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7/10/12

In which our hero attempts denouement.



LATEST NEWS: According to the Talmud, to meet oneself means to meet God.
Letters: I’d like to apologize to the Ironside family.

For those of you who attended the special screening of Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger at the New York Film Festival last week to see me speak, I sincerely regret the breakdown you saw unfold, and I hope that the following post will help clear a few things up:

Interior. Abandoned Cinema of a Forgotten World. Dusk. Jack Nicholson is thrown off the screen after appearing in the nude (full frontal) and holding up his feces to the camera. Forced off set, he has nowhere to go and eventually finds a seat amongst the audience in order to quietly watch the remainder of the movie unfold. 



Masturbating a dildo in the nearly deserted movie house, Jack Nicholson watches himself die. The film's penultimate shot consists of a seven minute long tracking shot which begins in my hotel room looking out into a dusty, run-down square. We pull out through the bars in the hotel window into the square, rotate 180 degrees, and finally track back into my hotel room. Antonioni built the entire hotel just to get this shot. I am Jack Nicholson.

"the camera moves slowly out the window and into a courtyard, away from the drama of Jack Nicholson's character and into the greater drama of wind, heat, light, the world unfolding in time." – Martin Scorsese. 
Jack Nicholson with Martin Scorsese and his wife Catherine on the set of The Departed 




6/5/12

In which our hero confronts himself in Michael Ironside.


LATEST NEWS:  I am a moving space.

Letters: I’d like to apologize to the makers of the original Total Recall film.

FIGHT SCENE.
Jack Nicholson pushes Michael Ironside[1] against the stacked garbage cans in his courtyard, slaps him repeatedly from cheek-to-cheek, and places a pair of large sunglasses on his face. Projectile spurts of saliva shoot from my mouth with bellicose commands. “Be me. Be me!” The sunglasses almost fall off Ironside’s face, but I hammer them against the bridge of his nose with a tough index finger. “Be me.”

I smacked his face with the trashcan lid until no dental records could be detected, and I waited for the plangent gong to fade away.


Is this laughter? Am I laughing?


my own figure coming toward me in a dress which I had never worn, - it was pike-gray, with somewhat of gold. As soon as I shook myself out of this dream, the figure had entirely disappeared. It is strange, however, that, 8 years afterward, I found myself on the very road, to pay one more visit to F., in the dress of which I had dreamed, and which I wore, not from choice, but by accident. However, it may be with matters of this kind generally, this strange illusion in some measure calmed me at the moment of parting. The pain of quitteing for ever noble [Alsace], with all I had gained in it, was softened; and, having at last escaped the excitement of a farewell, I, on a peaceful and quiet journey, pretty well regained my self possession. [2]



A line I remember from an email I cannot find:
> psychiatric unhealthy is just like a problem with your computer:
> it can either be attributed to a software problem or a hardware problem.

For the first time since buying the computer, Jack Nicholson picked up a pencil and let each letter fall to the page like an angel.

Dear Edith,
My name is Michael Ironside. I was born February 12, 1950. I speak fluent Hebrew, German and Russian. I used to pretend to have trouble reading the letters during eye examinations because I wanted glasses. Somehow the eye doctor always knew I was lying. Nowadays I teach drama at a Catholic school beside a park where Jack Nicholson sometimes eats sandwiches.
Love always,
Michael Ironside

Let’s start over: I am Michael Ironside. History might record me as not Jack Nicholson. Let’s start over: I am not famous in any way to anyone. I am a man who eats salami sandwiches. I am an amputated father. I am a haunted uncle. I am a lonely hunter. Or, rather, I am like an uncle. I am avuncular. I am like an uncle once written by Chekhov. I am like Jack Nicholson. Let’s start over.



Interior. Jack Nicholson. If I could make my head explode. If I could peel off my face… If I could take a reddish globule from my brain, pull it out my nostril, and be rid of Michael Ironside, be rid of Jack Nicholson. If I could swing a baseball bat against my own face, crack off my two front teeth, lodge them down my throat – my teeth are already gone. I can see myself pecking at a morsel of cheese, This isn’t me... This isn’t me... I am Jack Nicholson. 





Exterior. Something like watching myself on screen, but not. I can see my face – it is the single visage of a crowd of cinemagoers walking out a movie theatre – a liminal expression between worlds. Will the movie house vanish back into non-existence after the 20th Century? Do you know who I am? Do people read in the future? Do you know who I am? Are you there? Do you know who I am?  From the book of Holocaust poetry: ‘he that I am forgives him that I was’.[3] Let’s say I am an actor, immured in a role, and now I am ready to step out of character. If I curl my fingers, he curls his; but I can’t get him up. I stand too firm for this to be an out of body experience! He just sits there, waiting for a stroke, waiting for sirens, waiting for his hair and fingernails to grow beneath roses with neither destination nor direction.
NOTE (found written in red on screenplay):
In end, JN must confront JN.
uncertainty if narrator is confronting double from mirror OR if JN is confronting narrator.

All that remains are images collected from my films, BUT those are just characters played.






[1] We can say here, “the Ironside character”. As in from Total Recall or Scanners
[2] Goethe from his autobiography Truth & Fiction
[3] Paul Celan, Poems of Paul Celan, from the poem ‘Shroud’ p.71, translated by Michael Hamburger, Persea Books





4/18/12

In which our hero remembers Cragganmore.



LATEST NEWS: I’ve had everything a man could ask for, but I don’t know if anyone could say I’m successful with affairs of the heart. I don’t know why. I would love that one last real romance. But I’m not very realistic about it happening. What I can’t deny is my yearning.

Letters: I’d like to apologize to my father. My mother.  My grandmother. 


INT. EXTERMINATOR’S APARTMENT – DAY
Bookshelves lined with volumes upon volumes of encyclopedias resembling the large book the exterminator had brought upon his first visit to Nicholson’s New York apartment, and in which he had marked down Cragganmore’s name. They are organized by year, dating back to Ancient Egypt.

EXTERMINATOR
I’m something of a plumitif mal connu.

Finding a shelf indexed Plague Collection (Vol. 1-10), Jack Nicholson opens a book filled with strands of hardened mucous carefully placed over individual names.

               JACK NICHOLSON
There were mice in Ancient Egypt?

EXTERMINATOR
Cockroaches, scarabs, and many frogs…

The scene shifts to Jack Nicholson’s New York City apartment with our hero on his deathbed.
The exterminator is seated and staring at Nicholson’s face. The bespectacled cecum reaches into the black hoodie adorning his head, and he slowly peels off his face – like that fat lady in the scene from the original Total Recall – to reveal his naked skull. And, as if he had peered into the depths of Nicholson’s dream while our hero slept, the exterminator says:  To produce a mighty script, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the mouse, though many there be that have tried it.”

But this too is a dream. I know it is a dream. I suspected it before, but I know it now for sure.



INTERIOR. JACK NICHOLSON’S STUDIO APARTMENT - MORNING
There is a crumple in the bedspread where Edith once slept – once, as in for one night. Our hero sits on a piece of bed still warm from the night’s sleep and spills the remainder of scotch on the floor in memory of Cragganmore.

After they had a falling out and Jack Nicholson had berated Cragganmore for being a bad roommate and not taking out the trash often enough, the mouse grew accustomed to sneaking in and out of the apartment from corner to corner and by night, so as not to be seen. The more Crag skulked about the place, the more Jack became suspicious. His toothbrush began to taste like toilet mornings; his sleep seemed to be disturbed at the pivotal moment each night; and the food in his fridge was increasingly tainted with germ and disease. Nicholson had decided that if the mouse could not stand to be around him in his own home, if Cragganmore would not pass the remainder of days beside him with love and care, she would have to go. After all, he had only put up the notice seeking a roommate in a naive hope of a romantic meet-cute. If Cragganmore was unable to serve this purpose, the mouse would have to go. He certainly didn’t need anyone to share the meager rent of his tiny studio apartment. Jack Nicholson had millions of dollars. He was a Hollywood star.

Beginning to masturbate to visions of Edith dressed in a mouse costume, he suddenly stops upon noticing her sitting on his toilet. Her face has been replaced by Cragganmore’s. Continuing to play with himself, he is mystified by this human woman quizzically turning her mouse-face to the side. David Lynch. Stanley Kubrick. “Oh my God, I think I just shit my pants…” says she in a mousy New York kind of way.
“Edith, I only love you because you’re there,” says Nicholson. “And you just happen to be there at this moment. I apologize. It ought to be my burden to bear alone.” He tosses the empty bottle into the fireplace, having to imagine a fire since both consideration of tenants on floors above and New York City law prohibits him from actually lighting one. Suspension of disbelief. Just as he opens a new bottle, however, a baby mouse appears. Too small to be Crag.

Perhaps Cragganmore was a woman, pregnant. From an entire family of mice living within the confines of my walls. A happy family. He raised the bottle to the new arrival, baptized the little guy Tiny Talisker, and tenderly kicked the old cage.



The clank of a trashcan and a wretched stench – heavy in the crisp morning dew. Ironside. “You are an abrasion below my knee,” he thought. “I tried not to notice you for too long and you are now an infection I’d like to get rid of; but I fear that I’d have to lose my entire leg in the process.”





3/27/12

In which our hero has a philosophical conversation with the rabbis.

Welcome to my blog. Previous readers have expressed confusion as to whether the narrator of this blog – or what Henry James refers to as the center of consciousness – really is Jack Nicholson. All I can tell you is that I, the writer of the blog, am indeed Jack NicholsonHowever, I should mention that the characters in this rather disjointed chronicle are NOT intended to represent any real people, living or dead. And so, I felt this preface necessary.

LATEST NEWS!
God is like Edith’s face: Plain. 

Letters:
I’d like to apologize to John Wayne.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
I looked toward the movie, the common dream,
The he and she in close-ups, nearer than life,
And I accepted such things as they seem,

The easy poise, the absence of the knife,
The near summer happily ever after,
The understood question, the immediate strife,

Not dangerous, nor mortal, but the fadeout
Enormously kissing amid warm laughter,
As if such things were not always played out

By an ignorant arm, which crosses the dark
And lights up a thin sheet with a shadow’s mark.

Delmore Schwartz

He craved for her to write something. He wanted to read her words; hear her voice; he wanted to know her her. He wanted to read:

Dear Jack,

I am having a hard time disassociating this strange inner burning with thoughts of you. The flames first ignited in both stomach and chest as a fire of yearning. Your words slowly spread sulphur over organs I believed to be dried stones in the desert – able to sustain conditions of extreme heat. It’s hard to pinpoint when the match was dropped onto my thistle of skin, but it was likely as incidental as a spelling or grammatical mistake on your behalf. An unnoticed folly. And the coil turned red because it could only be yours to miss and mine to embrace. Everything seemed so clear to me, so perfectly matched, as it still does today.
We are meant to be together. Don’t you see that? Some people play the roles of those who love and others take on the characters of those who are loved. You are not a lover, Jack. At first I was angry with you for that. But then I realized that you are a man who needs to be loved.

Eternally,
Edith

And he realized that he didn’t know her. Like Edith in person, her letters lacked both passion and character. It was his own letters he cared for, and his own words were what gave him comfort. 

Still no new messages, he moves to youtube where he finds himself watching clips of Harry Nilsson’s live performances from 1970s and cries at the realization of how cold and dark the times are now. No more hope for happiness, no happiness in depressing loneliness, ONLY defeat and apocalyptic feelings.  These reflections on our times are interrupted by the sound of sobs between his own that could not have come from himself.

Interior. Bathroom.
The three rabbis are crying in Jack Nicholson’s small New York bathroom. The old wise one sits on the toilet, his face burrowing through his wizened hands; the young one dangles his legs off the side of the sink, biting down on his trembling lip and clipping his fingernails; the fat one comically stomps his fists and untied shoes against Nicholson’s dry bathtub.

JACK NICHOLSON
Why are you guys crying?

OLD RABBI
(looking up from his hands)
We cry because we cannot ascend.
FAT RABBI
(bellowing out)
Stuck below because I tied the laces on my left
foot before tying the laces on my right foot!

YOUNG RABBI
(sardonically)
Those fuckers! They got rules for everything…
Apparently I can’t go up because I messed up the
order for clipping my fingernails on Friday while preparing for the Sabbath. Do you believe that shit?

OLD RABBI
If we want messiach, we must follow the rules. There is an order for everything…

YOUNG RABBI
Well, I’m not sure that I even want the messiah to come. It really doesn’t concern me.

OLD RABBI
And me? I’ve been waiting my whole life for him to come…

The old rabbi resigns his face back into his hands.

YOUNG RABBI
You see, I got this theory that all this shit is really about the waiting for the messiah, rather than his actual arrival.  That what differentiates us from the goyim.

FAT RABBI
Oyyyyyy…. I wasn’t cut out to be a fucking rabbi! Aye… I just don’t have the right temperament for it! Ohhh…. I used to dream of becoming a beadle in the synagogue!
(he smiles)
Shushing all who were consumed with idle chatter.

JACK NICHOLSON
Well, you can’t cry here. Go somewhere else.

And with that, Jack Nicholson pushed the three rabbis out of his bathroom.


The bathroom mirror is dirty, but I can tell that my eyebrows are abnormally long. I take out a hair from the left brow with some tweezers and marvel at it. A dead hair. A white hair. A good find. A couple more hairs call out to me, a patch of eyebrow in need of epigamic maintenance, so I clench them between the un-pointed tips and I tug – but I take the wrong strands. It’s painful to pull out soft, youthful hairs, and the rheum over my eyes swells. I remove the correct tuft, and this eases the sting, but the sensation returns when I cannot get a hold of another thatch. More normal hairs taken out. So many that I lose track and wonder if the intended thorn, the messiah hair, can be accounted for amongst the discards.

The peak on my left eyebrow no longer flaunts its summit and, beside it, the right brow looks more ridiculous than ever. To even the keel, I take the tweezers to the right side. The first yank is too ambitious. Many hairs withdrawn, much pain. Tears run down my cheeks, but I am not crying. From the throbbing teems something to push my pursuit, and I occasionally find a hair in actual need of plucking atrophied in the tweezers. The left vertex is exaggerated again. I pull and pull and pull, arbitrarily, like a sniper on a tower. I am crying. An inverted point dips into my left eyebrow. To make everything appear normal, I carefully pluck at both eyebrows, eventually manicuring them into the pencil thin threads I associate with Kabuki theatre. What will become of me with so few hairs remaining above my eyes? What will come of my fingers?


“First cut the nails on the left hand in the order 4, 2, 5, 3, 1, and then the right in the order 2, 4, 1, 3, 5.”  Though he was not a religious boy, our hero practiced the same prescribed order since his father taught it to him as the way a man cut his nails on Friday. He even immortalized the process by using it to inspire the obsessive-compulsive attentiveness of his Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets. “Jews don’t believe in Hell,” explained his father. “You just gotta look around yourself in the now and ask, Is this as good as it gets?” Perhaps I remember the fingernail-clipping pattern so vividly because of the physical awkwardness of my father attempting to teach it after both his arms had been blown off in the war, along with both his hands, along with all ten fingers, along with all their nails. Or perhaps I remember because it seemed, strangely, an attempt to recompense. 
 





3/13/12

In which our hero battles Cragganmore to a final resolution.

Welcome to my blog. Previous readers have expressed confusion as to whether the narrator of this blog – or what Henry James refers to as the center of consciousness – really is Jack Nicholson. All I can tell you is that I, the writer of the blog, am indeed Jack NicholsonHowever, I should mention that the characters in this rather disjointed chronicle are NOT intended to represent any real people, living or dead. And so, I felt this preface necessary.

LATEST NEWS!
I would wish it on no one to be me.
Only I am capable of bearing myself.
To know so much, to have seen so much, and
To say nothing, just about nothing.

   Robert Walser 

Letters:
I’d like to apologize to the people who brought us Mouse Hunt. 


CLERIHEW 1:
Jack Nicholson
lived under a fickle sun.
For him it seemed to shine
until he appeared in Blood and Wine.


CLERIHEW 2:
Michael Ironside
suffered from a dire pride.
With every autograph signing
he’d break at the mere mention of The Shining.


CLERIHEW 3:
Danny DeVito
ate every last dorito.
When he finally farted,
he was ready to watch Jack Nicholson in The Depated.

OR

Danny DeVito
drank one too many a mojito.
When he moved onto cider,
he was ready to watch Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider.


CLERIHEW 4:
Cragganmore
did not know what was in store,
until out of the shadows appeared Nicholson’s double,
more frightening than his mustache in Man Trouble.


Like oakum in tar, several eyebrow hairs had been culled on a glue-trap beside the toilet.

Remembering the corpse of Lady Laphroaig floating in the toilet.
 


My apartment building was constructed in the 1920s, and perhaps this is something normal with these old apartment buildings, but it seemed strange to me: there is this small, plastered grill plating in the wall between the bathroom and the building’s exterior. Actually, there’s two of them – one on my side, in the bathroom, and one on the building’s outside wall – and there is a kind of triangular stage between them. I believe my bathroom was at one time a kitchen, as I have no sink in my kitchen, and that this contraption was probably conceived as a security measure in case someone left an oven on. It’s a kind of suicide-proofing, like the windows on tall buildings that cannot open enough for my body to squeeze through.
video


































On the little triangular stage between the two grill plates, I imagine Cragganmore doing a little dance. Trapped within the building wall since it’s construction, he pleads to me – not for freedom, but for food. “Come on, Man…” he groans, “Tenants in this apartment have been feeding me to keep me alive since Day One.” And I look at him. I study him. And he does look rather skinny and pale, malnourished with a little protruding mouse-belly to prove it. The grill plates have made some sort of cage, or prison, and Crag reminds me of some sort of human rights cause I ought to be using my celebrity to advocate. Then I wonder why I don’t pull these grill plates off my wall, why I don’t smash the wall in, and I realize that I am not his advocate. There is nobody else around, so I must be something more like his guard.

> i love writing to you so much. 
> i'd like someone to make it my job,
> and i would like to be paid 367-thousand
 > dollars to
=== message truncated ===

A shrill pierce. Small enough – and in my heart – to be a song.

In its move towards the peanut butter pabulum, Cragganmore’s body attached itself to the fresh sheet of glue beside the fridge. The fucking exterminator was wrong! The mouse never reached the poison before finding the trap.



When Cragganmore first heard him enter the apartment, the mouse played dead, but once Jack was out of sight, she gave into panic and frantic breathing – lungs and heartbeat were all that remained in the creature’s control. Though her skin would not permit the flipping of her body off the glue-trap, her insides persisted in attempting to raise their constraining chassis. The purple-pink of her lungs pushed through her rib cage, thumped against the thin layer of grey skin that withstood the break free from herself, and undulated back to the start position. The whole thing again. These operose efforts grew increasingly futile until a bronzing cinnamon light swept the floor and crawled like early mold on cheese toward the eye not concealed, not sealed, by the glue-trap, her open eye. That same eye widened with fear and beseech for two, and the nocturnal creature embraced the peremptory option: slow and painful starvation. What kind of human being would I be to neglect responsibility at a time like this? And so, the mouse regarded the supernal approach of her landlord’s Rockport shoes as an intrusion of aide rather than rapine. Upon the release of Crag’s final squeal – the whistle of a broken kettle giving into a puff – Jack Nicholson understood that there was no one else to hear the creature’s cries.

If he only had a bucket, he could drown it. Flushing it down the toilet would have been the easiest solution – I once found a baby mouse floating in my toilet (Lady Laphroaig), either from suicide or desperate thirst due to the ingested poison – but Crag’s glue-trap was too big and sticky to make its way down the bowl and through the waxing. Stepping on the mouse would be far too yucky. He could smash it, crush it – with a frying pan! But with Cragganmore’s umbra stained to the pan, he’d never be able to cook in the thing again. Best to first cover her with a plastic bag. And in the speed by which this task was completed, a loose electrical cord attached itself to the glue-trap.

Shifting movement of the glue-trap beneath the bag. Nicholson gently held the bag down, and forcefully pulled the cord off the trap opposite the mouse.
           
A drink seemed to be in order. He plucked a stiff, deep hair from his eyebrow.
           

Unfortunately, in the process of freeing the cord, his foot found its way onto the glue-trap. After hobbling a couple of steps and dragging the trap, bag and mouse with one shoe – hoping I could just walk the thing off, miraculously proving the glue faulty – he nearly stepped on the recalcitrant coating with his right shoe while attempting to release the left. Thankfully he thought better of it, choosing instead to stare at his left and debate if he really needed the Rockports.

My sister, my mother, drunk on the couch and playing with herself before giving in to one of her erotolepsy-induced fits.
 
Smoking cigar in mouth, Nicholson took the plastic bag past the courtyard to the haphazardly stacked garbage cans. If he were a cowboy, like in Ride the Whirlwind, the awaiting action would be very matter-of-fact and easy as pie. He placed the plastic bag under the heaviest trashcan. He raised the can high into the air and looked the other way before squishing Cragganmore’s body. He gave the can a little twist. He lifted it again, and hammered it down three more times. Five more times. He wanted to be sure the thing was dead – it would have been awful to let her live in that condition, and I didn’t want to look inside the bag to check. Six. Seven.

John Wayne.

The mouse didn’t climb up. It didn’t fly.