To be a blogger, particularly a film blogger, is to be an antisocial, adenoidal, basement-dwelling, Cheetos-stained geek who administers blistering opinions on movies, the people who make them and (especially if they don’t agree with us) the poor mushroom-brained tools who flame us and others with their own absurd, overstated opinions in the comments columns of our blogs. At least that’s the perceived stereotype. And while I wouldn’t say across the board that any or all of those elements aren’t completely incorrect for any given sample plucked from the blogger Petri dish, I can speak for myself. Let’s take the stereotype point by point.
1)ANTISOCIAL: I have had to fight the tendency to not be the most social of animals for much of my adult life. Luckily I have usually found myself surrounded by other people who will not accept this from me, so therefore, while social interaction is a skill with which I may not be naturally blessed, my best friends have been good at keeping me in situations where my communication tools have not been allowed to atrophy.
2)ADENOIDAL: I do have sinus problems (not an uncommon occurrence in smog-smothered Los Angeles, by the way), but I would not go so far as to classify myself as a mouth-breather. (Maybe those with a more detached perspective would, though!)
3)BASEMENT DWELLER: My house has neither a basement nor an attic. I most often write and post from my laptop while seated at the dining room table.
4)CHEETOS-STAINED: I will cop to the occasional bout with the delectable day-glo treat from the laboratories of Frito-Lay. But not while I’m typing. Mama didn’t bring up no caveman.
The point of all this (and, yes, it’s a meager one) is that blogging, despite its reputation as being the art form most favored by hostile misanthropes and hopeless (choose your topic) nerds, has actually opened up my world, has reduced my tendency to want to retreat into myself, has afforded me opportunities to meet so many like-minded, smart (and sometimes smart-assed) people without whom the past five years of my life would have been a lot drearier. Many of these people I’ve never even met in the flesh—I’m talking about you, Peet Gelderblom and Jim Emerson—and yet I feel like we’ve been friends for years (and, by gum, I guess we have). The ones I have met are literally too many to even remember off the top of my head, and many of you—you know who you are—have become real friends at a time in my life when I would have expected (not unreasonably, I don’t think) that the frequency of making new acquaintances would necessarily be tracking downward.
Ali and me, seen through the eye of our Barney's Beanery waitress.
And all of this talk just so I can show off a keen pic that really sums up why I’m glad I started blogging, basement or no, almost five years ago. Last month it was my pleasure to meet friend and fellow film blogger Ali Arikan, proprietor of Cerebral Mastication, who was touring the U.S. as part of an exchange and education program for the company with which he works in Istanbul. Ali arrived in town the day the news of Michael Jackson’s death broke, and he ended up getting caught up in the Westside Traffic Nightmare to End All Traffic Nightmares just to get from the airport to his downtown hotel. Welcome to L.A., indeed, Ali. So rather than meet that evening, we shifted gears and met for breakfast at Barney’s Beanery in Burbank, where we slaughtered two hours with great ease over Diet Cokes and Barney’s massive breakfast menu. (I had shrimp eggs Benedict, and it turns out Ali likes his breakfast meats-- largely unavailable in his homeland, he composed a single-platter symphony of sausages, bacon and ham the likes of which this ex-farm boy has rarely seen.) It was a total delight spending the morning with him talking about life and the movies; I could have easily hijacked the street-side booth we had for the entire day. But there were other Burbank sites to show off. On the drive back to his hotel I drove him past NBC (where Conan O’Brien now rules the roost) and Warner Brothers studios. I was very happy when he gasped with recognition upon passing the north gate at Warners, where Harvey Korman and all the cowboy extras spill out into the real world near the climax of Blazing Saddles. As I dropped him off I promised one day I would try to get to Istanbul. How’s that for getting out of the basement?
Ali, it was a real pleasure and honor to meet you!
And all this talk of meeting people coincided with a Facebook post I ran across this afternoon from Rick Olson of Coosa Creek Cinema in which Rick listed five people off the top of his head that he wants to meet. Rick’s list has a touch of the metaphysical in that three of the people he listed are dead. His list? Andrei Tartovsky, Audrey Tautou, Jean Renoir, Bibi Andersson and Robert Altman. I don’t stop wanting to meet someone just because they’ve stopped breathing either, Rick. In thinking about my own list, I would definitely include Robert Altman if I hadn’t already had the pleasure of meeting him once, after a screening of The Long Goodbye on the UCLA campus just before the release of The Player. So I thought, gee, who would make my list? And here are the five I came up with (in alphabetical order):
As for the rest of you, I want to know who would make your list, but hold those thoughts. There’s another quiz coming in a couple of days, and you’ll get your chance!