Earles fashion report, Sharky’s Machine, and posting for the sake of posting….

After reading this, you’ll want to slap the living shit out of me!! Show me the Failed Pilot reader that can step to my look!! I’m bringing the Moc-Toe back (to moderately-sized cities). Though I eschew flashiness, Hipster Action Figure clothing, try to embrace subtlety and “basicsâ€Â, rocking a style that Jeffrey Jensen likes to call “Math Rock Bass Playerâ€Â (a joke that might have made sense in 1995), I have taken it upon myself to explode the love of the bird hunting boot. My daily pair was manufactured by Browning, has ten eyelets, and hugs my dogs in dark brown kangeroo leather. Oh my, look who’s here!! I wear 31/30 or 30/30 Levi’s 517’s (two pairs black, two blue) every single day….turned up a little at the cuffs….or not at all. I’m easy!! The doctor is in……….saaaaaaaaaaaaaaane!!! My favorite t-shirt is the gray 50/50 American Apparel track shirt (I own three), I like the Memphass inoffensive boogie/proto-power pop of Zuider Zee and the comfort of my original tee promoting their only Columbia Records release, and lastly, I’m looking for ABA repro caps for The Memphis Tams, The Memphis Sounds, and/or The Memphis Pros. Get in touch!! I’m a 7 1/8. I’m pretty easy to pick from a crowd. I alternate between two pairs of sunglasses. One pair was made from frames purchased in Manhattan last year (and finished up in an Ike’s optical department), and my primaries are Oliver Peoples tortoise shell quasi-Wayfarer style. I switch out the buckle (owned since 1995) between brown (boutique) and black (Levi’s) belts, depending on my color of shoes. Did I mention my watch geekdom? I love watches!! Too bad watches cost so much money!! Smash and grab!! For swimming, fishing, hiking and general outdoor messiness, I wear a Casio diver’s watch (purchased from Target 4 years ago). For more “urbanâ€Â affairs, I wear a Zodiac (a Sea Dragon with a white face) that was a wonderful gift from my girlfriend. I wear white socks from Target. I own a black, light brown/tan, and a Seer Sucker Suit.

I remain entertained by the first 15 minutes of Maximum Overdrive, and the entirety of Sharky’s Machine, even though certain Adult Swim writers are busy neutralizing the Reynolds/Hal Needham aesthetic of the latter. I watched both last night.

We saw a preview of Knocked Up last night. This is…

We saw a preview of Knocked Up last night. This is sure to be a classic.

On Salon, Stephanie Zacharek is explicitly comparing Knocked Up to Preston Sturges comedies.

That uncertainty is what links it to the great American romantic comedies: It’s not as elegant as, say, “Holiday” or “The Lady Eve” or “The Palm Beach Story,” but it’s wise enough to know that the false promise of happily ever after is more depressing than it is uplifting. Better to acknowledge the bumpiness of the road ahead than to fool yourself into believing you can iron out its kinks.

I think she’s dead-on here. Knocked Up is too raunchy to work like The Lady Eve or The Palm Beach Story, both of which were sex comedies of a different sort, but it shares the sex-with-consequences sensibility of The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek with the broad pleasures of 80s sex comedies (I’m thinking Porky’s), but also with a grown-up take on parenthood that I can’t recall seeing in any movie before. There’s a very warm embrace of humanity in the movie that reminds me of the greatest humanist director, Renoir, specifically the hijinks of Boudu Saved From Drowning. I think that’s where I am: half Preston Sturges, one quarter Porky’s, and one quarter Renoir.

I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone, but since it’s a comedy about pregnancy, I’m going to assume that y’all know it winds up in a delivery room. That scene was just incredible, somehow combining slapstick with the very real confusion and beautiful grossness (by which I mean everyone is born in blood and struggle) of natural childbirth. It has an unwavering belief in the realness and decency of even the most minor of supporting cast, and the overall effect is profound. I’m a sap these days, I know, because when my family is expecting a baby, any images of childbirth cut straight to my weepy emotional place, and that’s exactly what this incredible scene does.

There’s several other points where the character’s reality are realized in a way that few comedies could handle. My favorite is a moment where Paul Rudd’s character, holding a ridiculous fairy-tale castle-shaped ice-cream cake for his daughter’s birthday, learns what his wife and sister-in-law really think of him, and in, like, three seconds, he registers the incredible hurt of this and moves on. If the movie weren’t so insanely funny and light on its toes, it could easily play like an agonizingly detailed examination of marriage and relationships. That’s a rare and awesome thing.

In Slate, Dana Stevens thinks that Judd Apatow doesn’t write convincing women.

I can only read this moment as Judd Apatow’s tribute to the awe of childbirth and the cult of the eternal feminine. It’s a lovely impulse, but in his next film, maybe he could honor women by striving to create female characters with the depth of humor and humanity he gives to men.

She might have a point, although I don’t think it’s enough of one to justify her spending a good third of her review on this. Almost all of the guys in the movie are slacker wise-asses. At least one minor female character also is a slacker wise-ass. The major female characters rarely are deliberately funny, but it happens a couple of times. But it’s wrong to say they aren’t human. I thought the two female leads were both well-written and well-acted as a little high-strung (or a lot high-strung, but they’re supposed to be sisters, and the one scene with their mother demonstrates exactly why they were so high-strung) with a similar bewilderment about men. Is it inhuman that they weren’t as zingy as the men in the movie?

Stevens’ other major point was:

It’s just not believable that, in Alison and Ben’s upper-middle-class, secular L.A. milieu, abortion would not be matter-of-factly discussed as a possibility in the case of a pregnancy this accidental.

I think this is complete bullshit. Alison talks about abortion with her sister and her mother. Ben explicitly doesn’t want to tell her what to do because it is her choice. And when she makes the choice, she doesn’t spell it out for anyone, which seemed good writing rather than bad: why would a woman ennumerate her reasons out loud to have a child rather than terminate a pregnancy? If she had done so, THAT would have sounded fake.

Finally, for your amusement, here’s Michael Cera and Judd Apatow riffing on the famous Lily Tomlin/David O. Russell blowout.

Book Matters

I know that I promised to “[track] the process of how a book goes from sale to publication” over at my sister journal Everything Is an Afterthought, but that journal quickly established itself as a resource center for all things Paul Nelson. Posting the mechanics of book publication over there would be as incongruous as Sam Peckinpah at an est meeting.

Instead I’ll allow that site to continue to become what it’s become and pledge to write more about book matters over here (including the process of putting together a book proposal, working with an agent to query publishers, what it feels like when you receive an e-mail from your agent with the subject line “We Have an Offer,” and how I got an agent in the first place). Deal?

Towards that end, yesterday I received the first installment of my advance. The way it works is this: the publisher pays one-third upon signature of the book contract, one-third upon “satisfactory completion” of the book, and one-third upon publication. These monies are paid by the publisher to the agent, who then cuts a check to the writer less the agent’s commission.

Holding the check in my hand yesterday, I was thrown back over 20 years (21, to be precise) to when I sold my first piece of writing: a short story to Erotic Fiction Quarterly. If I remember correctly, that first check was for 50 dollars — but it felt like a million. Yesterday’s felt like many million more.


I’ve written in many other places about the legendary 1981 one-camera Target Video of THE FLESH EATERS during the “A Minute To Pray, A Second To Dieâ€Â era, but this is the first evidence I’ve seen of it on the web. I haven’t watched the video itself in at least seventeen years. Here’s a snippet from it – kudos to Classics2DVDdotcom to bringing it to the people.