Monday, September 26, 2016

Girls Rock: An Interview with Courtenay Stallings

"I knew how to wear a mask and keep a secret."       
          This past spring I wrote a piece on my blog called Laura Walked With Me. It was basically a personal reflection piece on why I think I felt so connected to Twin Peaks and particularly the character of Laura Palmer growing up. At the time I was very hesitant to post it, because I feared veering into anything too personal on this blog. However to my surprise, people responded very positively about it and also shared similar connections. I can't say I was surprised to learn that the Laura phenomenon is still extremely powerful even all these years later, but I did feel a little less weird for my own continuing obsession. 

          When I attended the Twin Peaks Festival this past summer I met the lovely and talented, Courtenay Stallings. I had wanted to talk to her about writing, Twin Peaks and working with the Red Room Podcast. I was incredibly flattered when she said she wanted to talk to me as well, specifically about being an aspiring female writer, my feelings about Laura Palmer and the piece I wrote. Her intelligence and enthusiasm for supporting other female writers really impressed me. Not to mention, her writing is excellent. Courtenay was kind enough to answer a few questions for this blog and took the time to write her answers out for me. Mostly because I'm technically challenged, but also I was hoping to showcase some of her skills. I think you will see from this interview just how talented of a writer she truly is. 

TPF:  When did you first discover Twin Peaks?

CS: I first discovered Twin Peaks in high school. I rarely watched TV at the time, so it’s amazing I ever caught an episode.

TPF: What appealed to you about the show the most?

CS: Initially, I loved the melodramatic soap-opera elements to the show, and, of course, the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer. What really sparked my interest was the surreal dream-like world of the Red Room. I’d never seen anything like it and certainly not on network TV.

TPF: Do you have a favorite storyline from the show and if so, why do you like it?

CS: Aside from the Laura Palmer investigation, the relationship between Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne always intrigued me. There’s this incredible camaraderie and romantic tension between the two characters. There was always the question of “will they or won’t they?” Now, I differ on my opinion from most people because I’m actually glad Audrey and Dale never consummated their relationship. Let me explain: Audrey was young (still in high school) and vulnerable. She was also connected to Laura Palmer and, therefore, the murder case, which would put Cooper in a conflict-of-interest situation. He could have easily taken advantage of Audrey when she shows up in his hotel room, but he doesn’t. Instead he suggests grabbing some malts and fries and invites Audrey to tell him all her troubles. In a world where men are preying upon young women, Cooper does not. This mattered to me when I saw it as a teenage girl. It matters still. I’m aware of the rumors that suggest Audrey and Cooper never got together because of real-life conflicts among the actors, but I don’t entertain those rumors, and, in the end, I appreciate how the story between Audrey and Dale unfolded. Still, I like to imagine that Audrey survived the bank explosion, became an FBI agent and is seeking to destroy BOB and find true love with Dale now that’s she’s a grown, independent woman. One can dream.

TPF: Who is your favorite character from TP and why?

CS: Laura Palmer is my favorite character, which is interesting because she is deceased for the entirely of the television show. Here’s the homecoming queen who is beautiful and seemingly perfect, but she’s filled with secrets. Laura appeals to me because her story is one of spiritual redemption –– she never allows BOB in and meets her guardian angel in the end.

TPF: Are you just a Twin Peaks fan or are you also a fan of David Lynch’s films?

CS: I’m a David Lynch fan. I even appreciate Inland Empire!

TPF: Do you have a favorite Lynch film? If so, what is it about this film that attracts you?

CS: My favorite Lynch film is “Wild at Heart.” While I don’t think it’s his “best” film as an auteur, I have a personal connection to it. I saw the movie when I was a teenager who, like Lula, had survived trauma and had mother issues (although my mother issues could not quite compare to hers). Lula’s journey on the yellow brick road with Sailor struck me. I loved the intensity of their relationship and passion for each other. “Wild at Heart” is this crazy wacked-out love story injected with some dark Lynchian storytelling. And, yet, it has a happy ending. I loved the film so much I even walked down the aisle to Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” on my wedding day.

TPF: What do you hope to see the most in Season 3 of Twin Peaks?

CS: I’d love to see more mystery. I also hope we make an entrance to the Red Room. My concern is too many loose ends being tied up. I worry that too many explanations –– especially of the more surreal aspects of the show –– will conflict with what my own imagination has conjured, and undermine the beautiful and eerie dream logic of the show.

TPF: As a woman, do you feel there is anything about Twin Peaks and/or Lynch’s work that ever seems misogynistic?

CS: Not at all. Lynch explores beautiful and complex women who confront trauma in his films. Some have argued he is obsessed with exploring the victimization of women, but I think he’s mirroring real life. Women face violence every day. His art explores this fact.

TPF: You recently interviewed me for your upcoming book about females in the fan community who have been influenced by Twin Peaks, particularly by the character of Laura Palmer. Thank you so much for that. I think your idea is terrific. I’m curious, what made you feel connected to Laura Palmer enough to want to write this book?

CS: There’s this quote I love by Robert Moss. He wrote: “Australian Aborigines say that the big stories –– the stories worth telling and retelling, the ones in which you may find the meaning of your life –– are forever stalking the right teller, sniffing and tracking like predators hunting their prey in the bush.” This book project has been stalking me for some time. Earlier this year, I came up with the idea of writing a book tentatively titled "Laura's Ghost: Women Speak About Twin Peaks," which would be a cultural study of women influenced by the show. There are so many fantastic women who are writing about and inspired by “Twin Peaks” –– including you. 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 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.

At the 2013 University of Southern California Twin Peaks Retrospective, someone asked Mark Frost how he and David Lynch balanced the comedic with the serious on “Twin Peaks.” Frost quoted Joseph Campbell: “You have to embrace the joyful sorrows of life or else it will crush you.” This is the reason why “Twin Peaks” resonates with fans. It embraces the joyful sorrows of life. At its core, “Twin Peaks” is about a young woman full of life and possibilities whose life is cut short. She’s a victim of abuse and murdered in her prime. But she never allows the devil in. Even in the end she resists BOB. Laura Palmer is a heroine. I came up with the idea of “Laura’s Ghost” as an image and idea of how Laura Palmer both haunts and inspires women of all ages who pursue a higher calling of art in her name and memory.

Personally, when I saw Laura Palmer, I saw myself. I wasn’t the homecoming queen, but I knew how to wear a mask and keep a secret. And even though Laura never allowed BOB inside, she was damaged. Recently on Twitter, writer Roxane Gay wrote, “It's dangerous to tell women we have to endure trauma and come out virtuous and perfectly strong.” Laura Palmer was tough but she self-medicated through drugs, acted out and lived her trauma. Survivors can relate to that. She has inspired me. She still haunts me. Always will.

TPF: Since taking on this book project do you feel you’ve learned anything new about Laura Palmer and/or about the women who have been touched by her story?

CS: Laura Palmer was a survivor, a badass, unapologetically owned her womanhood, and gave back to the community through Meals on Wheels and tutoring. She’s a complicated superhero like Batman –– a survivor of childhood trauma who tried to use her powers for good whenever she could. I’m amazed at how each woman I’ve interviewed is so unique but has discovered some aspect of herself in the character of Laura. This is a testament to David Lynch, Mark Frost, Robert Engels, but especially to Jennifer Lynch, whose book “The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer” formed and informed the character and her backstory. More than anything, though, Sheryl Lee’s portrayal of Laura Palmer deserves all of the awards because Lee captured that complexity of character –– both the vulnerability and the superhuman strength.

TPF: How did you get involved with writing for the Red Room Podcast Blog?

CS: Something was in the air in December 2012. Twin Peaks was on my mind. I found out through his Twitter feed that Mark Frost would be discussing Twin Peaks at USC in January 2013. After scouring the Internet, I discovered USC was putting on a retrospective of the entire series complete with filmmakers, actors and crew. The first night in January 2013 featured Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost, Editor and Director Duwayne Dunham, Director of Photography Ron Garcia and Actor Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer). After live-tweeting the event, Scott from the Red Room Podcast reached out to me on Twitter and asked if I’d write up the event. I ended up covering the entire retrospective. That January night, a whole world of Twin Peaks opened up to me. Little did I know that my Twitter connection to Scott would evolve into a friendship after many write-ups, podcasts and a couple of fests later. Scott and Josh (co-creators of the Red Room Podcast) have become my friends. They’re doing an amazing job creating a forum for serious discussion of TV and film while, at the same time, making it entertaining.

TPF: I had the pleasure of meeting you and your husband at this year’s Twin Peaks Festival this past July. I know you’ve been to the festival before. Do you think the experience of attending the festival enhanced or changed your interest in Twin Peaks in any way?

CS: The festival has changed my life. That seems like a pretty dramatic statement, but it’s really true. I’ve always loved the strange and the stories that aren’t afraid to lead me into exploring the darkness. I found a community of profoundly kind and creative people who liked the same type of stories I did. The Fest allows a community of eccentricity without it ever bordering on pretension. The organizers Rob and Deanne Lindley and the festival staff create a unique and profound experience for fans among the trees.

TPF: If you could ask David Lynch and Mark Frost one question, what would it be?

CS: I would ask them both “What does the character of Laura Palmer mean to you?” Since I’m exploring the idea of Laura’s ghost, I’d love to know how this character who began as a mysterious murder victim, evolved into this incredibly complex woman. Lynch and Frost created the murder victim Laura, but it was Jennifer Lynch who breathed so much life into her, and Sheryl Lee who perfected her. I wonder what Lynch and Frost think about this character who became transformed and transfigured –– even transcendent.

TPF: Thank you Courtenay for taking the time to do this interview, for being so passionate about supporting other women and for your insights on Laura. 

Follow Courtenay on Twitter @CourtenayCal 

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Now it's Dark" - Return to Blue Velvet

 Written & Directed by: David Lynch

Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper & Laura Dern

Original Release Date: September 19, 1986


"Why is there so much trouble in this world?

Often revered as one of David Lynch's best films, Blue Velvet sheds a light on the underbelly of evil taking place in an otherwise charming small American town called Lumberton. When a naive young man named Jeffrey Beaumont discovers a severed ear it leads him to a sinister killer whose sole purpose appears to be wreaking havoc and violence on all that encounter him. The killer's atrocious behavior is fueled by bizarre drugs and sexual obsession. Set to a haunting, almost Hitchcockian, musical score by Angelo Badalamenti and loaded with emotionally powerful and surreal scenes, Blue Velvet calls into question the darkest elements of the human condition. 

Blue Velvet

After his father has a heart attack while watering the lawn, Jeffery Beaumont discovers a severed ear in the grass on his walk back from the hospital. He decides to take the ear to the police where he speaks with a Detective Williams. Together they bring the ear to the coroner who says the ear was cut off with scissors and the person who it belongs to is likely still alive. Later that night Jeffrey decides to go to Detective Williams house to discuss the ear. The detective says he can't tell him any details about the case and asks Jeffrey for his discretion. On his way out Jeffrey meets Sandy, Detective Williams daughter, who is waiting outside. They talk and stroll down the sidewalk. Sandy tells him that there is a woman of interest in the case named Dorothy who lives not far away. Then she walks Jeffrey to Dorothy's building and shows him where she lives.

The next day Jeffrey decides to pick Sandy up from high school, impressing all her friends. He takes her to Arlene's Diner where he tells Sandy he wants to sneak into Dorothy's apartment to observe and learn more about her. Sandy thinks it's a scary idea, but Jeffrey runs down his plan for them to get into Dorothy's place. He plans to pose as an exterminator and wants Sandy to pose as a Jehovah's witness who will knock on the door causing a distraction that will allow him to unlock a window. Jeffrey hopes to use that window to enter Dorothy's place later that night.

He convinces Sandy to try his plan out so they head over to Dorothy's apartment building. Jeffrey puts on a uniform and makes his way up to Dorothy's unit. She allows him inside under the guise of him spraying for pests in her kitchen. While there Jeffrey manages to swipe a spare key when a man wearing a yellow suit knocks on the door thus distracting Dorothy. After Jeffrey meets back up with Sandy who tells him the man in the yellow suit knocked on Dorothy's door before she could do her part in their scam. Jeffrey shows her Dorothy's key and tells Sandy he's going to sneak back into Dorothy's place later that night. Sandy agrees to cancel a date she has so she can help him.

That evening they head over to The Slow Club where Dorothy works. They drink Heineken beer as Dorothy Vallens takes the stage and sings a sultry version of the song Blue Velvet. Jeffrey is clearly impressed with her performance. Later that night in front of Dorothy's building, Sandy agrees to honk the horn for Jeffrey so he'll know when Dorothy is coming home. Jeffrey then makes his way inside Dorothy's apartment and discovers a child's bedroom. He ends up going to the bathroom and happens to flush the toilet just as Sandy is beeping the horn warning him that Dorothy has come home. Then Sandy drives away thinking she did her part. However Jeffrey is startled when Dorothy walks in and quickly hides in her living room closet.

He watches as Dorothy undresses and then receives a disturbing phone call from someone named Frank. After she takes a blue velvet robe from the closet where Jeffrey is hiding, but somehow doesn't see him. However she does hear him make a noise so Dorothy grabs a knife from the kitchen and pulls the closet door open. When she sees Jeffrey, Dorothy insists that Jeffrey get undressed so she can see him as he saw her. She insists that he look away from her and not touch her or she'll kill him. Dorothy makes Jeffrey get on the couch naked and she begins to kiss him. Then someone knocks on the door. 

Dorothy tells Jeffrey to return to the closet and orders him to be quiet or she'll kill him. She opens the door and Frank walks in. Dorothy is obviously nervous around him. He calls her a shithead, demands Bourbon and makes her spread her legs for him. He orders her not to look at him while he inhales some gas. He stares are her vagina and says, "baby wants to fuck." Then Frank smacks Dorothy when she looks at him unintentionally. To calm him, she feeds him a piece of her blue velvet robe. Then he puts some of the robe in her mouth and violently attacks/rapes her on the floor. After Frank repeats the phrase, "now it's dark." He orders Dorothy to stay alive for "Van Gogh" before he finally leaves.

Once he's gone, Jeffrey tries to comfort Dorothy. She asks him to hold her, because she's scared. Then she asks him to feel her breast and hit her. Jeffrey is uncomfortable and decides to leave, but not before he looks at a hidden picture of Dorothy's husband and child from under the couch. When he goes home he has a disturbing dream about his experience. Later that night he meets up with Sandy again and tells her, "it's a strange world." Then he goes on to tell Sandy that he believes Dorothy's husband and son have been kidnapped by Frank. He believes Frank cut her husband's ear off as a warning to Dorothy to comply with him. Jeffrey gets upset and spouts, "why is there so much trouble in this world?"

Sandy goes on to tell him about a dream she had with robins flying and a light of love. Jeffrey thinks she's a "neat" girl and seems to feel better from her words. After he returns to Dorothy's place. Dorothy allows him inside and asks what he wants. She says she likes him and liked being with him. Jeffrey feels the same. Later we see Dorothy singing again at the club as Frank watches her with emotion and strokes a piece of her blue velvet robe. Jeffrey decides to follow Frank and a group of his associates, which include Jack Nance, and finds out that Frank's last name is Booth. 

The next day he picks Sandy up from school again and her boyfriend Mike sees her get into his car. They head back to Arlene's Diner where he tells Sandy about staking out Frank's place while taking pictures and observing the actions of his associates. Jeffrey notes there was a murder in the distance that he believes Frank is involved with. Sandy asks why he's doing this. Jeffrey answers that he's seeing something that is hidden and feels like he's in the middle of a mystery. Then he kisses her.

Jeffrey ends up back at Dorothy's place later that evening where she takes him into her bedroom. She asks him if he wants to do bad things and says she wants him to hurt her. Jeffrey says he doesn't want to hurt her, he wants to help her. He says they should involve the police, but Dorothy freaks out and starts slapping him. Jeffrey ends up hitting her back and they tussle naked on the bed. Later on Jeffrey's way out, Frank and his men see Jeffrey with Dorothy. Frank asks, "who is this fuck?" Dorothy tells him that Jeffrey is just a friend from the neighborhood. 

Frank insists that Jeffrey come for a ride with him and orders Dorothy to get her robe. Then everyone squeezes into Frank's car for a nerve wracking drive. Frank takes Dorothy and Jeffrey to an apartment, where Frank insists the only beer worth drinking is Pabst Blue Ribbon. Inside the apartment, there is an eclectic group of people. The leader, Ben, is called "so fucking suave" by Frank. They toast, "here's to fuck!" Frank and Ben then each punch Jeffrey. Ben takes Frank aside and they talk about the murder Jeffrey saw earlier. Frank also allows, "tits" aka Dorothy to see her kid in the back bedroom.

Then Ben lip syncs the song, In Dreams, for the rest of the group. Frank is particularly effected by his performance. After he orders everyone back to his car. Frank screams, "let's fuck!" Everyone piles in the car again and Frank speeds off. He gets angry at Jeffrey for staring at him, slams on the breaks and orders him not to look at him. Then Frank inhales more of his drug as he violently pinches Dorothy's nipples. When Jeffrey protests, Frank pinches her harder. Jeffrey ends up punching Frank so they drag Jeffrey from the car as Dorothy screams for Frank to leave him alone. Frank says he'll send Jeffrey a love letter, which is a bullet that will send him straight to hell. He has the song In Dreams played in the car's tape recorder and then he and his gang attack Jeffrey. 

The next morning Jeffrey wakes up beaten and abandoned in a lumber yard. He goes home and flashes to his encounter with Dorothy when he hit her. Jeffrey cries at the memory. Then he calls Sandy and she advises him to tell her father everything. After Jeffrey tells his aunt Barbara (Francis Bay) and his mother not to worry about him. Jeffrey then heads down to the police station and sees the yellow suited man again. Jeffrey realizes his name is Detective Gordon and he works with Frank. Later Jeffrey heads to Sandy's house and speaks with her father. Jeffrey shows him the pictures he took of Frank and his men. Her father seems upset when he sees Detective Gordon in the photos, but doesn't say anything. All he's worried about is that Sandy isn't involved.

The following Friday Jeffrey picks Sandy up for a date and notices Detective Gordon there. Sandy's father insists that Jeffrey not worry about it. Then Jeffrey and Sandy go to a party and share a sweet dance. They kiss and say they love each other. When they leave the party Sandy's boyfriend Mike follows them and chases them down the road. Mike wants to kick Jeffrey's ass, but right then Dorothy shows up naked and beaten up. Jeffrey puts Dorothy in his car and takes both women to his Sandy's house. Dorothy insists that Jeffrey hold her. Sandy watches horrified realizing that something is very wrong. Dorothy says that Jeffrey put his "disease" inside of her. Sandy's mother calls an ambulance for Dorothy and when they arrive, Sandy smacks Jeffrey.

Later Jeffrey calls Sandy from the hospital. They say they love each other again and Jeffrey asks Sandy to have her father meet him at Dorothy's apartment. Then he heads to Dorothy's place where he finds Detective Gordon shot, but somehow still standing up, and Dorothy's husband dead with a piece of the blue velvet robe in his mouth. Jeffrey decides to leave the scene as he found it. Then we get a montage of the police taking down Frank's men in a shoot out nearby.

As Jeffrey leaves Dorothy's building he sees Frank dressed in a disguise and coming up the steps. Jeffrey hurries back into Dorothy's apartment, grabs Gordon's walkie talkie and calls for help. He realizes that Frank is listening so Jeffrey says he's hiding in the bedroom and then hides in the living room closet instead. When Frank comes in he calls to the bedroom telling Jeffrey he's coming for him. Frank goes into the bedroom shooting. Jeffrey steps out of the closet and takes Gordon's gun. Then he returns to the closet and waits. When Frank finally opens the closet door, Jeffrey shots him in the head. Right then Sandy and her dad burst in and Sandy kisses Jeffrey. Then we flash to a future scene where Jeffrey is the backyard sleeping. He opens his eyes and sees a robin watching over him. The robin eats a bug and sits in the kitchen window as Sandy, Jeffrey, his aunt and mother watch. Then we see Dorothy embracing her son at the park and the song Blue Velvet plays in the background.

The End

There is something unique about this film that makes it impossible to forget the images within it. I think there is a point to consider that Blue Velvet's Lumberton has a symmetry to the mysterious town of Twin Peaks. There are many theories out there about David Lynch's work all taking place in the same universe. I think there is likely some truth to that. Even if that theory is never literally verified, in my opinion, most artists' work is a reflection of something within themselves or something they were influenced by. 

Often I think artists are revisiting the same influences over and over in their work, just with different variations. The need to create something is driven by what is interesting to that creator so of course there is a pattern to all of Lynch's work. David Lynch seems to favor themes that explore disillusionment, sexual jealousy and abuse, especially packaged in a dream or idealistic place that is harboring mysteries and secrets. Within all the films he has written and directed this seems especially so. 

I often giggle at this scene in the film, but in its simplicity, it's a very apt question. The world is scary. Chaos is all around us. Deep inside I believe we're all scared in some way. We have no control. Sometimes we get hurt badly and other times we hurt others badly. The cycle goes round and round. In this moment, Jeffrey's deviant curiosity has been harshly sobered and he's frightened by it. I think Kyle played the character of Jeffrey Beaumont with a lot of innocence and heart. There are shades of a young Agent Cooper in this character that I just love.

Dennis Hopper as the crazed Frank Booth is just plain intense. Like a lot of Lynchian bad guys, Frank was equally terrifying as he was amusing. His awful treatment of Dorothy, manic inhaling of drugs and wild eyed stares were hard to watch yet he also possessed a highly entertaining and impossible to look away from element. In addition, his character offered some of the film's most memorable dialogue. 

Ben singing Roy Orbison's 'In Dreams' in the above scene is definitely one of Blue Velvet's most surreal and fun moments. It is both weird and cool. It also offers a stylized pleasurable distraction to the horror that will follow it. Plus I love Dean Stockwell. Quantum Leap was one of my favorite shows growing up. 

When Jeffrey wakes up in his backyard to see a Robin sitting in a tree above him, I like the ironic sense that everything will be okay. It might be a little corny, but after all the darkness in Blue Velvet I think a happy ending fits well. Blue Velvet isn't my favorite Lynch film, but I still think it's a great movie. It definitely gives you a lot to think about and each time I watch it, I appreciate it more and more. 

Enjoy Siskel & Ebert's review of --> Blue Velvet

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mr. Sheryl Lee: An Interview with Scott Ryan

He's not dead, just wrapped in plastic.
      In the fall of 2014 I sent a random guy named Scott Ryan a friend request. In this modern age with digital everything, I think most of us have a story or two and likely a friend or two where the origin story begins with, "I sent a random friend request." Sometimes making that choice ends in a regretful manner, but other times it can pay off in wonderful unexpected ways. At that time I was just starting this blog and looking to connect with other fans of Twin Peaks. Scott kindly accepted and said he would be happy to share my blog links, if I did the same in return for his podcast. I don't know if Scott remembers this, but I do. I instantly got a good feeling about him. As time went on I learned much like me, he's also a huge Fiona Apple fan. He scored a few extra bonus points in my book with that. I mean how many Twin Peaks/Fiona Apple fans is a woman going to know in her life? 

    This past July I was able to attend the 2016 Twin Peaks Festival and almost immediately upon entering the The Roadhouse on the first night I met Scott. Instantly I felt comfortable around him. I also met his lovely wife and throughout the rest of the weekend, I had a lot of fun with the Ryan's and the whole Red Room crew. They were all, to steal a line from Gordon Cole, "a great bunch!" I had a lot of fun putting this interview together with him and I think you'll see the same thing I did by the end; this man works hard for his passions. I think to have depth in levity, having a deep soul likely goes hand and hand. Plus like myself, although in a different manner than I, Scott truly loves Laura Palmer! 

The Interview

TPF: When did you first discover Twin Peaks?

SR: I actually watched it over the summer of 1990 on the ABC repeats of Season 1. It was a perfect way to watch because I only had to wait a month or so to see Season 2. So I actually got to experience the show live and go through all the stress of watching it get cancelled. To this day I still hate Bob Iger for cancelling it. In the same day he cancelled Thirtysomething, China Beach and Twin Peaks. I love to tell that to people because it needs to be repeated over and over. In some box somewhere, I still have the USA Today article.

TPF: Why do you think Twin Peaks had such an influence on you?

SR: First and foremost, I have no flipping idea. I mean, I really don’t. Not enough to explain how I am still so involved with it 26 years later. Could anything ever be explained like that? I mean, I can picture right now where I was sitting when I watched The Pilot episode. I was intrigued by Cooper, Audrey and the entire town. I think what is more amazing, is that people are still interested in it. I think part of why I love it so much is because it was so different from what was on TV back then. I was 20 years old and it was the antidote for everything that bored me as a college kid. Once you got into BOB, the owls and even the creamed corn, all those things would just haunt my nightmares and find its way into my real life.

TPF: Who is your favorite character from Twin Peaks and why?

SR: Today my favorite character is Laura Palmer. It wasn’t when the series was on. It was FWWM that changed everything for me. Sheryl Lee’s performance is breathtaking and literally life changing for me. I wasn’t exactly the happiest college student that ever lived. So seeing a movie with a lead that wasn’t having the best time, was just perfect for me. I also love that her death is seen as a happy ending. That resonated with me so much and still does. I find Laura’s strength and determination so admirable. I love strong women and always have. (Is this when I mention my love for Fiona Apple?) I don’t have many fictional heroes but Laura is one of them.

TPF: What is your favorite storyline from Twin Peaks and why?

SR: Favorite would be all of FWWM. I mean if you remove all the weird stuff and just look at it as a screenplay, Robert Engels and David Lynch wrote a movie where everyone knows the ending and in yet, you are shocked by it. That is an amazing accomplishment. Also in my own writing, I always love to end my movies with the beginning. I always call it circle writing. When you get to the end of FWWM you just want to watch the series again.

I also really like the Wyndom Earle storyline. Part of it is that if you read the Cooper Diary and then watch that storyline, it really does work well. I also totally love Episode 25 when Lynch goes to the diner and hears Shelly and Cooper tells the joke to Annie. I call that the “Happy Scene” and it is truly one of my favorite parts of all of Twin Peaks.

TPF: I liked your essay with Joshua Minton on Fire Walk With Me in the book Twin Peaks: Fan Phenomena very much. In that essay you say, “If you like Twin Peaks, but not Fire Walk With Me you’re not a true Twin Peaks fan, you’re a fan of television with a taste for weirdness.” As a huge fan of FWWM, I happen to agree. Do you think the new episodes of Twin Peaks will fall more in line with that way of thinking and be tailored more towards the atmosphere of FWWM? And if so, do you think that will turn off the casual television viewer?

SR: Thanks so much for that. You know I always hoped that idea would catch on more. We called them the Donut and coffee set vs the Laura/BOB set. I am not much into the donuts and coffee part of Twin Peaks. I think season 3 is gonna be as dark as FWWM and probably more so. I believe a ton of people will be disappointed. It is hard to put it into enough context how much people hated FWWM in 1992. Very few Twin Peaks fans liked it. I always did. Lynch is dark and he never does what you want him to. That is why I like him. I want an artist to take me by surprise. Link To Book: Fan Phenomena: Twin Peaks

TPF: If you could ask Sheryl Lee one question, what would it be?

SR: That is easy, will you marry me!?! Duh. I may also ask her if she kept that wig and if she still has that black turtleneck sweater. I’ve gone too far, haven’t I? You know I have so much to ask her, I don’t even know where to start. I mostly want to understand what it is like to create art that is so good and not appreciated. I do not believe that any actress could have given more to the part of Laura Palmer. Sheryl has gone on to have a really respectable career but Melissa McCarthy is the biggest female movie star in the country. Sandra Bullock has an Oscar. I would love to get Lee’s take on that. I am sure she would say she doesn't care, but it has to matter a little bit. I know in my life I have created some really good art that not many have seen and hasn’t made me a dime and never will. It is the truest expression of art, but it is hard. I really would love to have that discussion with her. But I am not sure I would be able to explain to her what I mean, and I am even less sure that I made my case here. Let’s just go with, Will you marry me? If she married me, I might be able to explain it to her after 20 years. (By the way my wife has given me permission to add her to our family, so this is all fine.)

TPF: If you ever do get to ask Sheryl Lee that question I’m sure she won’t think its creepy or anything. So what do you hope to see the most in Season 3 of Twin Peaks?

SR: Plot wise, I seriously don’t care at all. New murder, new character, whatever. I’ll love it because I love Lynch’s directing. I do have two small hopes. I want the first image to be someone looking in the mirror because I like that the series begins and ends with someone looking in the mirror. (Josie first, Cooper last) I also would love the last image to be Cooper sitting in the Red Room chair, happy and Laura, standing over him with her hand on his shoulder. This would mirror the same “last” image that we had all these years with FWWM. Those would be my two wishes.

TPF: I had the pleasure of renting your movie on Amazon, A Voyage to Twin Peaks. Then I was nice enough to purchase a DVD copy at the Twin Peaks festival, you’re welcome btw, but I did so because I really enjoyed it. Can you tell me about the making of the film and what inspired you to want to document your experience going to the 2015 Twin Peaks Festival?

SR: I have been making movies since I was in high school. I have never been much on just taking home movies. I like to film stuff and capture the moment and make something out of it. When I was going to the festival for the first time in 2015, I figured I might as well film the experience and see what comes of it. I didn’t know I would end up making the documentary and that it would play at 3 different festivals throughout 2016. I basically just filmed everything that happened throughout the weekend. Then on the last day we were out at Laura’s log at the Kiana Lodge, and it hit me so clearly that I was filming the wrong stuff. It wasn’t the locations or the celebrities, it was the people that attend. So in the last 20 minutes of the entire festival, I ran around asking people about the fest. Because it was ending, everyone was really emotional. Thank God, I did that. Because that became my emotional ending. Then I happened to be outside and rolling when Rob Lindley, the festival organizer, said goodbye to everyone and broke down. As I was filming him, I knew that was the end of my movie. The festival is really about the people, the experiences and the love of the attendees. Immediately I wished I could have gone back and interviewed more people about it, but the weekend was over.

I think it really does capture the feeling of what going to a festival is all about. It also is very funny. I wanted the movie to be fun and not “Lynchian”. The festival is actually a lot of fun, and I wanted that to come out. I was very lucky to have Josh Eisenstadt and Brad Dukes to give me some tours for the movie and that gives it a personal feel. I think if you have never gone to the festival, and now getting tickets is super hard, you can check this out for $2 and see what it is all about. Link to Film: A Voyage to Twin Peaks

TPF: What made you want to write a song for A Voyage to Twin Peaks?

SR: I have been a sort of songwriter for about fifteen years. I am not great at it but when I got home, I sat down at the piano and wrote the song that ends the documentary. It is called “Fantastic” which may be the worst name for a song ever. I was trying to do a play on the word Fan. The lyrics and the tune just poured out of me. I recorded the song and it was done in a day. The reaction to the song has been really interesting for me. A few people have told me it is really cheesy and then others say that it made them cry. I think the truth is somewhere in between. I think what moves people is all these people coming together to celebrate some shared love. It is a rare thing. I don’t think my song is cheesy or manipulative, I think it is just honest. I just expressed how I felt and that honesty is what people are reacting to. It is weird because I have written songs for other movies I directed and people have never mentioned them... ever. So it has been fun that people are at least commenting on it.

One of the main reasons I wanted to write the music for the movie was so that I could actually release the movie. I do have it up at Amazon for rent or purchase. It is available in England, Germany and Japan. I am trying to get it in more countries. I used to make movies and use copyrighted music, actually I always have used in some way or shape some Angelo Badalamenti music in my movies, but if you do that, you can never release them. In 2012, I wrote and directed a film called Meet Abby and I decided I would write the score myself. Link to Film: Meet Abby That way the entire movie would be mine. It is streaming on Amazon Prime. So when it came time to make A Voyage To Twin Peaks, I wanted to write the score again. I also didn’t use any photos that weren’t from my collection of Twin Peaks stuff. So for better or worse, I own all of it.

TPF: What prompted you to start the Red Room podcast?

SR: I give all the credit for that to my co-host, Joshua Minton. I didn’t know what the hell a podcast was in 2011 when we started this thing. He wanted to do one and came up with the name of Red Room Podcast because he knew naming it after Twin Peaks would convince me to do it. He set it up and set me off into the podcasting world. After a few episodes I was hooked and was out there hustling to get us good guests and listeners. Now I do the Red Room, the Thirtysomething Podcast, Scott Luck Stories and I am starting a Buffy History one with my friend, David Bushman. I have guested on the Twin Peaks Podcast doing commentaries on the episodes with Matt Humphrey and I am a friend of the show with Ben and Bryan on Twin Peaks Unwrapped. So I have really overdone it in the podcast world. In fact, I might just have started a new one with you while we’ve been talking. Link to Podcast: The Red Room Podcast or on Facebook: Red Room or on Twitter @redroompodcast

TPF: Yes it was a real treat for me to join the Red Room for a show, thanks again, especially to discuss Stranger Things! So how did you manage to get Sherilyn Fenn on your show?

SR: I met a wizard that said if I sacrificed my least favorite child, she would come on the show. So I sacrificed all of them, just to be safe. Honestly, I don’t know why she did it. I mean I really don’t. I think it was all luck and timing. She doesn’t know that I have interviewed a load of people. She doesn’t even follow The Red Room Podcast on twitter. I can’t explain it. I seriously have no idea. I will say, it was a great interview. I was really pleased with it. I worked a ton on the questions and preparing. The nice thing is that people who have listened to it have said it seemed like I didn’t have any questions prepared, but I actually had a ton of notes up. I just try to make the guest feel like it's a laid back conversation and hope the guest is comfortable. I have been lucky enough to interview Glenn Gordon Caron, who created Moonlighting, who is one of my writing heros. Dana Delany from China Beach, the entire cast of Thirtysomething for an upcoming book. I love doing it because David Letterman has always been a huge influence for me. Being a talk show host is my dream job.

TPF: What’s next for the Red Room podcast? Can you offer any scoops on upcoming guests, topics of discussion, etc.?

SR: We actually never plan things out. We kind of just go where the culture goes. I mean we recently did a round table discussion about Stranger Things that you guested on, thank you for very much. Two weeks ago, I didn’t even know about the show. That is sort of how Josh and I do it. We just wait for something to spark us and we cover it. People always think we are only a Twin Peaks podcast. We really aren’t. We have done over 115 episodes. We have covered records (we did one on Fiona’s Idler Wheel), we have done broadway shows (I am a huge Sondheim fan), we have done movies (we did a Tarantino podcast) we really just are inspired by art. My dream guest would be Sheryl Lee. I would love to have David E Kelley on. I am also, as I said, a huge Letterman fan. I really want to have Barbara Gaines on who was his producer for 30 years. I have tweeted her so much, she really should block me. She likes every request but never responds. Link to Podcast: Stranger Things

TPF: What inspired you to write Scott Luck Stories?

SR: I am not someone who treats himself, ever. Within that thought the Scott Luck Stories was born. I have been a storyteller since I was a kid. I started Scott Luck Stories about four years ago, where I just told stories from my life. They are about 7-10 minutes long. I talk about working at Arby’s as a teenager. I talk about being a stay at home dad of twins. I tell stories of reporting to bad bosses in corporate America. In 2013, I compiled the stories into an Ebook and released it on Amazon and iTunes Books. I can’t overstate how unsuccessful Scott Luck Stories is, which might be the ultimate Scott Luck. I just don’t think people are interested in short stories anymore. I basically just do them to let my crazy out a bit. I did one on the Twin Peaks festival from last year. It was kind of fun to joke around about the festival because I usually try to be very serious on the Red Room. Link to Book: Scott Luck Stories or on Facebook: Scott Luck Stories

TPF: You also do a podcast for the television show Thirtysomething. What is it about that show that appeals so much to you and do you ever sleep?

SR: I hate sleep. I can’t wait to get up in the morning and start the day. I have so much to do and I love what I do. The Thirtysomething podcast has just been an amazing dream. I ended up becoming friends with a few of the writers from the show, I interviewed the entire cast and writing staff. I got a book contract and a real life book will come out in 2017. It is called Thirtysomething at thirty. It is an oral history of the show. I even have two Twin Peaks people in it, Charlotte Stewart and Lenny Von Dohlen. They were both on Thirtysomething as well. I think Thirtysomething is the best journey you can take on television. You really believe in the characters and it is a show that really owns my heart. Working on the book has been an amazing experience and I am hoping to spend most of 2017 promoting it. Link to the ThirtySomething Podcast: ThirtySomething or on --> Facebook  

TPF: Thus far, what are you most proud of in terms of your podcasting and writing?

You know, I am not much for being proud. I am so much more interested in the NEXT project, than I am in thinking about what I have done in the past. It was so strange with A Voyage To Twin Peaks, I finished it in October 2015 and then never watched it again until it played at the Great Southern in Virginia in June 2016. It sometimes feels like someone else made it cause as soon as I finished I started work on my Thirtysomething book. Now that is done and I am starting work on a Buffy book with David Bushman. Josh Minton and I are going to write a Red Room Podcast book called, “How To Watch Television.” I just don’t spend anytime looking at the past. There is a Sondheim song called “Finishing The Hat”. It is sort of my mantra. The artist is working on “finishing a hat, starting on a hat, finishing a hat. Look, I made a hat, where there never was a hat.” You take a moment to look at it, then you start something new.

TPF: In three words, who is Scott Ryan…really?

SR: Mr. Sheryl Lee