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Moodswing - She Made It

A film noir comedy featuring sock puppets

When I turned 16, I went through a phase in which I liked making incredibly complicated things from scratch. For example, that Christmas I gave my boyfriend an entire ski jacket that I made my own damn self. It had 143 nylon pattern pieces - the edges of which I personally seared while hunched over the tip of a tiny candle flame - reversible zippers, hidden pockets and a waterproof lining stuffed with the contents of eight bags of duck down. It was the color of burnished rotten pumpkins (so popular in the early '80s), with multicolored racer stripes that formed a peacock-feather fan pattern across the back.

Of course, he was horrified the minute he opened the gift. Not that he hated it - I mean, c'mon, it was a masterpiece - but it was obvious from my bleeding fingertips that I'd spent so much time on his gift, when all he'd gotten me was an opened container of cream rinse from his cousin's hair salon.

Even so, I didn't stop. Next I made a lamp out of an empty gin bottle. It doesn't sound complicated, but wiring was involved, and the lampshade was fashioned from woven silk ribbons with a fringe of tiny glass beads. After that came cakes. Yes, cakes. For some reason, even though my ability to draw never went past the pirate face you were always asked to trace in those comic-book advertisements for correspondence art courses, I discovered that I could nonetheless create, with wax-figure exactness, any cartoon character in the world using a tank of food coloring and 20 buckets of vanilla frosting. I made a Mother's Day cake that year depicting a cross-eyed cartoon otter doing a flamenco dance around a sombrero with the caption, "You are like no otter motter."

It goes on. Don't even ask me about the Christmas wreaths, the toilet-paper cozies or the giant octopus, which, believe it or not, was actually part of a massive headdress I crafted at a hat-making contest on a cruise ship.

It all came to a relative end two years later, thank God, when I started doing drugs in earnest, as opposed to the occasional smoking roach clip that was passed to me in the bathroom stall at the roller rink. Yes, who says cocaine can't solve your life's problems, what with its ability to suck every molecule of creativity from your being? So after that, instead of using my time creating things that were useful to society - like all those lovely hand-painted, plaster sculptures of giant smiling snails - I spent my days snorting lines with my restaurant-worker friends and swearing that their grasp of all things meaningful was particularly evident that day.


Of course, that could only last so long before it became clear that if I kept it up, I'd end up like that lady with snarly hair who lives under - not on, but under - the bench in front of Starbucks and seems to subsist on the crumbled muffins they put on a plate and serve as samples by the cash register. So I pulled my shit together and made it through college, but that was the last time I made anything for years.Which is why I really admire people like my friend Lynn Lamousin. She made a movie ... like, by hand. From scratch. And not just any movie, but a real feature-length film that is winning awards, a movie with sets and sound effects and sweeping cinematic panoramas and Oscar-worthy acting (probably) and witty, acerbic dialogue and artistic camera angles - a movie in which, I swear to God, the entire cast consists solely of talking sock puppets.

And Lynn is the least sock puppet-type person you would ever meet. She's all tall, exotic and model thin with long sleek black hair and the kind of fashion sense even rich people can't pull off. I was in Lynn's kitchen not too long ago, and the only food she had in there was shoelaces. I'm just saying, I always figured if you were going to create, by hand, an entire world of sock puppets, you would be the kind of person who has a halfway stocked kitchen, because people like that have a heavy craft-making chromosome. Lynn, though, is not a craft maker, she's just a genius with a compulsion to create an immensely intricate piece of cinematic art using the least likely of media. Who would have thought? The movie is called The Lady from Sockholm.

"It's a film noir comedy," Lynn said, "with sock puppets."

I did not believe a damn word she was saying when she first told me her plan, because for what she spent making this movie, she could have bought a couple of rundown crack shacks in southwest Atlanta with money left over to spay some stray cats. But that was a few years ago, and now her movie is finished and premiering at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts.

It's an amazing achievement. All the writing, editing, screening, set building, sewing - all of it funneled into this lovely little gem that is her life's work. "I can't wait to look at this movie on that screen," Lynn said recently, her grasp of everything meaningful particularly evident that day, "and I'm going to know that I made it."

The Lady from Sockholm premiers Sun., June 12, 5 p.m., at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Atlanta Film Festival. Ticket information at www.sockholm.com.

Hollis Gillespie is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories (HarperCollins), which is due out June 28.??



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