Movie Romance: What I’ve Learned About Love From Films

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Movie Romance — Lessons I Have Learned About Love from Films


So, you get to a point in life where you think, hey, I’ve been dating awhile and I just keep dating awful people who are bad for me, I wonder why? Then you start thinking about your favorite movies from childhood and the messages you’ve internalized!  It’s amazing what a little emotional distance can do!

Starting with:

Beauty and the Beast- a beautiful village girl enters a monster’s castle to plead with him to release her father, and submits to her own incarceration, putting up with his temper tantrums and violence as he tries to force his way into her room, and then busts up his own furniture to SHOW her how ANGRY he is.  She eventually falls victim to Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with her captor.   Once she proves her love is true, he is revealed to be a prince!  This teaches us that if you have patience and love a bad person enough, he will become a good person. This could also be why women still feel hopeful about corresponding with online dating profiles with no pictures.  Perhaps he’s a prince or a celebrity!  If he doesn’t have a picture up, the truth is that he’s either married, ugly, or both.  What are some lessons we can take from this?

  1.  Don’t trust people who wear too much velvet.
  2. Don’t date guys who have kidnapped any member of your family. No, not even a cousin.
  3. Rich doesn’t mean nice. Some might argue that it never does.

Grease- Two young attractive people meet over Summer break, fall in love, and then when they get back to school they’re worried that if they date, their friends won’t think they’re cool anymore because she is a “soc” and he is a “greaser”.  They spend the WHOLE SCHOOL YEAR pining for each other, and at the end they put on different outfits in order to meet the expectations of the other person, and then they appear to die, as they get into a convertible and their car drives into the clouds.  Lessons:

  1. Date who you want.  It doesn’t matter if your friends don’t like their jacket.
  2. You don’t have to change to be loved.
  3. Don’t have unprotected sex with Kenickie, or anyone really.

Breakfast Club- Some really weird pairings here.  Athletic, motivated Emilio Estevez falls for emotional basketcase Ally Sheedy because she wears her Holly Hobby underwear on the outside and ties a sock in her hair.  She’s a compulsive thief and liar and he has daddy issues, and the greatest thing they have in common is their twin suicidal ideation.  Molly Ringwald’s character falls in love with Judd Nelson’s even though during the eight hours they’ve known each other, it’s clear that he’s an addict, he’s a pre-abuser (he’s been abused, he reacts with violence), he sexually assaults her under a library desk, and he’s a compulsive cheater (showing her photographs of women he doesn’t think are worth being faithful to).   At the end of the movie, Anthony Michael Hall is not partnered with anyone because he is a clean-cut nerd with the best prospects for college and a good life.  Lessons:

  1. Don’t reward negging! Judd spends the whole movie either calling Molly a slut or shaming her for having rich parents or telling her she’s a jerk for putting her lipstick on without using her hands, and she just can’t keep from attacking him in a broom closet.
  1. If someone can’t get through an eight hour detention without getting high, maybe don’t date them. That’s someone who’s gonna drink the rubbing alcohol in your parent’s bathroom to get through Thanksgiving.

Some Kind Of Wonderful- In this film, Eric Stoltz plans a dream date for a woman he has barely spoken to and only loves for her appearance, and when at the end of the date, she turns down his gift of extremely expensive earrings, he feels that she is being a real a-hole.  In retrospect, if a man with whom you had exchanged few words offered you a gift he bought with his college fund, you’d also wonder what he thought he was giving to, or getting, from you.  It’s a super weird gift.

  1. If a guy has a best friend who’s a girl and they hang out all the time, that girl is already probably in love with him, even if she dresses like a demolition derby driver.
  2. If someone plans an elaborate first date to try to win your love, and isn’t happy just to meet and talk over coffee, it’s probably a desperate attempt to paper over their own insecurities and trap you into something!

Pretty Woman- ok, it’s a cute retelling of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, in which a street prostitute becomes a trophy wife, which is the same thing but in longer pants.  She gets an emotionally distant workaholic with no family ties, and becomes a kept woman- that’ll be fun in marriage counseling!  “Hey, I think our power dynamic is screwed up.” “Why is that, I wonder?”

  1. When a man buys a woman, it’s like buying a car- he’ll trade her in eventually.

Just remember that romantic movies are a fun fantasy, but many of the relationships depicted in them are a real nightmare!

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Lyft in Love!

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Busy weekend on Lyft! Last night’s lessons:
-stop driving at three or you’ll wind up in
Compton at 5:30 AM
– exotic dancers will sometimes rob you in your sleep in Thousand Oaks and scale a gate to get in my Lyft and complain about not being able to smoke in my car

Lyft Adventure Part 1:In Love in Lyft

I picked up a cute, fairly drunk guy at 2AM in downtown Pasadena, and he was texting someone while he gave me an address. We picked up a cute, fairly drunk girl and the magic began.

Guy: Let’s go to (name of bar)
Me: Uh, I think they’re closed, it’s 2am.
Guy: I think it’s open?
Girl: I just think I’m a…real easy going person.
Guy: I know, I know. I try to live in the moment.
Girl: You just..have to.
Me: Guys, this bar is closed.
Guy: (to me) oh! Let’s go to (restaurant.) Have you ever had a conversation this amazing happen in your cab before?
Me: (dryly) A Tinder date? Sure.
Guy: Noooo we met at a club.
Girl: You just came up to me and asked me to dance, and I couldn’t turn you down!
Me: OK, I’m sorry to say this restaurant is also closed.
Girl: I don’t even need to eat. I’m good.
Guy: OK, we’ll just go to In n Out and get a shake.
Girl: It’s like, you just…you took down all my roadblocks.
Guy: I know, I know. You told me.
Girl: All my defenses, just gone.
We get to In n Out. It is also closed.
Girl: OK, I guess…take me back to my place?
Me: OK.
Guy: Naw, we can get out here.
Girl: Oh…OK?
Guy: My house is right over there. We can hang for a little while and get another car later.
Me: OK, here we are then.
Guy: Isn’t she just so cute?
Me: Yup. Here we are!
Girl: I just can’t believe how strong we vibe on each other.
(Moments pass. They’re just sitting in my car talking)
Me: You guys…can you go fall in love in someone else’s Lyft?
(I find this hilarious. Nobody thinks it’s as funny as I do.)

Remember, kids: Love is embarrassing but it’s ok if you’re both doing it, it’s like wearing white pants or doing the hokey pokey- but nobody thinks it’s as great as you do. Please be safe and use rideshare when you’ve been drinking and you want to pick up your after-bars-close date. Also, get the fuck out of my car.

Lyft Adventure Part 2: at 2:30 AM I picked up another call in downtown Pasadena. I waited at the address for a few minutes and saw no one, and a bar was emptying out across the street so I cruised it to see if my fare was there. After another minute, he walked across from the first spot, waving at me and pointing at his phone and making an angry “you’re an IDIOT” face about having to cross the street and I just thought “fuck this”, cancelled his ride and peeled out. He was a big douchey bro with black ink sleeves and a backwards baseball hat. I did not want to drive him to Azusa. Felt so good.

Tokyo and the Death of Sexy: From LOVE.TV

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To the outside world, Japan is known for being sexy and even a little kinky. The women of Japan are considered some of the world’s most beautiful, and it’s the home of crazy Harajuku street fashion, host bars, and Hentai anime pornography. However, 25% of Japanese men are still virgins at 30, so many that a new word has emerged for them- yaramiso, which means “30 years old and haven’t done it”, because if there’s anything the Japanese believe in, it’s being on the nose with slang. Even men with prior sexual experience aren’t having much sex- 50% of Japanese men who’ve had sex before haven’t had it in a year or more. Women’s numbers aren’t far behind.

This has deep repercussions throughout society, with the population dropping by 1 million people since 2008 and raising concerns about society’s ability to support their aging population.

What seems stranger to us might be that for the most part, polls report that many Japanese people don’t want to have more sex- 1 in 5 men cite extreme dislike for sex, and 46% of Japanese women 16-24 want no sexual contact at all.

It’s worth pointing out that Japan also has the third-highest suicide rate in the world, with 100 people taking their lives each day.

So- what’s killing the Japanese sex drive?

1. Money.

Reports are that in the money-flush 80’s and early 90’s, there was plenty of dating and premarital sex, but the economy took a sharp downturn in 1995 and that changed. How does that affect getting it on? When young people can’t afford to live on their own, sharing a small apartment with your parents can really put a damper on your dating life. In Tokyo, most teens don’t even have cars to make out in! Chew on that, America! This means that courting couples must visit love hotels, hourly hotels of varying levels of cleanliness and quality, just to have somewhere to be alone.

2. Social Shame.

Men whose careers don’t produce enough money to raise a family are shamed and emasculated, even as being single is normalized in Tokyo, with single-serving meals and single tables at restaurants everywhere. The Japanese also have a cultural fear of failure, and would sometimes prefer not to try to pursue relationships for fear that they won’t work out or they’ll be rejected.

3. Work.

Driven by financial fears, the Japanese are working harder than ever, with 22% of people putting in more than 50 hours a week, and 200 people per year dying of karōshi, or overwork: dying of strokes or heart attacks on the train to work, or on the job.
Married people get home too tired to have sex with their partners, and with personal time at a premium, many single people prefer not to, in their perception, “waste” time on relationships with others when they could be working on their hobbies or pursuing other interests.

4. Replacement.

Some of the quirky inventions of Japan designed as substitutes for human contact could be contributing to the problem: virtual girlfriend games, pillows with women printed on them, sex dolls, and pornography- all options where one’s sexual and emotional needs are met on your own schedule, and leaving you free to work or study or pursue other interests, and without having to open yourself up to rejection or pain. Some men have married their pillows and dolls, saying goodbye to human relationships forever.

What can we in the West learn from our brothers and sisters of Nippon, and how can we do better?

Americans are getting married later (27 for women, up from 21 in 1964) but losing our virginity around 17, on average, and we aren’t worried about having sex before marriage. We’re having lots of sex, even if we’re not always having lots of relationships, with over 50% of New York single year after year. Japan’s overworked, solitary citizens make our phone-spawned hookups seem warm, old-fashioned and romantic by comparison.

My advice on not turning Japanese, I really think so:

Stay connected. Stay empathetic. Keep up with friendships, with family, with current and ex-lovers.  Use technology to get and stay connected- but not to replace connections with people.  What is life for, but for connecting and communicating and sharing with other human beings? We may be embroiled in a divisive election year, we may have social problems, but please- let’s not start marrying pillows.

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James and Julian: A Writing Exercise

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5 minute writing exercise based on a tweet from Julian McCullough to James Urbaniak:

@julezmac- @jamesurbaniak hey James your creep radar is terrible I’ve been staring at you for 10 minutes at gate 51A
(view is of James Urbaniak wandering through his kitchen in a bathrobe, as seen through a slit in a wall panel)

Hey James

Hey  James

Can you see me

I can see you  

Can you feel my eyes on you

Are you ignoring me

How dare you ignore me

(muffled noise)


No Radiohead songs are about romance, do you ever notice, James?  They’re about failed romance.

Maybe that’s why Thom can’t keep anything together.  What would a happy Thom Yorke sound like?  I’ll bet he’s never happy.  Just manic.

Sometimes failed romance is the best kind, though- it protects you from disappointment.  Never had a start to begin with, just a doomed thing.  I’m keeping my last unexpressed crush safe in a Mason jar.  It can’t breathe but it’s safe and it’ll never get old.

James.  Psst.  James.  You got earbuds in man?  Earbuds in your own house, nobody’s got a record player so nobody bothers having a stereo. We never listen to each other.  You’re staring right at me but you can’t see me.  You’re listening to a podcast where famous people talk about when they weren’t famous yet, making everyone listening feel like being famous is inevitable.  Famous people used to not be famous, I’m not famous but one day I will be.  That’s the progression.  That’s the way it goes.
James.  You’ve gotta get better than this, man.  You’ve gotta get better than this.


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The audition call asked for 50’s style glamour queens who would be mean to their worshipful boyfriends, and specified plus-sized. This is my jam. I frequently get calls for big booty ladies. Totally fine.  I would love to be a big booty dominatrix in a video.

The director (of the music video) is half of a popular absurdist Adult Swim comedy duo whose name rhymes with Merrick Chairheim, and I thought it would be pretty cool to work for him.

They asked actresses to be prepared to audition in lingerie, which is again, fine.

I went to the waiting room and waited with five other bodacious ladies, most bigger than me, one smaller but very pinup looking in her overall look.

One girl goes in and comes out and reports to the group, uh, they want you to bend over and they film your butt. So we all kind of process that, and another girl leaves. I stay because I’m more curious than ever. I’ve seen Merrick’s video for Pon the Floor and it’s very funny/surreal but it has a lot of butts in it.

One lady leaves halfway through her audition. I said, what is it? And she said, I couldn’t do that, man.  She walks out before I find out what she couldn’t do.  Is it the same thing that Meatloaf couldn’t do?

So it’s my turn, I’m in a room with four dudes and they say, we want to show you the concept art so we don’t waste each other’s time, and they show me paintings by Namio Harukawa of large women sitting on dude’s faces, and they ask, hey, are you cool with this? And I said, am I cool with making porn? And they said, no, it’s not porn. And I said, well, I’m ok with simulated sex, you know, acting, but what is simulated about this? And one guy says, well, there’ll be a dental dam in between you.


I ask, if I have sex with a condom, isn’t that sex? I need to have pants between me and a stranger’s face.

This whole conversation is dumb anyway, because the reason I wanted to be in this video with Famous Ironic Misogynist is so I could put it in my reel, and I don’t think a clip of me riding face is going to get me the acting work I want.

I see today that they’ve “extended casting” to get some more “adventurous ladies”, because they had a lot of fallout.  If anyone’s listening, I suggest you change the below to read “Park your naked keister on a dude’s face.”  There’s plenty of porn actresses that would be delighted to do it, for their day rate!  Don’t cheap out, cheap-os!  Hollywood!

Update: the video is out, it’s Dripping by Blonde Redhead, and it’s beautifully lit and shot- but it’s super NSFW.  I don’t dislike kink or this kind of art, I just resent that I was being sold it like it was an acting gig.