An Ode to Movies

What’s a Jew to do in December when Hanukkah was, like, so November?

Everybody knows the Jews created the cinema to give their people a home during the Christmas month more widely known as December. (In my own cosmological version of the Universe, the Jews were a little nebulous puff of stardust that popped amidst all that big banging out and said, Let’s film this sh*t.)

This totally works for me, as I’m Jewish and movies are my favorite thing. In truth, there’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting silently for approximately 90-120 minutes and being transported to another world. There’s a subtext to be inferred here: Jonathan, you like movies because you get to escape your life for approximately 90-120 minutes. But, dear reader (Hi, Mom!), I promise I’m not indulging in film as a symptom of depression. I don’t like movies because they distract me from real life. I like them because they illuminate the emotions of real life, particularly the really hard and complex and messy ones.

That Time Someone Sneezed and Workers Left a Factory

Though my aforementioned creation story is unlikely, I think it’s worth mentioning the real history of movies. We’ve come a long way since the carnival novelty that peep-show parlors offered in the late 1800s. From spectacles of the past to full-blown stories of the present day, we’ve changed. A lot.

The history of film in one paragraph. (With videos!) Let’s do this:

The world in the 1890s was full of new things: cities, steam engines, hot air balloons! Motion pictures became a way to capture and record this rapid change. Thomas Edison was one of the first dudes to realize that these moving pictures could attract a paying audience—in April of 1894, Record of a Sneeze premiered in New York.

The Lumiere Brothers then improved upon Edison and showed that logical, organized, minimalist events could reveal a story (e.g., Workers Leaving the Factory)

Editing soon learned the power of a cut (e.g., The Gay Shoe Clerk, Edwin S. Porter, 1903)…

…and then Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Buster Keaton, sound, movie studios, Hollywood, the Great Depression, Casablanca, film noir, TV, and Alfred Hitchcock happened. My film history class only covered origins through 1960, so we have to stop at Hitchcock because I don’t know what happened after that.

Kidding.

Meryl Streep and Beyoncé, the two finest actresses of recent decades, happened.

Sitting Is Boring?

My excitement always peaks when I hear one of my creative heroes talk about the allure of movies. Andrew Stanton, a fellow Pixarian, says movies are at their best when they infuse wonder. Martin Scorsese, who I’ve had the privilege of hearing speak a few times in New York, has a more technical answer:

 Light is at the beginning of cinema, of course. It’s fundamental—because cinema is created with light, and it’s still best seen projected in dark rooms, where it’s the only source of light. But light is also at the beginning of everything. Most creation myths start with darkness, and then the real beginning comes with light—which means the creation of forms. Which leads to distinguishing one thing from another, and ourselves from the rest of the world. Recognizing patterns, similarities, differences, naming things—interpreting the world. Metaphors—seeing one thing “in light of” something else. Becoming “enlightened.”

Charlie Kaufman says we like them because our brains are wired to turn emotional states into movies. And me (I have an IMDb page, just like my hero Charlie does!)…I think my attraction to movies is constantly evolving. As of late, I view movies as a mirror to the cycle of life. We’re born a blank slate, ready for experience to color us in. Similarly, when those lights in the theater go down, I take a deep breath, clear my mind, and mentally ready myself to be thrust into another realm—to learn a new world, really. Where are we? What’s the time period? Who are the characters? What are the rules of this world?

More important, there’s a deep and profound satisfaction for me in the knowledge that an ending is going to come—to know that I’m going to get a full story, realized from some subjective beginning to some kind of subjective ending. In that way, movies often take away the anxiety of real life in which the future is unknown and scary. Movies, for me, are sometimes more digestible than real life. I feel this way about all of fiction, really—movies, books, theater. They’re like snippets of life, safe and contained within the confines of the screen or page and stage on which they exist. And, for that, I love them all dearly.

A Year of Movies

In January 2013, I started keeping the ticket to every movie I see in theaters. Though I lost a few of them, my envelope is currently filled with 40 tickets. You know how I feel about recommendations, so I offer the following list as just that—a list of what I’ve seen recently and the impressions these films left upon me, starting with two older films that I just got around to seeing this year:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009 (dir. David Yates)

I haven’t seen this one since it was released in 2009. If you’ve watched all the preceding movies, you may be able to notice something that happens with the actors in this installment: they got good. They’ve all settled into their roles (thank Moses Emma Watson stopped delivering every line with her dramatic huffing and puffing), and it’s really, really pleasant to watch. Plus, the sexual tension makes me giggle.

Stories We Tell, 2012 (dir. Sarah Polley)

Sarah Polley’s documentary is unlike any documentary I’ve ever seen. It transcends its genre as it addresses, in short, the philosophy of truth. The subject is Diane, Polley’s late mother. She’s shown in old home movies; yet, as the story unfolds, the footage becomes questionable and you may just start to wonder what’s real and what isn’t.

Frozen, 2013 (dirs. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee)

“Let It Go.” It’s magic. And totally a LGBT anthem. Just download it on iTunes immediately, okay?

Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013 (dirs. Ethan and Joel Coen)

The latest from the Coen Brothers finds us in the winter of 1961 in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. To watch this movie is to essentially watch Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a struggling musician, as he tries to find a couch to sleep on over the course of one week. The tragedy is that he’s a good musician, but not a great one. What makes me happy: Carey Mulligan (who never smiles), the cat that deserves an Oscar nod for his/her performance, and a young Bob Dylan cameo.

American Hustle, 2013 (dir. David O. Russell)

This one is a story based on the Abscam affair, the criminal investigation of the 1970s in which the F.B.I. called on a swindler named Mel Weinberg to help ensnare public officials. The cast is full of strangers: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence (!!!), Jeremy Renner, and Robert DeNiro. It’s really a work of art. What makes me happy: every scene featuring an F.B.I. supervisor played by Louis C.K.

Nebraska, 2013 (dir. Alexander Payne) 

Payne (Sideways, The Descendents) likes his journey stories. His latest, shot in wide-screen black-and-white, follows old man Woody (Bruce Dern) and his son, David (Will Forte), from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. What makes me happy: the scene in which the men lounge around and watch football. It just feels so damn real.

Blue is the Warmest Color, 2013 (dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)

The NC-17 Palme d’Or winner from this year’s Cannes Festival. A 179-minute exploration of Adèle, a high school student learning what it means to love and to be loved. She dates guys until she meets Emma, a girl with blue hair who changes her life forever. What makes me happy: Adèle Exarchopoulos (Adèle) and Léa Seydoux (Emma) who act with their faces instead of their words, resulting in two of the most mesmerizing onscreen performances I’ve seen this year.

12 Years a Slave, 2013 (dir. Steve McQueen)

Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) is easily one of my favorite directors. His latest is said to be the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery. There’s a scene I’ll never forget in which Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a freeborn African-American kidnapped into slavery, hangs from a tree with a noose around his neck, supported by only one foot as it barely touches the muddy ground. Lupita Nyong’o plays Patsey in a performance I can’t describe with words. This movie didn’t make me happy, but it did leave me thinking about the thousands who never knew freedom.

Other 2013 notables: Blue Jasmine (for Cate Blanchett), Cutie and the Boxer, Spring Breakers (for James Franco), Don Jon (for Julianne Moore), Fruitvale Station, The Great Gatsby, About Time (for the lovely message about what it means to be a father and a son), The Way, Way Back, and Monsters University (for the DVD bonus features that I got to be in with my Pixar buddies!).

My first Hollywood movie premiere.

My first Hollywood movie premiere.

The End

So why tell stories? 12 Years a Slave offers an answer: because we can. The above films are film at its best. When I left the theater after watching each of these, the world seemed just a little bit heavier. In a good way.

Life for me, as it seems, has really become a series of moments that exist between whatever movies I happen to be seeing that week, month, or year. Movies have changed my life, and I hope that never changes.

I found this picture in a photo album at home in Maryland. The caption read, "Which way to Hollywood?"

I found this picture in a photo album at home in Maryland. The caption extending from the top of my white hoodie read, “Which way to Hollywood?”

(ON TOPIC) “The Listserve”

As of this afternoon, I have 100 separate email threads in my inbox from strangers all over the world, most recently an 18-year-old guy from Singapore who’s telling me how nervous he is to begin mandatory army service next year. One week ago, I wouldn’t have seen these virtual conversations coming.

Let’s journey back. About seven months ago, my brother told me about something called “The Listserve.” In short, those who sign up for The Listserve receive a daily email from someone around the world. The topics of these emails vary, as they reflect the journey of the individual who has been chosen by a lottery to share his or her story on that given day. As of today, there are 23,323 subscribers.

TheListserveWebsite_7.21.13

As an example, one of my favorite Listserve emails is from an English teacher in rural Vermont who chose to share wisdom she’s acquired from her students, ages ten to fourteen. Things like:

  • Always wear socks
  • Don’t eat yellow snow (and if you find something brown on the ground, it’s probably not chocolate)
  • Never try to ride a shopping cart down a hill
  • Don’t be mouthy to your parents
  • If you ever love two people, go with the second one because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen in love again

What’s interesting in reading these emails each day is most of them get me thinking about my own life and how I’d encapsulate it into 600 words for over 23,000 strangers to digest. My brother and I once talked about what would happen if we won the lottery. He said he knew exactly what he’d write. I said I had no idea what I’d write in spite of thinking about it every day.

Journey again with me into the recent past as I’m sitting on a beach in Tel Aviv at the end of an incredible 3-week Israel exploration. I vowed to put away my iPhone during my trip, so naturally I was checking my email on said beach when I received the email. The Email—capital “T,” capital “E.” My reaction was surely similar to those of other previous Listserve winners:

Oh crap. Oh crap…Oh crap!

While I didn’t have a computer to type up my response, I grabbed the journal my brother gave me before I left for my trip (Thank you, brother!) and started scribbling ideas, and by ideas I mean incoherent bullet points. My 48 hours was running out. Beyoncé’s “Halo” gracing my ear holes, I buckled down and typed the following on my iGadget:

Ten years ago I saw “Toy Story” and vowed to work at Pixar when I was older. Now two-and-a-half colleges and a dozen internships later, I work there.

Eleven years ago I stood as a bar mitzvah in front of my peers and family members, all smiley Cheshire cats, only to realize that I had no idea what religion really meant to me. Now over a decade later, I’m currently in Israel meeting four cousins I’ve never met because the only truly religious experiences I’ve had since my bar mitzvah have taken place at the four Beyoncé concerts I’ve attended.

Twelve years ago I realized I was gay, or at least different enough to feel defeated when a classmate called me a faggot while playing basketball in gym class. Now I’ve been out to everyone in my life for almost three years and am learning that writing helps me channel my earlier negative anxieties into something positive.

This is all to say that I’m learning about the power of knowing your history, of being able to continually connect your present experience with the past—the now with the then. This has manifested itself in my three-week trip to Israel, during which I cried at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, while walking on a recovered path from a concentration camp and sat with four Israeli soldiers who explained that conscription requires all Israeli citizens at the age of 18 (with a few exceptions) to enter the military. These soldiers—my youngest cousin included—are in their early twenties but feel to me to be a decade older. I listened quietly as they recounted stories of people like Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy who worked his way into Syria’s political hierarchy in the 1960s until he became the Chief Adviser to the Minister of Defense, which my new Israeli friends believe allowed Israel to find success during the Six Day War. The pride in their voices was palpable. I thought about how while young Israelis are protecting their tiny country, us young twentysomethings are often lost in conversations that are mere regurgitations of things hastily read on our iGadgets en route to a job or internship (read: to the pursuit of an ever-growing career). This makes me wish I would’ve done one less internship and instead explored my family tree to learn more about my great grandparents who moved to America from Warsaw, Poland a long, long time ago.

I feel lucky to have had this time to explore my family roots. Time, that is, to “fill the tanks.” Joss Whedon, the prolific director/writer/producer, uses this phrase, and I love it. He believes in time away from routine to take in a new book, movie, or play. Or, for me, conversations with family members who live 6,000 miles away. I’ve been re-reading Peter Pan on my trip and I love the idea of Mary Darling literally tidying her children’s minds, which are confused and circular and comprised of zig zag lines. I like being open to a certain cultural messiness and taking satisfaction in being confused or surprised or both.

I won’t close with any commands or calls to action, because I don’t know the context surrounding your respective journeys. I will, however, finish by saying that I still can’t figure out how to best close an email. Regards and Best feel slightly cold, Love is often too strong, and Cheers…well I’m just not cool enough to use Cheers.

I hope that this email will serve as the beginning of a larger conversation with some of you.

Beyoncé for life,
Jonathan Hurwitz
jonathanshurwitz@gmail.com
San Francisco, CA

P.S. If you’re lucky enough to have parents in your life, call them and say hello. Then call them one more time because they’ll surely want to talk to you more.

P.P.S. This is totally a command. Sorry I lied earlier.

I didn’t know exactly when it’d be sent out, but I quickly had an answer when my phone started buzzing the next night while watching “The Sound of Music” with my cousin. Rolfe was in the middle of telling Liesl that he’d take care of her, which means I was one happy Jew because pre-Nazi Rolfe is dreamy. In that moment, I learned of the most special part of The Listserve: the responses. While I don’t feel totally comfortable elaborating on them in great detail out of respect for the privacy of those who responded, I’ll say that I’ve heard from fellow gay Jews to a husband and wife who’ve been deciding whether to send their daughter to Hebrew school and who are now, because of my email, sending their daughter to Hebrew school.

The most profound things are inexpressible, so I’m afraid I’ve failed to relay what all these responses have meant to me. In any case, I look forward to continuing some of these conversations with some of my new virtual acquaintances. Will they last? I don’t think it matters. Like a portal, if only momentarily, I’ve been let into someone else’s existence. My virtual path has crossed their virtual paths, albeit briefly, and that’s pretty cool.

So…to Listserve, or not to Listserve? That’s the (21st century) question, really.

Thank you to the Listserve creators—Josh Begley, Yoonjo Choi, Greg Dorsainville, Zena Koo, and Alvin Chang—for making this experience possible. As Woody Allen might quip, you’re all beautiful people and a credit to the human race.

Beyoncé for life,
Jonathan

(ON TOPIC) Goodbye America, Hello…Somewhere Else

Part 2: My Cousin Who Travels the World (And Why She’s a Voice of a Generation)

When the subway rumbled from a world below, my knees buckled and I clutched my red-cushioned seat, the kind you’d expect to find in a movie theater. Behind me, two classmates discussed their favorite cafés in Paris. It was my first film class at NYU.

“That’s where Amelie lives!” I thought, keeping my mouth shut out of fear of revealing what I considered at the time to be an extreme naïveté.

You see, I used to think it was luck that allowed people to travel abroad; by those confines, then, I wasn’t very lucky. Now four years later, I believe it’s more a combination of choices and money.

This is Allyn. She's my cousin. Allyn likes to travel. A lot.

Meet Allyn. She’s my cousin! Allyn was born a gifted mathematician and is able to work short-term jobs that fund her travels all around the world. (“Swimming and math. Two things people pay crazy amounts to learn,” she says.)

Allyn got the travel bug after participating in Semester at Sea during college. She recently graduated and has been wandering the world ever since. Allyn has administered the treatment for schistosomiasis to 54 patients while volunteering at a free medical clinic in the Philippines, and she’s also been flown to a vacation island and put up in a five-star hotel by prominent Chinese businessmen.

In other words, Allyn’s life isn’t normal. She’s using her acknowledged advantages as a middle-class American to tackle the disadvantages of those in other countries. It’s ballsy. As someone who’s been eternally tied to the social clock and therefore crippled by the idea of leaving America with no plan, I respect her happy-go-lucky frame of mind. She left the country this year with a one-way ticket, while I hopped on a plane to California with a printed Google map of restaurants and bars in the neighborhood to which I was relocating from New York City. This makes sense given our respective life mottos:

Allyn

1. Don’t make plans.
2. Expectations reduce joy.
3. Travel is the only thing that makes you richer, so waste all your money on it.

Jonathan

1. Always make plans.
2. Always set expectations so you can work to exceed them.
3. Happiness is the only thing that makes you richer, so waste all your money on Beyoncé concert tickets.

It used to be hard for me to talk to my cousin while she was living abroad. I think it was my early NYU-self acting up. I didn’t like that I was jealous, but I couldn’t help it. I was in the middle of my ninth internship while she was frolicking on exotic islands with Chinese businessmen. But now I’m working at Pixar, and that’s pretty cool, too. My path makes sense for me, and her path makes sense for her.

But I digress.

To return to the original questions: Is our culture worse off than it was decades ago? And is travel the only way to fix it? I hope not. People are always going to long for a previous era. (Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” offers a telling example of our eternal fickleness. As Gil yearns for the 1920s, Adriana says, “I’m from the ’20s, and I’m telling you the golden age is la Belle Epoque.”) And how can you say we’re culturally worse off when, in reality, we’re only able to experience a sliver of culture throughout the entirety of our short lives? My friends at NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour discussed this topic recently. “You’re going to miss almost everything,” says Linda Holmes. Sure, traveling may open your world, but your acquired culture doesn’t necessarily make you better. And it shouldn’t induce a feeling of superiority over those who haven’t had the opportunity to travel. Allyn, for one, has been to dozens of countries but always comes back, evermore humbled and appreciative of what her home has given her.

It’d be remiss to ignore the obvious caveat to this conversation as I sit on my couch, MacBook Pro on lap while perusing Comcast OnDemand and NPR podcasts (#thingswhitepeopledo). I’m lucky to be able to ask these questions. We’re lucky. In addition to the inevitable limit on our cultural intake, there’s yet another fundamental human limitation that prevents us from maintaining a global perspective in every given moment. We can’t always think beyond our screens to notice how lucky we are. Sometimes I feel guilty and selfish when blogging about things like this. It’s so about…me. Blech. Every time I say “we” or “us,” I have no idea if this is actually the case for a whole generation of people. Of individuals, you know?

It’s comforting in moments like to these to think of people like my cousin helping patients abroad, or the people in a small town in Connecticut coming together amidst a disgusting tragedy that hit a little closer to home. Our culture hasn’t gone wrong, you see. There’s good stuff and there’s bad stuff both here and abroad, just as there used to be, and just like there always will be.

Before Allyn and I ended our most recent conversation online, she wrote, “Ugh I’m bored, idk what to do with myself.”

No she’s not. She just has a flurry of choices before her and has yet to make a decision. She’ll make a choice though, and then many, many more after that. And you will, too.

Carry on.

To infinity and beyond,

Jonathan

(ON TOPIC) Goodbye America, Hello…Somewhere Else

Part 1: Dear Generation Me…

Do people live in circles today? No. They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in the box of their bedroom because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where they live and get into a box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken up into lots of little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes home to their house boxes and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box! Does that sound like anyone you know?

-Eustace Conway

Dear Generation Me,

What’s the ethos of our age?

Christy Wampole says it’s irony, i.e., the hipster. I say it’s irony with a little bit of a technology-induced self-indulgence on the side—that I feel crippled by the ostensibly endless array of choices in front of me right now kinda feeling.

We, those anxious young twentysomethings, know that kinda feeling well.

You know us. In addition to Wampole’s article, The New York Times devoted a whole feature to us first globals who are increasingly seeking career opportunities abroad. Lena Dunham put them on primetime TV with HBO’s Girls. They’re also walking around in that thing called the real world—those recent college graduates, confused, innocently forlorn, and buried in student loans.

In my life, more and more people seem to be subsequently packing their bags for places like Spain and Thailand and China. Do I get a job, or travel the world, or both? is an increasingly normal question for us to ask ourselves and our bank accounts. I can understand the urge to travel, so my question isn’t, Why is everybody leaving? I think it’s more, What is everyone escaping from?

Party talk (read: half-drunken drivel) tells me it’s our culture. Someone I met recently at a holiday gathering launched into a speech about how he wished he was a part of Generation X, that post-WWII diverse generation united in a combat for change. “Music. Not that digitally manipulated CRAP coming from our iPhones,” he said. Grunge, hip hop, and rock with a political influence. While I appreciated his wild hand gestures, he lost me a bit because I’m not entirely sure you can be nostalgic for times of which you were never a part. (And what about the assassination of JFK and the Chernobyl disaster and Watergate, dude?! Gen X-ers may have had some great music, but I don’t think it totally defined the times.) Are times so bad that we’re being forced to long for a time we never knew, e.g. the hipster who raids the nearest thrift store to find a vintage tee from a bygone era?

But enough about them—let’s talk about us. (We love talking about us!) We’re a part of Generation Y. Or, more aptly name, Generation Me. We’re a more narcissistic generation, totally self-involved and lost in screens—TV, computer, iPhone. We text, and we blog, too, because we have lots of feelings and want to share them with the world! We’re irreligious and ironic. We also have more and more opportunities abroad at our disposal. I’ve seen friends and family leave the country as a walking outline, anxious to be colored in by some other culture somewhere else, and then return with feelings of confidence and reassurance. And sometimes superiority. This is the part of our story that I’m interested in.

Is culture failing us, and, if so, is travel the new Holy Grail to self-improvement?

Stay tuned. I’ll write back soon.

I swear I wear my Justin Bieber tee unironically (I think),

J-Hurtz

COMING UP–

Part 2: My Cousin Who Travels the World (And Why She’s a Voice of a Generation)

This is Allyn. She's my cousin. Allyn likes to travel. A lot.

This is Allyn. She’s my cousin, and she probably travels more than you do.

(SHORT NOTES) Last-Minute Strategies for Highly Effective New Year’s Resolutions

It’s time to turn over a new leaf.

This is something people say or Tweet right before they make a grandiose New Year’s resolution that they definitely, maybe won’t keep. I’m going to exercise every day for 30 minutes. Just stop it. Those high-flown New Year’s resolution things, and the mental burden induced by all the resolutions you haven’t kept over the years.

Here’s the thing about them. The changes resolutions require you to make involve a whole lot of commitment, and without instant results, most people are deterred from following through. “New Year’s resolutions are based on the fallacy that if only you can find sufficient motivation, you can achieve everything,” writes Oliver Burkeman in Newsweek. But motivation isn’t easy to maintain.

Pessimism is an ugly color on anyone. Let’s turn this sad, sinking ship around, yeah?

  1. Target the source. Resolutions usually stem from the feeling that something about you and/or the world is off kilter—unemployment, health care, self-image issues, Justin Bieber’s wardrobe! In any case, it’s easy to worry when there’s always somebody there to tell you that harm is near. (I was reading  “The Week” today and learned that sleeping in on the weekends can make you fat, breathing city air is bad for you, and breathing inside air is bad for you because exposure to carbon dioxide can make you dumber. Summary: We should all just hold our breath. Always.) So, put on your Perspective Helmet and zero in on the positives of the year. In 2012, for one, we’ve become increasingly gay-friendly! And drug-friendly, too! Breathe easy, you weed-smoking homosexuals.
  2. Step small. Don’t say you’re going to run 30 minutes every day. Instead, try running for five minutes and work your way up from there. Read the news for five minutes every morning. Go through your belongings and donate the excess to a local Goodwill shop. Trying being good people, ya dig?

K sorry for the preaching. Gotta get back to memorizing all the lyrics to the latest Bieber album. For now, I think I’ll just start with “Beauty and a Beat.”

It’s all about the baby steps, Baby.

Biebs 4 lyfe,

Jono

(SHORT NOTES) In Defense Of “Love Actually”

The Thanksgiving dishes have been put away, Christmas lights are out, and Grandma’s bulk order of vitamins has commenced.

It’s December, which only means one thing: It’s “Love Actually” time, and the excitement is palpable.

Let’s get something straight: “Love Actually” is a great movie and is more than just a guilty pleasure. (I hate when people say something is a guilty pleasure. There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Just pleasures, you know? As Ira Glass says, “Pedophilia is a pleasure a person should have guilt about. Not chocolate.”)

In my world, straight dudes many people shrug it off as chick porn a trivial holiday flick, but it’s really a solid storytelling gem. Look closely at each storyline and I think you’ll be surprised by the emotional complexity that separates them from their Hollywood rom com counterparts—an aging rock and roll legend finds a friend in his longtime manager, an English writer falls in love with his Portuguese housekeeper in spite of a crippling language barrier, a sister struggles to maintain stability as she cares for her mentally ill brother. And then there’s Karen and Harry:

Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. Together. Ohhh, let the pleasure of the talking pictures sink in.

Please don’t make a “Love Actually 2” and compromise the sanctity of the original,

Jonathan

(ON TOPIC) Meet My Roommate, Johnson!

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Robin Williams and Christopher Reeves.

Monica Geller and Rachel Green.

Mork and Mindy.

Lindsay Lohan and Raven-Symone!!!

Roommates. Those cohabiters you can’t get mad at for leaving the toilet roll empty because, in truth, they make your monthly rent affordable.

Or, in my case, a guy called Johnson. He talks during the day and at night!

I’m still finishing the final touches on it, but I wanted to give everyone a little sample of what’s to come in my new book The Book of Johnson: The Diary of a Sleep Talker: Part 1: Breaking Dawn.

Enjoy!

Chapter 1: Sleep Talk

Somniloquy, or sleep-talking, is a sleep disorder that refers to talking aloud while asleep. It occurs in approximately four percent of adults and involves a variety of sounds, ranging from extended speeches to short outbursts.

A few examples from Johnson lie below, all recorded between the hours of two and five A.M.:

  • No! I don’t want to go!
  • Shut up! I’m going to kill you!
  • Grrrsxxvcvns$%#!!!
  • Do Transformers…get life insurance…or auto insurance?

Chapter 2: Day Talk

These need no introduction. Let’s do this:

  • Mailman. Ha. That’s redundant.
  • Kewlbeanz!
  • This guy who cut my hair used to work at Pixar. He’s, like, “Buzzcut” Lightyear. Ha. Ha.
  • Perfect-a-roo-ni!
  • You’ve got to be kitten me.
  • I thought about that in my head before I said it.