lost weekends found

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To all my people who know where your wallet is this morning, put your hands up!

All my people who woke up in their own beds, put your hands up!

All my people, who didn’t have to read their sent text messages to remember their weekends, throw your hands up!

I mean not to invoke every terrible, cornball hiphop 90’s song ever but if you are sober and accomplished those things over the weekend, bra-fucking-vo. I mean it. Staying present during this nightmare happening in slow-motion is some badass stuff. What a time to be über conscious! Like of all the eras I picked to not check out and live in my own chemically enhanced alternate reality, I chose this one. I’m just thrilled.

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Heavy sighing and bitchy remarks aside, I am actually glad that I’m sober right now. Incredibly so. Believe it or not, I’ve tried to drink my way through difficult times and I just wasn’t that fabulous at it. The problem is you eventually wake up (perhaps covered in puke or not knowing where your phone is. Throw your hands up!) and you are still you and the world is still the world that you were trying to obliterate. So here we are sober as fuck with a front row seat to the world’s crappiest real-time reality show. Pass the popcorn. popcorn-gifdream-of-jeanniebarbara-eden.gif

When people ask me, “How was your weekend?” I’m always a Debbie Downer as I usually work weekends. These best weekend ever weirdos are the same ones who are giving themselves aneurysms trying to have the best Halloween ever and the best New Year’s Eve ever. Exhausting. The best weekend ever for me involves a decent night’s sleep, tacos and plenty of pop culture. So yeah I fail miserably at that question. I should probably just have prerecorded messages like, “It was awesome! I went wind surfing!” that I can press play on and walk away when asked. Nevertheless, my weekend was great. All the boxes were checked including tacos plus bonus deep dish pizza with friends. In general, I’m winning at life (as long as I don’t read any current news or look at Facebook for extended periods of time.)

It has been on my mind recently that I do have it really good. I’m not rich by any means but I have a roof over my head and regular employment (things I didn’t always have, even in sobriety). My health is better than ever, despite being dealt a whack immune system and a delightfully Scandinavian set of mental health challenges. But mainly the big freaking gift here is I am not in a constant state of chaos like I was for so many years. And I’m not being alcoholic-dramatic when I say “many years”. My drinking, drug abuse and its subsequent fallout happened from about age 14 to the tender age of 36. That’s roughly two years longer than the run of Gunsmoke and just eight years less than The Simpsons, to put it in television terms. Therefore not living like a lunatic for several years at a row is  something that never stops being cool.

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Remembering entire weekends is something pretty special too. There are large chunks of time that are fuzzy at best for me. You don’t do as many drugs as I did to not lose whole portions of your life. Hello. That was sort of the  whole point. Mission accomplished! Now, knowing where I am, what I said to people and how I got home is my new normal. While I still have to apologize for being a jerk (All. The. Dammed. Time.) I,at the very least, remember being a jerk and can clean it up fairly quickly.

Last week, I recorded a new episode of Sloshed Cinema about the 1945 film The Lost Weekend with Ray Milland and Jane Wyman. The story centers around a man, who fresh out of rehab, relapses and falls into a weekend of alcoholic insanity. It’s a terrifying film that is trying to have an evolved conversation about alcoholism in 1945. Director Billy Wilder, whom I adore like most movie nerds, does a fantastic job of portraying the disease as a real nightmare. Yet what really resonated with me is the film’s ability to tap into the chaos and insane thinking. I had so many weekends (and weekdays for that matter) filled with alcoholic despair and downright insane actions that I just got sort of used to living in terror. My last few months drinking, I had a series of heart pounding anxiety attacks which really felt like the end of the world and the only thing that would make it go away was drinking more. This is exactly the horrific predicament that Ray Milland finds himself in the movie. He either drinks and stays miserable or he ends his life. It’s a chilling place that most of us wind up and the fact that a movie so old was talking about it is amazing. Films like The Lost Weekend and the conversations they have are precisely why I do my podcast. Movies have this ability to tap into things that maybe we haven’t ever talked about out loud (Moonlight is currently doing just that in theaters across the country). When I research these films, nine times out of ten, somebody on some message board posts, “Watching this made me realize I had a problem” which is incredible.

In addition to being a plug for my podcast, I do have an actual point in post this. No, it’s not just the Jeannie eating popcorn gif. It’s that I need reminders that things are actually good today. I need to remember that I’ve come a long way and that no amount of racist, baffling headlines refutes the miracle that I am sober. I need to stay grateful, no matter what. So all my other grateful people out there, throw your damn hands up.

 

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beauty’s where you find it: the search for inspiration in uninspired times

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Here’s a puzzle for a cold and gray Friday: where the hell does inspiration come from? I call it a puzzle because at first glance, 2016 isn’t exactly a hotbed of inspiring moments and benchmark artistic achievements. When a reality star is our new president-elect and the most talked about musical performance of the year came from Corey Feldman, you wouldn’t be totally wrong for calling modern culture a trash heap of uninspired garbage. Still, as a creative person and a writer, inspiration is vital and my mission of seeking it out is never-ending.

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Modigliani. That’s always a good place for me to start. In specific, this particular Modigliani shown here which currently lives at the Norton Simon in Pasadena(my favorite Los Angeles museum and highly underrated in my expert museum trolling opinion.) This forlorn pregnant woman was Modigliani’s wife whom he painted a zillion times.  I remember staring at this photo back in 2010 with this guy I was dating (who later became my husband) and reading the little description printed next to it. It told the story of this woman, Jeanne Hébuterne, and how she jumped out a window killing herself and her unborn child the day after Modigliani died. I remember tearing up looking at this stunning woman and her pregnant belly. A painting nearly 100 years old absolutely devastated me with its profound beauty and tragic tale behind it. This moment in Pasadena with the guy I would marry has become my touchstone for inspiration. That creative people wield this type of power and potential to utterly rock the emotional core of those who come in contact with their work, suddenly hit me on that day. Sure, I’d been writing and making stuff my whole life, but my Modigliani moment cemented that the fight to stay inspired and keep pushing myself as a creative person was indeed a noble one.

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Next, the journey takes me to the present. Sure, finding inspiration among classic art is one thing but can it be found in current culture? My endless Twitter pop culture griping aside, I’m going to say yes. I am what you would call a mass consumer when it comes to pop culture. It’s a buffet and I load my plate up with whatever I can grab. Some of it is delicious. A lot of it isn’t great. But my theory is at least I’ve tried it. I’ve always been obsessed with “the new” which I’m sure at one point was born out of a desire to look cool in front of kids who I wanted to like me. Today, however, this obsession to see what’s next and what’s happening in the moment I think serves me pretty well as a creative person.

Honestly? I’ll watch, read or listen to anything that looks interesting. Like the other day, we took in a double feature in honor of my birthday. My perfect birthday at age 10 was going to the movies and eating cake. Funny how little has changed. We saw Moonlight (which I,like the rest of the world, loved) and we saw Arrival. The latter, a seemingly standard aliens and humans film was the one that really surprised me, however. The emotional content, the questions it asks about regret and the idea of being given the gift of language totally blew my brain open.  I found myself sobbing and feeling exhilarated when we left the theater. Another Modigliani moment but this time starring Amy Adams and a small popcorn. It caught me off guard and shattered my expectations, which is what most good art should do. Not to discount Moonlight at all, mind you. It’s a beautiful film which spurned a series of conversations over the next couple of days between me and Michael, another sign of good art. With a ton of writing to get done over the following days, this temporary escape to CinemaLand gave me much-needed fuel.

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Usually this quest takes me back to the here and now. The things around me: plants, animals, murals, art, weird neighbors, eavesdropped conversations, moments of tenderness amongst strangers –all of it gets shoved in the inspiration file. I can’t exactly get tickets in advance for this kind of stuff so the trick is to keep my eyes open and be alert. It does help that I’m an avid walker  and more often than not just stroll into these kinds of situations. Locations like the aforementioned museums or bookstores and libraries are more prone to be gateways to inspiration too.

Social media and the internet at large can be a never-ending fountain of inspiration too.  But it’s a double-edged sword as I’ve found just as much stuff online to depress the shit out of me as I have to inspire me. Thankfully, my online tribe is filled with some badass creative types. I recently turned over the question, “What’s currently inspiring you?” to these folks and the answers I got were, well inspiring. Everything from Little Women and Riot Girl LPs to animals and children to links to videos to discussions on how feelings like anger or depression might be the best sources of creativity of all. In crowdsourcing this question, I tapped into another source of inspiration: other artists and writers trudging through the work just like I am. These people I know and the million I don’t know are on the same quest as me and there’s something comforting about that.

This means I’m not alone and that I should keep going. I should keep watching, keep reading and keep saying yes.  Because in the words of Working Girl,“I read a lot of things. You never know where the big ideas could come from.”

But now it’s your turn: Are you one of those creative types who bubbles over all day long with inspiration always at your fingertips? Does inspiration soak in slowly through a steady stream of exposure to films, art, music and books? Or do you look back into the past or maybe even stay there until you’ve found what you’re looking for? Tell me about in the comments section and feel free to include videos, links and photos.

everybody’s a little bit Liza

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Maybe it’s because we’re both adult children of alcoholics of the elite ninja level. Maybe it’s just a rite of passage for every gay man transitioning out of youth and into uh, shall we say, more mature years. Maybe it has something to do with he fact that her whole life seems to be covered in rhinestones and glitter. Whatever it is, the older I get the more I love Liza Minnelli. As I watched this week’s Sloshed Cinema film, Arthur from 1981, I found myself waiting for her to pop back up on-screen. Sure, some of that had to do with the film’s now downright offensive screen portrayal of an alcoholic and craving an escape from Dudley Moore’s buffoonish performance but mostly it had to do with her sheer Liza-ness. It’s the throwaway sassy girlfriend role so frequently found in 1980’s comedies to be sure. Minnelli, at this stage of her career already a Broadway legend and an Oscar winner probably just needed the paycheck .Yet it doesn’t matter because within seconds of appearing in the film, in that red cowboy hat and yellow raincoat, we’re smitten with her just like Arthur is. There’s just something about her that crackles on every level regardless of how underwritten the role is. Granted, razzamatazz was something she was probably born with. I mean she can’t help it. Even sitting at a piano singing on a talk show in the 1970’s, she’s dialed up to an 11. And gloriously so.

Being the daughter of Judy Garland sparkly showbiz just runs through her veins. Yet there’s always been more to her too. A sadness. A desperation. A loneliness and usually along with those things comes addiction and self-destruction. Liza’s battles with drug use are well chronicled (probably another reason why I’m drawn to her). According to lore, her dependency on Valium kicked into a high gear when her mom died in 1969. There’s even a legendary Warhol diary entry where he writes Liza arrived at Halston’s apartment in 1978 and declared, “Give me every drug you got.” My kind of girl.

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photo by Warhol, dress by Halston, drama by Liza

By the mid-80’s when I was massively consuming pop culture and not drugs (not yet anyway) Liza was doing guest spots, tours and lesser film roles (Rent-a-Cop with Burt Reynolds anyone?). Like any good addict, she’d been in rehab a few times and had a few terrible, short-lived marriages. Thus she wasn’t really on my radar. In this time frame obsessing about Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Boy George were full-time jobs, leaving little room for a Broadway star from yesteryear. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles in the 1990’s was I quickly educated by older wiser gay men that Liza is a genius and must be revered as such. I watched Cabaret for the first time in adulthood and had my mind blown open.

I was also sat down in front of her classic Bob Fosse directed television special Liza with a Z. 

I was even turned on to her Results record, a guilty pleasure of the highest order that she recorded with the Pet Shop Boys in 1989.

Later career Liza wasn’t always the prettiest. Like this call-your-sponsor worthy performance from the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary performance from 2001.

But time and Liza Minnelli both march on. Last year, she was in rehab once again for painkillers (she was pill popping way before we called it opioid addiction, y’all) and like clockwork the minute she got out, she was spotted singing at clubs and on stages. Back and forth from legend to camp to trainwreck and back again, the woman is human teflon. And this might be her real appeal to me.

In my old home group, we had woman who, god love her, could not stay sober. She would get 4 months and relapse. She’d get 6 months and relapse. She’d pick up 30 days and go back out. After a long disappearance, I heard this gal is now sober and recently celebrated 2 years. I wanted to burst into applause when a friend told me this. What can I say? I love a good comeback story, including my own. Humans,especially addicts and alcoholics, can crawl back from some pretty gnarly times. Given her heritage and where she comes from, its remarkable Liza has been able to survive. Turning 70 last spring, she’s already outlasted mama Judy Garland by 23 years. She’s changed a tragic family legacy, even with stumbles off the wagon and bumps in the road. This is miraculous not just for Hollywood royalty but for anybody.The fact that we can change inevitable tragic endings and changed doomed old behaviors is truly magic.

So maybe I love Liza for just the razzle dazzle. Maybe a fucking great film like Cabaret is enough to cement a person’s superstar status. But maybe it’s more. Maybe all of our collective comebacks and failures are actually helping other people too. Maybe we keep just trying and that alone is enough.

Listen to my thoughts on Liza, Dudley Moore & Arthur on an all-new Sloshed Cinema! 

Bukowski, Booze & ‘Barfly’

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Insanity. There’s a word you hear a lot when you first try to get sober. Personally, I sort of took offense to it. I mean other people who drank everyday were crazy.  But me? I had seen worse. In fact, I know now that I purposely stacked the deck with folks crazier than myself to appear less messy,more normal. The thinking was classic bait and switch. If people noticed what trainwrecks I was with, my own trainwreckness would go unnoticed. Suffice to say, people noticed. People without serious drinking problems are rarely met with phrases like, “Thank god you got sober!’ or “You seemed pretty miserable.” Much of my insanity, as it turns out, was not actually knowing how insane I was. And therein lies the very thing I love about poet and certifiable drunken hot mess Charles Bukowski.

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I started reading more of the man’s work in preparation for a Sloshed Cinema episode about Barfly. The 1987 film starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway was written by Bukowski and is,my mind, the very definition of alcoholic insanity.At one point, right after they’ve met, Dunaway and Rourke’s characters illegally hop over a fence to steal corn growing in a random downtown Los Angeles lot. The batshit initial idea to the sloppy execution to the police chase back to Dunaway’s apartment personifies the kind of bad behavior we indulge in when we’re wasted. Bukowski, who said the script was inspired by his own life, embraces the day-to-day craziness. His script makes zero attempt at redemption for these characters and in fact at times literally spits in the face of the very idea. Grimy, disgusting, loopy and oddly charming, the world of Barfly doesn’t give a crap if we the viewer likes it or judges it. There are itsy, bitsy glimmers throughout the film that maybe Henry and Wanda might have a chance of getting their shit together but in our hearts we know that won’t happen. Mainly, because Henry, Wanda and the other seedy sleazeballs that hang around in downtown LA shitholes are pretty freaking happy to wallow where they are. It’s a fascinating stance for a film to take too. Movies about drunks, of which I’m kind of becoming an expert, usually have to either make the drunk get better or get his comeuppance. Hollywood draws a very clear line in the sand, especially in classic films. Be horrible all you want but eventually you’ll pay a price. So having Henry and Co. gleefully march towards their drunken, destitute destiny with a “Who gives a crap” attitude is nothing short of revolutionary. Bukowski’s barfly status in real-life certainly helps with the authenticity of the film. He explains, here in a classic interview with Roger Ebert:

“The movie is called ‘Barfly,’ and it’s about me, because that’s what I was, a bar fly,” Bukowski explained. “You ran errands for sadists and let the bartender beat you up, because you were the bar clown. You filled people’s days with your presence, and maybe you’d get a few free drinks now and then.”

We were hunched down with our elbows on the padded edge of the bar, talking quietly, like conspirators. Linda, Bukowski’s wife, was taking down mental notes of everything.

“The way I became a bar fly,” he said, “was, I didn’t like what I saw in the 9 to 5. I didn’t want to become an ordinary working person, paying off the mortgage, looking at TV, terrified. The bar was a hiding place, to get out of the mainstream.”

“Did you decide to become a bar fly, or did you just look up one day and see a bar fly in the mirror?” I asked him.

“I can’t answer,” he said. “It was kind of a subconscious decision. Meanwhile, I was a writer on the side, selling short stories to dirty magazines. I gave up the writing after awhile and concentrated on the drinking. I refused to accept the living death of acquiescence.”

While Bukowski never officially got sober and eventually died of leukemia, the man’s legacy as the “laureate of American lowlife” is firmly cemented and we are lucky it was captured on film. In addition to Barfly, Bukowski’s alcoholic exploits played out on the big screen in 2005’s Factotum with Matt Dillon playing a version of the poet this time around. Bukowski’s own insanity works well on camera in both films and is the very thing he built his brand on. And while it definitely makes for fantastic film discussion, I can’t help feel a little grateful that I’m no longer crazy myself.

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from ‘are you drinking’ by Charles Bukowski

 

Sobriety Stereotypes ‘Smashed’

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Ye old timey idea of what alcoholics and addicts look like can certainly be reinforced in the world of film. The white guy with the great career and beautiful wife who drinks it all away has become a trope of sorts, wheeled out by every actor from Ray Milland to Jack Lemmon to Michael Keaton and beyond.Short of beat up porkpie hat, a jug of wine and a mangy dog,  we know this sadsack drunken character the second we see him. However, in the hands of talented storytellers, films about drunks and addicts can be incredibly relatable, compelling and even entertaining. Which thank god because if they weren’t it would make doing my podcast, Sloshed Cinema excruciating. The amazing thing is that I’ve been exposed to a wealth of movies about addiction and alcoholism. Some terrific, some not so terrific and some just fucking weird. My mission for season 2 (currently available on Soundcloud & iTunes!) was a simple one: think outside of the box. Sure, there’s the classics that everybody knows and talks about. They’re classics for a reason. I’ve even done shows on some of them. But I really wanted to have different films or maybe forgotten movies that immediately didn’t pop into your mind. I also wanted to challenge myself and watch things I hadn’t seen before. Smashed,episode two’s film, topped that list for sure. It seemed, on an intuitive level, like the kind of thing I’d enjoy even though I didn’t really know much about it. Well, score one for intuition because I was right.

The film, a Sundance hit back in 2012, Smashed tells the story of Kate and Charlie Hannah (played with excellence by MAry Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul). They seem fun, hip, cool, like the kind of couple you’d want to hang with and have a few beers with. They’re two twentysomething LA kids. He’s kind of an unemployed maybe musician with wealthy parents and she’s a teacher in an elementary school. Nice as they may seem, we pretty much know right away that these two like to drink. A lot. When super-hungover Kate barfs in front of her class early in the film, you get the picture that maybe her current lifestyle isn’t exactly a healthy one. This vomiting sets in motion a big time lie to her boss as well as a series of comedic but sad misunderstandings. Oh and like it usually does, Kate’s drinking gets worse. Capped off by a crack smoking caper in downtown Los Angeles, some Lochte-style urinating on a liquor store floor and messy drunk sex Kate decides to sober. Here’s where the central conflict of the film shows up: can you get sober when your spouse is still drinking? It’s an interesting question and one not unlike the dilemma we see Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon go through way back in 1962. Yet what makes Smashed compelling is that it has something those other drunk films don’t have. Kate.

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Not only is Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance as Kate unforgettable but so is the character. I read that the one of the writers of the film, Susan Burke wrote the movie on her own experiences of getting sober as a young woman and felt like her story hadn’t really been told. This intention is one of the things that makes Smashed feel important. This wasn’t some old white guy. It was a nice girl whose life keeps getting fucked up and she just wants it to stop. Her life is messy. Her relationships,outside of the ones she forages in recovery, are disastrous. Kate and her struggles are real, especially to anyone who’s been in early recovery. I found myself nodding my head and relating to Kate even though I’m a forty-something gay man.

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And that right there is why and how addicts share their stories is so freaking cool. “What it was like, what happened and what it’s like now” is the basic framework of how we drunks and addicts tell our stories. But everything else in between? All of the juicy details and personal flares? Those are as varied as the faces you see in the halls of recovery or online. Peruse one of the many thousands of sobriety blogs and you’ll see people from all walks of life going through what you’re going through. It’s true certain types of sobriety writers online trend big time, therefore certain voices seem to be louder. Right now, the voice of recovery online is distinctly female and that’s cool considering we didn’t even talk about women being alcoholics until the 1950’s. Plus, a deeper Google dig reveals that really all types of people trying to stay clean, one day at a time. Films like Smashed are important because they’re reflecting our expanding idea of what sober people look like. Ditto with the growing voices of recovery online. True, there’s still work to be done (yeah just try finding movies about people of color getting sober–it ain’t easy!) and bullshit we need to stop all together (enough with the bashing/justification of how others choose to get sober!). The point is film and art is starting to reflect what we’ve sensed all along: people trying to get sober look just like everybody else.

 

Choose Life: 20 Years of Trainspotting & Its Epic Soundtrack

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Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?
And so starts the funniest, most gruesome and heart pounding cinematic heroin adventure of all time, Trainspotting.

Released in the United States 20 years ago today, I watched Trainspotting earlier this summer for an upcoming episode of Sloshed Cinema. At two decades old, the film still has a lot of guts and the signature take-no-prisoners style of 90’s independent filmmaking so sadly missing from movies of today. There are stylistic choices and plotting that read a tad dated in 2016 but make no mistake about it: Trainspotting captures the delusion of drug addiction while putting it on the run in crime caper-style movie which cements it as a classic. One of the things Trainspotting does so well that is definitely so 90’s is have an incredible soundtrack.  So incredible is the Trainspotting soundtrack that it even it came on two CDs. Films like Romeo and Juliet, Stealing Beauty, Pulp Fiction, Singles, Reality Bites, Empire Records, Great Expectations all had these mind-blowing, very of the moment soundtracks that were often better than the movies themselves. And Trainspotting has the perfect soundtrack for the decade and for a film hell-bent on taking the audience on a terrifying hilarious ride.

From the opening montage to the closing credits and in dialogue throughout the movie, Iggy Pop and his iconic song are now synonymous with Trainspotting. It played in the trailers. The characters talk about seeing him concert. Pop himself is one of the more famous junkies on Earth. And “Lust for Life”, although it was released some 20 years earlier, perfectly sets up the tempo and action for everything Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie will do for the next 90 minutes.

New Order was a massive part of my growing up gay, terminally unique and addicted so it fits in the Trainspotting world like a glove. An underrated track stateside, “Temptation” has killer songwriting which captures the isolation and independence of the film’s lead Renton. “Temptation” is so spot on for Trainspotting that the character Diana even quotes it in a really trippy sequence. Another song called “Temptation”, by Heaven 17 also shows up in the film.

There are final hits and then there are final hits, Renton informs us. So fittingly, electronic duo Leftfield came up with a track for the film entitled “Final Hit” which illustrates the style of music dominating the times while helping to tell the film’s heroincentric story.

So much of the music of Trainspotting works overtime to create the mood of the movie. This song by Blur does that nicely, with its pounding piano and haunting vocals.  The same goes for the songs by Lou Reed, Elastica, Fun Boy Three and the below song from Primal Scream.

By the time, you get to the end of Trainspotting you’re nearly out of breath. Director Danny Boyle did such a bang up job of catapulting us from heists to overdoses back to heists again that by the time we reach the last scene, featuring this excellent Underworld track, we feel like we’ve just stepped off a thrill ride. As an electronic music listener and drug doer myself(albeit not heroin, thank goddess) this song still gives me goosebumps. My 43-year-old self sat on the edge of my couch while it played right before the final credits rolled. That’s sign of a film that held up well and a soundtrack really kicking ass. While putting this together, there were so many songs that were post-worthy but I found myself out of breath, once again. Did I miss your favorite? Post it in the comments section below. And choose Sloshed Cinema for your next podcast listen and of course, choose life.

cruel summer/best summer ever

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Right up there with griping about the earth being round and politics being terrible is complaining about seasons. I mean, honestly. There’s no surprises here. Winter’s always cold. Fall’s always slightly melancholy while spring might be a little too optimistic. And summer? Well, summer is the Beyoncé of seasons. Everybody tells you to love summer. Everybody else has a great relationship with summer. Everybody posts how magical summer is. Everybody is having the best summer of their lives. Everybody but me. Much like the aforementioned songstress, I don’t get summer’s appeal. I hate sweating. The movies, for the most part, are crap. I’m usually working and therefore cannot embark on a life changing summer odyssey. And I have no interest in participating in anything that would constitute in best summer ever behavior. Except for eating ice cream. But if we collectively decided that spring was the time when we’d eat more ice cream, I’d be okay with that.

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I will own my immoveable and snotty behavior when it comes to summer. Like many aging (gasp) hipsters, I still cling to the “everyone loves it therefore I must hate it” philosophy. Childish yet true. Seeing as this particular summer has been incredibly sad, violent and, for a lack of a more poetic phrase, fucked up, I’m left with a stronger distaste than ever for the season. Yet a crazy thing has happened: I might be really having the best summer ever. Now they don’t usually put crying, writing and self-realization on posters for the best summer ever but as I’ve mentioned, there’s been a little bit of that going on. Okay. A fuck ton of that going on. Emotions, like current temperatures, are running high. If there’s something to feel, I am feeling it.Don’t have time to feel something? Fear not! I will feel that shit for you.  Like the shite blockbuster in 3D that you spent too much money to sit thru, my emotions are loud, pounding and in my face. My emotions, as directed by Michael Bay. Somehow, I’m keeping it together. I’m getting out of bed. I’m calling people back. I’m going to meetings. I’m trying to find ways to be helpful instead of self-involved jerkface. Despite my gloomy inclinations, I’m even having fun.1970s-mens-underwear-ads-6

Not that ^ kind of fun but fun nonetheless. “Fun” I should mention is also a concept I find overrated.  I know. What am I the devil? I hate both summer and fun. Yeesh. Maybe not so much overrated but subjective. Like lots of things I think are fun (reading and drinking coffee on my patio) are not other people’s idea of fun. Likewise things like sports, mountain climbing, shooting guns at targets are not my idea of fun. I love that we tell people, “Have fun!” like it’s some kind of order. Have fun or else! Have fun or spend your life like Sylvia Plath. These are your only options. (Sidebar: what was Sylvia Plath’s idea of fun?)

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But yes. I am having fun. Outdoor concerts, train trips to the mountains, strolling around arts festivals, having friends over for game night and, yes, lots of ice cream excursions. And I have naturally found plenty of pop culture to obsess about. The Great British Baking Show isn’t just a reality baking show on PBS but a TV program I actually want to live inside of. (I could yammer for 6,000 words about the show but Linda Jones of NPR totally nails it. ) I’ve gobbled up a weird James Franco movie and the snappiest Sinatra movie about heroin for Sloshed Cinema. I finally watched Trumbo and shuddered at the realization of how paranoia and fear still exists today and enjoyed spending 2 hours with Bryan Cranston in a bathtub. What I’m getting at is even though I have summer issues(just like Seventeen magazine but more bitter) I am really enjoying myself.

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Two thoughts from minds with more perspective than my own will hopefully help me wrap up this seasonal blathering.

1.)I was given the advice during my first sober holiday season to “embrace it or get crushed by it” meaning I could lean into a season known just much for suicides as it was carolling or I could wallow in how fucked up my life still was. I chose the former. Maybe this summer I’m doing the same thing. which brings me to….

2.) The husband and I were talking about this thing called summer and he said something very profound. “Well, yeah you can absolutely have a great summer and make the most of it even if you don’t love it or if it’s hard.”

And that was it! Maybe I was making the best of hard times and maybe I was still heartbroken or sad. Who says I can’t be both? Nobody. So maybe your summer sucks too but you’re finding joy somewhere. Or maybe on paper everything looks good but you’re still mangled. Or maybe things are just hard and there doesn’t have to be a best summer ever. All of it is appropriate. Besides, no one’s getting graded on summer. No one’s failing or getting pulled over for doing summer wrong. The way I see it is if I’m living my life a little less horrible than the day before, I’m okay. My summer is okay. Fantastic even. But just for the sake of being festive, I’ll double down on the ice cream. You know. For summer’s sake.