Saturday, July 14, 2012


One of my favorite people, Bebe Buell, is 59 today.

Friday, July 13, 2012

70 Years of Harrison Ford

I've been watching this guy my whole life. Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, Witness, Jack Ryan... gosh, Harrison Ford has been such an integral part of my filmgoing life. At least he was, back when it really meant something and was really formative for me. Thanks for all of it, man. At least up until Regarding Henry. After that it was pretty hit or miss...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

He's Got It All Figured Out

If reincarnation is something that happens, I want to come back as this guy. Stately, distinguished, and only interested in the things that matter most in life: food, shelter, and family. He doesn't get in fights on the internet about movies or politics. He doesn't worry about insurance or credit card bills. He's in the moment and enjoying it.

Quite a portrait: the Most Interesting Gorilla in the World.

This guy's over at the Brookfield Zoo, by the way. Need to go check him out.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Film Week

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

A quiet but powerful movie starring Vera Farmiga (who also directed). She plays an evangelical Christian whom we see at three different points in her life: her young acceptance of Christianity, her decision to become born again at the age of 20, and her feelings of discomfort with a conformity she feels creeping in when she's about 40. It's one of the most interesting examinations of faith I've ever seen in a movie, especially a movie from the internet age, where everyone's religious beliefs seem to be a matter of intense polarization. It never shows her fellow evangelicals as simple cartoons or heavy-handed stereotypes. Instead, the film shows faith as a series of choices each person makes, and in this particular case a woman who is aware, intelligent, and who begins to wonder if the evangelical community has a place in her life as she grows and changes and begins to chafe under a worldview that she now sees as too narrow. There's a great moment when she defines her restlessness as an inability to reconcile the moments of joy and comfort in faith with the very human need to feel a physical closeness to it; something she can touch and hold and grab onto. The film never judges her or anyone else for their decisions, but shows us the human beings who make them. It's a warm and smart character study. ****

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MasterChef Observations

I am loving Monti Carlo so hard right now. How many times are we going to see people try to take her down, only to have it completely backfire on them?

Last night, Felix slid into the villain role with more finesse than Ryan or Becky, but she failed just as badly as those two at trying to eliminate the real competition. It's gone from hilarious to sadly predictable that these plans are never going to pay off. Felix did what everyone does: tries to give the people they like something easy (which they screw up), tries to give the people they don't like something hard (which they knock out of the park), and then decides not to do something easy and "challenge themselves" and turns a huge advantage into a disaster. Felix got bitchy, and it blew up in her face. Hasn't anyone figured out how this works?

It's kind of funny to listen to everyone putting each other down when the judges ask them who's going home. They're all in this open room and they can all hear each other. I really don't understand how someone like Becky can stand there and put someone down knowing that that person can clearly hear everything they're saying. It's too rude even for me. But I adored Monti's assertion that Becky could "kiss my Puerto Rican ass" and later, when everyone was saying Monti wasn't a real chef, that she was going to win just to prove a point. I hope she does.

Look, I get it. I do. Monti totally rubbed me the wrong way when this show started. It all looked like rockabilly shtick to me. But she's turned out to be more of a fighter than I thought she would be, and it turns out she has really good cooking instincts. I think when we see Becky and Felix and Christine and everyone else deriding her as "just" a mom who cooks for her kid like a cartoon single parent, they're really just covering for the fact that they know she's a talent to be reckoned with. Obviously, because she keeps shining through it. Look, it's okay to just say "I don't like her because she rubs me the wrong way." It would be more honest than this bullshit about "This isn't about who's the best mom who can memorize recipes and cook on a budget." Just shut up for a minute, Becky, and listen to how stupid you sound. Trash talking just makes people look like assholes.

Team Monti, all the way. And maybe it's a cliche because I always seem to root for the person who's getting unfairly dumped on the most. But I do love to see the haters get fucked in the ear.

Some other observations:

:: Joe Bastianich's takedown of Tali was a long time coming and completely accurate. It was past time for him to leave. He was at his douchiest last night, too, talking about his "genius explosion" and his continuing assertion that the judges are too "old school" to appreciate "the genius that's in front of them." If Tali half-asses his music the way he half-asses his cooking, woe to the audience that has to listen to him try and remember how to play a third chord in the Barnes & Noble cafe. Watching him try to lecture Gordon Ramsay on how to cook fish was just stunning.

:: Those sea urchins were pretty. On the outside.

:: I'm still hoping to see Josh emerge as a front runner. I think he's on his way, but the show is focusing much more on Becky, who is still insufferable. She has the same problems as Tali, she just has the talent (usually) to back up the stupid shit she says. (Seriously, Monti's a mom, so let's not take her seriously at all, but Becky seems to think being a food photographer is practically the same thing as being a chef. Yeah. I wear sneakers. Doesn't make me a marathon runner.)

Happy 40th Birthday, Sofia Vergara

Share It Maybe

Nice. I've been missing the Muppet Studios virals, but Cookie Monster's new video is nice surprise!

Happy Birthday, Jessica

Monday, July 09, 2012

Or the Star Trek 2 Villain May Be a Different Character We're Already Familiar With

Karl Urban, in an interview with SFX, on Benedict Cumberbatch being in Star Trek 2: "He's awesome, he's a great addition, and I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary."

So if Urban isn't just trolling we can expect Cumberbatch not to be Kahn, but to be a different character... from the original series.

Guys, this still falls under the heading of Telling Me a Story I Already Know.

You have fucking Star Trek to work with, guys. You spent the entire first movie just breaking off from established continuity. You can do anything you want. Why don't you want to do something original?

70 Years of Edy Williams

One of my favorite girls in Russ Meyer movies (and also his wife for a while), no matter how many bitchy stories I hear about her.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Ernest Borgnine 1917-2012

I always liked Ernest Borgnine every time I saw him. Sometimes he was hilarious, sometimes warm and wise, sometimes very human, other times scary as hell. Unhinged in Bad Day at Black Rock, a relentless bully in From Here to Eternity, honorable in The Wild Bunch, delivering the line that always affected me most in the movie: "It ain't your word; it's who you give it to."

I think the first time I saw Borgnine was probably on Little House on the Prairie (Jaquandor has a great post here), and then in The Poseidon Adventure. Ever since, I've always liked him. And I'm sorry to see him pass on. He had a very long life, and good for him. He was the oldest living Best Actor winner. I'm glad he left behind a body of work to check in on.

Song of the Week: "Sister Golden Hair"

America doing a bit of a Jackson Browne with this one. Mid-seventies LA rock is always welcome on a bright summer morning with a nice, cool breeze (after a week of 100+ temps, no less).

Meme On

Ganked this questionnaire from Jaquandor. Haven't done one in a long time. Sorry, I haven't gotten any less uninteresting since whenever the hell that was.

Q: If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more?

The only thing I can think of that I do that's close to this is wanting to read books that are banned. Whenever some book creates a controversy and starts getting banned by a bunch of white people, I want to read the book, because I don't like being told what I can and can't read.

Q: Is there an area of your life where you feel out of control? Especially in control?

I wish I had more control over my weight, health, mental state, emotional state. I mean, I can control those things, it's just figuring out where and how I can do it. That's sort of been the struggle for me for the last four or so years. So I'm working hard on that now. I have to say, there's not a lot of places where I feel especially in control of anything. But I've made peace with the uncertainty in a lot of areas.

Q: If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time?

All of my afternoons are free; I'm unemployed.

Q: Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorderly environment?

Depends on what I want to do. If I'm trying to make coffee and the kitchen is a mess, I can't deal with anything until all of the dishes are in the dishwasher and the garbage is taken out. Other times, I'm okay with a bit of a mess. I genuinely enjoy cleaning, but I'm also really lazy.

Q: How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find?

Ugh. That's a real problem sometimes. Sometimes I'll let it go, and sometimes I'll get completely obsessed until I'm almost blacking out with frustration. Depends if I took my pills first thing in the morning or no. Now that I'm not on Lexapro, I have to be very careful not to flood my system with irrational anger. I've been doing a much better job of it lately.

Q: Are you motivated by competition?

I'm frustrated by competition, but only in really stupid things, like playing games online. What's annoying about my life is that I can get frustrated over little things that don't matter, because those things make me feel powerless. When it comes to things that frustrate me and which I'm truly powerless over, I'm pretty sanguine. I'm able to accept those things. Why can't I accept the little things, too?

Q: Do you find it easier to do things for other people than to do things for yourself?

Yes. And I'm more likely to do it, too.

Q: Do you work constantly? or think you should be working?

No, not at all. At some point, I just lost the motivation. If I'm actually at a school working, I'll work constantly, I'll stay late, I'll volunteer to help get things done. I just want to be useful. But here at home, I'm actually too relaxed.

Q: Do you embrace rules or flout rules?

Depends on the situation.

Q: Do you work well under pressure?

If I pace myself, yes. I put myself under a lot of pressure, for example, to pass my final math class at NIU. I was nervous because I'd failed it twice; I've been bad at math since the third grade. I started to panic immediately when I took it the last time, but then I forced myself to slow down, read everything, do everything right, and I did so well that I didn't even have to take the final: it was an automatic A if you aced all of the quizzes, homework and projects, which I did. It was the best I'd ever done at math, and I was 30 years old.

Q: What would your perfect day look like?

All I want is a lovely breakfast, coffee, a nice breeze, maybe a little Pet Sounds, something fun, and the people I love. And I have that a lot. I don't need to do something big. I just need to be.

Q: How much TV do you watch in a week (include computer time spent watching videos, movies, YouTube)?

Depends on the time of the year. If the TV shows are back on, a lot more. I don't count watching movies as watching TV. Different experience altogether. But I do watch a lot of TV, ever since I was four.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Morning. Especially if I get up early. I like the early morning better than any other time of day. I'm more creative then, too.

Q: What’s more satisfying to you: saving time or saving money?

Depends on which I need more. I honestly don't even think about money anymore. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I don't think about being able to spend it. I think about what I need for the home and for the bills and for the rent, but I don't think about having the money to go and buy something I really want. I just assume I don't have it, and I never think about those things anymore. It doesn't bother me. If I actually do have the money to go to a movie or buy a video game or something, that's fantastic. But I don't look at things anymore and think "Gah, if only I had the money!" I just know I don't.

Q: Do you like to be in the spotlight?

A little bit, but I'm so used to not being interesting or appealing to people that I don't let that bother me anymore, either.

Q: Is your life “on hold” in any aspect? Until you finish your thesis, get married, lose weight?

You have to be going somewhere to be on hold.

Q: What would you do if you had more energy?

Walk a lot more. Right now swimming is my favorite thing in the world.

Q: If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it?

No, then my mom would just move in.

Q: What people and activities energize you? Make you feel depleted?

My wife energizes me. My kitty energizes me. Swimming energizes me. Reading energizes me and can make me very animated. Breakfast energizes me; god, I love breakfast. The internet and its rampant hatred depletes me. The very human race does, with its intricate and vast stupidities.

Q: Is it hard for you to get rid of things that you no longer need or want?

Not unless it's something I'm really sentimental about. But then I'm just not going to get rid of it if it does. I've had a surprising number of possessions I've been fine just chucking out or giving away.

Q: Do you get frustrated easily?

Haven't I been saying that? HAVEN'T I BEEN SAYING THAT???

Q: On a typical night, what time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep do you get?

I always get to bed sometime between 10 and 2. Personally, I like to get to sleep around 11 and wake up early, but it doesn't always work out that way.

Q: If at the end of the year, you had accomplished one thing, what is the one accomplishment that would make the biggest difference to your happiness?

Losing weight. Like, a lot of weight. Triple digit weight. Probably impossible, but having a lot of energy and motivation is going to make a lot of difference.

Q: And here’s another question for you. What questions would you add to this list, to help other people know themselves better? It’s so important, and so elusive.

I want to know what everyone's favorite Muppet is. It says a lot about them.