Saturday, May 12, 2007

100 Years of Katharine Hepburn

Perhaps the greatest actress who ever lived, born 100 years ago today.

The Bible Summarized by a Smartass, Part Thirty: Romans

Now we get to the epistles, which will carry us through the next 21 chapters, right up to the Revelation. This is merely the first of Paul's many letters that praise Jesus, vilify the Jews, set up Church policy, and basically proclaim how queer he is for this God fella.

Chapter One
Dear Rome,
First of all, I’m thrilled to be here. I’ve been everywhere, man, from Greece to the barbarian hills, man, but I’m totally xazzed to be in the heart of civilization, Rome, to proclaim the truth of God. And God, man. Wow. God. You know? God offers salvation to anyone who has faith. There’s no real work to it, you just gots to believe. No sacrifice and all of that Jewish law crap—just a half-hearted promise to believe something completely unprovable. You know who didn’t believe? Pagans. God was always there, but they were too damn dumb to know it, because anyone who doesn’t believe in God is obviously an idiot. I mean, an invisible peeping tom who lives on a cloud makes WAY more sense than some kind of bird-man superhero! And he’s much, much better than something you can actually SEE, like the sun or a tree or something. And because they didn’t love God, God just abandoned them, because that’s the way God rolls. He’s got his pride. He didn’t want to be around people who didn’t just blindly follow everything he said. These people became whores and worse, homos.

Chapter Two
Despite all of the judging I just did (and will do, you know, stick around), you should never judge, or else God will judge you. God’s impartial, and he proves that by punishing and fucking over bad people. Follow the law, dude. Be good. Jesus knows your innermost thoughts, and he is getting off on them. Oh, and circumcision is spiritual, not literal, so stop cutting your kids in their peckers. We’re relaxing all of God’s prerequisites in favor of volume, just like the US Army.

Chapter Three
Everyone’s a sinner, but don’t worry, faith make it all better! And God doesn’t just belong to the Jews anymore. He’s all of ours. But especially mine. I mean everyone’s.

Chapter Four
Blind, unquestioning faith is better than independent thought. MUCH BETTER!

Chapter Five
Faith justifies our actions because Christ died for us. Let the guilt of that never stop shaming you into piety. And if not the guilt of that, then the guilt Mel Gibson drove into you with his Jesus snuff film. More sins drive you further away from God.

Chapter Six
Christ’s death was a baptism. You can never sin again; everything you do will be forgiven, because Jesus died on the cross. Makes sense, right? But be a good boy. Come on, repression is awesome and not psychologically damaging at all! Cheer up, you’ve been “enslaved to God” [actual quote], so you’re sanctified, brutha!

Chapter Seven
Widows are allowed to remarry, but divorce is the same as adultery. The law defines good and evil, and I should know, because I was an evil muh-fugga. But I was shamed into obedience by Christ’s sacrifice, and now: sins erased! Puh-RAISE Jesus!

Chapter Eight
Seriously, just believe in Jesus so you won’t be damned, alright? And always feel that Jesus guilt inside of you. Love God, what else matters, am I right? Anyone? Can I get a whoop-whoop?

Chapter Nine
I’m not bullshitting you here, Rome. Did you know that God doesn’t love all of the Jews? Just the Israelites. It’s true. Remember, he hates the descendents of Esau, and I know that’s not made up because I read it in a really old book, which is certainly evidence and not total fiction. I ain’t making this up. I’m only interpreting God’s words. I’m like one of those annoying people who think God’s word actually exists in a pure form and that mankind has perverted them, even though there’s no possible way of showing that could be remotely true, since God’s word was a Biblical invention and we think the Bible is what twisted the words in the first place! Oh, there’s no end to Christian self-delusion, especially when we get hard over the many ways our deep-seated truths and the things we consider facts can’t be proven in any way! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! But seriously, here, what a bunch of failures those Jews are. They couldn’t even hold on to their own city, the one that God picked out for them. Law? Psh. Centuries of law hasn’t brought them salvation, or helped them conjure up the stolen data tapes. Or given them clairvoyance enough to… Um… Where am I? Right, Rome. Yeah, we Gentiles have achieved salvation through crippling guilt and unquestioning obedience. I mean faith! Yes, we’re better because we have faith in things that could be real but really aren’t. I mean, have you actually read this book?

Chapter Ten
Don’t get me wrong, I’d really love for the Jews to be saved. RALLY, I would, RALLY. I truly hope they come around and realize that they are stupid because they don’t believe in Jesus. They’re so wrong, believing that God gives a shit about the law and not faith. Even God says the Jews are assholes for not believing in Jesus. He told me. No fib.

Chapter Eleven
Oh, I mean, the Jews can still be saved, of course. Hell, I’m an Israelite by birth. If only they saw the light, the way I did, and realized that Jesus was the Messiah. Israel will be saved if they just suddenly give up centuries of dearly-held tradition and convert to Jesus. What’s the BFD?

Chapter Twelve
Let your love flow. Don’t be hatin’. Be sanctimoniously better than anyone else; seriously, be so smug about it that they’ll want to hit you, and when they do, don’t fight back, because it’ll show you're better than them. And it really pisses them off more! We must shame the infidels into being up to our standards, just as we were shamed into these standards by Christ taking a crucifix for the team.

Chapter Thirteen
Trust the government. It’s been chosen by God. Promise. Follow the government with the same blind, unquestioning zeal you’d follow God with. Pay your taxes. On time. Get some exercise. Eat your wheatcakes. Love your neighbor as yourself—fuck, that’s more important than living by the Ten Commandments. Don’t drink, fuck, or enjoy your life in any way.

Chapter Fourteen
Don’t judge others, even if they are dirty, filthy Jews. Only God can judge. Faith ‘n’ stuff, man.

Chapter Fifteen
We should be tolerant of the idiots who aren’t worshiping Christ yet. Jesus himself said: “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” Damn it, God is fucking awesome, and we’ve got to tell everyone until they’re fucking bored with us!

Chapter Sixteen
Anyway, here’s an attached list of people I want favors for. Kindly install them in church offices. Jesus Rocks!
Love, Paul

Next week, Paul sends a similar letter to the people of Corinth.

Me from A to Z

Another meme going around.

[A] - AVAILABLE: For only a nominal charge, unless I really like you.

[B] - BIRTHDAY: 17 July 1976

[C] - CONFUSED: About where my breakfast is. Where's my breakfast?

[D] - DRINK YOU LAST HAD: Pepsi. I know, I'm on a diet, but fuck it, I drank some Pepsi.

[E] - EASIEST PERSON TO TALK TO: Myself.

[F] - FAVORITE MUSIC GROUP/BAND: I could never name just one. Madness, Blondie, the Runaways, AC/DC, the Beach Boys, Roxy Music, the Sweet, T. Rex, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Oingo Boingo, Queen, Talking Heads, the Bangles, the Clash, the Jam, the Police, the Cure, Joy Division, New Order, the Kinks, Genesis, the Smiths, the Darkness, the Byrds, the Who, the Band, the Zombies, the Mothers of Invention, Electric Light Orchestra, the Donnas, Slade... that's just right off the top of my head, man.

[G] - GUMMY BEARS OR GUMMY WORMS: Bears. They taste better (almost alcoholic), plus it's funny when they fuse together and look like they're fucking.

[H] - HOMETOWN: Chicago. Born in Des Moines, but it's Chicago.

[I] - INSTRUMENT(s): Not of the musical kind. Yet. I want to learn the guitar and the piano.

[J] - JUICE: Meat. What?

[K] - KILLED SOMEONE: Not in weeks.

[L] - LONGEST CAR RIDE: I took a bus from the Chicago suburbs to Atlanta. Do bus rides count?

[M] - MILKSHAKE FLAVOR: I love strawberry. Yes, almost sexually.

[N] - NUMBER OF PETS: One.

[O] - ONE WISH: Getting paid for writing! Come on, I would be a badass columnist.

[P] - PERSON WHO KISSED YOU LAST: Fate. Right on the cheek.

[Q] - QUICK RESPONSE: Bangerang!

[R] - REASONS TO SMILE: You came up and saw me.

[S] - SINGLE: Wouldn't you like to know.

[T] - TIME YOU WOKE UP: Today, around 5 AM.

[U] - UNDERWEAR: Yes, send me pictures.

[V] - VIOLENT: Why, what did you do? Just be honest...

[W] - WORST HABIT: I think loving myself... too much.

[X] - X-RAYS YOU'VE HAD: My ankle when I snapped it in high school, my chest when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and of course all of those teeth X-rays at the dentist.

[Y] - YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL: The African elephant.

[Z] - ZODIAC SIGN: Cancer. I'm self-obsessed and easily hurt!

The History of the Middle East

Part 21 in a series.

The Suez Canal Crisis

Britain had long been in control of the Suez Canal, but the Arab-Israeli War changed the state of world politics. The British troops in Palestine had been withdrawn in 1948. Egypt supported the Arab troops at war in Jerusalem, and quickly closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping and blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba. Britain protested, and used the closure of the Canal to recognize Israeli sovereignty. Furthermore, the British used this action in the UN to force the Middle East to recognize the state of Israel. Egypt responded by nullifying the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, forcing the British to surrender control of the Canal and withdraw from the Canal Zone by 1954. Egyptian army officers overthrew the pro-British King Farouk in 1952. Finally, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, although 44% of the Canal was owned by British banks. The US and UK withdrew their support from Egypt when they bought tanks from Czechoslovakia and recognized the People’s Republic of China.

The closure and nationalization of the Suez Canal allowed Egypt to work with other Arab nations to isolate Israel economically from the rest of the world. Israel’s neighbors essentially closed their borders, cutting off Israel from foreign transportation and communication. Arab nations closed their ports to Israeli shipping, as well as to ships that were doing business with Israel. They closed their air space to Israel. People with Israeli visas in their passports were not allowed to enter Arab nations. Private companies were dissuaded from doing business with Israel. Other governments were pressured to join the embargo. Israel was pushed to the brink of economic collapse.

President Gamal Abdel Nasser began to import arms from the Soviet bloc, announcing that Egypt would soon cleanse the land of Israel. The military buildup was unheard of in the Middle East. He also began to support Muslim rebels in French Algeria, earning the ire of the French. The British and French began meeting with Israel in secret, trying to do what they could to stop a possible outbreak of war. Britain didn’t want to lose its Middle Eastern influence or its influence over the Canal; France was worried about Nasser’s influence over its North African colonies. Both worried the supply of oil headed through the Canal might cease. Israel wanted to use the alliance with the West to weaken Egypt, expand its southern border, and reopen shipping. All three assumed that Nasser’s new communist ties would be enough to win the support of America. Tensions were raised when Egypt began funding terrorists to strike at Israeli civilian targets.

In 1956 Israel and Jordan accepted a cease-fire negotiated by the United Nations; Lebanon and Syria also agreed to a cease-fire. The Soviet Union made sure that America and Britain knew that sending troops would violate the UN charter. Egypt allied itself with Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Israel, despite protestations to the contrary by Ben Gurion, made secret plans to invade the Sinai Peninsula. Israel even leaked false information that it planned to invade Jordan. Jordan made an alliance with Egypt and Syria, and they weren’t ready when Israeli forces instead invaded the Sinai Peninsula and achieved a dramatic victory with heavy air support from Britain and France. The Israeli Border Police then militarized the Jordan-Israel Border, resulting in a massacre. Britain and France initiated a bombing campaign against Egypt; Nasser sank 40 ships in the Canal, blocking it off. Still, the French, British, and Israeli forces were successful in capturing the Peninsula.

It was, however, a political disaster.

The United States was dealing the Soviet-Hungary Crisis and was publicly denouncing the Soviet military intervention. Meanwhile, its two major European allies had attacked Egypt. To make matters worse, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was threatening to intervene on Egypt’s behalf, even threatening nuclear attacks on London and Paris. President Eisenhower demanded a cease-fire; the UN Security Council accepted resolutions for a cease-fire, but Security Council member nations Britain and France vetoed it. The UN General Assembly also called for a cease-fire. America used financial pressure to force Britain to accept it, threatening to sell its reserves of the British pound, which would’ve collapsed the British economy. They also refused to sell more oil to Britain and France, who were the victims of a Saudi oil embargo. Even Canada and Australia rebuked Britain for their actions. Prime Minister Eden was forced to resign and, without warning France or Israel, agreed to the cease-fire.

Britain and France refused to withdraw troops until they were replaced by UN troops. With Nasser’s consent, a neutral force of troops drawn from other nations (none of them from America, France, Britain, or the Soviet Bloc) was sent in to stabilize conditions in Sinai. These were the first of the United Nation’s Peacekeepers. Israel initially refused to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, but by early 1957 agreed to defer to UN administration of Gaza in exchange for navigation through the Gulf of Aqaba.

Modern history changed; the Suez Canal Crisis solidified the role of the United States and the Soviet Union as the world’s new superpowers. President Eisenhower, seeing that the Soviets would take that role, proposed the Eisenhower Doctrine in the Middle East, basically asserting that the United States had an obligation to protect the region from communist aggression. NATO was exposed as a weak alliance; France decided that it would not be able to rely on its allies anymore, and withdrew from NATO command in 1966. It also shared nuclear technology with Israel. Britain and France were weakened as global powers, and their remaining colonies used that weakness to gain independence. Both nations were greatly embarrassed by the Suez Canal Crisis.

For his part, President Eisenhower felt the Crisis was his biggest diplomatic failure. He had weakened his two biggest allies and, in Nasser, created a man with the clout and resource to dominate the Middle East.

To be continued.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Throwdown 5/11

15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. Well, last week everyone seemed to hate my idea of getting rid of the Throwdown, so it will continue to play to your every feeling of Schadenfreude. But one change. It’s Lindsay Lohan Week at the Film Experience, and Nathaniel’s post from yesterday was interesting to me. He blogged about how his love of Lindsay Lohan comes from a genuine place of film geekery—he loves The Parent Trap and Mean Girls. I love those movies too, and I love Freaky Friday. I loved Lindsay Lohan, and seeing (and participating in) the cacophony of blogs chronicling her every step towards total self-destruction is just painful. So, I’m not going to talk about her anymore. She’s the first personality completely banned from Electronic Cerebrectomy. No more of her, I’m done. And I’m still saying she’ll be dead by 23.

2. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. And since Lost has me all fannish again for a little while, did anyone else notice that Jacob was actually visible for just a second in last night’s episode?

4. And another thing: is it a coincidence—on a show not known to have any—that Locke and Ben both have mothers named Emily? God damn you, Lost, you pulled me in again!

5. Pamela Anderson: I’d like to thank you for saying that Scarlett Johansson should pose nude in Playboy. I’ve been telling Scar the same thing for the last couple of weeks, and she was starting to get really irritated, but someone came out and backed me up on it! I wish it hadn’t been an animal rights terrorist who is borderline batshit crazy, but now that I’m sleeping well again, whatever works.

6. Look, Jessica, I broke up with you already. Quit parading your body around and trying to get me back, because it just isn’t going to work. And even though she would never say it, and even though she feels really bad for you, Scarlett wants you to stop calling so much. It isn’t working. I’m sorry.

7. About the funniest thing I heard this week was George Lucas saying that Spider-Man 3 was “a silly movie” with “not much story.” Do I even need a pot and kettle reference there? Lucas, the man so not silly that he once had himself turned into a Star Wars action figure (and an X-Wing pilot at that), then took the opportunity to say that he was going to create two hour-long live-action Star Wars TV specials. I don't know what they'll be, but my money is on The Gungan Adventure: Caravan of Courage and Star Wars Holiday Special 2007: Even More Scenes with Nothing But Wookies Growling at Each Other (Again) and Some Sort of Terrorism Reference.

8. YES! Disney finally announced a release date for The Muppet Show: The Complete Second Season. The set is going to include The Muppets Valentine Special that people were hoping would be on the first set, and the Weezer video “Keep Fishin’” from a few years ago. The second season features some classic episodes, my favorites being the episodes with Zero Mostel, Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Bernadette Peters, Julie Andrews, Peter Sellers, Bob Hope, and John Cleese. I can’t wait, but I have to, until 7 August.

9. I see that David Yates, director of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, has been signed on to direct the next movie, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Good, that’s a good sign for the new one being good. And that makes me happy. Even if Naomi Watts is supposedly up for a part in the sixth movie (ugh).

10. Dear God, why does Robert Rodriguez have to be the one to direct the live-action Jetsons movie that I’ve been hearing rumors about since the freaking eighties? Robert, you know you’re one of my favorites, but will you just make the fucking Red Rocket 7 movie already?

11. People on the internet say that this picture makes Brooke Hogan look like a dude, cock and all. SamuraiFrog says…it that a problema? Because, you know, that doesn’t sound so bad over here…

12. Michael Moore has a lot of critics (I’m not one of them). His latest documentary, Sicko, is under investigation by the US Treasury Department. You know, my question for Moore’s critics is this: don’t you think that the constant barrage of government trouble he has means he’s right sometimes?

13. Oh, you’re going to jail, Parasite. Begging Arnold Schwarzenegger for help ain’t gonna work, no matter how much you try to fall back on your family’s campaign contributions. No matter how much your joke of a mother whines or claims that Judge Sauer (who earned a well-deserved round of applause from members of his church last week) just wants to be famous. No matter how much you claim that the cops just wanted to hit on you. Jesus, your license is suspended, and you continue to drive? How pathetic are you? Did you know that your precious petition to keep yourself out of jail and to give you even more special treatment for the nothing you contribute to society has only 20,000 or so signatures on it, and the petition to put you away has over 45,000? Yeah, do you still think America loves you? Bye bye. Don’t be in a hurry to get back. I sincerely hope you don’t drop the soap, dear. No, I really mean it.

14. What was that crap Bush pulled during the farewell dinner for Queen Elizabeth? Talking about the bicentennial in 17—er, I mean, 1976. What an asshole. And did you see the way he smiled at her afterward? It was like he’d said it on purpose, and what would have been the point of that? I’m so fucking sick of Republicans trying to paint Europe as some kind of enemy, pissing off all of our allies because we think we don’t need them. What a bunch of utter rubbish. What does he have to feel so slick about? You want to rub it in Britain’s face that, over 200 years ago, we broke away from them only with the help of French troops and French training that forced the British to surrender to the French? Asshole. Americans really need to get over it and stop acting like the Revolution was six months ago and we all did something.

15. And just a quick aside…is anyone else incredibly nervous about Chirac and Blair leaving their offices? I mean, France elected a pro-American conservative, and England might elect another PM who’ll do what President Bush tells him to. Is anyone else just a little scared that we might be seeing things suddenly turn for the worse?

Father Link

ModFab continues with American Idolatry and this week's Au Revoir. One more week to the top 2.
Deus Ex Malcontent loves Phoebe Cates.
The Film Experience ponders the box office as it is, and how it could be.
Sherry says she wants to take Antonio Banderas; it might be easy for her because her competition is looking surprisingly bad these days. (from I Don't Like You in That Way)
Bonnie has some ideas for the Jon Bon Jovi doll.
Kamikaze Camel has some interesting thoughts about torture porn.
The Last Visible Blog hates David Tennant. Well, some of the things he does.
Ars Technica has some depressing news about used CDs.
Living Between Wednesdays rates a fifth super hunk: the Blue Beetle.
Ken Levine thinks TNT might have a problem.
Dr. Zaius reveals that Dana Rohrbacher thinks torture is neato.
Music Is My Eiderdown has a very cool review of a book about a very cool band.
The Last Visible Blog has some thoughts on the continued ineptitude of DC Comics and the continued deterioration of Dave Sim.
Slashfilm has two posts of character images from Ratatouille.
The BBC and Spinner both have their choices for the worst lyrics of all time.
Top 15 Han Solo Quotes You Need to Use in Regular Conversation (from Double Viking; I use at least three of these regularly)
Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches has a neat post on the Everly Brothers.
This is what makes your cursor arrow work. I thought it was funny.
Becca is revealed in a photo shoot.
Dr. Zaius has Reagan in funny and wistful ways.
Welcome to Hell: A Real World Guide for Graduates (Cracked, sadly so true...)

When Dick Cheney Visits Iraq...

...do you wonder if he's checking the progress of construction on the Death Star?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

This is for my Bonnie.

Experimental filmmaker Todd Haynes's first films was the now-infamous 43-minute cult treasure Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987). It tells the story of the troubled singer using Barbie dolls. Richard Carpenter actively hates this movie and thanks to a cease and desist order in 1989, this film cannot be commercially shown. See it while you still can.

Mitt Romney Is a Moron

“In France, for instance, I’m told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past.” – Mitt Romney, speaking at Regent University

Mitt Romney is a complete and staggering moron. Just totally deluded and out of touch with reality. Even for a Mormon. And for a guy who is actually sucking up for the scientology vote by claiming Battlefield Earth is his favorite novel.

It’s come out that Mitt Romney’s campaign plan is to find a series of “bogeymen” to attack, including Hilary Clinton, jihadists, and France. Now, I know this is hardly a new campaign plan, but what kind of an idiot do you have to be to actually let your documents leak out to the press? Do Republicans even like this guy?

Yeah, a 77-slide PowerPoint presentation was leaked to the press, outlining his campaign strategy, which included branding himself, framing his competitors, and trying to reassure voters about his Mormonism and the fact that he used to be pro-choice and now isn’t. Because we’ve all seen how much America loves a man who changes his mind.

Plans included trying to weaken McCain and Ghoul-iani, who will probably do that well enough with their own words. Other bogeymen include the Washington establishment, “European-style socialism,” Hollywood values, liberals and, bizarrely, Massachusetts, the state he’s lived in for about four decades now. Wow, that’s the candidate for me, a guy who wants to win so badly that he’ll turn on everyone and everything.

His advisors suggested that he should position himself as “the anti-Kerry.” Which is funny, because what America got so pissed off about was that Kerry changed his mind; and that was only on one issue. Romney’s already gone off the deep end on flip-flopping, deciding that he’s now anti-choice and anti-gay marriage, because that’s what will get him elected. Or, you know, as close to elected as he’s ever going to get.

By the way, apparently Romney’s plan includes attacking Ghoul-iani on the one decent thing he’s got going for him: he’s pro-gay civil unions and pro-choice. The presentation actually says that if Giuliani becomes the candidate, “we can’t disqualify Dems like Hillary on social issues ever again.” By the way, last week Romney called McCain and Giuliani “national heroes.”

Hey, didn’t Romney do his missionary work in his now-hated France? His plan attacks the European Union for “dragging America down to Europe’s standards,” and says that “That’s where Hillary and Dems would take us. Hillary = France.” Does he really think that bashing the European Union is going to come in handy when he’s president and needs their help?

By the way, Romney’s game plan to reach the White House—and he really does think he has a shot—ultimately comes down to making himself a better candidate than either the Soldier or the Ghoul, as well as making himself seem more credible than President Duh. And how can he set himself apart?

According to the campaign plan: intelligence.

Here’s something intelligent: criticize young people and single people for poisoning America! During that Regent University speech, he criticized single people for enjoying their lives and not getting married. And, of course, he blamed that on Europe, too. And then he blamed Virginia Tech on those old non-starters, pornography and violence.

Do you need further proof that this guy doesn’t need to be taken seriously? How about Pat Robertson calling him an “outstanding American”? Because, you know, if anyone can recognize a good human being, it’s certainly the man who blamed 9/11 on God’s hatred of gay people.

And how does this affect Robertson’s long-professed belief that the Mormons are a cult?

Well, as far as I can tell, that’s one less guy we have to take seriously in the 2008 election.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Happy Birthday, Rosario

Sorry things didn't work out between us, but we can still be friends, right? I didn't expect ScarJo to get so insanely jealous about who I spend my time with, you know? Anyway, have a nice birthday. I've got to go before Scarlett sees us together...

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

LITTLE CHILDREN (2006)
This is the movie everyone thought was so great? Wow. I really hate these movies about suburban angst. They never have anything new to say, yet they always act like even the mere fact that some people are unhappy in the suburbs is some kind of brand new revelation. It was tired long before American Beauty got to it. I don't know where to start with this one. I will say this: I loved Kate Winslet in it, and I really like Patrick Wilson, it's just that, with the exception of Angels in America, I hate every movie of his I've seen. I think he's such a good actor, and I hate seeing him in things that are beneath him. The same goes triple for Winslet; every time I'm looking forward to whatever she does next, it's a Life of David Gale or Little Children where pretentious moral posturing leads absolutely nowhere. Everything else about this movie--the screenplay, the one-dimensional characters, the oh-so-precious and completely unneccesary narration, the genteel art direction--I absolutely hated. And when it ends, all I could do is just wonder what the fucking point of the whole thing was. Todd Field directed this movie, and all I could think was Well, at least this is better than "In the Bedroom"...and then the last 20 minutes happened. Wow, what a shitty movie. Thinking that it's making points about connection, and beating you over the head with them, but really saying nothing. What was with that whole scene of Jackie Earle Haley at the pool? The was as overplayed as anything in a Douglas Sirk movie. I cannot believe the amount of critical acclaim that he's garnered for playing the most over-the-top child molester I've seen in a movie that wasn't made for Lifetime. He should've been running around in a cape and shirt with a giant letter M on the front, twiddling a ridiculous moustache and sneering into the camera. "No stereotypical suburban ritual is safe from...The Molestor!!!!" Seriously, he played that role with the kind of delivery style you usually don't see outside of people playing the Riddler. Terrible, terrible movie. * star.

IMAGINE ME & YOU (2005)
Once you look past the fact that it's about lesbians, it's basically your typical British wannabe Richard Curtis romcom. I don't know if that's the whole point or what. Piper Perabo (looking the prettiest I've ever seen her) falls for Lena Heady at her own wedding to Matthew Goode. And cue romantic comedy. Quirky parents? Check. Quirky support cast? Check. Romantic montage set to Britpop music? Check. Last ditch break for the airport with the quirky cast in the car, leading to a reunion set to whatever oldie the title is taken from? Check and check. No surprises, but an appealing cast, and it's a nice enough movie. *** stars. One thing I kept thinking about: why is it that a movie where a woman leaves her husband for a woman is a triumph, but if the roles were reversed, it would be some kind of tragedy? Nothing against the movie, but most gay romances between men tend to play out like Jeffrey, where things are tragic and people are oppressed. Most movies about romances between women tend to err on the side of triumph, where we're glad that two pretty girls end up together. There should be more movies about gay men where people just accept that they're gay and are happy even if a guy leaves his wife for another man, because he needs to follow his heart. More boy-boy romcoms! And if they star Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, that's something I would go see. Someone get those two together again for a remake of Bringing Up Baby.

SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007)
Personally, I just don't get the negative reviews. I didn't find the movie overstuffed; far from it, in fact. I loved it as much as I loved the other two movies. The criticism that there are too many coincidences just seems like a profound misunderstanding of the comic book genre to me, and the criticism that taking away Peter's guilt over his uncle's murder makes Ben's death meaningless seems like immature thinking. Another criticism I hear is that this movie has too many villains in it, but I disagree. I see why they've done what they've done; I mean, Venom was always going to have to be a third-act device, because you need the middle act to be about Peter's self-doubt and the elevation of his aggression with the alien costume, and who's the villain going to be for the first two-thirds of the movie? I didn't have a problem with any of it. I remember Roger Ebert, in his negative review for the first Spider-Man, summing up his problems with the movie by saying "Imagine a Batman movie where Bruce Wayne is more interesting than Batman and you see the problem." But actually, that's the whole point of Spider-Man. It's always been about Peter's attempt to lead a normal life and deal with the responsibility of his powers; that's what every Marvel Comic is about. There should be more Peter Parker than Spider-Man in these movies. Anyway, after the movie, I was thinking about what the Spider-Man movies do so well that makes them work.

1. The filmmakers are always taking away any change Peter Parker has for being smug. Something bad happens whenever he gets too full of himself, and I like that. It's the opposite of what you usually get in action movies; Peter never gets the change to congratulate himself for being such a hotshot.

2. They're just so unashamed to be comic book movies. They were their emotions on their sleeve and revel in this sort of old-fashioned sensibility. In Spider-Man 2, when Spidey saves some kids from being run over by a bus and tells them they shouldn't play in the street, it seems a world away from most comic book movies that don't have the time to deal with such little things. But it's just exactly right. I love that about these movies. And it's done in such an unironic, straight manner, too. It's not a joke to be a little outdated.

3. The villains in these movies are never just evil. Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Sandman are all people caught up in something because of bad decisions or terrible accidents or shitty circumstances. I like that they're more rounded. Honestly, I could've done with more Sandman in the third movie, which is the only time you'll ever here me saying there should be more of Lowell in something.

4. Rosemary Harris. She's my favorite part of all three movies. The whole supporting cast is great, and the scripts for these movies don't forget about them, but also don't try to shove them into more of the movie than they need to be in (think Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 3).

5. No fear of fanboys. Too many movies based on comics (the X-Men series leaps to mind) are constantly looking over their shoulder, hoping that the fans don't get pissed off about their ever-pedantic complaint of faithfulness to the source material. That's not a legitimate criticism. A movie doesn't have to be more like something in another medium, it just has to be good on its own. Movies aren't supposed to have a manual. In this movie, they make changes to Spider-Man's origin story. They've given all of the villains different motivations so they can be sympathetic characters. I don't care that it's not the way it was in the comics; they're good movies. Great movies.

I just love these movies, and I didn't think this one did anything insanely wrong. Yes, the jazz club scene is a bit of a clunker, and Peter with the Hitler/emo hair when he was "bad" was pretty silly, but the other movies were just as sublimely dorky as this one is. And I loved Bryce Dallas Howard, looking her cutest ever; putting her next to Kirsten Dunst was a little dangerous, because Kiki didn't look anywhere near as good as Bryce--though I was pleased to see Kiki still looks like a woman now, like she did in Marie Antoinette. Topher Grace was underused, but he was kind of shallowly written (and, frankly, shallowly acted--this was the first time I ever saw Topher Grace in a movie and really felt he was falling back on a lot of what he did on That 70s Show). Tobey Maguire...well, he's Tobey Maguire, and I've never liked him outside of a Spider-Man movie anyway. And there are two wonderful cameos, one by Bruce Campbell, and one great little moment with Stan Lee. I'm calling it **** stars; I laughed, I cried, and when it was over I'd had a great time. I could see a fourth one. Although maybe Sam Raimi should make another movie first, and then get back into the groove, because a formula could easily start to set in here. There are signs of it already.

THE GARDEN OF EDEN (1928)
Frankly boring Lewis Milestone film about a poor girl who falls in love with a wealthy playboy. Corrine Griffith was absolutely wonderful, the film would've been much poorer without her, but her love interest, Lowell Sherman, is just a sleaze. I didn't care if she ever saw him again, frankly. ** stars.

LAYER CAKE (2004)
I think the British do crime movies better than anyone else, and this is a good example. Daniel Craig plays a man who wants to retire from the drug trade, only to get caught up in a whole scheme of double-crossing and betrayal. Excellent cast (yay, Colm Meany! Kenneth Cranham! Michael Gambon!), excellent technique, brilliant ending, and I actually thought Sienna Miller was sexy in this movie. I did in Alfie too, and those are the only two I've seen her in. Fuck, why does she look so unpleasant in real life? Anyway, gorgeous movie. **** stars, easily on a par with The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

Spider-Man 3: Deleted Scene

Or, a Scene I'd Love to Insert Into the Movie After Finding These Suggestive Pictures, by SamuraiFrog

INT. FRENCH RESTAURANT. NIGHT
PETER PARKER is sitting down to an awkward dinner with MARY JANE WATSON. Just as she's about to tell him the truth about her being kicked off broadway, GWEN STACEY walks over and puts her hand on Peter's shoulder.

GWEN: Oh, Peter, I just wanted to say thank you, and... Oh, who's this?

PETER: This is my girlfriend, Mary Jane.

GWEN and MARY JANE suddenly stare at one another, transfixed. They look deeply into one another's lives.

Samantha Ronson's "Built This Way" comes up over the soundtrack.







GWEN: Hi.
MARY JANE: Hi...
GWEN: Gosh, Peter's talked about you so much, I feel like I know you.
MARY JANE: He's never said anything about you...
GWEN: Well, Peter never told me you were so... beautiful...
MARY JANE (blushing): Oh, thank you. You're quite lovely yourself...
GWEN: Hey, listen, do you want to get out of here? I know this little jazz club...
MARY JANE: That sounds nice...


GWEN: Let's go, gorgeous.
MARY JANE: I like how assertive you are! Good night, Porter!

PETER: It's Peter!

MARY JANE: Whatev!

The GIRLS run away, holding hands.

PETER: Great. Nothing to do now but become emo, ape Hitler's hairstlye, and learn to play jazz piano so I can get MJ back... Somehow...

Scene.

The History of the Middle East

Part 20 in a series.

World War II

The questions of Jewish immigration and Palestinian autonomy were suspended in 1939 by the advent of World War II. Britain needed oil to fight the war and, worried about the Muslim nations joining with Hitler, turned against Jewish immigration. The Jews could do nothing about it. Palestine stayed quiet during the war. So, too, did Afghanistan (once again far enough away to go unnoticed) and Saudi Arabia, who spent the war planning how best to use its oil reserves to gain a place in world politics.

Iraq, Iran, and Syria found themselves thrust into the conflict. The French troops in Syria remained loyal to the Nazi-backed Vichy government and were augmented by German advisors. This was a threat to the Suez Canal, so British and Free French troops invaded Syria in 1941. The Free French promised Syria independence after the war; with Syrian help, the Free French forced the Vichy troops to surrender in just over a month.

Iraq, now ruled nominally by the four year old King Faisal II, was anti-British and anti-Jewish, and began to negotiate with the Axis powers, hoping to gain independence from Great Britain. Iran, impressed by Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, also began to negotiate with Germany, hoping to regain territory in the Caucasus and around the Caspian Sea. Great Britain once again found their communications threatened (as well as a relief supply line for the USSR).

In 1941 Iraqis attacked a British garrison in Basra. Britain discovered that the Germans were setting up an airbase in Mosul and quickly bombed it. British forces then took less than a month to quiet Iraq and force them into an alliance. Then, turning to Iran, British and Soviet forces invaded and forced Reza to abdicate in favor of his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Eventually, the Allies left Iran and, in 1943, Iran was forced to declare war on Germany.

In 1945, the Allied forces won the war. But Great Britain could no longer maintain its empire, and went about a lengthy process of divesting itself of colonial interests. Though oil was incredibly important, Britain began to think that keeping its interests in the Middle East would be a lengthy and time-consuming process that might not be worth the trouble.

The Cold War Begins

As World War II drew to close, a League of Arab States saw formation. Its original members were Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, but there would be 20 members by 1974. The League was formed to coordinate independence and cooperation between Arab nations. One of their chief problems was the cry for an independent Jewish state in disputed former Ottoman land.

During the war, immigration to Palestine had been suspended by Great Britain; in fact, the British spent some time in Palestine trying to round up Jews who had entered Palestine illegally, and the issue had erupted into violence. Menachem Begin, a Polish-born Jew, led the fighting against British forces in Palestine. The World Zionist Congress demanded the entry of 1 million Jews into Palestine.

The chief issue, of course, was the need for oil. A Cold War had begun between the United States and the Soviet Union, with both sides becoming increasingly paranoid and suspicious of the other. Arab nations were pulled in both directions. Arab rulers dreaded the idea of Communism; the US was a rich oil customer that was in a position to give loans and dispense aid. But America also supported the Jewish state. No one knew where anyone’s loyalties would eventually lie.

Israel

The 650,000 Jews in Palestine began carrying out terrorist actions to protest the interference of Britain, leading the British to finally suggest a partition. Both Jews and Arabs rejected it, but the United Nations voted for it, planning to leave Jerusalem under UN trusteeship. The Jews agreed to that, but Arabs again rejected any plan that would force them to recognize a Jewish state. The Arab League announced that it would use force to resist any partition and began to conduct raids against the Jews. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, texts left behind by Essenic Jews in what was now Palestine, only added fuel to the fire.

On 14 May 1948, one day before the British mandate on Palestine expired, the state of Israel was proclaimed. Britain, under threat by several pro-Israeli groups, withdrew its troops. Most of the Arabs still in Israel fled. Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann was named President, with David Ben-Gurion as Prime Minister.

The Arab League responded immediately. Transjordanian forces entered Jerusalem with the support of Egypt. The Arab Liberation Army comprised soldiers from Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Lebanon, all of whom sent other troops as well. Tel Aviv was bombed. Israel mounted a strong defense that included the assassination of a UN mediator in Jerusalem. From then on, a constant and tense state of war stood between Israel and the Arab world. Anti-Israelism would dominate Arab politics and Arab-Western relations. By the time the Arab-Israeli War ended in early 1949, Israel had proven their military prowess and forced the Arab League to recognize Israeli borders that included 78% of Palestine. The UN proposal had only allotted 25% for the Jews. America and the Soviet Union recognized Israel almost immediately.

The 1953 Iranian Coup

Mohammed Mossadegh, leader of the Iranian National Front, was named Premier of Iran in 1951. Mossadegh broke ties with Britain and nationalized the oil industry, bucking the powerful Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in an attempt to take his country’s resources back from foreign powers to benefit Iran. Britain responded with an embargo against Iranian oil exports. The case wound up before the International Court of Justice, which ruled against Iran. President Harry Truman appealed for a compromise, but Iranian forces occupied the Abadan oil fields and forced out British personnel.

Truman had been unwilling to join Britain in a coup against Mossadegh, and Britain was afraid to act without American help. Mossadegh shut down the British embassy in 1952. America’s next president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was easier to convince. The Soviet Union had been making overtures to the Iranian communist Tudeh Party, and the US worried about a massive oil producer joining with the USSR.

The first attempt to remove Mossadegh from power failed, and Shah Pahlavi fled the country. Another coup was instigated, and the Shah returned to Iran and Mossadegh was given a show trial and condemned to death. The Shah commuted the sentence to a lifetime of house arrest. America felt it had acted to prevent a Soviet takeover of Iran.

The Baghdad Pact

In Iraq, Nasir Pasha began relations with the United States. He was vehemently anti-communist. With the help and negotiations of America (as well as some pressure and the promise of military aid), Iraq entered an alliance with Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. This was an unpopular move in Iraq, because although Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan were Muslim, they were not Arab states. The Pact was mainly seen as an attempt to keep British power and influence in the Middle East, and there were many Iraqis who did not want a pact with the pro-Israeli United States.

But there were other concerns in the Middle East. Jordan had continued its war with Israel. And the support of Egypt nearly led to a third World War.

To be continued.

Distance

If we’re in love, how come we’ve not kissed?
When you’re away, I don’t feel like I’m missed.
When there’s no answer why do I persist?
How do I know you exist?

8 May 2007

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Health Report: Week 21

I'm sitting here at my computer, flush with energy after a longer walk than usual, listening to "Freebird" on my iPod, so excuse me if I get a little flowery.

I told you this week would be better. It has been. I'm keeping to my eating schedule a little better, though not perfect. I'm broke, so no veggies this week, no salad. But I've been doing a bit better and not over-indulging myself. I still need to cut out carbs again, by a lot, but that's my biggest weakness. I basically grew up on bread and soda. Yeah, I need to cut out a lot more sugar, too. But I've still got a high protein intake, I just need to use it better.

They finally opened the fence at the baseball diamond on campus, so I walked over there today and walked around it so many times I lost track. I think it was 9 or 10, which is a lot for me anymore. I even jogged around it once, then went back to a brisk walking pace without stopping. That's a little huge for me. Seriously, I'm like a triceratops--if I run too much my shins will shatter and I'll fall down and starve to death. It'll take me a while, but still...

I haven't checked my actual weight in over a month, I should do that. I didn't gain back all the wait from the beginning, which is nice. I'm still at the same hole in my belt, so I didn't gain in size too badly, either. And I can actually walk, even though I got an enormous blister on my right foot, which was bad enough to take me out for a couple of days as far as the long walks go.

I haven't checked my blood pressure, either. I should do that.

Anyway, walking and walking this morning and listening to music, I had a lot of time to think about what's wrong with my life and what's going on. About my family, my situation, the people around me. The way I am made to feel and the way I allow myself to feel. The things I do to myself and don't do for myself.

I thought about Spider-Man 3, which I did get out to see. The theme of that movie is forgiveness; not only forgiving others, but forgiving oneself. I thought something that happens at the end of that movie--something that other people feel completely removes Peter Parker's motivation--was a really mature step forward. It didn't remove motivation, it removed a painful excuse and gave way organically to a social and personal responsibility that civilized people have. Mature people. Mature people realize when they've got to let go of the past. That they don't need the threat of punishment to be good people.

One of you emailed me last week and told me I needed to let go of the hurt and humiliation irrelevant people have given me over the years. Irrelevant was the word you used. And you were so dead on. Those people who hurt me, who humiliated me, who let me believe I was less than I was...they're irrelevant now. So why do I still let them continue to hurt and humiliate me, 13 years after I've graduated from high school and never seen any of them again?

You told me that I had a gift for self-expression (thank you, by the way), so I must also posess the gift of self-analysis.

I've been doing so much thinking this week, and today especially, about my hurt and humiliation. About self-analysis and forgiveness. And I realized that what's holding me back is a self-loathing I have. I've always had it, and I've always held onto it. And when it came out and threatened to engulf me, I pushed it back down into its bottle and let it fester, not wanting to face it. Not wanting to face the tears it might give me, or the pain it might cause me to feel. So I've been running away from it for my entire life. I've been holding onto the anger and sorrow and not letting it out. And now I have to.

And I finally forgive. I forgive the people I knew in elementary school for making fun of me, for ganging up on me the way they did because I was fat. That was the first time in my life when I felt betrayal. Not only could I not process it, but I've been looking for it everywhere ever since. I've always expected the other shoe to drop, no matter where I go. I've let those little kids make me feel like I can never trust anyone. I forgive you, kids. Because you were just kids, and you were trying to sort your identities out the way kids do: by attacking something that made you feel uncomfortable. By attacking someone who was different. Someone who was creative and sensitive, and who was also overweight. Someone who had been your friend. Someone who had been one of the most popular kids in school. You turned on me because you were children, and you had the values of children. I don't need to feel ashamed at that part of my life. I don't even need to feel disappointed in your behavior. You either learned better, or you continued to be assholes the rest of your life, in which case you're all in the situations you deserve to be in now. And one day I'll be thin. And, hopefully, rich. I hope you won't be assholes anymore. But it doesn't really matter to me anymore. I never made a sixth grader feel suicidal, like you did.

I forgive Shane Waddell. I forgive you for being my best friend in elementary school and then turning on me the way you did. For using everything you knew about me to cause me further shame and embarrassment in school. I understand you just wanted to get into girls and be popular, and you felt I was holding you back. It's a shitty reason, but that's what you did. I guess I had too much faith in your sensitivity and your loyalty. You were never really my friend, not in the real sense of the word. Because if you had been, you wouldn't have rounded up every single boy in the sixth grade and beaten me up on the way home from school that day. You wouldn't have been taunting me and hitting me. But you did. And I forgive you. Because I'm better than you. I'm a better friend to the few that I have. I'd never do it to them, and I never did it to you. Never once. I never told anyone else all of the things you told me, because you told me in confidence, and I honored that. And besides, Nicole Tvurdik told me about your relationship one day in gym class during kickball, and that just made me feel sorry for you. But I laughed at you, too, because you deserved it. I forgive you because you're just a memory now, and you don't matter to my life. That was a long, long time ago, and I've moved on.

I forgive you, Anne Nichols, for treating me the way you did during senior year. I thought you were someone that you weren't. I thought you were nicer. But I also shouldn't have been such a doormat when it came to doing whatever you wanted me to do. I tried to hard to get you to like me, and that was my fault. But you could've been nicer about turning me down. It doesn't really bother me.

I forgive all the girls I let lead me around and treat me like shit in junior high and high school, because I've always tried too hard with women. I've always given them too much of me. I guess you were justified in putting me down so firmly. Christina Padgett, you could have done it less cruelly; I know you were doing it because I was the most unpopular kid in school, but you didn't have to be so mean about it. I forgive you; we were kids, and kids are idiots. Katie Kurcab, I forgive you, too. Sitting outside your house in the eighth grade was childish, and you really did try to be nice about it. It really hurt because you were so beautiful and I just knew there'd never be a chance with you. I apologize for being such a jerk when you nicely asked me not to hang around your house anymore. You were being nice, and I told you off. I'm sorry. There's no one else there to forgive. But I do apologize to Terri McGinnis for being so overdramatic. And Danielle Gerth...you're my Winnie Cooper. You're the great unrequited love of my childhood. There's nothing to forgive you for. I hope you would forgive me for chasing after you so doggedly. You nearly came around. I'll never forget that night on the bus back from Atlanta when you apologized for not seeing how genuine I could be before. "I always thought you were so shallow, but now I realize you're deep, and you really think about things. I'm sorry I didn't see it." Thank you for that.

I forgive you, Inez Berman, for telling me after our second date that you wanted to be "just friends." I was nervous, and you mistook that for disinterest. I just didn't want to tell you that you were the first girl I had ever gone on an actual date with. We made that date at graduation, and you didn't know I'd never been on a date before. Just knowing that you kept noticing me all through high school, even as I was noticing you, was enough. Thank you for letting me hold your hand that time.

Kate Pierson, I'm sorry for letting you jack me off in the high school parking lot and then telling you I couldn't hang out with you anymore because I was going to Iowa to get married. I lied to you, and I laughed about it for years afterward. That was awful, and I'm sorry. There's no excuse for it. And Jackie Cooper (not the actor), I'm sorry that I made out with you that time. I knew that you were in love with me and that I wasn't in love with you, but I made out with you anyway in your mom's car. I'm sorry.

Alice Loan, I apologize for making a pass at you and letting your rebuff end our relationship. That was stupid of me, but I always liked you so much. I shouldn't have done that, and I'm glad it wasn't anything really bad; it was just trying to kiss you. I wonder if you even remember it anymore, or me. You were the voice of reason so many times, talked me down when I wanted to do something really stupid, which was often. Alice, you were one of the best friends I've ever had in my life, and I'm sorry you're not still one of them. I miss you. I hope I can apologize to you in person or on the phone one day. Letting you get away was one of the stupidest things I ever did. You don't treat a person like that after they've been there for you at one of the worst points in your life.

I forgive you, Christy Higgins, for the emotional abuse you put me through when we were together. I know now that I let myself be put in that situation because my parents were pressuring me into saying something I wasn't ready to say yet. Because they were both so angry at me all the time, and the only way to shut them up was to pull a whole "She's my girlfriend and I love her" trip that made it much more easy for you to push me around. And you were having the same kind of issues at home, with your stepmother and everything. Crying and feeling bad is how you got your way. My mom used to do it, too. I forgive you for it; you didn't really have the experience you think you did. I forgive you for treating me like a child because I was two years younger than you. Because what does it matter now? You taught me what to look out for and not accept in women, even if you didn't do it on purpose. I don't want to delight in the fact that your acting career didn't work out anymore, because that's mean. It sucks for you--it sucks for anyone that they don't get what they want. I'm sorry I made you cry when I broke up with you. But you got your revenge, didn't you? I forgive you for moving to my job and becoming my manager and then firing me; I even forgive you for lying about why you took the transfer in the first place. You're in the past now.

I forgive Target for working me more than they should have, keeping me at part time status and working me 60+ hours a week. You're a corporation, and corporations are soulless. You didn't know any better, did you Sue? Or Doug? If I were as unhappy as the two of you were, I'd take it out on people who couldn't fight back, too.

I forgive you, Jeff Drendel, for secretly worrying that I was trying to steal Maureen away from you. But she wasn't really yours, was she? Either way, Maureen was just a really nice girl I was friends with; I was your friend too. I know you were really in love with her, and I respected that. I didn't have designs on Maureen. I forgive you for never calling me after we graduated, even though I really liked being your friend. You were a funny guy. Remember when we used to try and do Joe Mantegna impressions, or Alec Baldwin, or when we would both stuff paper in our mouths and try to do Duelling Brandos? You were great. You were one of my real friends that year in high school. It wasn't Maureen I liked, it was your little sister, Jamie. I still think about her to this day; when we worked together at Target, I was so thrilled to be around her every night. I loved her, but I know she didn't think about me that way, damn it. I kissed her once on the forehead. She used to flirt with me a lot. I could be your brother-in-law today. Anyway, I'm sorry we're not friends anymore.

I forgive the people on both sides of my family that I've always thought, deep down inside, didn't want to be with me. I was an obnoxious and solitary child, and I pushed a lot of people away because, really, I worry that I'm not good enough. My obnoxious behavior was always an attempt to push people away. My asinine behavior has always been an attempt to get people to laugh at me in a way I could control, because I was always afraid I was going to be laughed at, anyway. I don't blame you for not trying, because it seemed to you like I wasn't interested. But I really just didn't trust anyone. You all still remember me for the idiot, bratty child I was, and for the stupid things I've ever done. You don't know the adult I am now, because I haven't let you, and that's unfair of me. And some of you have passed away without me telling you that I love you. I love all of you. I'm sorry I've been so distant and seemed so disinterested. The truth is that I am, but I've been away so long that I don't know how to relate to you anymore. I'm too afraid of admitting that I was distant and scared and small and petty, and now I feel like I'm alone. It's not your fault. It's mine, for keeping my feelings inside and not letting them out to any of you.

I forgive you, Brandi, for never calling me back. I miss you. You were more than my cousin, you were like a sister to me. I don't know how we became distant. I love you.

I love you too, Crystal. You're my sister too, not my cousin. Take care of that baby; he needs to know his cousin is one of the coolest people he'll ever know.

I apologize, Ellen. I know you worried that I didn't like you when you were dying and I barely saw you. I know you thought I didn't care. But I did. More than you can ever know. You were never my half-sister to me. You were my sister. You were my goddaughter. I'm sorry I wasn't around enough. I should have been. I shouldn't have been in my late twenties and never had my shit together enough to have money and a decent car and been able to travel the distance to see you. I'm sorry I didn't call more. And now you're gone and you'll never come back. I'm sorry. I love you.

I apologize to you too, Audrie. Because I'm letting myself do the same thing to you. But I promise I'll be around more.

I forgive you, Jayne. I forgive you for all the things you've done to me. I forgive you for deciding at some point that you didn't want to be friends anymore. I know you wanted to have your own life. I forgive your thoughtlessness that made it hard for me to trust you. I stuck up for you all the time as a kid, I don't think you've ever known that. I got pissed at you, but I never let anyone else say anything bad. I once pushed Terry Kehoe in a river for saying that my life would've been better if you'd died when your appendix burst. But I forgive you for being embarrassed by me as we've gotten older. For being a workaholic like Dad, and for treating me like you've always expected the very least from me. I understand why. I even forgive you for being a yuppie; I just don't want you to lose your soul to it. I'm proud of you for graduating and having a good job. I'm proud of you for going to Australia and getting away from the craziness here. Like I told you when you left, you're my sister and I love you, however you feel about it. I forgive you for being scared to open yourself emotionally. I know how hard it is. I've been the same way. Thank you for letting me use your car. I forgive you for rubbing it in my face what an immense favor you're doing for me. For rubbing your success in my face. I know how much you hurt, and I know how it makes you act.

I forgive you, Dad. I held it against you for a long time when you left, but I understand you better now. I know the sacrifices you've made (and still make) for your children. I understand why you let things get to you. You must feel alone sometimes, the way our family keeps getting smaller. Your parents are gone now. Two sisters and one brother. A daughter. All in just a few years. I forgive you for letting it make you a wreck. I just want you to slow down a little and enjoy what you have instead of running away from things. I forgive you for being so emotionally remote, and for making me feel like I was a disappointment. You never made me feel that way, I just thought I did. I don't know why we can't be more open with each other. But you've always tried to be there for me, no matter how much I've pushed you away and maybe even made you feel bad for caring. I think I've thrown your concern in your face too many times, and for that I'm sorry. I've made some of your mistakes, and I wish I could ask you how you dealt with them. I'm just afraid that I'll cry in front of you and disappoint you or embarrass you. You have your way of dealing with things, and I have mine, and mine has always been more emotional. I think you can't relate to me when I act that way. I forgive you for not understanding me, because I've never let you understand me. I don't want to become one of those men who doesn't deal with these emotions all his life, and then his father dies and it's too late. I should be more responsible. I should forget more, and forgive more.

I forgive you, Mom, for the number you've done on me in my life. I know you don't like me to blame my problems on you, but you really fucked me up when I was young. I know your mother did it to you, too. Your constant need to apologize for me made me ashamed; it made me feel like all I did was embarrass you. You created a formality in me that extended to everyone in my life, and I still find it hard to relax around people. I have to put up a front with them, even family members. Your fear made me afraid of everything around me. The way you hit me made me feel like I was worthless. It made me afraid to trust people and to love them. I forgive you for all of that. I know you worry that you were a bad mother, and I have to say you did some things wrong. You humiliated me. You never realized how much your incivility made me want to hurt you. Your resentment. I forgive you for resenting me; you were young when you got pregnant. You did the best you were capable of at the time; you didn't know how to be a single mother. You didn't even know how to be a married mother. Christ, who does the first time around? You were inexperienced. I forgive you for making me terrified of dogs; I know you did it because you were afraid that I was going to get hurt. You didn't mean to make me nervous around animals for the rest of my life. I forgive you for kicking me when I was down--once, quite literally. I guess I don't blame you for being so resentful of me. I wasn't easy to live with. I know we're okay now. I forgive you, because it's not your fault that I've let all of those things make me timid and fearful, nervous and lazy. That's something I need to work on.

I apologize, Laura, for the email I sent you when I was high. I'm an emotional child, and I'm still that obnoxious little boy. I hope you forgive me. You never told me.

Angie, please let me know if you're okay. I'm worried about you, darling.

Thank you, Marie, for the things you've said that helped me.

The rest of you know who you are.

I forgive you for putting me in a position of dependence that I cannot handle. I understand why you do it. But you've got to grow up, and so have I. I know you sometimes snap at me out of resentment. I know you say you don't do it to hurt me, but I think you do sometimes without even realizing it. And I understand why you would.

I forgive you for making me want things I can't have. I forgive you for being so emotionally distant sometimes that I want to scream at you. Because it's my fault for putting myself in that position again and again and again when I should know better. It's my fault for not doing anything to show you how serious I am. For being stuck and letting myself be stuck. For not just shutting up and getting over things that don't matter anymore and will never matter again.

I forgive you because I know why you're that way. And I'm too impatient and I get upset too easily. And I've let you think that I'm content with the way things are. And that I'll let it stay this way forever. But I won't. I'm through not being happy because I let my circumstances dictate it.

It's time to take control of things and not let anything inside hold me back. Enough of this test pattern bullshit. Enough of this waiting for things to work themselves out. It's time to be realistic and accept things that I didn't want to accept.

This week was better. Next week will be better than that.

At least now I know I could run if I have to. Just not very far.

Not so much self-indulgence next time.

UPDATE 10 May: One of you accepted an apology directed at you, but also said this whole post was arrogant and "a big running joke." I'm so glad the problems I take the time to write about are so hilarious to everyone, but I didn't write this so anyone could feel sorry for me. I wrote this because these feelings of bitterness and self-loathing have colored everything I've done since I was in junior high school, and I've never written about these things before. I've never dealt with them before, and that's what I'm doing now, because this blog isn't written for you, it's written for me, and part of that is a way to sort out my feelings. Writing is how I deal with things and understand them better, and gee, I'm sorry if my need for an occasional self-therapy session is boring to people, but the fact is, I don't really care. I've worked hard to make sure that this blog doesn't become one of those blogs where people just bitch about their dating lives and expect everyone to feel sorry for them, because I really don't need anyone's sympathy, and there are more than enough of those blogs already and they're not fun to read. Sorry we're not all as strong as people think we should be, but I just need to lay things out so they make sense for me. And hey, it's my blog, so I can do that, and if that makes you uncomfortable, don't bother reading these posts, because I really don't care if you like them or not. They're not about you.

See, that's me being arrogant.

Yet Another Thing Nagging Me About Lost

In a recent episode of the series, one of the flashbacks established that not only does Sun know all along that her father is some kind of crime boss, but also that she basically pushed Jin into becoming one of his enforcers by borrowing money from her dad in order to pay off Jin's blackmailing mother. Something's been nagging me about this episode, and I realize it's this: it makes absolutely no goddamn sense. And it makes Sun look like kind of a bitch. I know, I know, it seems shocking that Lost would blame something awful happening on a woman, seeing as how they only limit it to three or four times an episode. But it does bother me.

First, I know that honor and its loss are a big deal in Asian cultures. I think it's noble that Sun would want to protect Jin from being embarrassed, but... well, when it comes right down to it, what's the worst that's going to happen. Jin's going to be embarrassed. What, he might not be able to work in his father-in-law's garage or whatever the hell it is?

Second, if Sun knew the whole time that Jin was an enforcer, why does she act so surprised and shocked and make a big deal about it that time he comes home covered in blood? I mean, there's faking surprise because you're letting your husband save face, and then there's making major life decisions based on that. Which brings me to my next point.

Sun's entire backstory up to now has been that she fell in love with that other guy (the hotel guy) and learned English and set up an escape route in California to run away from Jin. And she wanted to run away because he was an enforcer who worked for her dad. Well, not only did she know he was, but she basically made it happen. When she borrowed the money from her father, her father told her it would happen. So, that means that she had an affair and went to California and had plans in place to escape him because...why? Because she's a whore? Is that really where the writers want to go with someone with one of their strongest characters?

Wow, that sucks.

They're going to have to work hard to get me to accept any of this, much less to make a goddamn lick of sense out of it.

You know what I didn't realize? Jeph Loeb wasn't the only person to leave Lost after the second season; Paul Dini did too. Now, Paul Dini is something of a legend among fans of comic book TV, because he created and managed the excellent Batman and Superman cartoons in the nineties. Now that I've found out he's gone, the creative vacuum on this season of Lost makes perfect sense. The creative shake-ups keep hurting this show. I've always said that J.J. Abrams gets far too much credit for the success of Lost, when the fact is that he didn't create it and he didn't stick around for very long. Disney, worried the show was going to be a loser (that season, Disney thought its two lowest-rated new shows would be Lost and Desperate Housewives), brought J.J. Abrams in to work the same magic that had made Alias a modest hit. He worked with Damon Lindelof to create an incredible pilot and to set things in motion; after roughly six to eight episodes, he traipsed off to put the finishing touches on Alias and to direct Mission: Impossible III. His creative role was filled by Carlton Cuse, who wanted to turn the focus of the show away from survival and monsters to endless (and eventually meaningless) stories of redemption and suffering.

Now, those stories have a great place on the show, but they somehow just took complete focus away. Paul Dini, as story editor, must have had to work hard to keep some semblance of continuity and to keep the flashbacks from overpowering the major plotline (the island, the Others, DHARMA--remember them?). But Dini left after the second season, and, as I've said many a time, the third season has descended into a few bright spots (last week's, certainly) among a real depth of meandering, lollygagging, over-the-top cruelty, and constant repetition. I know there are some people out there who love to believe that Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have some sort of grand plan in place, and the recent announcement that Lost would only have three more seasons only enforces that. But the fact is, they've both said in interviews repeatedly that there isn't a plan in place. They literally are just making this thing up as they go along.

And the third season plays like it. So I'm going to give credit to Paul Dini here for not letting it happen during his tenure. Because the third season plays like one of those games kids play at camp, where somebody tells a story for five minutes, and then the next person picks it up, and then the next. And every kid starts with "But what really happened was..." It keeps swallowing its own tail and taking side trips that go nowhere because, you know, the next kid telling the story doesn't care about Alvar Hanso, he just wants to put it some magical Scottish dude for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

I like Lost's new plan--three more seasons of sixteen episodes apiece. That's a good thing to shoot for, a good way to plan in advance. But everything now is going to be in spite of how crappy the third season has been. And they've really given themselves a lot of extra foolishness to clean up that's not as riveting as they seem to think it is.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Summer Movie Preview 2007

Well, with this weekend’s release of Spider-Man 3, it seems like the summer movie season is upon us. Wow, how much longer until it starts in April? Hell, why not in January? Shitty, loud, overblown, obnoxious $200 million B-movies all year long! Anyway, as I tend to do every year, here are my own thoughts about what I will end up seeing in the theater this summer. Or at least on DVD in a few months.

4 MAY
Why not start with this weekend? I’ve got mixed feelings about Spider-Man 3. Not because of the mixed reviews, those don’t really get to me. It seemed pretty obvious to me that, regardless of quality, critical opinion was going to dismantle this movie as an apology for showering so much praise on Spidey 2. It just seems to go that way; just like I knew that, regardless of its total shittiness, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was going to be loved by the masses. No, my mixed feelings come from all of the hype. I keep forgetting that the movie actually came out over the weekend because, thanks to a massive over saturation and a television ad campaign that seemed to start back in December or something, I already feel like I’ve seen it three or four times. Seeing the movie seems to be the afterthought to the marketing. I’ll see it in a week or two, when the reaction is out there and the hype is dead, and I can just see it free from expectation. Besides, the opening weekend for Spidey 2 was crowded with too many people enjoying it ironically. And the way they laugh/scoff is just irritating.

Otherwise, the weekend had Lucky You, another movie that feels like a foregone conclusion. This has been pushed back so many times I lost what little interest in it I had (really only generated by the cast). Once they started advertising it like a sensitive movie about relationships, it seemed much too much like a last-ditch effort to sell the movie to women as an alternative for Spidey 3. There are also movies I just don’t think I’m going to touch, like The Flying Scotsman, Civic Duty and Waitress. But I see that Sarah Polley’s directed a film called Away from Her, which I’ll see just because she directed it. After My Life Without Me, I’ll see whatever she tells me to.

11 MAY
When I went to see Disturbia, I saw preview after preview for zombie movies, apocalyptic thrillers, shitty comedies, Adam Sandler movies (their own genre of shitty comedy), and Transformers. And God help me, I never thought I’d sound this old, but all I could think was…Don’t they just make movies about people who fall in love anymore? One of those movies was 28 Weeks Later, which seems like a bit of a pointless movie to me. Really, it only exists because 28 Days Later did well, but it doesn’t have any of the actors or filmmakers, so what’s the point? I feel like I’ve seen it already, and I honestly think there needs to be a moratorium on zombie movies for at least a decade. What else is there to add? In recent years, we’ve had Shaun of the Dead and George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead (a misunderstood movie if I’ve ever seen one), but there are too many movies as lame as Resident Evil or as needless as the so-so-but-totally-unnecessary Dawn of the Dead remake. I thought 28 Days Later was pretty good, but I also thought it was little more than a condensed plagiarizing of Romero’s original Dead trilogy with some good actors in it. Seriously, just stop it.

Then there’s Georgia Rule, which I wouldn’t see if you paid me. I can deal with Garry Marshall’s eternal crappiness—hell, The Princess Diaries movies are pretty bad, but at least they have Anne Hathaway, who makes anything worth watching, and the wondrousness that is Julie Andrews—and Jane Fonda has gotten me to see some pretty bad movies (Monster-in-Law leaps to mind). But I’m sick of movies about how the homespun wisdom of a condescentive version of the South is worth more than the philosophies of the ages, and none of us know how to live a relaxed, happy life, so we need our country cousins to teach us how things should be. There’s a lot of career and city bashing in those movies. And, frankly, I never want to see another Lindsay Lohan movie again. Yes, I used to love her. That was before she whored her talent.

Otherwise, there’s The Ex, which breaks my Zach Braff Rule (never see a movie with Zach Braff in it), Delta Farce, which breaks my Larry the Cable Guy Rule (never see a movie with Larry the Cable Guy in it), and yet another Barbershop spin-off, The Salon. Please stop before we get to The Self-Tanning Outlet. Oh, and there’s Home of the Brave, which offers the always-hilarious sight of 50 Cent pretending he’s people. Jessica Biel is in it, and as much as I’d like her to be, she’s never going to be one of those actresses who makes any movie worth seeing for me. Her taste in picking projects is just far too suspect.

18 MAY
Shrek the Third…no. I can just imagine being a parent right now and thinking, Thanks, DreamWorks, now I have to sit through another one of these fucking things so my kid doesn’t whine at me. You’re dead, Katzenberg! Dead!! That in itself would be a much more interesting movie. Look, I saw the first two, and since the second movie was exactly the first, only more crowded and less funny, I can extrapolate where we’re going here, what with the addition of 47 more main characters. I’ll pass on this one. DreamWorks makes the worst animated movies the world has ever seen.

Fay Grim is a Hal Hartley movie, so that gets chucked to the side. I still just do not understand what people see in Parker Posey. A lot of limited releases are coming out on this day, but nothing really looks interesting to me. I’ll wait and see if any of the bloggers whose opinion I trust recommends them.

25 MAY
I would rather let Bigfoot fuck me blind up against a dumpster behind a Joe’s Crab Shack than go and see Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. I’ve talked about this at the same kind of tiresome length that I complain about those crappy movies having. Seriously, they take a fun, 85-minute adventure and blow them full of hot air and populate them with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, two of the shittiest non-actors I’ve ever seen. They take forever to get somewhere, and then they do nothing when they get there. And then, they have to go back to where they already were! But they end with a neat two-minute sequence and big music, just so you don’t have time to think about how much nothing happened. I don’t care anymore. I’ll see it on DVD because, except for the two mannequins in the lead, there is a great cast being totally wasted here.

The rest comes down to track record. I’m hearing some interesting things about Bug, but it’s going to have to get great reviews for me to overcome my dislike of William Friedkin. I won’t be seeing any more Lars Von Trier films, much less The Boss of It All. But I do really want to see Angel-A, because I love Luc Besson and really want to see him do another action movie. I can’t wait to see how he works his pedophilia fetish into this one. Seriously, watch Leon and The Fifth Element and think about it.

1 JUNE
Oh, man, has Mr. Brooks really not even come out yet? I’d actually watch this if this were from 1993. I’m one of the few people that kind of misses Demi Moore, and I am a huge fan of William Hurt. But this just looks too painful. And it has Dane Cook in it, which is a big no right there. Seriously, are they actually letting him act in dramatic roles now? Fuck that. The movie I’m dying to see this week, and maybe the movie I most want to see this summer, is Knocked Up, just because I loved The 40 Year-Old Virgin, I love Seth Rogen, and I just think this is going to be the one. Shame Anne Hathaway had to drop out of the role, but it still looks hilarious. It’s a chick flick for guys, but so are most of the really good comedies these days.

On the shortlist for video are Rise: Blood Hunter, just for the lesbian scenes with Lucy Liu and my lovely Carla Gugino, as well as Gracie, which almost seems redundant in a post-Bend It Like Beckham world, but which has Carly Schroeder, and I want to see where she ends up going (it’s my Disney thing). Day Watch is coming out, but I really hated Night Watch, so I don’t need to go through it again.

8 JUNE
I loved the remake of Ocean’s Eleven; it was cool, slick, fun, assured…it was everything I thought it wouldn’t be, and I was pleasantly surprised and just loved it. Ocean’s Twelve was as bad as the first one was good. Like Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and a million other sequels, the filmmakers underestimated everything that was cool about the first movie and focused on amplifying all of the wrong elements. That said, the trailers for Ocean’s Thirteen look really funny, so I hope this doesn’t have the same problems. Julia Roberts isn’t in it, so that’s a good start.

There’s also Surf’s Up…look, I’m a bigger animation fan than anyone I know, but I don’t think I can take any more of these CG animated movies about animals. And I am so sick of the fucking penguins right now. If this had come out a couple of years ago, before the awfulness of Madagascar and Shark Tale, before March of the Penguins and fucking Happy Feet, I'd have probably wanted to see it. But I can't take more of animals with existential problems I don't care about, and I can't take any more penguins. Hollywood has managed to take an animal I loved and wanted to see more of, and made me actively hate it. Seriously, I'd be all for feeding the penguins to the polar bears if it meant I'd never have to see another penguin movie. Seriously, let's just ship the penguins north and feed them to the polar bears. Polar bears are starving, and they haven't pissed me off yet. I know, I know, let's only save the cute animals. Fucking penguins. I refer you to a a very short previous post.

There’s also Hostel: Part II, but I haven’t seen the first and don’t really have any interest in it.

15 JUNE
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer suffers from the problem of being the sequel to a movie I thought was truly asinine. Badly cast, badly written, terrible effects, cynical when it should’ve been fun, self-referential when it should have been straight. And surprisingly gay, and not in a fun way. Awful. So I’ve no interest in the sequel. I Could Never Be Your Woman sounds pretty bad to me, too; I don’t buy Paul Rudd and Michelle Pfeiffer’s eleven-year age difference as being that big a deal, and as soon as I heard Tracey Ullman was playing Mother Nature, I decided to opt out of this one. Fido sounds like a movie I’ve already seen (it was called either Ed and His Dead Mother or Braindead, pick one), and it’s bad enough that I know I’ll see Nancy Drew on DVD because Amy Bruckner is in it.

22 JUNE
On the one hand, I love Steve Carrel. On the other hand, I thought he was the most overrated part of Bruce Almighty, which was itself a cute-but-come-on-it’s-not-incredible comedy. So, I’m not exactly xazzed about seeing Evan Almighty. Maybe on HBO, or something. Captivity looks repellent to me. DOA: Dead or Alive is based on a video game, so that’s a big no. I’ve recently started to like Michael Winterbottom, so I might put aside my disappointment in Angie Jolie to see A Mighty Heart, because I need an adult movie in the summer somewhere. Black Sheep looks funny.

27 JUNE
Not only does Live Free or Die Hard have Justin Long in it (I just hate him more and more every time his name comes up), but it’s freaking Die Hard 4. Man, Die Hard 3 was just terrible enough on its own. And this one’s going to be PG-13? That’s crazy. Does everything have to be for children? Fuck it, they’re never going to come close to the greatness of the first movie. Especially not with the, um, “director” of (excuse me while I stifle a giggle) the Underworld "movies" steering the ship. I’ll go back and watch the first one instead. You know what’s funny about the way the movies have changed in the 19 years since the first movie came out? Go back now and watch Die Hard. At the time, it was supposed to be ushering in a new type of over-the-top, overblown, loud, gonzo action movie. Today, it looks like a Hitchcockian suspense thriller. It really stands the test of time.

29 JUNE
Well, of course I’m going to see Ratatouille as soon as I can. Come on, it’s Pixar, it’s Brad Bird, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be as disappointing as Cars. Also this week is Death at a Funeral, which looks like it might be funny, even if Frank Oz is directing it.

6 JULY
Every time I think of someone going to see Transformers, it just makes me laugh. I guess I’m just old enough now to be aware of how soulless and cynical an exercise this really is. Transformers is a bit of a sore spot with me, because kids made fun of me for still being into it when I was ten and they were all trying to be grown up, and now I know some of those same people are letting themselves be sold back their childhood. Seriously, even taking nostalgia into account, Transformers is really, really fucking lame. When they started releasing the original episodes on video, I was working at the video store. We put them on, and I just couldn’t get over how truly dumb they are. But guys my age and a little older are eating this shit up. Did they just put it aside too quickly instead of growing out of it? Did you know there is, in fact, some firefighter out there who legally changed his name to Optimus Prime? And he’s actually married! With kids! Does this woman call her husband “Prime” now, because that’s just too sad. Get over it. Autobot, Decepticon, they all suck.

License to Wed is the kind of movie that just sounds either horrible or unfortunate. A reverend puts a couple through this grueling marriage prep so they can marry in his church. Now, on the one hand, many of the actors (including John Krasinski as the groom) are from The Office. The director, Ken Kwapis, has directed episodes of The Larry Sanders Show, Freaks and Geeks, Grounded for Life, Malcolm in the Middle, and The Office. But on the other hand, I don’t know the writers at all and Robin Williams plays the reverend. And Ken Kwapis is also the director of The Beniker Gang, Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird (seriously, how do you make Muppets boring?), Vibes, He Said She Said, Dunston Checks In, The Beautician and the Beast, and (yes, I’m calling this as crappy as the other movies) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ouch. That’s just…ouch. In the middle is Mandy Moore as the bride; I like Mandy Moore, but her filmography is pretty awful, too (with the exception of Saved! and her good performance in the terrible American Dreamz). Can this movie be anything but a total mess? I’ll probably see it on DVD, so I’ll let you know.

13 JULY
Well, of course I’m going to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Do I really even need to justify that? And I honestly thought The Strangers, about a couple in a vacation home terrorized by attackers already came out; then I realized it was Vacancy I was thinking of. They’re the same movie, but this one has Liv Tyler, so I might see it on cable one day. I saw the preview for 1408 and it looks awful; there’s no premise conceivable that the presence of John Cusack can't make annoying. They should pass a law so that Cusack and Nicolas Cage can only do movies together, so at least one of the movies that these smuggos is in every two months would have a chance to be good without either of them in it.

I will see Interview because Steve Buscemi directed it, and I really adored Lonesome Jim. And I’m still dying to see Rescue Dawn from the spring; everything by Werner Herzog is good, case closed.

20 JULY
I would rather see Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Bigfoot rape and all, than see I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Kevin James and Adam Sandler play guys who pretend to be gay and get married to participate in some sort of benefits program. I knew I wanted to die the second the preview started off with Rob Schneider as some kind of Chinese rabbi. There are a few great seconds in the trailer thanks to Jessica Biel in her undies (her ass, tight as it looks, actually has some bounce to it, which is all I thought about for the next four days), but this movie just looks like shite. Seriously, what is the point of this movie outside of two incredibly annoying “comics” doing homophobic gay drag jokes? Isn’t this kind of humor out of style yet? Unless the movie ends with them falling in love, it’s just another gay scare film disguised as a harmless comedy. They might as well have called it Why the Fuck Should Gays Get a Benefit Program When I Already Don't Tolerate Them? and had done with it.

Hairspray also comes out this week, which presents me with a problem. Besides the shitty director, it’s the casting. I just heard the CD for the first time a couple of months ago, and I liked everything about it…except for its lead, Marisa Jaret Winokur. I did not appreciate her shrill, nasal warble in any way. Not as singing, not as a style choice, not as a parody of the styles of the early sixties. It just annoyed me all to hell. Now, we’ve got a newcomer to the role, so there is the chance of me finding a Tracy Turnblad that I actually like (that isn’t, you know, Ricki Lake). But the one thing the movie won’t have is Harvey Fierstein as Edna. No, it’s going to be John “Always Terrible” Travolta in a rather obnoxious bit of stunt casting. So, I may like Tracy, but I won’t like Edna, because who could be better than Harvey Fierstein? That isn’t, you know, Divine? What will win out? Well, obviously my love for Amanda Bynes is going to win out.

27 JULY
I guess I’m going to have to go and see The Simpsons Movie. All the buzz says it’s the best The Simpsons has been in years, which can only be true if the last few years on TV are anything to go by. I really hope it’s good, and I’m glad they’ve stopped the onslaught of teaser trailers (especially when they slam CG animation and then show us scenes with tons of computer assist). And besides, what else am I going to go see? Skinwalkers? Sorry, nothing by the director of Jason X, please. Lindsay Lohan in I Know Who Killed Me? The wretched looking No Reservations? El Cantate, with Jennifer Lopez and her obviously-made-of-wax husband?

3 AUGUST
I’m on pins and needles about The Bourne Ultimatum, I admit. I loved the first two movies. They’re the kind of movies you think are going to suck, and then you see them and you just kind of go: “Shit, this is awesome!” I’m on board for one more, although I kind of hope it’s the last one and it just ends satisfyingly. I’ve not read Robert Ludlum’s novels, but I understand the movies don’t have much to do with them anyway.

I’ll admit, when I first heard about Underdog, I thought it might be a neat idea. Then I saw the trailers. And although I appreciated the straightforward tone of the trailers (it doesn’t look as terrible as most movies about dogs, especially from Disney), I just don’t see how this could possibly be a good movie. But I loved The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and George of the Jungle, so what do I know?

I don’t mind Andy Samberg on Saturday Night Live (he’s not as into how funny he thinks he is Jimmy Fallon was), but I don’t know that he needs to charge right into a movie career. Plus, Hot Rod sounds a little too much like the disappointing Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. And I’m definitely not interested in The Ten (which just sounds pretentious) or Resurrecting the Champ, which I have a feeling is going to be like 75 other sports movies I’ve seen. And Charlie Bartlett is also a pass.

And then there’s Becoming Jane. As you all know, I am a huge fan of Anne Hathaway, and I think she’s fighting it out right now for recognition with Scarlett Johansson and possibly Kirsten Dunst as the best actress of her generation. But I really hate Jane Austen and this movie looks really bad (and it’s gotten some early negative word-of-mouth). It's cute that they're doing the story of Jane Austen as though it were one of her shitty romance novels, but since I already hate those... Still, I know I’ll go and see it in the theater, because it’s got Anne Hathaway, and that’s still better than a lot of other movies have going for them. I want to support her, and I just want to see what she does as an actor. I think Annie still has yet to make a movie that’s truly great (outside of Brokeback Mountain), but even her bad movies (the ones with the words Princess and Diaries in the title) are cute.

8 AUGUST
Cuba Gooding Jr. stars in Daddy Day Camp, the sequel to Daddy Day Care that is apparently so bad that even Eddie Murphy won’t be in it. Who knew there was such a movie?

10 AUGUST
Dear God, why do we need a Rush Hour 3? Screw that garbage (Rush Hour 2 was mistake enough), I’m going to see Stardust. Although, can I say again: will one of the many filmmakers who are basically making Terry Gilliam films (Matthew Vaughn, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro) actually help Gilliam by putting him in a position where he can make an actual film again? And have it released in theaters? You know you’re all heavily influenced by him, so step up, alright?

17 AUGUST
Who knew that nerds were going to be the big thing this summer? Every year, there are those two movies that are exactly the same that come out around the same time, and this year it’s Superbad and Fanboys, both of which actually look really funny. Although Superbad looks funnier to me, just because of the talent involved (an Arrested Development director, Seth Rogen co-writing and co-starring). Although Fanboys looks funny, too, plus it has Kristen Bell in the Princess Leia slave costume and William December Williams himself appearing in the film (that’s Lando Calrissian, y’all). So why not go and see them both? Superbad gets priority, though.

There are also Christina Ricci in Penelope, which seems like it might be good (although I’m still waiting for the big Ricci comeback), Michael Ian Black directing Wedding Daze (skippable; I don’t find him funny, nor am I lining up to see yet another movie about a sap who can’t make a romance work), and the live action Bratz: The Movie, which seems as necessary as a roadside colonoscopy stand (and about as much fun).

And finally there’s The Invasion. Is it really time for another version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Let’s see, 1956, 1978, 1994…time’s getting shorter in between. Well, I actually liked all of the other three versions (especially the 1978 version), and I really have been warming up to Daniel Craig. Besides which, it’s directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, who directed Downfall, one of the greatest movies ever made. I guess I could overlook Nicole Kidman being in it (where did she go so tragically wrong?). What worries me is that Warner Bros. was so unsatisfied with the final movie that they apparently had the Wachowski Brothers rewrite up to two-thirds of the script and James McTeigue (director of V for Vendetta) direct a whole bunch of new sequences (including a new ending). Now, my hatred for The Matrix and its bastard sequels is pretty well-documented, but I actually did love V for Vendetta. A lot. Still, it’s a rarity that anything produced by Joel Silver turns out well. I have a feeling this one will be more legendary for being a total mess than for any quality. Call me when the original version comes out on DVD, I think.

24 AUGUST
Well, Good Luck Chuck has Dane Cook in it, so I’ll be doing something more pleasurable, like sticking my dick in my car’s cigarette lighter. The Comebacks just looks awful; seriously, stop it with the slobs in sports comedies, it’s played out. Virgin Territory is the latest name for that version of The Decameron with Hayden Christensen and Mischa Barton, which something is compelling me to see (probably my fascination with the fact that Christensen was so bad in the prequel trilogy but so good in Shattered Glass). I’ll see The Last Legion eventually, because it’s about Rome and has Colin Firth in it. I’m not expecting much from it, though.

24 AUGUST
The summer mercifully ends with Wristcutters: A Love Story, Mr. Bean’s Holiday (it burns, mommy, it burns!) and Death Sentence, none of which sounds like a movie I would go see.

So there you go. Once again, the summer starts too early and ends with a whimper. And four whole months without a Scarlett Johansson movie? The final tally of movies I will see in the theater (if I can) is 14: Spider-Man 3, Angel-A, Knocked Up, Ocean’s Thirteen, Ratatouille, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Rescue Dawn, Hairspray, The Simpsons Movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, Becoming Jane, Stardust, Superbad, and Fanboys, with Death at a Funeral, Evan Almighty, and The Invasion as definite maybes (though I think I'll really have to be bored to go see Evan). I’ll probably check out Away from Her, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Rise: Blood Hunter, Gracie, Nancy Drew, Interview, Penelope, The Last Legion and maybe License to Wed on DVD.

There: the summer handicapped in advance. Hopefully the fall will be okay; it looks bleak so far, with only five movies I definitely feel I want to see. I hope the previews look good.

I suppose it really says something that the summer hasn’t even really started yet, and I’m already looking to the next season…