. You, sir, will enjoy my zine. Three dollars, please.

Another zine, even shorter and only a single dollar in cost, will be coming along shortly. It's called How to Be Cool. There's a longer one I'm thinking about making, but I want it to round up a rejection or two from actual markets before I try and print it myself.

2. I missed the opportunity to share this essay with you. It appeared in the Los Angeles Review in August. I am exceedingly proud of it. There'll probably be a whole post about it sometime, because it came to be in a series of events that are pretty instructive.

3. I am teaching a workshop about sentences on November 11. If you're in the Los Angeles area, please email me, either at the address above or at the one in the sidebar, and we'll talk about whether you would enjoy attending. It's $35 for three solid hours of conversation and guidance regarding sentences. That's a very low hourly rate. Take advantage of it while I'm still cheap. Someday I'll be famous and expensive and then you'll regret not taking a class from me when I was still charging less than $15 an hour for my time, won't you? Yes, you sure will.

4. You may have missed a couple of Books I Hate (and Also Some I Like) interviews that dropped since the last time we were together. Here's one with Zoe Zolbrod, here's one with Jessica Piazza, and here's one with Kristi Coulter. Coming up soon are duncan b. barlow (a very, very nice dude and a fine writer who I thought was British for no reason I can determine) and Genevieve Kaplan (whose interview is different from literally all the others). Plus a couple of other writers who have expressed interest but haven't gotten back to me. As soon as I nag them into getting back to me, there will be more interviews.

Also, I reviewed Alice Anderson's new memoir, Some Bright Morning, I'll Fly Away, for Fiction Advocate.

5. I received two acceptances within a week of each other: one for a pure-fiction short story (the only one I've written in the past couple of years), and one for the Kathy Ireland story, which was a real treat to receive after a pile of rejections on that story. I'm really looking forward to sharing those pieces with everyone once they are published. I also received a painful rejection for the secret project and a colorful assortment of other rejections for various essays. And two rewrite requests: one that I haven't gotten back to, and one that hasn't gotten back to me.

I'm listing all this because people have started to ask me if I've been doing any writing lately, in a tone that makes me feel sort of guilty and idle, and I can say well, not really, but there's been a reasonable amount of activity in my writing life nonetheless.

6. The amount of reading in my life has been minimal of late, because I read a long book I strongly disliked in midsummer and it put me off reading, the way eating an entire pan of brownies will put you off brownies for at least a little while. (Probably.) I've got to roar back to it, though, because I have a special bookcase now for my not-yet-read books and it's completely full.

7. Last week it was my birthday. I am 36 years and seven days old. I believe I've officially passed the common age of rom-com heroines, which is honestly kind of a relief.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Better or Worse

Last week I watched the 1987 film Mannequin, with Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall. For whatever reason, this movie was a big part of my early life. For a time, it was my most favorite movie, to the point where I drew pictures of the two main characters and put them in a locket I wore because I loved them sooooo much.

This is not easy for me to admit. But I was quite young, around seven.

Seeing Mannequin nearly 30 years later was a weird experience. I remembered the outline of the plot, and I remembered some aspects of the performances, but most of what I remembered was inflection, turn of phrase, sound and look. The way some lines of the screenplay were said has been hanging around in my neural matter for all this time; it was like hearing lullabies sung to me in my cradle. Oh, this line, yes. Right, that montage. I didn't know exactly what the actress was going to say, nor what it meant in the context of the film, but I knew precisely how she was going to say it. An alchemical kind of memorization.



Since last week I've had those lines bouncing around in my head. I can't recite the whole movie, but I could parrot a good 25% of the screenplay right now, if you wanted me to. The way people get songs in their heads, I get scenes in my head, from movies or shows I watched either at developmentally crucial moments or have watched repeatedly. Mannequin had been lost to me in that way until I saw it again, and part of me thinks it was a mistake to watch it as an adult, because it woke up all those brain cells that had been sleeping and/or allocated to more useful tasks. And now I can remember it. For better or worse, it's in my head again, imprinted like a fingernail in clay.

Perhaps it's for worse that I'm saying this about a disposable 80s comedy with questionable gender relations, impossible plot mechanics (he's the toast of Philadelphia for designing department store display windows?) and untenably over-the-top performances.* Yet there are worse movies I could have eaten up as a child. And the bright 80s colors and synthesizers, the simplicity of the plot, the positive ethical compass, the sheer harmlessness of the whole enterprise - these things make it a pretty good movie for kids, even if that wasn't the intent.

Watching the film again, though - I wanted to memorialize the weirdness of that experience. Because although it might've been fine for seven-year-old me, now I can see what a thoroughly dumb film it is - the padding, the flimsiness, the Born Sexy Yesterday problem. I cringed all the way through, even as bits of my brain flared and lit like distant fireworks.** Both happened at the same time: affection, communicated across time and space, along with deep, vermilion embarrassment.

Some years ago, when we still lived in Maryland, I talked my husband into taking a day trip with me to Norfolk, Virginia, where I lived during my elementary school years. I had an itch to see this place called the Hermitage, where I went a few times as a child, and which I remembered as a mysterious, enchanted glen of sun-dappled woods. Someone had long ago placed millstones among the trees, which had been grown over by grass and moss. I remembered old brick walls, restless quiet, the possibility that Narnia waited around the next bend. I couldn't bear my half-memories of the place any longer, so we drove there.

The Hermitage grounds are lovely, but smallish and well-kept, not wild and mysterious. The house (which was off-limits every time I went there, so I didn't care about it much) sits next to water - the Lafayette River - a detail I did not remember. The woods I had remembered made up a fairly small patch of ground, and the trees were not exactly sparse but were not thick enough to hide the house or the neighboring wetlands, to make you feel like you were at all distant from civilization.


My memory sparked and fired from time to time, but like returning to an elementary school, everything looked small. Minimal. Mundane. Certain aspects did not disappoint, like the millstones, but nothing about the bit of woods we walked in felt enchanted. Matt was kind and didn't say anything to the effect of "we drove seven hours round trip for this?", but I felt deflated.

What I'm trying to say about all this is how strange our brains are, that they can latch on to more or less random input early in life and never let go. That might mean that we should be a hell of a lot more careful about what we give kids early in life, what movies and shows they watch over and over, what places they go and fall in love with. Or it might not; there's an element of "who knows" attached to all this, because I know I saw movies and went places as a kid that I didn't retain as clearly, or at all. I don't think having Mannequin and the Hermitage in my brain has made me worse (or better) off in any particular way, nor do I think the selection of this movie, this place, says anything special or important about me, my taste, my parents' parenting, anything like that. One of the most brilliant set of parents I know, their four-year-old loves Trolls, the movie made from nothing more substantive than a line of plastic toys; I think it's because the movie has bright colors, not because his affection for the film indicates anything about his destiny. But I'll bet he's going to remember the turn and shape and sound of aspects of that film well into his adult life. For better or worse.

Mannequin, at least, was entertaining. Keep your expectations low if you elect to watch it; the leads have nice chemistry and Spader has to be seen to be believed, but that's about it. If you've never been to the Hermitage and you're near Hampton Roads, it might be a nice place to visit.

What I definitely don't recommend is trying to go back to where you've been, whatever that means to you. You can go home again, but you can't live memories the same way a second time. Even if you retain them with precision, like the actors reciting their lines permanently in my mind, like the millstones under my adult feet, they'll never be exactly the way they were.

---

*I mean, I don't know who was telling Spader to do what he did in this movie, but he behaved approximately as human as Ed Grimley.

**An unintentionally funny thing: the evil department store is named Illustra (which is an odd name for a department store, right?) and it's mostly pronounced by the actors like Olestra. I don't think Olestra existed then, so now it's pretty funny to hear them talking about margarine and meaning a department store.