Monday, November 28, 2011


In the new film Melancholia, written and directed by Lars von Trier, Melancholia is the name of a planet that has been hidden behind the sun and is now visible, rapidly moving toward a collision with Earth.

Melancholia (from Greek meaning sadness) according to Wikipedia is a mood disorder of non-specific depression. Dictionary terminology defines it as: a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression. In his New York Times review, A. O. Scott quotes Freud’s description of the emotional disorder melancholia as: “a profoundly painful dejection, cessation of interest in the outside world, loss of the capacity to love, inhibition of all activity, and a lowering of the self-regarding feelings to a degree that finds utterance in self-reproaches and self-revilings, and culminates in a delusional expectation of punishment.”

It seems appropriate that a planet ready to wipe out our very existence would be given a name meaning depression. A gloomy state of mind with loss of interest in all activity seems par for that course.

The film is broken into two parts. “Justine” and “Claire” respectively. Justine is a girl battling her demons of depression and Claire is her sister, the one who holds it all together. In part one, we see Justine on her wedding day. Claire is trying to keep everything moving smoothly as Justine tries to just be present. In part two, we see Claire become the unhinged sister as the threat of total annihilation sets in while Justine remains calm. Inspiration for the film is said to have come from Trier's own life after suffering a depressive episode and gaining insight that depressed people remain calm in stressful situations. This makes the title an apt choice. Nothing I’m saying here is a SPOILER. All of the above plot points were revealed to me in the New York Times review.

What’s it all about? That’s a question I kept posing to myself during the first part of the film. I have to say here that I thought it was slow. I found myself interested but wishing for something to happen. I was intently watching Kirsten Dunst who plays “Justine” so as to not miss a look or breath. She has been well received in the film and already won Best Actress at Cannes. However, I found myself wishing to see Alexander Skarsgard, the man playing Justine’s husband (and the hot vampire Eric on True Blood) strip down to less than his wedding tux. Alas, we managed a glimpse of him in tuxedo shirt and boxer briefs, but that was all. Focus!

I kept thinking, “What is going on at this wedding?" "Why is she so weird?" "Why is no one talking about the planet?" Then everything changed and my reason for sticking with this film was made known.

What would you do if you knew you were going to die? In the distance, that planet you see approaching. Yeah, it’s going to hit us.

Charlotte Gainsbourg plays “Claire” and to me she was the breath of exciting air that this film needed. The moment that her story took center stage I was more intrigued. She’s a wife and a mother. She fears the approaching planet. She tries to not look up information on the Internet about its approach but fails. She can’t stop herself from viewing the planet’s ever-nearer proximity to Earth. She doesn’t want to believe the inevitable, but can’t resist. When she checks one more time to see if the planet is closer her despair is palpable. As Claire began to have trouble breathing, I found myself focusing on my own breathing. Watching her was like getting a glimpse of the way I would act should this be happening to Earth in 2011. Or for that matter December 2012. Thanks Mayan calendar. Prepare to comfort me folks. I tend to get a little unhinged myself.

If life as you know it were going to end in a matter of minutes or days, what would you do? Would you freak out? Would you remain calm? Would you cry? Would you be able to leave your house, your bed? Would you spend every moment with your family and friends? Would you be able to sleep? Would you be able to not sleep? Would you enjoy your favorite glass of red wine? Would you sing a song? Would you soak up the sun and breath the air? Would you commit suicide?

Life is fragile and precious. Do we take the time to live every moment as if it was our last? No. I don’t think most of us live as if we might not take another breath. I don’t. I get inspired to live that way when I see a film like this or hear a song about said ending, but it doesn’t always stick. Life is fleeting. It may seem like we’ve been here forever when we’re 40, 50, 80 years old, but we’re just a speck in the great scheme of life. We have to enjoy it while it lasts. Live it while we’re in it. What Claire suffered from is the fear of impending doom; it all but paralyzed her ability to continue living. I suffer from that dread when something – a spanking from my father, the results of the doctor’s exam, the rapture, a planet crashing into Earth – is pending and I have to wait for it to happen. I know it’s coming and that makes everything worse.

I’m left to ponder the question, “What would I do?” I know myself well enough to know that I would freak out. I would stress myself into a blithering heap of blood and bones, barely able to leave the house. I would probably take a sleeping pill to ensure that I calmed my anxiety-prone self into sleep. There would probably be no relief from the pain that would take up residence in my chest. That dread of impending doom. How do you even pretend to live when you know the worst is coming? Even though I know man cannot predict the rapture, I was a wreck the day of its predicted happening. I sat at my desk, the very desk where I am now writing, and I watched the still water in the glass sitting next to my computer. I thought if there was going to be an earthquake and we ascended to Christ the water would surely move. It didn’t move. I was watching for any ripple, ala Jurassic Park. Nothing happened. The appointed time came and went. The sense of relief I felt was stupid considering I had worked myself into the frenzy.

Melancholia will not be for everyone. It can be slow and tedious, but it can also be beautiful and thought provoking. The acting by its two females – especially as they change emotional positions – is the first reason to get sucked in. I do not regret watching it if for nothing more that to connect the beautiful pieces together and to see a little bit of myself that I know I should change.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Return to Winthrop St. - Part 3

When she walked into the library, Atwood took notice immediately. The library became the setting for a fantasy sequence straight out of an R-rated teen sex comedy, complete with a fan to billow her hair and a backlight to show her panties. She was tall, blond, and gorgeous; her tan, the perfect shade of brown. She looked like a typical California girl. Of course, none of that actually happened.

She noticed him and that snapped him back to reality. He smiled. She walked to the table he occupied alone and sat at the opposite end. It wasn’t long before he found himself unable to concentrate on the paper, “Voodoo in the Deep South,” he had gone to the library to write for his sociology class.

She looked in his direction and noticed that he was staring at her. It should have been creepy, but she couldn’t help but smile back. She was twirling her hair and the smile happened spontaneously. It was the worst moment for his face to flush red. Neither of them had much control over their actions in that moment. 

She grabbed her bag and books and moved down to his end of the table.

“Hi,” she said, now sitting across from him. “I’m Clancy Lord.”

“Hi, I’m Atwood Ross,” he said as he watched her continue to twirl her hair. It was clichéd that the blond girl would be sitting across from him twirling her hair, but she was. He was staring into her big green eyes, wanting to fall in, trying to stay calm.

She demurely looked down at her books as a crooked smile formed on her lips. When she returned her gaze to him her eyes seemed even bigger than before.

“I see you’re a Delta Sig,” said Clancy, indicating the insignia patch on his backpack.

“Yeah,” said Atwood completely at a loss for words. He felt so stupid. She was just a girl. Why couldn’t he talk to her?

“I’m a Delta Gamma,” said Clancy, showing him the Greek letter pendant she wore around her neck. “Do Good!”

“Sorry?” said Atwood, a little confused by her final comment.

“Oh,” she said with a laugh. “That’s our motto, Do Good!

“Oh.” Atwood smiled back at her and felt his shoulders relax a little. “Ours is Better Men, Better Lives.” Atwood cocked his head to the side slightly when he realized he had just quoted his fraternity’s motto.

“I know,” replied Clancy. “I’ve dated a couple of you guys already. You guys have ‘Better Men’ and I’m supposed to ‘Do Good’ and when we get together we can create ‘Better Lives’…at least for an hour or so.”

“I can’t believe I actually remembered our motto,” said Atwood and then her words sunk in. “Wait, what did you say?”

“I said, ‘You guys have ‘Better Men’ and I’m supposed to ‘Do Good’ and when we get together we can create ‘Better Lives’ at least for an hour or so.’”

Again his face flushed. She laughed because the reddening hadn’t gone unnoticed. How could it? His golden eyes were even more pronounced when surrounded by a red face.

“I think you’re cute, Atwood,” said Clancy. “There’s a party at the sorority house tonight.” She took out a small card and began to write on it as she spoke. “Here’s the address and my number. Come by around 9pm.” She slid the card across the table and grabbed her books and bag and stood up from the table. “It was nice to meet you, Atwood Ross. See you tonight.” She then turned and walked away.

Atwood picked up the card. It was embossed with the Delta Gamma insignia. It had the name her sorority and the address of her sorority house in bronze-colored ink. Just below the address was her phone number. He was excited. This could be just what he needed to get his mind off of Kinlin.

“Clancy Lord,” he said aloud to himself as he pocketed the card. He looked down at his nearly blank notebook page and realized he had to get to work on his report or he couldn’t even think about attending the party tonight. 

A little over halfway down Hilgard Street, Atwood stood in front of the Delta Gamma sorority house. He looked from the card to the house. The insignia was there and the house number. He was in the right place. He was nervous. He wasn’t sure why. It was only a party. Although it didn’t look like a party was going on. Maybe he was just early. Clancy had told him to stop by at 9pm. That was a little early for a party to be in full swing. He had to stop himself from his characteristic internal criticizing. He was there on time and there was nothing wrong with that.

He walked up the sidewalk toward the house—a three-story red brick mansion adorned with four white, round columns stretching from the barely-raised-off-the-ground front porch to a half-moon roof at the second level. He took in the black shutters that side-framed each window and the doghouses with their varying degree of pulled shades on the third level. The house was much larger than that of the Delta Sig Fraternity. 

“I guess girls just need more space,” he muttered aloud to himself.

He looked up to see that the ornate lighting fixture that hung from the center of the porch roof was adorned with bronze roses. The house was almost daunting and seemed empty. He couldn’t believe that a party was actually going on inside. If it hadn’t been for the many-lighted windows he would have thought the beautiful girl was playing a cruel trick on him. 

He rang the bell. As he waited for someone to open the door he checked his breath. He didn’t smell anything unpleasant, but popped a piece of gum in his mouth anyway. He should have chosen breath mints instead of gum. How annoying was he going to look to Clancy chewing gum? He didn’t have any breath mints though so gum was his option. Note to self: stop sabotaging the moment.

It seemed an eternity before Clancy opened the door. He had turned his back to it and was looking across the street when he heard her voice.

“Right on time.”

He turned around. She was standing in the doorway wearing a man’s white dress shirt, a black lacy bra peeking out from underneath. He noticed she was barefoot as he took in her smooth legs. All that was missing was a lollipop. He felt like he had just stepped into Risky Business
“Come in, Atwood,” she said, desire in her eyes and a lust for satisfaction in her body language.

“Hey,” said Atwood. “I thought you said this was a party?”

“It is a party,” replied Clancy. “Just not the kind you were expecting.”

Atwood walked into house. It appeared to be empty. Was he the sole attendee to her party? What was she planning? His heart raced with excitement peppered slightly with fear. As if on cue AC/DC’s “Back in Black” started playing. It was a little sinister and erotic at the same time. His heart continued to pound.

Clancy closed the door, then walked past him, glancing back and motioning with her head indicating that he should follow her.

He walked through the opening to his left into the living area of the sorority house. The room was painted pale blue with mahogany stained molding around the windows and doors. Ornate wainscoting in the same shade of mahogany climbed a third of the wall, surrounding the room. It was warm and inviting, the fire in the fireplace perfect for a California night.

There was another guy sitting on the overstuffed sofa. Atwood froze where he stood. Clancy had moved to the chair across from the sofa and was now sitting, looking at Atwood.

“You don’t have to be shy, Atwood,” said Clancy. “This is my friend, Bobby. Bobby Blake,” she gestured toward Atwood making introductions. “Atwood Ross.”

“Hi, Atwood.” Bobby stood and extended his hand. 

“Hi, Bobby,” said Atwood, extending his hand to Bobby’s and grasping it firmly. He was unsure of the three-person party, but that didn’t affect his manners.

Bobby was slightly taller than Atwood. He had blue/green eyes and short dark brown hair. His teeth were perfect and white and stood out amongst the scruff that darkened his face. When he smiled at Atwood during their handshake, Atwood felt immediately at ease.
“I’ve never met anyone with golden eyes before,” said Bobby.

Atwood smiled. He had heard that a lot. Golden eyes were odd, and he was used to people finding them the most interesting, or beautiful, thing about him.

“You’re right, Clance, he is cute,” Bobby said to Clancy, then he turned back to Atwood and smiled again as he sat back down on the sofa.

“I told you,” said Clancy. “Atwood, would you like something to drink?” Atwood paused. “I know we’re all underage, but there’s no need to be a prude. I have a stash of Malibu Rum and nobody’s here.”

“Sure,” said Atwood as he shrugged. He didn’t want to be a prude. He had no idea why he was there, but being a prude seemed to be the surest way to get kicked out of this party. 

Clancy brought him a glass of rum on the rocks.

“Is this straight rum?” asked Atwood.

“Yes,” replied Clancy, her eyes and mouth still seductive. “Can you handle it?”

“Clance, dial it down a little,” said Bobby.

Atwood looked at Bobby then back to Clancy before taking a drink of the rum.

“I think I can handle it.” With no immediate disposal options apparent to him he used the drink to swallow his gum. 

“Good,” said Clancy. She smiled at him and took a drink from her own glass. “Why don’t you take off your jacket and stay a while?”

Atwood took his jacket off and threw it on a chair by the opening to the living room. The music coming from unseen speakers continued to play 80s tunes. Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard filled the space with hard driving beats. Atwood tried to take in everything about the situation in which he had found himself.

Bobby and Clancy were both staring at him when his mind came back into focus.

“Sit down, Atwood,” said Bobby.

Atwood sat in the second chair opposite the sofa. 

“Not over there. Come sit over here,” Bobby said indicating the sofa with a pat of his hand on the empty space next to him. 

Caution surged through Atwood’s thoughts as he got up from the chair and sat at the end of the sofa that placed him between Bobby and Clancy, who remained seated in her chair.

“How about we play a little game?” said Clancy.

“What kind of game?” asked Atwood.

“Nothing too serious, just something that will help us loosen up.

“Loosen up? Why do we need to loosen up?” asked Atwood.

“If you have to ask that question then you need to loosen up,” replied Clancy.

“It’s okay, Atwood,” said Bobby as he gave Clancy a “take it easy” look. He then turned to face Atwood and smiled. “It’s just a little drinking game that involves fantasies and talking. It makes it easy to relax and open up and learn about each other.”

“You in?” asked Clancy. She wasn’t letting up and she wasn’t taking Bobby’s looks with any degree of seriousness. 

“Sure,” said Atwood, unsure, but proceeding. He was there. What did he have to lose? He tried to remember to keep his wits about him and to know when to say when.

“Okay,” said Clancy, her crooked smile from earlier in the day reappearing as she sat up straighter in the chair. She revealed her black panties in the process as she pulled her legs Indian style underneath her. “So this game is called ‘I Never.’ What you have to do is say something that you may or may not have done with the words ‘I Never’ in front of it. If anyone in the game has done it then they have to drink. I’ll give you an example. I never used a dildo.” 

There was a brief pause before Clancy and Bobby took a drink. Atwood was surprised to see Bobby take a drink. Bobby again smiled at him.

“So, you just learned a little bit about me…and Bobby. You now know we’ve both used a dildo before. The questions are supposed to be sexual. They don’t have to be, but only pussies play without sexual questions.” She gave him the look she had given him in the library where her eyes looked bigger than they could be. This time they also looked more seductive. She was coming on strong and Atwood was fighting the butterflies in his stomach. He wanted to let go and be part of this game—this situation—whatever it was. He hoped that if the alcohol was indeed going to relax him it would be the chloroform that would sedate the butterflies and knock them out if only for a little while.

“I’ll start,” said Clancy. Neither of the boys in the room was surprised by her willingness to begin. Atwood had known this girl for less than eight hours, but knew already she was used to getting what she wanted. Example number one was the fact that he had shown up at the sorority house tonight. He realized that she knew he would come as soon as she had given him her card.

“I never sucked a cock before,” said Clancy as she stared at both of them. She surprised herself by keeping a straight face.

She was the first to move her glass toward her mouth. From his peripheral vision Atwood saw movement next to him. He turned to see Bobby also taking a drink. He wasn’t sure he wanted to divulge that information about himself yet, but he couldn’t stop his arm from moving his own glass to his lips.

“Really?” said Bobby, surprise in his voice, a devilish grin on his face.

Atwood heard him, but chose not to acknowledge his words. He could, however, tell from the tone that they were accompanied by a smile.

“Bobby,” said Clancy, indicating that he should go next.

“I never had a 3-way.”

He was drinking almost before the words were out of his mouth. Clancy too took a drink. Atwood sat motionless on the sofa. He couldn’t drink. He had never experienced a 3-way. He had watched a 3-way in porn before, but that didn’t count in this game. He did notice that Clancy gave Bobby an interesting look. Interesting was the best way he could describe it because he had no idea what it meant.

“Your turn, Atwood,” said Bobby.

Atwood didn’t really know what to say. He hadn’t had that many experiences. He didn’t think under-the-bra action at prom was likely to illicit much more than laughter from his new sexually adventurous acquaintances.

“I never…” he paused. “I never kissed my best friend.”

Bobby smiled while Clancy laughed. Bobby gave another one of his looks and she acknowledged him this time by dialing down the laugh and taking a drink. Bobby also took a drink. Atwood smiled a shy smile and shook his head as he too took a drink.

Thirty minutes later and drink number two, Bobby and Clancy were playing to Atwood’s strengths. The questions had become less sexual in an effort to keep him drinking. He was aware of the change at its beginning, but now that the rum was coursing through his blood stream—chasing away his fear—he was just having a good time.

“Hotel California” was filling the room with its guitar interlude when Clancy moved to the sofa. She sat between Bobby and Atwood. She started to kiss Bobby. Atwood watched like a voyeur. His eyes were slits, his mouth in a half-smile. From the guitar strains of “Hotel California” to the bluesy chords of “Sweet Emotion” the atmosphere in the room changed again as he felt a hand on his leg. He thought it was Clancy, but when he looked down he saw that it wasn’t a feminine hand.

He looked at Bobby and Clancy kissing next to him and saw that Bobby was looking at him. His head was cocked slightly to the side so that he could see Atwood while kissing Clancy. It was Bobby’s hand that was rubbing his thigh.

Atwood didn’t know what to do. He wanted to be in the moment, be part of the situation. He wanted to let go and succumb to the passion that might await him. Flashes of Kinlin flickered behind his eyes. He didn’t know why. Kinlin was being distant. Kinlin had already made out with two girls at Elmhurst. This moment was Atwood’s. It was real, and it was happening. He could be a pussy and not participate or he could be the luckiest 18-year old at UCLA.

“Fuck you, Kinlin,” he mouthed barely audible.

Atwood took Bobby’s hand from his thigh and placed it firmly on his crotch. Bobby squeezed the hardness under his hand and kissed Clancy harder. There was nothing to lose. The alcohol had indeed knocked out the butterflies while giving him the courage to experience whatever this experience was to be.

Atwood sunk down a little into the sofa and placed his own hand on top of Bobby’s so that they caressed Atwood’s cock together. Before he knew what was happening there were lips on his cock and lips on his lips. He didn’t remember pulling his pants down let alone off, but he was naked. Clancy was naked and Bobby was naked. They were still on the sofa in the living room. Atwood wondered what would happen if anyone walked in, but the clutter in his mind became clear as he put one hand on Clancy’s breast and the other on Bobby’s cock. His breathing was fast and hard. He was losing his grip on reality. Was this happening? Was this real? He was trying to live in it.

He let go of Bobby’s cock and used his now free hand to push Bobby’s face from his own. He stared into Bobby’s eyes then looked down at his cock. Bobby took the hint and moved forward. Atwood took Bobby into his mouth like a starving child. He licked and sucked like his life depended on it. Bobby moaned. They were all drunk. The alcohol should have slowed down the orgasm, but it didn’t.

Bobby threw his head back as the sounds of mad passion broke forth from his throat and the spasm of climax shot into Atwood’s mouth. Unaware of any other choice but to swallow, Atwood swallowed, as did Clancy when Atwood lost complete control at the peak of ecstasy.

Bobby leaned down and kissed Atwood deep as if he wanted to taste himself in Atwood’s mouth. Atwood could see Clancy smiling with satisfaction at what they’d done. He leaned forward and kissed her. She took him by the back of the head and plunged her tongue deep into his mouth. He welcomed her intrusion even as he felt she would suck the tongue from his mouth. 

Bobby moved into the space left vacant by Atwood’s forward move. From behind him he placed his hands around Atwood, one on his stomach, the other on his chest. He began kissing Atwood’s neck. Atwood could feel Bobby’s cock, hard again, pressing into his back. His own cock stiffened. 

“Welcome To The Jungle” filled the room with a wild soundtrack cue for the scene they were in.

Bobby reached down and took hold of Atwood’s cock and Atwood reached forward and slipped two fingers inside Clancy. Her sharp intake of breath was not lost on him. He didn’t know how he knew what to do, but he used his thumb the massage her sensitivity. She rocked against him.

Clancy’s eyes were staring intently past Atwood. He realized that she was staring at Bobby. She was thrusting hard against Atwood’s fingers without breaking her gaze. Bobby had now removed his left hand from Atwood’s chest and had found his way to the spot that gave Atwood sensations he had never experienced.

How am I here, he thought to himself. What am I doing? Living was the word that popped into his head.

While stroking Atwood’s cock, Bobby slipped a finger inside of him. It hurt transiently then felt amazing. His body tingled. It was alive with pleasure. Atwood couldn’t stop himself from rocking back and forth on Bobby’s finger as Bobby continued stroking his cock. 

It was hard for Atwood to concentrate on what he was doing. Thankfully Clancy took charge of her own climax. Her breath began to quicken, her body to shudder as she moaned through her closed mouth. Atwood was in such a state of frenzy that he couldn’t hold on any longer. His entire body convulsed as he came. He felt Bobby’s finger inside of him as his pulsing tightened around it.

He was spent. Exhausted. He fell back against Bobby who wrapped him in his arms. Clancy wore the elated smile of a girl who’d just gotten everything she wanted. She also looked like she wanted a cigarette, but maybe that was just an image the movies had placed in Atwood’s head.

“So, Atwood,” said Clancy. “Are you glad you came to the party?”

He couldn’t resist the smile that formed on his droopy-eyed face. “More than you know.”

“Good,” she replied looking past him to Bobby. “We’ll have to do it again. What do you say, Bobby? Would you be up for another ‘party’?”

His eyes twinkled when he smiled. “That goes without saying.” He kissed Atwood’s neck. Goose flesh bumped over Atwood’s body.

“Well then, I think we have to make that happen,” she said as she stood up, put on the white dress shirt and began buttoning it. “Leave me your number, Atwood.”

When Atwood and Bobby were dressed the three of them stood looking at each other. There was just enough rum left in each of their glasses to have a final shot. They clinked their glasses and downed the rum.

Atwood wrote his number on the back of one of Clancy’s cards. Bobby was going to stay for a while longer. Atwood wondered if the two of them were going to fuck after he left. It didn’t matter; he was just curious. As he picked up his jacket and made his was to the door “Cum On Feel The Noize” began playing on the hidden sound system. He shook his head and laughed to himself, said goodbye to Bobby and Clancy and left the Delta Gamma house.

©2011 Michael Rohrer