And there’s always music in the air

David Lynch & Mark Frost’s groundbreaking weird-crime series “Twin Peaks” first aired 24 years ago this week. In commemoration, here are a few of the pieces I’ve written about the sleepy town and dreamy landscape of Twin Peaks over the years.

How “Twin Peaks” helped free television dramas from the yoke of pure plot:

In most shows, every moment must move the plot forward. In “Twin Peaks” (the show and the town), things move at a slower pace and odd digressions are not only allowed but encouraged. “Twin Peaks” embraces homey mundanity, which makes the deep horror more jarring and effective. And there are terrible horrors in that town, and deeply tangled personal tragedies, compulsions, and secrets. It is, in effect, a soap opera without the sudsy, fluffy, forgettable qualities.

Ronette PulaskiMy meditation on the moral gaps of “Twin Peaks” – the contrasts between golden girl Laura Palmer and Ronette Pulaski and how the show creates a moral loophole for the monstrous killer – contains huge, enormous, show-ruining spoilers preceded by a BIG BOLDED SPOILER ALERT, so click at your own discretion:

… but what about Ronette? Ronette Pulaski, a surviving victim of the same killer whom we first see staggering out of the wilderness across a railroad trestle, stunned and all but catatonic. In this image, she is presented to us as a girl literally from the wrong side of the tracks.

And it shows: in the lack of concern that the characters and writers (and presumably the viewers) show over Ronette’s reasons for the same behavior. Tacitly, the cops (and writers) of Twin Peaks are telling us that a child of privilege must be gravely damaged to sully herself so, but that a townie consorting with the same skeevy drug dealers, posing for smutty photos, and whoring needs no explanation.

How Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me redresses that imbalance and rebukes the television audience who witnessed the dark tale of a tormented young woman driven to death by her demons while we tittered about cherry pie and doughnuts and damn fine coffee:

The film relies upon the viewer’s familiarity with the cozy-quirky world of the TV series, but even as it employs the mythology and grammar of the show’s world, the movie viciously rejects the comforts we found in the drowsy little town of Twin Peaks.

I rethink the supposed virtues of Twin Peaks’ Sheriff Harry S. Truman:

Visiting investigator Special Agent Dale Cooper of the FBI (Kyle MacLachlan) takes to him right away, and it’s easy to see why: Harry’s welcoming and professional, quietly competent and well-respected, but completely without the posturing and rivalry Cooper faces from some local DPs when he steps into the lead on a hot case.

Harry’s appeal lies his down-home folksiness, his easy pace and unflappable manner. Even our putative hero, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, sums him up with “Harry, you’re alllll right!” But is he? Is Sheriff Truman all right? Is he a good guy? Is he the boy scout he’s presented as, upright and true?

“Twin Peaks” and a memory 20 years old, in which I reminisce on the weekly ritual of walking home my friend S, who would come over to watch the show, then get too spooked to walk through the dark streets home alone… which meant I ended up walking home alone every week:

And every week, I would leave S at her brightly lit doorstep, take a deep breath as if I could breathe in that bright light and carry it with me into the night… and then I would step into the dark to start walking home.

grarosaurus

Every so often, I get into a funk, the doldrums, a sad bad mood. Sometimes it passes off on its own. Sometimes the judicious application of self-care waves it away. Sometimes not. But I always try.

Until this week, I hadn’t noticed what an impressive array of bad-mood busters I’d accumulated in my repertoire. This week, I tried them all in various combinations:

– vigorous exercise
– dressing up
– dressing down in my schlumphiest pajamas
– one-minute dance party
– sunlight
– cheerful music
– meaningful work
– frivolous work
– cheerful idle chitchat
– earnest loving chitchat
– send out postcards (or any other small tangible act to brighten someone else’s day)
– eat and drink conspicuously healthily
– eat and drink delicious junk food
– a bit more caffeine
– a bit less caffeine
– make friends laugh
– analyze my feelings
– [redacted]
– make someone laugh
– laugh myself
– laugh at myself
– read a good book
– take a hot bath
– peel (and then, y’know, eat) citrus fruit
– bake bread
– practice gratitude

and the number-one all-time break-glass-in-case-of-emergency cheer-up method (which I secretly use all the time):

– pretend to be a mighty dinosaur by stomping around waving my arms and saying “GRAR.”

splat

Places I managed to drop bits of avocado from this sandwich:

– onto the countertop
– onto the cutting board
– onto the other-than-intended sandwich half
– onto the the plate
– onto the napkin
– onto the floor
– onto the MacBook trackpad
– into my cleavage
– down the front of my hoodie
– onto my chin
– I don’t know; I never found that bit. Uh-oh.

updated to add: I stopped typing, hit post, and went back to the second half of my sandwich, only to find a bit of avocado on the sofa next to the plate. And no, that was not the missing piece from the list.

tipsy

Even if you don’t feel tipsy during the Halloween party, look for these dead giveaways:

– A complete inability to remove the foil from the champagne bottle, or to figure out how to uncage the cork without removing the foil.

– Taking the stairs down from the hosts’ apartment ever so slowly, getting both feet on each riser ever so carefully before moving on to the next.

– Your partner saying “You’re doin’ great!” at least three times during the five-minute walk home.

– Shucking off your bra and tights from under your costume in front of a (curtained) window while cheerfully giving the finger to the hypothetical neighbors who might be offended by the unintentional display.

– Being ever-so-proud! that you remembered to wash your face before bed.

– Waking up late the next morning ravenous for every smeary, fatty mass-market food being trumpeted by TV commercials.

– When your partner reveals that he brought home a frozen pizza last night, you rush wordlessly to him, fluttering your hands, and finally manage “I’m so glad we got married!”

little things, late arrivals

Things I learned to appreciate later in life:

– avocado
– sour cream
– Mexican food of all kinds. Now consider that I spent my formative years in Texas and only discovered Mexican food after I moved away from it. Awwwww, so sad.
– a sponge to wash the dishes. I still prefer a brush for most things, but The Fella introduced me to dishwashing with sponges and I have to admit, they’re better for some items.
– beer
– moisturizer
– flip flops. I was a Dr. Scholl’s kid all the way.
– Matt Damon. I only started reeeeeally appreciating him during the first act of The Informant!.
Barkeepers Friend. Boy howdy, everyone who told me this stuff was miraculously perfect? They were understating it.

little things

I like:

– the gust of wind that sometimes blows, puffing out the curtains and stirring the air, in the seconds before the rainfall starts.

– making a balanced, delicious dinner seemingly out of nothing when the cupboard seems bare.

– when the season changes from sandals to boots, or vice versa. (But honestly, mostly sandals-to-boots.)

– cocktail glasses.

– wooden matches, the bigger the better.

– the heel off a loaf of homemade bread, still warm from the oven.

– the mute button.

– ginger jam.