Here's a little experiment. I'm writing a movie review on the film Insomnia after not having slept for over 24 hours. It's 9 a.m. This review is late by at least 12 hours. It should have been done a couple of days ago. The guy who comes to pick up our disks to take them to the film processor should be here in about an hour. It takes hours just to print the proofs of the issue's pages out. Last issue we did the same thing, even worse. We finished sometime in the afternoon, about 6 hours late, which caused yet another wave of discontent to sweep over the printing press masses at Moskovskaya Pravda. Gevorg tells us that they're starting to get sick of the cheap apology bottles of vodka that we send them after each massively-late issue. We're no longer cute foreigners, just a cheap pain in the ass. We set a bad example.
Gevorg called me last night, I don't remember exactly when: 9? 11? Midnite? He told me, in as reasonable tone of voice as someone in as powerless of a position as he's in with us, "Please Mark, don't let this issue be late. The last time...it was really a problem. The complaints...they're really not happy."
"I know, I know," I said. He sensed that I didn't want to talk, and mercifully let me hang up.
This issue is special for a few reasons. First, Dr. John Dolan has arrived to co-edit the newspaper. To borrow the old Negro wino routine: "This newspaper woodn' be sheeit if won't for Doctuh John Dolan!" It was Dolan who introduced me to Russian literature over a decade ago, pointing me in the right direction away from California, to the land of incident-riches: Moscow. More importantly, Dolan is the most talented comic writer in the English language, hands-down. There were times this summer when the abuse and irresponsibility got so bad we literally couldn't squeeze another page of text out of our skulls, no matter how shitty. The chemistry had quit. And Dolan came through, from New Zealand. It was amazing-like Bo Jackson against the Seahawks.
The second thing is that our designer got hepatitis-A and she's in the hospital. Our teenie-apprentice designer is filling in as best she can, which isn't easy considering our miserable work habits. We're all supposed to get tested for Hep tomorrow, though I'm exempt. I got all my vaccines a few years ago, after a scary fling I had with a fresh-out-of-jail dyev named Yulia.
And the third thing is...I haven't slept. This is the last article and everyone's waiting for it. It's now 9:30am and I've already failed to bat this thing out in 30 minutes. I've got the new Guided By Voices blasting on our little box. Those songs aren't nearly as easy to write as they sound. A friend burned for me the GBV box set last year, songs that Pollard recorded going back to the mid-late 80s on a shitty tape recorder. They're amazing! Hundreds of songs, each with its own memorable melody.
INSOMNIA the latest film by the director of Memento, Christopher Nolan. This is kind of a hard film to review, because more than anything it's just a disappointment. Memento was great. It made my palms sweat. It really caught what it feels like to be paranoid. To forget all the wrong things, to never trust your own memory yet to be around people who do trust their memories in a convincing way, and to be used and manipulated by the non-forgetters at crucial, painful points -- a problem of mine ever since marijuana destroyed entire fields of memory cells in my mind. Second and third viewings of Memento confirmed the sweaty palms test. In spite of Memento's "cool" noir gimmicks and its timely use of the tattoo.
Insomnia suffers from a long list of problems. The first is that the central problem here, insomnia, is very, very easily curable: Imovane! Ambien! Halcion! A top cop like Pacino would have no problem getting his hand on that shit. It works: problem solved! It's hard to feel sorry for someone who suffers yet refuses to take the salve that's right there on his bed table -- fuck him, and fuck the movie. This says to me that Pacino's character's problem isn't insomnia-all of us who suffer from insomnia always reach for the pills first and ask questions later. Rather, Pacino's character suffers from the fact that he's a literary device. Literary devices don't reach for the Ambiens, because the pills cancel the device; but any sane human with access does.