Boss of Gloss

Look for the skull.FL2, otherwise known as Fine Life Magazine, Issue No. 2, hits newsstands today. Being the editor of a wine county lifestyle rag has its perks – namely the ocean of wine that arrives at the office by the case – or two – thanks to the fine lands at Council Tree. Correspondingly, the theme of this issue is wine, or more specifically “harvest,” which is, in part, what lured me to Sonoma in the first place and has kept me two years thence. FL is distributed by Hearst Corp. so it will likely turn up in today’s San Francisco Chronicle and, of course, in the Sonoma Valley Sun. To request a copy, do not hesitate to call…

Nostrildamus Nose All

Size matters.Unlike some of my pals, I don’t need to walk into the local pub to get my nose whacked. I mastered the art of the self-inflicted nasal wound using that ubiquitous instrument of the Nomaville experience – the wine glass. How I transformed this delicate and otherwise benign vessel into an instrument of blunt trauma has little to do with the glass itself, but everything to do with the apparent enormity of my nose.

The Roman arch, as it turns out, is not limited to architecture – it’s been fixed to the abutment of my face since the earliest of my days. Its genetic derivations remain something of a family mystery, though I once spied a photo of camera-shy great-grandfather cowering behind a tree. At first glance it appears to be obscuring his profile. A second look, however, reveals that the trunk is merely camouflaging the bridge of his nose – I had mistaken the rest of it for a branch extending far out of frame.

Since transplanting to the wine country, I’ve learned to avoid certain types of glassware on account of my proboscis. Champagne flutes are a particular menace, since the mouth of the glass is too narrow to clear the tip of my nose. Thus, to sip, I must tip my head (and the glass) back about 75 degrees. The result is that I appear to be guzzling the sparkling, which, in point of fact I am, since the angle causes the wine to spill from the glass like a whitewater rapids. Likewise, stemware impresario George Riedel apparently has a grudge against those of us with larger endowment. Of the glasses he manufactures for specific varietals, it is only the wide-mouthed line created to showcase cabernet sauvignon that I can drink from with relative ease (though I have to be mindful not to let my nose get wet).

Due to a freak tetherball accident in the third grade, my nose lists a little to the left. This creates the optical illusion of being larger from certain angles, rather, any angle except one. Through years of diligent study and experimentation with mirrors and other reflective surfaces (the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial, say), I’ve learned how to counteract the effect by slightly cocking my head to the right. When I first spotted my future wife, the Contessa, I attempted this subtle corrective, but turned too far and inadvertently grazed my nose against a light switch, which momentarily dimmed the cocktail party we were attending. I tried to save face – or nose – as it were by suggestively chirping, “You know what a big nose means?”

“That you’re a liar,” came her retort.

Damn, the Pinocchio Reversal. Well played. I fell instantly in love. The Contessa herself has a fairly prominent nose, but its aquiline shape, even bridge and striking resemblance to Greco-Roman statuary amounts to a classic beauty and what some have commented is an aristocratic bearing. Mine just makes me look like a snob, seeing as I have to keep it fairly high in the air, counterbalanced by the long hair I’ve grown for ballast, lest its weight drive my chin to my chest.

But tell us what happened to your nose, Cyrano, I hear you collectively cry. Okay, but you have to promise not to laugh. I was having a candlelit dinner with my wife on our back patio. After making a toast, I returned my glass to the table near a candle – too near, as it turned out. Later, I went for another sip, but the lip of the glass had become heated to the point that when it met the bridge of my nose (alas) a crescent shape was seared just below my brow. That which we call a tetherball by any other name would smell as sweet.

Space Invaders

We have landed.Winding down the Californian coast this weekend piqued a peculiar anxiety in me, the genesis of which I could not immediately place. The usual culprits (craggy coastal cliffs, the great, gaping maw of the midnight sea), were not the source, nor was the Contessa’s drowsy helming of the wheel. When she made me aware that I was nervously tapping dashboard as if transcribing War and Peace on a telegraph, the answer finally came to me. The illuminated oil rigs lurking off the Santa Barbara coast resembled the blocky, pixelated adversaries of the ancient arcade game Space Invaders and no matter how rapidly I tapped the phantom “fire” button on the dash, I could not smote them. Not quite ‘Nam, I know, but traumatic nevertheless.

The digital nemeses frequently appear in street art given their geometric form, which aptly lends itself to stencils and tile mosaics (Sonoma Valley Sun photog Joe Lemas recently spotted a tiled invader in Paris). Many of these representations are the result of a loosely organized guerilla art movement that has found the invaders depicted the world over by a contingent of co-conspirators.

There here.Predictably, guerilla marketing campaigns have hijacked this approach featuring similar creatures. Sam Ewen, founder and CEO of ad firm Interference, Inc., garnered the wrath of Homeland Security when his team planted objects d’art inspired by the Mooninites, two-dimensional alien villains from the Cartoon Network show Aqua Teen Hunger Force that owe a genetic debt to Space Invaders). Meant to inspire viral cell-phone photos and blog posts, the Mooninites’ blinking electronic circuit boards instead caused post-9/11 Bostonians to believe they were bombs. Authorities were outraged – at least one congressman pilloried Ewen in the press and the Boston police commissioner described the campaign as “unconscionable.” You know, sort of like oil rigs marring the California coastline.

Play Space Invaders here.

Atomic Teenager

More bang for your buck.This week in Nomaville, I return to one of my perenial obsessions — the bomb — by way of another obsession — Dr. Strangelove. Both notions culminated into something of a personal nuclear meltdown my freshman year in high school during an ill-fated stage adaptation of Kubrick’s masterpiece. Dr. Strangelove vs. Madame Wadsworth recounts how I managed to raise both the ire of my drama teacher and questions regarding a certain rubber chicken — with one bad move. I had conducted the interview with Madame while penning a screed about the bomb for the Bohemian, published as Atomic Hangover. In the end, the quotes never made the story, however, I did release the interview in the “Back to School” edition of the Daedalus Howell Show on KSVY 91.3 Sonoma in September of last year. Even mushroom clouds have a silver lining.

Forever Sean Young

Sean Young

In 2009, I had an interview with everyone’s favorite replicant,  actor Sean Young — who discussed Blade Runner, leaning boards and her coming comeback. 

DH: This is sort of a “boxers or briefs” question, but which do you prefer, the original Blade Runner or the director’s cut which was stripped of Harrison Ford’s narration?

Sean Young: I prefer the original. I think it’s just because that’s what I was exposed to, so long ago, and was used to. I don’t know why, I think it was just imprinted on me and became the one I’m close to.

DH: Given its cultural impact, were you “set” after Blade Runner?

Sean Young: Oh, no. My career got whacked somewhere in 1989. I’ve had to stumble and survive ever since.

DH: Really?

Sean Young: If you have an actor accuse you of leaving a voodoo doll on their door step, it doesn’t do a whole lot for your reputation. I suppose if I was a guy that might, you know, help.

DH: I must admit, I know some of the controversy that’s laden your career, but frankly, I’m a fan so I find it irrelevant.

Sean Young: You’ll have to do your research because I don’t go back. It’s a good thing you don’t know, it’s not something I would want you to reiterate or revisit [laughs].

DH: Was it your hairdo in Blade Runner?

Sean Young: [Laughing] No, no they did a great little hairdo. It took a long time. I’ve had to explain it to hairdressers over the years. Those were the days when I had a “leaning board.” You would get dressed and go off to the set, but weren’t allowed to sit down because you would wrinkle your clothing. You would have to have this board that was slightly leaned backwards and it had little armrests on it. You had to stay on the leaning board until you were released and could go back to your little dressing room and then you could take off your skirt or whatever and, you know, sit.

DH: Sounds pretty old school.

Sean Young: Betty Davis had a leaning board, Joan Crawford did and so did I.

DH: I would definitely say your look in Blade Runner borrowed from their DNA.

Sean Young: I think so too. I think there’s been a sad loss in terms of homage to that kind of great beauty — the great, mysterious beauty.

DH: Indeed. And it seems to me that, despite some of the issues that we’re not talking about, you’ve retained a sort of cult following.

Sean Young: I do too, in the real world. But Hollywood is not a real place. It’s like a figment in the imagination of people in the corporate offices who think their opinion has any value. And they do – they think it’s good. The way the business has changed – reality TV has had a big impact on it. The people producing reality TV couldn’t hope to make a Blade Runner in their last dying breath. The market for the kind of things I’d like to do – there’s not a lot of support for it in terms of finances. Frankly, I’m only now just overcoming my shyness. My wretched shyness.

DH: What about doing something independently or even on the web?

Sean Young: I might do it. My children are old enough now where I’m not worrying about whether they’re going to throw themselves off the balcony. I’ve started to actually concentrate on that. I did a 12 day shoot his last June. I was one of the producers and one of the reasons it got made. I’m starting to do that. That one is named Darkness Visible.

DH: I’m glad to hear that because I definitely think you still mean something to audiences.

Sean Young: I do too. I’ve only just stated to mean something to myself. I guess it took me a long time to recover.

DH: What, a decade at the most? Hey, some people have gone longer.

Sean Young: I think I’m an odd commodity. I’m certainly a name and a commodity and there’s a certain amount of mystery that has almost mistakenly been built up. It’s there, it’s doable, it’s usable. There are a lot of people who are supporters. I think the big bridge for me has been overcoming having my reputation whacked, surviving that and overcoming that. I’m starting to get my sea legs back. I don’t feel so shy and I also feel kind of vindicated in the sense that when people try to wreck your reputation, it does catch up to them. It may take a while, but people ultimately know – and they know when someone is an asshole.

DH: You’ve weathered the storm and most of those people probably don’t have their jobs anymore.

Sean Young: That’s right. That’s actually true.

DH: It might be cheesy to characterize where you are now as a comeback but –

Sean Young: Oh, I’m a comeback waiting to happen, that’s for sure. I just had to sort of step on the bandwagon. I wasn’t honestly very impressed with success. Success can bring really good things in people at times, but I think that’s less common. Mostly, success can make people have very large egos and feel justified in kinds of behavior that, in my mind, depresses me.

DH: Success tends to magnify any crap that’s there.

Sean Young: Yeah, pissing contests are not my forte.

DH: This sounds like an exciting time for you.

Sean Young: Yeah, not really [laughs].

DH: But, you sound like you have a renewed sense of spirit.

Sean Young: I’m older now, so I at least have perspective. I’m not the kind of person who is going to walk in with pistols blazing. I’m much too shy for that. I don’t think I’m characterized like that either. I feel like I’ve been endowed with a fiery, mysterious power, which is a complete illusion. If I feel uncomfortable, I’ll just back out of the room and quietly disappear. I don’t do those kind of fights anymore because I recognize that women don’t win them. You got to have a strong arm next to you in order to win that one and I that’s a battle I’m not even interested in being a part of.

DH: After some recent meditation on our culture, my colleagues and I have had the feeling that you’re due to pop again soon. It’s like “Sean Young, of course!”

Sean Young: I think you might not be alone in that department. And I hope not. I would certainly know how to handle it in a way that would be graceful and dignified. I’m now in a position where I can accept only what I want to – I wasn’t always in that position. I don’t have to say “yes” to things that I felt I had to previously to support my children. When you have that kind of freedom to say “Nah, I don’t think so,” it’s a totally different thing. I can’t say that has always been the case.