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About Me....

um... who me? uh i guess i'm the lounge's resident tranny. old school bustie formerly known as butta.

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entry Jun 20 2007, 10:23 PM
mood: dry.gif unsure.gif huh.gif blink.gif

so this morning at 5 something or other i post courage. so what happens today? i get hit on by two different guys. um...what th'.....?!? back to that in a moment, let's rewind a few days, shall we? let's shall!

before i begin with my tiny tale of woe, (or woah!, depending on which point you get bored and stop reading), i should explain seattle summers. to anyone not familiar with our fair city, one is given the impression that all it does is rain. far from it. true enough, we only have two seasons, and although, when it rains it pours here, the majority of the time here is simply overcast, and grey. if eskimos really do have 100 words for snow, seattlites have an equal number for grey. as for the temprature, usually chilly, nippy, but rarely is there the sort of outright cold that one might result in snow, or find in say, denver or pittsburgh. the point is, for most of the year people are covered up. but when the summer rolls around the streets are littered with every sort of sun worshipper imaginable. it's like the starving man who is taken to an all you can eat buffet. people walk around sun struck, instantly forgetting what purpose indoors holds. minimal clothing is de rigour. tank tops, shorts, flip flops, halters, skirts. suddenly this sullen, depressed city falls under the delusion that it is L.A. or san diego. it's summer in seattle, and everybody looks a little bit sexier....who even remembers clouds, rain or umbrellas?

the lovely karianne was so lovely as to pm a few days prior and ask me how things were going since i hadn't posted in a thread i used to frequent, and i felt the need to throw a pitty party. (i am so sorry kari), i was on the bus to go to welding school, when i sat across from a girl who, had i still been a boy would have been my waterloo. she was full figured, brunette, shoulder length hair with bangs, a deep red dress and maryjaneish ballet slippers. it was her simplicity that made her so heartbreakingly b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l-l-l-l-l-l....


if i had a type she would be it, i couldn't resist looking at her as slyly as i could. yes, i know i get crushes as often as most people turn the channel, but, good goddamn she was a goddess. she was with 3 children, i made faces at the little girl. dream boat laughed at us making faces, and then put lipgloss on the girl, who thought she had to keep her lips pressed together for the lipgloss to work, something that dreamboat told me about.

...not that any of this really matters much. this was just the kernel of that party of pitty i had. see, i do prefer women, which is.... odd. or, rather out of the ordinary. it's not like i've not met any other dyke trannys. transexuals come in all shapes, sizes and orientations... but trannys of my type have the same problem i do: you admire them so much that two emotions get confligrated-- on some level, you want to be them. and you want to be with them. i will be the first to admit, a serious case of venus envy. most women know how to make this... womanhood... look so effortless. i'm not just talking about the uberfemmes, with their kitten heels, perfect coifs, no, i am just as in awe of how a girl can put her hair in a ponytail, wear no make up, two different colored tank tops, jeans and flip flops and sell it. the-one-that-got-away was like that. she always said she wanted to look more "sassified" or "put together" but i'll be damned if i didn't think jeans and tshirs were invented just for her. she was always just..... just fucking foxy. for me, i always feel so calculating. as if i have to try a little harder. but we were talking about my dream boat....

i suppose there was a tiny bit of that venus thing i go on about, but that was a flash. looking at her in the corner of my eye i missed being a man. oh, i know, you've heard all the cliches describing transexuality as being trapped in the wrong body. yeah. whatever. somebody feels that, but it ain't me. my thing was a sense of who i was internally, or -- more accurately -- that the essence of who i was, was not a dude. so how could i miss being a man? what was that about?

did i mention that the-one-that-got-away (heretofore known as totga) was in town last week? totga and i had a strange relationship (trust me, as you'll come to find out, all my relationships are strange). litterally the day before i met her i had decided not to commit suicide, and to bite the bullet and, i love this phrase, 'man up' and become a woman. so out of a need to keep myself busy i walked into where she worked, a video production place i had been meaning to check out for years... and i was smitten. love at first sight. but the thing is, and this was the point of this unbearibly long and rambling tangent, before i transitioned, i got to know her as a boy, and i'll be damned if i didn't get it. on this planet 24 some years, sowed my wild oats n' all and this girl made me understand what being a man was all about, and i loved it. for once in my goddamn life, i got it, but more, i got what it was like to make her feel like a woman. it was like this chemical reaction. intuitive, reflexive. i never thought about what to do i just did it. so why not just marry her and that's that?

cos it wouldn't last. i knew it wouldn't i had had relationships where i got glimpses of this euphoria, and when a rollercoaster goes up, dollars to donuts it's gonna come down, things will come full circle. so sitting there, looking at this beautiful girl, i wondered if that boy i was would have stood a chance with her. would we have dated? would we have fallen in love? i'm too insecure to think a girl like her could fall for me. i'm too many odd turns, ideocyncracies for most people, and as i said in the first courage essay, it's too difficult to tell if i pass or not, it's too nebulous, one minute you do, the next you don't, and....who would love me?

well. that last question was at the center of the that horrible little self-pittying email of navelgazing, and kari had the sense to ask me when i had transitioned. not that that question wasn't sort of a non-sequitor, but it made me do some thinking, about the women who did love me, and the answer came back, one that could see me beyond my body. granted those people are rare whether you're trans or not, but those are the best loves. because they really do love you. and this brings me to talking about my ex, but not now, i'll just drop the bug in your ear so you know what i am talking about when i do get around to writing about it. no, we are here to talk about the two who hit on me today, and can i reiterate, WTF?!

so the second instance of... hitting on... was when i was drenched with sweat from a hard skate, looking thru stacks at the 'hood library. dude came on strong, which i have to admire, but i don't like being hit on like that, in all honesty. let me explain. it's not that trannys don't get hit on, they do, but usually its for disposable trysty one-night stands. the idea most guys have is that they need to appease this fetish so they can shove it back in their closet, nothing more, so they will go to great lengths to hit on girls like me. so it's not terribly suprizing, which is not my reaction to the first person hitting on me. in the post before this i was talking about soggy jebus flirting with me. and in retrospect, the two other guys who hit on me were at it again today, one massaged my shoulders while we were cleaning up shop-- um.... ick! afterwords he said, "i know it felt good, you didn't even move!" um, hate to break it to you buster, but here is a moment by moment account of what i was thinking...

4:18. what? aw fuck. are you kidding me? ick, ick ew. you're massaging my shoulders? oh god. i seem to be frozen. so this is what it feels like to be a deer in headlights. legs, please run. anywhere. please.

4:19. oh for fucksake. this feels way too much like highschool. not. in. a. good. way. please stop. perhaps if i go to my happy place.

4:20. ew... his hands feel like he's shedding snake skin. what am i a loufa? do i look like an exfoliant to you? ugh. it's like cheap sandpaper...

4:21. dear god/dess in heaven, or wherever you are, please forgive me for everytime i did this to a girl. i was young. i didn't know better, and oh please make this stop! for all that is holy, please make this stop!

4:22. does this count as a fate worse than death?

ahem. i survived this horrible accident, but not without scars. horrible, horrible mental scars. my soul is a hollow shell.

next was a guy asking me if i was gonna go to the picnic they were organizing, and how much he'd like to see me there. oh for fucksake, you've got a girlfriend, and even if you didn't, FUCK NO. not on this or any other planet, not in this or any other lifetime, not in this or any other reality, no, no, no!

and finally soggy jebus. and while i like the guy, what i find funny is how he hit on me:

remember how i was telling you about seattle summers?

we were on the bus he was on one of those sideways facing seats facing the back exit door, i was across from him, in a forward facing seat, behind the door. at a stop he stopped mid sentance to watch two girls walk by. i couldn't help myself, i saw them out of the corner of my eye, and was curious about what he was looking at. the doors opened and this beautiful girl got on and sat next to me, i watched him watch her get on. and laughed at his blatentness. 'i was gonna ask you something before all these people got on, but i'll ask you later." ok....
after we got off the bus, he asked,
"so do you like boys, or girls?"
"me? lol...mostly girls. why do you ask?"
"oh i was just looking at those girls, and i saw you turn to look too, and i thought, oh.... so i wanted to ask."
"oh. yup girls."
"so is it...just girls or do you dabble some with boys?"
"nah. it's mostly the girls."
"oh. that's too bad. if you ever want to dabble....i'd be down."
at this point we parted. but as hard a time as i have thinking that i pass, i have an even harder time thinking that he, and all the other guys would hit on me if i didn't. it just goes against everything i know about guys.

anyways, in the words of dan rather,

entry Jun 20 2007, 05:58 AM
sorry i've been neglecting my blog, i've just been struggling thru the welding classes. this week is the last week and today. i have a job interview. i feel a lot of trepidation. i was hoping to have a new id with a f designation on it, but well, as is to much the case with my life, "the best laid plans of mice and ....yeah."

my doctor who i thought was so outstanding has been impossible to reach, but slow to help me finish this thing. i certainly need it changed before i apply for the union. that is going to be scary enough without any extra turbulance.

socially, things in the welding class are going really well. which i find odd. it's not that this is this class, this is a program, meaning you get to know your classmates, since you have to take several classes together.

the thing about being a transexual for me, is, and perhaps it is just this point in my transition (10+ years and counting, just so's you know), that i'm stealth. i.e. i'm not "out" as a transexual-- "woodworking" in slang terms, from the phase "fading into the woodwork." it's not that that was my intention. it wasn't for most of this part of my life i have been out, intentionally, pointedly so. but the last job, no-one asked, or brought it up, and what am i gonna do, come into work with it tatted on my forehead?

from there i got into this program, and while a couple of my classmates (and teachers) have made comments, or jokes, but they were the kind you wouldn't tell in front of the person, unless you were an ass. and there are a few asses in the class, but still..... the majority of them i suppose don't know or don't care. and, well, i would be understandably loathe to take a poll on the matter. most of the time i feel like, really? are you really not seeing thru my disguise? do you not see me here? how strange that it feels almost like a disguise-- like a fake mustache-- but i am a skeptic, a pessimist, so i find it really hard to beilive everyone doesn't know, and isn't just being patronizing. but whacha gonna do? tattoo it on your forehead?

i'm still not, it seems, sure of the idea that most people take me as a girl. it's something that takes a lot of getting used to, even if it's been your wish for years, or even if it is your deepest understanding of who you are. it's not as bad as it used to be. i don't answer to my birth name anymore (carlos, in case you were wondering), but there is this really odd, out of body dissonance in this life. it's this tipping point that ive hit. seeing more of a girl in the mirror than a boy, and this one took me years. occasionally, i still see the boy, but he seems to appear less frequently. now it's seeing this girl with slightly boyish features. but internally i feel almost as if i'm not there-- it's strangely the inverse of that girl who would look in the mirror when i was young who saw nothing but boy. i knew i was there-- it was my eyes-- those were mine... same now, but instead of being opressed by my body, locked in it, now i feel more etherial... more aware of my soul, the essence of me. that distiliation of girl trouble.... but now i'm getting slilly.

i say all of this because today one of my classmates came over to my table where i was talking to someone and said... "i hate math! the math teacher always gets into my space and touches me. i don't like guys touching me."

my knee jerk reaction was, you're telling me this? really? it's not like i'm touchy feely. infact i was much more touchy feely when i was a boy. i have been so--- cautious about transphobia, homophobia that i have become a bit physically withdrawn, compared to my boyself, who was quite comfortable saying i love you to my friends that were guys, giving them a hug, etc. but now i rarely do. i think mostly because i was transphobic when i was a boy. it cut too close to the bone, and well, i think anyone who knew me at that time- 18 thru 22, can tell you i was not terribly comfortable in my skin, or with who i was.....

the ironic thing is, that that math teacher he is homophobic about.... well, he's a transman. he wrote one of my favorite books about transexuals. i would think he would feel more comfortable around him than me. but maybe that's because i have this knowledge. the math teacher is very passable, as most f2ms are. he comes across as gay, but male. *shrug* but my classmate doesn't know that.

i do wonder what they do know. a couple of the guys have hit on me, the one who has done it most consistantly, has said that he has dated "a queen" before. he called his queen a he, but seemed to think it was pretty great, if a little suffocating. he said that she (i can't call her he, it goes against my grain, sorry), paid all the bills, and gave him spending money too. so i can see why he'd want to get with me, too. he doesn't seem like he is the "gravy train" type, but then, he's not my type either.

the other guys, seem oblivious, but this one guy, i call him "soggy jebus" cos after welding he wets his hair down in the sink, and, well he looks like our lord and savior. soggy jebus, has already slept with the other girl in class, and seems to have set his sights on me. he constantly winks at me, and makes those flirty little dirty jokes you make when you like someone. today he was making lots of those jokes...

as i said, this is the last week of welding, and as excited as i am, i feel so unprepared, although, when it comes to tig welding, i am #2 in my class behind a guy who has had a whole semester of tig welding more than me. everyone else has been focusing on mig and dual sheild welding, so they can get certification if possible. there's not a tig cert to get, so i rely on my skill to sell me.

last week one of my classes ended early, the teacher quit infavor of a better job, but as i was the last one there he took the time to tell me:

"i just wanted to tell you, you are one of the bravest people i've ever met."

me: really? lol. why? i don't think i am particularlly brave.

"well, a few years ago i was counciling a guy going thru somethng similar, and he hated his body so much---
he-- well he castrated himself. it just made me understand, this isn't just something chosen."

me: yeah. that's why i don't really get why people say i'm brave. if you have no choice in the matter, how brave is it? i wouldn't have castrated myself, but i would definately be dead if i haddn't gone down this path. but i can't see as i'm brave."

"let me put it this way: you're not in the baking department, you're not in the hair or makeup department-- you're in the WELDING DEPARTMENT. and that takes courage."

me: yeah, well i guess you do have a point there. i guess i'm not good with complements.

"well get used to it. you are one of the bravest people i've known, and this thing you're doing? you wear it well. best of luck to you."

i was telling this story to d, and she agrees. she says what i am doing is really brave. it's kind of funny, i guess i really can't see it that way. perhaps if i play dumb in this respect it will be easier, who knows.

entry May 13 2007, 05:12 AM

so my saturday date fell thru, and i suppose i should be sad about it, but, i don't know how i feel about this guy, e. *shrugs* honestly, i prefer women, but i'm not really in the dyke circles i used to run in anymore, so... besides, he is kinda sweet, but he pushes to see me at night. which, i don't care for. the last guy i would "see" if you would call it that, only hung out with me late at night, which i kinda understood, because he was in a loveless marrage-- i knew his wife, and i knew they were swingers, since the weekend i met them, the hit on me. i don't care for threesomes. triangles don't work where bodies are concerned, imho, but back to my point-- his seeing me only after he closed down the bar he owned made me feel second rate. not something i care to repeat. i have seen e durring the day, infact always durring the day, and i don't think that he is ashamed to be seen with me, i know that vibe. all the same, i do think he is a bit of a player, even though he insists he's not. but son has an ex-wife and a daughter by another woman, and just broke up with another woman he's been seeing, possibly because he was interested in me, and i didn't want to date someone who was dating someone else. god, do i sound like a prude? am i holding out for too much? ugh. we talked today and long story short for various reasons we didn't get together today. he wanted me to come over so we can make out, which, hell i was kinda wanting earlier in the week when we made the plans, but today, ick. it just seems like that's all he wants. and that is such a turn off, right now. i am so tired of being men's private little secret fetish, like i'm some sort of sexual bot, and nothing else. it just repels me. if it was about getting laid or making out, i could litterally put an ad on craigslist and have someone over in a half hour. but again, ick. i want to be woo'd. yeah, thanks for trying to make me feel sexy, but i got that covered. what i need is those butterflies that come with being adored-- someone finding me charming, and admired, all those things that made me fall for my girlfriends when i was a boy....and finding someone who i find charming...

but fuck that bullshit. i was thinking about what i should do instead, and getting a tattoo went to the head of the list, which explains the illustration way up there at the top of this post. it's something back when i was trying to be a tattoo artist. i was trying to catch up on the okay thread, when they started talking bout tats, and i was tempted to post the pic there with some others (and i still might), but i always feel so self-indulgent posting in that thread (as if i didn't with a blog, but, well blogs are all about self-indulgence, aren't they?). anyhoo, i haven't come up with a caption, so i busted out my slang dictionaries (i adore em!). i have a couple of old ones, my favorite came out in the 40's, and it's a riot. it's organized like a thesaurus, which makes it better than the rest, but it's very detailed, organized by categories like science, or careers, which has subcategories like crime or military, with sub-sub categories like pickpocketing, and an addendum which had extra words that were newish. but the one i ended up using is one i don't use all that much because it's so specialized. it's called western words, and it is a cowboy, western and logging dictionary, with words culled from the 30's-50's and then updated from the late 60's with new old material. what i am looking for is good things to put on the banner on the illustration. there are some things i'd change on the illustration. i have to finish her face which i did as an afterthought. i draw faces more than anything else, so i left that unintentionally incomplete

anyways, this post is something i am going to be adding to for sometime, to keep track of western slang words (i'm only up to the d's in western ways), and if i put them here, then i will have a more clear access to them here.....some words (bitch, bitty, boob, brunette vide poche, etc) are posted in the interest of word origins.
  • airin' your lungs-- cussing.
  • airin' the paunch-- vomiting
  • all horns and rattles-- dangerous, angry or a fit of temper
  • ankle express-- to walk
  • anxious seat-- a seat near the front durring revival meeting, or in the back to leave meetings early.
  • *anger* all horns and rattles, digging up the tomahawk, easy on the trigger, frothy, gettin' his back/bristles up, in a horn tossin' mood, on the peck, on the warpath, got his paint for war, riled, red eyed, sharpenin' his horns, snorty, in a sod-pawin' mood, touchy as a teased snake, needs to wash off his war paint.
  • artillery-- weapons; "he's packin' so much artillery, his hoss is swaybacked."
  • arbuckle's-- the most popular brand of coffee, one cowboy's recipe: take 2 lbs of arbuckle's, add 'nough water to wet it, cook for 2 hours, then throw in a hoss (horse) shoe. if the shoe sinks, she ain't ready."
  • arizona nightingale-- a prospector's burro, so called because of it's bray.
  • arkansas toothpick-- a large knife, a dagger
  • *arrive*-- to blow in, to blow in with the tumbleweeds.
  • axlegrease-- butter
  • baby beef-- a calf
  • *bachelor*-- lone ranger, sourdough
  • *bad*-- bad medicine, cat-eyed, wolfish, daniel boone, got wool in his teeth.
  • bait-- food, a meal.
  • bait can-- a lunch box
  • bangtail-- a mustang, a wild horse.
  • banjo-- a short handled shovel
  • bardog-- a bartender.
  • barking at a knot-- something impossible, "like trying to scratch your ear with your elbow"
  • base burner-- whiskey
  • bean master-- a cook.
  • jerky-- any type of meat
  • belly wash-- weak coffee-- loggers call it a "soft drink".
  • bible-- cigarette papers
  • biddy-- an old ewe.
  • biscuit roller/shooter-- a cook.
  • bitch-- a tin cup filled with bacon grease and a bit of rag used as a candle.
  • black chaparral-- a very thorny brush peculiar to the southwest.
  • black-eyed susan-- a six shooter.
  • boob-- logger's slang for a railroad tie cutter.
  • booze-blind-- stinking, falling down drunk.
  • boss simple-- stupid around or afraid of one's boss.
  • boston dollar-- a penny.
  • *braggart* flannel mouth, got calluses from pattin' his own back, talk like a texan, too much mustard, half horse, half alligator.
  • brain tablet-- a cigarette
  • brave maker-- whiskey
  • break a hamstring-- to do one's best.
  • breaking the medicine-- new, good luck, to break a jinx or spell.
  • brigham young cocktail-- strong whiskey: "one sip and you are a confirmed polygamist."
  • bring 'em close glasses-- bonoculars
  • broken mouth-- someone (or an animal) with missing teeth.
  • brown gargle-- coffee
  • brunette vide poche-- where the phrase "gold digger" came from, a suburb of st. louis nicknamed vide poche from the french, for empty pocket

 | Category: life
entry May 8 2007, 09:12 PM
dear home,

i'm feeling much better today. it's been hard for me to haul my ass to school the last couple of days. i've kind of given up. i've decided i want to get an apprenticeship when the program is thru, and last night i downloaded spfs of all the ones that looked interesting. i have yet to sort thru them. this morning i barely caught the bus, but i found the song "black ice (hymn to disco)" by k-os. i think it's my new theme song. it makes me really happy, which, i really need right now (you know, cos of the birthday problem). it was the first song i'd heard by them. i was expecting straight hip-hop, but they have this great way of using oldschool beats-- you know beats you've heard 1000 times before-- sampled off of james brown, thank kind of thing, but the new music makes it much more exciting. and the song sounds like disco, but not the cliche of disco, it's more of a rollerskate anthem, and those are more fun anyways. it's mostly singing, except the bridge has a short little rap by a guy with a british accent. it really is wonderful.

school was kinda dumb, first was financial counciling, which was kinda good, learned a lot, but well, it's not very sexy. our teacher j, has been sick the last couple of days, so mr squirrel taught us. um... i love mr squirrel, he treats me like a star pupil, in a subtle way, but if j looks and acts like jack lemon (and he does), the mr squirrel is ray liotta. he says the funniest shit, too. he came in the classroom before class with a huge grease stain over his right pocket going half way down his leg, so i asked him what happened cos it looked like he peed himself. he said, without missing a beat, "yeah, my depends broke. sad, but true." and he had this devilish grin on his face. later he was talking to a student, and he has this way of insulting everybody, but the person who is being insulted ends up laughing too. so this kid was talking and he says, yeah, well if bullshit was a brass band, you'd be making music." i can't remember all the things he said but i thought j was funny, he can't hold a candle to mr squirrel. plus, his name is mr. squirrel. what a fucking great name! i love talking to him cause it's another opportunity to say "mr squirrel!"

so there is this group of esl kids in the program that everyone has started to call the "bar-B-Q crew" after this one guy who everybody calls bar b q, because no matter what you are talking to him about, he looks at you like he's on another planet. really quite scary. especially since he has fucked up more equipment than any other students combined, and has fucked it up more completely than anyone else. i would not be suprized if someone in the crew lost a finger or more by the end of things.

yesturday i drew one of my cartoon girls on a work table that was all rusted. it looked beautiful, and i drew a bit more today, and it got me thinking, and i figured out a way to draw in negative on metal with the sandblaster. i can't really do it because i have to go to a vinyl sign making company to do it, but i don't see why it wouldn't work, add using some stressed metal for pattern and water to make it oxidize, and i think i have a new way of making my paintings. now to make it work... i'd like to incorperate the welding i'm trying to learn, but i can't see it but for the frames. i found some sheet metal in the scraps. it was from the side of a mig machine. it had a sticker and a company decal on it, so i cut it up, and i am going to make it into some sort of painting. i need to learn how to pinstripe. i have been looking at some things on line but the brushes are expensive....

math was a pain in the ass. i hate math and today i concentrated on converting dismals (sic) to fractions and back. k was showing me this pen she found. it had a pic of a burgular on it, and it said, "this pen was stolen from..." it was some place out of state, but she was feeling ornery, so she called the place and told the lady who answered that she was calling from seattle, and she had a pen that seemed to have found it's way to her. she knew that they must be concerned, and she wanted to know how she could get it back to it's rightful home. the woman on the other end processed this for a few seconds and then hung up. it was pretty funny.

after the welding day, i decided to skate to the skateshop. i thought i would treat myself to a new skateboard, since vic (victory from the pj harvey song, you know, "if i named her victory she'd make it...vic-to-ry!") should be retired before i run her into the ground. i was thinking about a drop skate with a lower riding deck to make things a bit easier on my knees. i have been looking on line for a few days and i was thinking about two models, both of them by landyachts:

the urban assault and the drop carve.
i was tempted to get one of those beautiful new boards that are out now that are all retro styled with beautiful simple lines, clear grip tape on the top so you can see the color and grain of the wood. they are reminiscant of old surf boards. as much as i love skateboard graphics, i love the simple beauty of these boards. here, see what i mean:
or better yet, here is a deck by arbor, whose decks are nothing if not beautiful:

thing is, i'm not a fan of the pintail and i want something a little less conservative, and the drop, as i said is easier on my aged the skateboard shop they had this loaded skateboard:

not much to look at, to be sure, but it's super thin, super light, and flexes like a mutha. add to that it had some randal downhill trucks...suffice to say carve wise you could hit somewhere between a 30-40 degree angle on a turn.
but it's too expensive, and since i am so tall, i need a wider wheel base. if i did a drop knee and tried a hard turn, my shoe would scrape a wheel and i'c go flying. but it was fun to look at.
the place didn't carry landyachts, so i would order it online, but the online folks are on vacation til memorial day...ugh.

so it looks like victory is it for a while unless i want to settle for something more conservative.....

anyways. i'm gonna go work on some sketches for the scrap i found earlier.


 | Category: film
entry May 5 2007, 02:13 PM

addendum: it's been more than a week since viewing they shoot horses, don't they? and i have to say, it's only grown in my appreciation. it is the rare movie that i am interested in seeing more than once. they come around maybe once every 2 or 3 years. the thing that all movies that i want to see again have in common, is that they are always, very taut, tightly woven stories, they are the quintessentual "well made [movies]." there are no loose ends, often the first shot carries as much meaning as the last as to the film and the charecter's trajectories. the mise-en-scene is carefully chosen and shot to reinforce the story. these are films that are meant to be read, and re-read. the last few movies i have wanted to see again: tale of two sisters, oldboy, 3 iron, and memories of murder.

yesterday i watched a movie that i had been waiting to see for some time. it's a movie that always ends up having snippets in film studies classes or movies about movies or movies about movies in the 70's, like the brilliant, a decade under the influence which regularly shows on ifc. that movie is they shoot horses, don't they?"

part of the interest for me is the odd titlle, but as i've said, it was made in the 70's. in american film, the 70's were, are and odd age. gone is a lot of the optimism of the 40's 50's and 60's. they gave way, because of watergate, vietnam, and other things to a disillusionment, and cynicism. on top of that it was the end of the old studio system so there was a new wave of filmakers who were financed largely because the studio couldn't figure out what audiences liked. the result is a group of movies about the individual, so unique, so different, and many of them so great that they deserve to be studied. they shoot, is one of those films.

the essentual story of they shoot horses is that it is a look at two people who sign up for a dance marathon in atlantic city durring the depression. the two people are robert, a rather wide eyed kid who gets pulled into the "contest" on accident, and gloria (jane fonda) a cynical street wise girl who knows all the angles, but thinks this is her one shot to pull herself out of her misery. the other main charecter is rocky, the smiling mc of the contest who promises $1500 to the winner. what follows, like most 70's movies, is an examination of their complete loss of innocence and hope. if that sounds a little bleak, well it is. let me put it this way, the thread on the top of the imdb site for they shoot horses as a threat titled: "your top 10 depressing movies". they shoot horses, is that.

here is a brief break, where i list some of my favorite depressing movies, in no particular order:

killer of sheep
they shoot horses, don't they?
life is sweet
last exit to brooklyn
house of sand and fog
requiem for a dream
bless the beasts and the children
a woman under the influence
in the mood for love
the passenger
cool hand luke
cries and whispers
penny serenade
pulse (original kirosawa version)
Abre los ojos (open your eyes)
benny's video
memories of murder
samarian girl
boys don't cry
mie vie en rose (my life in pink)
dog day afternoon

at this point, i should confess, i have always prefered depressing movies. there is something about them that makes me think i'm being told the truth warts and all. i have never had much of an appitite for saccarine, so depressing is quite alright with me.

they shoot horses is a very strange movie. not in terms of it's telling, it's all in flash back, and it's naturalistic almost to a fault. no, what makes it odd is it's sparseness. save the last scene, there is nothing is unbelievably, spare: there is only one location, more or less, there is almost no back story on the people in it, the three main charecters are the exception, but even what we are given of them is trimmed to the bone. no one in this movie really wants to talk, they are all facing the grimness of their lives with an attempt at stoicism. for the meat of the movie, we are shown the marathon floor with it's racetrack and stands, backstage with the mc and backstage with the contestants. there are a couple of different places at the begining, ending and flashbacks, but they hardly amount to much, no, this movie wants you to concentrate on this claustrophobic little sadistic dog and pony show, and nothing else. by the end of the movie, one is so worn down, the end, which is no suprize really comes as much of a relief as it does to the two leads.

now that i've totally scared you off of the movie, i have to tell you, i loved it. i absolutely loved it. it was completely worth the wait of the umpteen years it's taken me to get around to seeing it. this, is what i love in a movie. not just the depressing aspect, but that it is so focused, so well made. nothing is in the movie unless it has reason to be. each event, the lines, the scenes, all of it. and the way it's shot, it seems so matter of fact, even though i know they had to produce special techniques to shoot the derby scenes, they fade in. the women's eyes, in they shoot horses, seem so loaded with misery, that they haunt. there is one scene with a woman in a shower, and her eyes well up in a way that is like a punch in the stomach. it's so effecting, and when i look back at it i am almost stupified as to how. but the secret here, is that they shoot horses is self reflexive-- it is about more than just this little "contest". it is about people in the movie theatre as well as in the stands at the marathon, it is, at it's heart it is an endictment of capitolism's failings in the depression era AND the 70's, and now. it is about having the deck stacked against you. one thing that has occured to me, in the last hour thinking about the film,(and this movie is one that gets better in hindsight the more you think about it), is that they shoot horses is neo-noir in the best 70's sense. a fantastic film, and one that i would consider one of my favorites.

below are snippets of my comments from imdb's they shoot horses, don't they? board. i post under the name, "it's poop!" my exclaimation when a movie is less than good. there is a bit of over lap can read the comments in context there, or use them here to think about the film, to tell me your take on the movie or whatever, in the comments (i love a good film debate, especially when i am wrong) ..............or you can ignore them.


Q:why is gloria such a bitch?
i think i have to disagree with this idea of gloria being a bitch. she is the embodyment of people who have been so beaten down, the bite everyone. it's like that abused dog that turns on his master. she and rocky have been down this road before. they know each other, and every one of her snide comments is a growl warning others. when the dress gets stolen like most people i thought gloria might have done it, but it was rocky, who is the real villan in the piece-- the smiling facade of a sadistic system. it is no accident that he was a former faith healer's shill. and as it says he comes from a family of them, but back to the point-- the shill is the one who restores people's faith, returns their belief in something, but it is all a lie.

Q:why is robert so simple?
robert is the stand in for the audience in a lot of ways, innocent, but not easily led. when he talks about the brain tumor movie, it is gloria's cynical take on it that says it was, even in her words "probably" wrong. not proof of robert being simple. and when asked a second time about the marrage idea, he again protested. the point was that you had these two charecters-- one, gloria, cynical, streetwise, bitter and knowing all the angles (she had done these things before which is why the old lady was a fan), and the other rob't. who really didn't know about the marathon, but thru events (the death of the sailor, the dress), comes to know about them. both of these people-- polar opposites lose their optimism thru this horrible "contest." remember, at the end of the film, it's not gloria who starts with the depressed talk, he does. out on the pier, there is the shot of the ocean, and he starts talking about how he used to love the ocean, now he doesn't care. it's no accident this scene takes place at night-- remember the scene where rob't dances alone in the sunlight? or the one where he wants to watch the sunset? the movie charts his (and her),loss of innocence. i don't think that his last words, "they shoot horses, don't they?" was made to make him a simpleton either. to me it meant, "it was the least i could do." it struck me as a rather sophisticated understanding of his and gloria's situation-- it meant when someone is in such misery it's nothing but cruelty to leave them like that. even a horse gets put out of his misery. it's the sort of thing that was eluded to earlier in the film, and they are constantly refered to as animals in different ways, like when gloria sarcastically remarks before the wedding idea, "what's next? put us in cages and have them throw peanuts at us?

Q:what did rocky show gloria that got her so upset?
while the amount is NOT revealed to us, we can only go by her reaction, which, for someone who has dragged a deadman across a finishline and suffered for more than 45 days, is to see that it is all a scam. it seems she knows that her prize --if she won-- is zilch. the deck is stacked against her. it's like those people who bought things from the company store on credit-- sooner or later you find yourself an indentured servant, and working not for money but to pay an insurmoutable debt.

Q:why did gloria quit the contest?
it was a scam. the whole point of it was to put on a show. it's repeatedly refered to as such. when rob insists it's a contest, rocky sets him straight-- it's a show, and they are there to suffer, to give people something to believe in. rocky is, and always has been a sham artist-- think about it-- in a movie where the charecters have so little backstory, why do we know more about rocky than almost anyone else? thru the whole movie, he lies, cons, and cheats, he seduces. for all intents and purposes he is the devil himself, he is the loaded gun out to kill both gloria and rob from the very begining-- remember how and why rob got in the contest? he was curious, but rocky pulled him in as a partner to gloria.

Q:why does gloria want to die?
editorially, it's as she says, it's the finale, the climax of the movie. and the movie tells you many times thru roberts flashbacks (a sort of coming attractions) she will end up dead. as for her motivation, the reason she decides she wants to die is that she (and robert) have lost all hope. this was the one thing she thought she could do, and thru the whole movie she is cynical about everything but winning-- until-- the mc tells her even if she wins she gets nothing. the tab she will have acrued, it's implied, will eat up all her prize money. think about it, the mc tells her that the "kids" take up a lot of expenses, but the only people who have to pay for the expenses are the winners? what kind of sense does that make, if he's trying to make back his costs? here was the one thing that gloria thought she could do, and she finds the deck is stacked against her. she is cynical to a fault but this one ray of sunshine is taken away. she has nothing left.

Q:why don't we find out who won the contest?
one reason is that it was told in flashback by robert, and he was in jail/dead by the time the contest ended, but editorially,
anyone who wanted to see who won even for a second (myself included), fell for the trap in the film-- falling prey to the spectacle, wanting to see more of the awful suffering of those poor charecters. the sadistic show wasn't for the people in the stands of the movie, but rather for the audience WATCHING THE MOVIE. but more than that, not knowing serves the purpose of pointing out in this contest, there are no winners.

Q:what makes you think this is a neo-noir film?
well, it has all the componants of one:it's fatalistic, there is no escape for most of the charecters. they end up dead/having a nervous break down; it shows some sort of descent into darkness/immorality, it's claustrophobic, ends with a death, has the main charecter having some sort of visualization/mental break down (the horse/gloria shooting), and its told in flashback.

Q:ok, smart ass, if that was a neo-noir (and i'm not saying it was), who is the femme fatale?
not that all noir have them, but it's gloria. she seduces robert into being in the contest, and certianly fits the street wise architype.

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