Saturday, December 06, 2008
Just because I like to make music lists. I see Johnny Yen and Bubs doing their Friday Random Tens all the time, and I just decided, since I don't do the Lyrics Master quiz anymore, I'd just make my own music list every week. Ten songs, pulled at random from my iTunes player, where a good 90% of my music is currently residing. Today's randomness:
1. John Lennon: (Just Like) Starting Over
2. Wang Chung: Fire in the Twilight
3. The Who: Boris the Spider
4. They Might Be Giants: Dead
5. The Grass Roots: Midnight Confessions
6. Elvis Presley: (Marie's the Name of) His Latest Flame
7. KISS: Cold Gin
8. Talking Heads: Walk It Down
9. The Adverts: One-Chord Wonders
10. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Orange Blossom Special
1. Hilariously, the first song that came up. A nice, fitting place to start.
2. From the Breakfast Club soundtrack. It's not a bad song, but having it does stem from my weird compulsion to have practically every single that was released in the 80s.
3. This is usually on my ever-changing Halloween playlist, too. Just the creepy sound of it.
4. Not the best Giants effort, but not a bad song.
5. Good little soul song; familiar but not over familiar.
6. One of my favorite Elvis songs; just a simple little rockabilly tune.
7. So-so. This is from their first album. They were still getting there.
8. Pretty refrain.
9. From the Stiff Records box set; their first album, Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts, is a pretty great punk record.
10. 99% of what I have by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band comes from their two bluegrass concept albums Will the Circle Be Unbroken. This is from the second one, and it bluegrasses the hell out. Whatever that means. I just like me some banjo and fiddle. No singing, either; it's a workout.
Recently, Becca and I sat in front of our new, big widescreen TV and watched, in a single day, all six Star Wars films, from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi. And it turns out I'm still a Star Wars fan. It was hard to be one for the last decade plus of humorless Star Wars fandom whining its overly entitled little head off about the thing it professes to love but openly hates (and, like an abused housewife, keeps returning to because no one understands it in that special way that they do). But I still dig it, and watching all six parts at once makes for a more unified experience than I thought it would. It all makes sense, and it all holds together. And it's surprisingly easy to get emotionally involved.
It becomes very clear that it's all really Annakin's story, to the point where throwing Hayden Christensen in at the end of Return of the Jedi actually makes sense. The truth of Annakin's origins, which carry a kind of un-Lucas-like subtlety, become very clear; he was created to tear down the Jedi Order. That's something else that's very interesting: it always seemed like George Lucas was praising the Jedi Order, but he's actually highly critical of it. The Emperor takes control in large part because the Jedi Order has grown complacent in its arrogance; they don't believe the Sith could return, therefore they're slow to act on the threat. They're presented with a boy who has the most Force potential they've ever seen, even more than Yoda, but they can decide to cast him out and assume that, without the Jedi there to guide him, he'll never be able to use his powers for anything. They're undone by their high opinion of their abilities and their refusal to change their ways.
There are still criticisms I have, but they don't ruin the effect of the movies. Some of the acting is awful (which George Lucas deserves partial blame for; he does decide which takes to use, and he went for full-on whiny in Attack of the Clones). The science is simplistic and unsophisticated. Some of the dialogue falls completely flat in all six movies. You'd have to be blind and deaf not to see those. And, really, alone of all the Star Wars movies, I think Attack of the Clones is the one that's truly not a good movie.
But it all holds together, and each trilogy strengthens the other. Yes, the original three films could've stood on their own just fine; it doesn't need a prequel trilogy. But it has one and, frankly, I like it that way. I don't find any of it as inconsistent as others seem to. There's nothing that's so flawed it ruins the experience for me. It's a great story.
It's nice to sit and enjoy--even love--Star Wars again.
Where do I start with Forrest J. Ackerman? The man is basically attributed with being the father of modern fandom, an institution that has been both the source of great fun and great annoyance in my life. Really, I hate to stick anyone with that label, since modern fandom is kind of a sham.
Don't get me wrong, it's great finding out that there are groups of people who are into your seemingly obscure interests. And now, in the days of the internet, which my youngest sister still refuses to believe wasn't a household item when I grew up in the eighties, it's easier than ever to find other fans. But it's also really, really annoying. Thanks to the internet, you can sit at home and be called an idiot for liking or not liking a movie or comic book instead of having to go all the way to a comic book store or wait months for a convention to land near your home.
Forrest J. Ackerman had his good points and his bad points, like fandom itself. Sometimes he was just a fun proponent of old monster movies and science fiction novels, interesting to hear talk and remember. And sometimes he was a pseudo-intellectual snob, needlessly looking down on things just to puff himself up and continue to hold his place--the place most valued by fans--of some sort of imagined authority among fandom. Maybe it was a position he felt pressured to take and, inevitably, afraid to lose. At what point does simply enjoying things take a backseat to having to be seen a certain way? I've never figured that out, but it was the bane of my existence for years.
Either way, I am sad that Ackerman is gone. When he was reminiscing, he was at his best.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.
1. Not that this is big, big news, but I’m glad ScarJo is back to her red hair. I didn’t realize I’d missed it that much. She was one of the only redhead to blonde conversions that looked really good.
2. So, do the stills being released for Wolverine look faggy because Hugh Jackman is kind of faggy, or because all superhero movies are kind of faggy on one level or another? I mean, Gambit's in the movie, so it's already going to be pretty fey, and HugJack's pretty fey all on his own. I'm just surprised at how... fabulous it all looks. Did Joel Shumacher or Bryan Singer direct this?
3. Paris Hilton can’t find a record label willing to release her second album. Between that and Ann Coulter having her jaw wired shut, atheists appear to be losing the argument.
4. Gort looks pretty cool in The Day the Earth Went Whoa. Now that I’ve seen this image, I don’t need to see anymore of that stupid-looking movie which, sadly, will probably be a hit.
5. I don’t really understand the point of doing Rome as a movie. There was some buzzing about it this week, but… didn’t practically every character die in the last couple of episodes? Why bother? (Also “why bother” to me this week were the announcements of remakes of They Live and Romancing the Stone and Arthur. Ridiculously stupid ideas, but I don’t have the energy to deal with them. Remake announcements don’t even phase me anymore; I guess I’m getting good at ignoring them.)
6. Vagina Hero. Yeah, it’s a real game. How can America be as uptight a place as religious leaders insist it is when we have something like this? Awesome.
7. Madonna’s new Louis Vuitton ad. I wonder how much they ended up having to pay George Lucas for having Industrial Light & Magic retouch the photo.
8. Makes sense to me.
9. Does not make sense to me.
10. AIG had to write a letter to the attorney general of New York assuring that their top executives wouldn’t receive bonuses this year. You’d think a company in need of a taxpayer bailout would find it pretty obvious, but AIG hasn’t figured out that pricey retreats/parties on the taxpayer dime are also a big no-no. Why expect clear thinking now? They couldn’t even do an honest business.
11. Turns out the Tibetan glaciers are melting faster than previously thought, which will have devastating consequences for people who depend on the water in the Himalayas for their lives and livelihoods. Can you imagine if global climate change were real? Then we’d all be screwed. But thankfully, as the American government has always insisted, it’s a myth or something.
12. The Democrats are still pissing and moaning over the fact that, a month and a day since the election, Barack Obama hasn’t led us out of the economic crisis with the snap of his fingers. Seriously? Seriously, guys? Because I heard that braying jackass Rush Limbaugh saying that the lack of a sudden stop of the economic crisis (as though it were that simple) means that Obama’s presidency is already a failure. Democrats, you sound exactly like Rush Limbaugh with your little baby fits. You fucking little ingrates; you just won a majority in Congress and the White House and still you dumbshits can’t be happy or patient. Yeah, I know things suck right now, believe me, I know. But politics is not a switch, it's a process, and it takes time. And I can’t believe I have to keep saying this, BARACK OBAMA IS NOT THE PRESIDENT YET. And it’s not the job of a President-Elect to inject themselves into the business of the president. It never has been. Get a fucking grip and shut the fuck up.
13. CNN has laid off its Space/Tech/Environment reporting unit. So CNN, one of the biggest news sources in the country, doesn’t think space or the environment is worth reporting on in depth anymore. Our world just keeps losing its grandeur.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Another "Have You Ever?" meme, this one found by Jaquandor and edited down. Since I did a similar meme the other day (which Jaq also did), I'm going to edit this down further to remove what are basically the same questions. Still, there's a lot here.
1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
No. I'm not a big bar guy, or a big spending-money-on-others guy.
2. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
No. Never felt the need to.
3. Been inside the Great Pyramid
Fuck, are we back on the travel shit again?
4. Held a tarantula
I admit, I'd wuss out on that one. They're just so icky.
5. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
This one just makes me laugh. I'm sorry, I'm sure it's someone's idea of romantic, but holy shit, do people do this in real life? Yeah, I've also never left a rose petal trail to the bed before, either.
6. Said “I love you” and meant it
7. Hugged a tree
Probably when I was a kid.
8. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
Yes. I used to go out with a girl (the ex from Waldenbooks who emotionally abused me, mentioned in the last meme). When we started dating we would be off at midnight (after work, when we both worked at Target) and then be out together until 5 or 6 in the morning. I was 18 and just graduated from high school, which is the perfect time for that sort of abandon. Then my parents ruined my romantic youth. They were so concerned by my being out all night for an entire week that they forced me to decide whether or not I was in a serious, we're-going-to-get-married relationship, or what. And, too embarrassed to tell my parents I was having an incredible (but safe, birth control, condoms, etc.) sexual fling with a girl I'd previously been verbally-sparring-hated-enemies with, I was basically railroaded into having a serious relationship I wasn't emotionally ready for with a girl who emotionally abused me and helped turn me deeper into a hard-assed cynic. So, you know, thanks Mom and Dad for forcing me into your oh-so-successful married-at-18-divorced-by-30 mode of thinking. Made for a really fun 18th year.
9. Seen the Northern Lights
And all the way down here in Illinois, at that. It does happen sometimes.
10. Gone to a huge sports game
What's huge. I've seen the Bulls play (during the Jordan years), been to a number of Cubs and White Sox games (I miss Ribbie and Roobarb), and been to see the Blackhawks. They weren't playoff games or anything.
11. Touched an iceberg
Never been anywhere with an iceberg. I've touch iceberg lettuce, does that count?
12. Changed a baby’s diaper
Not the most fun experience in the world. But I had two half-sisters, 16 and 19 years younger than me, so yeah, I've changed some diapers.
13. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
I have a heights problem.
14. Gotten drunk on champagne
I've never been drunk. I don't like the taste of alcohol enough to get drunk. I don't think champagne tastes very good, in particular.
15. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
Of course. How else am I going to get a good view of planets? Saw Halley's comet through a telescope, too. And Hale-Bopp.
16. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
Oh, yeah. Once during a wedding.
17. Had a food fight
No, now that I think about it.
18. Bet on a winning horse
I've never bet on horses. I like keeping money too much.
19. Asked out a stranger
No, but I've been asked out by a stranger. Again, something that oddly occurred in high school. Didn't lead anywhere, but we had a nice date.
20. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
Yes, but I don't remember why. Possibly just to see if I could.
21. Ridden a roller coaster
Yes, and I'll probably never do it again.
22. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking
Partial credit. Usually when I dance like a fool it's to make someone laugh.
23. Adopted an accent for an entire day
All the time. Hell, sometimes when Becca's looking around a store and I just get really bored, I amuse myself by talking in a Scottish or Australian accent.
24. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
That's kind of a sad, cynical question. I feel happy about my life quite often. Granted, I did go through 2007 incredibly depressed, but I like my life. Would I change things about it? Sure. But do I like my life? Yes, I do.
25. Had two hard drives for your computer
I have two right now. My external hard drive is really helping me out backing up my music collection.
26. Visited all 50 states
I've only been in about 10 of the American states.
27. Taken care of someone who was drunk
Remember that ex from Waldenbooks? Yeah, she was 20 and loved to drink. She once got so hammered at a wedding that I had to basically carry her up to her bedroom. She had been a real bitch all night, mostly because I kept talking to another girl. Yeah, I know, it's insensitive, but it was her friend's wedding, she was the maid of honor, and I didn't know anyone. I ended up talking to the sister of one of the bridesmaids because, it turned out, we'd gone to the same high school and had something in common. I wasn't flirting or anything, but my girlfriend got pissed off, threatened her at the reception, and got hammered drunk while flirting with the best man. Nice. I was so disgusted at the end of the night that I carried her up to her bedroom, still in her bridesmaid gown, and dumped her on the floor. Then I took her car (she had driven us to the wedding) and went home. I wasn't exactly a model of chivalry with her, and she made it far too easy not to be.
28. Had amazing friends
That's a sappy, generalized question. I've barely ever had any friends, and most of them have turned out to be, you know, just people (and I don't mean that to offend any one of them, because I've had some great friends over the years; I'd rather have great friends than lots of friends). But I refuse to call them "amazing" because that's some sort of little kid thing written by the type of person who genuinely thinks that your friends from high school are supposed to be your friends for the rest of your life and you're never, ever going to change. I have one friend left from my teenage years, and he's the only one worth keeping as a friend. That's why we're still friends.
However, I did have amazing spider-friends when I was a kid.
29. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
No... I've also never put on a tux and stolen microfilm from an embassy.
30. Stolen a sign
No. Why would I bother?
31. Backpacked in Europe
... Here we are again, travel questions. No, sorry, my parents worked for a living.
32. Taken a road-trip
Sure. I used to love to drive. Now I consider it kind of a hassle.
33. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
Oh, of course. Those schoolkid crushes are the fucking worst, because your experience is so limited that it really does feel like the end of the world that you've been pining over Christina Padgett for years and she just does not like you because you're the fat kid everyone shuns.
34. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
That seems bizarre. "Hey, let me sit down here. How are you? What's that on your plate? Calamari? How is it here? I'm just going to grab some and eat it with my hands. Oh, my ride's here, bye!"
35. Visited Japan
A-ha! Finally, a country I've been to! Unfortunately, I was six, so I don't remember too terribly much about it. I remember crowds. I remember the airport. I remember being fascinated by the magnificent television in the hotel.
36. Alphabetized your CDs
Um, doesn't everyone alphabetize their CDs? How else do you find them? I've got, best guess, over 2000 CDs, I have to arrange them alphabetically. And then there's my film score CDs, my Classical music CDs, my show tunes, my Christmas music... yeah, alphabetical or nothing, man.
37. Pretended to be a superhero
As a kid, sure. We used to play comic book characters. I was usually the Hulk. When we played X-Men, I was Nightcrawler.
38. Lounged around in bed all day
Lounged around, but not in bed. Unless you count being sick. When I was in junior high, I got sick and was in bed, in and out of sleep, for something like two weeks.
39. Played touch football
Yeah. In school, we played flag football or touch football.
40. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
Becca and I have over a decade going. In fact, on the 20th it'll be 14 years exactly.
41. Toured ancient sites
Nope. Museums, though.
42. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
You squares just don't know what you're missing.
43. Gotten married
No, and honestly, I probably never will. Neither Becca nor I have had the greatest examples of that, and neither of us really feels its necessary.
44. Crashed a party
I'm not much of a party guy.
45. Gotten divorced
Um... no. Didn't we just go over something like this?
46. Gone without food for 5 days
What are you, fucking out of your mind?
47. Made cookies from scratch
Yep. Used to do it at Christmas, a long time ago.
48. Won first prize in a costume contest
Never been in a costume contest.
49. Gotten a tattoo
No. But I have what I'd get in mind if it ever happens.
50. Rafted the Snake River
I've never done anything in the Snake River.
51. Been on a television news program as an “expert”
I'm not sure what I'm an "expert" in, exactly.
52. Performed on stage
Yes, sometimes without even being asked, because I'm just that kind of an egomaniac.
53. Been to Las Vegas
No. I've never been interested. The only things I liked that ever came out of Vegas were Frank Sinatra's Sinatra at the Sands album and Charisma Carpenter.
54. Recorded music
No, but I have recorded narration.
55. Eaten shark
Nope. Never been eaten by one, either.
56. Kissed on the first date
I've done more than that on the first date.
57. Gone to Thailand
58. Bought a house
No, and that'll probably never happen, either.
59. Been in a combat zone
60. Buried one/both of your parents
61. Spoken more than one language fluently
I can keep up in German, but I wouldn't call myself fluent.
62. Performed in Rocky Horror
No, but I've sung along with people. Great songs to sing, especially "I'm Going Home."
63. Raised children
64. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
Nope. I've only ever been to one concert in my life.
65. Passed out cold
Yes. Recently, actually; last year I got really sick and just suddenly passed out. I was here at home.
66. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
67. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
Yes, but not very far. When I was 19 I moved into an apartment with a guy from work on the spur of the moment. I just wanted to get the fuck out of my mom's house.
68. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
Never been there.
69. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
Hells yeah. What the fuck do I care what some random gaper on the street thinks? Fuck that shit, I'm going to enjoy my life.
70. Had plastic surgery
Not my bag.
71. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
I've never been in a crash that was that bad.
72. Wrote articles for a large publication
Not for a large pub, no. But I've been in a number of publications. I used to be an illustrator for my high school newspaper; in high school I reviewed movies for the local paper with my friend Carl (never published, the bastards, though they strung us along for six weeks); I was an editor for Studies in Fantasy Literature after they published my article "In Holy Elven Light" about the Christian influence in Tolkien; I was in the North Adams Transcript last year; I used to review DVDs for one of the SCI FI Channel's websites.
73. Lost over 100 pounds
Not yet, but I'm on my way there.
74. Held someone while they were having a flashback
No... I can honestly say I've never seen that question before.
75. Piloted an airplane
76. Touched a stingray
77. Broken someone’s heart
78. Helped an animal give birth
79. Won money on a TV game show
80. Gone on a photo safari
No. What's a photo safari? Is that where you go out and look at pictures? Kind of a low-rent safari. I've looked at photos while on Apple Safari, if that counts.
81. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
I've never had any part of me pierced.
82. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
Yes, I've been to firing ranges and shot rifles, shotguns, and pistols. When I was about 15 I went to a firing range with my uncle and shot a .357 Magnum; my arms were sore all the next day.
83. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
No, but I know someone whose husband did that and had to go to the hospital.
84. Ridden a horse
I find riding a horse weirdly scary-exhilirating. It takes me a while to get comfortable. I haven't been on a horse in years, but I always end up enjoying it like mad.
85. Had major surgery
No, but there have been some procedures. Wisdom teeth, stuff like that.
86. Had a snake as a pet
I'm not really a snake guy. I'm more of a small mammal guy. One day, I'd like to get a dog.
87. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period
Again, when I was really sick.
88. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States
Again... dick... no.
89. Visited all 7 continents
You just don't get it, do you?
90. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
No, though I have been canoeing and I love it.
91. Eaten kangaroo meat
92. Eaten sushi
No. I don't know why, I just haven't. Becca loves it.
93. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
Usually a social or political issue. I turned off a number of people to voting McCain this year, and that felt pretty nice.
94. Gone back to school
Yes; I went back to community college in 2000, then went to NIU when I was 25. A couple of people want me to go back to college again, but all I see is more debt piling up. A few people have told me I should become a counselor or a therapist. I chuckle about that whenever I get yet another blog comment telling me what an opinionated asshole I am.
96. Touched a cockroach
97. Eaten fried green tomatoes
Never felt the need to.
98. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
Yes, in various translations. The Fagles translations are my favorites of each.
99. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
Does Roald Dahl count? I just kind of read what comes to me.
100. Skipped all your school reunions
So far, so good. I don't have any good times to relive, and I'm not bucking for the approval of people who couldn't be bothered to treat me decently a hundred years ago, so I don't really give a shit.
101. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
102. Been elected to public office
Oh, not yet. But one day... oh yes, one day. Maybe. Or something. I think everything I've said on this blog could be used against me. But that might be fun.
103. Written your own computer language
104. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
I guess not, but I'm pretty content.
105. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
106. Built your own PC from parts
No, I'm not really tech-savvy.
107. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
No one ever paid me for my art. I'm not really very good with the art, so I don't do it too often.
108. Had a booth at a street fair
No, but I've helped at at Becca's convention booths.
109. Dyed your hair
110. Been a DJ
No, I just make a lot of playlists.
111. Shaved your head
Not so far. I think about it sometimes when my hair gets annoying, but I figure I've got plenty of time for nature to take it away from me and, until nature does, I've got no reason to purposely walk around looking like a circumcised dick. Yes, shaved head guys, that's what you look like. Insecure much?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
A couple of more thoughts on last Monday's episode of Heroes.
Specifically three deaths.
Preface: I've been very emotionally invested in Heroes this season. I'm fascinated by what they've done with Sylar, giving him some moral dimensions, but this guy turns on a dime. One second he simply shuts off his hunger for more and his murderous impulses, and the next he decides he can't run from them. Those are the two modes: we never seem him struggling with it very much, he just switches from one mode to the other. But I want to see where it's going and what Elle has to do with it. Elle is the same way, and it's frustrating: she wants to give up her powers, she wants to keep her powers. She's perfectly normal, she's crazy and pushing Sylar to kill again to prove some kind of ambiguous half-point that I'm having a hard time figuring out. I'm not sure what the point of Elle is, to be honest, but her emotional struggle and her cognitive dissonance are interesting to me.
Also: Claire and her father. Noah Bennett's moral ambiguity is coming across as forced. He wants to kill Sylar and Elle for personal reasons, but he also wants to protect Claire. And, apparently, at no point are Claire and Noah going to just sit down and talk the whole thing out, which would, it seems to me, resolve a lot of the problems they're having pretty quickly. I understand that Claire's a teenager and, yeah, Noah's been lying to her and keeping her in the dark and she resents it. Anyone would. But if she wants to be taken seriously, she's got to stop acting out just to get his attention. Seriously, a single conversation would resolve most of this.
(Which is, in essence, the problem with Heroes. The writers purposely ignore simple solutions to keep it going. As everyone has said many times, all Hiro really has to do is just go back in time and not open the safe, problem solved.)
So, the deaths.
First, Sylar. It was a gratifying moment to see Noah Bennett get his revenge, even though I knew Sylar wouldn't die. I knew the eclipse would be over with just enough time to spare and Sylar wouldn't die, so it really wasn't a very effective scene. Death on these shows is rarely permanent, and there was no way Sylar's story arc was going to suddenly stop.
Second, Claire. That one really pissed me off, because they dragged it out and dragged it out. I didn't need to see her entire body opened up and doctors messing with her internal organs; that was more graphic than necessary (not something I usually say), and it didn't serve a narrative purpose like it did in the first season when we discovered interfering with Claire's brain would kill her permanently. Her weepy death scene actually moved me to tears. I think I've said this before, but Claire reminds me a lot of my sister who passed away (and who was also a cheerleader), and it's hard for me to take when they imperil her in what I consider a sick way (like that puppet man episode with the very cruel Russian roulette scene). So, it was kind of cheap to mess with my emotions only to create another death scene that obviously wasn't going to stick.
Third, Elle. What the fuck, man? That's so not cool. After two fake-out death scenes, we're subjected to a third murder. Now, am I supposed to think Elle's death is real because the two fake deaths were foreshadowing? Or am I just meant to think so, when really Elle is alive? Seriously, aside from my disappointment at not seeing Kristen Bell on TV every week anymore, I just think this is a shitty way to end Elle's storyline. We don't know who she was, what she was doing, why she wanted Sylar to be evil again, what she knows about Sylar's past, and, really, what the entire point of her character was. If it was just going to end with a sudden, ignoble death on the beach, why was she even there? Why did she seem to be important to the story when she barely affected it?
My sincere hope is that he was just torturing her for information but didn't kill her.
Or that the Veronica Mars movie works out, frankly.
Damn you, Heroes. You're so frustrating and yet I still keep turning up. It's a conundrum. I don't hate the show in the least. I'm not one of those Star Wars fans who keep buying everything and complaining that George Lucas ruined my life. I'm sure Heroes will resolve itself by the end of the season, and I realize I'm just complaining about a chapter before I even know how it's going to come out.
But damned if it isn't frustrating sometimes.
(Side note: best thing about Heroes this week: thank you, thank you, thank you for making Hiro cool again. When he just blinked into Claire's house and blinked out Sylar and Elle... damn, that was cool. Really cool. First season Hiro cool.)
Okay, I just finished this book and I'm not sure how to talk about it in a way that doesn't make me sound condescending. And the last thing I want to be towards Diablo Cody is condescending, because I do like Juno and I respect what she's been able to do, and I was seriously annoyed by last year's cacophony of assholes whose anger at her seemed gender-based and insanely jealous, and who went around thinking their disapproval of Juno somehow made them smart.
That said, if I were to describe Candy Girl, Diablo Cody's memoir about a year spent as a stripper and sex show worker, it would be "cute." It's a cute book. Well-written, for sure; Diablo knows how to turn a phrase and she has a breezy style that's compelling and readable. But when it comes right down to it, I'm not sure what the point was.
It's an interesting idea for a memoir, sure, it's just that Diablo doesn't have much to say about what happened to her over that year except for some amusing anecdotes and sort of bare bones observations. I still have no idea how she felt about it, if it changed her character in some way, or even why she did it. She's not being honest, and she's holding herself back as hard as she can. Here's an example: she says at the beginning of the book that she moved to Minnesota to be with a guy she met on the internet (they're married now) who was divorced and had a kid. Not the Great American Love Story, I suppose, but nothing to be ashamed of. But it turns out, much later, halfway through the book, that she was ashamed. Not of the circumstances, but because her husband-to-be turned out to not be legally divorced yet, and even though his marriage is over and he's not lying to her and is nothing but supportive (a clear picture of him beyond being a father and being supportive never emerges), she feels an incredible amount of Catholic guilt. She blames herself for being a factor in his divorce and she looks at stripping as some kind of penance for her part in it. This is an astounding revelation to drop into the reader's lap after 90+ pages of "I don't know why I had to keep stripping" and "Some strange force compelled me." And she never touches on it again. She just lets it hang there and moves on telling anecdotes about people we learn nothing about and don't really know how to picture.
She can't really tell this story. Or she doesn't want to and doesn't delve into it deeply. It's like she wants to hold herself back from immersing herself in memories. Which is fine, we all do it, but why write a book about it if you're not going to take us there? I should be able to smell that stripper sweat and hear that loud music. But she just doesn't take us a journey. Some stuff happened to her, and then it was over. End of story.
Except there's no story.
(Side note: I still love Diablo, and she gained some serious cool points with me in the beginning when she said she met her husband in a Beach Boys chatroom. Then she lost every one of those cool points when she claimed to be a teenager during the era when punk broke and makes a Courtney Love reference. How many times do I have to complain about this? Grunge is not punk! There is no more punk! Punk is dead!)
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
HOLLYWOOD PARTY (1934)
Jimmy Durante hosts a party with tons of movie star cameos. Less than the sum of its parts, but I've never been able to warm up to Durante. There are some great parts, though. First off, I absolutely adore Lupe Velez beyond all reasonable boundaries. And she wears a dress with a ton of exposed hip. And she has a scene with Laurel and Hardy, which is a real treat for me (I love Laurel and Hardy). The Three Stooges have a cameo, too. But the best part for me is a piece of Disney animation I'd never seen before, a Silly Symphony called The Hot Choc'late Soldiers, a song by no less than Arthur Freed, and which is introduced by (in a cameo) Mickey Mouse, Walt's voice and all. It's the one gem I'd yet to see from Disney's best era. As a whole, though, Hollywood Party gets **1/2 stars.
Cute-ish movie with Harry Langdon as a barker with an elephant, Zenobia, who gets sick. He calls in country doctor Oliver Hardy to treat Zenobia, and then Zenobia won't leave Ollie's side. The idea of Oliver Hardy and an elephant is irresisitibly good, but the execution is pretty boring and, like a lot of comedies, the film shoots itself in the foot by surrounding it with a romance plot that I cared nothing about (Hardy's daughter wants to marry a rich young man whose mother doesn't approve, seen it all before). Also, Stepin Fetchit? Caricature, sure, but what no one ever points out is that, aside from the racism, he just isn't funny. It's always nice to see Hattie McDaniel, though. Billie Burke is terribly grating as Hardy's forgetful wife. **1/2 stars for Ollie and Zenobia. Also, is Larger Than Life with Bill Murray supposed to be a remake of this movie? That was kind of similar.
THE TIN STAR (1957)
Fantastic Anthony Mann Western. Anthony Perkins stars as a tenderfoot sheriff who has to learn to stand up to the rougher elements in town. Henry Fonda plays a passing bounty hunter who ends up teaching Perkins how to do his job. But the film is really about duty, community, racism, and mob mentality, and it pulls it off perfectly. Anthony Mann made some of the greatest, most oddly underrated Westerns in American history; this film, The Naked Spur, and Winchester '73 deserve to have their names mentioned more often. **** stars.
BRING IT ON: ALL OR NOTHING (2006)
I watched this because Hayden Panettiere was in it. It's the only Bring It On sequel/remake I ever plan on seeing. This film tries way too hard to capture the satire of the original film, but it's watchable. I liked Hayden. Watching her crumping was like watching a really sexy Downs Syndrome girl; she tried so hard. Inoffensive, and I liked Hayden. **1/2 stars.
OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS (1928)
OUR MODERN MAIDENS (1929)
OUR BLUSHING BRIDES (1930)
A trilogy of movies where Joan Crawford plays modern women who fall in love, get dramatic, etc. There's not much to them. Our Dancing Daughters basically punishes her for being a flapper by having her fall in love with a square dude she can't have and then dying. Our Modern Maidens at least features Joan in a sexy dance sequence. And Our Blushing Brides has Joan in lingerie (incredibly good) but has her chasing after a rich husband (a plot I've never found funny ever) and romantically sparring with Robert Montgomery (an actor I've never liked too much). ** stars on each.
Two conversations, same day, different times.
ME: Well, Chicago keeps saying it has a budget problem, but really it has a widespread corruption problem. Blagojevich didn't fix dick.
BECCA: (suddenly very vehement) I know, Todd Stroger seems like a real felon, doesn't he?
ME: What do you think of this whole Saxby Chambliss thing?
BECCA: Ew! Sexby Chambliss? What the hell is that?
ME: No, Saxby Chambliss.
BECCA: It sounds so gross! What is it?
ME: Who. It's a man.
BECCA: Says you!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
I can feel my weight going down, slowly but surely. I've been very conscientious about exercising, I've been doing alright with the food (lots of chicken), and I can feel it by the way my back hurts. It hurt before, but now it hurts in a different place. Redistribution and all that. Also, my pants are definitely looser, which is always a good sign. At least when you weigh as much as I do.
Becca and I cooked up some of our own Thanksgiving food on Saturday; we did a turkey, some stuffing, some mashed potatoes, some mixed vegetables, and some pumpkin pie for dessert (with whipped cream that Becca made herself, which was nicer and less nauseatingly-rich than, say, Cool Whip). On Sunday we actually went out for breakfast for the first time in a long time; I even had some coffee and managed not to go overboard with the cream and sugar like I usually do. Weaning myself, I guess. I almost never drink coffee anymore.
The nice thing is, I eat until I'm full, but I'm managing not to overfeed myself like I used to. I didn't feel sick or stuffed full or disgustingly fat after any of those meals. We ate the leftovers on Sunday and last night (and we borrowed a page from Bubs, who fried his leftover stuffing, which is a really damn good idea and turned out to be a real treat). Didn't overeat, didn't starve myself. Somehow, I've found the balance. And I am running with that.
Feeling good today. Tired, but good.
I saw that both TheMom and DGuzman did this meme. Since I've got nothing else to do today (thanks, school district, for canceling my job at the last minute), I'll play to. This is another one of those memes were you bold the things you've actually done.
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
I won't bold this, although I did very briefly play trombone in elementary school. I gave up because it was too hard. That's right, I'm a quitter. I'm comfortable with it.
4. Visited Hawaii
But I never left the airport. It was a changeover to catch a flight to Guam. What little I saw of Hawaii was very beautiful, colorful, and mountainous. I'd love to go there now.
5. Watched a meteor shower
Something I'd never known before: bats go crazy when there's a meteor shower. The bats out here were going nuts, flying like hell and nearly crashing into each other.
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
I usually just put change in the jar for cancer research. That's my charity cause, I guess.
7. Been to Disneyland/world
No... damn it.
8. Climbed a mountain
I'd die before I reached the bottom.
9. Held a praying mantis
No, they freak me out. I don't know why.
10. Sung a solo
Only in the shower. And in my living room. And in my car. But not for people. People feel like it's constructive to tell me I have a shitty singing voice, even when I'm singing shitty on purpose as a gag. People are fucking assholes. Dude, your criticism is to make you feel better, not me, I get it, now shut up and let me sing my heart out. It brings me joy.
11. Bungee jumped
Never gonna happen.
12. Visited Paris
Never gonna happen. Not because I don't want to go, but because I'm poor. Though given their social system, I'd really like to just move there. And their First Lady is way hotter than ours.
13. Watched lightning at sea
I've been on the sea, but always in good weather.
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
Probably, but nothing I'm, like, a tour-de-force at or anything.
15. Adopted a child
No, though I wouldn't be opposed to it if I weren't so damn poor. That's apparently going to be my excuse for everything.
16. Had food poisoning
Several times in my life.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
Never been there.
18. Grown my own vegetables
I'm going to bold this even though, technically, Becca grew the veggies. But I ate them.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
Nope, not been to France. I said that, already!
20. Slept on an overnight train
No, but I love train travel.
21. Had a pillow fight
Not since I was very little. Now I hit people with pillows because I'm just a jerk.
No, I'm from the "every driver you will ever see just wants to tie you up and rape you" generation.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
I've played hooky far too often for my own good.
24. Built a snow fort
My dad and I used to build kick ass snow forts when I was a little kid. One year, when I was about eight, we built a really big snow fort using one of those terracotta planters. We put snow in it and basically used it to build bricks out of snow, then stacked them until they held tight. My sister and I even built a few windows holes out of it so we could watch my dad behind his pathetic little ridge as we launched an awesome snow battle. Of course, my dad just threw all of the snowballs over the top and smoked us out. Once I looked out the window to see where my dad was and he sent a soft, powdery snowball flying right into my face. Then, at the end, my dad launched himself on the fort and smashed through it. That was a fun, fun day.
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
Yeah, I'm one of those fat dudes who's comfortable with nudity.
27. Run a Marathon
Well, I haven't died of a sudden heart attack, so no.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
Never been to Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse
You can't look at an eclipse! But I have been present for them, yes.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
Every day, dude. The sun rises right outside of my window and, to quote Buck Henry, spits light in my face.
31. Hit a home run
Yup. I used to love playing baseball when I was a kid.
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
Dude, I don't know who your ancestors are.
35. Seen an Amish community
For much of my life, I visited my relatives in Des Moines, Iowa, at least twice a year. Sometimes we stopped at the Amana Colony for lunch. I've seen Amish people, but I never wanted to be one of those rude people who walks all over the place staring into peoples' homes.
36. Taught myself a new language
I learned German, but a teacher taught me.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
I don't know that money is the root of satisfaction. It's a safety net, and a necessity, but money is not where I get my satisfaction with life from. God, that sounds like a hippie answer.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
I don't know if you haven't gotten this by now, but I have not been to Europe.
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
In pictures, yes.
41. Sung karaoke
Karaoke is fun. I don't take it really seriously or anything, but it's fun.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
No. Why would I do that?
44. Visited Africa
No. No plans to at this time.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
Ugh, no. I can't imagine a more mundane subject.
48. Gone deep sea fishing
No, though that would be pretty neat, I think.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
No, but thanks for the constant reminders that I'm not a well-traveled person. Have you fucking seen the Sistine Chapel in person?
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
I'm going to punch you right in the mouth, pal.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
Snorkeling, on a reef in Guam. The same occasion where I drove a jet ski for the first time.
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
As a kid.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
Yeah. It was pretty cool. The place was obviously from the 1950s, and it still had the same intermission ads for concessions and mosquito repellent. It was great. I went there to see double features at least five or six times.
55. Been in a movie
Not the kind you see in the theater. Aw, yeah. No, just kidding. I have starred in a couple of shorts films (class assignments), and they were fun to do.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
Seriously, you're just pissing me off now.
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
I took some judo classes when I was younger. I wish I'd stayed with it a little more. Given me something to help stay in shape.
59. Visited Russia
When I see you in a crosswalk, you'd better run your ass off.
60. Served at a soup kitchen
No. I'm very selfish.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
Um, not being a girl, no. Never was a Girl Scout. I have eaten Girl Scout cookies; all of my sisters were Girl Scouts at some point. I sold candy bars as a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout.
62. Gone whale watching
No, but that would be neat.
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
Yes, blood. I've had my blood drawn so many times now (for donations--we had a lot of people collecting blood on my campus the first few months after 9/11--or for medical reasons) that I'm very comfortable with it. Needles don't bother me anymore, but they did when I was a kid. I actually kind of like watching my blood vacuum into the tube. Is that weird?
65. Gone sky diving
It never made sense to me to jump out of a perfectly working airplane.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
No, thank goodness, although I have gone overdrawn without realizing it.
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
I still have some hanging around in boxes. I even have some of my Star Wars figures.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
No, never been to the capitol.
71. Eaten Caviar
No, but lately I have a strong desire to. I just don't want to spend the money if I'm not going to end up liking it.
72. Pieced a quilt
No, that's not my thing. I haven't sewn since I was in junior high, when I made the crappiest stuffed shark in the history of crap.
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
Yes, just one time. From Waldenbooks. I had a run-in with the new district manager, who came in and shopped as a normal customer to be a sneaky douchewad and test us out. He was very nice to him, bantered around, sent him on his way quickly, and he got pissed off at me for not selling him the discount card (he was only buying a five dollar paperback, I was sick of having to hold people up to spend $15 more to save less than a dollar on their total purchase) and for talking too much to another customer (actually it was Becca, on her lunch break from Barnes & Noble). That's my problem: I'm a very good employee, I do what I'm supposed to do, and customers are surprisingly loyal to me because I'm not a robot trying to sell them more than they need or want, and I always take shit from managers for not selling aggressively and not pushing "special deals" which are always a hassle for customers (and yes, they know your deals are pathetic attempts to shore up cash because your business is failing) and not kissing their asses as though they're brilliant and not idiots who have no idea what's going on in their stores. This is part of the reason I refuse to work retail now. You're never just left alone to do your job; there's always a political component that is total, useless bullshit that doesn't help anybody. It happened at Waldenbooks, it happened at Hollywood Video, and I've enjoyed their financial problems ever since, because I know the kind of assholes who work there and genuinely think that you selling microwave popcorn pouches with a $1 rental is going to make them look like the geniuses who saved the company from bankruptcy.
Anyway, when the new district manager wanted to have a talk with me after my shit, I lied and told him I was on my way to a job interview. "I don't have time for you," I said dismissively. Obviously, I'd made up my mind to quit; I was going to show up for my next shift, which was on pay day, take my check, and walk out. He gave me a quick, condescending lecture on all the things I'd done wrong (including not tucking my shirt in), and then told me he'd see me next time for a longer talk. "Sure, fascinating," I waved off, just to piss the guy off some more. The hilarious thing is, the rest of the employees were actually worse than I was; I was the best guy they had. They'd chased off their best employees because those people were angry they didn't get their raises that year and took off for other chains. I was the best one left, and the customers really liked me and thought I was helpful. Everyone else were ex-cons doing programs or incompetent idiots. Oh, and my ex-girlfriend, who had been hired as the new assistant manager. I'd had a bitter break-up with her (she was the one who emotionally abused me to prove how much she loved me) and didn't want to be around her. The next day I worked it was supposed to be me and one of the incompetents, and I was really looking forward to collecting my check, dropping my keys off, and leaving the incompetent alone in the store. Unfortunately my ex was there and she handed me my check and started in with this long spiel of "I just want to say thank you for working here..." I interrupted her right off and said, "Fired, got it, thanks." I was there to quit anyway, so BFD.
Anyway, the upside is that that Waldenbooks closed down, my ex-girlfriend had to quite college (again) and go back to waiting tables, and no job interviewer ever took my termination seriously because I just told them "I was fired by my ex-girlfriend." I got a new job three days later at Barnes & Noble. Oh, and that district manager went away to prison for interfering with young boys. So, you know, sometimes the universe takes care of things.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
I'm going to have sex with your girlfriend on your bruised and broken body, and then piss on you. That's what you've driven me to with these questions about Europe. Rub it in all you want, because I'm going to enjoy the beatdown.
77. Broken a bone
My toe is the only bone I've completely broken. Everything else was a very bad sprain. I broke my toe in sixth grade when I tripped over some cables at a fair.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
Does a speeding moped count? That thing went a whopping 20 mph. And yet I still wiped out on it. Fucking snow. Oh, and I tried to do a wheelie once and ended up on my back. Working in a storage center is boring, it plays with your head and you do stupid things to pass the time.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
I've been in published journals.
81. Visited the Vatican
Oh, God won't save you now, pal. Your ass belongs to me.
82. Bought a brand new car
Yes, my last car, a 96 Ford Escort. It took about five years to pay off, but it lasted me 10. She was just scrapped earlier this year to get her out of my sister's ex-fiance's garage. Rest in pieces, Flynn.
83. Walked in Jerusalem
Can we find a new line here, guy?
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
Not that I remember.
85. Read the entire Bible
As detailed in last year's series of posts The Bible Summarized by a Smartass.
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
Twice, actually. It was pretty mild the first time.
89. Saved someone’s life
I don't know, maybe. Who can say?
90. Sat on a jury
No, but I did just mail back a juror questionnaire to the county, so it might be in my future.
91. Met someone famous
At conventions, yes. Cynthia Rothrock and Claudia Christian are two of the nicest people I've ever had conversations with.
92. Joined a book club
I was briefly in the Writer's Digest book club about a decade ago.
93. Lost a loved one
A few of them.
94. Had a baby
No. It's impossible for me to get pregnant. Unlike the sideshow "Pregnant Man," I don't have a womb or a vagina.
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
Shouldn't that be "swum" in the Great Salt Lake. Have you "swum" in the Great Salt Lake, not have you "swam." That's grammatically offensive.
97. Been involved in a law suit
Not yet. We'll see.
98. Owned a cell phone
No, fucking no. Why is there always a question about cell phones? They're not special, they're not unique, they don't say shit about your personality. Seriously, it's like asking if you own a TV or a computer. Memewriters, seriously, get over your little umbilicals, alright?
99. Been stung by a bee
Once, and only through my shirt. It was like a little pinch and then it fell out. It happened when I was 12 or something, and a couple of asshole kids were throwing rocks at a beehive. Idiots.
100. Ridden an elephant
No, but I have ridden a water buffalo. I would love to ride an elephant.
Now I'm going to have to bust a cap. Happy now? You're a dead man.
Well, not really. But still, I'm fucking pissed, Kring. First you put Claire through a graphic operation scene and give her a sad death scene, and then... oh, man, the rest of this season had better make up for that one.
Not a cool way to resolve what became one of the most interesting dynamics I'd ever seen on a science fiction series (the fact that the characters I was most involved with--Bennett, Claire, Elle, and Sylar--all wanted to kill each other, making it very hard for me to root for anyone).
Still, I hold to the cardinal rule of all comic books, TV shows, and movie franchises: a character is only dead until a writer needs them not to be.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Yesterday was the first big snowfall here in Illinois. It's an annual event that, once again, is marked by Chicagoans staring up into the sky in confusion, wondering what the hell is going on, suddenly having forgotten how to drive and what their home city even looks like.
Yes, in Chicago it's always a tremendous surprise that it snows in winter. Why prepare for it when it always, always, always takes the city by surprise?
So here I am, watching WGN News Chicago on channel 9, sitting through a news broadcast that is basically repeating every twenty minutes the TOP STORY that, gasp, it snows in Chicago!
Fuck, if you don't feel like an infant already, you have people popping up every couple of minutes "reminding" you via condescending lecture that travel times are slowed down because of the snow. Don't speed, idiot, because speeding on an unstable, wet road can lead to traffic accidents.
Actually, that's not sad. What's really sad is that there's been accident after accident after accident this morning. Every non-Erin Mendez-led traffic report takes forever because idiots driving on the tollways can't figure out that a wet road means less traction. Trust me, bratwurst-for-brains, the office will still be there when you get there.
Seriously, I love Chicago, but I'm glad I live outside of it this time of year. It's bad enough out here where college students from Chicago have the same kind of snowtardation. But it's nothing compared to the big babies downtown who just can't get a hang of this snow thing, something that happens every year for their entire lives. I can't wait for Mayor Daley to give the press conference about snow plows. It's one of my favorite winter events. They have to have a big press conference in which snow is treated like invading terrorists and apparently serious reporters beg Mayor Daley to save them with plows. Of course, there's not much more the guy can do other than assure people the plows are out, but since they have a whole damn press conference going on, they have to ask question after question about where the snow plows are, when they'll get out to the neighborhoods, how often the snow plows will be out, where this mysterious snow is coming from, how long it will stay, exact dates and times as to where the snow will be heaviest, and whether or not sacrificing some cows will appease the weather gods. And good old Daley just stands there, bemused and irritated, before shrugging and saying "It snows in the winter in Chicago, I don't know what else to tell you."
Snow in Chicago is one of those great yearly reminders that people have barely evolved past huddling in caves hoping the ghosts of lightning and wind don't murder them.
I have to say, I'm pretty inured to the stream of spam email out there praying I'm dumb enough to give up thousands of dollars. But this one is particularly odious.
I hope you bastards get sodomized in an alley by an angry rhinoceros in front of your own mothers. Fuck you in hell.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I'm on the computer, while Becca sits on the floor, drawing.
ME:You want to see pictures of the Prince whipping his cock out in public to take a leak?
BECCA: Which Prince is it?
BECCA (scowling): No. If it was Harry, I'd get up. But William? Please. He looks too much like his father now.