On the Mind Of Larry King Jr.

Sometimes I amuse myself by imagining that hell is real, with lava, Satan and Katie Couric screaming in the flames.

Sometimes I amuse myself by imagining that hell is real, with lava, Satan and Katie Couric screaming in the flames.

I’m pro-Arquettes. I like all of them.

What does it mean if you dream you’re arguing with a cab driver who looks like Noriega-and then he turns into a beautiful woman?

If you have to ring a doorbell to get into the store, you won’t be able to afford any of the stuff inside. Yet still you go in. It’s quiet, except for the tasteful, piped-in techno. A lone employee (belly visible) is half-looking at you and half-attending to whatever little crap she’s half-attending to. You make your little tour of the place-which is like a box-and you start sweating when you see a T-shirt with a $104 price tag. You try to make a smooth getaway, but the door’s locked from the inside, and the girl with the belly has to press a button to let you out.

Not buying the hype for Mystic River . Everybody was doing the same dance for A Perfect World . And why are we suddenly supposed to oooh and aaah over Kevin Bacon?

I get a kick out of goats.

A real shame about drugs being addictive. Something I’ve tried to explain to Dad without much success.

Thomas Friedman’s column has no charm. Whenever I see the words “my wife” in it, I want to puke. Strangely enough, I have only warm feelings when Maureen Dowd mentions the people in her family, all of whom seem to be living out some medical tragedy. Safire gives you no clue about his home life. I see him shacked up in Bethesda with some ex-C.I.A. babe who once did Khruschev. The other Op-Ed guys I have no feel for, except Bob Herbert, who thinks he’s still writing for the Daily News .

Here’s my Arquette ranking, by the way. No. 1: Patricia. No. 2: Rosanna. No. 3: David. No. 4: Courtney Cox-Arquette (does she count?). No. 5: The transvestite club-kid dude.

A nice walk is great. A bad walk is a disaster.

All these years in New York and I’d never been to a Kim’s store until just the other night. How unsettling it was to find myself face to face with my own demographic-guys in sweatshirts seeking out Gram Parsons rarities, old Claude Chabrol movies just out on DVD, books on anime and pub rock. I spent $110, then contemplated suicide in the cab.

I blame Al Gore.

I wonder if Being There (movie version) and Breaking Away are as amazing in reality as they are in my memory. Dad got pissed when I couldn’t stop doing my Chauncey Gardiner bit back in ’80. Not his kind of humor.

I won’t set foot in Brooklyn. Like I need that.

I still haven’t made it past the fifth minute of any episode of Law and Order or its spin-offs.

White Stripes good, Strokes bad.

Meryl Streep is looking great. Am I a crank for hoping it’s not just a surgical trick?

I ain’t watching no damn K Street .

On a bad walk, you’re indecisive. You have to pee the whole time, and you stop in at an A.T.M. You browse in the wrong stores. You take a cab home.

The best songwriter in years, Elliott Smith, killed himself, and 300 people cared.

Love you, Dad. As if he’s reading this. He probably feels about my little column the way I feel about his show.

November is brutal.

On a good walk, you pass cool places you’ve never noticed before. You think you have the city figured out. You make up a song in your head. You see great-looking girls. Your clothes are the right weight for the weather.


Filming Five Exes

There are a number of single people in the city who spend a lot of time asking “Why”-as in “Why am I single?” and “Why don’t any of my relationships work out?”

The “Why” questions are followed by the more pro-active “What” line of thought, as in “What can I do to meet someone?”, followed quickly by “What is wrong with the people I meet?”, followed by the darkest question of all: “What is wrong with me?”

Jyllian Gunther found herself asking such questions and decided to look outside the traditional sources (friends, therapy) for the answers: Instead, she made a documentary.

Pullout examines why, at age 35, none of Ms. Gunther’s romantic relationships panned out. Camera crew in tow, she traveled from San Francisco to Paris and tracked down her old flames-four ex-boyfriends, one ex-husband-and interviewed them over one summer.

“Initially, I thought it would be really funny if someone went back and confronted all their exes,” said Ms. Gunther recently over tea at Cafe Lebowitz. “And I thought, ‘Who would ever do that’? Then I thought, ‘I could do that.’ I’d gone out with all these different, crazy guys. And what could they possibly have in common?”

The journey wasn’t much fun. She discovered that all five exes-to whom she gave nicknames in the film like “The ‘Bad’ Boyfriend” and “The Affair”-cheated on her. Her Brazilian ex-husband, “The Casanova” (it was mostly a green-card kind of marriage), wouldn’t talk to her for the film, but his best friend helpfully told Ms. Gunther that her ex slept with “more than 10, less than 100” women during their marriage. There was even more drama when she visited “The First Love” and he couldn’t remember the details of their break-up, one which devastated Ms. Gunther.

In Paris, she revisited “The Affair,” a man she periodically met up with in various cities around the world, but when Ms. Gunther asked him why he didn’t love her enough, the poor guy got so uncomfortable that he asked the cameras to stop filming.

Inevitably, in the midst of revisiting all those exes, Ms. Gunther ended up in bed with one, “George,” appropriately nicknamed “The Dependable One.” His face is digitally blurred because he wanted to remain anonymous, but his voice gives him away-“George” is actually David Eigenberg, the actor who plays Miranda’s boyfriend Steve on Sex and The City. (Ms. Gunther wouldn’t comment on George’s identity.)

Since most of us run in the opposite direction if we spot an ex standing on the street corner, one wonders what kind of person would put herself through this.

“I was naïve in thinking the movie would just be funny,” said Ms. Gunther, who is now 37 and has long, glossy brown hair. “I didn’t think it would be so heavy.”

Ms. Gunther, who grew up in Park Slope and lives in Nolita, was working as a staff writer at Nickelodeon and had recently broken up with “George” when she formed the idea for the film.

“Everything was going great, but I was a wreck in terms of my relationships,” she said. “I thought about the number of times someone said or I said, ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ I thought, ‘This is ridiculous-it’s not as simple as that.’ What don’t we say when we break up with someone?”

Admirably, Ms. Gunther declined to use up any screen time commenting on what was wrong with the guys-and the audience will be itching to tell her.

“I was asking guys I hadn’t seen in 10 years to be in my documentary,” she said. “So I didn’t think it was my place to challenge them or argue.”

There were times off-camera, she said, when she went into the next room and yelled, “Oh my God!” Other interviews, she said, ended with her in the corner of the room, sobbing.

In the end, if a few of the exes were happy to point out Ms. Gunther’s flaws (she pushes too hard; she sits with her legs uncrossed), none revealed anything earth-shattering. Instead, Ms. Gunther realizes her relationship problems have more to do with a longing for the past, as well as some family issues. Her mom died when she was 7, while her father-who is interviewed extensively in the movie-seems to be overly involved in his daughter’s life.

Ms. Gunther said she no longer recognizes the character of herself in the film.

“I just don’t feel the same things I used to,” she said. “I used to think a relationship would fill a hole, and then you would be happy, but I don’t think that anymore.”

Nor does Ms. Gunther, who is dating someone new, blame herself if relationships end. “I no longer say, ‘There’s something wrong with me,'” she said. “I say, ‘There’s something wrong with me and that person.'”

The documentary is making the film-festival rounds and being shopped to distributors.

Reviews have been mostly positive, except for Variety, whose reviewer wrote, “Gunther earns a D for earnest introspection, but an A for egotistical exhibitionism.”

“That was my biggest fear, that some critic would call the movie self-absorbed,” said Ms. Gunther. “I mean, maybe the movie is self-absorbed. I can totally see how the guy felt like that, because if you don’t relate to it, it’s like, ‘Who cares about this girl and her dumb boyfriends?'”

Would she recommend going back and asking one’s exes the hard questions?

“No,” she said quickly. “Maybe if you’re lucky, someone will give you the details about what it was about you they found unappealing. But who really cares?”

-Dakota Smith On the Mind Of Larry King Jr.