Posts tagged Blog by Courtenay Stallings
Reflections of a Fest: Twin Peaks Fest 2016

IMG_1642 After a sojourn to the Northwest for my first visit to the Twin Peaks Fest several years ago, I wrote up a day-by-day overview of the experience. That summer, I had just spent five months covering the U.S.C. Twin Peaks Retrospective for the Red Room Podcast and wanted to stay immersed in the TP world, so I made the trek to Snoqualmie Falls –– the iconic place of pilgrimage featuring the exterior of the Great Northern Hotel. Like many first-time Fest attendees, I looked forward to seeing the locations and hearing what the celebrities had to say while eating copious amounts of cherry pie at the RR Diner (AKA Twede's). What keeps me coming back, though, is the community of friends I've made over the years through this strange and wonderful world. This Fest seemed particularly significant because of the absence of Catherine Coulson and this being the last Fest before the airing of Season 3. There was a tangible electric vibe in the air for many of us. Things are about to change. For now, we can enjoy the mystery of not knowing where the Twin Peaks story is headed, but by next year, we'll have some answers and, hopefully, some new questions. The following are my impressions of the 2016 Fest.

John and Kat Evans, Fest Staff and really nice folks

The Fest Staff and Volunteers: "Every day, once a day, give yourself a present."

Us Fest goers keep coming back for an array of reasons, but I would be remiss not to give a shout out to the people who 1) kept the Fest alive when most of us were not even making the trek; and 2) still keep the Fest alive by making it small, personable and reminding us that it's all about the experience of community. Thank you for giving of your time and yourself to the madness. We are truly grateful. A special thank you to Rob and Deanne Lindley, the Fest Organizers, as well as Pam and Glenn Allen, Kat and John Evans, Jared and Robyn Wolfsberger, and the volunteers.

Laura Harring (Rita/Camilla, "Mulholland Drive")

The Celebrities: “Someday my log will have something to say about this.”

Many Fest first-timers and returners come for the unique opportunity to not only see celebrities from the world of Twin Peaks and David Lynch but also for the chance to spend some one-on one time with them, too. The Friday night banquet, the town hall, the movie night and the picnic featured celebrities, including the following:

Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs, “Twin Peaks”)

Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran, “Twin Peaks”)

Connie Woods (New Girl at One Eyed Jacks, “Twin Peaks”)

Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Lawrence Jacoby, “Twin Peaks”)

Wendy Robie (Nadine Hurley/Butler, “Twin Peaks”)

Jan D’Arcy (Sylvia Horne, “Twin Peaks”)

Mädchen E. Amick, (Shelly Johnson, “Twin Peaks” and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”)

Gary Bullock (Sheriff Cable, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”)

Jonny Leppell (Pierre Tremont/Chalfont, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”)

Laura Harring (Rita/Camilla, “Mulholland Drive”)

Bonnie Aarons (Bum behind Winkies, “Mulholland Drive”)

Julee Cruise (Singer, Songwriter and Actor)

John Neff (Sound Engineer, Musician and Composer)

Notably absent was Catherine Coulson (the Log Lady/Margaret Lanterman, "Twin Peaks"), who passed away last September 2015. A log was placed in her honor on the table among the celebrity panelists. Coulson would often bring word from David Lynch to the Fest fans. With her passing, Charlotte Stewart has taken on the role of Fest matriarch in bringing the good word from Lynch. Before the Fest, Stewart told Lynch that it was tradition that Catherine gives a message from him. Lynch gave it some thought, and, after several days, relayed the following to Stewart to present to the Fest fans: “Many items have more than one purpose. Even a table or a chair can have more than one purpose.” Got it? Good.

If you'd like to hear more from the celebs, Scott from the Red Room Podcast interviewed several of the celebrities, including Charlotte Stewart, Laura Harring, John Neff, Gary Bullock, John Thorne (author of "The Essential Wrapped in Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks") and Mary Hütter, fan, vendor and editor who edited the trailer for "Blue Bob in Paris," a documentary of behind the scenes of David Lynch's one-and-only Blue Bob concert. Also, Twin Peaks Unwrapped featured a podcast with the panel Q&A as well as interviews with some Fest attendees. IMG_1842I had the honor of interviewing Connie Woods (New Girl at One Eyed Jacks, “Twin Peaks”) about a documentary to bring attention to the fact that "in the state of Ohio it is illegal to rescue any abandoned or orphaned baby deer and that their fate (death) is sealed because of a barbaric law." On the website about the documentary,, Woods wrote, "After hearing about Trooper, a three legged deer that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was planning on killing because he had been rescued and rehabilitated, I knew I had to do something .... I knew that if I could tell the story of Trooper and his rescuers that I might be able to make a small difference in this world. I learned about a small, but very passionate group of people in Ohio that are putting everything they have into saving these lovely innocent creatures. I've watched from afar as they held 'Barn Sales' to raise money for their legal fees while trying to have a bill passed that would prevent the ODNR from killing innocent baby deer. Upon hearing about Trooper and these special humans, my friend Sherilyn Fenn was on board immediately to help produce this documentary." If you'd like to know more and/or support the creation of the documentary, visit the website for "Deerly Beloved: The Saving Trooper Story" and the fundraising page to support this important cause for animal rights.

From left to right: Donna Hayward, Audrey Horne and Shelly Johnson

Costume Contest: "I'm Audrey Horne, and I get what I want!"

The costume contest at the celebrity dinner is a highlight of the Fest. This year's first-place winner included an exact replica of the iconic Rolling Stone Cover of the beauties of Twin Peaks. Three Fest attendees recreated the look of the cover and each played their role perfectly. This photo does not do it justice. Mädchen Amick even photobombed the ladies. There's amazing photos and videos out there. Take a gander.

IMG_1772Fest Films: "Where we're from, the birds sing a pretty song ... and there's always music in the air."

The Fest features a screening of a Lynch film every year. This year, they screened "Mulholland Drive," which was extra special because both Laura Harring (Rita/Camilla, “Mulholland Drive”) and Bonnie Aarons (Bum behind Winkies, “Mulholland Drive”) were in attendance. Movie night also featured a live performance by the talented Julee Cruise –– a very special treat for Fest-goers. A special thanks to John Neff who provided audio and sound as well as Glenn Lewis Allen for overseeing the movie night and the short film festival.

This was the second year in a row the Fest included a competitive film festival for Twin Peaks fans. Fans from all over the world submitted their Twin Peaks and David Lynch inspired independent short films. The winners were:

First Place: "Twin Peaks: Rituals and Candlelight" by David Busch

Second Place (tie): "Diane" by Siobhan Shields and "Twin Peaks Memorial" by Mary Hütter

Third Place: "Fire Walk With Me (Japan)" by Katsuhide Yamago

The Fest screened many of the short films, including a movie about the Fest itself. Red Room Podcast co-creator Scott Ryan made a documentary about last year's Twin Peaks Fest called "A Voyage to Twin Peaks." Scott's film is a love letter to the festival folk and all Twin Peaks fans. The documentary captures a precious moment in time –– a time when Catherine Coulson (featured in the film) was still with us. I laughed. I cried. I laughed again. (I laughed at Scott. A lot.) He really captured the magic of the Fest and the reason we all keep coming back. If you haven't seen it, go to Amazon right now and watch it.

Gary Bullock (Sheriff Cable, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”)

Sunday at Olalie Park: “A nice day for a picnic …”

The picnic in Olalie State Park, the site of many of the scenes from "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," was extra special this year with Gary Bullock (Sheriff Cable, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”) in attendance as Fest-goers reenacted scenes from FWWM, and, of course, an amazing play-by-play guided tour by filmmaker and holder-of-all-Twin-Peaks-knowledge Josh Eisenstadt.

What happens in the Roadhouse stays in the Roadhouse.

Karaoke Night: “Meet me in the Roadhouse after 9:30.”

The Festival concluded with Karaoke at the Roadhouse with unforgettable performances by Josh Eisenstadt and a spot-on Dorothy Vallens of "Blue Velvet" tribute. I'm not sure we'll be the same, and I'm pretty sure the Roadhouse staff will not be the same, but something magical happened among the beer and AV equipment that night.

The light fixture at the Great Northern (Salish Lodge) went full Lynchian during the Fest. Electricity!

Something Lynchian this way comes: "It is happening again."

Several Fests later, I’ve realized the Fest is less about seeing the celebrities and much more about the community of the fans. There is an acceptance of the eccentric among the Fest goers. They are a diverse and extremely creative group.

It was an honor to see old friends and meet new. I had some amazing conversations with John Thorne (original co-creator of Wrapped in Plastic magazine and author of "The Essential Wrapped in Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks") and Mya McBriar, who runs the Twin Peaks Fanatic blog. I laughed until my gut hurt with Scott and his lovely wife, who are good friends.

The Fest provided me a way to connect with incredible fellow writers like John Thorne of "The Essential Wrapped in Plastic," Brad Dukes of "Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks" and David Bushman, who wrote "Twin Peaks FAQ" with Arthur Smith. There are so many fantastic men writing about Twin Peaks, and I admire their work. I'm working on my own book (warning: selfish plug) in which I will highlight the women who are contributing to the dialogue of Twin Peaks. I'm in the process of interviewing and profiling women who are inspired by the show and writing about it or producing art inspired by it. The show's given so many women, including myself, an opportunity to explore their own complex and creative nature. I want to celebrate that. I want their voices to inspire and serve as an archive of this special moment in time.

There's something Lynchian in the atmosphere every time I go to North Bend, and it's not just about Twede's miracle cherry pies or the rushing Snoqualmie falls.

The night of the celebrity banquet, a group of us stopped by the Great Northern Hotel (Salish Lodge). I wandered into the lobby and noticed the light fixture went full David Lynch. This was not my first visit to the lobby, and I couldn't remember the erratic blinking of the lights occurring previously. Later, I asked a staff member if the blinking was meant to be. She said it wasn't supposed to happen, but the lights were acting strangely lately. It is happening again, my friends.

My first journey to the Fest was about hitting all the marks of participating in the costume contest (Maddy Ferguson), seeing all of the locations, and getting to know some fellow Fest-goers. Some years later, I've realized that the Fest is all of these experiences but so much has become more personal ... and more private. There is one event I witnessed that I cannot even put into words. In fact, I won't. It was hauntingly beautiful and sad. I captured a photo. But I didn't post it anywhere. Last year, Catherine Coulson relayed a message from David Lynch to us in which he said, "We live in a world where there really is no mystery or honoring of mystery anymore ... real mystery. I find that personally depressing. I would like to rediscover a world where everyone discovers on their own what real mystery is." I'm trying, Mr. Lynch. I'm trying.



Some lasting impressions ...

Questions in a world of blue in the Red Room.


Donuts for days that Lucy set out for us.


A real-life canvas of trucks at the Edgewick just like that picture wall in Snoqualmie.


Charlotte Stewart's book is quite the read. Plus, she gave us a Betty Briggs happy-face button to don at the Fest.

John Thorne is an incredible musician and sound mixer. I'm excited to own this limited edition of Blue Bob.


Subscribe To The Red Room On iTunes

Follow The Red Room on Facebook or twitter @redroompodcast or Instagram

Buy or Rent A Voyage To Twin Peaks at Amazon.

Scott's Documentary about Twin Peaks with Catherine (Log Lady) Coulson, Ian Buchanan, Josh Eisenstadt and more.

Listen to an interview with Sherilyn Fenn.

Buy John Thorne's book, Essential Wrapped In Plastic.

Buy Charlotte Stewarts Book, Little House in the Hollywood Hills.

John Neff talked about Blue Bob, check it out.

Purchase the Mulholland Dr. DVD

Buy Twin Peaks on DVD


‘Game of Thrones’ Season Six Satisfies

Photos via HBO “Game of Thrones” season six provided much-anticipated answers and sweet revenge. This is the first season not culled directly from the books because George R.R. Martin didn't complete “The Winds of Winter” in time. Because the writers did not have a novel to adapt, they were forced to find their own way through season six, using Martin’s notes and a broad story outline. The writers brewed up a tale that served up vengeance and justice in equal measure, and they did it in a way that Martin typically does not.

It was satisfying for the fandom to experience revenge against extremely villainous characters, but George R.R. Martin’s storytelling is successful precisely because he doesn’t adhere to the usual Hollywood tropes. In his own stories, the “good guy” doesn’t always win. In fact, the “good guy” is difficult to discern. Did season six sacrifice George R.R. Martin’s complex and often maddening approach to storytelling instead give us a simpler but emotionally rewarding Hollywood experience? And do we care if it did?

SPOILER ALERT: OK, if you haven’t taken a gander at season six, or any of “Game of Thrones,” now is the time to click away, my friend. You are fair warned.

This season paid off for the fans in multiple ways. First of all, winter is finally freakin’ here already (only took six seasons!). The writers wrapped up several storylines including the High Sparrow’s religious reign of terror and the fate of Queen Margaery Tyrell and King Tommen. The Queen Mother (Dowager?) Cersei Lannister lit up the Sept leading to the tragic fulfillment of the prophesied death of her final child. King Tommen commits suicidal defenestration in the Red Keep after watching his wife, the queen, consumed by wildfire and his mother’s revenge. The mother has no mercy.

arya-stark-1920A lost Arya Stark finally accepts her name and her destiny after defeating her nemesis waif, waving “so long” to Jaqen H’ghar and Braavos and hightailing it back to her homeland to practice some needlepoint on the neck of Walder Frey in revenge for killing her brother and her mother, among others. The girl has no mercy.

john-snow-1920Jon Snow is resurrected (those Internet rumors were true!) by the Lord of Light’s crazy red magic through the vessel of Melisandre, who is revealed to be a bit more geriatric than she’s led us to believe. Jon and Sansa Stark go to battle against Ramsay Bolton on the grounds of their home Winterfell in what might be one of the greatest battle scenes on television or film. As dying and dead bodies crush Jon and his fellow foot soldier Wildlings, Lord Baelish (Littlefinger) rides in with the cavalry thanks to Sansa Stark’s preplanning. Bolton is defeated, captured and sentenced to death by dog as Sansa Stark looks on. Sansa definitely has no mercy.

daenarys-1920Daenerys Targaryen defeats the slavers of Slaver’s Bay (now Dragon’s Bay) with three dragons and an army of raging Dothraki. She allies with the Greyjoys and they embark on their journey west. Finally, she’s got her ships, her army and is headed west with the Iron Throne in sight.

ramsay-1920A great deal went down this season. By the end of season six, several storylines that had been hanging on for some time were wrapped up, which seemed very un-Game-of-Thrones-esque. However, the revenge upon characters that had committed acts ranging from torture (Ramsay Bolton) to annoyance (the waif whom Arya defeats and, perhaps, the Sparrow) felt really good. Cersei Lannister’s face as she watched the Sept burn was pure schadenfreude. And when she lifts that goblet of wine to take a sip and toast to the demise of her enemies … well, let’s just say many of us would like to do the same. And, of course, the most satisfying revenge tale involved Sansa Stark feeding Ramsay Bolton’s face to his own dogs –– a gruesome scene but poetic considering Bolton forced his hounds on his own baby brother and young step-mother, and, not to mention, the cruelty he heaped on Sansa and Theon Greyjoy, among others. It was good to see him go. Good riddance to a cruel, and really a one-dimensional, character.

hodor-1920In addition to the revenge plot lines, the story of Hodor and Jon Snow presented some satisfying surprises. In episode five, “The Door,” it is revealed that Hodor’s name, the word he mouths as his mantra, comes from one of the greatest acts of heroism a character commits on this show: Meera Reed yells to Hodor to “Hold the door!” against the onslaught of the White Walkers as she and Bran are escaping their clutches. At the same time, Bran is caught in a vision of split-consciousness and wargs into the young Hodor. Young Hodor has a seizure and is able to experience what Bran is experiencing in the present. He hears the phrase “Hold the door!” It becomes his life mission. It becomes who he is. It’s beautiful storytelling.

bran-stark-1920In the final episode, “The Winds of Winter” (also the name of book six), Bran’s vision of Eddard Stark’s quest to save his sister Lyanna from the Tower of Joy, finally comes to fruition when Bran is able to enter the Tower with Eddard who finds his sister has just given birth, is dying, and whispers her last request to her brother. We finally get confirmation that Lyanna’s baby is Jon Snow, who is both a Stark and a Targaryan. This revelation sets up an interesting dynamic regarding who has the right to the Iron Throne in season seven.

Although many storylines were wrapped up a little too satisfyingly in season six, several plotlines are set up well for some promising conflicts in season seven. Here are some lingering questions for the next season, which airs on HBO in 2017.

When and how will Jon Snow learn of his real lineage? How will this affect his quest for the Iron Throne and his relationship to Daenerys Targaryen? When will Daenerys and her ragtag fleet of ships, former slaves, Dothraki, Iron Island folk and dragons reach Westeros? Will Ser Jorah Mormont find a cure for greyscale and return to save the day? Is Tyrion a Targaryon, too? Will Tyrion Lannister end up leading them all?

When Jon Snow is hailed as the king at the end of the season, everyone is standing except for Lord Baelish (Littlefinger) and Sansa Stark. Has Stansa got a taste of the Iron Throne? We know Lord Baelish does. Kings Landing is a bit of a mess right now, and there are several contenders for the throne. And, after all, chaos is a ladder …

Will Davos Seaworth ever get revenge on Melisandre for the death of Shireen, Stannis Bartheon’s daughter, who was burned at the stake as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light? Will Melisandre play Rasputin to another ruler –– perhaps Euron Greyjoy?

What will Jaimie Lannister, the Kingslayer who slayed Aerys Targaryen (the “Mad King”) because he was going to torch King’s Landing with wildfire, do now that his own sister (and true love) has essentially committed the very act he was trying to prevent? Will he join his sister or become the Queenslayer? Jaimie has already proven the lengths he will go for Cersei, including the defenestration of Bran Stark. The things one does for love …

Who is going to be the evil villain in season seven? All roads lead to Cersei Lannister, but perhaps Euron Greyjoy of the Iron Islands is a contender. He murdered his brother, after all. “What is dead may never die but rises again harder and stronger.” Melisandre is heading south –– perhaps the Lord of Light has found a new pretender to prey upon?

Will the White Walkers discover a way beyond the wall, penetrating the magical protection that Benjen Stark describes?

petyr-baelish-1920Season six was satisfyingly vengeful because so many villains met their end, but it seemed like the writers were following fandom’s wish list in writing all of the beats of revenge and including a slew of deus ex machina rescues including Brienne of Tarth’s timely rescue of Sansa and Theon as they escape the clutches of Ramsay Bolton; Benjen Stark’s rescue of Bran and Meera as they flee from White Walkers; and Lord Baelish (Littefinger) riding in at the exact moment when all hope is lost for Jon and his soldiers as Ramsay Bolton is crushing them on the grounds of Winterfell. And, in a show that is known for killing off its beloved characters, this season resurrected two –– Jon Snow and The Hound.

While it was pleasurable to experience the deaths of so many who had it coming, the storytelling didn’t follow George R.R. Martin’s usual form of not giving us what is expected. Sometimes in life there is no justice. But, damn, in GOT justice feels really good at this point. And season six set up some spectacular scenarios for season seven, providing more questions to the answers it served up so easily. But, is it really George R.R. Martin’s story anymore? The TV writers have now taken the wheel, and fans will need to wait for the upcoming book “Winds of Winter” to see how Martin’s personal tale turns out.

But, ultimately, the question we all want to know the answer to is –– will Samwell Tarly read ALL the books in the Citadel library?


Subscribe To The Red Room On iTunes

Follow The Red Room on Facebook or twitter @redroompodcast or Instagram

Buy or Rent A Voyage To Twin Peaks at Amazon. It is the documentary Scott directed about the 25th Twin Peaks Festival. See the actors, the set locations and interviews with the fans. Like Scott's newest podcast: The Thirtysomething Podcast on FacebookTwitteriTunes

Check out the Scott's comedy eBook: Scott Luck Stories. If you are a Kindle user, click here. If you read through iTunes on iBooksClick here. If you have a Nook from Barnes and Nobles, click here.




A Review of "David Lynch: The Unified Field"

IMG_0735Special Agent Dale Cooper from the TV series “Twin Peaks” once said, “When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry we must always pay strict attention." I never had the opportunity to visit Philadelphia, but I found myself there last week attending a conference. I was intrigued by the city because it had an enormous influence on my favorite filmmaker David Lynch. As it so happened, two months ago, Philly opened a special David Lynch exhibit featuring much of the work he created while a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). My worlds of inquiry had collided, and I had to take advantage of both. The David Lynch exhibit is located in the Historic Landmark Building of the Academy on Broad Street. The museum is a sanguine brick Victorian Gothic treasure in the heart of Philadelphia. “David Lynch: The Unified Field” exhibit is located on the top floor and is comprised of three exhibition rooms. It contains approximately 90 paintings and drawings from 1965 until circa 2013. The exhibit also displays several of his short films from his time at PAFA. Much of the work in the collection has never been on public display. According to the PAFA exhibition, David Lynch explained “I never had what I consider an original idea until I was in Philly.” This is really what the exhibition is about: the “unified field” both in terms of the external (the media through which Lynch explored his art) as well as the internal (the fields of the conscious/subconscious, dreams, nature, and urban decay in which he explored his art).

Buy or Rent A Voyage To Twin Peaks at Amazon. It is the documentary Scott directed about the 25th Twin Peaks Festival. See the actors, the set locations and interviews with the fans.

Lynch had studied art at schools in Washington, D.C. and Boston, but it was in Philadelphia where he discovered his true voice. Themes that reoccur throughout his career emerged during his time at PAFA. Although Lynch's first medium was painting, it was in Philly in 1967 that he crossed over from still art into the dynamic cine of moving images. The city was ground zero for his film career.

The first room of the exhibition contains early paintings and sketches from his years at PAFA. It also includes a TV, which plays his early experimental films on a loop while the attendees gaze upon his works. These early films include “The Alphabet” (1968, 4 min.), “The Grandmother” (1970, 34 min.), “16mm Experiments” (ca. 1967-1969, 21 min., 40 sec.), and “Opening of James Harvard’s ‘Crayola’ Exhibition, Dianne Vanderlip Gallery, Philadelphia” (1967, 3 min., 8 sec.). “The Grandmother” particularly struck me because it reminded me of the themes of Lynch’s film “Eraserhead” (1977). An abused young boy plants a seed in order to grow a benevolent grandmother who will help him escape the domestic violence in his home. Sexual violence, distortions of nature, birth and urban horror play out in ways that reminded me of his AFI film. (For my blog post about "Eraserhead," click here.)

One of David Lynch's early works of a man getting sick.

In this first exhibition room, I was impressed by the boldness, texture and elements comprising the paintings – including horsehair, cigarette butts and resin. A television played in rotation Lynch’s short films while the viewer gazes at an abstract painting of a man getting sick as well as a rendering of the “baby,” which would feature prominently in the 1977 film “Eraserhead.” At the center of the first exhibition room is a case comprised of sketches of the “baby,” too.

A drawing of the "baby" years before the film "Eraserhead."

The second exhibition room is titled “Home.” The explanation of “Home” really distills Lynch’s preoccupation with nostalgia, childhood and the importance of place on the subconscious. The PAFA plaque reads “These are issues Lynch is close to and partially explain why his work deals so often with violence, sexuality, and the potential for something sinister to be discovered in one’s backyard.”

A painting of a small child who shot a gun. The words read "I not know gun was loaded sorry." In the exhibition room "Home."

According to David Lynch, “[Home] is a place where things go wrong.” The featured paintings explore gun violence in the home and fleeing from the home – a place that should be a site of refuge rather than one of “bad thoughts,” violence and death.

One of the paintings in the exhibition room "Home."

The third and last exhibition room, “States of Being,” represent the last twenty years of Lynch’s work. As in much of his work, he explores the unnerving opposites of good and evil in an almost childlike dream. According to the PAFA exhibit, “Lynch’s vision can bear extreme darkness and optimism in the same work. ‘It is why we exist,’ he claims, ‘To gain divine mind through knowledge and experience of combined opposites.’”

"My head is disconnected." Featured in the exhibition room "States of Being."

The influences on Lynch’s oeuvre, including the importance of the subconscious and transcendental meditation, are especially evident in these more recent works. The 1994-96 work, “My Head is Disconnected,” is ambiguous in its connotation. Is the disconnected head a symbol of the mind's liberation or the body's death? It is this ambiguity and playfulness that I enjoy in his pieces. There is a kind of horror in transcendence and change. We mutter about it all the time – the fear of change. That’s why these pieces are so powerful. For example, the “Holding onto the Relative” (2008), features an exaggerated figure desperately clinging to earth while he or she is in the process of being pulled away from it. There is a desperation and futility to the clinging.

“Holding onto the Relative” One of the paintings in the exhibition room "States of Being."

The 2000 work, “Mister Redman,” features a character named “Bob” and “Mister Redman,” who, according to the PAFA exhibition, “has been summoned to punish Bob for his indiscretions.” A curtain protrudes from the painting as the viewer glimpses the violent scene. Is this the same evil “Bob” from the “Twin Peaks” universe? Will we see a “Mister Redman” factor into future storytelling?

“Mister Redman” featuring the ominous "Bob." This painting is displayed in the exhibition room "States of Being."

If you are visiting the exhibition, make sure to stop on the second floor for a parallel exhibition, “’Something Clicked in Philly’: David Lynch and His Contemporaries,” which features at least one work by Lynch as well as the work of the PAFA artistic community surrounding him. Artists in the exhibition include Morris Blackburn, Will Brown, Murray Dessner, Eugene Feldman, James Havard, Ben Kamihira, Leon Kelly, Kocot and Hatton, Rodger LaPelle, Noel Mahaffey, Virginia Maitland, Christine McKinnis, Eo Omwake, Elizabeth Osborne, Tom Palmore, Hobson Pittman, Peggy Reavey, and Bruce Samuelson. The curator for this exhibit is Althea Rockwell, curatorial assistant for the museum. There is a lovely portrait of David Lynch by Peggy Reavey, his first wife and fellow art student at PAFA. Please note that this smaller exhibition only runs through Dec. 28, 2014, which is a different end date than the "David Lynch: The Unified Field" exhibition.

A portrait of David Lynch by Peggy Reavey. Featured in the exhibition "’Something Clicked in Philly’: David Lynch and His Contemporaries.”

The first floor of the museum features David Lynch’s initial foray into filmmaking with the installation “David Lynch: Six Men Getting Sick.” According to PAFA, Lynch once paused before a canvas he was working on, and perceived sound and movement emerging from the work. He made the connection and thought, “’Oh, a moving painting.’ And that was it.” The film is a hybrid between moving images and art because it contains a projected image with sound, but the image is projected on the sculpture of bodies protruding from the wall, creating a three-dimensional screen. Fellow PAFA student Jack Fisk cast his body to produce the sculptures of the sick men. The film is set in a dark room in the exhibit and is played on a loop. The sick men’s stomachs fill up with liquid, which eventually protrudes through their mouths. One reacts with revulsion and fascination simultaneously.

David Lynch's film "Six Men Getting Sick.”

In her 2005 work, “The Uses of Cultural Studies,” British scholar Angela McRobbie explained how David Lynch’s films “exemplify postmodern thinking and also perform a kind of double take on academic postmodernism. It seems to engage directly with this body of writing, and it goes further so that there is an almost total ‘derealisation of the world of everyday life.’ This is done by fusing the cinematic with the psychoanalytical, the narrative with the anti-narrative, the aesthetic with the unconscious, the landscape of sexual desire with that of dreams of fantasy.” The unified field of David Lynch’s work plays out these themes on canvas and on film.

David Lynch reached into his subconscious mind to explore violence, sexuality, humor, home, childhood and loss. He gives the viewer no explanation of his images. Rather, his images encourage us to explore our inner selves. Once viewed, his works create a circle of experience of the subconscious. Finally, this circle of exchange and experience between the viewer and the artist are what becomes true art.

The exhibition could not have come at a better time for David Lynch fans – specifically fans of the 1990-1991 television series “Twin Peaks.” With the recent release of the “Twin Peaks” blu-ray, the publication of Brad Duke’s “Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks,” and the announcement of David Lynch’s and Mark Frost’s continuation of the show after 25 years, which is set to air in 2016 on Showtime, now is an opportune moment to begin immersing yourself in the Lynchian world. If you can make the journey to Philadelphia, you will not be disappointed, my friends.

“David Lynch: The Unified Field” is on exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and runs Sept. 13, 2014 through Jan. 11, 2015. The curator of the exhibit is Robert Cozzolino, and the William Penn Foundation is the presenting sponsor of this exhibition. Visit the PAFA website for more information.

Goodreads on Scott Luck Stories

Order Brad Duke's Book about Twin Peaks.

Order our essay that we wrote about Fire Walk With Me

Order the Box Set here.  This contains all the deleted scenes.

Order the new Twin Peaks set here Check out our page that has all of our Twin Peaks Coverage.

Subscribe To The Red Room On iTunes

Follow The Red Room on Facebook or twitter @redroompodcast or Instagram

Like Scott's newest podcast: The Thirtysomething Podcast on FacebookTwitteriTunes

Check out the Scott's comedy eBook: Scott Luck Stories. If you are a Kindle user, click here. If you read through iTunes on iBooksClick here. If you have a Nook from Barnes and Nobles, click here.

USC screens the Lynch/Frost TV series 'On the Air'

"On the Air"

Bozeman Simplex, talking dogs, conjoined twins, an airhead blonde, a weeping puppet, and a dancing woman with no name who is surrounded by shoes. It’s David Lynch. It’s Mark Frost. It’s a television series most of us have never seen. It is NOT “Twin Peaks.” But, you are definitely in for a ride.

Courtenay Blog IconOn Sunday night, USC held a retrospective of the short-lived TV series “On the Air” – co-created by David Lynch and Mark Frost in 1992 for ABC. Lynch and Frost agreed to create two series for ABC. “On the Air” was the second series created after the cult TV classic “Twin Peaks,” which first aired on ABC in 1990. The entire series of “On the Air” was never shown in the United States. Seven episodes, including the pilot, were filmed but only three episodes were shown – episodes 1, 3 and 5.

According to USC’s website, David Lynch came up with the idea for the show while mixing the sound for an episode of the second season of “Twin Peaks.” Lynch was “hit with a sudden inspiration. ‘It just came into my head, the idea of people trying to do something successful and having it all go wrong.’”

Alessandro (Alex) Ago, the director of programming and special projects at USC School of Cinema, thanked filmmaker Josh Eisenstadt for loaning his copy of a Japanese laser disc of “On the Air” for the screening. Ago mentioned he only had a VHS copy, and the show has never been transferred to DVD.

“On the Air” takes place in 1957 at a fictional network called the Zoblotnick Broadcasting Company, or ZBC. The television cast and crew of “The Lester Guy Show” perform a live variety show every week, but antics and hilariousness always interrupt the perfect execution of the show. The main characters include Lester Guy (Ian Buchanan), a washed-up movie star who was discovered drinking vodka out of an orange juice can; Betty Hudson (Marla Rubinoff), the airhead but beautiful blonde, who becomes Lester Guy’s enemy when she wins over America by singing about birds when a live show goes horribly wrong; Bud Budwaller (Miguel Ferrer) who is the stressed-out and high-strung president of the network who dreads calls from the head of ZBC, Mr. Zoblotnick; and Ruth Trueworthy (Nancye Ferguson), the production assistant who never once loses her exuberance and enthusiasm despite everything falling apart around her.

Another list of notably quirky characters include Shorty the Stagehand (Irwin Keyes), who seems to escape every disaster imaginable, including falling on his face; Billy “Blinky” Watts (Tracey Walter), master of sound effects, who suffers from Bozeman’s Simplex – a disorder that allows him to see 25.62 times better than anyone else. He often sees hammers, old-time dolls and oven mitts; the Hurry Up Twins (brothers Raleigh Friend and Raymond Friend), conjoined twins who constantly traverse the set and say “Hurry up! Hurry up!”

These are just a few of the main characters featured in the series, but you really must see it for yourself to believe it.

If you are expecting to see “Twin Peaks” or other Frostian/Lynchian conceptions, be prepared to be disappointed. “On the Air” is a comedy and, specifically, a sitcom. While strange and quirky, it is often quite comical and witty. One of my favorite episodes was episode 5 (one of the few to actually air in the U.S.). Betty’s glamorous movie star sister Sylvia Hudson visits the set. She is told she must perform a show alongside a puppet, Mr. Peanuts. Sylvia refuses to perform with the puppet and humiliates him on the air. The rest of the cast and crew come to his rescue and sing “the Mr. Peanuts Song.”

After screening all 7 episodes, the following guests participated in a panel and Q&A led by Alex Ago. The panel included the following:

1)         IAN BUCHANAN (Actor, “Lester Guy”) 2)         ROBERT ENGELS (Writer, Co-Executive Producer) 3)         NANCYE FERGUSON (Actor, “Ruth Trueworthy”) 4)         IRWIN KEYES (Actor, “Shorty the Stagehand”)

Alex Ago began the discussion by asking what it was like to see “On the Air” with an audience. Ian Buchanan said he saw the pilot in London last weekend. He said the audience did not laugh until the show got to the “live” part. Buchanan said you “have to watch it with an audience” to truly enjoy the comedy of the show. Nancye Ferguson agreed, telling everyone it was so fun to watch it with the USC audience, with “people who get it and love it.”

Because “Twin Peaks” was still airing when Lynch, Frost et al began working on “On the Air” during the production of TP, so many of the tensions with the network during TP made its way into telling the story of OTA. Ian Buchanan pointed out the network executives who sit in the velvet chairs on OTA. The executives who sit in the chairs end up being replaced by (literal) sitting ducks. According to Buchanan, the ABC network execs were not fond of this plot point.

According Nancye Ferguson, David Lynch thought “On the Air” would last forever, mentioning the show “Cheers” as an example. Ferguson said no one really auditioned for David Lynch, but the network executives made the actors come in for a reading, much to Lynch’s disappointment.

David Lynch stopped directing after the first show. Similar to the production of “Twin Peaks,” Lynch and Frost brought on guest directors for each episode, including Betty Thomas, Jack Fisk, and Lesli Linka Glatter.

From left to right: Ian Buchanan, Nancye Ferguson, Irwin Keyes and Robert Engels.

Bob Engels said he recently watched OTA with his teenage son, who asked him, “Were you out of your mind?!” Before production of “On the Air,” Engels and David Lynch met with Bob Iger (currently Chief Executive of Disney) who was head of ABC at the time. Iger wanted to make sure Engels and Lynch would be able to deliver “On the Air” on time and on budget. In the middle of their discussion, Lynch asked Iger, “Did you ever have a dog that could talk?” Lynch said he had a dog that could go to the store, receive candy, and bring it back to him. Iger tried to turn the conversation back to the discussion of OTA, but Lynch began discussing Iger’s Timex watch – again, turning the conversation away from OTA. At one point, Iger turned to Engels, stared him in the eye and told him, “On time. On budget. You got it, right?” Engels nodded. According to Engels, Iger loved David Lynch, but the other network executives and those below them gave Lynch and Frost a hard time. For example, they accused Lynch of mocking blind people because the character Billy “Blinky” Watts (Tracey Walter) was originally blind. When he was discouraged from making Blinky blind, Lynch decided to give him better-than-average sight with the “Bozeman Simplex” disorder. This is one of many ways the show functions as a satire of network TV and illustrates the incredible stifling of creativity by non-creatives in suits and ties. When one of the “lesser execs” gave Lynch some notes in a meeting, Lynch got really mad and told him, “I don’t take notes.” He stormed out of the office with Bob Engels in tow. When they stepped into the elevator, Lynch looked at Engels, smiled, and said, “Pretty good, Bobbers, eh?”

Ian Buchanan discussed the amazing music and sound effects on the show. He said Angelo Badalamenti, who wrote the series music, was working on the opening theme for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona while they were producing OTA. Buchanan said he came upon Badalamenti playing the Olympic theme on his keyboard, and then he would switch to the show’s music. It was very surreal. Buchanan said his opening dance in “The Lester Guy Show” was choreographed, but “I know I forgot it sometimes.” Because the show took place in 1957 – a time of repression but also an era of rebellion and expression (think Beatniks and hipsters) – the dance and show was “supposed to be an opening up and breaking out of” the repression. Buchanan laughed when he told the story of having to perform the dance on a Japanese show in Tokyo years ago. He went to his dressing room and saw the hat and suit. Then, he walked on stage and spotted the lampstand and a spotlight. Buchanan thought, “What the fuck?!” He said he was horrified because he had to perform the dance. He became even more horrified when the Japanese hosts displayed the show’s ratings after his performance. Not fair.

Irwin Keyes said his favorite performance was the Mr. Peanuts’ theme song, in which the entire cast and crew participated. According to Engels, he and director Lesli Linka Glatter traveled to the house of puppeteer and actor Chuck McCann (who played Wally Walters and Mr. Peanuts the puppet) to find out what puppet to use for the show. McCann took Engels and Glatter into a room filled with more than 100 puppets. They picked three puppets, and Glatter had to read with them. Ian Buchanan interjected – “Did the puppets have to go to network?” Engels confirmed that they did. When Engels and Glatter decided what puppet to use, McCann told them not to discuss it in front of the two rejected puppets. They left the room. Then McCann told Glatter to return to the other two puppets and explain to them why they didn’t get the part. Frustrated, Glatter left. Therefore, Engels had to explain to the other puppets why they didn’t get the part. (If only I were a fly on that wall.)

From left to right: Ian Buchanan, Nancye Ferguson and Irwin Keyes.

Ian Buchanan talked about the scene in the pilot in which he is hanging upside down and being catapulted across the set. Lynch came to his dressing room and said, “Lester, we are going to hang you upside down and swing you through the windows, and it’s gonna be good.” Buchanan thought he was kidding because surely they had stunt people to do that. When he was hanging upside down and the Hessian knot was unraveling while his face was smack on the floor, Lynch asked him, “Lester, you copacetic?” but Buchanan thought he called him pathetic. He said it was a horrible day. Everyone in the audience laughed.

Nancye Ferguson said it was her choice to have her character Ruth act incredibly enthusiastic no matter what was falling apart around her. Ferguson said Ruth really “believed in the show. It was her job to make everything work.”

Irwin Keyes said he was not actually hired as a principle for the show, since the show could only afford 15 actors as principles. However, David Lynch needed a stagehand, so they hired Keyes. Keyes said he had a few lines, but “did a lot of physical jokes.”

Quirky characters like Shorty the Stagehand and Blinky abound on the show. Bob Engels said he was responsible for creating the Hurry Up Twins. Since the show was a variety show set in the 1950s, they wanted to give it a vaudeville feel. Conjoined twins and other twins would often perform gymnastics in vaudeville. The Hurry Up Twins could actually perform acrobatics, but they never got the chance to perform them on OTA. Engels said he was fascinated with live TV in the 1950s and how live acts would often mess up their performances. Ian Buchanan joked, “Like the ‘Sound of Music’!,” which recently aired on NBC as a live performance featuring Carrie Underwood.

“On the Air” was produced next door to “Seinfeld” at the time. Bob Engels said Jerry Seinfeld ran into him one day and asked, “You’re the Lynch show, right? Ah, you guys are gonna be on forever! You guys had a 7 episode order, we’ve only got three.”

Nancye Ferguson remembers George Clooney trying to get on set since he was a fan of Lynch. Because he’s the cousin of Miguel Ferrer, who played the president of the network on “On the Air,” Ferguson begrudgingly went to meet him. She laughs about it now.

“The Woman With No Name” played by Bellina Logan, who was also in other Lynch works such as “Twin Peaks,” “Wild at Heart,” and “Inland Empire,” was a topic in the Q&A. Her hipster dance in the show mirrored the “breaking out” of Lester Guy’s dance. There are aspects of the show that seem quite Lynchian. Her performance is one of them.

The panelists all agreed that the show was fun to make and life changing. Bob Engels said it changed his life completely because he went from being a screenwriter to an executive producer. Nancye Ferguson said it changed her life because her dream was to work with David Lynch, and her dream came true. Irwin Keyes said, “For me, it was a benchmark…. To say you worked with David Lynch – that’s all you have to say.” Ian Buchanan said, “My life has never been the same. David Lynch sort of invited me to step out of where I was and into this space I could play around in. I thought he would be with me, but he left me there. I like it out there. I wouldn’t know how to find my way back, though.” None of us would – or would want to.

Thank you to Alex Ago, USC and the panel members for the discussion and the screening of such a rare but entertaining television series. Thank you also to Josh Eisenstadt for loaning his laser disc copy of “On the Air.” Until next time, my friends, remember:  “Blinky Watts is not blind. He suffers from Bozeman Simplex. He actually sees 25.62 times as much as we do. If we were to see what Blinky is seeing right now, it would look something like this …”

Here is our Podcast interview with Alex and Courtenay about the Twin Peaks Screenings at USC

Subscribe To The Red Room On iTunes

Buy or Rent A Voyage To Twin Peaks at Amazon. It is the documentary Scott directed about the 25th Twin Peaks Festival. See the actors, the set locations and interviews with the fans.

Follow The Red Room on Facebook or twitter @redroompodcast or Instagram

Like Scott's newest podcast: The Thirtysomething Podcast on FacebookTwitteriTunes

Check out the Scott's comedy eBook: Scott Luck Stories. If you are a Kindle user, click here. If you read through iTunes on iBooksClick here. If you have a Nook from Barnes and Nobles, click here.

USC Screens David Lynch’s 'Eraserhead'

Courtenay Blog IconDon’t talk about the baby, the umbilical cords are real, and how many vanilla puddings it takes to fill a drawer. These are just some of the tidbits I learned after a fascinating screening of David Lynch’s iconic piece of surrealist film. Wednesday night, the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Outside the Box [Office] screened David Lynch's seminal work "Eraserhead" in 35mm. Lynch wrote, directed, produced, composed and edited the film when he was a student at the American Film Institute in the 1970s. The film took five years to complete.

“Eraserhead” takes place in an unknown industrial urban dreamscape. In this dystopian future, “Henry Spencer” (Jack Nance) is torn between his obligations to “Mary X” (Charlotte Stewart) as well as their mutated baby and his lust for his neighbor across the hall (Judith Anna Roberts).

EraserheadPosterAccording to Director of Programming and Special Projects Alessandro (Alex) Ago, the 35mm film was provided care of Criterion and Janus films.

After the screening, the following cast and crew participated in a panel and Q&A led by Ago. The panel included the following:

1)         CATHERINE E. COULSON (Assistant Camera, Assistant Director)

2)         JEANNE FIELD (Crew)

3)         LAUREL NEAR (Actor, “Lady in the Radiator”)

4)         CHARLOTTE STEWART (Actor, “Mary X”) Before starting the film, Alex Ago asked for a show of hands to see who in the audience had already seen the film. It turned out this was the first time seeing “Eraserhead” for the majority of the audience members. Ago paused and whispered ominously, “Good luck.” After the film, Catherine Coulson said, “That was amazing to see again.” Alex Ago astutely added, “It’s the baby who haunted my dreams.” Don’t we know it.

Catherine Coulson discussed Jack Nance’s stratospheric skyscraper hairdo as "Henry" in the film. She said David Lynch had an idea for a style of hair. When they took Nance to the barber, the barber hesitated and asked, “Are you sure you want it to go that high?” Lynch was sure. Since they were on such a tight budget, after a while Nance stopped going to the barber and his then-wife Coulson began styling his hair. Coulson said she performed many roles on set including styling Nance’s hair, holding booms, pushing the dolly, working the camera, cooking meals, etc. She said, “A lot of us did a little of everything” and we “were handmaidens to genius."

Charlotte Stewart described her entrée into the world of David Lynch and “Eraserhead.” She met David Lynch when he was at AFI and looking for actors for his student film. Stewart met Lynch through their mutual connection to Jack Fisk (“Man in the Planet”). Lynch came to Stewart’s house for dinner with the script and a sack of wheat seed. That’s right. Wheat seed. She said Lynch probably brought the odd gift because she lived in Topanga. (Topanga is known for its hippie, nature-loving community.)  She said she read the script but didn’t understand anything, but she said yes to everything, including student films. During the years of shooting “Eraserhead,” she was also acting as “Miss Beadle” on “Little House on the Prairie.” I can’t imagine having to switch back and forth between the hysterical “Mary X” and the demure and lovable “Miss Beadle.” The first scene she shot was “the dinner scene from hell.” She looked at David Lynch and thought to herself, “This guy will never make it.” He did, of course.

Stewart said Lynch’s style is often pushing a scene or situation “a step too far to the point of discomfort.” She used the example from “Eraserhead” when “Mary X” pulls the suitcase from under the bed when she is trying to leave “Henry.” Lynch told her to keep trying to pull it until he gave her the signal to stop. The situation goes on for an uncomfortably long time, but when she finally reveals the suitcase, the effect is comedic and cathartic.

Postcard courtesy of Charlotte Stewart

Jeanne Field was working with Neil Young on the film “Journey Through the Past” when she began her work on “Eraserhead.” Lynch needed crew, and she was staying at Charlotte Stewart’s house in Topanga at the time. She said they often did not begin production until 5 p.m. because the sound guy had a full-time job. She worked myriad jobs including electrician, painter, and chicken operator. She said she operated the chicken AND the baby (nicknamed “Spike” on the set), but Catherine Coulson, the keeper of all secrets David Lynch, cut her off. Coulson exclaimed, “We can’t talk about the baby! (Except we called him ‘Spike’).” Field did talk about operating the chicken, though. She said she was under the dining room table and operating the legs and liquid.

Laurel Near was a teenager when she began work on “Eraserhead.” At the time, she was performing in LA with the comedy singing trio the Near Sisters, which included Fluffy, Babe and Jewel. Charlotte Stewart brought David Lynch to the club to watch her perform. At first, Near was reluctant to participate in the film because she was afraid it might be too weird, but, according to Near, Stewart assured her it wouldn’t be. The best lie ever told!

Near had to wear prosthetic cheeks stuffed with cotton balls in her roll as the “Lady in the Radiator.” Lynch was reassuring but honest. He told her, “This might be painful for your face.” According to Catherine Coulson, Near’s dress was Coulson’s prom dress. When asked what her character represented, Near said, “unconditional acceptance.” Coulson said Peter Ivers sang (in falsetto) and played the haunting song “In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)” while Near danced and smiled with her puffy cheeks, wearing Coulson’s prom dress while avoiding falling squishy fetuses.

Coulson described another strange assignment she undertook – filling one of “Henry’s” drawers with vanilla pudding and lacing it with peas. She went to Sunbeam Market on Sunset and had to figure out how many vanilla pudding boxes she needed to buy in order to make a drawer full of vanilla pudding. After they filled the drawer with pudding and laced it with peas, they inserted the vaporizer. She said she shot a great scene that was cut in which the vaporizer is pulled from the mass of pudding.

Apparently the first screening of “Eraserhead” revealed mixed reactions. Coulson said, “There was dead silence.” She said Lynch’s mother looked at him and said, “David, how could you?!” Then everyone got up and left. David Lynch asked Charlotte Stewart, “Well, Charlotte, what did you think?” She said, “It was like a toothache.” Lynch said, “Swell!”

After the initial screening several people suggested the film was too long, so Lynch “excised” some scenes. According to Coulson, there are actually a lot of scenes that are not in the film, including one in which she plays a nurse who hands the deformed baby to “Mary X” and “Henry.” She also played a woman in a slip tied to a bed with battery cables attached to her. She was in the apartment next to “Henry.” She was disappointed the scene was cut because “I thought I looked good!” A scene in which “Henry” pulls fetuses from the abdomen of “Mary X” was cut as well. Stewart said Lynch made a plaster cast of her naked torso for the scene. Unfortunately, according to Coulson, many of the cut scenes were destroyed.

Coulson, who was filled with the most incredible stories from the film, revealed something about the props that even shocked myself. Apparently, the fetuses “Henry” pulls from “Mary X” were actual human umbilical cords. Coulson said she paid a visit to UCLA and asked for umbilical cords for the film. The staff asked her if the film was “pro- or anti- abortion?” She said it was neither – it was about science. (The best answer ever, by the way.) She said she put on a blue robe and waited outside a delivery room. Near said the fetuses she stepped on as the “Lady in the Radiator” were not real. Thank God.

Alex Ago asked about the involvement of AFI and the long time it took to complete the film (five years). Coulson said AFI was not supportive of Lynch’s film at first. But Czech filmmaker Frank Daniel told AFI that Lynch would do the film or Daniel would quit. According to Coulson, Daniel eventually quit, but Lynch made the film anyway, so it worked out in the end. She said Lynch would “pay us no matter what.” The film took a long time because they were continuously raising funds. David Lynch and his brother built all the sets, with the exception of the kitchen and a few exteriors. “David still has that lump of dirt with the tree sticking out the top by his bedside,” Coulson revealed.  Coulson said she took her nephew – Thomas Coulson (“The Boy” who picks up the head) – to a pediatrician when he had an ear infection. She asked the pediatrician for money, and he’s credited at the end of the film! She said, “AFI turned a blind eye” to how long the film was taking to complete. Apparently, Warner Brothers opened their prop shop to AFI students. After five years, when the film was completed, David Lynch returned every single item that he had borrowed to Warner Brothers.

Alex Ago asked about the chemistry between David Lynch and Jack Nance. Coulson said they were “soul mates.” She said Nance and Lynch created the giant “planet”/”egg” in the movie. They kept the egg in Lynch’s back yard on San Vicente. Lynch was constantly asking special effects people how to make the egg smoother. They would say, “You’ve got to trowel it.” Lynch and Nance used to say the phrase over and over again in a variety of contexts – “You’ve got to trowel it!” Charlotte Stewart said they first bonded over Lynch’s luggage rack. When Nance met Lynch, he looked at Lynch’s luggage rack and asked, “Did you make that?” Coulson joked, “He was very impressed with his rack.” Coulson said Nance had a great sense of humor. He would perform Jerry Lewis-esque telethons between takes, asking for funds for “Spike” the baby’s bandages. He used to have entire conversations with the coat rack (nicknamed “Uncle Edgar”) in the corner of “Henry’s” room. Laurel Near said Jack Nance was “the most interesting person I’ve ever met.” Charlotte Stewart recommended that the audience see the film about Jack Nance titled “I Don’t Know Jack” (2002).

“Eraserhead” became a cult hit when a man from Libra Films in New York City came to a film festival in LA and saw the film. According to Coulson, he decided to put it on the midnight film circuit in New York and Los Angeles alongside other films such as “Pink Flaming” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He wanted to release it “slowly” and “let word of mouth build.” It did. “Back then, audiences had never seen grotesque things like the alien baby before on the screen,” said Stewart.

Mel Brooks saw “Eraserhead,” loved it and offered Lynch the chance to direct “The Elephant Man” – Brooks had just gotten the rights to the film. Lynch wanted to create the Elephant Man’s makeup, but they wouldn’t allow him to do it.

When asked whether or not David Lynch is thinking about making another film, Catherine Coulson said, “Right now, he is into lithography.” She said he believes there is nothing better than the smell of print. Charlotte Stewart told the audience about Lynch’s art show, which opens this Saturday at the Kayne Griffin Corcoran in Los Angeles.

Seeing “Eraserhead” on the big screen in 35mm was impressive. Even though it was made in the 1970s, the imagery and special effects have the sophistication of a twenty-first century surrealist work. The film seems so deeply personal. Henry’s suit, wild hairdo and mannerisms remind of David Lynch, but a less charismatic persona – one who is struck by the stultification of nature as he is being maneuvered by the machinery of the industrial complex of modernity. It is a man rendered unable to act in the reality of his situation even though he is able to act within the dreamscapes of his nightmare. There is a strange satisfaction when “Henry” pierces the alien “Spike” – the source of all of his frustrated obligations. The “Lady in the Radiator” reassures him that squashing his frustrations are not only OK, but also one can take delight in them.

Scholar Angela McRobbie wrote that Lynch “postmodernizes psychoanalysis by drawing dream-type materials and fantasies from underneath, right onto the surface and interspersing these segments with the twists and turns of the fragments of narrative. Instead, then, of there being consciousness and the unconscious, reality and dreams, Lynch does away with the divide, and lets them flow freely into and across each other.” (“The Uses of Cultural Studies,” 173) She was speaking of “Mulholland Drive,” but the same can be said of “Eraserhead.” “Henry’s” world is so strange and foreign that his fantasy world cannot be distinguished nor extirpated from his reality.

Thank you to Alex Ago, USC and the panel members for a fine screening and discussion. USC’s Outside the Box [Office] is presenting “On the Air” (1992), the short-lived television series created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, on Dec. 8. Until next time, my friends, remember, “in heaven, everything is fine.”

Buy or Rent A Voyage To Twin Peaks at Amazon. It is the documentary Scott directed about the 25th Twin Peaks Festival. See the actors, the set locations and interviews with the fans.

Check out this review of David Lynch's Guest Starring role on Louie.

Here is our Podcast interview with Alex and Courtenay about the Twin Peaks Screenings at USC