Connected: Whole-brained logic / Half-baked construct

(originally published @ Tekhne.com)

a movie review by JAMES DAVID PATRICK

Chris Marker’s La Jetée and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth walk into a bar.

After La Jetée explains that he’s an experimental short film told through still images and narration, they decide to collaborate on a movie about everything from the Big Bang to Twitter and beyond. A modern movie. A cautionary tale about where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re headed. Hours pass. Enthusiasm tempers. Champagne becomes Wild Turkey. How could they thread together a movie about their lives, their fears, the world, globalization in under 90 minutes? They ring Terry Gilliam. Gilliam says, predictably, “With cartoons!” Clearly! They sketch their scattered ideas and doodles on post it notes that wallpaper the bar top. Still the connectivity of it all escapes them. (An important concept in a movie called Connected.) “Excuse me,” a voice says. It’s Michael Bay’s Collective Filmography. “I couldn’t help but overhear how you’re unsure how to bring the audience along on this wild ride of barely related consequences.” La Jetée and An Inconvenient Truth agree that despite the cartoons and charts and flowcharts something is still missing. Bay’s filmography continues. “Easy. Explosions. And the suspension of disbelief.” They rejoice. (more…)

Mickey Tettleton

Mickey Tettleton

(originally published @ Specter Magazine)

creative non-fiction by JAMES DAVID PATRICK

Randall hated pitching. He preferred fielding grounders and jumping the fence to retrieve home runs. But it was his turn, and there were no allowances in the rules for Rolaids Relievers. Jeff had collected four consecutive singles, groundballs beyond the pitcher, before turning to Mickey Tettleton, our favorite Major-League emulation, to cap his miracle comeback. The eophus pitch countered the Tettleton. With a hitter slinging a weightless plastic bat through the hitting zone at hernia-inducing speeds, it proved nearly impossible to wait long enough for the loping perabula to drop into the hitting zone. Jeff’s first and second swings resulted in air displacement, neither within three inches of Randall’s eophus. I expected a third. As Randall started his motion, Jeff stood tall (but still very short), limp-wristed, bat cocked. He waited… waited… waited… timing the moment he would throw his hands forward… and then… contact. More than contact. A roof shot, fair, careening off the pitched roof. (more…)

A Vinyl Revival

A Vinyl Revival

(originally published @ PANK Magazine)

an essay by James David Patrick

[Roxane Gay / July 15th, 2011 / This Modern Writer ]

It began innocently. These things often do. A Zenith turntable/8-track/cassette combo player rescued from my grandmother’s house in Wisconsin as we sorted through valuables and priceless non-valuables before the estate auction. I took a few of those records (leaving the crate of worn Roger Whitakers), a box full of 8-tracks and her guitar, a guitar that had always just been a piece of furniture. It wasn’t until after she died that I considered the significance of that guitar. Though other tchotchkes collected dust the guitar never did. Unfortunately these things often wait too long. Now that guitar sits, propped up against my own bookshelves and I still can’t help but wonder: What was her connection to music? And then, inevitably: What is my connection to music? (more…)

New

New

(originally published @ monkeybicycle.com)

a memoir by JAMES DAVID PATRICK

The date was ingrained in our heads. April 23rd, 1985. That was what they’d told us. We had to wait until the 25th – the day our truck made the delivery.

It was red and white and waxed up just for the occasion. When it turned into the driveway we abandoned our back-porch lookout, littered with empty Dr. Pepper cans and Cheetos, and ran outside to mount our pedaled steeds. (more…)

Back off, man. I’m in therapy.

I bought my ticket to see Ghostbusters on Tuesday for two reasons. A) I wanted to make absolutely certain that I had a ticket; and B) I wanted to make absolutely certain that I’d go.

I wanted to make sure that I’d go to something I absolutely wanted to do. It seems like such a strange phenomenon: to need to force oneself to do something necessary, no matter how frivolous. But in the “adult” world with families and jobs and other pressing demands for time, it is all too easy to let the necessary frivolities slide. Concerts, movies, events. The act of leaving the house at night to partake of something enjoyable often becomes a chore. It’s easy to get my daughter to sleep, throw myself on the bed and turn on the television. Something’s on. A hockey game. The World Series. If nothing else, there’s always Turner Classic Movies. All I need is to see Robert Osborne introduce some third tier Joan Crawford flick and I’m hooked.

It is easy to not make decisions and commitments. It comes so naturally to all of us. Our lives have become so… comfortable that we don’t need to exert any effort to remain perfectly placid.

Or so we think.

During my very first therapy session last winter, my therapist questioned what it is, if anything, I do for myself. What decisions do I make that purely benefit me? I had no answer. I wasn’t pretending to be the greatest husband and father in the universe, devoting all my waking hours to the care of my family. That wasn’t the point. I was plenty selfish of my time. But I participated in nothing. I floated from idle chore to idle writing time to idle video games. I’d stopped making active decisions.

So this week I made the active agreement with myself that I was going to see Ghostbusters on the big screen. I go balls out when I fucking cut footloose.

Background: I quote Ghostbusters at least once a day. It happens unconsciously, in paraphrase and directly. Cats and dogs living together… Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a God… Back off man, I’m a scientist… a couple of wavy lines… That’s right, this man has no Dick… Tell ‘em about the Twinkie… and so on and so forth. I hold three movies sacred. The Empire Strikes Back, Casablanca and Ghostbusters. There are a dozen or so demi-sacred movies. I’m just saying, there are tiers worship. …four feet above the covers! So I’m saying I’ve seen Ghostbusters a few times, including four times in the theater when I was only six years old and still had to hide my eyes every time the Librarian Ghost goes “RAWR!” That was your plan? Get her!?

I got to the theater early-ish to make sure I could get my seat. Left side of the theater, mid-distance from the screen, two to three seats into the row. By the time the movie started, only the front section of seats remained a viable choice for parties of more than two. The seats were filled with people wearing Ghostbusters tees and hoodies. After all, if you’d even botheed to figure out when and where the revivals were playing you were clearly a fan. There was no real publicity, just social media buzz from the Ghostbusters Facebook page driving these screenings on each of the three Thursdays before Halloween.

The theater darkened. The Columbia woman filled the screen, the grainy film stock usurping the screen from the digital perfection of the ads and trailers beforehand. I sat with my bag of slightly buttered popcorn and Cherry Coke, more self-medications, a permanent smile of my face, laughing with the crowd at the same jokes I repeated daily…. shocked to notice anything new. (There’s a Stay Puft ad painted on the brick building next to the Ghostbusters’ office… it’s no wonder Ray couldn’t help himself.) This is catharsis. Laughing in unison with the crowd even before the gag. This is why we make an effort to do something frivolous. This is therapy. Take the time to do what you love. Return to a moment in your childhood when you had nothing to do but enjoy being six (even if you didn’t know what that meant at the time). Even if it’s watching the same movie, listening to the same CD or reading the same book. These frivolous activities have meaning as long as we make the choice and the effort to participate.