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twenty questions
to ponder, to answer, perchance to dream
by jael mchenry (@JaelMcHenry)

1. Why is summer such an all-fired big deal? I mean, it's not like we worker bees get the time off. If you're a student, fine. If you're a teacher, fine. But the world seems to be centered around this summer business, and if your life's like mine, it turns out that the summer is actually the time that you can least afford to take time off because you're the busiest. And as for the warm weather idea, well, if you've been in Washington this year, you know it's pretty much all-rain, all the time.

2. Now can M. Night Shymalan give this "twist" thing a rest?

3. What's next in pants after the low-rider trend has ended? Waistlines have been getting lower and lower and lower for a couple of years now. Thongs are busting out all over. The belts are skimming places belts are not meant to skim. So after this, are we going back to the 1983 paperbag-waisted jeans, pegged at the ankles? I just want to know if I threw all those out for nothing.

4. How am I going to wait an entire year to see Christian Bale as Batman? Especially now that the teaser trailer's out. Nolan is hot in his directorly way, Bale is hot in his nearly illegal way, and I think release isn't slated til the July 4th weekend next year. Ridiculous. And I thought I'd been waiting forever for Garden State, and that's only been six months.

5. Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

6. Am I ever going to get over this cold? And how did I catch a cold in 93-degree heat in Miami, of all places?

7. Are remakes such a bad idea as all that? I mean, even if you change everything, the idea is to get people to the theatre. Because you're trying to make money. So in that way, it makes perfect sense to remake Charade as The Truth About Charlie, and...

wait, maybe remakes ARE a lousy idea.

8. Speaking of Jonathan Demme, can he give that "HERE IS A MAN'S HEAD IN THE CENTER OF THE SCREEN" directing style a rest? I face people and talk to them all the time. I think, when movie characters are speaking, they shouldn't be facing me, but EACH OTHER. Just a thought.

9. Does anyone else not know what to do with their body after they're dead? After reading Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death, I sure as hell don't want to be embalmed, but after reading Stiff, I'm not sure about giving my body to science, because apparently you can end up as a head on a lavender cloth that some plastic surgeon has paid to practice on. Cremation sounds better every day. I mean, of course, I'd have to be dead first. At which point I probably won't care.

10. Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

11. Should I have started off this column with a crack about how I don't have time for summer vacation when I'm actually going to be on summer vacation the day it's published? Excellent question. A cookie for you.

12. Is John Cusack really dating Alexandra Kerry, or was Defamer's mention of them "caught kissing" the usual gossipy meaninglessness? I'm not sure why I want to know. Or if I want to know. Because what would it mean? Not even that Cusack, who we've all suspected for a long time of having political interests, has political interests. Because you don't have to like a politico to date the daughter of a politico. Or the Bush twins would be a lot harder up than they already are.

And besides, they already have to endure countless jokes about being "the Bush twins," which just has a Hefnerian ring to it.

13. And speaking of Cusack, is he thinking about, I don't know, maybe coming out with another movie at some point?

14. Can I still love the Democrats, love Boston, and hate Ben Affleck?

15. How could anyone possibly have found Anchorman funny? It was leaden, repetitive, and cheap. It's the most shameful appearance ever by Christina Applegate, and that's saying something for the girl who got her start on "Married: With Children." And was in The Sweetest Thing. And View From the Top. Sheesh.

16. Am I still addicted to Civ? You'll have to guess. I'm not tellin'.

17. Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?

18. Why are two of my favorite shows, "Alias" and "Carnivale," off the air until January 2005? And when they come back, why do they have to be on in the same timeslot? I guess if it weren't "Carnivale" it'd be "Deadwood," and in the competition between sepia-toned HBO primetime shows set in the past, my vote would have to be for "Deadwood."

19. Why? Because Tim Olyphant's mustache is more becoming than Nick Stahl's dirt. Because the profanity is truly impressive. Because the show's not afraid to kill off a minor character, a major character, or anyone in between. Because of Ian McShane's riveting performance as Al Swearingen. And because the credits are better. Hands down.

20. Why twenty? Because twenty-one is too many, and nineteen just isn't enough.


Jael is tired of being stereotyped as just another novelist/poet/former English teacher/tour guide/"Jeopardy!" semifinalist/bellydancing editor-in-chief with an MFA who was once an overachieving oboe-playing alto newspaper editor valedictorian from Iowa. She was also captain of the football cheerleading squad. Follow me on Twitter: @jaelmchenry

more about jael mchenry


over a hot stove
a woman's kitchen is in the place
by jael mchenry
topic: general
published: 4.6.05

pursuing the perfect bite
playing with your food, playing well with others
by jael mchenry
topic: general
published: 3.5.07


tracey kelley
8.4.04 @ 8:30a

I heard sound today of Dave Grohl, in DUBUQUE, at a Kerry rally, singing "Learning to Fly." Apparently, Grohl indicated "the other guys" were using his songs, so he thought he'd play them "where they belong."


I am so getting cremated, with ashes either scattered or buried in a hole with a new tree. I see no point in anything else.

dan gonzalez
8.4.04 @ 10:02a

Oddly, by around question number 8, I had a giant picture of Jael (ala her portrait over there) in the center of my mind's eye reading these questions to me. Somehow, her voice sounded like Foster playing Starling. Weird.
Need more coffee this am, apparently.

russ carr
8.4.04 @ 10:19a

Last night I went to bed with "Close to You" stuck in my head, and only SeƱor Ding-dong could chase it away. Now it's back. Thanks.


mike julianelle
8.4.04 @ 10:54a

The Sweetest Thing is one of the worst movies I've EVER seen. That and Charlie's Angels 2, which I caught recently on HBO, make for a craptastic Cameron Diaz double feature. Abominable movies.

jael mchenry
8.4.04 @ 1:04p

Cameron Diaz must be stopped.

The first Angels was far superior to the second, in the sense that it didn't suck, and wasn't made up entirely of 5-minute music videos with virtually no connection.

mike julianelle
8.4.04 @ 1:07p

Agreed. And is Carnivale's first season EVER going to rerun?

jael mchenry
8.4.04 @ 1:24p

Probably in December.

I was watching an old episode of Sports Night last week and Tim DeKay, who plays Jonesy, was on. I like him so much more as a grizzled, dirty-faced former ballplayer having sex with Ma Cooch in semi-public bathtubs.

How Demme-fied was Manchurian, by the way?

We are stuck in P'town with not nearly enough movie theatres. The only three screens in town are showing Manchurian, the Village, and Door in the Floor. Save me!

adam kraemer
8.4.04 @ 2:15p

Actually, I liked Sweetest Thing, but it might only be because I was really expecting it to be terrible. I thought the raunch was funny and the writing was clever.


mike julianelle
8.4.04 @ 2:51p

Wow. I can't fathom enjoying that movie. That "trying on clothes" montage is EMBARRASSING! More power to ya, Kraemer.

I am gonna see Maria Full of Grace tonite, supposed to be great.

mike julianelle
8.4.04 @ 3:19p

Jael, it was Demme-fied. I don't have a huge gripe against the big head thing, so I don't notice it as much, but it was totally there. And some of the nightmare stuff reminded me of Hannibal, even tho Demmme didn't do that.

robert melos
8.4.04 @ 9:44p

I'm with Adam. I personally liked the scene in The Sweetest Thing with the singing. If you go in expecting crap, sometimes you are surprised by semi-quality crap.

Definitely cremation. I think I told the story once of encountering a customer who had her late husbands each made into a different piece of jewelry. She was working on the brooch at that point.

I've sworn off of Jenna Bush or Bush twins jokes until October. Really.

todd bush
8.5.04 @ 4:56a

Hell, I'm related to them and I still make Bush twin jokes. Come on, Robert, it's ok. It's not your fault... it's not your fault... it's not your fault.

erik myers
8.5.04 @ 8:52a

You're related to them? For real?

jael mchenry
8.5.04 @ 2:15p

Inquiring minds want to know!

robert melos
8.5.04 @ 4:28p

That's like having a bird in the hand, so to speak.

sandra thompson
8.6.04 @ 8:40p

My terminal idiocy has kicked in and I don't understand the last question at all. I know you're not talking about black jack because 21 wouldn't be too many. It would be just right.

My personal opinion is that all children of politicans are off limits. Even the Bush twins. Except, of course, the children of politicans who become politicans themselves, like a certain pair of brothers..

Sorry, Todd. Is there anything we can do?

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