Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Pretty Faces, Despicable People

I have to admit--the Damien Rice song in the preview hooked me. I had heard a little bit about Closer beforehand, and had even seen the trailer. I knew it had the dour, dignified, and decadent Clive Owen, as well as the ubiquitous (and, well, frankly kind of annoying) Jude Law. And I knew it promised to be a smart examination of modern relationships. But, well, it isn't a period literary adaptation with Colin Firth, so I wasn't that excited. Jack Thunder, too, was fairly lukewarm about seeing it in the theater. But if you've heard a Damien Rice song before you'll know why I had to check it out. Absolutely gut-wrenchingly gorgeous.

Well, I got my Damien Rice song, the achingly beautiful "Blower's Daughter," at the very beginning of Closer. In the opening scene, Dan, a somewhat pitiful obituary writer and aspiring author played by Law, is walking down a crowded London street when he spies a young and edgy-looking American woman (Natalie Portman) coming toward him. They are both taken with each other, and intense staring ensues as the strains of "Blower's Daughter" continue in the background. But suddenly the woman, Alice, is hit by an oncoming taxi and Dan rushes to her side. He accompanies her to the ER (it's only a little scrape) and then spends the morning with her. She's bold and quirky, and used to be a stripper--all pluses, of course.

Next we are instantly thrown forward in time a year or two. Dan and Alice live together and he has written and published a novel based on her apparently scandalous past. It is obvious that their relationship has seen better days, with Alice making desperate attempts to endear herself to Dan, and Dan seeming to lose interest in Alice with each passing moment. Dan has a photo shoot for his dust jacket pic with the lovely American photographer Anna (Julia Roberts), and, in a startlingly unrealistic scene lasting ten minutes, claims to have fallen in love with her at first sight. He comes on to her as she shoots his smarmy face, but she fends off his advances.

Another year later. Dan is still obsessed with Anna--so much so that he goes on a trashy sex chat website (pretending to be a woman) and lures an equally depraved doctor to meet Anna at a place where he suspects she will be the next day. This scene is a complete turn-off, with filthy bedroom talk flying back and forth with alarming speed. At any rate, Anna and the doctor, Larry (Clive Owen), do meet and start dating. But after seeing Larry make an exhibition of himself in the chat room, one wonders how he could enter into any relationship that goes beyond superficiality and sex.

And that brings me to my thoughts on Closer, which goes on to show Dan, Alice, Anna, and Larry flail about in their initial relationships, and then secretly trade partners with each other to go on to have equally dysfunctional affairs. My first question is this: Why in heaven's name should I care a morsel for any of these people? They are the epitome of self-absorbed. They are incapable of compassion and commitment. They see relationships as conquests, mere diversions, or easy, empty ways to avoid loneliness. And most of all, they cannot love.

Certainly this portrayal was the goal of the director, who thought it would be clever to skip all the romantic cliches and get down to the real nitty gritty of how selfish, unfeeling people attempt relationships in our modern age. I can only say "Yawn." I already know that people have trouble putting others first, and that many relationships rarely advance beyond the superficial. I already know that "romantic love" could just be a longstanding, media-fueled myth. And I already know that in our technology-filled world, we are becoming more isolated and are finding fewer reasons to care and be cared for by others.

So what have I learned about human life from this film? In what ways have I been compelled to sympathize with characters I might have nothing in common with? How have I changed and how have I been touched? How, in short, have I had the experience I expect from a truly good film? When I ask myself these questions, I come up with nothing, and that is so disappointing. I don't ask that all the characters in films be perfect, kind, and good. I don't ask for happy endings or fantasies. But what I do ask for is depth. I get it, I get it, Mike Nichols. You have superficially portrayed superficial people. What a triumph! By showing couples in isolated scenes during which they are either fighting, breaking up, or cheating, you have gotten to the heart of the post-post-modern love match. How clever! And the irony of your title, "Closer," well that's just the icing on the cake.

But a film with real depth would have showed these doomed couples during their good times too. It would have sought to examine why the relationships dwindled. It would have given its characters more traits than just horny, vain, and needy. It would have made me care about them, just a little, so that I really was moved by the reality that many people don't have what it takes to truly love another person. As it was, I didn't care at all. And that made me feel just as dirty and selfish as they were.

That's why I'm going to wash the taste of Closer out of my mouth and go back to listening to my Damien Rice CD. It's funny how his songs are all about a person who is imperfect, who fails at love, and who is needy and sometimes desperate, but I care. I feel his emotion and his struggle, and I care.


Blogger David said...

Well Jack, here is your answer from

Weird Stuff
Someone has decided to cause some hijinks on my site as of late. They've been jumping blog to blog to blog linking this blog to their comment: "this guy is ashamed of his photo". While nothing malicious has been done, it's just been annoying especially when you don't who is doing it and why. In any event if you clicked on the link and came here welcome, and no I'm not ashamed of my photo, it's just elsewhere in my archives.

8:02 PM  

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Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Life Melodic: EW's story on the music influences of Wes Anderson

Is there a director who uses music more masterfully than Wes Anderson? The man behind Rushmore and The Life Aquatic reveals his muses.
written by Nancy Miller

If this were a scene in a Wes Anderson movie, the lanky 35-year-old director would not be striding into this interview to the grating tweedle of his ringing cell phone. No, he'd be walking in to the chugging guitar riffs of the Creation, like Jason Schwartzman does in Rushmore, Or to the creepy warblings of Nico, as does Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums. Or better yet, since we're meeting just a few days before the premiere of his latest movie, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, a David Bowie tune--performed in Portuguese--might just fit the bill. In Life Aquatic, the Jacques Cousteau-inspired spoof about a dysfunctional family of underwater explorers (starring Bill Murray and Anjelica Huston, among others), Anderson once again features an eclectic collection of achingly cool tunes.

Which is why he has earned rep as cinema's hippest DJ. (Look for a four-CD anthology of his soundtracks when the Life Aquatic DVD is released.) "Wes has this innate attraction to B sides, and he operates on the assumption that his audience does too," says Mark Mothersbaugh, the Devo frontman-turned-composer who has worked with Anderson on all his films. "Finding that perfect track is crucial to him."

So crucial, in fact, that Anderson probably couldn't make a movie without them. Unlike most directors, this one reverses the scoring process, often choosing music before he writes a word of dialogue. "A lot of times, music helps inspire an idea," he says. "I may not even have the script yet; I just know I want to use a song, and I'll write a scene around the song." So forget the filmography: Here comes Anderson with an aural history of his films.

The Plot
Owen Wilson and brother Luke play inept criminals on the lam. The Songs "Half the audience--almost 100 people--walked out [of the first test screening]," recalls Anderson. "It was terrible." Executive producer James L. Brooks hired Mothersbaugh and music supervisor Randall Poster to give the picture some soundtrack CPR. (Poster, like Mothersbaugh, has stuck with Anderson, working on all of his subsequent films.) Anderson made a point of using the Rolling Stones' "2000 Man" and the Proclaimers' "Over and Done With" for two standout scenes. "I had [those songs] in my mind for years, back when Owen and I were writing the script in college. Those scenes were written for those songs." Ultimately the soundtrack didn't help--the movie still tanked-- but it taught him a lesson: "I saw how a story and characters can be supported through music. We always try to do that."

The Plot
A Rushmore Academy misfit (Jason Schwartzman) and a middle-aged steel tycoon (Bill Murray) become best friends, then bitter rivals, as they compete for the affections of a first-grade teacher. The Songs "At first I wanted it all to be Kinks songs, the whole movie," Anderson says. "Then I broadened it up using one Kinks song ['Nothing in This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl']." He also used the Who's "A Quick One While He's Away" to score a brilliant montage in which Murray and Schwartzman attempt to sabotage each other's lives. "I was listening to that Who song in my car and kind of planned the scene out, editing it all in my head. I was like, 'Okay, you have twelve seconds to come done the steps, get your shoelaces, and walk through here.' It was all choreographed to the music. That one was hard." Anderson couldn't figure out how to end the film until he heard the right song" the Faces' "Ooh La La." "Randy Poster called me and played it. I thought, It's perfect! I hung up the phone and wrote the last scene with the song still playing in my head." Max and his unrequited love, Miss Cross, wind up dancing to the tune, giving the movie its classic, heart-wrenching ending.

The Plot
An eccentric family (Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson) rally to care for their dying dad (Gene Hackman). The Songs For the opening sequence, Anderson wanted the Beatles' "Hey Jude." "The timing was bad," he says, "George Harrison was dying and we just couldn't get the stuff cleared." He then tapped Elliott Smith to record a cover of "Jude," but the troubled singer backed out. "He was in a bad state and just wasn't able to," says Anderson. (Smith died, an apparent suicide, in 2003.) Ultimately, Anderson went with Mothersbaugh's tinkly instrumental version (credited to the Mutato Muzika Orchestra). Smith did end up on the soundtrack, though, with "Needle in the Hay," an acoustic dirge underscoring Luke Wilson's wrist-slashing scene. But it was another tragic artist who provided the inspiration for Tenebaums: Nico. "'these Days' was the first thing I had, before I had a sense what the movie was about," Anderson says. "I just knew I was going to play that song and somebody was going to be walking. I didn't know how, but that song gave me an extraordinary visual."

The Plot
A washed-up oceanographer (Murray) bonds with his possible illegitimate song (Owen Wilson) and a reporter (Cate Blanchett) while hunting a killer shark. The Songs Anderson is clearly a big Bowie fan--the Thin White Duke's music is all over Aquatic's soundtrack--but even he doesn't know how to say "Your face is a mess" in Portuguese. Which explains why the director shot half the movie before realizing that Brazilian actor Seu Jorge (City of God), who functions as the movie's onboard Greek-chorus-of-one and sings bossa nova reinterpretations of Bowie songs throughout the film, was ditching Bowie's lyrics in favor of his own off-the-cuff musings. "I guess the idea wasn't effectively communicated to him that he was to sing translated lyrics of Bowie songs," laughs Anderson, who also tossed some Stooges, Devo and Joan Baez into the soundtrack's mix. "My original plan was to make it all electronic and like a Radiohead feeling. That would have been a lot more simple." He sighs. "But this movie . . . it isn't simple."
Wes Anderson chooses some of his favorite movie-music moments.
1. Mean Streets, Martin Scorsese (1973). "There's this 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' scene [Robert De Niro struts into a bar] where you really see how music and film get locked together."

2. Harold and Maude, Hal Ashby (1971). "The beginning--[before] Harold hangs himself--could feel comic, but it doesn't. It feels deeper because of the music [Cat Stevens' 'Don't Be Shy']." Homage alert: Bud Corl (Harold), now 56, has a supporting role in Aquatic.

3. The Graduate, Mike Nichols (1967). "I can't pick one scene, but the [Simon & Garfunkel] music is part of the reason it has a Catcher in the Rye effect, rather than it just being funny."

4. Federico Fellini's Toby Dammit from Spirits of the Dead (1968). "Listen to one 15-second cue [of Nino Rota's score] and you know it's from a Fellini film."

5. And Woody Allen movie. "His approach is, 'Okay, let me dig into my record collection and pull out some Gershwin.' It's always his favorite jazz. His music's always interested me."


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Thursday, December 16, 2004

A post guaranteed to drive Jack T. crazy. (And you thought Air Force One was bad?)

Harrison Ford will star in Iraq war movie.
He'll play the general who oversaw the Marine attack on Fallujah
by Gary Susman (copied from Entertainment

Hollywood's first movie about the current war in Iraq will include some heavy firepower, in the form of Harrison Ford. Variety reports that Ford will star in an ensemble drama based on the upcoming book No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah, which is due in May. The manuscript's author, Bing West, an ex-Marine and former assistant secretary of defense who is now a war correspondent for, is writing the screenplay with his son Owen, a Marine rifleman who fought in Iraq. Ford will play Gen. Jim Mattis, who planned the attack on the insurgent stronghold city after four Americans were killed and mutilated there this spring. Mattis' retaking of Fallujah was just 48 hours away when he was ordered to hold off; the operation didn't resume until six months later, after the U.S. presidential election. The Marines suffered 28 fatalities during the initial offensive and 50 more six months later.


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Our society is totally retarded

I just got my Ticketmaster email update and learned that Ashlee Simpson is going to darken our fair square city soon, and tickets to her lip-sync are $37.50.

$37.50?! Will someone please explain What The Fu*k is going on here?


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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A little dose of reality

Something I am happy to report about one of my favorite new shows (and one of my least favorite old ones):

"Desperate Housewives" is doing so well, it turned a "Survivor" finale into a run-of-the-mill event.
ABC's dark comedy beat the "Survivor: Vanuatu" conclusion in the Nielsen Media Research ratings Sunday night, the first time in nine editions that any other program has beaten the ultimate edition of the game.
The 19.7 million viewers who watched Sunday made it the least popular "Survivor" finale ever. "Survivor: Thailand" had 22.3 million viewers in May 2003. More people actually watched Thursday's penultimate episode (20 million) than the finale.
The "Survivor" audience still put a dent in "Desperate Housewives," which was down to 21.6 million viewers after topping 27 million when the neighborhood busybody was knocked off.

This article, from, finally gives me reason to hope that the world of reality television is finally dying. When the top of the crop is beaten, it surely is a sign of doom for anything related to Mark Burnett. Thankfully.


Blogger David said...

That IS interesting news, but don't nail the coffin in reality TV yet.

Popularity and ratings is one important thing certainly--if it weren't we would still be enjoying the space western hijinks of "Firefly."

BUT . . . CBS has renewed Survivor through season 12, which is, what, three/four more years? AND most important of all . . . reality shows remain cheapter to make than scripted TV.

So, which is more important, ratings or money?
(I think that is really a rhetorical question, isn't it?)

10:48 AM  

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Entertainment Weekly's 27 Albums [They]'re Most Thankful For

Since we all starting linking up around the office on i-Tunes, music, music evaluation, and other things relating to music have been "in the air."

So, I thought you-all would benefit from this list, published in the current edition of Entertainment Weekly. Each album has some commentary attached to it, but I am not going to take the time to type all of that out. Spec will have the edition at his desk at the start of next week, so you can read the full info by borrowing it from him at that time.

3. BOWS + ARROWS, The Walkmen
5. HOT FUSS,The Killers
6. NOW HERE IS NOWHERE, The Secret Machines
7. MEDULLA, Bjork
8. FRANZ FERDINAND, Franz Ferdinand
9. FUNERAL, The Arcade Fire
14. ANTICS, Interpol
16. THE FUTUREHEADS, The Futureheads
17. THE GREY ALBUM, Danger Mouse
18. SEVEN SWANS, Sufjan Stevens
19. TWO WAY MONOLOGUE, Sondre Lerche
21. LAST EXIT, Junior Boys
22. 1, Simple Kid
23. LUNA, Rendezvous
26. THE GRIND DATE, De La Soul
27. BLUEBERRY BOAT, The Fiery Furnaces

So, have you heard of HALF of these? I certainly haven't.
But then, I am lame.
Search and enjoy.


Blogger Spec said...

Here is my list of Cds I am thankful for. There are a few more than 27 (which is an odd and random number I must say) and some were put out a the end of 2003, but it's close enough. Enjoy!

30 Albums I am most thankful for in 2004:

1. WE SHALL ALL BE HEALED, The Mountain Goats
2. FALL BACK OPEN, Now It’s Overhead
3. CELLAR DOOR, John Vanderslice
4. CHINESE VACATION, Steve Poltz (9/2003)
5. CHUTES TOO NARROW, The Shins (11/2003)
6. ALL THAT WE LET IN, Indigo Girls
9. I’M GOOD NOW, Bob Schneider
10. TRANSATLANTICISM, Death Cab for Cutie (10/2003)
11. WANT ONE, Rufus Wainwright (9/2003)
12. AFTERGLOW, Sarah McLachlan (11/2003)
13. HOLD ON LOVE, Azure Ray (10/2003)
14. A GHOST IS BORN, Wilco
15. IMPOSSIBLE DREAM, Patty Griffin
17. FRANZ FERDINAND, Franz Ferdinand
18. LOVE IS HELL, Ryan Adams
20.LUCKY, Melissa Etheridge
22. HER MAJESTY THE DECEMBERISTS, The Decemberists (9/2003)
25. YOU CALL THAT DARK, Kate Jacobs
28. EARTH IS NOT A COLD DEAD PLACE, Explosions in the Sky (11/2003)
26. REAL GONE, Tom Waits
29. ONE PLUS ONE IS ONE, Badly Drawn Boy
30.ACHILLES HEEL, Pedro the Lion

1:39 PM  
Blogger flipper said...

I top the list of lame, because I can't even NAME 30 albums that came out in 2004, let alone rank them. In fact, I would be hard-pressed to come up with 10.

Lame. Old and lame.

1:50 PM  

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Scientists for Ludd!

Hi! I've got very little, but wanted to let you all know that I'm reading two books right now. Both of them were written by super-smart scientists with advanced degrees who eschew their vaunted ivory tower to live like humans lived many years ago.

In the first, "Better Off," an MIT-educated scientist and his wife (no educational background given to this point) go to live in a community seemingly modeled on those of the Middle Ages or a bit later--you know your neighbors, you barter, you use common machinery (grain grinders and the like). I've only entered into this book, but it subconsciously inspired me to pick up (from my own shelves). . .

"Kon Tiki" by Thor Heyerdahl. Thor wrote the book after an epic journey he and 5 other men took in the late 1940s. They launched a raft in Peru with the hopes that they would reach the Pacific Islands sometime about 3 months later. Why? To prove Thor's theory that people from South America peopled the South Pacific--a theory pooh-poohed by all of the really smart people back then (which is yet another reason to not necessarily trust the "experts" and "intellectuals.") I'm to the point in this book where they are riding into the Peruvian jungle to secure balsa logs for the raft.

I'll write more about their adventures when I finish the books, but I thought it was interesting that of all the books in the world I would spontaneously couple these, especially in light of J. Thunder's article about how our book collections reflect our true selves. I've often maintained that I was born in the wrong century. Of course, I'm happy to live with the scientific and social advancements of this time period, but I do ache to see an unsullied environment, and I do think that we have gone way overboard with technology. As I sit here writing a message on a computer that in a few seconds will be available to anyone with the same technology anywhere on the planet. I know, I know. But I don't need this blog, and I wouldn't miss this blog. I would miss my washer and dryer. I'm rambling now.


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Friday, December 10, 2004

Why do you make me cry Johnny Depp??

As a birthday treat, I was taken to the movies by Hammer (a nickname that is temporary, but not yet replaced), Jack Thunder, and Raisinette. We went and saw "Finding Neverland" starring the devilish cutie Johnny Depp. I was not really sure what to expect from the film, and had only a little bit of an idea of what it was about. Going in, I knew that it had something to do with J.M. Barrie and his classic work "Peter Pan." Beyond that, I was clueless. I was very surprised at the story that was told and, having heard/read very little about Barrie's life, the complexities which surrounded the creation of the Peter Pan story. I don't want to give anything away, especially because I want to encourage people to see the film, but I will try and give you an idea of what the film was like.
It is set in England during the early 1900s and follows Barrie as he tries to get his career back on track after a failed play that he had written. As inspiration, he takes walks in the park and tries to get his writer's juices flowing. There he meets the Llewelyn Davies family, whose matriarch (played by Kate Winslett) is a lovely widow with four young boys. I must say that those four kids were some of the best child actors I have ever seen. Usually I am annoyed by children in movies, but I thought these kids were great. Apparently all four had very little acting experience coming into "Neverland" but it didn't show. One of the kids, Freddie Highmore who plays Peter Llewelyn Davies, will appear as Charlie in the remake of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" also starring Johnny Depp.
Getting back on track: Barrie is enthralled with the family, especially the children (and not in that sick and twisted Lewis Carroll way). He is inspired by them and their lives to write the play "Peter Pan". The connections between the kid's lives and the events of the play are made clear throughout the movie, as Barrie jumps from the real world to his fantasy land of Neverland. It is a beautifully made film with moments of creative genius. And, without giving away the ending, though it did make me (and a few others) cry, I was very happy with the film. I recommend it to you all.


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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Getting to Know You

For my very first posting, I wanted to write something profound. An epic tome. Well, maybe more of a thought-provoking thesis. Or an insightful essay. Okay, even a witty quip would do. Notice the first sentence is in the past tense. I might as well be honest from the start and admit that you might occasionally find my postings lack some depth. But in an omnimedia collective that includes such deep sea divers as Jack Thunder, Lulu, Flipper, and Burb (sorry, Spec), don't you think this blog needs at least one wader?

So here is today's topic: Guilty Pleasures. Flipper and Lulu recently pointed out to me that I preface most of my statements with, "this is one of my guilty pleasures." Could it be that my life is filled with nothing but guilt and pleasure? Probably not. I'd be a lot more interesting. But it makes me wonder why I use the term at all. Is it motivated by snobbery- a desire to distance myself from the masses? Am I a selfish person- only watching what I want to watch, listening to what I want to listen to, reading what I want to read? Is it my churchly upbringing- reminding me that everything I think is fun most likely is wrong? The questions are endless and I'm venturing too far from the shallow end (and my metaphors are tiring like an English Channel swimmer...) so I'll get to the real meat of the matter: what are your guilty pleasures? And, more importantly, what are mine.

T.V. Show: "America's Next Top Model" - It's a show in which Tyra Banks encourages young women to celebrate their individuality and then judges them based on industry stereotypes and calls them "beautiful girls." Hypocritical? Yes! Fabulous? Absolutely!

Music: Neil Diamond- Don't get me wrong. I don't go to his shows and throw my unmentionables on stage, but there's something about the drama of "America" and the sassy devil-may-care attitude of "Forever in Blue Jeans" that gets me every time.

Movie: "Romancing the Stone"- Okay, I'm not even guilty about this one. When the stereotypical Columbian villagers/drug runners are closing in on Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas and he turns to her and says, "write us out of this one, Joan Wilder," and it turns out the kingpin loves her romance novels... that's comic gold. And if you factor in one of my favorite movie lines ("Ah shit, the Doobie Brothers broke up! When did that happen?) with yet another movie where Holland Taylor plays someone's tough yet loveable boss, you've got magic.

Food: I could probably eat an entire dish of green bean cassarole. Disgusted?

Books: good old fashioned bodice rippers- And I'm an ardent feminist. Is there such a thing as a romance-reading feminist? Yes- we meet at the same club as the gay, African-American republicans.

Here's where my list ends and yours begins. (You know far too much about me already.) Come on, people, share the shame! Only then can we ridicule you as much as you deserve!


Blogger David said...

Hey man . . . my life is an open book, most of the time. If you EVER read my blog, you know lots about Burb . . . and what else you need to know about Burb is for Burb to determine.

But, guilty pleasures? I am well-known for my love of "Smallville" and it ain't exactly Chekov is it? In fact MOST of the TV that I watch is shall we say, less than intellectual? Indeed, I cringe in shame and bow before the likes of Jack Thunder and Lulu who watch little TV. I always feel a bit ashamed, like I should be reading "Ulysses" or something instead.

Then I remember that, without TV I would be a sad, boring, unenergetic man that has nothing of importance to say to anyone! So I revel in the TV I watch, but hell yeah, I've got standards. I don't watch reality TV at all, preferring completely unreal, fantasy, sci-fi, mysterioso-island-related scripted drama.

Other guilty pleasures? I am ashamed at how many chocolate cookies I have been eating lately. Sometimes I can't stop.

You can hook up to my i-Tunes and cringe at the awfulness of the Ray Coniff Christmas singers . . . so there is that.

I watch sports, not obsessively, but semi-regularly. I certianly read up on it via the Internet.

Ah, the Internet, my newest and perhaps strongest guilty pleasure of all. It provides so much and asks for so little in return. Television Without Pity, Sluggy Freelance, Damn Hell Ass Kings, and all the rest. I visit each of you every day. I wallow in you inanity, your minisculeness, your utter pointlessness and I LOVE IT!!!

So, how's about you?

8:45 PM  
Blogger lulu said...

I'm not guilty about anything--I'm a hard-workin' grown up, and if I want to watch 1/2 a season of "Sex and the City" AND down an entire bottle of $60 champagne while I'm at it, I'm a gonna!

I buy fabric--expensive fabric--that I don't need.

I have a lot of "teen" movies around, though I'd like to think they are a notch higher than anything starring Freddie Prinze. Clueless, Valley Girl, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Election (not really a teen movie, but one featuring teens in unwholesome ways), Dazed and Confused--I have watched each of these many times, probably in an attempt to replace my teen year memories with something better.

Other than that, rest assured that I am a true interectual and much, much better than you in darn near every way.

9:12 AM  
Blogger flipper said...

Where to start? Like Jackthunder and Lulu, I'm not big on guilt . . . but I am often haunted by the nagging feeling that I'm shirking something. Is there a difference? One of the GOOD things about getting older, though, is I'm starting to realize more and more that I'm NEVER going to reach the point where I have completed everything. There will always be something more to do--a room to paint, a picture to hang, papers to organize, blinds to clean, closets to clean up, etc. It will never be all finished, and so there's no escaping the shirking-something feeling--EVER! The best you can hope for is balance. If, for example, I clean the bathroom when I get home from work, I then feel free to watch a little TV.

Another way to achieve balance is to try to stagger one's leisure activities between the potentially guilt-inducing ones and the "good" ones that contribute to this site's theme--GROWTH! Some examples:

Talking about TV in chat rooms
Online poker
Sleeping on couch with cat on chest

E-mailing friends
Playing fiddle

Of course, there are many, many times when I fail to achieve any balance at all, as those of you who have been following my recent online poker obsession know. Oh well. And really, who cares if those two wall hangings Jackspatula and I bought at an arts festival over four years ago are still leaning against the wall in our bedroom, unframed and unhung? Who cares that a year and a half later, our wedding pictures are sitting unorganized in a box in the office closet? Who cares that I never finished the Clinton biography that I tried so diligently to get through? Is the completion of tasks like this the key to happiness? Or is the key, rather, sitting down at the computer with a bottle of wine and $50 in your poker account and giddily playing to your heart's content (something you've been looking forward to all day)?

So, Raisenette, watch away--and if calling something your "guilty pleasure" helps you feel less guilty about it . . . who cares? :)

10:10 AM  
Blogger flipper said...

Raisinette! Raisinette! Not Raisenette! Obviously, senility has set in. Sigh.

4:53 PM  

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"

My brief impressions on tonight's episode of Lost.
If you haven't seen last night's episode . . . what are you waiting for??!!!

Act 1:
Jack's alpha-male pissing contest with Locke is really pissing me off. Hey Jack . . . why can't you let anyone else be good at anything without you getting your hands all up in it? As my man Hurley would say "Dude . . . chill."
I am disappointed that Michael chose to "play the race card" on Locke. (Sure, Locke did make the African American head south, but still.) Why won't people leave Locke alone?
Charlie's efforts to leave behind tokens and markers is a direct ripoff of Dominic Monaghan's experience in Lord of the Rings. Merry and Pippin were captured and carried away by Orcs. While being tracked by Aragorn (in the case of this show . . . Locke) Merry (I think?) drops a brooch on the ground, knowing that Aragorn will find it and pick up the trail. Intentional Tolkien shout-out? How could it not be?

Act 2:
Jack continues to be a jackass, but now we see that his dad is an every bigger jackass as well as being a crazy, manipulative bullshitter. Hey Dr. Dad . . . did you study for Jack's exams? Did you take all of his test and walk his rounds for him? Think about that when you start whining about "all that [you've] done, you drunken wanker!

Act 3:
Ethan sure is crazy and kicks real mean too. (It makes cousin Tom proud.)
Charlie's DEAD!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO! (And, as it turns out . . . no, he ain't.) Cheap, manipulative, but effective. So were all those press reports about how "we are going to be killing off more people on this show than is normal for TV." Was that all planted to make this scene believable? Hmmmmm.

Act 4:
Suddenly Jack's bedside manner is improving, but only when he wants to pump information out of poor, post-traumatic Charlie.
PLEASE don't make up wait until Christmas is over to have a new episode!!


Blogger flipper said...

I agree with you (I think?) about one thing--this episode made me dislike Jack EVEN MORE! He's such a whiny, "oh, look at me, I've got something to prove" wanker! And while I was a BIT curious about what he had done to drive his dad to drink himself to death, I didn't think we really needed, like, 18 flashbacks to explain the whole thing! Other than that, the episode was awesome! Did anyone else notice Locke getting all tired out and apparently having heart palpitations or something? (I would now like to officially rescind my earlier conclusion that it was Locke who whomped Sayid, by the way. Locke is obviously emerging as among "the good.")

Speaking of Sayid, I loved the scene with him and Sawyer, as cheesy as it was. Can anyone guess why? You got it--YUM!!!!!!! They are both mondo delish. I simply can't decide. I guess it will have to be a three-way! (I'm JUST KIDDING, Jackspatula and Mom. Calm down. Sheesh.)

I am absolutely dying to know what Ethan's secret power is and what's happened to Claire. I refuse to believe they're going to make us wait a month. Let's all concentrate really hard, and perhaps we can WILL a new episode into existence!

3:15 PM  

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Monday, December 06, 2004

National Treasure. Is it?

Raisinette, Dr. Actually and Mrs. Actually joined me a few weeks ago for a trip to the theater. We went and saw the #1 box office smash "National Treasure" (which has now pulled in over $110 million). Word on the street was that the movie was ho-hum at best, filled with little edge of your seat action or suspense. Many of my fellow co-workers looked down upon the film (snubbed it even) but I resisted their negative talk and happily paid my $6.50. And I have to say that I was not disappointed. I do not feel like it was a waste of money or time. In fact, I was very happy to see the movie. Even its campy or silly moments were not all that bad. As a whole it was entertaining, which is really all I ask of such a film. Surely it had no Oscar-caliber acting or directing, but it was a good story told at a fast pace with a good cast. For anyone who is a lover of antiquities and history, this movie is especially appealing. The use of history and historical documents (including the Declaration of Independence) was part of what I liked about the film. Call me nerdy, but that was my favorite part. I am a fan of Nicholas Cage and would not think negatively of him at all because of this film. It was a simple, fun, and entertaining jaunt that offered up exactly what it promised: a good time.



Blogger David said...

You wrote:
"For anyone who is a lover of antiquities and history, this movie is especially appealing."

I read:
"For anyone who is a lover of antiquities and history, this movie is especially APPALLING."

Then I realized my misteke.

Does this indicate my position on the film. Not really. I "might" see it on DVD someday, but I could easily take a miss altogether.

What bothers me most? During promotional commercials run in continuous loop on Disney Channel (corporate synergy I am sure), Mr. Cage tells the cutely Mouseketeerish 14-yr-old "interviewer" that he does believe such treasure and hidden trickery could exist.

Really Mr. Cage? Are you so dense or simply kissing up to stupid reviewer in mindless press junket? Come on . . . impressionistic children and their incensed parents are watching you and mentally revoking your well-deserved Oscar.

11:18 AM  

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You'll be drunk...with laughter! A review of Sideways

I saw Sideways last night and really, really liked it. This is not a shock, as I loved Election and enjoyed Citizen Ruth (but felt About Schmidt was way overrated), and they are from the same director. Who's name I can't remember. See? I'm bad at this, but I'm making an effort!

In case you don't know the story, it's basically about two 40-ish guys who take a trip to Napa Valley for a week before one of the guys, a D-list actor who sees every woman as a potential sex partner (in a very gregarious way), gets married. The groom perfectly embodies the California dude--as much as "The Dude" did in Big Lebowski. Great character! It's a classic road trip movie, but there are so many recognizable moments that it never loses its sense of reality the way Easy Rider and Thelma and Louise and others of that ilk do.

Our hero, played by Paul Giamatti--my hero in American Splendor--is a total wine snob who can't get his novel published. He spends his days teaching high school English and wallowing in divorce depression.

Both men meet up with great women in Napa and "hilarity ensues!" One of my favorite scenes took place in a trendy vineyard with embroidered hats, classy t-shirts, and cruddy wine--the kind of place that would really chafe Jack Thunder's butt, and the kind of place where our hero does something both funny and sad, but I'm no spoiler!

It was very real, it was very funny, it made me want to drink wine, it was the kind of movie that I will buy on DVD and watch many, many times, and it puts Paul Giamatti way up on the list of really great actors.

Highly recommended. I would see it again. And, oddly enough, flip and jackspatula were there!

Crappy review of great movie over.


Blogger lulu said...

Which two? The chase through the field? The Dance of the Fatty Bum Husband?

10:37 AM  

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Tee chimes in again on "Lost"

Here is another person's view on Lost.

Check it out by clicking on the post title above.

(You're welcome.)


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