Monday, February 13, 2012

An Evening With Crispin Hellion Glover


Last Wednesday night was really fucking weird.
But I suppose you should expect that when dealing with a character like Crispin Hellion Glover.
As I stated in my pre-game report, I really wasn’t too sure what to expect out of our evening with Mr. Glover. It’s called a slide show, I knew he had made books and movies, and I knew he was a weird dude. I was excited to find out what would be going on.

I was extra excited because we actually had an overnight sitter for Lil’ Troublemaker, which doesn’t happen often and which meant that Mrs. Troublemaker could come out and party. It was also cool that she was going to eat at LaFonda, as she had been incapacitated when I ate there back in December and I really liked the place.
We were supposed to be picking up Little Pond and meeting Grand Hoff at the theater, but I have this thing where I have been getting places early recently. I don’t know what the deal is. Usually I’m pretty much on time for stuff, but if not I would be pretty late. Now I seem to be getting everywhere early. This is the worst at work (like everything else) because it doesn’t matter what time you arrive, you can’t start shift until a specific time and there is no leaving early. So you just stand around for fifteen extra minutes or whatever and basically don’t get paid for it. But you also don’t want to be late because then you’re holding somebody up. So it comes down to whether you want to screw yourself or somebody else, and regardless of how much I hate ninety percent of the people I work with; I don’t like putting anybody out.
So I’ve been early everywhere and we were about half an hour early getting downtown. Little Pond wasn’t even home yet. Mrs. Troublemaker called and she said she’d just meet us at LaFonda. Good enough.
I had the delicious paella again (which I still strongly recommend) and the wife had a Cuban Reuben (which should make you chuckle at least a little bit). Mine was great, but the missus was not impressed with her rhyming sandwich. We did both enjoy the beer, though. This may seem both like a given and fairly insignificant, but beer levels will come into play later. Little Pond showed up after our food did and we had a nice time overall, substandard sandwiches aside.
There was already a big line when we got to the illustrious Plaza Theater. This went along with my belief that the show was sold out. I don’t know if you guys checked the link to the tickets that I provided last Wednesday, but the page said tickets were no longer available. I took this to mean sold out. This was not the case. But we’ll get to that. Shortly after we arrived the line started moving. The line passed by a table with a bunch of boxes behind it. There was also a young lady there who happened to be selling books by Crispin Hellion Glover. Well, “selling” isn’t a strong enough word. More like “hawking”. She was loudly and verbally estimating patrons’ intelligence according to how many books each person purchased. I was judged to be a genius after buying all three that were available, but in hindsight I’m not so sure about that.
Here’s the deal with Crispin Hellion Glover’s books: the man has actually created around twenty books. Only five have actually been published because he publishes them himself. You can’t go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and buy these. Well, not for less than a hundred bucks, anyway. I say “created” and not “written” because he utilizes an almost Burroughs-like method of cutting and pasting. Mr. Glover will take works that have fallen into the public domain and put pieces together with his own narrative to create a new work. I find them and the whole process very interesting, which is weird because it is totally artsy and pretentious and I normally hate that kind of thing. But the books are neat. I don’t know that they are worth what I paid, especially with how the evening turned out, but I’ve got them.
So I bought the three available books – Oak Mot, Rat Catching, and Concrete Inspection. Thrilling titles, I know. But I think that’s the point. With this exciting new literature in hand, I entered the theater to find Little Pond and Mrs. Troublemaker, who had entered while I was making my purchase. You can’t leave those two alone together for long.
We sat and chatted for half an hour or so, then the lights went down and the show began.
I think everything I have ever seen at the Plaza Theater has been in the same room, so I cannot speak for the rest of the rooms. But this one is an old-school theatrical setup, with an auditorium that slopes downward to a wooden and hollow stage that is backed by the screen. The chairs are large and comfy and the sort that recline to a point where you are concerned that yours is broken and might dump you into the lap of the person behind you. There are curtains everywhere.
Once the lights went down, there was a single red spotlight trained on stage right. Otherwise the theater was dark. Out of that darkness and from the front of the theater came heavy, booming steps; presumably announcing the arrival of our host. He made his way to the red spotlight – which did little to illuminate him – and then spoke. He welcomed us and thanked us for our presence and informed us that he would be reading from eight of his books, then launched directly into narration of Concrete Inspection. Images from the works he was relating appeared on the screen behind him.
Note: I think. I’m almost positive that was first. I know a good journalist would have taken notes or at least paid better attention, but I have never claimed to be a good journalist. Or any kind of journalist, for that matter. What I do is relay my own personal thoughts and feelings; after the fact. What you get in everything that I do here is what stays with me the most from everything I experience. Part of this is because I find it interesting to see how my recall works, part of it is because I write everything at work to pass the time. Twelve hour shifts are extremely difficult even with this as a diversion. We have no internet, books, magazines, cell phones. No distractions of any kind because the inhuman creatures that manage the place do not understand the job that we do. But I can get away with writing for the time being. I write anywhere between 1500 and 5000 words per shift. Most of it appears here or on Tumblr. Some of it you guys will never see. But I have to do something or I’m not going to make it through the next thirty years.
Crispin Hellion Glover is a fantastic, energetic, and creative narrator. I have never seen anything like what he gave to us that night. It was so entertaining and energizing that it made me want to perform. It was that kind of thing. It got me excited about creativity and entertainment. The man was dynamic, his timing was tremendous, and even the occasional stumble or missed word added to the drama of the performance. Mr. Glover stomped and swayed back and forth across his little stage; not just reading the words on the screen behind him, but almost conducting a symphony of language.
Of the eight books, I enjoyed Oak Mot, Concrete Inspection, and whatever the German one was the most. That one was very weird. It was all illustrations form some sort of medical text from probably the 1800’s. Graphic illustrations. And Mr. Glover shouted all of the narration in precise, well-accented German. The Grand Hoff had arrived by this time and he and the ladies were pretty disturbed by this one. I get that, but I dug it.
Round My House was the final presentation. It was my favorite. I think it was about a serial killer being put on trial after his neighbor discovers his hobby, but I could be entirely wrong. Seriously – it might have been about birds or something.
I would like to mention the gentleman in front of us. He had an unbelievably large cranium and a booming, obnoxious laugh that made me want to strike him with a truncheon. This guy found everything hilarious. He was either stoned out of his mind or was trying very hard to make everybody in the theater believe that he so totally got it. Or both. But he definitely detracted from the experience.
Once the slide show was done, Crispin Hellion Glover introduced It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.
This is a movie that Glover directed and produced himself. It stars and was written by Steven C. Stewart, a victim of cerebral palsy and you cannot possibly imagine what goes on in this movie if you have not seen it. And I highly recommend you do not read the next few paragraphs if you ever intend on seeing it, because I think this is the sort of thing best entered into with as little prior knowledge as possible.
SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE
(some details may be slightly off – it was hard to take all of this in)
The movie opens with the protagonist – Paul - on the floor in the hall of a nursing home. Stuff happens and we end up with Paul – looking much cleaner and neater – outside where he meets a redhead. Now, if you’re like me, you saw “redhead” and pictured some sexy babe. This redhead is more reminiscent of Old Moira the Ghost Maid, except not as hot. But for Paul, who has some disadvantages, she’s not bad. Also, she has long hair. This is Paul’s thing and so integral to the plot of the movie that the first visual of the movie is a quote about how much Steven C. Stewart was into long hair.
One thing leads to another and Paul ends up dating Redhead and meeting Redhead’s pretty clearly underage daughter. Over the course of time we see that Redhead is conflicted about being involved with a person with Paul’s limitations and is kind of a big bitch about it. Paul asks her to marry him and she gives him the ol’ “Let’s be friends” speech. Paul is sad, but asks if he can stroke her long hair one last time for the road. She complies and he wraps his arm around her neck and chokes the fuck out of her.
If you’ve never seen a man with severe cerebral palsy choke an old lady to death, then you are living a better life than I am.
This scene was one of the creepiest and most uncomfortable things I had ever seen, and it was also kind of hilarious. It turned out to be pretty tame compared to the rest of the movie.
As a matter of fact, things get crazy-go-nuts pretty much immediately because we find out that Redhead’s daughter has been harboring a secret crush on ol’ Paul. Sometime after our hero kills Redhead (time is a bit vague in this movie), he heads over to her home to see her daughter. She’s there in an impressively skimpy outfit and panties that would barely cover up a nostril. And she’s hot for Paul.
Note: I have no doubt that the actress portraying Redhead’s daughter was of age, but she could pass for being severely underage. Very, very creepy. If you get a boner during this part of the movie, you had better feel pretty guilty about it. Come to think of it, if you get a boner during any part of this movie you should be ashamed of yourself.
Naturally she lets Paul touch her hair, and of course they end up in her bedroom, and obviously they end up fucking. What might surprise you is that you see every bit of it – Paul’s wangus and Redhead’s daughter’s naughty bits and all. It’s all obscenely uncomfortable to watch.
Then Paul wraps his arm around her neck and chokes her to death. That’s his move.
The whole rest of the movie is Paul meeting, fucking, and killing various chicks. It’s crazy. And there’s lots of nudity and fucking. The last scene is straight-up porn, complete with a Stunt Cock. It’s a pretty amazing scene, where Paul mixes up his repertoire with a choke, a punch to the gut, and then a new finish of running over the chick’s neck with his wheelchair.
To say that I have never seen anything like It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. would be to state the obvious in the same way stating, “I am a carbon-based life form that breathes oxygen” would be. And yet it did not make me as uncomfortable as Tetsuo the Iron Man or even Gummo. I don’t know if this is because I am older and more jaded or because… never mind. It’s because I’m older and more jaded. I have seen some awful shit in my day and a lot of it was not even in movies but real life. It’s not that the movie wasn’t shocking, it’s just that I really don’t know what it would take to shock me now.
There’s no rating this thing. It is not entertainment, it is a statement. I’m not going to claim to be deep enough to get it or even to have really tried, but I think the point is that the disabled – or Steven C. Stewart, at least – are just like us. They have dark thoughts and complex feelings. They are more than their afflictions.
As far as the actual production, It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. is very interesting visually. Aside from the scenes in the nursing home, the whole movie was filmed on sets that were tailored to the scenes. They all had strong narrative purposes and helped set the tone of the action immensely. Each set was almost like a character in its own way. The music was what I would have called Classical, except that during the Q&A after the movie Mr. Glover explained that it was all Romantic. I don’t know much about such things, I just know that it was way too fucking loud in several scenes. I suppose this was intentional to increase the discomfort of the audience – because that is clearly the intention of the movie; to cause discomfort – but it was really just annoying.
If you’re a fan of Crispin Hellion Glover or of weird things in general, you’re going to want to see this movie. If not, then avoid it. It’s not for you. It’s not really for anybody; like I said – it’s a statement. It’s to be endured and thought about.
END OF SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE
The Q&A that followed the movie was brutal.
I am a very big fan of Mr. Glover and of movies in general. I am usually fascinated by any sort of glimpse behind the scenes of the filmmaking process. But as exciting and dynamic as Crispin Glover was presenting his slide show, he was the precise opposite of that answering questions. Not only does he possess a quiet, somewhat monotonous voice, he would go far beyond the bounds of the necessary answer to any question. Not elaborating on the question, but just going on and on. I am sure it was interesting to many of the people in the theater, but it just didn’t do anything for me.
The problem here was that I wanted very much to have my books signed by and get a picture taken with Crispin Hellion Glover. Those desires were a huge part of why I was even there that night. But the effects of the beers we had enjoyed at LaFonda had worn off long ago. I wanted some more beers and I did not want to listen to Mr. Glover any longer. Also, there were the three other people there with me. I knew for a fact Mrs. Troublemaker was miserable and I doubted Little Pond and Grand Hoff were doing any better. I didn’t want them to endure this just for me.
I leaned over at one point and told my wife that they should just go somewhere and get some beers and I’d meet them after the ordeal was over. I got no response. Not even a, “No.” I don’t know why they didn’t take off.
So it finally got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. We agreed that if Glover took one more question we’d leave. Sure enough, he did, so we exited as unobtrusively as four grown people in a theater one-third full can. Which is not very.
Speaking of which, I failed to follow up on my belief that the show was sold out. Clearly, it was not. I don’t mention this for any reason other than to say that I had told Pond and Hoff it was sold out and ended up looking quite stupid when the theater filled up. Or rather, didn’t.
Guys – you know what a celebrity whore I am. If a famous person I admire is in any way available, I am going to figure out a way to get something signed and get a picture with them. But that Q&A defeated me. I left empty-handed. Well, not empty-handed – I’ve got my books and I am happy for that.
All in all, this was a pretty unique experience and one that I am glad I had. I can’t say I regret leaving early, but I wish I could have worked out a way to make the meet and greet happen.
Oh, well. I’ll always have Anthrax. Which sounds unfortunate, but isn't.

P.S. - I'm going to be appearing on the Earth Station One podcast tonight talking about Doctor Who and what a big fucking nerd I am. Only I won't be saying "fucking". Please listen. It'll be rad.

-Phantom

5 comments:

  1. I left early too. WAY earlier that you. In some ways I wish I saw the wheelchair neck scene but overall I am glad to have left after he murdered the underage daughter and her dad called 911 while stroking her panties lying on the floor. Too dirty.

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    1. Yeah. It was pretty much a test of endurance after the slide show. But I took the movie as just a bunch of shock stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with that. You weren't wrong to bail, though.

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  3. Interesting. I didn't figure you the type to go for someone so artsy- i don't know anything about the man's work, but he sounds intense

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    1. Oh, I am a total dumdum. But sometimes my love of weird stuff overcomes my inability to comprehend it.

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