The Trickster Surfs the Floods by Natanya Ann Pulley

I’m moving in a little over a month. I’m not moving very far. Just a couple miles away from my current house. In preparing for the move, I’m sorting through all my things and the thing I have the most of is lit journals. Most of them are unread or poorly read. I flipped through them when they arrived and then put them on one of the couple bookshelves assigned to hold such journals. I have a lot of guilt about this, because, damn, I publish in journals. There are probably lots of people like me who flip through the journal, glance at its contents and shelf it. So for the rest of the summer, I’m going to make an effort to read them (or some portion of them) and at the end of the summer, I’ll donate my excess.

Today I’m reading from Fugue, issue 43. The first thing that caught my eye is an essay in four short sections, “The Trickster Surfs the Floods” by Natanya Ann Pulley. Its first line is, “But the heart of a turkey is weak, I say to an inner self.” What follows is a scene of a Navajo family having thanksgiving. A binary develops, showing a Navajo mother and a white father. This sets stakes that immediately interest me: The way cultures bleed into each other and the way a child works to interpret their reality and works to define their own identity. The essay is brief and grows more language driven in the last section, which was, by far, my favorite part of the essay.

Broken City

My Review of Broken City

I’ve seen several movies with Jill. We saw Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty. (Turns out that movie is about Osama. I had been saying Obama for days before the movie. I may have brought another friend to the theater, telling her we were going to see an Obama movie. She was confused.)  But both these movies are what Jill would call “good movies.” So the first time I asked Jill to see Broken City, she said no. But I kept asking and eventually she gave in.

Even at the last moment, after I bought my ticket and Jill was talking to the clerk in the ticket booth, I was afraid she was going to see a different movie. But she got the ticket for Broken City, waited for me to buy a soda and we sat down.

At the end of every preview Jill asked, where is Marky Mark? This may be because for the past week I have been talking about how much I love Marky Mark. I understand him. I don’t have delusions about who he is. I know he can’t act. I know he only has one facial expression. If your facial expression so perfectly emotes nothing at all, you have no need for another. Marky is mysterious. Empty. Strong. It often feels like he is caricature of Marky Mark, being held up by a tiny caricature of Marky Mark. I love this about him. I love how consistent he is. I love that he is continually cast in roles where it doesn’t matter that he appears to be a shell of person.

I resented Russell Crowe’s role in Broken City. There was one moment when I thought Russell Crowe had been shot, but it was some other guy. I think he was the coach from Friday Night Lights. And Crowe kept on living.

So the move is a hardboiled detective movie and doesn’t deviate from that formula in the least. Some people got up and left during it. Someone sitting near us fell asleep and I could see the pangs of jealousy in Jill’s face. The pangs. Her desire for sleep. Ol’ pang face Jill, I sometimes call her. But Jill’s feelings and the movie’s plot are both immaterial. Its only significance is as a vehicle for Marky to emote nothing. There’s something serene about him, sometime very zen. Once during the movie he furled his eyebrows and nearly looked surprised. But the moment was gone so quickly, I couldn’t be sure.

Jill and I discussed it after the movie. She thinks she saw it too. I think Jill understands.

We saw this movie in the afternoon and there’s always something strange about leaving the theater and walking out into bright sunlight. That feeling lingered with me all day and now I associate this strange feeling with Marky Mark. Behind those cold eyes, that unflinching face, perhaps there is the ability to affect. Maybe there’s something else, something not easily observable. Something that creeps in slow and lingers, something a little unsanitary, a little unsettling. A headache you aren’t sure you have. Just in the back the skull. A little ache.

Either way, Jill has agreed to see every Marky Mark movie with me for the rest of our lives.


Jill Smith’s Review of Broken City

When Brandi asked if we could go see Broken City, I’ll admit, I was pumped. I was so excited to find out what had become of Curly’s legendary gold. But it turns out Broken City is not the same thing as City Slickers 2 at all. It’s a political potboiler featuring Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, the corrupt New York mayor who sings his way off a bridge and asks Marky Mark to find out who’s fucking his wife. Because asking her would be way too simple.

The movie starts with Marky Mark standing over a dude who’d been shot. He’s breathing hard, but maybe that’s just Brandi beside me. When the title appears on the screen, the words are fragmented, but I don’t understand the symbolism.

No two accents are alike in this movie. I remember from Chicago that Catherine Zeta-Joes can do a passable American accent, so I’m not sure why whatever’s coming out of her mouth is happening. Russell Crowe sounds like part of his tongue has been removed. Marky Mark sounds exactly like he does in all of his movies.

We meet Russell Crowe’s rival in the upcoming election, a “kid” who looks, not only older than Russell, but like he is dead. His last name is Valliant, but I don’t understand the symbolism.

A generically attractive blonde girl plays Marky Mark’s assistant. Rationally I understand that she’s not Blake Lively, but my heart refuses to believe it.

Russell Crowe plays racquetball with a political frienemy. He falls, then picks himself back up and makes a kill shot, but I don’t understand the symbolism.

Marky Mark figures out CZ-J’s boinking Jack Valliant’s campaign manager, who turns out to be Coach Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights, taking a break from playing the CIA chief in every Oscar nominated film this year to portray a man so similar in doughiness to Russell Crowe that every time I saw the Broken City trailer I thought it was Russell Crowe who got shot.

Catherine Zeta-Jones delivers a you-don’t-know-what-you’re-getting-into warning to Marky Mark in exactly the same voice Cate Blanchett uses for the prologue in Lord of the Rings. Marky Mark ignores her and gives RC incriminating photos of Velma Kelly and Coach Eric Taylor.

Coach Eric Taylor winds up dead by Russell Crowe’s hand. It turns out Jack Valliant was in love with him. Marky Mark confronts him about what happened, and Jack Valliant cries and snivels because gay men are always physically and emotionally weaker than their heterosexual counterparts, but often more valiant of heart. (Wait, did I just understand the symbolism?)

Marky Mark breaks into the house of a character we’ve seen only fleetingly before and has a dramatic confrontation with another character we’ve either never seen before or who we’ve seen before but didn’t give a shit about. Something about a contract in a safe.

Someone is snoring in the theater and sounds exactly like my dog. Everyone else in the theater is treating this like a fifth grade field trip to DC when you’re forced to watch one of those films in the Smithsonian IMAX about the founding of our country—getting up to use the bathroom, throwing popcorn at each other, calling Chris Wackowski “thunder thighs.”

It’s ¾ of the way through the movie, and Marky Mark’s facial expression has only changed once—when he lifted his eyebrows slightly in surprise when his girlfriend broke up with him. We won’t see her again for the rest of the movie.

RC Romneys the fuck out of Valliant’s Obama in a debate. Housing projects, sad Puerto Ricans, contract, money, who cares, Marky Mark tries to blackmail RC, but RC counterblackmails him. The only way to take Gladiator down is for Marky Mark to ruin himself.

There is a brief interlude featuring a blue-lit Marky Mark in the bathtub that calls to mind those fade-y layered face montages used in sex scenes in 90s movies.

CZ-J’s character turns out to have been pretty much unnecessary. She wasn’t actually having an affair with Coach Eric Taylor, she was getting information from him to bring her husband down. I’m briefly intrigued by the idea of the female character being 90% useless but at least not a sex object, but then at the end Jeffrey Wright (so good in Angels in America; what happened to his career?) confesses he’s been fucking her all along.

Marky takes the fall, Not Blake Lively appears to want to jump him, Russell Crowe gets arrested, Valliant turns out to be everyone’s fav, there’s a slowmo shot of Marky Mark walking out of a bar, and I’m left with the knowledge that I lost two hours of my life indulging Brandi’s Marky Mark fetish. Why didn’t we just make pasta and watch Boogie Nights?

It makes me want to raise my eyebrows ever so slightly.


Our best Marky Mark imitations (note Jill’s ability to emote surprise):

Marky Mark 1-27