Thursday, May 24, 2012



One of the modern paradoxes is knowing someone you don't know. The enigma of social media being social, but not necessarily personal does not escape me. I don't know Antonia Crane. She is a "friend" on Facebook - though the likelihood we'll ever even meet is as unlikely a scenario as the one where we find ourselves plotting a bank robbery together. By the way, with her movie star looks she'd make a good Bonnie in a remake of the classic film from 1967. I, on the other hand, would not make a good Clyde, although I can definitely handle the wheel in a get-away scene. So, when author Anna March suggested Antonia might serve up an interesting Lost Weekend 6-Pack, I literally had to use the little search box on FB to see who she was and if we were even "friends" yet. We were, but that did not keep me from feeling like a stalker when I sent the initial personal message through FB to her... "Hi, you don't know me, but we're friends." I sat around for five hours staring at my FB page, the box with the friend count specifically, just waiting for it to go down by one. It didn't. I got a personal message back instead, one with a sense of voice that suckered me into believing we played tennis together back in high school. I found myself wanting to challenge her to a game of doubles, but had a weird feeling she would win.  Turns out, Antonia does hit some balls, because her dad coaches tennis. I wondered if she flirted with endorsement deals like Maria Sharapova.  I still don't really know Antonia, but I know her better now that I've read her Lost Weekend 6-Pack... and I'm happy to be able to call this talented writer a friend... whatever that means.

Enjoy, but watch out for her top spin serve... she's aiming for your privates. ~ J. Goertel

Lost Weekend 6-Pack / 2 movies, 2 books, 2 drinks:
Yeah Right.

Asking an ex-drug addict to choose only two of her favorite things is torture- like dangling one potato chip in front of her face. I’m a book slut, movie junkie and music whore.  I need more than a six-pack. You need more. Admit it. So, I’m shirking the rules by arranging my picks according to theme. 

Let’s begin with vigilantism. I’d start with Tarantino’s women. His lethal, gorgeous, driven protagonists enjoy totally justified revenge in “Kill Bill” and “Inglorious Bastards.” Where there’s vigilantism, there are bank robbers with sideburns in polyester suits flanked with hot stripper girlfriends. I love Mesrine: Killer Instinct (and Part 2: Public Enemy #1).  What’s not to like about a “girl on fire?” I thought I died and went to feisty heroine heaven when I saw “Hunger Games” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Delish. Two Books where hicks take the law in their own hands are Donald Ray Pollack’s, “Knockemstiff” and Sam Lipsyte’s hard and ever-clever characters in “Venus Drive.” His characters are lovely and creepy. I’d turn up L-7’s “Shit List” and dance in my underwear slurping Diet Dr. Pepper. Lots of lemon.

I’m a sucker for tender devastation of the heartbreak variety; a sadness so searing it looks like madness like the movies “Biutiful” and “Blue Valentine.” Two books that echo poignant ache with wonderfully flawed characters that overcome insurmountable obstacles are Cheryl Strayed’ s “Wild” and Rob Roberge’s  “Border Radio” (from his collection “Working Backwards From the Worst Moment of My Life”). "Border Radio" will send you sprinting to the dentist for enamel fillings. As for music,  I love all of Jack White’s projects (White Stripes, Dead Weather, Raconteurs) but the song that tears my heart out is his rendition of “Jolene” live. A  sad drink? Berry Hibiscus Kambucha. Gross. Why would anyone drink a mushroom? Bottoms up. 

   The frayed American Dream and the crisis of identity is my last theme. I loved the under appreciated film “Frozen River,” a bleak narrative about desperate alliances made between complex women for a singular purpose. I’ll never get over Mickey Rourke’s beautifully desperate, aged-out performer in “The Wrestler.” He painted a portrait of the American dream charred at the edges as it turned to ash and blew away. I love books that, by their existence, demand more of me as a person and as a reader, like Lidia Yuknovitch’s “Chronology of Water” and Bernard Cooper’s “Truth Serum.” Both will stretch you as a human being.  I’d listen to “Hold On” by the Alabama Shakes and Lucinda Williams’ “Side of the Road” and drink water. Lots and lots of water.

photo by Romy Suskin

Antonia Crane teaches creative writing to incarcerated teenage girls in Los Angeles. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Akashic: The Heroin Chronicles (edited by Jerry Stahl), The Rumpus, Black Clock, Slake, PANK, The Los Angeles Review, ZYZZYVA and other places. She wrote a memoir about her mother’s illness and the sex industry, Spent, and is currently seeking representation for that memoir. Check out: for more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012



I thought I'd turn the tables a bit this week by starting the weekend early - real early -  but more so by tapping Randy Becker at NexTv Entertainment for a Lost Weekend  6-Pack. After all, it was Randy who tapped me to put together the literature blog for his NexTv's website. It's been an amazing partnership and I am indebted to him for the opportunity and for being such a champion of my writing - he was one of the first people in Hollywood to notice my screenwriting and among the first to work to promote it. That said, I thought I was the writer and he was the Hollywood wheeler and dealer... I mean, damn, when I asked him for a 6-Pack, I thought I'd get a list of "suggestions" for changes to the blog, you know Hollywood-style notes... "Maybe the blog could be a website?" / "Lost Weekend Wine List is polling better as a name with the 35-55 demographic than Lost Weekend 6-Pack." / "We're bringing a few people just for a 'polish' on the blog." Instead, I got something passionate and heartfelt - just like Randy, who's NexTv Entertainment has been hooking up talented filmmakers, directors, and actors with the the top players in Tinsel Town for the past few years. I love Randy's 6-Pack so much, that I am declaring a long weekend to enjoy it... starting right now. Cheers - J. Goertel

A lost weekend 6-pack, eh?  Wow…with 2 kids and a business that kicks and screams all day every day, the idea of filling a lost weekend with movies, books and alcohol, while deliciously fun to imagine, is simply not going to happen. But even before I indulge my imagination with this exercise, I need to step back and look at the great accomplishment of James Goertel.  When I first asked James to consider creating the lit blog for us at NexTV, I figured that he’d provide a few excellent articles and then we’d slowly feel our way forward.  

Instead, he has created this incredible experience for writers both to participate in and to experience as readers.  With some of the hottest authors and poets generously donating work, simply because James asked them to, I have been BLOWN AWAY by ALL ‘LIT’ UP.  Blown out of the water, in fact.  It’s not often when you find someone to take ownership over an idea, then take it to the next level (and 17 levels beyond…18, even). The LOST WEEKEND 6-PACK is one of my favorite examples of James’ great ability to provide a sandbox for others to play in. THANK YOU JAMES!  

Having said that…curse you James Goertel…CURSE YOU AND THIS BLOG! That’s right, I said it…Since I founded NexTV in 2009, I have read over 1,500 scripts, watched over 3,000 videos and taught one 4 year old how to ride his bike without training wheels (two days ago, in fact…an incredible sight).  But you are asking me to identify my 2 books, 2 movies and 2 drinks for this mythical lost weekend.  Well, James…let’s see…I’ve read 1 book in the past 3 years, I’ve seen 4 movies in the theater, each of which came with disposable glasses and, as for alcohol?  Well, I wish I was drunk now, but instead I sit here at 2:38am, intoxicated by the tingly sensation in my ass from having 185 pounds of sagging body weight pressing down on it for the past 15 hours….so this task is more an exercise in remembering who I’ve been, than a genuine look into who I am today.

Still, I’m up for it, so what the hell…lets’ give her a shot.

2 Drinks:  

Vodka on the rocks with onions…and a straw.  Any brand of vodka works for me.  They all feel like a poke in the eye going down, but I love ‘em anyway.  And I like to fantasize that my wife thinks I’m still a bad-ass for going mixer-free.  Which brings me to drink #2.  Wine Coolers.  Okay, not exactly, but the acceptable male euphemism; Mike’s Hard Lemonade…the purple one.  

2 movies: 

MIDNIGHT RUN and QUEEN MARGOT.  The former because it’s awesome.  If you haven’t seen it, I think it’s Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin at their best…really.  Just brilliantly executed on all levels and a blast from beginning to end.  I force myself to NOT watch it for at least 4 straight years, just so I can enjoy it when I stumble upon it.  #2…Patrice Chereau’s QUEEN MARGOT is everything I love about cinema (aside from the subtitles, but Isabelle Adjani makes even that worth it).  Historical fiction at its best.  Rich characters, gripping love story, awesome performances, but more than anything else…a great, edge-of-your-seat story. If you haven’t seen it, it’s so worth renting or buying or, what, downloading?

2 Books: 

This is a tricky one.  Of the books that have stuck with me, I’ll choose two that are particularly meaningful…even after all these years.  GROUND BENEATH HER FEET by Salman Rushdie.  One of my favorite books ever.  A great story about an Indian Female Rock Star, but what Rushdie does that I just love, is he gives you an experience that can only be had with a novel. He makes you work hard, at first, to keep up or even to understand what the hell he’s talking about, but when you finally break through and the challenges of his style fade away, you start to experience a tonal sense of his particular India and these particular characters.  The smells, the point of view, the irony, all of those ephemeral, underlying things that are essential to the real experience of a specific life in a specific context…I close that book and feel like I’ve been on a ride through someone’s perception of a place and time and a people.  I love so many Rushdie novels, but this is the one that I just keep going back to. 

WATER MUSIC by TC Boyle would have to be #2.  Boyle is simply a great story-teller, and since I’m always partial to historical fiction, this is my favorite of his.  It’s an adventure story that follows a petty criminal in Scotland and a famous British explorer as he seeks to find the Niger River in 18th Century Africa.  I used this book as an example when working with a writer on his action-adventure film, yesterday, in fact.  If you want to go on a ride, an ever-escalating, nearly exhausting, rollicking tale…this is it.  Purely for story, this book covers so much ground.  I mean, you are literally out of breath halfway through the book and Boyle just keeps amping up the trouble his tainted heroes find themselves in.  Pure fun.

So, for a Randy Becker Lost Weekend 6-Pack, you’ll be transported back about 10 years to a time when he actually read books and watched movies.  Don’t pity me, though…my life is awfully good.

For a lot more information on all the good things Randy is doing with NexTv out in L.A., please feel free to visit here:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Well, well, well... the tables got turned this week a bit when YAREAH Magazine out of Madrid, Spain interviewed me about my short story collection, Carry Each His Burden. Author Martin Cid conducted the interview which was put together by Isabel Del Rio Yareah. Martin's questions were wonderful and pulled some insights from me concerning the book I don't think I was aware of before the interview. Martin and Isabel are passionate about YAREAH Magazine and about the arts. If I am fortunate they will allow me to turn the tables in the future on both of them for some features here at ALL 'LIT' UP. Thank you to YAREAH Magazine, Martin Cid, Isabel Del Rio Yareah, and all the folks at YAREAH working behind the scenes. La luna estara llena en mi corazon esta noche. no importa su cara. The interview is here.

Isabel Del Rio Yareah & Martin Cid