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October 02, 2006

This Movie is Stalking Me

By Harley

I can’t get away from TROY. The movie. I’ll be in the kitchen peeling carrots with the tiny TV on, or paying my Visa bill or pretending to write my novel, and there’s Brad Pitt stabbing Eric Bana through the heart. Or wearing that blue toga/housedress and fencing with his young “cousin” Patroklus. TROY is stalking me.

“That’s not stalking,” you say. “That’s just HBO.”

But this stalking thing predates my relationship with cable. It began with a film called THE LONELY LADY, starring Pia Zadora. This played in the background of my life for years, but only in hotel rooms, during my years as an actress. Pia was with me in Mexico City on the one English-speaking station, and in the wilds of British Columbia, where there were only two stations, one of which was public access, featuring the town swap meet. Marriotts, Four Seasons, Embassy Suites—I’d hit that bedside remote, and there she’d be, the lonely waitress whose fortunes improved while she herself STAYED LONELY. I never saw the whole movie; I was always coming in “in medias res” as they say in Troy. But THE LONELY LADY was strangely life-affirming, filling me with wonder, even awe, that a film that bad could get greenlit, financed, made, and distributed.

Then came I LOVE TROUBLE, starring Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte as dueling reporters. This one followed me on airplanes. For a year of my life every jet, puddle jumper and airbus was showing I LOVE TROUBLE. I’d fall asleep during the safety instructions at La Guardia, and wake up over Cleveland to I LOVE TROUBLE. Los Angeles to Toronto, I LOVE TROUBLE. Paris to Chicago, LE PROBLEM, JE T’AIME. Nick had a sort of preppie look going on (with large glasses), which suggested a romantic comedy (with intelligence) but I never asked for headphones, so I can’t swear to it. I prefer the Nick Nolte captured in his 2002 mug shot. Provide a soundtrack to that, and you can bet I’d rent the headphones.

I am not stalked by OUT OF AFRICA or WILD STRAWBERRIES or anything by Bertolucci, Kurosawa or Herzog. Stalking movies do not seem improve one’s mind or open any chakras (an exception was VIVA LAS VEGAS, which haunted me one summer). Same principle as human stalkers. It’s never Hugh Jackman ambushing you at work (Owen Wilson to you, Sarah), it’s always that Sociopath You Were Once Unwise Enough to Marry.

Why do I blog about this? Because I want to know if I’m the only one it happens to. A lot of things I assume are universal turn out to be peculiar to me. (As opposed to something like alien abduction, where you think it’s just you and then it turns out that everyone’s been on the spaceship.)

You see, my husband was never stalked until we met, but now we have “our” movie: THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. Any time we turn on the TV together, there’s a 68% chance we’ll find Keanu Reeves on some channel with a southern accent, trying to convince Charlize Theron that her nervous breakdown is due to her haircut, rather than the fact that his new employer is—the Devil. Played by Al Pacino. We considered calling one of our twins “Barzoon” after a supporting character, but for one reason or another, decided against it.

Okay, that’s it. If you were waiting for me to tie this into Yom Kippur, here it is: for several weeks in the late 80’s, my stalking movie was YENTL.

Happy Monday!


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LETHAL WEAPON. It's always on for me. I know, there is II and III and IIII which gives it a greater probability of playing somewhere, but honestly, does Mel need to royalties so badly? For donating to a good Jewish cause, maybe? Or are the gods just trying to send me some kind of message that I haven't understood yet??

Knight Rider, when I am visiting my sister Beth. I swear, and my wife agrees, that she must have subscribed to the Knight Rider Channel. Now, she can just buy all of the DvD's, and I think she has.

In college, Little House on the Prairie, which apparently was the only thing that Channel 10 in Altoona (the only channel we could get without cable) played.

Come to think of it, do you think that Mel scored tickets to temple today?

With me it isn't so much movies as it is songs...the love theme from Titanic has a lot to do with my refusal to watch the movie. And I started tuning out Celene Dion whenever I could. What's Eating Gilbert Grape could qualify though. Liked the movie. Once. I'd just like to be stalked by movies I never seem to see...old Betty Hutton or Rosalind Russell's Auntie Mame or Clark Gable comedies. Ended up buying Auntie Mame and It Happened One Night on DVD just so I could pop them in the player :o) Have to give Turner Classic Movies and IFC some credit though. I've seen movies there I never see anywhere else.

Spanglish! It's on every HBO channel, 24-7. There is abso-freaking-lutely no escaping it.

Okay, I've been stalked by Troy, too, and I don't even keep the TV on....

....For me it was What's Up Doc? One fall when I was in England and my parents left me alone in a hotel room a lot (I was 15). Saw it 52 times...

THE LONELY LADY! I haven't thought about that in years! The scene where she accepts the award and tells off everyone--hysterical.

My stalker movie is THE PHANTOM OF THE freaking OPERA. (Yes, Nancy, I hear you laughing.) Gah. Especially if I'm sick, and then it magically appears on the HBO rotation and plays 42 times a day, and that awful ALW music imbeds itself into my brain. Duuuuuhn, duhnduhnduhnduhndhuhn. Not cool.

Oh, and BTW, once you mention the music, it invades other people's brains. Sorry, folks.

I've never been stalked by a movie, but I have been by a name -- Matthew. Until my last year of college, I was always within an arm's reach of a Matthew. I counted them once and wrote a story that entwined the 9 significant ones. There were a handful of others that were quite insignificant as well.

A few of my stalker movies include Constantine, Austin Powers, The Devil’s Advocate, The Ring and Starship Troopers. The last was kind enough to come back in the form of DVD last night for a fresh round of torture. Great, now I’ll never be able to escape this movie.

When I went to Russia a few years ago, I slept through the different movie in English both on the way there and the way back and woke up for the same bad movie in Russian both times.

Okay, here's a true confession that probably comes under the TMI heading: The night before my colonoscopy---and if you have had one yet, you know the night before is much, much worse than the actual procedure---I watched THE ITALIAN JOB between trips to the bathroom. So now I associate THE ITALIAN JOB with horrendous diarrhea.

Maryann, I feel your pain. Hell for me is Celine Dion, on a loop, eternally singing that TITANIC song. P.S. Thank you, everyone. I truly feel enveloped now in the love of the shared universal experience. I mean, if ten people qualifies as universal.


Marky-Mark or Michael Caine?

Go-litely or Phosphosoda?

Yes, and I read ATLAS SHRUGGED in high school when I was home with the flu so now Ayn Rand has a slightly nausea-inducing effect on me. Through no fault of her own.

Marky-Mark, though? No nausea there.

My mother claims to have been stalked by a Bob Hope movie called Call Me Bwana. It was back when she was a newlywed Army wife. If they went out to the base theater, guess what was playing. If they went to the drive-in, it was an unadvertised part of the double feature. She swore that the next time that movie appeared, she'd get up and walk out.

Then she was on an airplane midway over the Pacific. Guess which movie they showed. And she didn't have a parachute, so she couldn't walk out.

I know there have been movies I felt stalked by, but I can't think of any specific ones right now. There are a couple of movies where I've seen the whole movie if you add up all the random bits and pieces I've seen and put them in the right order, but I've never seen them start to finish.

My corollary to this is the TV rerun rule: If there's a show you never, ever watch and have seen only one episode of, ever, that will be the episode that's on the next time you happen to catch that series. This especially holds true in hotel rooms, when you're bored and there's absolutely nothing on other than that series you saw one episode of once, and it wasn't bad, so you decide to watch it. And, of course, it will end up being that very same episode you've already seen. This is especially frustrating for very long-running series in cable syndication, where you know there are hundreds of episodes that could have been on, so why the one you've already seen?

While You Were Sleeping.
It's been on tv 39 million times, along with Hope Floats. And for the 16 million times HF's been on, I ~always~ miss the first ten minutes.


I used to suspect that every TV market had a channel that showed episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger and McGyver in an alternating, never-ending loop.

How about a nice Moonlighting once in a while?

Thanks, Harley...people look at me in strange ways when I say I can't listen to Ms. Dion. It reminds me of the whole Debby Boone You Light Up My Life thing. But you know, every time I see "While You Were Sleeping" on the tube,I have to stop and watch...must be Bill Pullman :o)

I have a nearly overpowering urge to go out and rent CALL ME BWANA.

I think you should call some friends and have BWANA girls night.

The TV Rule - so true, so true...

As we toured the ancient and the classic in Vienna Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" came out of every corner....................another good reason for Ipods!
mary alice........never heard Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves......probably not too PC in Vienna

The TV thing IS real. For me it was this series called LITTLE WONDER (or small wonder?) about a really peculiar little genius girl, or she might've been a robot. (this was during the drug years.) I kept seeing the same episode again and again. My own personal Twilight Zone.


That wasn't drugs. That was one of the all-time worst, stunningly unfunny, shows ever. Oops, I hope you were never on it.

Josh, I don't think I was on it. But again, I can't be sure. The drugs again.

Not according to IMdB, and good for you.

But I would like to see that House on Sorority Row. It sounds like something I would have seen at the drive-in, in the rain. Eileen Davidson, Y&R, I should say. I would hope for gratuitous nudity without any reason in the plot, at the least. I know you have extra books, even though I bought one of each. Have you got any extra DvD's of that movie?

Sandra Bullock. The woman stalks me every time I turn on the tube (which isn’t even all that often.) I’m tired, dinner’s over and the kitchen is cleaned, I head upstairs to turn on a little mindless entertainment so that I might relax before bed, and there she is…that perky, never had a crappity smacking bad hair day in her perfect bright white glow in the freaking dark smile. Oh sure…she’s at a down point in her life/relationship/job/commute, and she’s wearing a raggedy, shapeless moth eaten sweater, she can't stop the bus, her boyfriend's left her for the college quarterback, and her goldfish died, but her stupid perfect cheekbones remain high in a smile because everything is going to be all right.

I’ve seen her eat cake on a rooftop with the dude who propositions cross dressing male hookers. I’ve seen that scene half dozen times. Nothing else from whatever movie it is, but like Marie Antoinette, I’ve seen them eat cake. I’ve seen her fall off heels in a movie with that dude from the lawyer show. She’s fallen off so many times, I think whatever channel it is has that scene on permanent loop. I’ve seen her ask “You OK Elsie?” approximately thirteen hundred times, and I admit I stick around a little longer because of that adorable smile on the brother she’s in love with (not the one she’s marrying.)

I have to ask the stalking gods - why her?

Why not Matthew McConaughey? Can’t we cut a deal, here?

I don't get stalked by movies much, but do have a corollary to the corollary to the TV rule -- which is that, even if (or possibly especially if) it's a series you like, the episode that comes on is always the worst in the series. Why, oh why, when I'm too lazy to just get up and put in a DVD, must I find season 7 Buffy's??

Every time I turn on the TV The Blues Brothers movie is on. It is always the same scene, in the diner with Aretha Franklin. The most anoying thing about it is that my husband has to sit and watch it and laughs like he has never seen it before.

I've been blessed by some great movies that act as a kind of guardian angel;
"The Searchers" always seems to play during key points in my life...AMC Cable was broadcasting that John Ford-John Wayne classic on 9-11.

"Dave" was released during recession of the early 90s. Besides our namesake, I confused fantasy with reality when I returned to Florida after trying to make a living in Washington D.C.

I agree with Harley,
some shows just stalk you during certain periods of your life. I still get embaressed by the antics of "Three's Company" or "Different Strokes." Only now I see both of those shoes in a tragic light.

...Oh...I did get stalked by "Parenthood" for a while....

The corollary to the "it's always the worst episode" TV rule:

If there's ever a really, really great show that you absolutely love and tell everyone about, and if there's ever a time you're with one of those people when the show comes on, so you can force them to watch it with you and come to appreciate its brilliance, that will be the time they show the worst episode in the history of the series, or else it will be the self-referential episode full of inside jokes and shout-outs to the fans that someone who's never seen it won't get, and your friend will then be convinced you're insane and have terrible taste.

I have learned the hard way not to force someone to watch my favorite show with me unless it's a rerun of an episode I know is good. I don't take any chances with brand-new episodes. That's where DVDs are so great, because you can then pick and choose the indoctrination episode. But if it's the kind of situation where you're with a friend and your show comes on, resist the temptation to convince them to watch it with you! Tivo or tape it and watch it later, or you'll find yourself forced to defend your show, and an hour of "Really, it's not usually like this!" gets old.

Yes, Shanna, yes. My husband forces friends and family at gunpoint to watch his favorite TV. Last night, it was his 80-year-old parents and THE WIRE. Guess what? They were asleep 5 minutes into it.

Oh, Shanna -- you're so right! And there's just nothing worse than that look they get when you turn to them, all sparkly-eyed and excited, and ask "Isn't that great??" They don't want to offend, but they really do think the show sucks and can't imagine what on earth you see in it . . .

I found your blog so eerie becaus I tend to feel the same way for me it's the ISLAND. I like Ewan McGreggor but I was really not a fan of the movie. It just seems like it gets left on all the time. Then Why is when you find a show you happen to like and then catch it aganin a while later it is the same episode always. Like only one was made.

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