Nicknames That I’ve Given My Cat, Simba (Updated)

Little man
Furry kitty cat
Snooky baby
Kitty baby
Turkey baby
Furry baby
Snurky baby
Baby butt
Young turk
Simby baby
Lil’ turkey



It’s like you’re strapped in on a ride that’s going entirely too fast. Your head pounds with each jerky motion. Your heart races with each soar and drop. Your stomach clenches at every sharp turn. And out of eyes squinting against the raging wind, you can only faintly make out what’s happening on the track ahead, but you can’t see where it ends… and you certainly can’t control how your body will react to it. It’s insane. The pounding, the racing, the clenching. You don’t have much time between events to feel anything but uncomfortable. Beneath the pounding, and racing, and clenching, you’re just nauseated and tired.

You get this idea that you’d like to get off the ride, even if just for a few minutes. Just to take a breather. But there’s no pit stop. You can’t even see where you got on the damned thing to begin with. What lies outside the track is a long fall through the windy abyss. Where that will leave you, you don’t know. But if you tell any of the other passengers that you’re thinking of getting off the ride, they’ll tighten your seat-belt, they’ll get upset and try to convince you that you have to stay on. And for what? It’s the most evil thing to do, to guilt someone into staying on the ride. It’s sinister, and yet no one seems to realize just how sinister it is.

They don’t know what comes after the fall, so they assume that staying on the track is right. They want you to stay on track so that they won’t be riding alone. They assume the track is right, and good, and true. They just assume it because they know of nothing else.

They just assume life, out of ignorance about death.

The Nearness Of You… Or Not.

So, it appears that Sir John Cusack will be attending C2E2 in Chicago on April 15th for a Q&A about his new film, The Raven, as well as a special signing for 100 fans. Well, well…

That being said, I too shall be in attendance. >_>

I have the opportunity to meet John, to stand before him with my face. But how does this happen? I just met Molly Ringwald last month, the female half of my ultimate 80s teen idol power couple. I was ridiculously nervous. I told myself after that that if I were to ever (by some weird, alternate universe happenstance) meet John, life would complete itself.

Well, now I could meet John in just a few weeks. But something is wrong. I want to go and hear him speak about the film, about his other upcoming projects and about what it’s like to be John, but at the same time I feel compelled to stay as far away from him as humanly possible. I’m really not certain that I want to meet him, and it’s not so much that I think I would be disappointed by either him, the brevity of the encounter, or both…it’s just that I would rather he not know that I exist. Things are perhaps better that way.

In fact, I will do everything in my power to avoid being one of those 100 fans who actually goes up to him to have something signed, no offense to him, of course. How could I possibly go through with it? While his more confident fans probably intend to meet him face-to-face and bop out of there with his John Hancock in tow, I’d prefer to keep my distance and not take souvenir from the event. If that unintuitive intention alone inadvertently lands me a spot as one of his creepier, more neurotic admirers, then so be it. At least he’ll never have to worry about me trespassing on his private property, or anything stupid like that. I am my own restraining order by virtue of self-preservation.

You see, if I were to actually meet him at this point, I would probably dissolve. I’m a fan of his work, and I’m not a coward. I just can’t deal with the prospect of meeting him right now. I don’t need that sort of schoolgirl anxiety at the moment. What I need is to stay far far away from him. Emotionally, I’m still 14-years old (i.e., one-third his age), I don’t understand things with such testosterone, I’m in the process of weaning myself off of anti-depressant (unbeknownst to my doctors), and I’m 2,000% liable to say something utterly ruh’tarded (Molly Ringwald encounter case-in-point). This entire fantasy that is temporarily keeping me aloft would be blown to shit, and I would fall out of the sky and onto my ass, and that would probably hurt to a certain degree.

Maybe years from now when I’m a bit more stable(?), and less prone to celebrity crushes, and less afraid of my impact (or lack of impact) on other people, and less afraid of the world at large… perhaps then I could legitimately meet him?


Oh, and then maybe there’s the fact that he’s a person just like anyone else, and I’m definitely over-thinking this…(*check*)

John Cusack: ‘I’m not a scenester. I’m out for a few months, then I disappear’

Thirty years after making his debut, John Cusack is still a Hollywood outsider. Now 45, the star of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven talks about mortality, his Brat Pack past – and why he wishes he could work a room.

John Cusack

John Cusack, photographed at the Dorchester Hotel, London, 29 February 2012. Photograph: Karen Robinson for the Observer

John Cusack is puffing on a fat cigar. It’s incongruous, seeing him dressed all in cool, casual black, sucking on a Cohiba, like a goth who has crashed a Hollywood mogul’s house party. “Yeah, maybe we shouldn’t mention the cigar,” he says. “I don’t want people to think I’m this movie cliche. I’m certainly not a mogul – in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.”

I don’t think there’s any danger of Cusack being mistaken for a movie mogul. But the cigar begins to feel somehow appropriate. The more he smokes it, the more at ease he becomes with it, until he owns that damn cigar and waggles it like a spare, stubby finger. And, it seems to me, that’s Cusack all over. He’s always been the outsider, the one who shouldn’t be there yet somehow owns his space and his career.

He’s been in more than 60 movies since 1983, from blockbusters such as Con Air and 2012 to genre-bending comedies Being John Malkovich and Grosse Pointe Blank as well as teen classics Sixteen Candles and Say Anything. He has worked with directors including Terrence Malick, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, John Sayles and Stephen Frears. But he was also in Serendipity and Must Love Dogs.

“I’m still here, desperately groping in the dark,” he says of his career. “Increasingly, I feel it’s about just trying to remain relevant enough to do good work. Sometimes I think I’m in control, but more and more I realise that it’s just a complete farce. It’s true, it used to be that if you did a big, big movie then you could leverage it and make some smaller, cooler ones, and I got away with that for a few years. But now, they just want you to put on tights – if you don’t put on the tights, they just want to get rid of you. And I’m not putting on the tights, so you know…”

Cusack is 45 years old but seems to have been around for ever, at least for someone of my generation. He’s here to talk about Edgar Allan Poe, the author he plays in the silly but entertaining The Raven, in which Poe turns sleuth to figure out why a serial killer is re-enacting the gruesome murders found in his own stories. It’s part Saw, part Sherlock Holmes, part ridiculous romp.

“I don’t mind you find the film funny,” smiles Cusack. “I guess it’s ultimately supposed to be a bit scary, but I admit I personally went for the wit and black humour I’ve always found in Poe. I don’t know if that’s what they wanted from me, but…”

Cusack likes to tail off. He’ll construct a whirling, circular sentence and then not really finish it, other than to punctuate with a cigar puff. “This Poe is both a figment of my imagination and a version of the icon with the black bow and moustache. I didn’t want to do a Halloween mask of Edgar Allan Poe, so I looked at a bunch of pictures and found he was always changing. I know he was admired by Joyce, Baudelaire, Dostoevsky, but I like to see him as the progenitor of Norman Mailer and Hunter Thompson and Capote.”

Cusack is always funny, in his own way. Even when he shouldn’t be, as when playing a lawyer or a lover. Critic Pauline Kael said he had “question marks in his eyes”, and that’s true of him on screen. His characters always look as if they’d rather be somewhere else but they shrug and deal with whatever situation they’re in and move on to something else. Unlike, say, Nicolas Cage characters, who only exist within the confines of their particular movie, I always think of Cusack’s creations walking out of the screen and carrying on their story elsewhere, as if exiting a portal. The end of the movie is not the end of that character.

He has often played men struggling with taking the next step. Just as Say Anything was one of the most thoughtful of the John Hughes-style 80s teen movies, Grosse Pointe Blank was by far the best of a spate of 90s high-school reunion films, with Cusack playing a hit man on the cusp of 30, returning to his alma mater. In High Fidelity, he embodied the emotionally stunted man approaching his 40s. “My characters often know it’s wrong but do it anyway,” he says.

I’m not so sure. I think they’re stuck in a mess of their own making but secretly enjoy the pain.

“Well, any time you do anything good, it’s man versus himself, right? That’s the art, the challenge. You’re always confronting mortality and what it means to be human – whether you’re 29 and dealing with 30, or you’re nearing 40, the existential crisis is never far away… Maybe I’m the go-to guy for that, which is cool. That’s where the juicy drama is. Sometimes, though, I just feel like doing Beckett – figuring out what are we doing on this rock, spinning around…”

He’s played writers and artists quite often, too. He’s been an idealistic playwright in Bullets Over Broadway, a puppeteer in Being John Malkovich, an art dealer in Max. “I had a run of getting those kind of roles. Call it karma, good fortune, whatever. I don’t know if I sought them out or they found me. Maybe the universe does want to bring you to certain places for certain reasons – in which case, I don’t know what’s going on right now because lately I’ve been doing stuff that has involved me going into the underworld, and I don’t know why. There was Poe, then I did The Paperboy with Nicole Kidman, and then a serial killer film called The Frozen Ground with Nic Cage.”

I notice that Cusack is reading Peter Ackroyd’s biography, Poe: A Life Cut Short, and he shows me the scribblings he’s made inside. “I’ve read Ackroyd on Dickens and on London, too,” he says. “I like how he isn’t always a slave to historical truth – at least I hope that’s the idea. It’s kind of what we do as actors and film-makers, inhabit a space between. It’s a psychic space, a state of spirit that is deeply part of the human condition and it’s a place Poe inhabited, a mix of high literature and pure pulp … it’s rather awe-inspiring.”

Cusack still looks young. His hairstyle has hardly changed in years and he looks like his characters on screen. He isn’t one for disguises and makeup. Maybe a pair of dark glasses, here, a goatee beard there, but nothing ever gets in the way of what his Say Anything co-star John Mahoney once called “his essential Cusackness”. But what will he do when he gets older, I ask, sounding like a financial adviser.

“Ha, well, that’s funny because, you know, there is no Hollywood any more – there’s just a bunch of banks,” he says. “Cinema is in a weird place. It’s just different streams of money coming in and different ways to distribute it.

“Hollywood is just a bunch of people going around in Learjets to other people asking them if they’ve got any money? Well, they might have if they didn’t spend it all on jets.”

I remind him that Woody Allen said showbusiness wasn’t just dog eat dog, it was worse – it was dog doesn’t return another dog’s phone calls. Our interview coincides with the news that Allen is in fact making a stage version of Bullets Over Broadway, the film in which Cusack did the “Woody role” of David Shayne, the idealistic writer passing off a gangster’s words as his own. “Talking of dogs not returning other dog’s calls, I haven’t heard anything from Woody about Bullets on stage, so there you go,” he grins.

However, I venture, that might be a blessing. These days he might be offered the Jim Broadbent part of Warner Purcell, the actor who’s a compulsive eater. “You know it may happen, my God,” and he looks slightly appalled. “I better start thinking about it, but I tend not to look back or forward really, which may be a mistake.”

Still, I ask him to rewind a little, if only because it throws a reflective light on many of us, too. American films such as Sixteen Candles, The Sure Thing and Say Anything were staples of my own, less glamorous British suburban youth. Cusack was always different from the rest of the Brat Pack and while their careers have had highs and lows, it’s as if he has always been playing versions of those 80s characters. He creates real people who last the distance.

“I was 16 years old,” he says of the 80s. “I don’t remember much. I got a couple of roles by being in the right place at the right time in that I was a teenage actor who had some chops and some training and there was a vogue for movies about kids. And then I parlayed that into a lead in a Rob Reiner movie [The Sure Thing] and suddenly I was doing leads.”

Director Stephen Frears cast him as Roy Dillon in 1990’s The Grifters, my favourite Cusack performance. “He was really relieved I hadn’t seen any of what he called his ‘teen films’,” recalls Frears. “But actually, it was clear to me he was just a very good actor. In truth, it was between him and Robert Downey as to who would get the part and I just had a feeling for John.”

Frears also remembers that, despite his obvious talent, Cusack was still very young. “He was good by about 5pm, so I shot all his scenes around then. Mornings, he was hopeless. John’s dad once told me it was a relief for their family because John had left for Hollywood aged 16 and had got to behave like a teenager in films instead of being moody all around the house.”

Cusack and Frears remained friends and it was the actor who called the director a decade later to persuade him to read a script he’d adapted from a British book, High Fidelity. “I’d read the Nick Hornby novel and thought there was no way it would make a film, especially as they now wanted to do it in Chicago,” says Frears. “But John had really worked out how to get into the book’s interior monologues and it was all rather brilliant. As soon as we began work, I realised how much he’d grown up in the 10 years since The Grifters and was able to take responsibility for that film.”

For Cusack, The Grifters took him away from teen idol status into something more serious, drawn as he was to the darker world of Jim Thompson’s novel. It took him out of the Hollywood glare. “But I was never a joiner,” he tells me. “I tried – I had people I admired and liked and wanted to hang with, but I ended up starting a theatre company and that took me back to Chicago… I guess I wasn’t a scenester in the end. Something must have worked out right as I’m still here – but I’m only a binge socialite. I’ll be out in the world for a couple of months, but then I disappear. If I look back and think about whether I’d have done anything different, I would try and be more networky as some people got very successful that way.”

It’s odd. To me, Cusack is a great success with some terrific films to his name, yet he’s never had an Oscar nomination – even his sister, the fine comic actress Joan, has had two. Cusack looks like he doesn’t care too much, on screen at least, yet one gets the feeling he thinks he could and should do more. Unlike, say, Robert Downey Jr, another fast-talking star who rose to fame in the 80s, Cusack hasn’t got a superhero or detective franchise to keep him going.

In a way, Poe could have been his Holmes, except The Raven rather precludes a sequel and “nevermore” is, after all, the titular poem’s famous refrain. “I’ve loved playing Poe and it’s a lot of fun,” he says. “We could do prequels if it all works out but I kind of like the darker, more absurdist stuff of his, stories like “The Imp of the Perverse”, and it’s simply not the stuff of big movies.”

If he weren’t so tall (6ft 3in), I say, imp of the perverse would be a good label for him. His eyes sparkle with delight. “Oh I like that,” he says. “I don’t know how perverse I am, but I can try.” And there’s just time for another suck on that cigar before it goes out.

The Raven is out now

The Observer, Saturday 17 March 2012

If I could just have him, that would be great and I would be eternally grateful to whomever is responsible, thanks.


It must be really bad for you. I just feel really upset and confused when I wake up from oversleeping, as though I’ve committed some crime.

I dream right up until the last minute, and the longer you stay in it, the more weird things become and the less involved you feel in the whole dreaming process. It’s like they are purposely trying to kick you out at that point.

I kind of yelled at my mom when she tried to check up on me just now. I felt weird and rejected by my own subconscious. It just put me in a very bad mood.

A Lesson from The Antique Mall

I spent most of my day yesterday at the two side-by-side antique malls on Big Bend. It had been a while since I had been in either mall, perhaps far too long if you ask me. I really enjoy spending time there. Not necessarily to buy anything (although there was quite a bit there that I wish I had the space for), but just to discover things and to think. I love the feeling of being surrounded by old objects, but it’s not just that they are old…

If I just wanted to be surrounded by old shit, I could sit in my own basement for a few hours. But the appeal of the antique mall is partly in the fact that these things were other people’s things. Not artifacts of my life or my parents’ lives, but other people’s lives. The previous experiences that you are exposed to there are so much more diverse. It’s a smorgasbord of different histories that you can step into just by picking up any object.

And on top of that, there’s something really compelling and fascinating about the fact that the objects, regardless of what period in time they were most relevant, are all cluttered together. All of these disparate vestiges of life are juxtaposed, grouped together like time-traveling families of objects in little retro-nautical cubes. Each unique object next to another unique object, created during a unique span of time, used by a unique individual, with a unique experience. It’s a specific part of the 1970s co-mingling with a specific part of the 1890s, co-mingling with the now. You can’t recreate that environment without those objects. You couldn’t even go back in time and recreate it. It’s irreproducible in that way anywhere else in the world. It’s supremely unique.

That being said, the antique mall successfully compresses time and space. It’s a hauntological playground. Furniture, records, weird kitschy bits and bobbles, children’s books, toys and instruction manuals, lamps and table china… domestic artifacts of previous ‘modern’ times. There’s so much to touch and consider and ponder of any one object… who created you? What person loved you back then? And in what ways did they love you? As an object, what was your experience of that time like? And as an object, what is your experience of the present?

I’m currently going through a rough time emotionally, and something I frequently think about is dying. I’m convinced that I will and should die prematurely, and I’m afraid of living a long life. It’s not that I’m just trying to end some current problem. I’m just wanting to save myself from future problems. I’m legitimately afraid of what’s waiting for me later in life. My anxiety has progressed from fearing small scenes ahead, to fearing the entire show. I’m afraid of continuing to produce the levels of anxiety that I’m experiencing now. What will happen to me when more is at stake?

I’m afraid of what I see in my parents… two chronically anxious (my father) and depressed (my mother) individuals, who have weathered the times, weathered decades of seemingly endless anxiety and depression. Yet knowing that they’ve done this, they have the nerve to urge me to carry on. My current emotional trajectory looks an awful lot like theirs, and this scares me. I see the possibilities of where I’m headed, and they scare me. I’m simply afraid of carrying on.

This is why I’m drawn to the antique mall. The objects found there can teach us a lot about the art of persistence. The objects found there have weathered the times, have weathered the ego-annihilating transition from relevance to utter irrelevance. The objects found there are the ultimate examples, the shining beacons of what it means to keep going. But unlike my parents, I can’t readily detect how they’re hurting inside. I know that inanimate objects can’t think or feel. I know that they can’t experience anxiety or feel afraid of what time has in store for them. Still, I suspect and believe that they do have their own experience of the times. They have their own awareness of being used, or abused and later disused and diffused off into an antique mall. These objects have gathered together to share their experiences with one another, to continue in unison through the present, and to represent to us what it means to still be here through it all.

Unlike living individuals, they don’t have the option of dying. They will just endure until someone takes mercy on them and destroys them completely. They just have to carry on forever and ever until they disintegrate. These objects are the real troopers, the most steadfast time travelers. I find them so inspiring, and if I weren’t so bent up right now, I would strive to be more like them. I would strive to feel nothing, but still be aware. I would strive to persist.

In conclusion, three things that I admire most about the antique mall:

1. The diversity of objects and object origins found there, exposes me to diverse times, places and experiences

2. The juxtaposition of these objects creates unique temporal environments, irreproducible anywhere else

3. Artifacts remind me that persistence is possible, and integrity can be maintained


John was on Friday’s episode of the Graham Norton Show with Goldie Hawn and some British comedian Marcus Brigstocke…The whole thing is just hilarious. Goldie Hawn would be great to spend a day with (I mean, her face does some of the best things)… The whole thing, just watch it (except for the intro part…which is kind weird, but there’s Graham Norton for ya):

And why is it that both Goldie and John look really shiny? Are they just sweating under the lights on the set? Is it all the plastic surgery? Or are they wearing some sorta weird makeup?? Someone in the comments asks: Are all Americans made of plastic?

It would seem a good question after watching this, wouldn’t it?

Reading Reading.

In the current chapter of Understanding Media that I’m in, “Reversal of the Overheated Medium,” Marshall says something like the following:

The endless reversals or break boundaries passed in the interplay of the structures of bureaucracy and enterprise include the point at which individuals began to be held responsible and accountable for their “private actions.” That was the moment of the collapse of tribal collective authority. Centuries later, when further explosion and expansion had exhausted the powers of private action, corporate enterprise invented the idea of Public Debt, making the individual privately accountable for group action.”

In this whole chapter, he goes on about how society can experience role reversals thanks in part to technological break boundaries. So I’m gonna go ahead and assume that right now, since we are in a period of increasing implosion (technologically speaking), there is soon to be another role reversal, one in which groups of individuals (or rather corporate groups who like to masquerade as “individuals” by demanding the rights of an individual) will become responsible and accountable for their “public actions.”

Ordinary World

I promised myself long ago that this blog would never become a song lyric blog, but I’ve been revisiting some of my Duran Duran favorites this week, and Ordinary World is really resonating with me again right now.

Came in from a rainy Thursday
On the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly

I turned on the lights, the TV
And the radio
Still I can’t escape the ghost of you

What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some are saying
Where is the life that I recognize?
Gone away

But I won’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Passion or coincidence
Once prompted you to say
“Pride will tear us both apart”
Well now pride’s gone out the window
Cross the rooftops
Run away
Left me in the vacuum of my heart

What is happening to me?
Crazy, some’d say
Where is my friend when I need you most?
Gone away

But I won’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Papers in the roadside
Tell of suffering and greed
Fear today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here besides the news
Of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrowed talk

And I don’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Every world
Is my world (I will learn to survive)
Any world
Is my world (I will learn to survive)
Any world
Is my world
Every world
Is my world

I apologize for the mood whiplash, but my all-time top favorite Duran Duran song is below. The video is a little odd, but don’t worry if you’re confused. We all tend to be sometimes.

Boo, I’m getting sick…:(

After almost a year of evading illness, I have finally succumb to a cold, or a sinus infection, or whatever the fuck this is.

I really just need to be at home with my John Cusack movies and my sock monkeys (one of which is aptly named “John CuSock Monkey”), but there’s too much to be done at work this week that I can’t afford to be sick.

Woe is me.

I Met A Molly

As anticipated, I met Molly Ringwald this past weekend at the 25th Annual Working Women’s Survival Show. She looks so great! She spoke for 50 minutes on her latest book, which covers everything from parenthood, to fashion, to loving your body and making time for yourself, to of course… what it was like being John Hughes’ teen angst poster girl in the 80s. She was pretty friendly, well-spoken and seemed like a sweetheart.

I look silly of course. But she’s so cute!

I did something remarkably silly though… after her talk when I went backstage with the radio station winner and on-air talent. When I walked up to her and introduced myself, I felt like I didn’t make enough eye contact with her. I think I was so nervous, I’m not really certain where I was looking, but I can’t remember what it was like to be face-to-face with her for some reason. I must have turned my eyes off. But my mouth was certainly still on. I just couldn’t control the word vomit. For any of you who have seen Pretty In Pink, you might remember the adorable scene in the high school hallway where Duckie says to Andie: “This is a really volcanic ensemble you’re wearing, it’s really marvelous!”…

I didn’t. No…yes, I did. I said it to her. >_< She had on this really cute outfit, with a cream and black top, black knee-high boots and a bright red skirt, and before I knew what was happening, “that is a truly volcanic ensemble” just spilled right out of my mouth. She chuckled though! I made Molly Ringwald chuckle. Life = complete-ish. 🙂

One other really awesome thing to note? I got to sit front and center during her talk (like literally a foot in front of her podium), and not long into her presentation, a petite man came and sat down right next to me. I tried not to look directly at him (because he was right next to me), but I thought he looked a little familiar…and then my suspicions were confirmed — I was sitting RIGHT NEXT to Molly Ringwald’s husband Panio the entire time!! Every once in a while when her PowerPoint slides weren’t working, she would look down at him and he would just seem confused. I felt all weird and tingly about it. I felt too embarrassed to snap any photos of her with her hubby sitting right next to me, so unfortunately I didn’t get any pics of her speaking. :/

Molly & Panio!

So what’s next? I’m going to obtain a copy of her book, Getting the Pretty Back.

I shall share with you my findings.