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Thu, Apr 08, 2004

You Oughta Been There

Monday was the fifth annual You Oughta Be In Pictures. I don't believe I've missed one yet, though in 2002, Lotte and I went to the February sneak-preview showing rather than the full April version. YOBIP is local sex boutique Grand Opening's anthology of customer-contributed short pornographic movies, held at the local arthouse, the rather grand and slightly crumbling Coolidge Corner Theater. The series has gotten some mainstream attention lately, but there seemed to be a couple seats free at the usually sold-out show.

I'm as hooked as ever. The shorts are often funny, frequently endearing, and sometimes even hot, and, given the current climate in this country, going out and publicly espressing an appreciation for sexual self-expression seems not just like a lot of fun, but something of a civic duty.

Further, this year may have been the best ever. I dearly wish I had a program with titles for each of the shows I've seen--I suspect that a lot of goodies are slipping through the cracks of my memory. As a bit of a tonic against that prospect, bear with me as I recap some highlights:

It opened with a funny, disturbing, and faintly arousing short that featured three performers: a puddle of honey, a peeled banana, and a jelly doughnut. The consummation of their relationship had the audience gasping and howling. The maker (credited, but I'm afraid I've forgotten her name) is clearly a very talented filmmaker.

There were two shorts from Tanya Bezreh, whom I had the pleasure of meeting briefly a couple months ago at a similar event. I'd enjoyed her contribution in 2002--a playful and stylized spanking-oriented piece. Her scenes this time justaposed very intimate and unguarded shots of her masturbating with a soundtrack in which she discusses her ambivalence and doubts about porn in her childlike voice. I adored them--I thought they were thoughtful, formally novel, very hot, and wonderfully brave in their openness.

Historically, one of the hazards of YOBIP for me has been my empathy with the filmmakers. When the audience howls with laughter at something that doesn't appear to have been intended to be funny, I'm generally acutely aware (even when I can't resist joining in myself) that the people being laughed at are probably somewhere in the theater. Bliss and Joker's movie last year definitely caused me some stress in that regard. It consisted of sweet, loving, lightly kinky masturbation and sex featuring an older couple. When the audience giggled at the woman's rangy forearms and cowboy spurs, I found myself sinking down in my seat in distress.

Amusingly, I ran into them at a party a few months later, and was relieved to find that they had found the experience a pleasant one. Their contribution this year was more tightly edited and confident-feeling, while being as charming as the previous one. The audience loved it.

Lotte enjoyed an abstract black-and-white piece featuring four hands, a cock, and a classical soundtrack more than I did. It was striking at first, but I really only needed the first minute, not the full five.

There were at least two ringers--professional vignettes that fit the Grand Opening! aesthetic enough to be included. One was a rather softcore piece on the value of fantasy and role-playing, which was charming but rather tame. The other-from sexuality guru and hottie Carol Queen's Bend Over Boyfriend series-was startlingly stiff and lifeless. The moral--attractive and interesting people having unusual sex isn't enough if there's no spark of actual desire.

We left immediately at the end and missed the traditional denuement, wherein GO! proprietrix Kim Airs smashes the videotape with a sledgehammer. However, since YOBIP will be playing again this Friday the 9th at midnight, the ritual is kind of hollow anyway.

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Tue, Mar 30, 2004

The Moomintroll books by Tove Jansson

I've been reading Charlotte these books as I've managed to find copies. In Europe and Japan, the Moomintroll franchise is big business, with animated cartoons and themeparks. We Americans have been lucky enough to be spared all that for once, leaving us only with these lovely illustrated novels of the strange and the familiar, the joyous and the melancholy. Start with either Finn Family Moomintroll, or Tales from Moominvalley, where her inventiveness and her gift for atmosphere meet most satisfyingly.

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Fri, Mar 26, 2004

Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil

I'd say that Finder's the best SF comic coming out currently, but I don't know of another excellent SF comic coming out these days (if you really want to know why I don't love Transmetropolitan, I'll tell you, but I'm trying to stick to what I love, rather than what I don't). I'll say instead that it contains excellent art, fun, rousing stories, and amazingly nuanced and believable characters. And, unlike every other print comic I love, she actually puts it out on something like a professional schedule.

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Tue, Mar 09, 2004

The Legendary Marvin Pontiac's Greatest Hits, by John Lurie

Lurie usually does avant garde instrumental jazz. This album is an amazing expedition into the weird heart of rock/soul/pop, built around a fictional schitzophenic musician of the '70s. This sounds kitchy, but instead it's just rich, poignant, groovy, and funny. The surreal and silly lyrics blend with the eclectic and multitextured music to produce effects unlike anything else I've ever heard

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The Book of Leviathan, by Peter Blegvald

Perhaps the best comic I've read this year. One-page strips about the metaphysical adventures of a faceless, introspective infant are funny, touching, deep, playful, and formally inventive. I'm occasionally reminded of Max Ernst, George Herriman, and Gary Panter, but actual influences are hard to pick out.

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