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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in ellen copperfield (51)


In Which If It Wasn't Hard Everyone Would Do It

The Bonfire of the Bosom Buddy


I was watching The Polar Express last week and trying to recover the spirit of Christmas for some muffins I was planning when it occurred to me: doesn't that train conductor remind me of something ineffable and someone specific?

My aunt told me it was Tom Hanks, and I was like, "they modeled the conductor after a producer on Big Love?" She explained that Hanks was the owner of a long and storied Hollywood career, while her daschund Leopold stared at me unforgivingly for my ignorance. I spent this past weekend watching all of this old-timey actor's moving pictures, and I have summarized the plots of these films so you can easily find what interests you.


A man has sex with a mermaid and feels somewhat bad about it. The mermaid's father frowns upon the match because it conflicted with the IPO of his underwater company.

The Money Pit

A home restoration project goes south when a man realizes his wife is Shelley Long.

Bachelor Party

A famous football player insists that protection is for Ravens while attempting sex. The woman mishears "Ravens" as "cravens", freaks out, and ends up majoring in communications. Todd Phillips is passed out nearby and gets the idea for The Hangover.


Two white police officers pay tribute to a long-running television series by visiting Santa Claus at the North Pole. Santa tells them to come back when they're animated.


A man shrinks to the size of a gumdrop to become a boy again and lives inside a huge piano with all his friends. Older women are constantly intuiting he's more advanced sexually than he professes. To return to full size, he is forced to rape a gypsy woman.


A comedian is infected with AIDS by Denzel Washington.

Turner and Hooch

A man and an anti-semitic dog fight crime.

The 'Burbs

You may be more familiar with a recent remake of The 'Burbs, Saw IV.

Joe Versus the Volcano

A pet detective finally marries his true love (Courteney Cox) and decides that Meg Ryan is likelier to have a successful big screen career. He struggles to find a way to break off the engagement before deciding to burn his penis off in an active volcano.

The Bonfire of the Vanities

A journalist with no imagination finds it easier to make things up than interview any more astronauts than he has to. He uses a revolutionary technique to clone himself. He names the clone Malcolm Gladwell.

A League of Their Own

An alcoholic womanizer leads a baseball team of women to greatness and inadvertently creates a popular daytime television program. A text card at the end of the film specifies that they would have achieved nothing without a male manager.

Sleepless in Seattle

A woman facebooks a guy and he ends up taking it way farther than it ever has to go. She falls in love with his eight-year old by accident and they go live on a cute houseboat for the rest of their lives.


The two main people in a gay man's life are Antonio Banderas and Denzel Washington, and he's still unhappy as a clam for no discernible reason. Andrew Sullivan cameos as "another guy with HIV."

Forrest Gump

The thinly disguised life story of Joe Biden. He has a sexual relationship with Robin Wright Penn and everyone has some misgivings that she took advantage of him. Biden emphasizes the fact that he rides Amtrak in his speeches because he is unable to pilot an automobile.

Apollo 13

A bunch of guys head into space, reassuring their wives with platitudes like, "We won't fuck up in space," and "It's space, what could go wrong?" and "Kevin Bacon's coming with us to space, this will be hilars." These predictions prove largely inaccurate.

That Thing You Do!

The true story of Simon Cowell's rise to public prominence related for the first time.

Saving Private Ryan

Despite the fact that Jews are dying by the millions in camps across Europe, it ends up being a lot more important for everybody's peace of mind that one goy be rescued by a squadron of morons.

You've Got Mail

A man flirts with a woman on the internet; she is somehow not disgusted by the fact it takes 20 minutes for him to type one instant message into AIM. He misunderstands "Shop Around the Corner" for a sexual euphemism, she apologizes for the miscommunication. Not only does he not accept her apology, he puts her out of business and cuts off her airway with the skin folds from his degraded neck. The funeral is a lovely affair, and each of the eulogies emphasize the dangers of misrepresenting yourself on AIM.

The Green Mile

A magical, physically imposing black man heals people with his touch, so the white prison guards murder him, but not before he cures all their urinary tract infections. It turns out that the black man had the spirit of a white guy (Rob Schneider) inside him all along.

Cast Away

High on cocaine, Robert Zemeckis has an idea that later becomes Lost; a plane crashes on an island and only the boring characters survive.

Road to Perdition

Two playwrights debate the existential nature of life over dinner one evening. Hot topic: 'what does the word perdition mean?'

Catch Me If You Can

Christopher Walken has a son, and - shock, surprise! - it doesn't turn out all that well. The son becomes a pilot and figures prominently in the September 11th terrorist attacks on America. He ends up dating Molly McAleer, probably.

The Terminal

A man who jerks off into people's luggage is apprehended and forced to copulate with Catherine Zeta-Jones while Michael Douglas looks on approvingly.

The Ladykillers

A brother-brother writer-director team misfires with their latest film and decides to nab an Oscar by utilizing the foolproof method of having Tommy Lee Jones do the movie's voiceover.

The Polar Express

A shocking expose of how the Japanese kill 500 of Santa's dwarves each year in front of a live studio audience in the Arctic.

The Da Vinci Code

Dr. Robert Langdon is infected with HIV by Denzel Washington.

Charlie Wilson's War

Mike Nichols' 100 minute logic proof that Elaine May had all the talent.

Angels and Demons

Dr. Robert Langdon gives up treasure hunting and retires to a tropical island with Audrey Tautou, Emily Blunt, and Denzel Washington.

Ellen Copperfield is a contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here. She last wrote in these pages about how to politely dump someone.

"Down by the River" - Neil Young (mp3)

"Philadelphia" - Neil Young (mp3)

"Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" - Neil Young (mp3)

"The Losing End (When You're On)" - Neil Young (mp3)


In Which We Misunderstand Eclipse Very Badly

Which One Is The Gay?



dir. David Slade

124 minutes

I have never seen Twilight, not because I'm too good for it, or because I realize we have cognitive biases towards things we've experienced, but because with the recent horror of coyote attacks on Long Island, it all hits too perilously close to home. I didn't watch New Moon either, perhaps because I correctly assumed there is but one moon, unless you're counting moons of other planets, and that I never do.

Kristen Stewart is exceptionally talented at looking conflicted. She has to decide between three men in Eclipse, which is strange because she's looking pretty puffy and maybe not totally at her best. Also, one of them is her Dad (Ed Begley Jr.). Despite being in her mid-twenties, she's still somehow in high school. She tells her dad she's a virgin; maybe she honestly thinks she is.

Except for that one fib, no one lies in Eclipse, everyone else tells the complete and exact truth and in fact passes along exactly what they were thinking. The only subtext is in Edward's refusal to have sex with his "girlfriend." He tells her that he doesn't want to hurt her, potentially an allusion to the size of his penis, or possibly a literary allusion to the part of Finnegan's Wake where a vampire didn't have sex with his gf b/c he was gay. (See A Skeleton's Key to Finnegan's Wake.)

There is also one other lie. Forgive me. When Taylor Lautner turns into a wolf and becomes 40 times the size of himself, that puts the lie to the conservation of mass. Then again, I don't think anyone really thought through the particulars of combat between creatures who have the proportional strength of ants in comparison to what they're lifting.

When it comes time for the climatic battle, the vampires decide to put Bella alone in a tent with a half-nude Taylor Lautner. This is a plan the same way a small paper bag is a useful stratagem if they are showing The Proposal on the in-flight video. Maybe Edward wasn't aware Taylor Lautner has been on forty-six consecutive covers of Tiger Beat, and feels awesome to snuggle with.

No one told me Twilight consistents entirely of planning for battles in the wilderness where no one you know dies. If they did, I likely would have been a lot more interested. The cast of this drama is constantly at a loss. "There are no words," Edward tells Taylor Lautner at one point when the latter is in the midst of flexing his bicep. There is no way for human speech to describe what's going on here.

Taylor Lautner finds out Bella is getting married to the pale guy when Edward tips him off purposefully. Bella stomps off really mad. No one knows why she's getting really mad, except it's obvious she's not too keen on having a frozen penis impregnate her at some point during the honeymoon after the dry humping. This is the substitute for subtext.

She then sticks her tongue down Taylor Lautner's throat, after asking him to. Granted, I suppose we've all wanted that thing inside us at one time or another, but can't it wait until her undead boyfriend is amusing himself with Jack's-Blood-in-the-Box and Transformers 2 for the PSP?

Eclipse reminds me a lot of Felicity, except she went all the way many times, often in pools. I guess that's sort of an underhanded compliment, or an allusion to the fact that J.J. Abrams includes some of his real-life personal problems in every project he encounters. Keri Russell would have been perfect in this role.

There's a really great scene between Bella and her mother in the middle of all this bickering. She visits her mom to say "what's up" the last time before she becomes a vampire. It isn't her own idea; Edward books the flight and pays for the tickets. Her mother tells her, "He's always watching you." That's when it hit me: she feels the same way about him that I would about my dog if he could afford my air travel.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here.

"My Love" - Sia (mp3)

"The Line" - Battles (mp3)

"How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep?" - Bombay Bicycle Club (mp3)



In Which Remember When Is The Lowest Form of Conversation

Why Won't Someone Think of the Children?


Books for kids are a sorry lot. Stephenie Meyer represents a defect in all of us, and Spike Jonze was forced to make a movie where there really wasn't one. Meyer, a purported Christian, wrote a graphic conception scene with a lot of bruising, so she definitely isn't in touch with the kinds of things I read as a child. The great mass of excellent children's literature has already been written. Sure, there's been some classics meant for older folks. You can read them at a library. Still, I don't wake up with a burning urge to devour Hard Times, what I can tell you.

Much can yet be done with the literary form if only at a sexual level, for adults. There's a finite number of things that wonder children, and I'm not sure if a vampire fucking Kristen Stewart is one of those things, but there's really nothing more exciting than a text message to children nowadays. You could print a book full of them, but why would you?

Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game was the centerpiece of much of my life in 1994. I pictured myself as a diner owner-bon vivant who solved murders as a matter of course and had several fake names that revolved around the seasons. The reading of a will is the perfect convention for children, because it adds to their understanding of death. In fact the whole point of The Westing Game is to teach children about heaven, and what it takes to go there. Most people who have gone on to be exceptionally important in American life (Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Martha Stewart, Amy Poehler) are said to have been influenced greatly by reading The Westing Game as a child, kind of how Alan Greenspan read Ayn Rand and as a result potato chips in New York City now require a cash deposit.

The Mixed-Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler was a major influence on everything I did. I surprised my brother by jumping out of a closet and I called him Jamie. I made up a lot of lies in those days; all white lies strictly. I was regularly packing a backpack and threatening to leave for a place where I would be more appreciated. On second thought this book may not be suitable for young audiences. I hear Michael Vick read it in prison.

John Dennis Fitzgerald's stunning series of Great Brain books, set in turn-of-the-century Utah was also among my favorites. I would read them again and again and debate who had the larger brain, myself or The Great Brain. The Great Brain going to school in Salt Lake City was among the most treasured things to happen. These books could be a dramatic series today without changing much and they're meant for kids. I believed that this was what Utah was like and vowed to go there. Fortunately I never read two books at a time out of a perverse sense of honor and an easily confused disposition.

I am roundly convinced my mother slipped this into my reading pile as a threat. I don't know that this is the book you really want to blurb. I mean, Robert Cormier finds this believable? As in, true to life? As in, does the FBI have a file on Robert Cormier? And wasn't The Chocolate War sort of racist?

Sideways Stories from Wayside School was my first experience with horror. I was already afraid enough to go to school - shouldn't everyone there have been informed by letter than I was to be treated with special care? (This was all before I learned a really important lesson about humility by reading Hatchet.) Louis Sachar was really a coward and wrote this book to frighten me, but I couldn't help enjoying it and being really afraid of going to one particular floor of my school. I had a similar relationship to milk until I found out I was lactose-intolerant.

Whenever I order ranch dressing, I think about Gertrude Chandler Warner. It was like she read my mind with some of her settings. Overall, though, you would expect more near-incest storylines in a family so large. And what's a boxcar?

As you would expect, I also read a lot of Nancy Drew. She wasn't the most stylish detective, but everyone else in town was just totally fucking baffled by that Old Clock. Nancy wasn't exactly a pro when it came to using Firefox, but she had a good nose for antiques and serial killers. Say what you want about Nancy Drew, she solved a phenomenal number of cases. I believe she was somewhere around 98 out of 100. That means twice the guy got away. In even younger days I also tried Encyclopedia Brown, that is, until the vast majority of the denouements exposed the truth in lemon juice on white paper. I wasn't exactly clued into what Sally wanted from the boy detective. EB's father was a real detective, but he never busted his son for impersonating a police officer. I guess that's good parenting, but it's lousy police work.

Bruno & Boots were commonly getting up in some shit. The social atmosphere of Canadian private schools in the early eighties was based almost entirely around hilarious practical jokes, which perhaps explains some of the differences between our two countries. I really don't understand how these kids didn't get expelled. Later, they were falsely accused of rape while attending Duke.

Trust me, you don't even want to start knowing Kristy's Great Idea. This edition of The Babysitter's Club was later reissued and became a national bestseller with the title of The Shack. The entire text appeared in the dream of some drug addict and he copied it down. I enjoyed this series to no end, although I came away with profound misgivings about the power of my babysitter, who upon reflection was something of a whore.

It makes me a little sad I can't go back to these places before I laughed whenever I heard the name Avi. I still remember that when Charlotte Doyle came back from the sea, her hands were all rough and sore. Now I imagine a far different reason they were in that condition, but in those days it was just the ropes sliding between her fingers.

Ellen Copperfield is a contributor to This Recording. She last wrote in these pages about the films of Tom Hanks. She tumbls here.

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"Me and Julio Down at the Schoolyard (demo version)" - Paul Simon (mp3)

"All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints (early version)" - Paul Simon (mp3)

"Can I Forgive Him (original demo)" - Paul Simon (mp3)

"Slip Slidin' Away (demo version)" - Paul Simon (mp3)