Saturday, June 23, 2007

More Dark Knight Pictures

The batsuit, above, and below, Batman's new vehicle. They're calling it the Batpod.
So, um, I'll take two of those, please.

Friday, June 22, 2007

BC's Birthday

Goodness gracious! I forgot today was Bruce Campbell's birthday! Happy birthday, you patron saint of B-movie goodness, you. Read what JA has to say, he says it better than I.

Throwdown 6/22

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

1. Right off: happy birthday to Meryl Streep, one of the greatest actors ever, who turns 58 today. She’s always been extremely talented; lately, I’ve decided she somehow gets sexier every year.

2. Well, there it is, straight from Coming Soon, the first photo of Harrison Ford on the set of Indiana Jones and the Christ, God, Who Gives a Shit Anymore. Yes, I predicted it would never get made. Still doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good… This is A.I. Spielberg, not Jaws Spielberg.

3. The reviews are in, and apparently Evan Almighty is self-righteous and unfunny. Imagine that; a movie about God that’s self-righteous and unfunny. Haven’t seen seven of those in the last few years. What bothers me more is this idea that, because it’s the most expensive comedy ever made (intentional comedy, that is), there’s something inherently wrong with it. Are we reviewing budgets here, or movies? I don’t get this theory of comedy now where everything has to be 20 minutes long and cost $50,000 or else it’s suddenly, automatically unfunny. I just don’t buy it. I think this is more of a problem across the cinematic landscape; most American movies these days are just far too long, blathering on long after they’ve made their point. Comedies are just the most recent to suffer from this idiotic American literalism.

4. Sure, Paula, because a new face is exactly what is going to make you credible…

5. Gordon Ramsay has been accused (again) of faking scenes on one of his reality shows. You mean something that happened on television isn’t real? I suppose if I were a completely unsophisticated nitwit that might bother me.

6. These Raisin Bran Crunch commercials need to be stopped. I especially despised the guy eating at his desk (you’re at work, hippie, put the granola away and make some calls), but this new group of friends debating the merits of crunch vs. raisin are a whole new kind of dumb. Seriously, how is the guy who had a dream about going to a club with a cartoon sun any more of a moron than the guy who says “As long as Mrs. Flake and Mr. Granola are coming to Crunch Town, it’s a good time”? I’m supposed to take that seriously? Douche bags.

7. I don’t really get advertising at all. Here’s another one I don’t get: that Airwick Freshmatic commercial where the puppet elephant is married to a centipede. What the fuck? And it implies that they have a giraffe for a son? How is this supposed to be funny? What is it about ad men and their love of impossible animal couplings? Am I the only one who finds that disturbing on some level?

8. According to Isaiah Washington, T.R. Knight stirred up the gay slur to get publicity, and Knight should have been fired from Grey’s Anatomy and not him. Oh, and Washington is considering a lawsuit, even though he admitted it, apologized for it, and went to “rehab” for it. Now he’s got a problem with this? I mean, it sucks being fired for not being PC, but didn’t Washington choke a guy, or something? Here’s the funniest part: Washington says “This happened to Malcolm X, this happened to Paul Robeson -- this misconception can happen to any man of power that loves himself and wants to spread that love and that humanity throughout the world.” So, you’re Malcolm X and Paul Robeson now? Dude, you’re just some guy on a TV show, will you get over yourself? Oh, well, I guess you aren’t anymore. But you get the picture.

9. Bruce Campbell not involved in the Bubba Ho-Tep sequel? Well, one less movie I have to see, then.

10. You’re kidding me? The Hillary Clinton campaign song is a Celine Dion song? Really, look, this is what her older women base voted for Oh, that’s just terrifying and stupid all at once. I know that older women are coming out in droves to support another woman, but just because she’s not a man doesn’t mean she’s going to be a good president. I don’t have a problem with a woman being president, just not this woman. In fact, if something legal were to finally happen and Nancy Pelosi ended up being president, that would be just aces with me. The only thing I can console myself with is that older women don’t generally tend to vote…

11. Oh, come on… Amy Winehouse is not a trend-setter, alright? The other day on campus I saw two icky skinny girls walking around with hair like this and those bag lady clothes she wears. Ugh! Is this the height of alternative fashion now? To look like a gang-raped trailer park gypsy who’s been left to die?

12. Oh, Christ, Katie Holmes is pregnant again? Is the pregnancy going to mysteriously last for 17 months before a vaguely Asian child is found on the black market? You know, again? Oh, but she isn’t pregnant. Or she is. Maybe. Who knows? I hate when gossip rags get all excited over news they haven’t even confirmed.

13. Christina Aguilera IS pregnant, though. Which, I hope, will be very hot.

14. Also, Demi Moore may be pregnant. And while I relish the thought of her getting rounder, I don’t know if the world needs another Kutch…


15. I find the constant attempts of the music industry and the people who work in it to whip up excitement by making music more expensive pretty fucking ludicrous. So, the Smashing Pumpkins get back together to record a new album called Zeitgeist. Let’s just imagine for a moment the possibility that someone out there gives a shit. Well, the bright marketing idea behind the album is to release four, yes, four different versions. Best Buy has a version with an exclusive bonus track. Target has a version with a different exclusive bonus track. And iTunes also has its own exclusive bonus track. Everyone else (like those independent record stores that kinda helped to ignite the grunge movement and helped make the Smashing Pumpkins a hit when the big box stores they’re sucking up to now couldn’t be bothered to carry their albums) gets a regular version with no bonuses. So, if you are that imaginary person who gives a shit, you’ve got to buy the album at least three times to get every new song they’ve recorded. Wow, what a bunch of assholes. Don’t worry, though; someone will have all of it up online, and then you won’t have to buy it at all. And you shouldn’t feel bad about it. I wouldn’t.

The Secret World of Links

Here's a new poster for The Dark Is Rising. Not having read the book, I'm not sure what to expect; will it be another The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (good!) or Eragon (bad)? (It won't be another Lord of the Rings because, well, what could be?) But that's Christopher Eccleston at the top, so I'm curious to find out.

* Splotchy's had a busy week! He created a symbol for the Iraq War, conceived a musical based on The Road Warrior, initiated an actor adoption program (which I still need to get on), and even found time to review Wild Hogs. That's more than I did this week, that's for sure!
* The West Virgina Surf Report hilariously reviews the fast food chains and compares food ads to food reality.
* Byzantium's Shores links to a stunning computer application and makes a scientific observation about Pac Man.
* The Colin Giles Manifesto has the entire documentary Of Muppets and Men!
* I Against Comics has the next excellent Teen Titans summary.
* The Absorbascon announces Sword of the Atom week, and takes it issue by issue (1, 2, 3, and 4).
* I would say that Living Between Wednesdays rates a new super hunk, but how can anyone refer to Cyclops that way?
* Comic Book Resources has a list of the 15 creepiest comic book covers of the last year, and surprise, surprise, most of them are Marvel. (Link courtesy of John, who has the best Father's Day gift ever).
* John writes an interesting (and very true) article about whiny fans for the North Adams Transcript

No Smoking in the Skull Cave has a bunch of Divine Comedy videos, some hella cute Aria Giovanni pictures, and a rather sexy drawing of Hermione.
* Corny? Perhaps. But it's one of my favorite songs, and Kilgore's Kitchen has it available for listening.
* Oh, so that's why gay marriage will ruin society.
* X-Entertainment remembers more neat eighties toys.
* I think Layercake has discovered the problem behind my weight gain.
* Apropos of Nothing gets owned. Actually, it's t'other way 'round, but that takes too long to explain. D'oh!
* Cap'n Dyke delineates (pardon the term) some lesbian slang.
* Ken Levine on some TV pilot failures.
* Tom the Dog posits that the golden age is over for HBO programming.
* Lazy Eye Theatre has some words for Eli Roth. I agree with many of them.
* Johnny Yen is right: this guy is the biggest jerk ever.

Dr. Zaius will never rest while the criminal scum walks the streets of our nation's capitol. He mocks stupidity and feels our tragedy, and this week he uncovers the origin of Dick Cheney and chastizes him for holding himself unanswerable to even the president. Seriously, did you know Dick Cheney tried to abolish the agency that's supposed to check vice presidential oversight? Read it in the New York Times.
* You aren't reading Mock, Paper, Scissors? Click the link to find out why you should be.
* The 5 Biggest Pricks in Congress (Cracked)
* The Rude Pundit on American cruelty and antifeminist douchebaggery.

As usual, Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein, the next President of the United States, has something to say. Get to know your candidate as he explicates the role of the white guy in history, castigates corporate pigs and right wing pundits, celebrates the best record label ever, ridicules the Nazi Pope, sticks up for you fellow bloggers, calls the president a hypocrite (he is), can't fathom General Betray-Us (who can?), and teaches Mitt Romney a lesson. Whew! That monkey's going to be running this place soon!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

An Open Letter to Governor Rod Blagojevich

Dear Rod,

Cut the shit, wipe that stupid, evil grin off of your simpleton countenance, and give everyone their fucking money back.

I just found out that you live in Chicago and fly to Springfield for budget negotiations. And that it's cost us, the taxpayers of Illinois, roughly $5800 per trip. AND that you've been doing it for a month now, costing us around $76,000 so far.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Wasn't this going on while your own aides were admonishing state legislators for not spending enough time in the Capitol? I'm sorry, did you run on the "I'm a big fucking hypocrite" ticket, and I just missed it? It does seem to be a very popular platform with politicians these days. But surely even you're observant enough to catch the irony here: that you're wasting taxpayer money to fly to budget meetings.

Of course, you're refusing to answer any questions about this. Politicians hate it when we don't let them get away with absolute rule, but instead force them to cling to the democratic principles they're so quick to invoke whenever they want to break the law, be self-serving, raise your taxes, or do whatever the hell they want with no questions asked for your own good.

Wasn't the whole point of electing you the first time to get rid of the corrupt Ryan family?

And when the hell is the Illinois highway system going to be paid for? The Ryans strung us along for years, telling us it was almost there and almost there, and then you came in and said the same thing. And then, to force people into paying for the I-Pass, you raised the tolls! By a hundred percent! You fucking extorting lying asshole.

You know who could use the money you're wasting on plane trips? Teachers. I'm not sure what teachers make in a year these days, but I know it ain't $76,000. I imagine it's not even half of that, especially in Chicago.

Maybe I should give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you're just kind of simple, and didn't remember being told that there is an Executive Mansion in Springfield set up for--wait for it--the Governor of Illinois. And even if you don't want to live there, you can do what those corrupt Ryans did and stay there while the State Legislature is in session.

What's that? You "prefer" to go home at the end of the day?

Man up, little camper! Do your fucking job in the least wasteful way possible! The State Legislature only meets three days a week, man!

So, until you understand that trips like this waste our tax money, you're going to have to get our permission from now on. Either move to Springfield like a big boy governor, or just finally stop pretending and move the capitol to Chicago like it should be. This is not what our tax money should be going to, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who resents this... what would you call it? A necessity? A trip you "prefer" to make?

That's funny. I'd call it a classic abuse of power. Think about getting elected the next time you pull this shit.

Sincerely,
SamuraiFrog

Annoyances

Random and rude shit that's bugging me just now.

1. Dear Girls from the Bronx,

The only people who call Orange County "the OC" are morons, hipsters, trendoids, MTV viewers, TV executives, and dumbass white people who have been out of high school long enough to know better. You don't want to sound like any of those assholes, so don't console yourself over the Bronx's lack of cool cachet by referring to it as "the BX." "BX" is just ugly. You know what it sounds like? Some kind of bowel movement. And not just any kind of bowel movement--the kind you have when you have some kind of intestinal problem and you don't know what it is. Something foul and unknown. Like, you wanted to have a BM, but you had a BX and now you can't sit down because your distended asshole hurts. Disgusting. Stop it. It makes you sound disgusting and somehow disease-ridden. No one wants to hang out with a girl who has BX problems. Please adjust your self-esteems accordingly. Leave constantly shouting the name of your home town because of your crippling self-esteem problems to those morons in Bensonhurst.

Thank you,
SamuraiFrog

2. Here's something really insensitive that I must ask: what is it with these fat Midwestern women who always drive those really low-to-the-ground red cars. Lately it seems like every time I drive past campus, there's one of them behind me, driving 10 miles over the speed limit because they're oh-so-entitled, then tailgating me all the way up Lucinda Avenue because everywhere they have to be is important. After all, she's talking incessantly into a cell phone that's six years out of date, she must be talking to the gang at Kishwaukee County Hospital and directing them through another brain surgery. I had one yesterday with your typical Midwestern curly, bushy blond hair and those multicolored clothes that fat women wear sometimes; she looked like Colin Baker when he starred on Doctor Who.Looking in the rearview mirror and seeing her waaaaaay to close to me was to know the terror that only comes when you know you're about to be savagely anal-raped by a clown in the middle of the road. No thanks, Fatty O'Chuckles, you can just back off and drive to Starbucks to meet the rest of the horde and talk about how you missed spinning class again because you were just too tired.

3. Thinking about it, I find the term "executive assistant" hard to fathom. I mean, an executive assistant sounds like an executive, but is really just a secretary. You're not an executive of assistance, but an assistant for executives. In a way, the term is concessional and vaguely insulting. It's almost mocking, like calling a retard "special" instead of retarded (the actual technical term--their mental or developmental processes have been retarded in some way). When did secretary become such a demeaning term, anyway? Everyone wants to sound like they do something technical, as though someone who answers phones, takes notes, types and gets coffee is somehow an engineer. Hey, Condi Rice is a secretary...and doesn't she just look adorable in her grown-up business suit?

I know, I know, she looks like Tracy Morgan in a dress and badly applied lipstick.

4. I'm already sick of seeing reviews on peoples' blogs of the new Fantastic Four movie, saying that it's worse than the first one. If you hated the first one (and it deserved it--stop saying it "had its good points" when it was entirely a piece of shit), why did you go to the sequel? Do you think anyone in Hollywood gives a shit that you didn't like it now that they have your money? Your opinion is beside the point. Buying a ticket is voting for them to make another, even worse movie. And the reviews I've read so far are almost apologetic in tone, as though not liking a movie you've paid to see is somehow acting ungratefully so you have to say nice things about it. So many blogs, so few genuine opinions.

How SamuraiFrog Will Be Remembered

Here's what my obituary apparently looks like.

QuizGalaxy!
'What will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com

Here's my epitaph.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com


Nice, but after I'm cremated, I'm going to put up a marker that says: "In memory of SamuraiFrog," with a picture of me pointing at you, and then the words "No, fuck you."

Just for the hell of it, here's my definition.

SamuraiFrog

[adjective]:

Visually addictive

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com
Don't you forget it, baby.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Heard the Word, Wonderful Thing

If there's not love present, it's much, much harder to function. When there's love present, it's easier to deal with life.

Brian Wilson was born 63 years ago today. And I owe him some of my continued sanity.

Brian is perhaps the single biggest musical influence on my life. Whenever I'm so depressed that I can't even see straight anymore, I always return to his music, both as a solo artist and as one of the Beach Boys. I know many people have the idea of the Beach Boys as nothing more than surf rockers who did "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfin' USA" and went straight to performing at county fairs, but that's inaccurate. In between, Brian Wilson was behind some of the best and most beautiful music ever written (and he doesn't do that Mike Love fair shit, anyhow). That music has gotten me through some tough times, and it continues to. After all, as Brian said, "a voice or a song can be so comforting to someone who really needs it."

In honor of his birthday, I've suspended 1967 Summer for today and replaced the music in my Box widget with ten songs by the Beach Boys that were written or co-written by Brian. I really hope that you take some time out before Friday, when 1967 Summer resumes, and listen to some of these songs.

1. Don't Worry, Baby
Brian wrote this song for the Ronettes; he was so in love with the song "Be My Baby" that he listened to it on a constant loop during his late sixties depression period. Simple, beautiful harmony.

2. Surfer Girl
Delicately beautiful, an early song but one of the best.

3. This Whole World
From the underrated album Sunflower, this is just a tremendously uplifting song. At this point, the Beach Boys were changing their sound to something nicely described as sunkissed.

4. I Just Wasn't Made for These Times
I feel every word of this song. Ten years before I was born, this song is so perfectly me that it almost hurts to listen to. Aching. From Pet Sounds, the masterpiece.

5. Hang On to Your Ego
A Pet Sounds outtake of sorts; listen to how forceful Brian is in his singing. He's pissed off about something.

6. Still I Dream of It
This is from Adult Child, the album of demos that weren't recorded or released. The synthesizer is a little cheesy, but it's a beautiful song. I can feel Brian's genuine yearning.

7. All Summer Long
Back to the mid-sixties. Can you catch the sort of dark undertones this song has? "Won't be long till summertime is through," indeed.

8. God Only Knows
Pet Sounds again, but I still think it's the loveliest song ever written. And Paul McCartney agrees with me, if that means anything. That's Brian's brother Carl on the lead vocal, by the way.

9. 'Til I Die
Haunting and sad, a man adrift in a world with nothing to offer. Sometimes, I feel this one, too.

10. Surf's Up
Even if you don't listen to the others, listen to this one. This song will haunt you, uplift you, and depress you at the same time. This is a perfect, perfect song. Carl on leads, again. I love it.

Thank you for everything, Brian Wilson.

I Guess I Saw That Coming

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Free Online Dating
I guess it's because I use the word fuck too much. Maybe I should say fuck less often. Of course, as I tell my mother, how the fuck am I supposed to fucking stop saying fuck when I don't fucking notice how fucking often I say fuck?

Can We Just Abort the President?

Junior is going to use his veto again; and once again, he's going to use it on stem cell research.

Maybe he just likes being a hated man...

This all comes down, once again, to this idiot image Junior's got in his head of people having abortions willy nilly for stem cells. Oh, he's also worried about the ethics of creating stem cells, because he has this image in his head of lightning and tables and somebody screaming "It's alive!" and God getting all pissy about it.

Look, can we stop pretending a couple of things here? First, I'll respect your God superstitions and hoodoo if you respect the right of others to perform scientific research that may lead to curing the world of disease. I don't tell you that you can't go in a church and cower and mewl under the shadow of threatening magic, so don't legislate against something that's actually useful to the world.

Second, Junior, stop pretending to care about human embryos. Because a man responsible for the deaths of as many as you are looks like a giant shit when he pretends to care about children. Do we really need to go into how badly your administration has fucked over the living children of this world? You only care about potential children in so far as women are forced to have them; your "caring" ends right there. You won't fund social programs and education so that those children can actually make something of themselves. So don't expect me to believe for a second that you actually give a shit about people, you dick.

Nancy Pelosi said in an email: "By vetoing a bill that expands stem cell research, the president will say 'no' to the more than 70 percent of Americans who support it, 'no' to our Democratic Congress' fight for progress, and 'no' to saving lives and to potential cures for diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's. He will say 'no' to hope."

The worst part is the Republican rhetoric that's coming from this. Senator Norm Coleman is pushing for research into pluripotent stem cells, which he says have the same potential as embryonic stem cells. He says: "Those who support the stem cell research bill ... are at a definitive crossroads. Do they seek to advance lifesaving research for millions of Americans suffering from serious disease or do they, in fact, prefer to keep stem cell research at a political stalemate?"

I'm sick of this shit where Republicans act like they're the ones who care, and any Democrat pushing for actual life-saving ideas is somehow vainglorious. Even more troubling is the amount of otherwise reasonable Americans who believe this Karl Rove-originating nonsense. "Oh, I guess the Democrats won't save us after all," they say impatiently, already defeated. The whimper of whipped dogs.

Republicans, stop pretending you care about people. It's just embarrassing, and somehow manages to make you look like even bigger assholes that we already know you are.

Film Week

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

OUR RELATIONS (1936)
I just love Laurel & Hardy. In this one, they run afoul of their no account twin brothers, there's a mix-up with some money and a ring and the always-wonderful Alan Hale, and it builds from there. Perhaps not as tight as The Music Box, but it is a feature. Funny as hell. ***1/2 stars.

THE CRAZIES (1973)
It's hard to believe that there's a George Romero movie I was bored with, but here we are. Lane Carroll was very sexy, but I got bored with it. It's like he tried to make another Night of the Living Dead instead of doing what he would eventually do and make a sequel. * star.

LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD (2005)
I tend to love Albert Brooks on an almost unconditional level, and this film was no exception. Brooks writes, directs, and plays himself, sent to south Asia by the American government to investigate for a special report on what makes Muslims laugh. The rest is an excuse for Brooks's sarcasm and dry humor, and how he attempts to found a comfort level in India and Pakistan where he can joke around and relax. He's aided by a lovely Indian woman played by Sheetal Sheth, who wants to learn more about humor. It's a dry movie, pretty deadpan, but there's this nice core to it, with Brooks pointing out that different cultures have inherent similarities, and even if sources of humor are different, people everywhere love to laugh. It was worth it all for one scene: Fred Thompson, giving Brooks his assignment, says "Now, you know the president has a fantastic sense of humor." Cut to Brooks looking distastefully confused. ***1/2 stars.

I LOVE Michelle Marsh by the Pool

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Health Report: Week 27

You know what I really want right now? Five of these.
I don't know why, but this week has just been so lean for me. I feel like I've barely eaten, and I really want to splurge on this enormous, fatal heart attack-inducing meal that will just bust my guts right open.

Maybe that's too far. But you get the idea: I'm starving.

There's not a whole lot going on this week. The job front is, of course, what I'm obsessing over. I didn't get the courier job I went out for, and I don't think the speaking job is going to happen. Carl came over on Friday night and taped the audition for me (thanks again, dude!), and we had a nice night just chatting and catching up. He mailed it for me yesterday, but it looks like Monster fucked me over. Originally, the job description said all applications postmarked by 22 June would be considered, but when I looked on the website to get the address on Sunday, the date had changed to 1 June. So, either they meant July, or just decided to cut everyone off because there were a ton of applicants. Whatever, it got mailed out, they can respond or not. I don't care anymore, and it's getting harder and harder to be polite. Someone sent me the link to a job where you can be an online guide for people who need help on the internet, which doesn't exactly sound like an in demand skill, and when the application asked "Why would you be a good internet guide?" I answered "Because I have a lot of time on my hands and nothing to do but surf the web." This close to just giving up.

There was a bright spot this afternoon. An actual publisher (I know them from having worked at Waldenbooks and Barnes & Noble) set up a branch office in DeKalb, and they're looking for word processors. I went there today (you should have seen me all dressed up in nice clothes--I looked pretty damn good) and applied. The woman there was very nice and encouraging, and said they'd be accepting applications for another couple of weeks and then making calls. Since I tried for months after graduating to get a job as an editor, this would be a nice foot in the door into publishing. At the very least, it would actually pay me money to do work. That would be nice.

"SamuraiFrog, this is Jim Halpert. Accept a job with an office. Your writing won't cut it. Accept the job you will eventually die in. Be an office douche, it's what you're meant to do! Muahahahahahahaha!"

*brrr!*

As far as the health thing goes, I'm doing good and bad. Where to start? I know I'm still losing mass. I put on my nice pants today for the first time in a year; when I bought them, they were tight and I actually had to lay back on the bed to get them to button and zip. Today, they just slipped right on and didn't feel tight at all. No problems in that area, and it felt fucking awesome. I think it has to do with all the swimming I've been doing at the pool. The constant movement in the water (when I'm not swimming, I'm treading water) is burning my immense fat reserves. Fuck, my trunks almost fell off the other day! I'm getting thinner. I hadn't seen Carl in a year, and he told me I looked thinner since the last time I saw him. Not bad. I'm glad other people can see it, because there are some days I worry it's never going away.

For some reason, though, I've been sleepy a lot. I'm sleepy right now, in fact. I've been falling asleep earlier at night and waking up later; and it's a very hard, deep sleep, too. I've actually stopped walking because I'm just so damn tired. I've got to get back up to walking every morning. I'm still crunching, though. My mom told me I shouldn't do what I've been doing--3 reps of 20. She says it's bad to do a rep of more than 12. Is that true? I don't know, I've got no experience with losing weight and getting healthy at the level I'm trying for.

I'm spacing out my meals a little too much and not eating the healthiest, but the swimming seems to be making up for some of that. I'll bet I'd be dropping the weight faster if I were eating better. I still eat eggs every morning; the warm food gets my metabolism working early in the day, and I feel much better.

Those mood swings, though. I still don't know if these are normal. I think being unemployed is affecting me emotionally a lot more than I'm trying to give it credit for. I can go from the highest highs to the lowest lows in seconds. Today I just broke down again, crying and crying while I looked in the mirror and said "I hate you" over and over again. That's not healthy behavior. And I know I'm not one of those people who eats for comfort when they get depressed, but I bet a triple Whopper might make me feel pretty good...

*sigh*

Tell me why I'm putting myself through all of this again.

Oh, that's why!

Some Surprisingly Long Thoughts on Evan Almighty

So, is anyone planning on seeing this movie?
I'm just asking. I'd kind of like to see it, but I'm not sure I'm really going to bother, either. It's the sequel to Bruce Almighty, the surprise hit 2003 movie that was... sort of okay, I guess.

The original and the sequel were both directed by Tom Shadyac, a man who has directed some of the blandest movies I've ever seen. He previously directed Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which I hated, and Liar Liar, which was... sort of okay, I guess. He's also the director of the justly reviled Patch Adams, the not terrible Nutty Professor, and the ridiculous Kevin Costner vehicle Dragonfly. For some reason, Bruce was a hit with audiences; I imagine that reason has something to do with a positive worldview coupled with a bland, inoffensive, character-free outlook on religion. It wasn't strong enough to offend (or to inspire), and that kind of movie margarine usually makes money, especially with old people, little kids, and those who aren't interested in being challenged or confronted. In other words, the majority of the American audience.

If anything other than Shadyac's light touch is keeping me from seeing the movie, it's the ad campaign. I've been joking around that this movie is blasphemous, because in the bible God promises never to destroy the world with a flood again, and here he is telling someone to build another ark. But it seems to me that, both as a narrative and as special effects, the big question the trailer asks is: will there be a flood? And, the trailer answers, yes, there will be. Oh, okay. No need to waste my time seeing it when this slight excuse for dramatic tension is gone. Thanks!

I mean, it's going to be the exact same movie as Bruce Almighty, isn't it? Some guy who's full of himself gets gently reprimanded by a surprisingly smug supreme being and, much to the bewilderment of a bland wife imported from a TV show and without the ability to play anything but one character, does whatever God tells him to do and learns a valuable lesson. The end. That took mere seconds to write, by the way.

But there's one thing Evan Almighty already has over Bruce Almighty: no Jim Carrey.
In this scene, Bruce tries to win back Jennifer Aniston (why bother?) by ordering her "Love me! LOOOOOVE MEEEEEE!" This embarrassing little scene is perfectly indicative of why I never really found Jim Carrey funny: he's constantly sucking up to the audience, ingratiating himself for approval. And at the same time, he so very clearly despises the audience, and there's a tone of meanness and irritability to most of his comic performances. He's liked best when he's a performing seal, and he chafes under the knowledge. But watching Carrey try to be sincere and genuine is like watching Robin Williams do the same: he's never emotionally honest, and unless his phoniness and hostility are used to an interesting effect (as in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), he's just embarrassing.

Evan Almighty stars Steve Carell, a much better actor. Granted, I hated him in Bruce Almighty; I thought people blew his role out of proportion. That scene with him tripping over his words during a news broadcast was idiot humor, and people acted like it was Monty Python reincarnate. Get a grip. It was cute, but if that's the best your movie can do...

Still, I love Steve Carell, and his mere presence makes me think seeing the movie might be fun if I have nothing else to do. Unlike Carrey, Carell doesn't constantly need to ingratiate himself with the audience in order to get laughs. He doesn't have that emotional vanity--at least not yet. His performances have an integrity to them; Carrey wants to be superior. Take The Office, for example; Michael Scott could have been a one note egomaniac, but instead Carell gives him just enough depth to make him funny, sad, and recognizably human. Instead of having to show you how much better he is than the character, Carell simply inhabits the role. It's like he doesn't care how he looks, as long as the character works and is funny.

And that's what an actor is supposed to do.

A Language Favor

Could everyone please stop using the phrase "turn of the century" when referring to something from 1890-1910? It's seven years into another one; you are right at the tail end of the turn of a century, and "turn of the century" doesn't make grammatic sense anymore. You're now talking about the turn of the last century. Thank you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert is the film critic of my life, and I got my critical bent from reading and watching him since I was a little kid. He's one of my writing heroes; living near Chicago, I always had an unattainable dream that I might replace him as film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. But enough of my fever dreams--Ebert turns 65 today, and I just wanted to note that and say congratulations to the man. Here he is pictured with a friend of his and another man I admire, Russ Meyer.

Thanks, Roger, for all the years of great writing. I find we often think alike.

The McCain Campaign Is Mainly on the Wane

Some things I've read recently about John McCain's run for the Republican nomination.

1. McCain's original strategy was to establish front-runner status by claiming he was next in line. Which is the same idiot thinking that got us saddled with President Duh in the first place. Just because Junior's daddy was president doesn't mean he gets to be; what I knew in 2000 (but apparently most of the voters didn't) was that the presidency is not inherited.

2. McCain's political assault on Mitt Romney, labeling him as an inconsistent "flip-flopper" (God, how I hate that term), has been heavily criticized by analysts as a last ditch effort to revive the McCampaign by attacking a member of his own party.

But, let's not lose sight of the important thing: that Romney is a flip-flopper. And people should be pointing that out. I mean, they're both evil, but at least McCain is evil you can depend on. It's not a matter of--as the Romney campaign is smugly trying to make it--whether or not McCain is just trying to desperately keep his chances alive. The fact is, Romney has changed his stance on abortion (among other things) simply because he'll say he believes anything as long as he gets elected.

Currently, McCain is third in the polls among the Republican cabal of potential, um, leaders. Giuliani is still far in the lead, at 26.1%--apparently his creepy fear-mongering plays with audiences. (Seriously, telling the most powerful and rich nation in the history of the world that they're going to crumble at any second and need to give absolute power to one man because our security--which yielded one attack on American soil in the last 65 years--is too lax is practically treasonous). Fred Thompson is in second place at 16.6, then McCain (15.9) and Romney last with 10.4. Still, many are saying that Romney could be emerging as frontrunner, which is just sad.

I think our country will be headed further and further towards totalitarianism if we make the mistake of electing any of them--the Ghoul, the Actor, the Soldier, or the Mormon. Or if we do what we did in 2000, and just idly let them use voter fraud to steal the election.

But I will say this: McCain is right about Romney being a flip-flopper. A candidate's character deserves to be questioned, and Romney has no character. McCain did this before, questioning Bush's trustworthiness in 2000. He was right then, and he's right now.

He still doesn't deserve to be president, but in those two instances, he's absolutely right.

TV Report: Three Brief Reviews

Review One: 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter
In theory, I love Kaley Cuoco. She's hot, she's sexy, what else do I usually look for in an actress? Yeah, I can admit it. But in practice, the TV shows she does are usually pretty awful. And this is coming from a guy who watched the entire run of Still Standing. In reruns, but still... It's a Chicago thing. Maybe. Anyway, my TiVo took it upon itself to record two episodes of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. I watched it a few years ago when it was on what they called "Daytime WB," and I thought I had enjoyed it (especially John Ritter). So, home alone with nothing to do, I hit play and figured I'd watch.

Oh, man. Have you actually seen this thing? It's awful. Much worse than I remember. Truly, truly a screechy, self-important, unfunny show. I can't decide which aspect I hate the most, but it goes something like this.

OLDER DAUGHTER: La la la, I'm all cute and dress like kind of a slut.

DAD: Grrr, that makes me nervous!

YOUNGER DAUGHTER: I'm less cute but really want guys to like me, cuz that's more important than being smart. My sister was mean to me!

DAD: Grr, younger daughter, quit being a tattletale!

SON: It's true, Dad, I saw it when I was hiding under her bed looking for information to use against her.

DAD: Then that's different, for you are a boy and therefore special. Older daughter, you're grounded!

OLDER DAUGHTER: I hate you!

DAD: I am destroyed inside!

YOUNGER DAUGHTER: You took your son's word over mine? I hate you!

DAD: Go to your room, where you will invariably team up to foil me!

MOM: Hi, I'm home. I never have a say in how the house is run, because I work!

And scene.

That's every single episode right there. At least until John Ritter dies. Then it just gets stupid. Well, more stupid. I can't believe anyone watched this show, and furthermore that it's about to come out on DVD. Does anyone derive any joy from this show? And who am I supposed to like, exactly? Everyone's an asshole and no one illicits any sympathy. It's like the entire message of the show is that everyone's selfish, but that's okay because they're a family so they have to like each other. Or something.

Review Two: The Tudors
I wasn't disappointed in this series at all. It started a little shaky, sure, but it really picked up and, I thought, moved very quickly. Dismissing the criticism of historical inaccuracy as a non-starter, the most pertinent criticism of this show that I heard was that Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII wasn't strong as a central character. I think critics who said that missed the point. It's not about Henry, it's about the world around Henry and how it reacts to his whims. Henry, as portrayed on the show, isn't a man of thought or depth; he's a spoiled brat who thinks it's the natural course of life that he gets whatever he wants, because that's the way it's always been. He can't imagine life any differently.

There are some great supporting performances on this show, but my favorites ended up being Maria Doyle Kennedy as a very wounded but very capable Catherine of Aragon, Jeremy Northam as a pious and inflexible Thomas More, and Sam Neill as a sympathetic and increasingly desperate Cardinal Wolsey. They anchor the show as representations of duty, justice, and free will. Rightly, the conflict of the show--Henry wants to divorce Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn--is not about morals or love, it's about politics. The show--written by Michael Hirst, who wrote Elizabeth--never steps away from its theory that the Anne Boleyn affair was orchestrated to discredit Wolsey and gain influence over the king. A bit of revisionism, perhaps, but it makes for one exciting series. But it's all Sam Neill by the end, and I'm sorry that Wolsey, as in history, didn't make it to the end (and won't be on the next series).

A year to wait, but I will miss Natalie Dormer in the interim...

Review Three: Flight of the Conchords
I can appreciate that this show was put together with a firm formula in mind. Unfortunately, it seems to be this theory:Really, you could almost substitute any HBO comedy for Tenacious D and it'll still be accurate: it's like ______, but not funny. (For blank, substitute any combination of the following: Tenacious D, Mr. Show with Bob and David, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Da Ali G Show.) I didn't laugh once, and even if the music was okay, the rest was all the stuff that HBO has made so popular in network sitcoms: cleverness valued over laughs, constant self-referencing, things meant to be funny simply because they're bizarre, and a lot of awkward standing around. Yeah, sometimes it's funny, but Flight of the Conchords is going through the motions and assuming it's supposed to be funny on its own. I know that today's audience is too hip and to smart and self-satisfied to simply enjoy actual jokes, but what is the point of this thing?

I miss Lucky Louie. I don't care, it was funny, just misunderstood. "Not meta" is not a valid criticism.