Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hands Off

One of the perils of doing the crossword puzzle in the Daily Chronicle while out at breakfast is that it's on the same page as the advice columns. So, after finishing the puzzle, my eye drifts over and starts scanning. Here's something I read yesterday that kind of bugged me.

In the 6 May Dear Abby column, a woman identified as "Pregnant and Paranoid in Calif." wrote a letter about how troubled she was that, everywhere she went, complete strangers would just walk up to her and touch her pregnant belly. This seems perfectly reasonable to me. Who wants people you don't even know--and sometimes people you do--walking up to you and touching you in a place that almost feels intimate? I mean, how many people usually touch your belly in the course of an average day? I can see strangers tapping you on the shoulder or shaking an offered hand, but most other touching seems like an invasion of space to me.

I guess this woman stuck out in my memory, because the entire 28 June Dear Abby column was dedicated to mail received about this woman's complaint, and I remembered it with little prompting. The replies ranged across 3 types of responses.

1. "She's right. Who wants strangers walking up to you and thinking they have the right to touch you in any way, just because you're pregnant?"

2. "She should chillax. Touching a pregnant belly is instinctual, and babies aren't personal, they're a gift to the community."

3. "Hey, that's what she gets for showing people she's pregnant."

Okay, first off, if you're going to keep reading, we have to agree that it's not cool for people to just walk up and touch you. I don't care if you're pregnant, it's just rude. Imagine being a woman and walking into a store and someone just walks up and touches you. If you weren't pregnant, wouldn't that be harrassment?

As for the second reaction, it says a lot, I think, about the way women are still treated in this society that there are people who can't exercise the civilized notion that it's impolite to touch someone you don't even know; even if you ask first, I think. If you can't overcome your instincts to be polite, you've got problems. I myself have only touched two pregnant bellies in my life that I can remember--one was a friend of my mom's, the other was my stepmom, and I was invited to do so. This whole idea is actually more infuriating than the third. It's sanctimonius at best; that whole "just trying to help" attitude which allows well-meaning but deluded people to think they have some kind of personal stake in the lives of people they don't even know. It's insulting.

And while we're on the topic, I know people are proud of having children, but can we please stop calling birth a miracle? It's a natural biological process, and you're not the first person who ever did it. Not to diminish your love for your kids, but get some perspective. It happens thousands of times a day, and if it were a miracle, this is not the world they would be born into.

The third reaction, unsurprisingly, came mostly from women. No one cattily disparages a woman like another woman. To be fair, one came from a man who claimed to be a doctor and said "she should relax and enjoy a little gratuitous physical contact; some people have to pay big money for it." Can't you just hear an inept cop sneering that at a woman who comes in saying she's been date raped? What an ass. The other two that followed this line of thinking said that the woman needed to cover up and not "advertise" their pregnancy.

The worst response came from "Old-Fashioned Grandma in South Carolina." She said: "Does 'Pregnant and Paranoid' wear today's ridiculously tight clothing that is so in now? The clothing that I have seen pregnant women wear advertises their protruding bellies and, in my opinion, encourages people to notice and admire their bellies, implying there's an open invitation to touch them."

What? So what you're saying, Grandma, is that the simple act of being pregnant and wearing clothes that accentuate it is an "open invitation"? In other words--hey, she was asking for it.

That's, at the very least, supremely misguided.

I'll tell you what this whole thing reminded me of. Now, this may be a surprise to some of you, but I like breasts. More than most things on this planet, I love breasts. And when I see a woman wearing "today's ridiculously tight clothing that is so in now," which "advertises" their beautiful breasts of any size, that may "encourage" me to "notice and admire" their breasts, I don't take that as an "open invitation to touch them." I don't assume that I can just walk right up to a woman and put my hands on her breasts. I'm a civilized human being with manners and a modicum of social grace. Walking up to a woman I don't know and touching her breasts is not a compliment; it's indecorous, rude. I don't think she's asking for it by showing herself off. Just because someone likes they way they look in certain clothes doesn't mean they want to be taken advantage of.

So why is it different for a woman who is pregnant? Well, the answer is: it isn't. Keep your hands to yourselves.

You Say You Wanna Be My Girl?

Your Score: The Favorite Friend
67% Sexy-Cute, 72% Dark-Light, 48% Artsy-Stylish

Cute, Light, and neither Artsy nor Stylish, she's that friend we've all had. The great girl. The one we've been friends with since the third grade. The one who laughs at our jokes and sends funny text messages. The one with whom we secretly, desperately want to crawl under the covers and spend the next eighteen hours naked.

Your Type of Girl Test

Friday, June 29, 2007

Throwdown 6/29

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

1. ABC renewed According to Jim? Why, God, why? Oh, probably because Cavemen is going to suck massive amounts of ass.

2. Last week I was crestfallen to hear that Pacey was going to play Fletch. Now I hear John Krasinski’s name coming up, and that makes me happy. I like this idea. Plus, it’ll be easier to ignore License to Wed if he makes an actual good movie after it. I love this casting, although…has anyone considered Seth Rogen?

3. One more bit of movie news. What with Wild Hogs and I Now Pronounce You Stupid and Shit for Brains, it seems being scared of gay people and ridiculing them is pretty popular. So the idiot who made Hogs is now going to make Old Dogs, a “comedy” where Robin Williams (playing a divorced man) and John Travolta (a womanizer, certainly believable) take their respective kids to a summer camp. Then they meet the leader of the camp, Matt Dillon, who thinks they’re gay lovers and keeps a sharp eye on them. That’s a plot for a movie? Dude, that barely would sustain a half-hour sitcom in the late seventies. That’s something I don’t get about current movies: why are white guys afraid of gay people, and why do they think it’s so funny to be afraid of them?

4. I’m sure I asked this before, but is it okay to write off Hayden Panetierre now? I’m going to say yes.

5. Boy, it really has been a decade, hasn’t it? Remember when they used to be hot? Now they’re… well, time has taken away the only reason I would’ve wanted them to get back together in the first place.

6. Well, Parasite is out of jail, and the major news seems to be how much everyone doesn’t care. Or says they don’t. My favorite part is that she and her “people” have been trying to shop around rights to her first interview after getting out (with a hefty price tag), and no one seems to want it. [Ah, scratch that—Larry King is interviewing Paris. Actually, he dumped Michael Moore, a passionate documentarian with something important to say about making America a better place, for a rich hanger-on famous for drunk driving and amateur porn films. Wise choice, Larry. I’m sure CNN being owned by a bunch of rednecks and neocons has something to do with it, but still—you’re an idiot.] Hell, US Weekly has even decided—finally—that it’s time to black out coverage of Parasite. About the only person interested in her is, to my disappointment, Hugh Hefner, who apparently really, really wants to see her pose in Playboy. I don’t know why, since we’ve all seen her naked already, and it’s not really that impressive a sight. Hefner—after rejecting Kelly Osbourne and talking about getting Parasite and Stickbug Spice (or Posh, whatever) to pose all angular and bony—really needs to be taken out of the picture when it comes to Playboy. He just doesn’t get it anymore, and he looks like an ass.

7. My favorite part of the Larry King interview? Not the part where he asked her what her favorite bible passage was and she couldn’t think of one. No, it’s the part where Larry asks her if she’s ever done drugs and she says, flat out: “No.” It looked like it was all she could do to keep from laughing. Stupid bitch.

8. See, this is why it’s hard for me to ban Paris Hilton: the media reaction to her is priceless. All they can talk about is how they’re not going to talk about her anymore. Mika Brzezinski is a goddamn hero and deserves to not have to breathe the same air as potential Imus replacement Joe Scarborough. Check out this wonderful clip of Mika on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where she refused to lead off a news program with a story about Paris Hilton being released from jail as though it were actual news. Good for her, and Scarborough somehow managed to look like an even bigger jackoff than usual by treating her like a child and practically demanding that Paris be shown. Ms. Brzezinski deserves to be picked up by a network that isn’t the failure MSNBC is and given an anchor spot reading actual news. Good for you for having principles. Too bad you're stuck on TV with a couple of guys who, in this clip, are basically verbally gang-raping you.

9. Alien worshipper, closeted gay, and amateur psychiatrist Tom Cruise has been banned from Germany. More specific: he’s making a movie about Count Claus von Stauffenberg’s failed attempt to assassinate Hitler, and the German government will not allow scenes to be filmed at German military sites. Why? Tom Cruise is a member of the “church” of scientology, which the German government doesn’t recognize, but considers it a moneymaking scam. Imagine! The count’s 72 year-old son Berthold is also condemning the film, saying Tom Cruise should “keep his hands off my father.” He also hopes this whole thing is just a publicity stunt, and that the movie “is sure to be crap.” Wow. Germany hates Tom Cruise. Awesome.

10. I need a quick moment before the insanity takes over. Ah, Hilary Duff in a bikini for Shape magazine. And she looks fantastic, too. Not the skinny little skeleton she was for the past year or two at all.

11. Speaking of skeletons: ew. I was attacked on my blog this week for finding Dawn French sexually attractive, and the bad taste is still in my mouth. But I have to say, even a woman who’s very overweight looks a lot better to me than this. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I think someone is attractive who looks comfortable with themselves. Fat, thin, gay, straight, scientologist, rational thinking person.

12. What the hell is Cameron Diaz doing with a purse with a Maoist symbol painted on it? Is she a communist now, or is she just like one of those morons you see walking around with the Che Guevara shirt but don’t know who he is? I’m guessing it’s the latter—it’s no secret she’s kind of incredibly dumb, and she doesn’t seem to have much of an idea of what goes on outside of herself. Anyway, she was visiting Peru, where 70,000 people died in a Maoist insurgency less than 20 years ago. Maybe for an encore she can put on a swastika armband and blithely skip her way through the Holocaust Museum.

13. Nancy Grace, who was married two months ago, is four months pregnant. Ah, a dream romance. And certainly worthy of a moral hypocrite with a cheap, insincere approach to reality. May I suggest Ms. Graceless name her twins Melinda and Trenton?

14. Oh, hilarious, more of Isaiah Washington talking. Let’s hear what stupid thing he’ll say next. “It didn’t help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn’t a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn’t speak like I’d just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometimes. I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that ’some people’ were afraid of me around the studio. I asked her why, because I’m a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn’t go around saying ‘Yessah, massa sir’ and ‘No sir, massa’ to everyone? It’s nuts when your presence alone can just scare people, and that made me a prime candidate to take the heat in a dysfunctional family.” Yes, Isaiah, I’m sure that’s why you were fired and why people were scared of you. I’m sure it had nothing to do with you choking a guy and acting like an asshole. Look, I don’t care how insensitive this sounds, but I really have to say this: slavery ended over 150 years ago, pack up that excuse and move on with your lives. I’m not going to feel bad for you because you’re black every time you want to manipulate me into sympathy. Just because you’re black doesn’t mean you get to act like an asshole and not get called on your monstrously shitty behavior, Isaiah. And isn’t Grey’s Anatomy producer Shonda Rimes one of the few black producers on television? How dare you use that excuse, you dumb prick? How dare you play the opportunist here? There is not a man or woman alive who has a living memory of “the plantation,” you dick. We don’t expect black people to be subservient. We expect people not to walk around their jobs choking people and calling them names. What a shit you are. And I’m speaking as someone who used to actually respect you as an actor before you started doing TV soaps: what an utter shit you are.

15. Well… she’s not wrong, really. Recently, Rosie O’Donnell posted a picture on her blog (there’s a video now, here) of her child wearing a bullet sash. Of course, most people seem to have missed the point—that there are places in the world where children are trained to kill, and that this idiotic war is doing the same to our kids. That we are going to have to say goodbye to more and more of our children because Bush’s war policy seems to be “always escalate and damn the consequences.” I don’t always agree with Rosie, but she makes a powerful point in a powerful way. It’s supposed to be shocking; it has to be. This is such a nation of pussies who don’t want to speak up about anything for fear of appearing “ungrateful.” Seriously, how soft are people these days? This is a nation where 95% of the parents become immediately stupid just by the simple act of having kids, and then immediately want to soften up, pussify, and dumb down everything so that the nation can be safe for children. People who believe a soft bicycle helmet is going to keep their precious offspring from breaking their necks. You know what someone would have to do to take over this country? March in with soldiers, declare this land for China or whomever, and then tell people that they’ll get to keep American Idol, their useless religions, their SUVs, their PDAs, and the McRib, and no one would even get off their couches. Just lower gas to 80 cents and offer a new sort of fast food that’s really just every menu item in a big pail, and America will greet you as liberators. The image of a blond American girl (and make no mistake, the outcry would be different if she weren't white, blond, and a girl) is supposed to be shocking. If that's the most shocking thing you see in the course of this war, I envy you. I have seen pictures of children in Iraq who are suffering from disease. Who have had limbs blown off. Covered with blood and dying. Pictures that won't break your heart; they will horrify you and make you wonder what the point of the human race is in the first place. If you have time to be worried about a protest statement... what the fuck is wrong with you?

Roy Links

Scarlett's excited for this week's links! So here they are...

* Ken Levine begs for a reprieve from summer blockbusters and posits Seth Rogen as the new Cary Grant.
* Tom the Dog remarks on the pussification of America as regards movies, while Entertainment Weekly wonders why the MPAA is easy on violence and The Onion AV Club says (wrongly) that they aren't.
* Splotchy reviews the awful-sounding Fracture.
* JIVE Magazine uncovers the reason why Star Wars fans hate Star Wars so much. (via MC)
* Ben Varkentine elucidates on Terry Gilliam films and has a truly gorgeous picture of Carole Lombard.
* Joe’s Movie Corner ranks Cate Blanchett performances.
* John E. Mitchell makes light of the AFI's Top 100 list in an interesting way.
* The 400 Obscure Passions takes a look at great films that weren't on AFI's list either time. (Thanks again, MC, for pointing me towards that.)
* 8 Summer Blockbusters Guaranteed to Disappoint (at Cracked, by Peter Lynn)

retroCRUSH has an excellent interview with Dyanne Thorne.
* Mob went to the Texas Frightmare Weekend, and thankfully blogged about it: here are days one, two, three, and four, plus a wrap up and some great pictures.
* Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches talks up one of my all time fave songs.
* Bonnie thinks Bono is a dick. She's trying to get past it. But she's right, he is a dick. After all, he thinks magazine covers will save Africa while he makes millions from touring and pays for his hat to fly first class. Wonder how much mosquito netting and wells you could get with the price of a ticket to see U2 in concert.
* Cap'n Dyke has a story about the exciting identification of Hatshepsut.
* The Last Visible Blog has some very interesting and rich photos of a closed amusement park.
* Ben Varkentine spotlights an offensive and stupid Brazilian ad.
* Man vs. Clown has a hilarious story about appropriate inappropriate humor.
* Dr. Zaius has a very nice story about his pet possum.
* Apropos of Something remembers I kids' show I had completely forgotten.
* Nikki Stafford on Gordon Ramsay and that Knocked Up plagiarism thing.
* Rolling Stone on the death of the record industry.
* I Against Comics on the many versions of Batman.
* Living Between Wednesdays rates super hunk 11: Dick Grayson.
* retroCRUSH with the 100 worst cover songs of all time.

Man Coulter was out being an irredeemably evil bitch this week. The Rude Pundit has something to say about it, while Johnny Yen links to her confrontation with Elizabeth Edwards, Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein praises Elizabeth Edwards, Republic of Sestakastan uncovers Coulter's frightful origins, and Splotchy has the right idea of how to deal with her.
* Cap'n Dyke has a story about prejudice.
* Dictionopolis in Digitopolis on Fred Thompson and Isaiah Washington's continued stupidity.
* ModFab on Wal-Mart's withdrawal of support for the gay community.
* A Result of Destiny has a message for PETA.
* The Rude Pundit on more of Bush's stupidity.
* Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein remembers the first gays he ever met, tells off Tim Russert, talks about the Holocaust in a rational way, praises the kids who nearly told off President Duh, learns a lesson from Earl Warren, hates on the eminently hateable Michelle Malkin, and tells you to end this stupid war already.
* Dr. Zaius talks about the Supreme Court, links to a pro-Kucinich video from Blue Gal, and champions Henry Waxman's attempts to slay Cheney.

Whew, lots of links this week! And here are some videos I enjoyed. Ben Varkentine has one of my favorite cartoons: The Dover Boys. Layercake has a vid that will forever change the way you look at Waldo. ModFab has an exquisite video of Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holliday. And MC has a video that's so funny I just cannot stop watching it.

The AFI Top 100 #81-100

Prologue, 1-20, 21-40, 41-60, 61-80

81. Spartacus (1960)
One of my favorite movies ever; maybe even my second favorite after Lawrence of Arabia. I just think it's perfect.

82. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Brilliant expressionistic fairy tale by F.W. Murnau. It's quite a beautiful film that I know more people won't see because it's silent.

83. Titanic (1997)
I like this movie. To this day, I don't understand the backlash against this movie; I especially don't understand the depth of the hostility directed at it. Any weaknesses this film has in the area of story and acting are the same ones always on display in Jim Cameron's rather self-important filmography; this one at least feels mostly sincere. Yes, it's melodramatic, and it's over the top, but it sticks to its tone. I don't care, I like it quite a bit.

84. Easy Rider (1969)
Very much of its time, but it also preserves its time. It also stays relevant, what with America constantly becoming a disappointment. And that ending... oh, man. More than ever, oh, man.

85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
I love the Marx Brothers, but their Universal films are much better than the ones they made for MGM. I like A Night at the Opera, but frankly I often fast forward through all of the interminable singing and the dull scenes with the romantic couple. Boring! Duck Soup is the best comedy ever; if they wanted another Marx Brothers movie, why not Animal Crackers or Horse Feathers? Much funnier. And while we're talking of the Marxes, I rather liked Zeppo. He was a good all-purpose straight man; all they did at MGM was essentially replace him with a succession of dull, bland composites.

86. Platoon (1986)
For me, this is the movie about Vietnam.

87. 12 Angry Men (1957)
I liked it, but I think I could take it or leave it. I first saw this in high school, in my sophomore English class. My idiot teacher couldn't figure out why Lee J. Cobb was crying at the end; he totally missed the point. This is also the guy who was adamant that Lord of the Flies was an allegory for homosexuality.

88. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
One of my favorite romantic comedies ever. I notice the tide of audience opinion turning against this one lately, but I love it.

89. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Yeah, right. In another ten years, when something else has come out and made a ton of money and made people feel all smart, this won't be on the list anymore. I thought it was shit, honestly. I figured out the twist from the trailer, and once you know the twist, there's nothing to it but people mumbling and, from the look of it, desperately trying not to fall asleep.

90. Swing Time (1936)
I've never seen this one; I don't really like Fred Astaire very much, but I'll probably see this at some point.

91. Sophie's Choice (1982)
A great movie; still my favorite Meryl Streep performance. I don't run into many people who've seen this one. My mom actually refuses to see it. It's powerful stuff, though, and I hope it doesn't get forgotten.

92. Goodfellas (1990)
Definitely. An excellent film.

93. The French Connection (1971)
I've attempted this movie at least four times now, and it's never once managed to hold my interest. I hate William Friedkin as a director, and this is as boring as all the other ones. Forgettable.

94. Pulp Fiction (1994)
I always think of this as highly overrated. Then I see it again, and I love it. Tarantino may not have a good sense of pacing, but he has one hell of a sense of structure.

95. The Last Picture Show (1971)
It's been a long time since I saw this, and it doesn't stick out in my memory. I remember I especially liked Ben Johnson. I should see this movie again, I think.

96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
I've always hated this stupid movie. Hey, did you know there's a race problem in America? Huh, never seen a movie about racism in all the years before Spike Lee showed up and pointed it out. Like almost every Spike Lee "joint," it deals in hate, racism (or "reverse-racism," as if there is such a thing), sexism, and violence without actually saying anything about it.

97. Blade Runner (1982)
The version without the narration and the bullshit happy ending is actually a pretty good science fiction movie, despite the reversal of Philip K. Dick's premise and the wooden acting. Good production design--it looks good, despite the lack of depth. Yes, I said lack of depth. Here's all you need: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.A ttack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die." A wonderful scene, but not enough to put the movie in the top 100.

98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
I absolutely love this movie. Absolutely love.

99. Toy Story (1995)
Pixar has progressed so far in terms of storytelling since this one. It's an obvious popularity choice, but not what I would have picked. If you need to have a CG-animated movie, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles are much better. But I don't know if any of them would be in my top 100.

100. Ben-Hur (1959)
My only problem with this choice is that it's not in the top 10. What the hell? It's an excellent movie. Of course it is; it's directed by William Wyler.

Playful ScarJo

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The AFI Top 100 #61-80

Prologue, 1-20, 21-40, 41-60

61. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
I haven't seen this one. I find I usually don't like Preston Sturges's movies, but I always mean to get to this "one day."

62. American Graffiti (1973)
I love it. I haven't seen it in years, I wonder if it still holds up for me. My dad used to have the soundtrack on 8-track; actually, I bet he still has it.

63. Cabaret (1972)
Great movie, all though as far as Bob Fosse goes, I like All That Jazz and Star 80 better.

64. Network (1976)
Prescient? Yes. Takes a stand? Sure. But I've always found it incredibly boring. Sidney Lumet can be real hit or miss for me, and it's miss more often than hit. This is one that I could just never get into. I get it, yes, but it bores me.

65. The African Queen (1951)
Another great Humphrey Bogart movie. I love this one. I also love Key Largo, which doesn't get quite enough love. Not a hundred percent sure I would put either movie in my top 100 list, but I like them a lot.

66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
This is another one of the few Spielberg movies left that I really love. I am the only person I know, though, who likes Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom better. What can I say? I'm a jungle adventure guy more than an adventure serial guy. I love both (I think Last Crusade is weaker). I think this is a great movie, but... top 100? I don't know.

67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
A great movie that I'm willing to bet is mainly on here because of the historical aspect; this was one of the films that led to the MPAA ratings system. It's a great film but, standing on its own, I don't know about top 100.

68. Unforgiven (1992)
Excellent. One of the best films ever made.

69. Tootsie (1982)
I've never liked it. I saw it again in the last year, and I still didn't like it, outside of a few supporting performances (Bill Murray, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman). All of the talk about gender roles and such, it just seems so academic and boring to me rather than comedic or enlightening. Dustin Hoffman's performances feels very technical and mannered. I don't like this movie.

70. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Great to look at, but I think the novel makes its point better than the movie. The movie's great on a technical level, but like most Kubrick, everything is intellectual and nothing is visceral. I still don't think he ever made a movie better than Spartacus.

71. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Not this thing again. Supremely overrated. It plays like someone took The Big Red One and pumped it full of hot air. Spielberg's worst excesses are set loose here. Yes, the D-Day sequence is amazing, but everything else is bunk. I don't care, it's bunk.

72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
I managed to see this three times in theaters before it disappeared--and it did, quickly. I'm surprised at how popular this has become, but I do love this movie. I think it manages to avoid being overly sentimental and earns its ending. I really wish Morgan Freeman would stop playing this same character, though.

73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The best Western that came out in The Wild Bunch. This one... well, it's cute. It's not a bad movie. It's funny.

74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
I never cared for this movie very much. Anthony Hopkins's Hannibal Lecter is about as subtle as a Universal movie monster. I much preferred Manhunter, but I like crime movies and psychological thrillers. This isn't one of those--it's a melodramatic creature feature.

75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
I like this movie. Maybe not top 100 like, but I always enjoy it. When Sidney Poitier slaps that guy... that's a great scene.

76. Forrest Gump (1994)
This is Robert Zemeckis's Saving Private Ryan--some good moments, but like Ryan it's stridently pro-conservative, in awe of militarism, and stresses sacrifice and duty (practically deifying them) over the value of life and the search for answers. Bunk.

77. All the President's Men (1976)
I saw this in high school and don't remember anything about it. I've been meaning to watch this one again.

78. Modern Times (1936)
Finally! Chaplin's film about humanity caught in the gears of the machine is just as relevant today as it was then (and just as funny).

79. The Wild Bunch (1969)
Ah, there it is. Great, great movie.

80. The Apartment (1960)
I liked this movie a lot the couple of times I saw it over the years. I haven't seen it in a long time, maybe I should check it out again. I loved Jack Lemmon in this movie. And so did Kevin Spacey, he's been playing it over and over...

Where the Wild Things Are

I don't like Spike Jonze. I don't like the films he's made. I don't like the idea of one of my favorite books being made into a movie.

But this picture gives me goosebumps.

5 Questions from Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein

There's an interview meme going around, and it landed at Monkey Muck, where the future President of the United States offered to interview anyone who wanted it. Loving to talk about myself, I asked, and he submitted five questions. Here they are.

1) I am in awe of your posts about animation and the history of same. What was the first animated film you remember seeing and which one has had the most profound effect on you?The first animated movie I have a conscious memory of seeing was Disney's Sleeping Beauty. It was during a re-release (remember when they did those?), because I remember seeing it in the theater. I don't remember physically going or coming back; my most vivid memory of it is being in that dark theater and watching in pure terror as Maleficent turned into a gigantic dragon and attacked Prince Philip. I was so worried that he was going to get killed, but when his sword found its way to her heart and she fell over, I remember this wave of relief. And that's the part that really stands out.As for a profound effect on me, that's what I love about animation: it still has a profound effect on me. To this day, as an adult, I can see something like The Iron Giant (I was 22 when it came out) or The Triplets of Belleville (27) and be supremely moved by it. Animation has a more direct route to my heart than anything else, and it's maybe too easy for it to touch me. Every Miyazaki film does, that's for certain. But I think the first time I really felt that was when I was very young, and some channel or other aired the 1978 British movie Watership Down.The movie was filled with all kind of things that I hadn't seen in other animated movies before; things like death and peril and duty and ideology. The weird, dark, murderous authoritarianism against a band of rabbits who wanted to be free. That movie definitely had a profound effect, even in terms of my concern for animals. Whenever I see a militaristic authority and they seem wrong to me, I think of General Woundwort. Every time I see that movie it's like the first time. It touches me deeply.Of course, being six I didn't intellectualize it that way, but I can still look back at that as a turning point. I assume I was six, because I hadn't yet seen The Secret of NIMH and The Last Unicorn, which came out in 1982 when I was six, and those movies gave me a similar feeling.

2) Who were your childhood heroes and why did you look up to them?It's hard to say; I don't remember wanting to be like someone else, and most of the personal heroes I have are ones I made in high school. There were things that affected me on TV or in movies or in comic books. When I was a kid, I was drawn to certain comic book characters. I got fat in the fourth grade, and instantly went from being one of the most popular kids in school to an outcast. I think that's why I was drawn to The Uncanny X-Men and The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. I think that's why more young children are drawn to Marvel Comics--the characters are outcasts who view their powers as some kind of curse and try to hide them. I felt that way; sometimes I still do. Peter Parker was teased in school; so was I. I have problems with extreme rage, like Bruce Banner does. I feel ugly and ashamed, like the Thing. Those are some of my most vivid memories. I didn't look up to them as heroes, but I identified with them so well.I do remember thinking Jim Davis was pretty neat, because I loved Garfield and I wanted to be a cartoonist like he was.

3) You write about your health frequently, so what health problem or health scare caused you to try to lose weight and get your health back on track?Like I said, I've been overweight for a very long time. Being teased about it as a kid hurt, but I always withdrew from it and became very antisocial. I guess it also taught me to be more compassionate about what people have to go through and how they feel. Obesity runs in my family; unfortunately, so does high blood pressure. My Uncle Terry is a thin guy, but his blood pressure was so bad it kept him out of Vietnam. My dad's been in the hospital a few times because of his; so has my thin grandmother (on my mother's side, no less!), whose blood pressure is hard to control. Because of a hiatal hernia (part of my stomach is curled over my diaphragm), coupled with my weight, I developed acid reflux disease. I've been taking Prilosec every day for about a decade.I quit working to go to school in 2001, and it made me even more sedentary than I had been; I'd always been heavy, but my weight just ballooned higher than ever. One day, I went to the student clinic because I thought I had pink eye; actually, it was a blood vessel that had burst because my blood pressure was incredibly high (at that point it was something like 175/110). I was put on medication and worked with a nutritionist. Both of these events should have been wake up calls, but weren't.Instead, little things added up. I was out of breath walking up stairs. I hated the way I looked. I could barely walk. I felt sick all of the time, and sometimes would choke on my own bile in the middle of the night. Finally, it just all became too much. I decided that I was finally going to get rid of the extra weight and become healthy (or as healthy as I can be with high blood pressure and acid reflux disease, both of which will, at least, not be as prominent if I lose weight). The problem has been, of course, discipline.What finally got me was the fact that too many people have died in the last few years. My Aunt Merry, my Uncle Ralph, my Aunt Cherry, and my Aunt Cheryl have all died recently because of issues that may or may not have had something to do with their weight. My grandmother (on my dad's side) died in 2000--nothing weight-related, but it destroyed me. My sister Ellen died just over a year ago of cancer, and she was only 13. I don't want to be one of those people in my family who dies suddenly because of something I had the power to take into my own hands and prevent. There's been too much of it lately for me to add to.Plus I want to look good naked and be sexually attractive to teenagers. I'm not going to lie, that's there.

4) What person or event shaped you the most?Interesting question, and it's hard for me to answer. There are things from my childhood that I'm still trying to get over and put behind me. I'm still nervous around animals because I was afraid of dogs as a kid. I'm still shy around people sometimes because I was nervous around strangers as a kid. A lot of my life has been dictated by fears and things I should've already gotten over. I can't let people drive me anywhere; I don't take opportunities because it might mean going too far out of my way. I hate it, but I can't remember the root causes of a lot of it, so it's hard for me to beat. Plus, I have a genuinely pathological fear of pain, and that keeps me from things, too.I wish I could say I was inspired to do something by someone or something like that, but I can't remember any of that stuff.

5) What would be your dream film, book, and audio recording?
Wow; that's a good question to ask a pop culture junkie.My dream film is still to see I, Robot done correctly, with the script Harlan Ellison wrote. With that script, it has the potential to be the greatest science fiction film ever made. Susan Calvin is one of the greatest characters in all of science fiction literature, and I'd like to see a great actress like Cate Blanchett play her. And I want to see real robots, damn it, not that CGI nonsense. Ellison (and Asimov, who wrote the original stories) envisioned realistic, clunky robots that towered over people and existed in physical space. That's what I want to see; puppets or robots built to interact with people. I really want to see that film. Of course, I have lots of ideas for movies I want to see... I want to see Miyazaki do The Hobbit or this lesbian pirate movie I have this idea for (with Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway) or a biopic of Brian Wilson or my biopic of Bebe Buell starring Liv Tyler...My dream book... well, that all has to do with bending the laws of space and time and rescuing the works of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton before his wife burned them.As for an audio recording, I've always had this idea about doing productions of musicals directly for CD. I have this version of Jesus Christ Superstar in my head that only I would like, with Justin Hawkins from the Darkness, Andre 3000, Jack Black, Jessica Simpson, Christopher Lee, and Randy Newman... And produced by Brian Wilson, of course.Although, I'll settle for an album of Gershwin standards sung by ScarJo and Annie...

And now, for no reason other than a request was made, a bunch of pictures of Scarlett Johansson.And now, here are the rules that keep this thing going.

Do YOU want to be interviewed?

Interview rules:
1. Leave me a comment saying "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview
someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them
five questions.

And remember: Monkerstein in 2008. VOTE MONKERSTEIN!