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Spider Thorndal

Spider's First Girlfriend

Mona liked Body Double. Liked the drama. Liked the Hitchcockian way
it all went down. I liked the girl. Not the one who married Banderas, but
the other one.

Mona dreams about being in the movies. She has a DVD of Ruthless People.
This is how far she's gone now. I tell her Ruthless People is pap. That
it's hardly even a movie at all, and that I'm surprised its facile images even
stick to the DVD. She says she like the supra-80s feel of it.

I am Spider, if you haven't guessed. Mona was not my first girlfriend.

My first girlfriend was Netta. I took her to Warren Beatty's Heaven Can
and almost got to touch her breast in the car afterwards. She wanted
to talk about filmic strategems, and I wanted to give her my Dentyne.

I've been going to the movies all my life. And all I ever wanted from them
was 94 minutes of darkness, time to contemplate the incomprehensible
wonderment of being next to a sweet smelling creature, separated just by the
red padded arm. Then the escape into the night.

"Did you like it," Netta would say. "Oh yes."

Tom Hanks and Daughter Lucy's Quest for Perfection

Lucy is ten.
This is - maybe - the most important detail.

She likes Joe Versus the Volcano,
which I tell her has no real depth.
I tell her it's showy. She cocks her head
I tell her the Meg Ryan triptych is stupid.
It's "kooky," I say.

Lucy thinks the middle reel of Castaway is too dark.
I say the same about the first reel of Saving Private Ryan.

Lucy and I watched Sleepless in Seattle last night.
Even she agrees it's maudlin. But she doesn't use that word.
She says it's sweet, but too sweet.

I tell Lucy that we'll go to the movies Saturday.
She tells me that it's her mom's weekend.
I know what that means.

It's nothing but proto-Disney and the ever-present
Princess Bride.

On Saturday morning as I clean her face, I say,
"Remember, honey. Cary Elwes wears the mask because
all men must."

My daughter, sweet Lucy,
nods and tells me she'll be back Sunday night.

When she gets home, I can tell she's been crying.
But as in the past, I know not to make too big a thing about it.
Marcy waves up from the car. Her boyfriend is driving and he waves.
He's not a bad sort, really.
He's Peter Scolari, maybe, but not in a bad way.

After Lucy gets settled, I get out the popped up corn
and cue up our favorite scene in The Money Pit.

"Alexander Godunov," I say.
"He's a stinker," Lucy says.

10 Tips for Incoming Film Students

1. All applications must include at least 20 minutes of at least 3 separate
projects, one of which must feature sound, one of which must feature some
sort of "effects" element, none of which can simply be music videos of your
sister's band.

2. Jerky was out last year. But now it is back in.

3. While Citizen Kane may have been shot in black and white on 35mm stock,
we are living in the 20th century, or actually now it's the 21st century.
So, all application films must be in one of several standard digital
formats. Think disc. Think shiny. Think reflective surface.

4. Many of your peers have been appearing nude in their own films. We
discourage this for most of you. But for some of you, we welcome it.

5. Last year's applicants include one filmmaker who sent us 75 minutes of a
tight one shot of his washing machine. He won several fellowships here, and
may one day come back to teach. But he will never make any real money.

6. This year's featured guest, Larry Carter, will be unable to attend
because of his recent incarceration. Instead, we will screen the new Asia
Argento movie and chat live on AOL with the actress from her home in Santa

7. Owen Wilson has just turned down our offer to lead this year's graduate
seminar. Irascible filmmaker, author, and actor, Henry Winkler, will return

8. Last year's Bob Crane Fellowship recipient, Luther Ford, will be back to
teach this year. His recent film Calliope Redux, which featured bravura
turns by Megan Mullaly and Jude Law as mismatched lovers and carny workers,
won third prize at last year's Toronto Film Festival.

9. It's no longer necessary to provide your own Kangols.

10. If you're just an actor pretending to be a filmmaker, please contact
NYU instead.

Spider Thorndal—the potato chip king of eastern Ohio--runs a zendo in Akron. He favors Nilla wafers and large cowboy hats. He's a 44 short. He's never without a glass of orange juice.

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