getting huffy

Ah, huffing. When life asks the difficult questions-- questions like, "How will I get high for two dollars?" or "Just how high can I get for two dollars?"--the answer often comes while you're standing at a gas pump, spray painting your mailbox, or applying sealant to your deck. The answer? I think you know the answer: huffing. AKA bagging, sniffing, guffing, snorting, or the Texas shoeshine. Call it what you will, the blindness that it induces may well be tantamount to that induced by looking directly into the face of God.

¥ Love Liza (2002)--Written, perhaps with his brother in mind, by star Phillip Seymour Hoffman's older brother Gordy, Love Liza is a story of total loss. Hoffman plays Wilson Joel, a man whose wife commits suicide. He seeks solace from this unspeakable eventuality in an exceedingly destitute gasoline and model airplane fuel huffing habit. Having lost everything in a shimmering haze of fumes, he finds himself without answers, being pressured by his mother-in-law (played by the tolerable Kathy Bates) to read the note left behind by his wife. And no, it doesn't tell him to huff more gas.

¥ Gummo (1997)--Written and directed by the infamous Harmony Korine, Gummo chronicles the adventures of the residents of a small Ohio town that never quite recovered from a catastrophic tornado. The central thrill-seekers in this mess of appalling, but truthful American disclosure, get their kicks by killing cats, sniffing glue, and soliciting prostitution from a woman with Down's Syndrome. A classic.

¥ Citizen Ruth (1996)--Ruth is a huff-aholic who has miscarried four children already and is pregnant with her fifth. Portrayed with alarming realism by Laura Dern, Ruth finds herself at the center of an embroiled pro-choice/pro-life legal battle after the court orders her to get an abortion. To me, though, the questions of morality and choice pale in comparison to the real burning issue: Is patio sealant really the best high? LANCE CHESS