Friday, February 20, 2015

Reflections On Reflections: Show Within a Show, Private Firestorm of Madness, and No! The Log Is Not For Sale.

written for Twin Peaks Freaks fan community

Oral histories are fun reads. I recently enjoyed Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks by Brad Dukes. It has interviews with folks that had something to do with the show: cast, crew, writers, producers -- the author interviewed a whole lotta folks involved in the Twin Peaks. Featuring first-hand accounts from series co-creator Mark Frost and cast members including Kyle MacLachlan, Joan Chen, Sherilyn Fenn, Piper Laurie, Michael Ontkean, Ray Wise, Billy Zane and more.

I'm wondering with how awesome this book is, knowing that the author pretty much published it himself, if some publisher will scoop it up to reprint it. I saw that he was pretty much really only selling it on Amazon, and I wanted to make sure we had it at Quimby's, so I tracked the author down on Facebook and convinced him to consign it with us. He was very receptive and sweet about consigning it, and I was thrilled to provide a brick and mortar venue for him to sell it in Chicago. Also, I love sharing a good book with folks that I know would appreciate it, especially if it's independently published.

Stuff That Sticks With Me From this Book & Thoughts:
-Mark Frost, co-creator of the show, said that when they could, they'd add little asides in the show. It might have been references to old movies or other peoples work, even right down to the casting. For example, Peggy Lipton who played Norma Jennings on the show, was on Mod Squad, and they had her run into a co-star from Mod Squad in the diner that her Twin Peaks character worked in. Frost said, "Nobody was using this word then, I don't think I'd ever heard it, but this is a meta-level of conception, that in the show became a 'show within a show.' It became organic to our process. We knew we were making fictional narrative entertainment and we were also paying homage to things that tread similar thematic ground in the past." (p. 193) Oooooooo mashy-uppy goodness. I love this. This method of working in real life meta-ness adds to the mystique of the show, giving extra meat to conspiracy theories about Twin Peaks. Yes yes yes.

-Catherine Coulson who played Margaret "Log Lady" Lanterman said that some Japanese company wanted to buy the log because Twin Peaks was really popular in Japan. She told them, "No, the log is not for sale." She lamented that her daughter had just graduated from college, and she thought they really could have used the money but she could never bring herself to sell it. (p. 149)

-Phoebe Augustine who played Ronette Pulaski said that when she was filming the scene in the pilot where she was found walking down the railroad tracks in a torn up nighty, that she was really cold and that she had to walk across the railroad ties without looking down. There was a guy on the crew who looked really scary even though he wasn't doing anything. She told David Lynch that this guy was frightening her, and Lynch said "Don't tell anyone, but he's the bad guy." It turned out it was Frank Silva who played BOB, the scariest part of the show. (p. 176)

-Grace Zabriskie who played Mrs. Palmer (Laura Palmer's mom) said about Sheryl Lee, who played Laura Palmer: "She gave everything she had, she gave more, she gave more than she could afford to give, and she spent years coming back. I can't separate 'what her performance says to me,' from what I know it both gave to her and took from her. The performance itself tells this story. No one walks away unscathed from work like that." (p. 205)

-Sort of along the lines as the above quote from Ms. Zabriskie, Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer) said, "Playing Laura was a painful place to live for a long time. It's hard, in acting school they teach you how to develop a character but they don't teach you how to let a character go." (p. 205) It reminded me of this amazing poem Ms. Lee wrote about it, a sort of letter to Laura. I was inspired to revisit the poem on-line, and upon rereading it, one of the stanzas really jumps out at me:

I offered my whole self
In honor of your life
And in exchange
Was tricked quite well
When you rewrote my rights

Soooooo haunting. The notion of being so emotionally and permanently affected by something you had a creative hand in, as well as being typecast because of it, it's the logical and poetic extension of being haunted by something.

-Wendy Robie who played Nadine Hurley on the show said of her character: "Nadine looms large in my career. I was just a small part of the series, but if you put it all together over that amount of time it was a huge role that I was allowed to create. She loomed large, just to be playing a character for that long, but I do know that especially for the first season it had to carry underneath it - that pain of Nadine. I had to carry that to do her justice. I've never played a character that hurt as much as she does. She lived in her own private firestorm of madness." (p. 250) I love the term "private firestorm of madness." I MUST USE THIS IN ALL CONVERSATIONS EVER.

-Another quote from Wendy Robie (Nadine Hurley), also talked about Owl Cave and said, "There are areas where the membrane is very thin and those are portals where you can see captive spirits down in there." (p. 254) Oooooooooo I love this. This idea of a membrane between our known reality and the mystical realm, it being thinner in one place more than another is very intriguing. Add "thin membranes" to the list of things that intrigue me that also explain paranormal occurrences, including but not limited to: portals, vortexes, black holes, singularities, hellmouths and ancient burial grounds.

-Co-creator Mark Frost said that the reason Josie Packard's fate ended up the way it did was because him and David Lynch decided to make her be imprisoned in another realm in a way that it shouldn't be physical as much as metaphysical, mythological without being melodramatic. (p. 256) It must be difficult to get metaphysical and mythological without being melodramatic, but somehow they managed it.

-Sherilyn Fenn who played Audrey Horne on the show didn't actually do the trick with the cherry stem in a knot with her mouth. That didn't stop Letterman from asking her three times in one year to demonstrate it.

-Leslie Linka Glatter (director episodes 5, 10, 13, 23): "What I loved about the reality of Twin Peaks is that it examined human behavior in microscopic detail so you saw the humor of it, the absurdity and also the truth." (p.25) So true, so true. I feel like in so many of my daily interactions with people all of those things come forward -- how my favorite art can sometimes shine an illuminating light on the humor and absurdity of human behavior.

Oooooo! Perhaps once the new Twin Peaks airs in 2016 there will be cause for another volume of a Twin Peaks oral history! I hope Brad Dukes does another one!!!

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