Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A New Way to Waste Time!!

So. Have I mentioned I don't have air conditioning?

I actually came in to WORK today, despite being "off" for the next month because I needed to breathe air that has been conditioned to feel nothing like that which is striking down birds and the elderly OUTSIDE my building.

Regarding the book, the end is in sight. Revisions have been completed. Celebratory beer has been drunk. Next up? A final read-through, resubmission to my editor, and contemplation of book #2. Now if only it will cool off enough to allow me to regain access to the part of my brain that hot weather shuts down. You know, the part that writes sentences that don't suck.

Today I fielded a question from a fellow writer regarding whether or not she should submit her work to a particular literary agency. I went to their website, and goodness, all of the red flags popping up! It was like an exploding mailbox convention. Here's a line from one of their emails to an aspiring writer seeking representation, "explaining" why they don't share their client list: "Sometimes we think that there is a higher incidence of psychosis among writers than any other occupation."

Really? Wow! Gee, I'd be flattered to be represented by an agency that holds writers in such high esteem. I had to wash my hands four times after clicking around their site.

In other news, my best friend is in Norway, the crotch. Just kidding, Cindita--you know I love you. Also, I've been spending valuable writing time lately considering the top ten "essential" movies in each genre. Horror, comedy, drama, indy/cult, suspense, sci fi, documentary, etc. (Apparently, heat activates the part of my brain that likes to fart around and make useless lists.) Anyway, if you had to list the top ten comedies of all time, what would you pick? Comedy can be very relative; what's funny to you may not be funny to Bob Dole. In fact, he might find it offensive as hell. So take all of this with a grain silo of salt.

I'm still pondering my list, but my criteria includes a sense of timelessness: do people quote the movie extensively? Is it still funny decades after release? Is this a movie you should watch to participate in a cultural phenom, to experience a particular zeitgeist, to understand what the hell your nephew is talking about?

Here are a few I thought of: Best in Show, This is Spinal Tap, Caddyshack, Animal House, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Tootsie, The Life of Brian, A Christmas Story, Young Frankenstein, Office Space ... then you have your Annie Hall, Fargo, Garden State, and The Graduate types of films, but they could almost be categorized as that lovely hybrid of drama and comedy with the eyeroll-inducing name: "Dramadies." And then there are movies that have camp/over the top/kitsch value: Pee Wee's Big Adventure, The Jerk, Something about Mary, Orgazmo, Kingpin, Napolean Dynamite, The Big Lebowski, Airplane! and on and on. I haven't even begun to consider movies made prior to the sixties...I know, it's all so complex. So please, I implore you to share your list.

*Please note that listing Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit may melt the entire Internet.


  1. Gosh! You named some of amy all-time favorites, but what about '40's film noir? My favorite is: "Laura". Vincent Price, Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb and Dame Judith Anderson. If you haven't seen it...you must!

  2. I like your list, Jess, but I think "Blazing Saddles" is my favorite comedy ever.

    And my sons are at the age where they love it, too.

    Wow, I sounded like my parents for a second there.

    Congrats on the revisions.


  3. For me, the first 20 minutes or so of the Producers is very nearly perfect.

  4. You rattled off some pretty cool flix in your list, good stuff. And yes, good luck without A/C these days... I'm thinking a road trip 2C your friend in Norway might be just the ticket.


  5. How exciting that you're done with your revisions!! YAYYY!!

    That totally blows about the A/C, though.

  6. You named 7 of my ten:
    1. Spinal Tap
    2. Caddyshack
    3. Holy Grail
    4. Life of Brian
    5. Young Frankenstein
    6. The Jerk
    7. Airplane
    8. Blazing Saddles (me too!)
    9. Multiplicity
    10. Everything by Jerry Lewis in the 60's

  7. No AC?! Oh, Jess....I hope you find relief soon! You can come crash at my place - I'm only a plane ride away.

  8. I am sure without a/c my brain would melt!

    Love your list!

    Sounds like the book is almost set that must be an amazing feeling!

  9. Did you know that in Texas the courts have ruled that all prisons must be kept no more than 80 degrees? Over 80 is considered CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT.

    By the way, I will definately buy your novel when it comes out.

  10. I would have to include Waiting for Guffman, Old School and Monty Python's The Life of Brian in the comedy section. Drama is a bit harder as everyone has a different threshold for that stuff but I like Cool Hand Luke and I always have to watch Gone With The Wind when it's on.
    Best of luck on the final read through!

  11. Hmmm... You don't have air conditioning. I wonder how freaking hot it must be for your dog when it's so hot for you? Hmmm....

  12. Blazing Saddles MUST be included but here's some of mine that nobody mentioned: The Hudsucker Proxy, 9 to 5, Max Dugan Returns. Also, I personally think The Man with Two Brains is just as funny as The Jerk.

    Bravo recently did a "100 Funniest Movies" show and Animal House was #1, I know that Airplane was in the top 5.

    I'd love to see the rest of your genre lists! Could you add "gangster films" to the list though?

  13. Oh, oh, I forgot!!! Amazon Women on the Moon. All.Time.Classic. But, since it's really a collection of sketches, I suppose it doesn't REALLY count as a movie, but it IS a movie.

  14. Jess, you already know my list stinks, but at least I've seen half of those on your list.

    I'll be watching these comments closely. I have a movie-watching plan to put into action, and I'm still lining up suggestions.

    I'd be curious to learn more about those red flags you noted on that agency's web site. Not that I have a book (or even an idea) to pitch.

  15. i freakin LOVE Office Space! And no matter how many times I watch Liar Liar I LMAO too. And Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is a good stoner movie. :)

  16. Scary site re: agents. Counsel her to stay the hell away!

    Congrats on the book. I am so jealous I could rip your hair out. But I won't. I have already told my writing book about you and we are ready to rush out and purchase it as soon as we can!

    My brother keeps asking me to list my 3 movies I would take to a deserted island. Thanks for the help there. What about Sister Act the original. Kidding. Not that I didn't enjoy seeing Harvey and Whoopies as a couple.

  17. I can quote Some Kind of Wonderful verbatim and know most of That Thing You Do, but then again I've always specializied in the obscure.

    For a popular quoting movie I'd probably go with Anchorman or even Dirty Dancing since it's on so freakin much.

    Here by recommendation of Dawn at Tiny Voices!:)

  18. Great list. Is it bad that I quote Seinfeld episodes more than I quote any movie: "Not that there's anything wrong with that." And I use "spongeworthy" all the time in my teaching. No. air. conditioning. How have you not poked yourself in the eye, just to distract yourself from the heat?

  19. Another vote for Blazing Saddles here.

    What's wrong with SA:2? You got somethin' against Whoopie and Lauren? Huh? Punk.

  20. Raising Arizona is a huge part of my life- more so than I care to admit. I am with Teacher Lady in that I quote from Seinfeld on a daily basis. I LOVE Napoleon Dynamite. While on vacation, I kept telling my daughters that certain animals were "ligers", then would collapse in fit of giggles. I know, I'm a dork.

  21. Anonymous8:56 AM

    1. anything with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.
    2.Jumpin' Jack Flash. (Woopie shows some leg heh,heh)
    3.Blue Brothers
    4.History of the World part 2 (its good to be the King)

    5.Spaceballs (maybe)

    Add these to an already great list.

  22. The only one that comes to mind is "Elf." I could watch it again and again. Will Farrell will never again be that funny.

    Thanks for getting me thinking. We have air conditioning, Jess. C'mon down to Milwaukee! (Actually, it's cooled off now and I trust you're doing better.

  23. Don't get me started about air conditioning. Righteous list btw. :)

  24. Hmmm...
    1. Bringing Up Baby
    2. Waiting for Guffman
    3. Animal Crackers
    4. Old School
    5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    6. The Thin Man
    7. My Man Godfrey
    8. Fletch
    9. In the hybrid category: Hannah and Her Sisters
    10. In the stupid-stoner-movie category: Half Baked?

    This is hard!

  25. My mind can't remember the top five movies playing at the theater THIS week, let alone all-time favorites!

    And no A/C--IT HAS SUCKED HERE WEATHERWISE! At least it's coolin' down.

    Swish told me she emailed you to beg you to come to the Litfest with us (that's code--you know it's really a festival where we drink a ton of martinis and get totally lit up!)

  26. It's been a while since I visited and it's great to hear your book is almost done!! I can't wait to read it.

    Office Space is the movie I always laugh at. Cult classic!

  27. Lord, woman. You are funny. The Bob Dole line cracked me up.

    Here are mine:
    A Mighty Wind
    Raising Arizona
    So I Married An Axe Murderer
    Planes, Trains & Automobiles
    Chevy Chase's Vacation movies (esp. Christmas)

  28. Your brain is farting around. That's awesome.

    I like the Christopher Guest movies, but they're not guffaw-inducing so much as chuckle-ready. You know? Or maybe my tastes are just too crude/juvenile, because I totally dig American Pie and Scary Movie.

  29. Office Space is one of my all time favorites. But The Big Lebowski is THE favorite. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that movie. It's a hoot.

  30. Your list rocks, I have nothing to add (a rare occurence).

    But your comment about the lit agency? Omg, I couldn't let that one pass. Do they say anything about the psychosis of literary agents? Because let me tell ya about this one time...

    Congrats on the end being near. In a good one writer to another way; not a Rapture kind of way.

  31. Hey Jess - I'm writing this from my campgound at the Dells right now. Just thought I'd drop a line from WI and say HI!

  32. That's a great list. Since I am movie-deficient like Mothergoosemouse, I have nothing to add, but I've been secretly taking notes in the margin of my... um... laptop.

    Hope that it's cooled off for you! And major congrats on being almost done with the book. Can't wait to pick it up as soon as it's released!

  33. Hey Jess! I've had no computer for like, forever! Glad to hear revisions are done, and to beat the heat I suggest the one place every writer loves: THE LIBRARY! Otherwise, don't you guys have a public pool you could get nice & cool in? As for favorite comedy of all time, Oscar starring Sylvester Stallone. Bwahahaha. It's not the movie for everyone.

    Hope to see you soon!