I thought these two (following articles) interesting enough to include here:’ Why? They’re both about sex, and the first about sex with animals—the preoccupation of sex in the modern world!
“’ZOO,’ the new film by the Seattle director Robinson Devor, arrived at this year’s Sundance Film Festival better known as “the horse sex documentary.” But as festival audiences discovered, this description, while not incorrect, was also misleading. The film revisits the true story of a man who died in July 2005 after a sexual encounter with a horse in rural Washington State but does so with a lyricism startlingly at odds with the sensational content.
“This topic is not something people want to think about,” Mr. Devor said in an interview at Sundance, summing up both the challenge of marketing the film and the reason he and his writing partner, Charles Mudede, were compelled to make it.
Speaking at the premiere Mr. Mudede called “Zoo” a “thought experiment.” He added, “If someone can go there physically, I can go there mentally.”
Contemplating an unorthodox merging of man and beast, “Zoo” (which is set to open in New York on April 25) is itself an exotic hybrid: a fact-based film combining audio testimony with speculative re-enactments that feature a mix of actors and actual subjects. (The title is the sub cultural term for a zoophile, a person whose affinity for animals sometimes extends to the carnal.)
“Zoo” obliquely recreates the events of the fateful night that caused a media frenzy in the Seattle area two summers ago. Shortly after being dropped off at an emergency room in Enumclaw, Wash., a 45-year-old Boeing engineer named Kenneth Pinyan — known in the film only by his Internet handle, Mr. Hands — died of internal injuries resulting from a perforated colon. The police investigation led to a farm and turned up videotapes and DVDs that showed several men engaging in sexual acts with the resident Arabian stallions. Bestiality was not illegal in Washington at the time, but in response to the Pinyan incident the State Senate voted last year to criminalize it.
Mr. Devor and Mr. Mudede, a columnist for the Seattle weekly The Stranger, noticed a disturbing uniformity in news coverage and public opinion surrounding the case.
“There seemed to be two responses: repulsion or laughter,” Mr. Mudede said. “People didn’t want to have any connection or identification with these men. Early on Rob and I said to each other, ‘We’re going to revive their humanity.’ ”
“Zoo” strives to liberate Mr. Hands from his posthumous fate as tabloid punch line. It allows the friends of the dead man a means for disclosure and dares to find, in their candid accounts of their desires and the hidden worlds where they were fulfilled, something strangely beautiful and even recognizable.
“It was fascinating that there was a community of close friends, that there were basic human interactions happening alongside things that seemed completely alien,” Mr. Mudede said. “Zoo” minimizes its freak show aspect by emphasizing the coexistence of the mundane and the bizarre, a strategy it shares with the pair’s 2005 Sundance entry, “Police Beat,” an enigmatic reverie inspired by Mr. Mudede’s crime-blotter column. What emerges here is a sad, even tender portrait of a group of men who met from time to time at a farm, where they would drink slushy cocktails, watch some television and repair to the barn to have sex with horses.
The film’s nonzoophile perspective is provided by Jenny Edwards, the founder of a local rescue organization called Hope for Horses, who helped investigate potential animal abuse in the Enumclaw case. “I don’t yet quite know how I feel about that,” she says in the film, referring to the intense feelings that zoophiles claim to have for animals, “but I’m right at the edge of being able to understand it.”
“Zoo” invites the viewer out onto that ledge of near comprehension. That it does so with neither squeamishness nor prurience owes much to Mr. Devor’s sidelong approach, one that was born of necessity. The story’s central figure was dead, and his family wanted nothing to do with the film. Only one of the three zoophiles interviewed agreed to appear in the re-enactments. All are identified simply by their online names: Coyote, H and the Happy Horseman.
“I’m glad we weren’t able to depend on the talking-head approach,” Mr. Devor said. Mr. Mudede concurred. “It was a chance to really make a film instead of a ‘60 Minutes’-style documentary,” he said.
Driving for the first time into Enumclaw, a town at the base of snow-capped Mount Rainier, the filmmakers immediately grasped the cinematic potential. “Talk about a mythic place,” Mr. Devor said. “This happened in the shadow of a volcano, in these verdant fields. You had beautiful animals, private gatherings, secret societies.”
(Page 2 of 2)
“Zoo” makes the most of its Edenic setting. Sean Kirby’s Super-16 cinematography reinforces the sense of a prelapsarian idyll, with lush images of rhododendrons in bloom, Mount Rainier perfectly framed in a picture window, men walking through the woods at night in dreamy slow motion.
Unabashed aesthetes, Mr. Devor and Mr. Mudede are anomalies in the grungy landscape of American indie film. Given the off-putting subject matter “Zoo” might even be accused of using beauty as a salve, as some reviewers grumbled at Sundance.
Responding to this critique Mr. Mudede said: “I don’t think the aesthetic element is deceiving. It’s not that we’re making something difficult more accessible through beauty. That’s exactly the situation in which these men experienced their friendship.”
But he added, laughing, “I admit if this had happened on an ugly pig farm we wouldn’t have made the film.”
Mr. Devor said it was tricky trying to communicate the movie he had in mind to his wary subjects: “They would be like, ‘What do you mean impressionistic images?’ ”
As it happened, it was a zoo, as the participants call themselves, who initiated contact, sending an e-mail message to Mr. Mudede in response to an article he had written about the case. “I think there was a desperate need to talk,” Mr. Mudede said.
Coyote, the only zoo who appears in the film, said in a recent e-mail interview that he came to trust Mr. Devor after meeting him a few times. “I felt in my gut he was not going to make an exploitive type of movie,” he wrote.
Despite an instinctive suspicion of publicity, it was evidently important to the zoos that their stories be heard. H, the farmhand who was the host of the get-togethers, called Mr. Devor in mid-December after “Zoo” had been selected for Sundance and consented to an audio interview (leaving Mr. Devor just a few weeks to frantically re-edit the film).
Coyote, for his part, remains conflicted about his involvement. “I do not think a higher profile is good at all,” he said. “We have no torch to bear or cause to defend. We just want to be.”
According to Mr. Devor the biggest challenge was not getting the zoos to talk but finding a location to shoot the film.
“We went to every single horse farm within two hours of Seattle and came up empty,” he said. “Owners would say things like: ‘We have Microsoft picnics here. They’re going to think it happened in my barn.’ ” He finally found a sympathetic farmer in Canada, who helped pull some strings with a landowner in Washington.
The overwhelming aversion to zoophilia is bound up in established taboos and moral codes. The debate, if it would come to that, tends to concern the welfare of the animal and the murky issue of consent. The men in “Zoo” attest to the fulfilling completeness of zoophile relationships and claim not to resort to coercion. On the latter count they have an unlikely ally in Rush Limbaugh, who can be heard in the film weighing in on Mr. Pinyan’s death: “How in the world could this happen without consent?”
But the apparent arousal of the horses is beside the point for many animal advocates, including Ms. Edwards. “Horses have an incredible sense memory and are unbelievably willing to learn,” she said in an e-mail message. “They want to do what is asked of them. But I’m not convinced they want to have sex with us.”
Mr. Devor interviewed the zoos and is more inclined to term the sex consensual. He spoke to them one-on-one, in hotel rooms, and his subjects sometimes illustrated their points by showing him homemade pornography. “It was in my face, really graphic stuff,” he said. “It’s a strange way to get to know someone.” But some of what he saw did change his outlook.
The sex in “Zoo” is merely glimpsed and barely discernible in a few seconds of a video that the police had confiscated and that was circulated on the Internet after Mr. Pinyan’s death.
“The film is extreme more in its formalism than in terms of graphic content,” said Mark Urman, an executive producer of “Zoo” and the head of theatrical releasing at Think Film, which is distributing it. “One really worries if there’s a significant population looking for the tabloid version.”
But Mr. Devor has detected among audiences a curiosity, if not an appetite, to see more. “So many people have said to me there’s not enough sex,” he said. “I think there’s a need to see the mechanics.”
Those viewers should be careful what they wish for. “Maybe we can find some things to put on the DVD,” Mr. Devor said.”
I’m sure by now the more aberrant and graphic parts of this ‘movie,’ are on some video-sharing site like youtube.com
The next article about a woman who becomes an actress, and what she goes through to achieve ‘success’ (recognition to her):
“THE last time Molly Shannon put on a show that wasn’t for laughs was when, on a dare from her father, she stowed away on a People Express flight to New York City from Cleveland. She was 12.
Just before takeoff, Ms. Shannon and her best friend from Shaker Heights, Ohio, dashed aboard wearing pink leotards and tights, assuring a stewardess that they were just saying goodbye to their sister. “I tried my best to come off as sweet and innocent,” she said. “But my heart was pounding so loud I could hardly hear.”
Ms. Shannon and her pal ducked into a seat. Waved off the plane on arrival, they took a subway to Rockefeller Center, where Ms. Shannon would one day make her name as a geek goddess on “Saturday Night Live.”
“If my friend and I hadn’t sneaked on that plane, we had a fallback plan,” she said. “We would have hopped on a bus and gone to ballet practice.”
Thirty years later Ms. Shannon is about to play it almost straight again in “Year of the Dog,” a film that Mike White, its writer and a first-time director, describes as “a comedy that’s not very funny.” In “Year of the Dog,” which opens Friday, she plays a shy, chirpy secretary named Peggy who literally goes to the dogs when her beloved beagle, Pencil, dies.
The aggrieved Peggy renounces humanity, adopts every condemned pooch at the pound and becomes such a militant animal-rights advocate that she drowns her sister-in-law’s furs in a bathtub.
Watching Ms. Shannon in “Year of the Dog” may be unsettling for viewers who know her as Mary Katherine Gallagher, the most popular of the manic misfits she created during her six seasons on “SNL.” Under duress Ms. Shannon’s hapless Catholic schoolgirl — the epitome of excruciating adolescence — would hook her fingers under her armpits, then sniff them.
Mary Katherine reached the height of her white cotton Carter’s underpants-flashing fame in “Superstar” (1999), another “SNL” skit turned into a toothless feature-length film, in which she French-kissed a tree. Of her budding breasts, she observes in the movie: “This one is bigger than this one ’cause this is the mommy and that’s the baby. And this one is very nice to this one, and they hold hands because they’re friends.”
The pratfall-heavy “Superstar” and nearly every other movie Ms. Shannon has made since graduating from New York University in 1987 have showcased her exuberance and gift for physical mayhem. She has been a homeless woman (“Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace”), a Who (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) and a lusty drunk (“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”).
Nothing about Ms. Shannon’s previous film work hinted that she could handle Peggy’s neediness and lunging desperation.
“The comedy, I was expecting,” one of her co-stars, Josh Pais, said in a recent telephone interview. “What I didn’t anticipate was the level of pain Molly brought to the role. She perfectly captures a woman who has lost everything she identifies with and is left with nothing. You feel her misery, but it never becomes melodramatic or squashes the comedy.”
John C. Reilly, who plays Peggy’s trigger-happy neighbor, says Ms. Shannon brings the same intensity and chaotic commitment to drama that she does to slapstick. “As funny as Molly is,” Mr. Reilly said, “she has the heart of a real actor.”
Mr. Reilly previously worked with Ms. Shannon in “Never Been Kissed” (1999) and “Talladega Nights” (2006). “She doesn’t just joke it the way most comedians do,” he said. “I haven’t met another actress who can be broad and clownish and yet is so unafraid to be deadly serious.”
Mr. Pais said that whenever Ms. Shannon was asked to give an alternate take of an anguished scene, she would say, “Just give me a minute,” and then step away from the camera. “Molly’s face would crinkle like balled-up paper,” he said. “As she took a breath, you could almost see her draw from some dark well of emotion from her past.”
It’s a deep well. “I can relate to the part of Peggy that doesn’t want to feel her devastation,” Ms. Shannon offered. She was saying this in a restaurant near the meatpacking district loft she shares with her two toddlers and husband, the photorealist painter Fritz Chesnut. While lunching on sausage and eggs — a dish the vegan Peggy wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot fork — she projected a childlike excitement that verged on giddiness.
“I like the fact that Peggy struggles through something to get to a better place,” Ms. Shannon said.
She did. Her childhood sounds like a cross between “Ponette” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” At 4 she was in a car crash that killed her mother, a cousin and her younger sister. Though Ms. Shannon was unharmed, her father was maimed. “His legs were crushed,” she said. “He wore a brace for the rest of his life.”
While her father, James, was laid up in intensive care, Ms. Shannon and her older sister, Mary, stayed with their Aunt Bernie in Cleveland Heights. “I’d ask where my dad was, and no one would tell me,” she said. “For a long time after that I had trouble trusting people.” She later incorporated her anxiety about life into Mary Katherine and other uneasy characters.
After the accident Mr. Shannon quit his job as a sales manager and stayed home to raise Molly and Mary. “My dad was a bohemian who hated rules,” Ms. Shannon recalled. He encouraged her after-school high jinks — crashing around candy stores as if she were blind, undressing department store mannequins and posing them suggestively. “He liked wild and crazy stuff,” Ms. Shannon said.
The wildest and craziest was her stowaway stunt. Ms. Shannon waited until she and her friend got to Manhattan before phoning her father. “He was really excited to hear that we’d succeeded,” she said.
When Ms. Shannon asked what they should do for an encore, Mr. Shannon suggested stowing their way back. After they tried and failed, he arranged for two return tickets. The stowaways paid him back from baby-sitting. “Years of baby-sitting,” Ms. Shannon allowed.
A gig singing telegrams at stag parties was followed by drama school at New York University, an improv comedy show in Los Angeles and, in 1995, “Saturday Night Live.” Nine years later she was cast in Mr. White’s Fox sitcom “Cracking Up.” Ms. Shannon described her character as a “typical alcoholic, bipolar, self-involved, pill-popping Beverly Hills housewife.”
“Cracking Up” was canceled after only a handful of episodes. “Fighting the network every step of the way was a terrible experience,” said Mr. White, whose screenwriting credits include “School of Rock,” “Nacho Libre” and “The Good Girl.” “But Molly was terrific and, as a personal creative exorcism, I decided to write a movie for her.”
That movie turned out to be “Year of the Dog.” If it should turn out to be the dog of the year, Ms. Shannon has a couple of fallbacks. Next month she’ll be seen in “Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace,” Bruce Leddy’s low-budget manifesto about a singing group that reunites at a wedding. This summer she’ll pop up as a real estate agent in “Evan Almighty,” the sequel to the 2003 hit “Bruce Almighty.” And Ms. Shannon just completed the pilot for “The Mastersons of Manhattan,” a comic soap opera in which she and Natasha Richardson play socialite sisters.
Pet grooming is apparently not a career option. During a preproduction photo shoot for Ms. Shannon’s new film, a canine co-star licked her cheeks, causing them to erupt in red welts. “I was horrified,” Mr. White said. “Molly looked like a Chernobyl victim.”
It was only then that Ms. Shannon admitted she’s allergic to dogs.”
Note: If you want to become an actor, you must get creative in an unusual way, and be willing to sacrifice all for your career! You basically ‘sell your soul to the Devil!’
Here in China:
Yesterday was April 1st (like fools we saved electricity for one hour, by having all off!). Earlier…
We went cycling to a Tibetan Rug Fair, about 10KM south of Xi Ning. This was Du Kuan Liang’s (our cycling landlord) idea (he likes to shop for bargains). At first there was the three of us. Then we invited Ma Xiao Juan (our 14-year old female helper) along. Then Wang Qing He wanted to join us.
So, we all met at the Wangguozhang Cycling Club. But, on the way ‘Ma,’ fell when colliding with some disembarking bus passengers. Luckily, it was nothing serious and Richa was there to help. Plus, we’d made her wear a helmet. Later she quoted me saying, ‘Pain, the greatest teacher!’ Actually, little accidents are good, as they wake people up! Cycling on the streets and highways of China is dangerous!
At the GCC I bought ‘Ma’ a pair of cycling gloves, and offered to rent Mr. Du a better bicycle. His old Chinese bicycle had been stolen, although he had acquired another. But, being ‘locked’ into a Chinese mindset he doesn’t seem to be able to change. So, he rode his ‘falling-apart’ one-speed, while ‘Ma,’ had Elia’s multi-geared Giant (Tom’s nee Richa before the current best) and he could barely keep up with us (as when cycling to Huzhu last week). He also refuses to wear a helmet.
But, we couldn’t keep up with Qing He and his younger friend training for the upcoming race. They passed us up like motor vehicles, Qing He’s young buddy actually keeping up with a bus! So, there’s always someone ‘faster, higher, and stronger,’ than you!
I wish you could have been with us at the Tibetan Rug Fair! Amazing! This held in a huge and modern exhibition ‘hall,’ with all the amenities including a coffee bar. If you think China as primitive, you’ll be shocked when you experience it.
The rugs, in hundreds of stalls… Gosh, if I was rich, I would have spent several thousand U.S. dollars and bought many (as the prices so incredibly low)!
There were also ‘Thangkas,’ or ‘Buddhist embroidery depictions’ of Buddha in all forms (to hang on the wall)! One, was a depiction of ‘Demchod,’ the Bon demi god in union with Dorje Phamo. Since I’m a practitioner of ‘Shakti Yoga,’ I would have bought as it was only 10,000RMB, or $1,200U.S. You probably think this ‘spendy!’ But, if I could get it to the U.S., it would fetch 10X as much! But, actually I would never sell such as has meaning to me!
I did buy three items, two for us, and one for the Liu’s daughter (as her birthday).
I bought a small rug to put next to my bed, and a wall hanging (colorful depiction of a Tu or Tibetan woman in native dress). We bought the Liu’s daughter a jade bracelet for 70RMB, or $9U.S. dollars.
I had first not wanted to go inside (don’t like to shop or be inside), but finally decided to, and glad I did. Not only was I enlightened about rugs, but we met some potential ‘clients,’ and passed out our business cards!
One the way back to Xi Ning we cranked into a cold Baifung (north wind)! Winter is still here at 7,300ft. ASL. I was glad I had both protective glasses and my scarf (pulled up over my nose).
But, the sun shines here, as much as in Colorado!
At home we turned off all electricity for ‘Earth Hour!’ This between 1930 and 2030 hours. Richa went to dinner, but when he returned we sat on the couch and I told him the story about experiencing about the famous ‘blackout’ in New York City in 1966. Forty-one years ago!
One day you’re 26-years old, the next, 67!