Sweaty Palms Motel
SweatyPalmsMotel.com: sleazy, cheap and indiscreet. Since 2004, your 1-stop
destination for the juiciest rumors, half-truths and outright lies in Cactus Country.

Festival memories... cyber-windows back into Palm Springs: various shots around town, live cams + panoramas, tram cams and a view toward PS from Joshua Tree.

Anikó and I will be jetting off to Budapest soon. See you later!
Beggin' for Dough. After listening to the money-raising horror stories that filmmakers like to tell, somebody recalled this old joke:

A low-budget producer visits the bank to obtain some financing for a new film, and the bank manager asks, "Do you have a director?"

"Yes," replies the producer, "Spielberg."

"Steven Spielberg?"

"No," says the producer. "Morty Spielberg from Indio."

"Do you have a lead actress?" asks the banker.

"Streisand," the producer responds confidently.

"Barbra Streisand?!"

"Well... er, no," the producer admits. "Loretta Streisand from Yucca Valley."

"Okay, do you have a leading man?" inquires the banker.

"Chamberlain," replies the producer.

"Richard Chamberlain?" asks the banker.

PSIFSF logoBest of the Fest. It's great to see that four SPM picks made the cut: Chicken Party, News for the Church, Consent and Backseat Bingo!
'nother one to watch: Hank Azaria is the director, co-writer and star of Nobody's Perfect, a romantic-comedy gem. Hank even allows several parts of the story to be carried by subtext, which always impresses the h*ll out of a fellow writer.
Tan me hide when I'm dead, Fred: After moving out here to the desert, I looked at the legions of leathery denizens and assumed that, after a short interval, the sun would transform my skin all at once.

However, I seem to changing in small pieces... my right kneecap now has a thick carapace that wasn't there last month. And it looks like this leatherizing process will take more than one step; the knee feels almost like it's stuck in an interim Naugahyde stage.
Un Chien AndalouUn Chien Andalou ain't what it used to be. I'm so sad. At the Famous Directors screening this afternoon, Luis Buñuel's sliced-eyeball shocker from 1929 seemed pretty darn tame when compared with Mel Gibson's recent Jesus gorefest.

And people are asking why Christian Sesma is the only filmmaker to score an Artist Profile in The Desert Sun. Our intrepid undercover reporter, D Cup D Girl, has suggested it's because Christopher Swan (online production coordinator at TDS) received a prominent credit in Sesma's film.


DD also highly recommends Where the Girls Are, a nice movie that showcases golf... among other things.
Actors-turned-directors. Star Power, the group title of last night's festival screening, was a real treat, mainly because three directors showed up to discuss their films: Tate Taylor wrote and directed Chicken Party, a hilarious take on community-service road gangs. Emmy winner Allison Janney (The West Wing) was the biggest "name actor" in the credits, but Octavia Spencer stole nearly every scene. Belly laughs galore.

Andrew McCarthy revealed that one of his day gigs (Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital) subsidized a large part of News for the Church, which is discussed below. I met one of Andrew's producers a few days ago, and praised the film effusively. He smiled and said thanks, but looked at me with the reserved eyes of a man who cannot quite believe what he's hearing. However, when I added, "I also blogged it," he laughed out loud and shook my hand with great enthusiasm.

Perhaps the best story of the evening was from Vincent Spano, who directed Betrunner, a project brought to him by writer Gabrielle Conforti. It seems there was a disagreement on how to cut the film, and Gabrielle's approach prevailed. Wait a minute: a screenwriter who actually WON? This is not your typical Hollywood ending!
cicadaSerenaded by selections from the Cicada Songbook. You can tell when the cicadae are stridulating: as you step outside the Camelot, your ears begin to feel like they're being drilled by a dentist.
All-Too-Typical PSIFSF Tableau: Hollow-eyed filmskool geeks trying (and failing) to find nourishment in the Hospitality Room while texting each other on their cell phones.
Overheard just before a festival screening: "It's too bad you didn't visit here last week, when it was much cooler. The temperatures were only about 105."

That line, delivered with the utmost seriousness by a Palm Springs resident, got a huge laugh from nearly half the audience.
Three More To Watch. In Consent, it's obvious that Jason Reitman (son of Ghostbusters director Ivan) has inherited the old man's touch with comedy.

Small Avalanches/Små skred, a sublime film by Birgitte Stærmose, is based on a Joyce Carol Oates story.
Backseat Bingo
And Liz Blazer's Backseat Bingo might be the best animated-documentary-about-elderly-Jewish-folks-discussing-sex you'll ever see.
Baby Boomers are getting ready to retire. That's why you see a lot of new home construction while driving around this area. A good buddy of mine went undercover into one of those 55 or better "active lifestyle" gated communities, and he thought it was great, for the first week or so.

But then he began to feel like he was being fattened up for... well, let's put it this way: he gained a sh*tload of weight, along with the uncanny ability to sniff out truffles.
WeaselOpening Night. There I am, in the Sweaty Palms cocktail lounge, knocking back my 5th or 8th Fat Weasel, when a VP of Acquisitions from the Blueberry Pie Channel ("HD pie, 24/7"™) comes rolling in. He's been locked in a cubicle all day, watching tapes and DVDs of short films, and he's starved for human contact.

So Mr. Piehole straddles the stool next to me and begins yammering about the lack of decent Pie cinema: "Where are the flaky crust auteurs? Where are the angst-filled dramas on the rolling of the dough?"

After he realizes I'm not taking the bait, he switches topics, to The Ladies Who Lunch: "How do they do it? How do they sit outside those cafés and NOT SWEAT? I'm wandering down Palm Canyon Drive, hallucinating with heatstroke, and they're in the sidewalk patios with clouds of useless mist raining down on them. It's hotter than the inside of a pizza oven at their tables, but they don't show even a DROP of perspiration!"

I briefly wonder if I should explain the acclimating process, but something else burbles out instead: "Don't tell anyone, but they've all had their sweat glands removed."

Piehole's eyes widen: "Really?"

I'm in much too far to bail out now: "Sure. It's the latest fad. Most plastic surgeons offer 'em a package deal, when they get their jowls winched back behind their ears."

He stands up warily and moves to the far end of the bar, watching me with reproachful eyes.

Strangely content, I resume sucking on my Weasel.
Two To Watch. Former Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy has matured into quite the writer/director. With an incandescent lead performance from Nora-Jane Noone and haunting music by Cathie Ryan, he's adapted Frank O'Connor's short story into a resonant film, News for the Church.

And Belgium's Jonas Geirnaert has already won a prize at Cannes with his Flatlife animation. Methinks he'll win more.
Hot Enough For Ya? If this is your first visit to the Coachella (ko CHELL a) Valley, you'll soon notice a tacit agreement among most desert broadcasters: they avoid editorial comments about the blazing climate while on air.

For example, when a weatherman reports that today's high was a hundred and sixty-two degrees, you'd normally expect him to add something like: "Holy crap, what a scorcher!"

Instead, he moves smoothly along—without skipping a beat—to the 5 day forecast, which calls for a warming trend straight through the weekend.
Too much is never enough. This blog is hereby commandeered as a clearinghouse for gossip at the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films (Aug. 31-Sept. 6).

Max HeadroomI feel a certain sympathy for the underdog filmmakers groveling around town these days: ABC-TV's Max Headroom needed a lot of convincing (okay, butt-kissing) to purchase my first student short, widely hailed as "the most uncommercial piece of ____ in Michigan State's history."

The Desert Sun has a nice PSIFSF overview, but we also need a view from the dugout, so eMail your steamiest tidbits to:
HotTip [at] Gmail.com (swap @ for anti-spam [at]).
Volunteers. It seemed like a good idea at the time: we'd be getting a chance to peek behind the scenes of an Oscar®-qualifying film festival. First, a group of us stuffed coupons and key chains into gift bags. Piece o' cake.

Next, Anikó and I were dispatched to move some wine: 22 boxes, each weighing 45 pounds and containing a dozen bottles, had to be wrestled out of a wine shop's tiny back room, past display racks of extremely breakable merchandise, down a curving esplanade and across a blistering plaza. According to the thermometer on a nearby bank, it was 111°F.

Then we lifted each box into the back of our SUV. At the other end, the process was reversed. It added up to nearly a ton of wine: ½ ton in, and ½ ton out. Big fun.

A guy goes into a bar, orders a drink, and begins complaining to the bartender: "This circus gig is a nightmare. Every day, I shovel elephant turds... piles and piles of pachyderm poop. What a terrible way to make a living."

The bartender replies: "If you hate the job so much, why don't you quit?"

The guy is shocked: "What? And leave Showbiz?!"

Have you designed an entry for Palm Desert's upcoming Golf Cart Parade?

Better hurry. November 7 will be here before you know it.

[For some reason, this event flashed me back to the first time I ever glimpsed those windmills out on the Sonny Bono Memorial Freeway: I strongly suspected they were part of a weird Brobdingnagian miniature golf course. Did anyone else feel that way, or was it just me?]
On a dark desert highway / cool wind in my hair / warm smell of colitas / rising up through the air.   Hotel California, 1976. I always thought colitas were some sort of exotic flowers, not the "little buds" of a marijuana plant. Who would have guessed the Eagles knew anything about ganja?

JT[This month's top desert music: America's A Horse With No Name, U2's The Joshua Tree (including Where The Streets Have No Name) and Ray Stevens' delightfully un-P.C. Ahab, The Arab ("...he saw Fatima laying on a Zebra skin rug / Wearing rings on her fingers and bells on her toes / And a bone in her nose ho, ho...").]
Sziasztok (in February, The Edward Society was the first to unveil my Heat-Gene Theory):

"Sziasztok" is one of the few words I know in Magyar. When my wife's twentysomething children visited us from Budapest last summer, they often used this group greeting, roughly equivalent to "Howdy, y'all!"

Anita and Jenő desperately wanted to see Las Vegas, even though August at our home in L.A. was pretty darn hot. The Nevada deserts, of course, were even warmer: Hoover Dam's outdoor thermometer registered 136° in the shade. My stepkids loved the inhuman heat and their mom, Anikó, ate it up with a spoon. I was usually dazed by the scorching weather, but I'm pretty sure I referred to all of them as "crazy Hungarians" more than once.

This summer, after my lovely bride suggested a trip to Death Valley, I began to detect a pattern. Much like swallows returning to Capistrano, Hungarians seem to have an inbred need to experience blistering heat at certain times of the year. When I hinted this might be the early warning sign of a severe genetic flaw, Anikó simply packed more beers into the cooler.

Lone Pine was our staging area. In the shadow of 14,491-foot Mt. Whitney (highest spot in the continental U.S.), we sipped our brewskis at sunset and watched four separate storms, each hurling thunderbolts and torrential rain onto the trackless waste just south of us. I shuddered while recalling some of the place names on our map: Desolation Canyon, Funeral Mountain, Devil's Cornfield, Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek. I was convinced we were heading into the maw of hell.

Much to my surprise, we survived the first day. In fact, we enjoyed a late-afternoon beer at the Forty Niner Cafe, a funky bistro in the middle of nowhere. They served up ice-cold Mojave Red, a tasty brew created by the same folks who make Sidewinder Missile Ale and Lobotomy Bock.

But during our sundown trek in the superheated air to nearby Zabriskie Point, it seemed strange that the other tourists used only foreign languages while gasping for breath. We heard no words in English, not even discouraging ones. I seriously considered revising my Hungarian Heat-Gene Theory to include several other nationalities.

The ground temperature never cooled down that night, so our shoes still stuck to the pavement the next morning, when we emerged from the car after a couple hours of driving. "Badwater," I read aloud from our guidebook. "At 282 feet below sea level, this salt flat is the lowest point in the western hemisphere." Despite the sheer cliff next to the road, there was no echo. The shimmering heat had sucked the words right out of my mouth.

We walked down the ramp in front of our car, onto a small wharf with ropes and posts, which steered visitors over to a solid part of the salty white ground. Anikó and I squinted at each other, feeling like explorers on the first expedition to a distant planet. We hadn't seen another soul on the road for nearly an hour, and the nearest stop was Dante's View, one mile straight up. But then, just as we started back to the ramp, another car pulled into the tiny parking lot. A young couple got out, and the guy glanced at our rear bumper, with its two oval country stickers: "USA" and "H." When we passed him, he greeted us with a casual "Sziasztok."

Of COURSE he was Hungarian. It made perfect sense to me. And I still believe this bizarre heat-seeking behavior involves some sort of genetic imperative.
elephantRancho Mirage has many fine drinking establishments.

Is that why a pink elephant just washed my car?
Quasi-Celebrity News Flash: Nicky Hilton and her new hubby may be ensconced chez SPM very soon. E! Online reports the couple (wed in Vegas this week) "will not honeymoon until the fall," and we just received an eMail reservation for our Honeymoon Video Suite (a/k/a "The Rabbit Hutch") in the name of "Paris Hilton's sister + 1".

You do the math.logo
Raison d'être - desert place names: Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Twentynine Palms.

So why not dub a dish-the-dirt gossip blog "Sweaty Palms"?

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