Monday, March 07, 2016

Mixed Moods and Metaphors

I've struggled with mental health/illness since I was seventeen or so. That's when I first started taking Paxil or Zoloft I can't remember which one. One of those early 1990's antidepressants. Since then I've taken everything under the psychiatric sun and seen so many therapists and doctors over the years that I'd really have to sit down and rack my brain to the remember them all. Kind of like trying to write down all of the people you've had sex with. A daunting task that will only depress you.

It never goes away is the stupid awesome shitty part. You're on this poorly maintained Ferris Wheel for the rest of your life and you can not get off. There is no cure. As we have chipped away at the stigma of mental illness, depression, bipolar and a cornucopia of other disorders- I think we may have created a misconception that once you get treated or take your pills you're pretty much fixed. Yeah, no. The medications we have right now help a lot but they don't completely fix or cure. They just try to keep you up from the depths of depression where you are in self destructive suicide territory.

Like everyone- mentally ill or not, every single day is a fucking challenge. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say, with mental illness it makes it a tad harder. Not looking for sympathy. I mean, I'll take it if you have some just laying around that you're not using. My therapist mentioned to me that managing mental illness is like having a part time job. That was an eyeopener for me. I chalk that up to not becoming a global superstar which is what I dreamed of as a child. I work in accounting not because I have a passion for it. What I do have a passion for is making it out of bed and not crawling right back into it. I have a passion for keeping a full time job and not having a complete meltdown and sabotaging everything. I've done that countless times. Turns out it's not a great plan for you or anyone around you.

My passion, at least for now, is trying to keep my head barely above water- financially, in my relationship. Sometimes just little things are hard. Showering, wearing deodorant, washing my clothes, doing dishes, feeding the cats. And it's hard to see where depression ends and pure laziness starts. Either way, it pisses people off. I'm left to struggle with that conundrum on my own- Am I depressed or just lazy?  I don't think I'm inherently lazy. I think I just get tired of fighting the demons in my head. And I walk by the dirty dishes because I just can't even. 

Let me use the dirty dishes as a metaphor for the messes in my life. Sometimes, especially when I am on a manic upswing I can fucking clean the kitchen like Joan Crawford. I can literally do the dishes and mop the floor and make sure every speck of filth is off that that damn dirty floor in ten minutes. I can call student loan companies with a "Don't Fuck With Me Fellas!" attitude and scare the shit out of them until I get a reasonable repayment plan. I can call the cable company and get our rates reduced to nothing and free HBO for 6 months. I can create a seasonal decor scheme that will shut down Pinterest. 

But when I'm depressed, as I said, the dirty dishes will sit there and grow and grow until it's impossible, literally impossible to battle them. Sometimes, when I'm dragging myself home from work I repeat to myself that "All I really need to do is feed the cats, feed the cats, feed the cats..." Then I can get in my bed and stare at QVC. My drug of choice. QVC is so gentle, so mindless, and silly- A flameless candle. A Clarisonic face massager. A set of ugly matching dishes. I hate the jewlery shows though.

The bad part, the most frustrating part of this is to watch those around me try to figure out what the hell is wrong with me and me not being able to explain. I have spent twenty years researching on the internet about depression and mental health. Reading books, listening to audiobooks, watching youtube videos trying to understand myself. And I've learned a lot- but a lot of it this info amounts to talking in circles. Like one of my psychiatrist told me, "We don't know why or how these medications work but they seem to help. Sometimes it's like throwing pieces of spaghetti at a wall and seeing which one sticks."

And I'll get angry with myself and people in my life and the world for not understanding. The support, however, that I've received has been like winning the lottery. B and R back in the day picking me up from my parents house and forcing me to get out of my house and basically babysitting me at there apartment. H listening to me talk in circles and vent relentlessly. K making me laugh till I can't breathe. H being my patient Facebook messenger therapist on call and also making me laugh until I can't breathe. And my parents- being superhuman putting up with my shit.

I remember laying in bed when I was in the midst of a very dangerous depression. I was going to go back to my parents house. Something that I would try to do to help me- getting away. But, interestingly, you can't get away from depression. It's not geographically based. You can't see it on Google Maps. Going to my hometown was not going to make me feel better. 

So laying in bed with the radiator heat suffocating me and the window cracked to let in the breath stealing cold air in I layed in agony. A feeling I can not stand to this day. I thought E was over me, I really did. Understadably! Times were real rough. I can be a handful. He said, "Why don't you just come out to play Trivia at the pub." I don't know if he knows but that may have saved me. Because I thought everyone was over me. We went to the pub and I sat on a chair in a medicated drooling stupor and played trivia. Embarresed to be around people, but whatever. I was back in the world for a minute.

And that's how it works for me. I have to keep trying to keep keep trying trying. It is so hard if I can let myself whine. And it's not going to be fixed with a medication, or if I stop drinking Diet Coke, or if I start jogging. Sure if I quit soda and started jogging I may be physically healthier and therefore would feel better physically and blah blah I know. But the highs and lows won't go away. I'm fairly sure I'll be riding this Ferris Wheel my whole life. And sometimes it's fun. There will be pretty lights and laughing kids to make it happier, there might be a dirty but surprisingly sexy carny with 2 teeth to keep me distracted. Sometimes it will be sheer hell and make me nauseous and I'll consider but hold myself back from jumping off. But around around I'll go.

Here Carrie Fisher's brief thoughts on Mania and Depression from "Fresh Air with Terry Gross"

Monday, February 22, 2016

There is only ONE STAR on The Jeremy Show

How can I make my words electric, magnetic, crazy and sexy and cool? It's not like it was kids.  Too much stuff coming at us all the time. Too much information and pictures and GIFs and videos and memes. Everybody shut the fuck up! Everybody except me!

When I started this blog I was working in the box office of The Chicago Center for Performing Arts. The name makes it sound much more prestigious than it was. It was my first real job after moving to Chicago. I sat in a box office for eight hours a day with literally nothing to do but surf the internet, so I decided to start a blog. Publishing on the web back then was so exciting. It was like I unlocked a special door that pushed me on stage and I could write or say anything I wanted. And people read it! This was before Friendster, Myspace and Facebook. I felt like a star.

We are all stars now. We are all on our own little reality shows on Facebook. Documenting our every move. I don't have to tell you this. We all know about our own love hate relationships with social media. Our attention spans are tiny.  And if you've read this far I am surprised. I'm writing this and I've already checked out.

So much has happened since my days at the box office. I think I was hospitalized for depression twice or once, I can't remember. I've worked as an artificial Christmas tree salesperson, a wallpaper librarian, a recruiter for Redbox customer service agents. I was writing in this blog when the Iraq war started, when the financial collapse occured, when everyone started shooting each other.

So what do I do now? Start a podcast? Start doing porn? Take some improv classes? Start making my own small films? How do I fill the void? Deep down there is a screaming child in a sequin vest and tap shoes that needs to put on a show. He will not be happy until he has an audience.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Jeremy Show Interview: Rob Christopher's Pause of the Clock

I sometimes think when I am laying in bed, covered in Cheetos dust and watching Netflix that I consume so much art, media, music, and film but the amount that I give back is very small. I take some pictures, write a little, etc. Wouldn't it be great if we created  or contributed just a small portion of the amount of art we consumed? That's what I thought about when I gave what I could to my friend Rob Christopher's Kickstarter fund to finish his film "Pause of the Clock." At the time of this writing he has raised $9524. He needs $5476.  In nine days all that money that was pledged, will be flushed down the internet toilet if he doesn't raise it all.

His film was made twenty years ago- preserved in amber since the 1990's. I think if you look at the trailer, you'll be teleported back to 1995 and want to see more. 

I command you to pledge $5476 or $5 here

First, the most important question- What’s your favorite memory of me?
That summer afternoon we were hanging out on my back porch and you were smoking cigarettes and I took all those black & white photos of you with my 35mm camera.

Are you sure that was me? I don't remember that.
Yes it was. I have some them.

My favorite memory of you is you going with me to see Bette Midler...begrudgingly. Very sweet.
I'd forgotten about that till just now! I had fun.

How would you describe Pause of the Clock?
It's a movie about friendship and stories, and how two people can somehow communicate by working on a film together but can't connect on a personal level because they don't know how to talk to each other. It's also a movie about movies. How, perversely, it's easier to look at something honestly when it's in a movie than when you see it in real life. And it's also a study of the questionable fashion trends of the mid-1990s. Big hair, windbreakers, pastel t-shirts.

Why did it take so long to put this all together? 
When we finally finished shooting the movie, in 1996, I was exhausted. I was really ready to edit the movie and finish it, but I was also flat broke. I was so tired of asking people for money and trying to get funding. The dream was over. It was time to get a job. I guess it took 20 years to build up the necessary energy to dive head-first into it again! Also, it wasn't until last year or so that I started to feel I could edit this film in such a way that it would work. It was much easier, 20 years later, to start from scratch and be pragmatic about what scenes worked and didn't worked.
Are there parts of your autobiography in this film? Traumas, childhood, etc...
There's a ton of between-the-lines stuff, but I don't know that all that is so important to the audience. It's important insomuch as it adds a lot of texture to what's on screen, and makes it feel more real. Anyway, I don't want to go into all that. Gotta preserve the mystery.

Did you have any reservations about crowdsourcing?
The single best piece of advice I got before starting to plan my Kickstarter was from my friend Gabe. He said, "You have to consider it a full-time job." He was right. It's been a lot of hard work, but it's also been exhilarating to see people get excited about this weird little movie. I was, and still am, nervous about such a risky undertaking. But I also don't know anyone who would be ready to write me out a check for $15,000. Crowdfunding was the best option to get the money.

So you were raised pretty hard core Christian, tell me about that and tell me if religion or spirituality still plays a part in your life.
I was. I was still very much a church-going, committed Christian when I started making "Pause of the Clock." But less than a year after we finished shooting it, I finally started coming to terms with the fact I was gay and stopped going to church and drifted away from religion. Even today, personally, I do not find Christianity compatible with being gay. Or a lot of other things that are important to me. Maybe this is shocking to admit, but I guess I don't really consider myself that spiritual. Zen, maybe. John Cage zen. Que sera sera is my motto and has been for a long time.

We both went to Columbia College. Is there anything at Columbia that actually helped you with filmmaking?
I have often said that I learned more about filmmaking from my poetry class, taught by Art Lange, than I did from any of my filmmaking classes. Now partially this was just me being a know-it-all kid who wanted to do things his way and didn't understand that Columbia is, primarily, geared towards being an industry school. Any art that occurs gets in through the cracks, not through the front door. To look at it another way, Columbia actually did teach me a lot about filmmaking; only, they weren't lessons I wanted to learn. I learned that the industry is rigidly broken down into roles, and genres. And woe to them who try to be a "total" filmmaker, or try to make anything that's hard to classify. Columbia helped me the most by nudging me into concentrating on my writing. I'm a much better writer because I got so disillusioned with filmmaking that I stopped doing it for so long. That, in turn, has made "Pause of the Clock" a much better film now simply because I'm a better editor now than I was back then, because I'm a better writer.  

You are a big fan of David Lynch, what is it about his movies that you love?
Seeing "Twin Peaks" in eight grade was a eureka moment. Along with seeing "True Stories" for the first time, it made me realize that film could do more than just tell a story. I have basically been obsessed with David Lynch ever since. The most important lesson he has for filmmakers is that one must respect the mysteries of life. Mystery is a thing to nurture and cherish, not to explain away. Lynch has helped me see that you really have to trust your gut as a filmmaker. Your gut is a much more valuable tool than your brain. Or rather, without your gut your brain will always get you into trouble.

If your movie became a huge hit would you ever consider moving to LA?

Do you have any other projects in the works?

I am nearing a finishing point on my work-in-progress, "3 Things about 1000 Movies." I would still love to turn it into a book with drawings. For my next film project, whatever that turns out to be, I'd really like to collaborate with another writer and fashion a screenplay. The thought of working together with a writer and bouncing ideas off each other really gets my juices flowing.

You are having an Oscar party! What kind of punch are you making this year?
I haven't settled on my punch recipe yet. A bit worrisome. Some people agonize over their Oscar ballots, I agonize over what punch to make for my Oscar party.

If you were going to have themed foods for each Best Picture nomination what would they be?
"American Sniper" would be, umm, a bowl of really spicy chili mac. "The Imitation Game" would be a bowl of Skittles. "Birdman" would be a platter of chicken fingers with Velveeta dipping sauce. "Boyhood" would be, I dunno, something with tater tots and BBQ brisket. "Selma": Hoppin' John. "Whiplash": chicken fried drumsticks, haha. And "The Grand Budapest Hotel" would be an elaborate tray of hors d'oeuvres that no one was allowed to touch.

Tell me your thoughts on the movies nominated for best picture. What movies are missing from the list, what movies shouldn't be on there?
Mostly I'm just pleased that "Boyhood" is on the list. The others, I haven't seen all of them but you know, it is what it is. I wasn't surprised but was still disappointed that "Interstellar" was missing. And really, really irritated that "Life Itself" wasn't a Best Documentary nominee.

So about the time Harry Potter finished posted the ending online- which was very controversial in our little blogosphere at the time. I think you have an aversion to pop culture and things that are overhyped, etc. Is it about the content, the value of the mass media- what is that about?
No, it's about this completely annoying, repulsive sanctity we seem to have for spoilers. Spoiler alert this, spoiler alert that.

Luckily you took me to Trader Vic's at the Palmer House before they closed. There will never be another place like it. Tell me about your love of tiki culture? Where did that come from?
It's a beautiful form of escapism that partially inoculates me against cynicism. If I'm sitting in Lost Lake with some friends, listening to some steel guitar tune and sipping on a powerful rum drink, at least at that moment everything's all right.

Tell me why people should crowdsource your film.
It's a 16mm time capsule unlike any other indie film project out there. It captures the mid-1990s but also tells us something about our own time, what has changed and what hasn't. It's a fun, homegrown movie. It's got some awesome music in it. And, every pledge counts! It all adds up. 

Tell me everything that’s in your backpack or bag.
Diary notebook, cell phone charger, Kleenex pack, Moleskine daily planner, a pack of cold tablets, iPod, combination padlock, Norman Mailer's "Miami and the Siege of Chicago," and a single strawberry Starburst.

Pledge whatever you have here and read more about Rob Christopher on his website 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Ms. Jackson: Nasty Thoughts on my Top 15 Janet Jackson Songs

"Wait. You know I don't like Janet Jackson right?" my significant lover partner longtime companion said when I asked him to watch a Janet Jackson flash mob video that literally had me crying, CRYING on the front porch earlier that evening. We've struggled with this issue, the Janet issue, in our relationship.

I feel bad. I feel like I have failed at communicating to him that Janet Jackson is NOT Latoya Jackson.

There are Janets and there are Latoyas. And Janet is a Janet.  Her first name ain't Latoya or baby. It's Janet. Miss Jackson if you're nasty.

So, this was an exercise to really delve deep into my history with Janet. For my lover, for myself and most importantly for the Rhythm Nation.

"Are you ready? I am. Because it's all about control. And I've got lots of it."

15. Someone To Call My Lover, All For You

Starting at the bottom. But I am by no means turning my nose up at it. Janet, divorcing whoever it was she was divorcing at the time, is now "back on the road again."

The song is countryesque. The video- and let me just stop you right there cowboy- "the video is the thing" with Janet. Well, no, dance, dancing is  "the thing" with Janet. It's not really singing,  is it? Can she sing? Is she heavily auto tuned? I don't give a shit. Whatever she's done/doing it's working.

Anyway this video starts with visions of rebirth, baptism, cleansing of the soul, cleansing of toxic thinking and people. And then we've stopped at some dusty old truck stop/bar where everyone is very sexy and things are a real whole lot of fun.

My favorite lyrics, "Maybe we'll meet at a bar, he'll drive a funky car, maybe we'll meet at a club and fall so deeply in love... Maybe?" It's the post relationship recovery afterglow. The crying has stopped. The world is hopeful, happy anything could happen. "Maybe?" That hopeful maybe. Something magical could happen. Sometimes, when I've had a bad week or whatever..I don't know, my antidepressants must kick in and I tell myself, "Maybe something magical will happen today?" It usually doesn't - but it gets me through that moment.

Anyway, I think Janet is marrying some trillionaire  in Saudi Arabia and is now converted to Islam so I feel like she didn't just hop in a pickup truck and hook up with some sexy model slash truck driver. Good for her though. Go on Miss Janet.

14. Doesn't Really Matter, All For You
This is happy-breathy-silly-we are in the movie Aliens-but-it's not-scary-Janet. This is just pure candy happy pop. I had the CD single of this and insisted on playing it over and over while my friends Kara and Heather and I drove my mom's car to Michigan to see a dear dear friend's wedding. None of the three of us have seen this couple since. Except at their Halloween party where they said it was ok to park in a grocery store parking lot and then our car got towed.  But it Doesn't Really Matter. We had a blast on that trip to Michigan. Three high school friends/frenemies reuniting. Kara was on imported Cambodian Valium (even though she says she wasn't) and we were all wearing sunglasses and being very "fuck you" to the whole thing for no reason.

I also had a hysterical laughing attack in the hotel room while trying to sleep. You know when you can NOT get a thought out of your mind and you are so giggly and it won't stop. Well this was like that but no one else was laughing. It got scary for me, but hilarious at the same time.  Annoying for Kara and Heather. I feel like it had something to do with Chinese food. Like the joke in my head was about Chinese food.

So this song is just pure fluff and fun. "Doesn't really matter what the eyes see, cuz I'm in love with the inner being, no doesn't really matter what they believe, all that matters to me is your in love with me."

13. New Agenda, janet.

When Janet gets political it usually sounds like an eighth grader giving a persuasive speech in Language Arts class. But I have a soft spot for this song. And I think it works. I remember this was a Clinton era song and I felt very moved by it back in the early nineties. God the Clinton era was just wonderful, wasn't it?- when it was shocking to use a cigar as a sex toy. You'd think planes had crashed into the World Trade Center! A little stain on a dress. Innocent times.

And it's Chuck D. from Public Enemy rapping on this track. That means about the same thing that it does to me now as it did in high school. I know that he is very important. I am not familiar with too many of his rap songs. Perhaps we can all take a moment and read his Wikipedia page. 

"You want to know what it takes, To rid yourself of me now, There's nothing you can do, Accept me for who I am now." You ain't ever going to get rid of the group of people you don't like. And we spend so much time trying when we could all be having sex with each other.

12. Like You Don't Love Me, Damita Jo

Speaking of sex. This is one of Janet's sexiest songs says me. And as far as sexy R&B goes this would be one of my top. Today. I don't know tomorrow maybe I could think of something better.

"You need to make love to me like you don't love me."  Pretty much says it all. It's horny and its irritated. God, that's me pretty much all day.

Today this song would be called "rapey." I call it hot. Cut the bullshit. Cut the cuddling and holding hands, a gentle touch, a light massage. Naw, just fuck me.

"You're up at 3 in the morn, watchin' that triple x porn. But you're so tired when you make love to me. What did you learn?"

11. If, Velvet Rope

Gurrrrlllll....The password is "If." Pay the creepy bald lady with long finger nails at the door and have a seat. We are in some kooky sexy Japanese voyeur hotel/brothel. Lots of video screens and Geisha girls giving disinterested looks. Hot Japanese men all tied up in ropes descending from the ceiling. Janet is our entertainment for the evening.

When this song came out I memorized the super fast tempo lyrics by starting and stopping my cassette player over and over again. "Sittinoverherestarininyourfacewithalustinmyeyes..." I still remember them all. If you catch me on the right night and all the planets are lined up correctly, I might sing them for you.

"If I was your girl all the things I'd to you. But I'm not and I can't and I won't. But if I was your girl..." A daydreaming unrequited love song.

Who hasn't been on the train staring at some hunky blond business man all busting out of a tailored suit and tie and had a whole relationship with him? You meet after work at his place, a gorgeous bungalow in a historic district. Soon you are married and all you do is spend his money all day and have sex. Then you realize that you're just some creeper with coffee breath and a backpack that smells like cat pee.

The song's famous break (played at the beginning and the middle) is actually a sample from The Supremes' track "Someday We'll Be Together." The dance moves for this part are INSANE. My friend Barb new how to do them. I am determined to learn how.


10. Love Will Never Do Without You, Rhythm Nation 1814 

Before Heather's mom left to move back from California she asked if I wanted this beautifully framed (by her) photo poster by Herb Ritts of a woman as a tree. This piece of artwork was something I grew up with hanging out at Heather's house in junior high.  I am so honored and appreciative to have this hanging in my home. The older I get the more I realize how blessed I was to have grown up around adults like Heather's mom, my parents and my grandparents- who either encouraged or had such open and artistic sensibilities. I realize now that not everyone had that.

Herb Ritts died of AIDS in 2002. If you don't know who Herb Ritts is you've definitely seen is work. Madonna's "Cherish" video and Michael Jackson's "In The Closet" video were also directed by him. But his powerful pure black and white images are what makes his work so iconic. This video is the closest you can get to living in his world for a little while.

9. Son of a Gun (Betcha Think This Song is About You), All For You

If you ever really pissed off at someone or something, this is a wonderful song to listen to. Most of the Janet songs I really love are when she is angry. When Janet is angry she sounds the most sincere. I don't think this is a coincidence. She grew up in a cray cray family in front of the world. Can you believe what a therapy session must be like for her? Abusive father, brother is the most famous person in the world and he is literally batshit crazy. I guess we all have our issues.

So when she's mad she's really really good. In the album version, this mash up with Carly Simon almost works- if you can stomach Carly Simon rapping. This song was written and recorded without the two of them ever meeting. The remix, which the video was created with, is a little heavy on Missy Elliot but it's still very good.

"Gotta chip up on your shoulder-I just knocked it off. Show me what your gonna do, I ain't gonna run. You have just run out of ammunition, shooting blanks now. Son of a Gun."

8. Trust A Try, All For You

Another great angry song! This time I have no idea what she is angry about. Something about trust, obviously, but what the specifics are, I don't know, because I can't understand what she is saying. But I LOVE the opening chorus. It's an insane sort of little Christmas Caroly opening that rips open into an electrical storm of Janet just being very upset about some issue. Again, I have no idea just what that issue is. I should read the lyrics.

7. What About, Velvet Rope

 The top angry Janet song in my list. Again, another great song when someone needs to fuck the hell off. This song specifically concerns domestic violence and rape. But tonight I am getting a vibe about complex relationships of any kind. Balancing the good and the bad. Not communicating. Keeping your mouth shut when it should be screaming.

Those times when you are smiling and laughing outside and in your head you're thinking "But what about....."

"What about the times you kept on when I said no more please?"

6. The Pleasure Principle, Control

I have always thought this song had something to do with Freudian concepts. I found a great blog post about it on Naki O. She talks about her love for the video and trying to nail the chair routine. Then she falls down the Janet hole. It's really far greater than anything you'll read here.

"Being the nerd I am, I dug a bit about the term pleasure principle. My psychology people will recognize it as a term discussed at great length in Freud's 1921 Beyond the Pleasure Principle. He argues that the pleasure principle is a psychoanalytic concept describing people seeking pleasure and avoiding suffering (pain) to satisfy their biological and psychological needs.  The counterpart is the reality principle where people choose to defer gratification of a desire when circumstances do not allow for immediate gratification.  Accordingly, growing up is learning how to move beyond the pleasure principle and endure the pain of not getting what you want immediately. This is obviously a very simplistic interpretation of what is an enormous study but it strikes me that many of us, in particular some our political leaders have not yet moved beyond the pleasure principle."- Naki O

And what about those symbols on Janet's shirt? A "Yahoo Answer" said it was "Egyptian signs for 'Eternity' and 'Destiny'. It was a protest against her mother Katharine's instance that Janet follow the Jehovah's Witness religion." I'm too tired to look into it right now.

5. Control, Control

The headset microphone!! That was this video was all about for me at the time. So intimidating!

The video is 9 minutes long. Janet is breaking away from her parents and has her own jeep and wants to get an apartment. Her controlling dad isn't having it. She looks chubby and so cute and young!! But it's really all about the headset. And that jeep a little too.

This is one of the first examples of "New Jack Swing" a very dated music style from the late 80's to the early 90's.

"New jack swing is mellifluously soulful solo or harmonizing vocals addressing romantic and sexual themes and lyrics, sung over rhythms and "street" beats derived from urban musical influences. This style of music melded with hip hop, which also gave it elements of aggression of swaggering on some songs. Some songs consisted of rhythmic beats with music, while others had singing alternating with rap sections over this same type of music." -Wikipedia

Most of the songs from "Control" were in this style. This style of of music can sound really dated and annoying but hers hold up I think. But again, it's all about that microphone anyway.

4. Nasty, Control

And what does she mean by Nasty? I think she is saying sexy. I think Janet is terrified of sex at this period. I think she's saying anything having to do with sex- she's not having it. Not ready for it. Which explains her almost overcompensation later on in her career. Leading up to and including the Superbowl wardrobe malfunction incident.

Do you know that Viacom (who owns MTV) and CBS banned her videos and music after that? Kind of explains a little about why she dropped off the radar. She was making music but no one was allowed to play it. And yet Justin Timberlake received almost no condemnation at all. He even brought sexy back and no one batted an eyelash! Ahhh, sexism - it's almost quaint that it's still around- like old phone booths.

3. Scream, Number Ones 

Who knew this video would one day make me so sad? What I see and hear, despite all the plastic surgery, is a brother and sister who love each other despite an emotional distance.

This is still the most expensive video ever made. I am not really a scifi buff but the idea of being on this white spaceship all alone (my sister could be there too, if she wants) is so relaxing to me. Just escaping, decompressing.

I also want that sweater. I don't think it would fit. But it would give me motivation to work out. No. No. Nothing, not even that sweater can give me motivation to work out.

2. Alright, Rhythm Nation 1814

When I was listening to Janet Jackson songs and ranking them, which incidentally is not something that is easy for me (my favorite movies, songs, TV shows change from day to day), this is the song I kept replaying. Specifically this shortened version with Heavy D (RIP). It's such a happy song and makes me want to do a very choreographed dance number. 

And the video is such a fake 1930s/1950s world. Another video I would want to live in. Notice the poor girls playing hopscotch who have redrawn and redrawn and redrawn their squares under hot lights in uncomfortable clothes. They are probably porn stars now. That's not nice. I'm sure they're fine.

"Andanywaywhocaresaboutwhatotherpeopletalkabout..Id rather here it from the horses mouth."

1. Rhythm Nation, Rhythm Nation 1814

This video still holds up today, an industrial, military, apocalyptic army that is going to save the world. The Rhythm Nation. 

It's her masterpiece, her manifesto, her magnum opus, her Citizen Kane, her award winning blue ribbon meatloaf recipe."We are a part of a rhythm nation." As I said, when she gets political it sounds cheesy. But we're all so jaded and pissed off now. I would place a bet that, at the time, this song probably did lead some kids who may have gone in the wrong direction to screw their heads on a little tighter. Mixing metaphors there and baking them into a wonderful cake. Delicious.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

TJS Documentary Review: The Woman Who Wasn't There

The Woman Who Wasn't There

Rating:Almost a whole pack
             17 out of 20 cigarettes

Where you watch it- Netflix Streaming

This is the second best documentary I have watched on Netflix. The subject of this film- Tania Head- is one of the most fascinating in any documentary I have watched so far. This woman is so extraordinary and unbelievable and yet you know her. You know this woman.

 TWWWT is one of those rabbit hole documentaries that starts in one place and ends in a completely different place. A documentary that does this rare but it is the best kind. Because life unfolds this way, does it not? The only other documentary that I think outdoes this one is "Capturing the Friedmans." And if you haven't seen that - see it and brace yourself.

Like many documentaries in the last couple years TWWWT uses animation. The style of the animation and how it is implemented adds so much to the film. The editing of the interviews, "talking heads," is masterful as well.

Peeling back a layer, I think this is a very important film to add to the 9/11 documentary canon. The perspective taken examines the psychological impact the disaster had on the world.  Although, this case is exaggerated- I can't help relating to Tania somehow. What she did was incredible.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

TJS Documentary Review: Bronies

The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony

Rating: Half a Pack
             10 out of 20 cigarettes

Where you watch it- Netflix Streaming

The subjects of this film are pretty fascinating and hard to wrap my brain around. Mostly straight teenage boys and young adult men obsessed with "My Little Pony," a show originally targeted towards young girls.

As a documentary this lands somewhere on the low budget end. There have been many films in the last 15 years that follow the same formula- examining the obsessed fan subculture of Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. This film is in the same vein. However, kudos for throwing some solid elements into the mix- interviews with My Little Pony's creator and impressive animated transitions.

I think I got a loose grasp on what the appeal was for these boys. These are not boys from my generation. It's even a little much for me- a pretty gay guy- to see straight men behave like this. Bronies grew up in a 9/11, School and Movie Theater shooting, in your face, in your neighborhood violent world. After meeting the Bronies, it makes sense to me (a little more) why these boys are putting their focus on a cuddly, cute TV show that focuses on cotton candy love and friendship.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Jeremy Show Interview: Big Brother Winner Andy Herren

I think I love Big Brother so much because I love observing people, looking at people do extraordinary mundane things, I always look in other people's medicine cabinets, sociopathically stare at people on the train, etc.And I am going to go out on a shaky limb here and say that Big Brother is one of the most underrated documentaries of our time or ever in the universe.  

The television show has all the over produced, cheesy, offensive (to some) trappings that come with all reality TV shows. And I eat that all up and love it.  The video feeds are something different. You can watch a group of people fight, be bored, sleep, make out, make friends, eat, cry, laugh and take showers for three months, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Like any fan describing their obsession to a non-fan I can't articulate how much I love Big Brother- it's heroin candy.

The premise is simple- the houseguests are locked in a house for three months. The show is on on three times a week every summer. Every week 2 houseguests are nominated for eviction. Every Thursday, during a live show the house votes to evict one of the nominated houseguests. The strategy for being the last houseguests standing (and winning $500,0000) varies- but always includes lying, deceit, physical endurance and social manipulation. On the last episode, alll of the other houseguests who have been evicted vote on who (out of the two remaining) they think should win the money. All the while everything is filmed and viewers have access to watch everything that goes down.

This summer Andy Herren of Chicago won Big Brother. Not only was he the first openly gay person to win Big Brother but he’s from Chicago and he’s delightful. I had a chance to speak with him and talk about his time on Big Brother.

You said you weren’t an insane fan of Big Brother but a pretty big one. How did you get into watching Big Brother?
I got into watching Big Brother by accident, actually. I was flipping through channels, and somehow landed on CBS. What was on? Big Brother 3! You know, the season where Marcellas used the Power of Veto on someone other than himself. I started watching, and the rest is history!

So...You won $500,000! Congratulations! Did your thoughts on what you would do with that amount of money change when you actually had the check in your hand?
I always knew I would be smart with the money. I'm investing it, for the most part. I want these winnings to turn into more and more winnings as the years progress. As for frivolous spending, I'm going to travel extensively! Europe, Australia, Japan, and Hawaii are on the agenda at the moment.

This season was hailed as the "Most Controversial" ever. One of the houseguests, Aaryn did say some ridiculously racist things and a handful of other houseguests said stupid things. Besides Aaryn- who I truly don't think realized that what she was saying and the way she was saying it was going to cause a lot of problems for her -- I just think the rest of it was just general jackassery like any group of young bored people. Did you have any idea that all of this would be so controversial when you were living in the house?
NOBODY had any idea this racist stuff would take off in the way it did. Granted, we all did notice Aaryn's comments, but I believe you are correct in assuming that she had no idea her words would cause such an uproar. She even started saying racist things just to say them, as we would all joke that she was the house racist. Do I condone her comments? Hell no. Do I think she is young and ignorant and not actually an evil racist bigot? Hell yes. I was very surprised by the attention this all got. I mean, any comment that makes others feel bad isn't right, but I really never felt like I was in a hateful environment. I very strongly believe that nobody in the house is actually racist, and I hope that we can all move on from this and remain close with one another. As for me...I am MUCH MORE offensive in real life as opposed to the house. I'll leave it at that.

You tweeted, "It's slightly discomforting that I was so hated while on BB. Not because I'm embarrassed, but because in real life I'M SO MUCH WORSE." Explain this tweet.
Basically, I say ridiculous things all the time. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm actually a very kind, loving person, BUT I have a filthy, vile, disgusting, awful sense of humor. Nothing offends me, because I am usually the one doing the offending. This is especially prevalent when I'm drunk. I wasn't drunk too often in the Big Brother house, but when I was, I said some gross things. Remember my "Elissa is a chronic masturbator" rant? Yeah, I was drunk during that, and it was not meant to be taken seriously. The problem? Many Americans do not sense sarcasm, and they took it seriously.

Do they even give you enough alcohol in the house to get drunk?
If everyone has a drink, they do not give us enough alcohol to get drunk. If people give up their share of alcohol, then others can drink the shares that have been given up and feasibly get drunk. For example, I gave up my alcohol 90 percent of the time, and then on the rare occasion that I wanted to get drunk, I would remind people that I had been giving up my shares, so they would give me theirs. I rarely drank because people would get super selfish about alcohol, and it put me in good graces if I gave it up. Looks like that strategy paid off.

One of the best moments of the season was after you were announced the winner- you came down and hugged your parents. They looked SO proud of you. Tell me about them. What did they say was their experience like when you were in the house?
THEY ARE AMAZING. They were so damn happy for me while I was on the show. My dad is a very quiet, stern guy for the most part, but after the show he gave me the biggest hug and said he had never been more proud of me. It was a lovely moment. My mom watched the feeds 24/7, and my dad would get updates from her. My mom was actually so scared about my possible eviction when I was up against Aaryn that she couldn't watch. She said she heard my dad screaming/cheering, and she knew all was well. They loved me being in the house, and, according to them, all they really experienced was positivity. They aren't on Twitter, and that is where most of the stupid assholes who hate me dwell.

How was your experience coming out to your parents? How did you tell them?
I was outed by a neighbor before actually telling my parents about me being gay, but they were both cool with it. There's nothing much more to tell! My mom was sad I didn't come out earlier.

Tell me about the transformation from relative anonymity to instant fame. What are the good things and bad things about it?
It's been pretty easy! I like people recognizing me. It is sweet. The only negative side is the INSANE hate I got once I left the house. I'm used to being well-liked, so it was odd to see so many people wishing me nothing but the worst. I played the game I needed to play, and I have no regrets. I get that I didn't play a very likable game, but anyone who respects the game should see what an amazing job I did. I played EVERYONE, and was rewarded for it. I also like the free stuff people give me! That's a neat perk of being "famous."

Rumor has it that you lost your job over your appearance on Big Brother. Did you lose your job and if so, what was the reason? What happened there?
I did not lose my job! :)

Who are you still in contact with outside of the house? Who do you think you won’t keep in touch with?
I have been in good contact with most of the cast. The only two people I haven't talked to are Elissa and Howard, who I have no ill will towards. In the house I hated Elissa, but outside of the game I would like to be on good terms with her. I talk to Amanda and McCrae every day, and I talk to Judd, Spencer, Helen, Kaitlin, GinaMarie, Candice, Aaryn, Jessie, and Jeremy relatively frequently as well. I also text back and forth with with David, who is a hoot. I don't like having negative relations with anyone, so hopefully we can all move forward and be pals, because we all shared such a unique experience.

Is Judd as adorable in real life as he was on Big Brother?
Judd is EVEN MORE ADORABLE IN PERSON. He is wonderful. I can't imagine anyone meeting Judd and not loving him. He does have a fiery side though (that temper!...fiery yet still ADORABLE).

What has been your best experience with a Big Brother fan and your worst experience with a Big Brother fan?
Best experience with a Big Brother fan: My roommate and I were running late to the movies a few weeks back, and a car pulled up beside us. It was a husband and wife, and they were big fans. I then asked them for a ride to the movies, and they obliged! Ha! I haven't really had any negative experiences with fans, except online, but most of the online fans are complete waste of space morons who don't actually understand the game, so they don't bug me too much.

What are some things, secret little behind the scenes things that you think most Big Brother fans would be shocked to know? Did your gaydar ever go off on any of the male houseguests?
We NEVER see any people while we are in the house. It is weird. Like, I didn't know what the producers looked like until the show wrapped. Another secret: They give us the same food week after week, which can get monotonous. I wanted a bit more variety! Although they fed me all summer for free, so I shouldn't complain.

Did your gaydar ever go off on any of the male houseguests?
My gaydar went off on Nick a little bit, because he would do odd things like always call me over to talk while he was in the shower. I'm 50/50, though. If he's gay, I wouldn't be shocked. If not, I would also not be shocked.

Do you think there could have been a possibility of a bromance- whether or not it would have just been used to get you or whoever else further in the game? Did any of the straight guys ever flirt with you?
I was in a bromance with Spencer!!! We were BFFs from the beginning, which you NEVER saw on the show. He kept me sane in the house. He is an intelligent and hilarious guy. SPANDY FOR LIFE!!! I do believe our bromance got him further, as I never wanted to sever ties with him. I wanted him at the end because I liked him and I knew I could beat him.

What is your dream “Celebrity Big Brother” cast? And who do you think would win?
Oh goodness, I have no idea who my dream Celebrity Big Brother cast would be. It would most certainly include Anderson Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, and myself. I say this because I selfishly want to meet these people (and school them at Big Brother).

You said that you were rejecting friend requests on Facebook like it’s your job. Are a lot of people asking you for money?
I basically reject Facebook friendships because I like to keep Facebook personal. Like, only people I actually know or could see myself getting to know in real life are people I will be friends with on Facebook. Twitter/Instagram/etc are for people who I may not know to be able to interact with me. And nobody has asked me for money yet! I think people know I'm smart with my money and won't fall for any hair-brained schemes. I also think my friends and family know how hard I worked for the money, and they aren't the type of people who would see my winning as a way to better themselves financially. When I left the house I wanted to get back to Chicago to retain my strong personal relationships with friends and family, so relationships haven't been strained at all. I love the people I surround myself with!

Are you dating anyone?

I am casually dating, but nothing serious. I'm SUPER picky and tend to lose interest quickly, so I don't bother really dating anyone unless they seem very right and I see long-term potential. I'm also a hopeless romantic and retain the belief that one day I will meet the man of my dreams and it will happen exactly like it does in cutesy romantic comedies (I know, I know...BARF). And when I go on dates, I love it when guys don't know about Big Brother. It's nice to know that they like me for me and not for me being a television personality.

What are your plans for the holidays?
For Christmas I'll be going to my parents' house in the suburbs to spend time with friends and family who are at home.

Can you tell me what you have in your medicine cabinet? Please list all the contents, brand names, etc.
Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, Advil Liqui-Gels, Crest Whitening toothpaste, Edge shave gel, contact solution, a toothbrush, Old Spice Aqua Reef deodorant, cherry Chapstick.

Do you ever still feel like cameras are watching you?
When I first came back, I definitely woke up a few times thinking I was being watched (which was super weird), but, to be honest, the whole being filmed thing faded quite quickly. I was back to picking my nose and masturbating in no time!

What are you buying yourself for Christmas?
I have no idea what I'm buying myself for Christmas! I'm very low maintenance. Maybe a book or something?

Last question- If you were describing to a four year old how you won the money how would you say you won it?
I lied to lots of people, and then the people I lied to gave me tons of money.

Who should I interview next? Why should I interview you? Email me at and let me know.