Here's something you might not know about me and my husband Joe. We're cat people. Not like horror movie cat people, just "aunt who knits Christmas sweaters and believes in angels" kind of cat people. We weren't always this way. About 18 years ago I found a couple of abandoned kittens, one of whom was blind, and that began a life a rescuing kitties.
We already have a lot of cats. And then Julius showed up. He's young - maybe 1-2 years old - and very chatty. He has what I like to describe as an Ethel Merman meow. He really sells it to the back rows.
Julius is tame and lovey. He purrs like a trooper. He must have been abandoned or got lost, but regardless, he'd make a great pet. We'd take him, but like I said, we're already flirting with becoming reality show participants (GAY MEN WHO HOARD CATS, next on TLC). If you live in the LA area and would like to adopt our little guy, drop me an email at pat AT patricktobin DOT NET. We just got him fixed today through the cat rescue group here in Long Beach - they can't foster him because there was apparently a bumper crop of kittens this year.
The Seven Deaths Of The Empress
The Seven Death of the Empress is a brilliant web comic by Brian Mowrey. Who doesn't love their Roman history with a bit of religious mythology and science fiction?
Write meNo comments sections - how 2009. Email me.
pat AT patricktobin DOT net
A Good Night
Tonight was a good night. My best friend DD invited me to a book signing at Skylight Books (one of my favorite bookstores) for Robin McLean's new collection Reptile House - I haven't had a chance to dive in to it yet, but from what she read I'm very interested. She had an interesting discussion afterwards about writing processes and how writers approach their stories - either from incident or character (she and I both share an approach that starts with incident btw).
What was great was that DD's boyfriend Stephen was able to come too, as well as DD's son Dylan and his girlfriend Penny. After the reading, we went to Palermo's, an old-school Los Feliz restaurant, for a nightcap and I had the best Old Fashioned I've ever had. It hit the perfect balance between sweet and bourbon - the muddled maraschino cherries and orange not overpowering the booze.
Amidst all the hipster irony, that Old Fashioned was something pure and true.
I recently rewatched The Birds - it's such a nasty little horror movie and I love it. The movies asks: Why has the apocalypse descended upon us? And Hitchcock's two word answer is: Just because.
I checked out the Daphne du Maurier short story it was based on. It's very different from the movie, but they both end with such hopelessness. That must have been the thing that won over Hitchcock when he finished reading the story (and according to reports, he only read the story once).
The most thrilling part of the movie for me is the relationships between the women. Tippi, Suzanne, Jessica, and little Veronica. All vying for Rod Taylor's affections (and listen, Rod Taylor circa 1963 was worth vying for). There are a lot of pregnant pauses (which one of my film instructors warned were antithetical to good filmmaking), but man are they something else - see exhibit A, the still above with Suzanne watching all of her hopes and dreams floating away...like the angry birds that will eventually kill her.
I also noticed the connections in this film to Notorious. Tippi's character is a rich party girl trying to leave behind her tarnished reputation; ditto Ingrid's. There's a grasping, controlling, manipulative mother in both. And then there are the two male leads - both characters whose indecision is the dramatic engine of the movies. Rod needs to let his mother and Suzanne go so they can move on with their lives; as it stands, they are stuck in his orbit like lifeless satellites.
I love when the young mother in the diner screeches hysterically that Tippi's the cause of the birds attacking (her arrival in Bodega Bay coinciding with the avian aggression) and then Tippi slaps her across the face. Here's what should have happened: one of the other cowering women - one who was familiar with town gossip - should have pointed her finger at hunky lunky Rod and said to the hysterical young mother "No, sister, the problem is THAT one!"
Adjectival CrutchesI apologize. I seem to use the word 'heartbreaking' a lot in these posts. Maybe too much. Maybe I use it because it's a word that seems to describe a lot of life as I see it. That said, there's no excuse for my laziness because there are plenty of synonyms around. Like these from thesaurus.com. which I've listed with notes on why they do or do not work.
Most Popular Keys on SpotifyHere's an interesting article. Seems major keys are most popular - people like happy sounds. I wonder what it says about me that I'm drawn to minor keys.
I wish there was an app that could find music for me based on my preference.
Simon Stålenhag is a brilliant Swedish artist-- his series of haunting sci-fi images suggest a weird and beautiful Scandinavian dystopia.
Old Swedish Movie PostersThere's a great article on io9.com. Here's the poster for Frankenstein. Beautiful.
Quantum FoamFrom Stephen Hawking.
Nothing is flat or solid. If you look closely enough at anything you'll find holes and wrinkles in it. It's a basic physical principle, and it even applies to time. Even something as smooth as a pool ball has tiny crevices, wrinkles and voids. Now it's easy to show that this is true in the first three dimensions. But trust me, it's also true of the fourth dimension. There are tiny crevices, wrinkles and voids in time. Down at the smallest of scales, smaller even than molecules, smaller than atoms, we get to a place called the quantum foam. This is where wormholes exist. Tiny tunnels or shortcuts through space and time constantly form, disappear, and reform within this quantum world. And they actually link two separate places and two different times.
Speaking of The Leftovers, I'm now obsessed with Carrie Coon. Her character Nora is heartbreaking - so real and damaged, but still clinging to the belief that there must be something good in life. The thing is she flies under the radar, just like a person in her situation would, until she can't escape her destiny.
It's a brilliant performance and I hope Carrie becomes a huge star.
TV Opening CreditsI was at a barbecue today and was talking about my love for The Man In The High Tower pilot - and how I thought the opening credits were brilliant.
My friend Robert thinks we're experiencing a golden age for opening credits. I agree - I think it's been going on for awhile. I'm also in love with the opening credits for The Leftovers
And what about the first season of True Detective?
I think the current renaissance started with Six Feet Under - it's still so powerful all these years later.
Florrie FisherI just discovered that Amy Sedaris based Jerri Blank on Florrie, This video of one of Florrie's motivational speeches is hilarious, touching, and strangely motivating.
Joe and I got married in Stockholm in March 2006 (we also got married again in 2008 when it was briefly legal to do so in California). It was still snowy and cold, but we didn't care. My family joined us in Sweden for the festivities, including my niece Hannah, who was four.
Here's a photo that our friend Christine took after we had taken Hannah to see the aquarium. Me on the left, Joe on the right. It was a fun day, but this photo is so melancholy, and that's one of the reasons I love it. As our friend Jennifer commented, it's like a scene from a heartbreaking gay drama, where one of the men is about to leave the country for good, forsaking his lover and their child.
Vertigo gets all the love whenever there's a list of best movies of all time -- while it's certainly a masterpiece, my favorite Hitchcock movie is Notorious. Everything about it is perfect - the script, the photography, the music, the cast. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are at the height of their beauty, giving two of the most heartbreaking performances in cinema - lovers who, through pride and perversion, can't seem to get it together to say "I love you" until it's too late.
I normally hate animated gifs, but this one seemed appropriate.
Great movie, although it could have used a few more shirtless scenes for Oscar Isaacs.
More Songs I Never Need To Hear AgainPretty Woman - any version
Dead Mall Enthusiasts
I'm obsessed with this Facebook group.
The Sound Of My Voice
I just watched this movie and thought it was terrific. A lot of reviews seemed to have a problem with the ending, but I loved it. All those unanswered questions. All that mystery.
What I loved most about the film were the claustrophobic scenes in the basement. They reminded me of my years in ex-gay ministry and all the creepy mind fuckery I went through. Brit Marling and Christopher Denham brilliantly convey the coded language and lopsided power structures that allow cults to prey upon their victims. Even though I think the ending says that Brit's character actually is who she says she is, it still doesn't take away from the horrific nature of those scenes - I think in part they ask us to question the value of a savior who needs to abuse us into submission in order to save us.
Karen Joy FowlerI read her short story The Pelican Bar a couple of days ago and it's still haunting me. I love sci-fi mysteries that exist just outside the narrative, and that are never fully resolved. Who is Mama Strong? What is her mission? What happened to the girls who disappeared? And was it all simply the product of a young mind broken by all-too-human torture?
Although it dealt with very different themes and subjects, I had the same dizzy feeling after reading Michael Blumlein's California Burning.
Andromeda StrainI watched the original Andromeda Strain on TV when I was a kid in the 70s. It's still one of my favorite movies, and, I think, one of the most realistic portrayals of the way science works. The scientists aren't heartthrobs. They aren't Denise Richards playing a nuclear physicist.
My favorite character is Dr. Ruth Leavitt, played by Kate Reid. She's smart. She's funny. She's good at what she does. She made me want to become a scientist, but that dream didn't last by the time I got to college. Still, even though I was a film major, I took advanced chemistry just for fun. Thanks Kate!
Draven was the high school kid who tried to use that hilarious photo of him and his cat and a bunch of 80's lasers as his yearbook photo. It is, without a doubt, one of the funniest things I've ever seen (and in case anyone thought/thinks Draven wasn't in on the hilarity, you should check out this article).
Sadly, Draven killed himself Thursday. He was only 17. I just found out about it this morning and I've been in a weird funk all day, which seems self-indulgent since I didn't know him or his family. I can empathize with them - my own family being no stranger to awful tragedy. I'm also sad at the realization that there are so many talented, creative young people out there who don't make it because of depression.
Junsui Films ArticleFor their Behind The Camera series. Check it out. They have some great interviews and articles.
David Sedaris Reads 50 Shades Of Grey
Artzray InterviewAndrea Horton Davis is friend of mine from film school who's now writing for artzray.com. It's a great new website for young artists She interviewed me about screenwriting, check it out here.
French HornI was just driving along tonight and I got to thinking about how much I love the french horn. That's about it. Ta da. Big woop.
Here's the solo from Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony.
And here's a link to a slightly bitchy NYT article about the french horn. "Orchestral instruments don't come more treacherous than the French horn, either for the musicians who play it, or, when the going gets rough, for the listeners who find themselves within earshot."
Homeo & Juliet PodcastMary Patterson Broome and Jason Romaine interviewed me for their Homeo & Juliet podcast. They're very funny and talented - Mary Patterson does standup and Jason is a screenwriter. It's a fun interview.
Garrett Miller Podcast - 2/3/15 @7pmI'm going to be on Garrett's live podcast on Tuesday, February 3rd at 7pm. Here's the link.
I'll be talking about Cake and you can call in questions - just don't ask me anything hard, like the difference between a gaffer and a grip!
Cake Screening and Q&A - February 7thThe Filmmakers' Gallery in Long Beach is showing Cake on February 7th at 7pm, followed by a Q&A with me. It's a fun venue and I promise to answer any questions thrown my way!
You can buy a ticket to the event here.
CAKE - the short storyI know that you can simply download the story from my website, and I'm reminded a bit of that saying "why buy the cow when you can get the milk free?"
Wouldn't you love to read the story in a book? What if that book was an anthology of stories by some amazing writers, the common thread being that they're stories that were published in The Kenyon Review?
Well you can, all you have to do is buy The Kenyon Review's Readings For Writers.
Olive KitteridgeHBO's Olive Kitteridge is an astonishing work of art. The acting is amazing, but I especially loved the scenes with Cory Michael Smith - they're heartbreaking.
Dennis Hensley Podcast Part DeuxDennis has a great year end podcast - included is my story of working with Allan Carr. If you're gay and too young to know who Allan Carr is, please please please watch Grease while wearing a caftan. Allan is my personal gay patron saint, God rest his fabulous soul.
CAKE newsJennifer Aniston is starting to get the recognition she deserves for her performance in CAKE. A SAG nomination and another for the Golden Globes, both in the same week. Joe and I will be cheering loudly for her next month while we watch the award shows!
CineStory podcastI did a podcast for CineStory, the screenwriting competition I won in 2013. CineStory is a GREAT competition - money ($10k!), great industry mentors, a long weekend in Idyllwild, CA.
Dennis Hensley is the great writer of one of my favorite books (Misadventures In The 213) and films (Testosterone), and he interviewed me for his podcast. Check it out!
You're a poet and you know it...
If you actually read these posts, you'll see that there are no comments. If you want to say something to me you have to send an email - very old school, but I like keeping my website free of anonymous, homophobic rageaholics.
Every month or so I have to delete about a thousand pending comments that are 99.99999% spam. Sometimes, though, a spammer will send me something that almost verges on being art.
Take this one for example, from a fake Jimmy Choo outlet in the UK.
[I've broken it up, but the rest of it -- the haunting lack of punctuation and syntax and basic grammar -- is original]
looked at jimmy choo sale,
reaching a mean
sooner or later when you beg
jimmy choo uk.
took the money,
do not open the door to the southwest direction.
Otherwise, do not listen to old words,
suffer in the eyes
Shen Lin reached
the door was closed,
watching Lin Ran
two thousand, so giving.
Lin Ran ah a cry okay,
whether he is true, he is poor.
The line you have just told you
what he said.
Lin then looked at jimmy choo uk a,
was silent for a few seconds
Did not even,
if there is,
you do not take it seriously,
he was fooled
I'm excited to announce that Cake will be making its international premier at the Toronto International Film Festival next month. I think the world is going to be blown away by Jennifer's performance, as well as the rest of the amazing cast. My friends and family have been asking me if the film is what I envisioned when I wrote it, and I can honestly say it's better - five minutes into watching it I completely forgot I'd written it and just enjoyed it as a movie goer.
Here's the link to the TIFF website.
The Hole The Fox Did MakeGreat little web horror comic.
Joe and I have been watching all four seasons of The Partridge Family. It's pretty good. Danny and Ruben have a great rapport - you can see early on that the writers started giving these two all the best lines.
The thing I enjoy most is watching Tracy. Clearly she has no musical talent at all, and the show goes out of its way to cut around her and her little out-of-sync tambourine. Her reactions are never immediate or appropriate (God forbid she's in a scene involving an activity like a game - it's simply too much for her to engage in two things at once, the two things being the game and then acting).
All that said, we still love her. A favorite new game is to pause the DVD and catch her, mid-shake, in her own little world. You go Tracy.
Nonfiction Writing: Study The Masters
Ann Wroe writes obituaries for The Economist. Here's a lovely interview with her. Her writing is fresh and inventive, regardless of whether she's writing about a world-famous figure or Benson, a large carp who died at the age of 25.
First World Problems
I bought some gray jeans from Perry Ellis that I loved - somehow they circumvented the problems I generally have with pants because of my body (short legs, expanding middle-age belly).
Unfortunately, after I washed the jeans they had a strong and unpleasant odor, something akin to boat diesel fuel. I wore them to a meeting with a producer and warned the person that they might start to feel sea sick during our conversation - not from my ideas but from the stinky jeans. A second washing didn't improve the smell any. And now they're going back to Perry Ellis.
Poor me, right?
There's a great article on Gawker about Johnny's outfits while he's been providing commentary for NBC, This is my favorite look so far. I think it's obvious Tara Lipinski has given up on trying to be the sparkly one.
Yesterday there was a flurry of articles about Jennifer Aniston starring in my script Cake -- and now I know what a lottery winner must feel like. I think she'll be an amazing Claire and I can't wait to see who her co-stars will be.
Ms. Aniston has given many great performances, but there's one scene from Friends With Money that sticks in my mind. Her character Olivia is doing an estimate for cleaning the depressed guy's apartment (and how great that he'll turn out to be a millionaire, but I'm jumping ahead). His apartment is a disaster, and you can see Olivia's growing awareness that this mess is really a manifestation of a life on the rocks -- this becomes clear as he reveals bits and pieces of his sad back story. Olivia tells him her usual rate and he negotiates her down to almost nothing. She takes a moment and you see Olivia mulling over this ridiculous offer: and then she agrees to it. What's great is that Olivia shows compassion in a way that allows the guy to retain his dignity. It's such a lovely moment -- the kind of moment Jimmy Stewart excelled in portraying -- and it's played so deftly. Like a throwaway that hits you right in the heart.
August: Osage County
The reviews have been mixed for this movie -- I think the common negative criticism is that it's stagy and over-the-top. For me, though, this was one of my favorite films of last year, and I hope Julia Roberts wins the Oscar for her performance. August is a brilliant look at mental illness and addiction. Addicts ARE stagy and over-the-top -- they use performance to manipulate everyone around them. It ain't subtle, and I think the performers and the filmmakers understood that (as did, obviously, Tracey Letts, who's one of America's best living writers). Unfortunately this quality was misinterpreted by many in the audience.
The scene in the car between Meryl and Julia (Meryl's character says she can't do rehab again and that her daughters are free to leave her alone) is one that I can't stop thinking about. It's astonishing in its authenticity. Is the movie perfect? No. But is it an important work of art? Absolutely.
Thanks For Your TimeI got as sick of Gotye as everyone else on the planet. But I still really like this song from his Like Drawing Blood album and I love the Lucy Dyson video -- I've been playing it over and over tonight.
Fangs Of The Living Dead
Fangs Of The Living Dead. Anita Ekberg, playing a virgin who inherits a castle full of Euro trash, homoerotic vampires. Front seat center, please.
Cake In The NewsThere's a very funny article on Mother Jones about the 2013 Black List scripts. Basically the writers came up with log lines for all of the projects based on the titles.
A man is addicted to cake, dies.
I finally watched the entire first season. I'm always late to the game and usually things never live up to their hype, but this was an amazing show - it was actually better than I thought it would be. Olivia Colman gives one of the best performances ever of a believable middle class working mother - whether it's the scene where she's dispensing vacation gifts to her co-workers or when she finds out the identity of the killer, she always feels true to her character. And like all the best TV right now, this felt like a novel I couldn't put down.
Black List 20132013 is ending on a high note: my script CAKE made the Black List this year, which is a huge and unexpected honor. The list compiles the votes of entertainment executives on their favorite unproduced scripts from the previous year.
More songs I never need to hear againAnything by the group Toto
Wide open spaces are scary, n'est ce pas?
Lysley TenorioOne of my favorite modern writers.
We Will Never DieOne of my favorite groups is the Swedish jazz band Bo Kaspers Orkester. They have a song called Vi Kommer Aldrig Att Dö, which translates into We Will Never Die. It's a beautiful song, made more beautiful for me because it reminds me of the year and a half I lived in Stockholm and all the wonderful friends I made. This one is for you Margaret Steiner.
The ReturnedI'm addicted to the French TV series The Returned. It reminds me of the first season of Twin Peaks (the first season -- season two was a mess). One of the things I admire about it is that a lot of the visuals are presented in wide shots, where characters are small elements against the expanse of beautiful backgrounds: the lake and dam, the mountains, the shining night lights of the village. The result is a kind of crippling dread that is surprising.
Songs I Never Need To Hear AgainSuper Freak
Edge of 17
Boys of Summer
Anything by the band Journey
Austin Film FestivalCake is a semi-finalist for the AFF Screenplay Competition (under the title Jump - I've tried both titles and I prefer Cake I think). It also received an Honorable Mention in the Williamsburg Film Festival screenwriting competition.
When I first started writing seriously a friend said my stories seemed awfully similar to (i.e. a rip off of) Mary Robison. I was embarrassed to tell this friend that I had never read any of her writings. "You should read Why Did I Ever," my friend said. "That would be a good place to start."
I adore Mary Robison. I want David Markson and her to have a child who will write novels that consist of 500 words or less.
It has been a good summer for my feature script Cake, which I based on my short story. Cake won the Nantucket Film Festival Showtime Tony Cox Screenwriting Award.Here is a nice interview by Susan Sandler, she wrote Crossing Delancey (one of my favorite films).
Cake also won the CineStory competition, here's a press release that came out on July 10, 2013.
Welcome, ye visitors from the internetsThings have certainly changed around here, the old website is looking spiffy thanks to Anthony Wallace.