The movie killed at the Toronto Festival. Oscar buzz has begun --- and the movie’s not even in the theaters. (Think: November 21.) You can read the novel while you wait. And get a glimpse why there’s such a fuss.
As HeadButler.com is politics-free, I can do no more than announce the publication of "Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power,” by my friend Craig Unger. His thesis: Rove now controls the Republican Party. His subject is not persuaded. Rove’s review: “An entertaining work of fiction.” Which is it? Start at Harper’s, where Unger answers six intriguing questions about the book. Then, perhaps, read the non-fiction book --- or novel. [To buy “Boss Rove” from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]
On VanityFair.com, the most visited page is a short piece about Joe Scarborough's possible candidacy for President in 2016. (Yes, you read that right.) Or is the photograph the reason for the traffic? On "Morning Joe," Mika sits, shoulders back, scowl forward --- a chilly, unattainable beauty. In the magazine? Look for yourself.
When you’re facing a big challenge, you can get some seriously bad advice. You’ll hear: “Fake it ‘till you make it.” Or: “Just imagine they’re all in their underwear.” If only it were so simple. Jane Marla Robbins, a veteran actress and teacher, knows better. Learning how to play the part of your best you is the equivalent of an effective workout at the gym --- you’ve got to use techniques tailored to your situation and goals. I’ve seen Jane Marla Robbins act, and I can testify she knows her stuff. And in “Acting Techniques for Everyday Life: Look and Feel Self-Confident in Difficult, Real-Life Situations,” she knows how to share it. With exercises, yes. But also with pointed stories. For example: When Marilyn Monroe was too stiff to sparkle in her first scene with Sir Laurence Olivier, her acting coach, Paula Strasberg, told her to use an acting technique called “Sense Memory.” That is: think of an old boyfriend. So Marilyn pretended Olivier was Frank Sinatra. (Strasberg had also told Marilyn to imagine she was drinking Coca Cola.) Preparing for “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Marlon Brando studied a gorilla. And more…. You can, with time, and money, work the kinks out of your self-esteem issues in therapy. If you’re in a rush, this book may be a better bet. [To buy the paperback from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle Edition, click here.]
Last-minute North Fork (Greenport) rental. Perfect getaway for writer or writing couple. Easy, understated elegance in seaport town. Recent construction with well-crafted historic charm. Large master bedroom upstairs with two full baths and two offices. Downstairs guest room and bath. Dream modern kitchen area and glass-surround dining room on beautiful garden. Cable TV, wi-fi, fitness equipment, ping-pong table, and geothermal cooling system. Bike to beach, walk to town, public transportation to NYC. $2,750 per week; $10,500 for August. Photos here. Write: Cornerman1@aol.com
The NCAA penalty is so big that we find ourselves thinking more about Penn State than the victims. Gretl Claggett looks beyond the spotlight to others who bear responsibility. She asks: What about Dottie Sandusky, Jerry's wife? Why don't enablers speak up?
In 1989, a close friend told a series of lies that almost took down my career. I’ve never confronted her. Recently, an event and the power of Brandi Carlile’s new CD re-opened the wound. And I thought, after all these years, I might tell this woman that I know what she did and that --- I like to think I’d mean this --- I forgive her. And then I thought: get a second opinion. And why not from you, the smartest people I sorta know?
A torrent of responses. I couldn’t thank you all personally --- there were that many. More than the number of e-mails, though, was the thought and caring that went into them. Thank you, all.
Many of you said I should contact this person. Some had very good reasons. Some were funny: “Drag her by her hair into a locked room and don't stop yelling till she's promised you a lifetime of servitude.” Most of you who favored communicating were, I think, led astray by my careless wording. I described this woman as “a close friend.” I should have said: a former close friend. Our worlds no longer intersect. She doesn’t read Head Butler. By her definition of success, the life I have is a failure. So, no, I have no interest in repairing the friendship and strolling into our sunset years together.
Interesting: None of the writers who encouraged me to contact this person shared a personal experience in which they’d successfully confronted someone who had wronged them.
In contrast, many of those who urged me to “let it be” wrote from experience. Let me share two:
“On a Saturday morning in 1987, I went to my law office to get some work done. I started down the hall to make coffee when someone stepped out of an office behind me and shot me twice in the back with a .45 caliber handgun. Both shots got me in the spine, and I've been in a wheelchair since. Seems like everybody in the world was offering advice as to how to live out my life. What I learned is that no one is smart enough to tell another how to live his life. By the first of the following year I was back trying cases in a wheelchair. Now retired. No frustrations, no anger or hostility. Enjoying life. Sitting more than I like, but get good parking.”
And then there was one from a woman whose husband worked in the World Trade Center. He died there. She was pregnant. She leaned into forgiveness. And it worked. I thought: If she can…..
Many of you smacked me upside the head. Sample: “You're giving someone who wronged you 20+ years ago a heck of a lot of power over you. You've done well, you're happy, you do what you want to do with people you want to be with. That should maybe be enough.”
There was no “best” response, but this, from my true friend Peter, is the one I most want to share:
There is really no Other who screws or betrays us --- or praises us, either. It’s a closed system. There is only you and your consciousness of the world, like a flame and its light. You’re nobody’s victim. And if we truly understand this, the question that arises is: Why did I let myself be wronged? What attracted me to that person and situation? And how do I feel whenever I remember it? Which I do over and over, year after year.
Let me put it more personally: a business partner once screwed me royally. And without excusing him for what he did, I see that I was secretly complicit in my own screwing. Or as they say, you can’t cheat an honest man.
The older I get, the more pointless and unproductive it seems to me to argue with reality, or to even find fault with it. Pythagoras said, “If the wind bloweth, adoreth the sound.” I could spend the rest of my life counting the billions of things that I think “should” or “should not” have happened. But whenever I do that --- create an alternate “should” reality and compare it to the real one --- I feel bad. And since I’m a closed system, the anger and resentment I direct at others always returns to me in the end. So give it up. It’s been too long. Forgive the person for whatever you think they did and move on.
And, Jesse, I’m writing this as much or more to myself as I am to you.
In the process of reading your notes and thinking hard about them, I got one more revelation: I’m just at the point in my novel when the man, who many will think is me, makes a mistake and is crushed. In other words, a mirror of this dilemma. So the answer to my problem --- the real answer --- is to put my head down and write. And spoil the child, care for my wife, serve you. I know my 1989 hurt will resurface. But other than work on compassion, I’m not going to do anything about it.
I reviewed Alice Bliss last year. It was full of stuff that drives me nuts, and yet I loved it. Now I’ve met its author, Laura Harrington, who, I discovered, is very much like her novel --- a great talent but not showy, accomplished but not the least bit arrogant. Indeed, it wasn’t until we were parting that she mentioned that ‘Alice Bliss’ is being adapted for the theater. And that she’s just starting a book tour. I was agog. For a paperback? For a book that wasn’t a mega-bestseller? Yes, and yes. This is an encouraging sign --- someone in publishing knows quality, and, better, is supporting it.
This 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath garden duplex with 2 parking spaces in West Hollywood is impeccable --- it was recently featured in Elle Decor.
Available June, July, possibly August. $3,000. If interested, write me.
I've just heard the single from "Bear Creek," Brandi Carlile's new CD. I think ....well, judge for yourself. (Okay, I'm cheating. I'm publishing the lyrics because I think they're that amazing. But I'm not sure I grasp the meaning. If you can deconstruct, feel free to write and school me.) The CD isn't out until June 5, but you can pre-order from Amazon here. And if you want/need to do your homework on Brandi, go here and here.
Hang on, just hang on for a minute.
I've got something to say.
I'm not asking you to move on or forget it,
But these are better days.
To be wrong all along and admit it is not amazing grace.
But to be loved like a song you remember
Even when you've changed.
Did I go on a tangent?
Did I lie through my teeth?
Did I cause you to stumble on your feet?
Did I bring shame on my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
Whatever you see, that wasn't me.
That wasn't me, that wasn't me.
When you're lost you will toss every lucky coin you'll ever trust,
And you will hide from your god like he ever turns his back on us.
Then you'll fall all the way to the bottom and land on your own knife,
And you'll learn who you are even if it doesn't take your life.
But I want you to know that you'll never be alone...I wanna believe.