Goulash - Hungarian - a stew, or a mixture of meat, noodles and vegetables (especially potato), seasoned with paprika and other spices. Fiction - the form of any narrative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Francis - also well seasoned, and frequently unable to tell the real from the unreal, the fact from the fiction. Thus Goulash Fiction - a blending of everything with a bit of spice thrown in.
I’ve always been a huge supporter of men. That sounds silly, because of course I am a man, and why the fuck wouldn’t I want to support the home team? Well I’ll tell you something. Over the years I’ve seen the very qualities that make men – men, change from being lauded to being ridiculed. And you know why? I’ll tell you why. Because for some reason there is this neverending push for us all to be the same. For everyone to have mutual likes and dislikes. To smooth out the rough edges as it were.
Growing up I had a clear definition of what I thought a man should be. He should have the lingering scent of cigars about him at all times. His cologne should be restricted to something from the musk family. And from time to time the faint whisp of a recent fire should waft from his pores when he’s doing yard work.
His hands, large or small, should be extremely calloused. Visible scars were always a plus too, but not a necessity. Extra points were given if his nose was broken at least once. The man should also have a temper that could rival a thermo-nuclear device. It should be at all times hidden deep inside his man bunker soul, but the son should at least once in his lifetime see his father’s full-blown anger launched, preferably at someone else.
I realize these characteristics are now a days almost a caricature description of a man. And of course a man can be many things and look many ways and still be a helluva man.
But this is my space and my thoughts. A man should always look like he could kick the shit out of the other guy’s dad. Again maybe that’s childish and a tad narrow, but so what? The warmth and security that I felt growing up because I knew in my bones that my dad could smack around most men was something that I held on to tightly when he couldn’t be there for me sometimes.
But if I had to pick one quality that I love about men it’s their inanate ability to not over explain or over plan. Life has become maddingly complicated these days and I know, I know, I can streamline and reduce the clutter, but still the reality of modern day life is that everyday there’s a lot of noise.
And so when I do go out with some of my pals we make the barest of plans and trust in our inate ability to let it unfold as it should. Only the basic facts are given out. It could be as lean as New York City, this summer, a few days. Somehow, someway a few weeks later, BAM, we’re in NYC and everything is unfolding as if it were all laid out and planned down to the last second. But it wasn’t, and never will be.
It’s like there’s some kind of testosterone man flow river that opens up when you’re with like minded guys and everyone is open to whatever and whenever and however. Some of the best nights of my life have started with, “Do you want to see a movie tonight?” Nine times out of ten we never end up seeing that movie, but we always end up having a brilliant night.
So the next time you hear someone complaining about a boyfriend, or a husband who doesn’t give enough details do me a favour and just nod your head and smile and tell them, “That sounds like a real man, yes sir. A real man.”
The Criterion Collection is helping me to keep the cost of what I spend on alcohol down. The rhythms of life are such that I frequently have a lot of time by myself at night. Living in this content rich world affords me the opportunity to indulge in almost any of my consumer whims, from reading books, to listening to music, to watching films and so on. It’s all there.
The issue for me is that I enjoy a wee tipple when I am consuming my media. Typically that tipple is a scotch. And typically I pour a scotch like my grandfather did and my father does – with a heavy hand. I was taught that if you’re going to have a drink than make sure you pour yourself a real one.
All of this is fine until the moment when you get off your brand new custom made couch from Barrymore and you realize that the communication between your neurons and your motor skills are just a wee bit off.
I find it just a bit too easy to fill a lot of the scotch glass when I’m on my own. I’m not so bad that I can’t function or anything like that, but it’s that instant thought that runs through my bald-head that worries me. The thought that goes something like this, “I’m by myself so who cares if I pour a triple?” Now maybe once in awhile that’s okay, but to do it as your normal course of business is a concern.
So what do I do to prevent myself from sliding down a slope that I don’t want to go down?
I turn to Criterion. Criterion is the U.S. film/DVD releasing company that specializes in re-releasing art-house films from around the world. Their editions are particularly known for their incredible extras that they jam into every celluloid masterpiece they release. Keeping in mind that masterpiece is a subjective word. The film titles include the obscure, the famous, and other films that have been passed over by an unappreciative audience. Wading into any of their titles requires a solid commitment of time. And therein lies my salvation.
My gal, like me, loves good films, but unlike me she does not care to watch documentary after documentary about what choices Renoir made during the filming of The Rules of the Game. Or what Luis Bunuel’s recipe was for the perfect gin martini after a hard day of shooting. But I do. I love being completely immersed in a director’s vision when watching his or her film. The range of supplements on any given film is frequently absurd in their detail and to most film geeks it’s the difference between grabbing a number five at a drive-through at McDonald’s and a full course meal at the priciest French restaurant you can afford.
And for me the experience is so rich and so satisfying that the tipple becomes of less interest to me. I am simply drawn into every facet of the Criterion world. It’s one of the few times that Scotland’s finest takes a back seat.
Some of their films are so rich with extras that it often takes me a full week to wade through the supplements. When I am in the midst of my “Criterioning”, I have little time or desire for anything else.
And therein lies my salvation – Akira Kurosawa demonstrating his paintings actually trumps that wee bottle of whiskey upstairs. Of course I can always visit said bottle after I’ve watched the documentaries and read every film essay. But, usually by this time I’m so stuffed with cinematic knowledge that all I want to do is lie down and replay the day’s lesson in my head before the lights dim.
I’m also lucky enough to have a family that still believes in birthday presents or Christmas gifts for yours truly, and inevitably every list of mine has one or two Criterion discs on it. So take that liver. And take that scotch. I love you both, but it’s a more balanced love now.
So thank-you Criterion – I salute you!
Older Posts »
I’ve tried to exist in a writing vacuum for as long as I can. But I’ve come to the realization that unless my last name ends with the surname, “King.” I don’t have a hope in hell of getting my stories sold, read or noticed. I need all the help that I can get and that help is going to have to take the form of my particular kryptonite – social media.
Don’t get me wrong. I see the value of it. The problem for me is that it doesn’t come so natural like. I know I’ve written about this before and I’ve tried to step in and out of it (it being S&M or Social Media) as the situation warrants it. But the truth is I’m either all in or I’m not. There is no in between with this stuff. And to be clear I don’t think I’m better or above it or anything like that. It just doesn’t come easy to a guy who is always one step away from becoming a full-time reclusive hermit.
The issue for me is that I’m always thinking what’s my brand? The majority of my current writing is creative non-fiction. The Goulash brand, but then there’s the obsession with what is going on with the world these days in terms of some serious challenges to our society and the fact that if we don’t wake up soon all of us are going to be sucked into keeping a lifestyle that is both destructive and inherently wrong for us as individuals. Throw into this mix my rants and or issues of being a father with a young girl in Grade 1 and a teenage daughter. And the notion that I find most modern day parents incredibly obsessed about their kids. Then there’s the fact that our system is far too interested in us raising our kids to be good little consumers and not critically thinking creative creatures. On top of this I’m part dinosaur. Meaning that I grew up in a time when the man went to work, the wife stayed at home and ran the house and did the cooking. Well guess what, in my house it’s the opposite. All of this is fine. Better than fine actually, because it adds to the creative fodder that allows me to ply my trade.
The trick for me is to be consistent and let things flow and not pre-judge. I will tweet, blog, Skype, Facebook the fuck out of my words so that I can spread the gospel of Litzinger. That gospel can and will take the form of short stories; or an ad for some product that I love – typically scotch, cigars or boxing. In addition there is the TV Series that I’ve written and want to sell so that it can be realized. And then there are the animation scripts that I’m dying to write. And of course there are even some comic book characters that I’d love to take a crack at reinventing. The only thing I know for sure is I love to write.
You want me to re-invent myself Universe, fine I will. But be careful what you ask for, because now you’re going to get it.