Saturday, February 02, 2008

Another Awesome Doodle from Splotchy

For tying for third in a movie quiz, I get Billy Dee Williams lifting a car over his head. Because if he couldn't, who could? Digging the Empire Strikes Back blue, too. Awesome. Thanks, Splotchy!

Friday, February 01, 2008

It's Still True

Like I told you before, swingin' chicks dig Daleks.

I'm Not Voting for President

My refusal to blindly back any Democratic candidate regardless of their stance on the issues is apparently "disparaging" the Democratic party. At least that's what I've seen. Well, I know I've said before that I'm not a Democrat and I'm not a liberal. I'm a socialist and someone who thinks for himself rather than votes along party lines. I think lockstepping a party line in any case is thoughtless and silly. You should vote what you believe. And I think the Democrats are weak, lifeless, and as corporate-owned as Republicans.

People on this blog and people I talk to in the real world act like I'm committing some kind of crime by refusing to back Obama. Well, I don't like the guy. And furthermore, I don't trust him. The guy has no position on anything; he just makes vague promises of change and people want to vote for him because he's black and that alone seems to mean something. I'm not going to vote for a guy for president because of the color of his skin.

Obama has lobbyists on his staff. He kept his PAC going when other candidates didn't. His biggest corporate contributor is Goldman Sachs, which supports privatizing social security. This is all information anyone can look up on sites like He's supported by big pharma and big agri-business. He also took campaign money from Morgan Chase, Exelon, Citigroup, Citadel, UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse.

He voted to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act, won't take nuclear weapons off the table, and won't say he'll have any troops out of Iraq by the end of his first term in 2013. He's supported HR 1955, which criminalizes political free speech. His wife worked on the board of directors for a Wal-Mart vendor; the Obamas have made a lot of money off of Wal-Mart, and only severed their ties in May of last year when the economy became the major issue in the campaign.

Again, these are facts that anyone could look up. If that's disparaging the Democratic party, then fine, they deserve to be disparaged for it. Obama and Clinton both are corporate-backed hypocrites, and Obama particularly is hypocritical for trying to paint Clinton as the corporate candidate when he's exactly the same. I don't like either of them. And if that's disparaging the Democratic party, whatever. So you can fucking stop calling my comments on someone's blog post "disparaging" something; I'm not campaigning, I'm just trying to have a conversation on what I think is an important political issue. But when you say you don't trust Obama, people suddenly stop listening.

I don't know what flavor that liberal Kool-Aid is, because I don't intend to ever drink it. I'm not a liberal. I've seen too many liberals get deeply offended when I don't follow the party line to believe they're the progressive ones. I don't trust groups, and groups have never trusted me. And I really don't care. I'm not looking for trust. I'm just stating my honest opinion based on what I understand the facts to be.

So I'm not voting for president on Tuesday. I'll vote in the Illinois primary because I'd like to get John Laesch into Congress and there's a DeKalb school referendum I want to vote on. But I don't like any of the candidates at all. The only Democrats I remotely liked have dropped out, so I don't have a second choice. And I sure as hell ain't voting for a fascist like McCain or a lunatic like Huckabee or a creep like Romney. I'm either going to leave it blank or write in Edwards or Gore or Howard the Duck or something. Because it's not like he has any less of a chance than an actual good candidate.

If that's more than Democrats can handle, I'm sure I don't care. I will always say and vote for what I believe, and I really couldn't give a fuck if anyone approves or not.

Throwdown 2/1

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

1. Boy, I’m still not sure that I like the results of E.T.’s sex change operation.

2. Sylvester Stallone admitted he used human growth hormone to get buff for Rambo, which explains a lot about why he’s so freakishly large in that movie. Seriously, he looks like Rob Leifeld drew him. He characterizes it as not a steroid, but a testosterone enhancer. You know, like steroids. He wants to be virile, but in the trailers he looks like he can barely walk or even straighten his back.

3. Mary J. Blige says there’s nothing wrong with drug-crazed, batshit insane, nasty, rancid, overrated singer Amy Winehouse, saying she sets the “perfect example.” I’m surprised Mary J. Blige could take the moment’s attention off of herself and her self-appointed place in black history to notice something else.

4. Look at this guy trying to get a picture up Jessica Alba’s skirt. I mean, does this guy go home at the end of the day and feel like he’s put in a good day’s work? Honestly?

5. I’ve seen a bit of American Idol… all of that warbling and overexertion and singing scales… Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Beyonce have ruined a generation of wannabes with their obnoxious trilling and mannered shouting. Can’t anyone just sing a fucking song anymore?

6. Man, how about this Hulk Hogan divorce? His wife spends too much money, he tries to trick her into a post-nuptial agreement, they’re bickering like mad, their son’s a fucking asswipe who put an Iraq War vet in a coma, Hulk wants to marry Brooke… okay, that Nick thing has nothing to do with the divorce, he’s just an asswipe who put an Iraq War vet into a coma. And I’m pretty sure I made up that part about Brooke, but it just seems like it could be true, doesn’t it? Shit, that’s all their reality show became, watching Hulk go mad with sexual jealousy every time Brooke did anything remotely normal for a teenager. Anyway, with the marriage coming to an end, I’m hearing people in the media once again talk about the Reality Show Curse. I think the real Reality Show Curse is that, once these desperate people have sold the rights to their home lives for a few extra minutes of fame, we have to keep hearing about them as though they really matter in some way.

7. Ralph Nader wants to run again? Nader? Really? Does he just not get this? I understand that you want publicity for green issues, but why don’t you go do something useful instead of dangerously splitting the Democratic vote when it really matters? Seriously, I used to have respect for you. Now I just see you as a doddering old fool who didn’t know enough to quit while he was ahead. It’s long past time for us all to stop paying attention to you.

8. The FCC is going to fine 52 ABC stations $1.4 million because, five years ago, there was some ass on NYPD Blue. I know, there’s been ass on NYPD Blue since day one, but apparently this is now a problem (or was five years ago). Charlotte Ross’s ass in the shower has been characterized by the FCC as depicting “sexual or excretory activities in a patently offensive way.” Dude, she was taking a shower. Are we finally at the point where seeing a butt is considered traumatic and indecent? How much more pathetic can you people get? Boy, it’s like anyone who says “fuck” a lot and whips out a porn magazine could take over this country, because it would just make everyone run and hide. This is far too late in the history of the world to be scandalized because people saw a butt.

9. Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama, which means nothing to me but means a surprising amount to some people. I’m not one of those Americans who has this magical love for the Kennedy family. I always think of Drew Carey’s description of Massachusetts as “the state that’s never failed to elect a Kennedy, no matter how many women they kill or rape.” To me, the Kennedys and the Bushes are the same thing: a rich family who made their money illegally and now see America as their personal playground with no consequences. The only difference is that the Kennedys want other people to have money, too. But still, on the ethical level, it’s iffy.

10. Tom Cruise and the “church” of scientocosmolgy think that the buzz around Cruise’s craziness in the recruitment videos has been a great way to attract new members. I’ll give scientologists this: when life gives them lemons, they worship it for its true potential and build a cult around it. I love that they had a lawyer saying the video was “edited to make Tom look crazy.” Hey, when the words “world domination” come out of your mouth, you’re making yourself look crazy, edited or no.

11. Speaking of, Tom’s prisoner Katie Holmes is apparently upset because she finally figured out that there are a lot of people, even in Hollywood, who think Tom Cruise is insane. She’s also pissed because Tom’s big career advice to her was to make Mad Money instead of reprising her role in The Dark Knight. Although, let’s face it, you kind of have to be an idiot to take that advice, really. Poor Katie; I wonder if she’s finally facing the fact that she’s never ever going to be a movie star. Poor girl’s the last to know.

12. Speaking of creeps, Ghouliani dropped out of the race (after a month or three of barely campaigning), leaving only Fuckabee, the Mormon, the Soldier, and nutcase Ron Paul in the race. The Republicans sure are left with a cast of idiots to choose from this year. Still, I’m not counting them out yet, because people are always counting the Republicans out, but they always seem to win. Remember in 2004 when everyone said it was Kerry’s race to lose? That only a fool or a madman would vote for Bush again? Well, as Michael Moore says, the Democrats always find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. So we’ll see… It’s creepy enough seeing the Ghoul suck up to McCain for the vice presidency. Don’t worry, Rudy, I’m sure if the Republicans win your royal-Arab-ass-kissing, high-polluting, corrupt business will get some government contracts.

13. Damn it! John, why? Why drop out of the race a week before Super Tuesday? You should’ve waited a week, done Super Tuesday, and then dropped out if you wanted to drop out. But it’s not like anyone wanted to vote for him; he wasn’t on TV all the time because the corporate media didn’t want to highlight his anti-corporate stance. Thanks for not voting for the one candidate who was anti-corporate and pro-nationalized health care, America. Way to vote your interests. Keep enjoying your war. You’ve earned it, after all, by not voting for candidates who promised to end it instead of the one who did. Shit, McCain’s going to be president, anyway, because Nader’s going to split the Democratic vote again and the old people are going to vote for McCain because they always vote for the old guy. John McCain, the cutie pie fascist. Fuck it. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the global climate change all around me while I still can.

14. So, the Attorney fucking General can’t decide if waterboarding is torture or not? No wonder this country’s in such great shape. I’m so sick of idiots like Glen Beck and Tom Tancredo talking about how waterboarding isn’t torture. It’s drowning someone! It doesn’t “simulate” anything; when you pour water down a person so that they can’t breathe, that’s not simulated drowning, that’s actual drowning. Beck and Tancredo and the idiots like them believe that the show 24 is real and that to protect America you have to shoot someone in the leg to get them to talk. They have this insanely macho idea of nationalism, but they don’t realize two things. First, that someone being tortured will admit to anything to stop the torture. And second, that when you have to resort to shooting someone in the leg, it’s way too late for it to do any good.

15. In 1980, the US Army started keeping a record of the number of soldier suicides committed. In 2007, that number was 121, the highest in the 27 years of record-keeping. Attempted suicides were 2100; in 2002, before the war started, it was 320 attempts. But if the surge is working, why would so many soldiers be trying to kill themselves?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Splotchy's Word Meme

Splotch tagged me with a meme I have to do today, or else it won't work. Here we go:

Give me 1 noun, 2 verbs and 3 adjectives you like. You can also provide an optional made-up word.

1 noun: shindig
2 verbs: shuck, jive
3 adjectives: boner-inducing, puke-inducing, rectal prolapse-inducing
A made-up word: asstacular

Whew! Got it in at the eleventh hour. Quite literally; January ends in 45 minutes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Film Week

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

An absolute embarrassment. No stars.

Doesn't remotely live up to its boastful title. Kind of a neat, quaint production design, though. ** stars.

Overly full, perhaps, but I love Frederic March. He plays a poor man who finds himself at various times a tradesman, a slaver, a sailor, and a cuckold (to Napoleon, no less). A great epic. ***1/2 stars.

William Haines as the Army's star football player, in love with a stunning 23-year-old Joan Crawford. A little hammy in places, but very good. ***1/2 stars.

Another great John Barrymore performance in a romantic epic; surprisingly sad. Mary Astor is beautiful in an early role. **** stars.

Valentino, wonderful as always, stars as a shanghaied rich boy who falls in love with a tough lady at sea (and fights a sleazy sea captain for her). Nice to see Valentino with a lady who can handle herself instead of simpering (the lady in question is Dorothy Dalton). ***1/2 stars.

GIGI (1949)
French version of the Colette story. It tries for a sort of fairy tale feel, but doesn't quite make it. There's no real meat to this movie. But it was nice to see. **1/2 stars.

Elvis Wept

I won another doodle from Splotchy for winning his lyrics quiz. It's awesome.

Concerning Hobbits

Guillermo del Toro is going to direct The Hobbit. It's apparently going to be two movies, although I'm not sure why. Compared to the complex Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is pretty breezy and fast-paced. Of course, I'm sure more money can be made with two films.

Either way, I like del Toro as the director. He's a strong fantasist, and creates movies with strong emotional centers. He's very visual, and he's inventive. And I'm also glad that Peter Jackson is producing but not directing; I want to see Peter Jackson do something different. Honestly, what I most want is to see him do another dirty movie like Bad Taste or Braindead again, instead of something else so epic. I hope The Lovely Bones isn't long and boring with 23 endings. That's not a shot at Jackson, because I loved all three of the Rings movies and the remake of Kong. I'm just thinking of Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis as great examples of directors who made "serious" movies and then couldn't go back to making tight, concise movies again. They just flew up their own asses, and now everything is a three-hour epic with 23 endings. Seriously, Catch Me If You Can needed more than 110 minutes at the utmost?

I just hope Guillermo del Toro still plans on making At the Mountains of Madness and Tarzan. I wish these people would work faster. Their work is such an antidote to a lot of Hollywood crap.

Now... Ian McKellen's going to play Gandalf again, right?

Miley, Miley, Miley

On the one hand, I understand that this is the 21st century equivalent of girls checking themselves out in the mirror or test-driving skimpy clothes to understand the effects of their sexuality. It's a girl thing, it's growing up. I get it.

On another hand, I'm taking a lot of shit from Becca for making fun of her for having a wrong crush on Daniel Radcliffe since he was 14. I probably shouldn't be using the bottom picture as my desktop wallpaper, but I've made my choice.

Since I don't believe pictures like this get stolen and leaked, I have to wonder what the point of leaking these things is. Every week, there's a new picture of Miley looking like prime jailbait. Either Billy Ray is a LOT creepier than I gave him credit for (it's the Joe Simpson model of management), or this is the weirdest ad campaign for a Disney movie I've ever seen. (I'm waiting for this quote in a People magazine article: "Said a representative for Miley Cyrus: 'Go see Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Tour, opening Friday in 3-D, only in theaters, one week engagement, from Walt Disney Pictures!'")

I can understand wanting to make your daughter's dream of being a singer and an actress come true. I can't understand turning her into a commodity. But hey, he's got a few kids, I guess.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Health Report, Year 2: Week 7

I tried hummus. Tasted like churned pencil shavings. I don't think Middle Eastern food is my thing, really.

I have been a little bit moody, but for the most part I'm still even. I was really annoyed yesterday when I went to sub in a school I'd never been to before, only to discover that the information in the automated system was incorrect and the teacher I was supposed to be subbing was at work. They put me to work anyway, but that was really irritating. Remember how computers were supposed to make everything easier?

We went to the Chinese buffet on Sunday; this time I tried calamari. It didn't taste like anything to me, it was just kind of chewy. A couple of people now have told me it was probably overcooked and wasn't really a good buffet food. I might try it again one day, but I was pretty underwhelmed. I stuck mostly to sweet and sour chicken and crabmeat rangoon.

I also lost a member of my family: my car. Yes, it was finally junked last week. I had Victory Auto Wreckers (of the famed long-running local commercial) tow it away, but I still can't find the title, so they couldn't give me any money. I decided it wasn't worth it. This being Illinois, any government service is overpriced, and since my 1996 Ford Escort was falling apart (literally in some places), I didn't think they'd give me enough money to justify spending sixty bucks to get a duplicate title. Anyway, my car had been in my sister's ex-fiance's garage for so long that the battery was dead and the front tires were totally flat, so I don't know that they would've given me anything for the privilege of junking it. I got a letter in the mail with the date of the junking; it was last Thursday. Rest in peace, Flynn. You lasted a lot longer than my family thought you would. You were a better car than they gave you credit for.

Otherwise... yeah, things are kind of cool. If only the weather would even out... Once again, most of the snow is gone, but now we're expecting several inches tonight. Yay. Just yay.

From Russia with Meme

From Byzantium's Shores I procure another meme. This one about reading.

1. Do you remember learning to read? How old were you?

Oddly enough, I do remember learning to read. I know I had started learning in kindergarten, and by the summer before first grade I had read Charlotte's Web. I remember learning to read because I learned by reading Fun with Dick and Jane, and my sister was named Jayne. I don't know, I just really liked reading it, and I held on to that book for a number of years before finally losing track of it. It was my mom's or dad's or someone's that they learned to read on, so it might have gone to another family member. I liked reading Little Golden Books, too.

2. What do you find most challenging to read?

How can I put this nicely? Fiction that is... less well-written that other fiction. I can get completely engrossed in a Julian Barnes novel or a Joe R. Lansdale story or books about history or politics or a collection of columns. The books I find a challenge to get through are novels that just aren't very good. They take me forever to read because they just aren't very good.

3. What are your library habits?

I'm at the library at least once or twice a week, sometimes. I read a lot.

4. Have your library habits changed since you were younger?

No. I've been going to the library a couple of times a week and coming out with an armload of books for as long as I can remember.

5. How has blogging changed your reading life?

It hasn't very much. It's not very often that someone recommends I read something; I get most of my recommendations from science fiction websites, podcasts, The Skeptical Inquirer, what have you. There have been a number of times when another blogger says they really like a book that I'll got out and read it, but that number is pretty small.

6. What percentage of your books do you get from: New book stores, second hand book stores, the library, online exchange sites, online retailers, other?

Most of my books come from the library. After that, it's second hand book stores. I buy a lot of used books because they're cheaper and, frankly, I just like the smell and feel of old books. This has helped me build my science fiction collection with a lot of books that aren't in print anymore. Really, tons. And it's helped me infinitely in my quest to collect a copy of each of the 500+ books written by Isaac Asimov. And when you're as big a Harlan Ellison fan as I, you have to cruise second hand book stores. To say nothing of old Robert E. Howard paperbacks!

I've never done the exchange sites. Becca works at Borders, so occasionally we get something there. When it comes to online retailers, I mostly order art books online.

7. How often do you read a book and NOT review it in your blog?

Jeez, have I ever mentioned a book I've read recently on my blog? I think I've almost never done so. I don't know, I guess I just figure no one's that interested is what I have to say about a book, especially something that's been out for a long, long time (does anyone really care what some guy in the Midwest thought of Clan of the Cave Bear?). I will mention one book that was sent to me out of the kindness of someone's heart:Read this book. It's awesome. I tore through Trouble De Ville in a day and a half. I'd describe it as Elmore Leonard-like, but it doesn't have the turgidness that makes a lot of Elmore Leonard a slog to get through. I loved the characters; they were quirky without only being quirk, which is what I see in a lot of new fiction. It's modern without being self-consciously meta. I loved it. Someone needs to buy it and make it into a movie. Seriously. If you haven't read Trouble De Ville yet... why the hell not? Go get it. Don't make me tell you again.

8. What are your pet peeves about ways people abuse books? Dog-earing pages? Reading in the bath?

If I bought the book and it's a nice art book or something, I don't want people messing with it. Otherwise, I don't have any peeves, really. You should see my copy of The Lord of the Rings; it's got underlines and highlights throughout. Dog-earing pages is something I don't do (I prefer a piece of paper or something as a bookmark), but it doesn't drive me into a rage. And one of the things I like finding at used book stores is a book that feels like someone really owned it. I have a lot of marked-up books that I marked up; one of the Victor Davis Hansen books I have, Who Killed Homer?, has notes in the margins that I put in there. So does one of my bibles, which is heavily underlined. And I read in the bath all the time. Basically, if I want to keep it nice, I will.

9. Do you ever read for pleasure at work?

I used to, but working as a substitute teacher I don't have the time.

10. When you give people books as gifts, how do you decide what to give them?

Unless they ask for it, I don't give books as gifts very often. Except for my dad. My dad is one of those "You know what I like" guys who is impossible to shop for and always asks for more socks or something like that. I used to get my dad pens and ties as a kid, how do I know what he likes to get now? He finally told me something I didn't remember seeing much of as a kid: that he loves to read. And science fiction, at that! So now I buy him a book every Christmas, usually a science fiction paperback and a graphic novel. And he always reads them, which is gratifying. I just take a chance that he might like something based on what I know. And that works out.

TV Report: Torchwood Series 2

Best. Episode. Ever.

Yeah, it's still a shallow and overly serious show that I watch only because I love John Barrowman and I love his character, Captain Jack Harkness (I loathe the other characters). But I have to say, so far I love the new series so much more than the original...

Images shamelessly swiped from The Institute.

Today Is the International Observance of Rollergirl

Morning, beautiful. It's your birthday today.

So think about what you want,
make yourself a wish list,
and we'll talk about what you're getting from me regardless...
Happy Birthday, Heather Graham!

Monday, January 28, 2008

TV Report: The Simpsons

It's been interesting seeing the audience change over the years since The Simpsons first came on in 1990. It seems like the show captured an adult audience when it first came on, and over the years the audience has skewed younger and younger. I think most of the people who watch The Simpsons now are either people like me who've been watching it since we were teenagers, and teenagers. And after last night's terrible episode, I think I figured out why that is. Besides the obvious decline in quality and the over-the-top episodes which are now center stage.

Last night's episode, "That 90s Show," was just awful. It was yet another episode in which Homer and Marge related a story from the past. This time, we find out that Homer became a grunge rocker while Marge attended (and graduated from) college in the early nineties.

What's funny is, the show originally captured an older audience because of episodes like "The Way We Was," in which we see Marge and Homer meeting, falling in love, and attending their prom in the seventies. Every season or so for a couple of years, there was another episode that filled in some of the back story of Homer and Marge's early marriage and their life together. They were genuinely funny and sweet, and placed Homer and Marge in a certain generational cohort. My mom and dad were uncertain of The Simpsons until they started seeing more episodes like that, before the show got so in-jokey and so ridiculous. The show used to be funny, even over-the-top, but there was a genuine heartfelt quality to it once. It used to be more than a collection of jokes. And in a way, it was about the continuing imperfect love story of Homer and Marge.

My mom turned 51 this year. My dad will be 53. They were pretty much the same generation as Matt Groening, and a lot of the humor was pitched at their frame of reference. Teenagers like me could watch it and get the jokes, but I think a lot of people like my parents felt it was their show. Like it, more than shows like Married...with Children at one extreme and Thirtysomething at the other, was about their generation. Like it was an honest look at what they had been like as parents, trying to make the epic adjustment from being children to being adults and not always knowing what they were doing. And it was a nice thing.

Now here it is, 18 years later, and The Simpsons is still going on. Bart is still 10 years old. All the characters are still pretty much the same. And the people writing the show now have gone to the short cuts of silliness, guest stars, meaningless plots, commentary on meaningless plots, self-conscious irony, songs, and a forced postmodernism that doesn't quite work. Fox has turned it into a sausage factory and, as a result, writers can only comment on the show's media image, the network's media image, or the fact that the show doesn't have any continuity.

Now, I'm not a continuity whore. But I do think it's annoying that, with episodes like last night's, The Simpsons keeps half-heartedly trying to reinvent itself because Bart's been 10 for 18 years. It's just another in a long line of TV shows that has kept itself going long after all the stories have run out. My parents haven't watched it for years. They both say that it's too silly now. And it is. And after "That 90s Show," I think I'm finally done with it. I'll still watch reruns when it's an episode I like, but I don't feel the need to TiVo the new episodes anymore. Because it isn't really funny anymore. It's desperate. And that doesn't impress me very much.

You know what would impress me? An animated series that had the guts and the sense of creativity to let the characters grow up and age. Comic strips (some of them, not the perpetually hollow ones like Fox Trot) have been doing it for a long time. It's part of what makes Doonesbury so enjoyable to read from the beginning. For Better or For Worse did it too; I don't even like For Better or For Worse, but I've got to give it credit for that. If Bart were 27, that would be a much more interesting show. But that takes the kind of work that the writers aren't prepared to meet. In-jokes, pop references, and quickly-cobbled-together songs are much, much easier.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Awards Season

Boy, Daniel Day-Lewis really wants that Oscar. And nothing against him for it. Hell, who in what field doesn't like awards and recognition? Look at all the awards and such I have on my sidebar for a particularly greedy example. The Oscar is an award from your peers, and who doesn't want to be told every so often by his/her own industry that their work was liked best in any given year?

Daniel Day-Lewis is an actor I find hard to like. I've liked him very much in movies in the past, and I've also thought he was merely okay at other times. He's an actor who tends to take acting very, very seriously and that can lead to the perception of an actor who is pretentious and humorless. I don't know if Day-Lewis is either of those things, and I really don't care. More often than not, I think he's a fine actor. Some actors only have one great performance in them which they just repeat over and over. Daniel Day-Lewis has had a few of them.

I'm not really looking forward to There Will Be Blood; I don't feel like I ever have to see another Paul Thomas Anderson movie again, frankly. I really hated Magnolia, and I don't want to put myself in his hands again as a filmmaker. The most fun I've had with the film is telling pretentious fans that the plot sounds like a serious version of Dallas, but I like winding people up. And I will say that, based on the limited amount I've seen in trailers and commercials, it kind of looks like Daniel Day-Lewis is repeating his performance as Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, which is one of his best. But that's just first impressions and I think he's a good enough actor to give him the benefit of the doubt. And I have this weird thing about going to see everything nominated for Best Picture anyway, so I know I'll go.

What I wish he'd rein in is the Heath Ledger talk. It was weird enough hearing that he went on Oprah, and I guess it was nice that he said, even though he'd never met Ledger, that he would have liked to and that he was a very talented man whose death at such an early age was a tragedy. It was nice. It wasn't self-aggrandizing. John Travolta claiming he was Ledger's idol was self-aggrandizing. But dedicating his SAG Award win to Heath Ledger... okay, it was a SAG Award, but it comes close to being less tasteful.

I figure Daniel Day-Lewis will win the Oscar this year. It's never really in the bag, but he's the only one that seems to be getting serious attention for his nomination. And he won the SAG Award, he won the Golden Globe. And if he does, at least he's a real actor, so that's always nice when that actually happens. But I hope he doesn't bring up Heath Ledger again. Because it looks a little--just a little--like he's politicking. And he's a good enough actor to win another Oscar without it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Song of the Week: "Handle with Care"

1989. Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne. I didn't like rap and house; this was the kind of music I was listening to in junior high. I had to steal my dad's cassette from his car!

Happy Birthday, Mimi Rogers

Even though you're a scientologist, I still have a deep and abiding love for you.

While We're on the Subject of Birthdays...

It's also Bridget Fonda's birthday.

Where the heck has she been hiding herself?

Dr. Meme

Once again swiped from pretty PJ. I don't know what any of these levels mean, exactly, but what the hey? I put an "x" next to the things I've done.

Level 1
(x) Smoked a cigarette.
() Smoked a cigar.
(x) Kissed a member of the same sex.
(x) Drank alcohol.

Interesting that kissing a member of the same sex is in this grouping. I smoked on an off from the age of 14 until I was 25. I never smoked a cigar, but I did smoke cigarillos for a few years. As for alcohol, I've never been drunk. I don't like alcohol, really--that sharp sting just gives me heartburn.

Level 2
(x) Are/been in love.
() Been dumped.
(x) Shoplifted.
(x) Been fired.
() Been in a fist fight.

Oddly enough, I've never been dumped, which is kind of a surprise, to look at me. I was arrested for shoplifting once. I got fired from Waldenbooks on the day I went in to quit; I got demoted at Barnes & Noble but not fired. I think I quit Hollywood Video (without notice; I just walked out and left a note) right before I would've been fired. I've only been in a couple of fights, but only as a kid and never a full-on fist fight. Just scrapes or me and my friends messing around.

Level 3
(x) Had a crush on an older person.
(x) Skipped school.
() Slept with a classmate.
(x) Seen someone/something die.

Not for lack of trying, but I've never slept with a classmate. I've had a crush on (and long, sustained flirtations with) older women. My first older woman crush was for Wonder Woman, then for my first grade teacher, Miss Kammerer. Then my twin babysitters, Mindy and Marnie. Oh, man, Mindy and Marnie. I've never seen a person die, but I've seen animals killed before. I even killed a squirrel once, finishing what another driver had started (it seemed cruel to leave it, mad with fear and its rear legs crushed by another car, stuck in the middle of the road trying to scramble away from cars). What an odd grouping.

Level 4
() Had/have a crush on one of your friends who is now on Facebook.
() Been to Paris.
() Been to Spain.
(x) Been on a plane.
() Thrown up from drinking.

Not a Facebook guy. I have been on a plane; went to Guam when I was six, again when I was 12.

Level 5
(x) Eaten sushi.
() Been snowboarding.
() Met someone BECAUSE of Facebook.
() Been in a mosh pit.

Seriously, get over Facebook, it's just MySpace for slightly older people. Not a fan of sushi.

Level 6
(x) Been in an abusive relationship.
(x) Taken pain killers.
(x) Love/loved someone who you can’t have.
(x) Laid on your back and watched cloud shapes go by.
(x) Made a snow angel.

My previous girlfriend Christy emotionally abused and manipulated me even more sharply than my mom. And who hasn't loved someone they can't have? I think that's just a part of life. So many unrequited crushes from when I was in school. I took painkillers when I almost broke my ankle in high school; most recently I had painkillers (boy, this was 1999 or summat) when I had my wisdom teeth out. I got way too high on them and tried to go back to work. Hey, I only drove a van for a living, who says I would've killed somebody?

Level 7
() Had a tea party.
(x) Flown a kite.
(x) Built a sand castle.
() Gone mudding (offroading).
(x) Played dress up.

Yeah, well, I had a sister and a lot of girl cousins. And you'll never truly understand loss, frustration, and disappointment if you've never been a kid who gets his kite far up into the sky only to feel the string snap and watch your kite fly out of your life.

Level 8
(x) Jumped into a pile of leaves.
(x) Gone sledging.
(x) Cheated while playing a game.
(x) Been lonely.
(x) Fallen asleep at work/school.

No matter who you are, you've cheated at a game at least once. My mom never wanted me to jump into a pile of leaves; she said they were full of bugs and worms, as though leaves are a sudden compost pile. I've fallen asleep at work and school.

Level 9
(x) Watched the sun set.
(x) Felt an earthquake.
() Killed a snake.

I didn't know for a long time that there's a fault line in Illinois. But I felt an earthquake on Guam, and that was weird. And that was just a little temblor. It sounded like a truck going by, but everything shook. It was confusing and unreal and very scary once I realized what it was. Nothing rumbles in the pit of your stomach like an earthquake.

Level 10
(x) Been tickled.
(x) Been robbed/vandalized.
(x) Been cheated on.
(x) Been misunderstood.

I'm counting vandalized because I came out of the apartment here only to find my car's side door had been smashed (my old car, not my sister's, in case she's reading this). I'm nearly always misunderstood. And Christy cheated on me at least once with a guy who looked Scottish (that's one of the things she liked about him, plus he was a dirty hippie).

Level 11
() Won a contest.
() Been suspended from school.
(x) Had detention.
(x) Been in a car/motorcycle accident.

I never win anything. I was in a car accident, but nothing major. I've been rear-ended once or twice, but when I was 12 my Aunt Amy got in an accident while I was in the car. And when I was 15, my dad got into a crash with a taxi driver in Chicago (my dad was in the left turn lane and a taxi tried to pass him on the left).

Level 12
(x) Had/have braces.
() Eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night.
() Danced in the moonlight.

God, I hated having braces. Mostly they just made me sore, and they didn't correct any of the "problems" I had with my teeth. I still have a retainer on the back of my bottom row of teeth because I'm too lazy and poor to get it taken off. But I still have my overbite, I still have a slight gap between my two front teeth, and my jaw still clicks sometimes. But thanks for the opportunity to waste a bunch of my parents' money. It's been my experience that most dentists and orthodontists think their profession is the most important in the world, and they're actually offended if you don't follow their advice and instruction religiously. And they lie. "That's not pain, that's tension," my orthodontist used to say repeatedly. I wanted to stab him in the thigh with one of his instruments and twist around and tell him it was only tension.

Level 13
(x) Hated the way you look.
(x) Witnessed a crime.
() Pole danced.
(x) Questioned your heart.
() Been obsessed with post-it-notes.

Who is obsessed with post-its? I mean, sometimes you gotta write things down, but obsessed? Is that meant to be cute? I always hate the way I look; sometimes I guess I look okay (I like my hair the length it is right now). I've participated in crimes, but nothing major. And I've seen some shit go down, but no shots fired.

Level 14
(x) Squished barefoot through the mud.
(x) Been lost.
(x) Been to the opposite side of the world.
(x) Swam in the ocean.
(x) Felt like you were dying.

I really thought I was dying when I thought I was having that heart attack in October. I swam in the ocean at several of Guam's beaches; do Guam and Japan count as the opposite side of the world?

Level 15
(x) Cried yourself to sleep.
() Played cops and robbers.
() Recently colored with crayons/colored pencils/markers.
(x) Sang karaoke.
(x) Paid for a meal with only coins.

Karaoke is a fun way to get over the fear of embarrassing yourself in public. That fear is totally gone now. When I was a kid, we didn't play cops and robbers, we played war, Star Wars, or Ghostbusters (we had toy He-Man swords and tied them to backpacks with our sisters' jump ropes--oh, I guess we played He-Man, too). I think we played cowboys and Indians a couple of times, but not too often. We were more interested in the military. Or, more specifically, in G.I. Joe.

Level 16
(x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t.
(x) Made prank phone calls.
() Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose.
(x) Kissed in the rain.

I've never made a beverage come out of my nose, dammit. My class clownism only goes so far.

Level 17
(x) Written a letter to Santa Claus.
(x) Watched the sun set/sun rise with someone you care/cared about.
(x) Blown bubbles.
(x) Made a bonfire on the beach or anywhere.

When I was at youth group retreats we would throw things in the bonfire to see how they held up. Carl and I were among the young pyros, trying to make torches and throwing all manner of things to their doom. Once, someone threw in their shoe. We also used to throw in soda cans to see if they'd explode. They did. It was awesome.

Level 18
() Crashed a Party.
() Have travelled more than 5 days with a car full of people.
(x) Gone rollerskating/blading.
() Had a wish come true.
(x) Slept with a member of the same sex.

We used to go rollerskating at Main Street USA. It was fun. We used to go ice skating too. I remember a number of birthday parties that took place at Main Street USA.

Level 19
() Worn pearls.
() Jumped off a bridge.
(x) Screamed “penis” or “vagina”.
() Swam with dolphins.

I always wanted scream "penis" in church.

Level 20
() Got your tongue stuck to a pole/freezer/ice cube.
() Kissed a fish.
(x) Worn the opposite sex’s clothes.
(x) Sat on a roof top.

Say what you will, skirts are fucking comfortable. It's the reason I like kilts now. Are there a lot of people kissing fish these days?

Level 21
(x) Screamed at the top of your lungs.
(x) Done/attempted a one-handed cartwheel.
(x) Talked on the phone for more than six hours (in one day).
(x) Recently stayed up for a while talking to someone you care about.

I used to be able to do a front flip, too, even as a fat guy. And I could stand on my hands. I still can, I just need a wall to help me out...

Level 22
() Picked and ate an apple right off the tree.
(x) Climbed a tree.
(x) Had/been in a tree house.
(x) Been scared to watch scary movies alone.

Technically not a scary movie, but I still can't watch The Dark Crystal by myself. Go figure. When I was about 8 or 9, some of the guys and I found a treehouse made by the high school kids. They kept their porn magazines there. That was awesome. First time I saw one.

Level 23
() Believed in ghosts.
() Have had more than thirty pairs of shoes (not necessarily all at once).
() Gone streaking.
(x) Visited jail.

I visited jail once in a field trip in junior high. Also, I once visited jail in handcuffs in junior high. I figure those count. I don't believe in ghosts, but I have had an experience I couldn't explain that someone might call ghost-related. A lot of people in my family claimed they saw a ghost (repeatedly) that lived in the upstairs attic/bedroom of my grandmother's house, but I never saw or felt one.

Level 24
() Played chicken.
() Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on.
() Been told you’re hot by a complete stranger.
(x) Broken a bone.
(x) Been easily amused.

My severe ankle sprain in high school was nearly a break (it was like a 90% fracture). I'm too chicken to play chicken.

Level 25
() Caught a fish then ate it later.
(x) Made a porn video.
(x) Caught a Butterfly.
(x) Laughed so hard you cried.
(x) Cried so hard you laughed.

I am not the guy you want to see in a porn video. Trust me on this.

Level 26
(x) Mooned/flashed someone.
(x) Had someone moon/flash you.
(x) Cheated on a test.
(x) Forgotten someone’s name.
() French braided someone’s hair.
(x) Gone skinny dipping.
(x) Been kicked out of your house.
(x) Tried to hurt yourself.

Man, I feel like I'm really missing out on something by not French braiding someone's hair...

Level 27
() Rode a roller coaster.
(x) Went scuba-diving/snorkelling.
(x) Had a cavity.
(x) Blackmailed someone.
(x) Been blackmailed.

I think that unless you're an only child, you've been blackmailed or done some blackmailing. What I've never been is black maled. I had a cavity that never completely popped through the surface of my tooth; they caught it in time and enameled it.

Level 28
(x) Been used.
(x) Fell going up the stairs.
() Licked a cat.
(x) Bitten someone.
(x) Licked someone - not in private places…

There a lot of people licking cats these days? Because, you know, ew.

Level 29
(x) Been shot at/or at gunpoint.
() Had sex in the rain.
(x) Flattened someone’s tires.
(x) Rode your car/truck until the gas light came on.
(x) Got five dollars or less worth of gas.

Sometimes you just have to getsk homesk from worksk. I once felt my car shut down as I was coasting into the gas station (again, my old car). I was shot at once, not with a gun, but with a bow; Jason Aries shot at me and nearly hit me in the calf. Dick. I wonder if my mom knows that one time this kid showed me his dad's pistol in his glove compartment. I think I was 11... That's the kind of thing parents freak out about. Hm.