Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, My Baby Bell

IMKristenBell: Homemade mochas on Christmas morning!

Xmas sweater? Check. Xmas hip pack? Check. Xmas lunch at a sports bar in Texas? CHECK!

Merry Snowed-In Christmas

Whether you're celebrating or not, have a great day. We got snowed in out here, so for the first Christmas ever, Becca and I are spending it together with no other family. I'm actually excited about that; I've always wanted to do this, but we almost never get any time together alone on this day. It's especially nice, because this is Becca's first day off of work since the 12th, so she gets to relax and not be "on."

We're just going to have a nice meal, watch Castle DVDs, and enjoy being married and alone. It's a nice change of pace. Hope everyone else is having a nice day, too.

And I didn't do much in the way of Christmas blogging this year, but here are the links, as I do every year:

:: You Mean The Santa Clause Wasn't Always About Pedophilia
:: Have a Warm Christmas Eve
:: Christmas Is Right Around the Corner
:: Photoshop Christmas Magic...
:: No Kringus Offerings This Year
:: 31 Days of Christmas in One
:: Christmases Past

And to all a good night.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Oh, Is That How Getting Over Agoraphobia Works?

A comment from my post on how I'm trying to get over my fears of being driven by someone else:

"You need to get out of the house more, sir. EVERYTHING will start feeling like such a problem if you insulate yourself like this."

This is why I don't do my Health Report posts every week anymore. I write about a small personal victory and then I get a comment like this, which I'm sure isn't meant to make my victory seem worthless and make me feel like I've made absolutely no gains in trying to get over my massive problems, but which certainly accomplishes just that.

Yes, sir, I am under no illusions that I have giant problems that are starting to become unmanageable and which have disrupted my life in numerous ways. Sometimes the nervousness and fear I have regarding the outside world is crippling; it's so overwhelming at times that I don't know how I'll ever get out of it.

I guess going for a car ride doesn't seem like that much of a big deal. But for me it was. I guess we're all on different journeys in life and platitudes don't always solve our problems. Sorry I forgot about that. I'll try to magically be more normal tomorrow.

But in the meantime, it costs you nothing, sir, if I enjoy being a little more confident than I was earlier this week, and building on that to try and conquer these fears and problems that I have. I know I need to get out of the house more. Everything already is such a problem. That's why it felt good trying to overcome it. You can be dismissive of that all you want, but it's valuable to me.

You Mean The Santa Clause Wasn't Always About Pedophilia?

Have a Warm Christmas Eve

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Film Week

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

Lon Chaney plays an animal trapper in the Orient, who has raised his beautiful daughter (Lupe Velez) alone. Just as his girl is falling in love with the son of an American circus owner, her estranged mother (Estelle Taylor) shows up and starts vamping all over the place. Somewhat melodramatic, but also wonderfully pulpy and perverse, as I expect from a Tod Browning flick. Not the equal of The Unknown or The Unholy Three, but not bad at all. ***1/2 stars.

Oy. DW Griffith's ego loses control. After critics took The Birth of a Nation to task for its overt racism and bigotry, Griffith set out to make a film whose hidden message was that people who have a problem with you (a) framing the Civil War as the rape and oppression of the South by black people, (b) blaming the loss of the war on the fact that Southern women are simpering and weak, and (c) portraying the Ku Klux Klan as patriotic defenders of tradition.... are intolerant! Yes, it's very well made. The spectacle of the film--which follows, editing back and forth, four stories set in the present day, at the fall of Babylon, at the Crucifixion, and at the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre--is impressive. On its surface, it's high art. But at the same time, it takes a guy with balls of solid rock to compare his critical drubbing to Jesus being crucified by the Romans. And never a thought that tolerance, in fact, goes in two directions--someone disagreeing with your viewpoint isn't always intolerance; sometimes it's just a disagreement. So, I'm a little torn here, but I have to go with ***1/2 stars because it's an incredible film. I deduct just half a star because the movie is so very self-serving.

Surprisingly fun update of the so-so slasher flick The House on Sorority Row. The cast are mostly pretty likable (I really dug my Rumer and Jamie Chung), the film is enjoyable, and it embraces what it is. Plus, Carrie Fisher rocks in this. Silly, but fun. *** stars.

It's like someone cut my head open and made a movie out of what they saw inside. I adored this movie. It's probably the best translation of the comic book format I've ever seen; it gets all the sensibilities right, but adds the cartooniness and the high drama that are often missing. Emotions are supposed to be raised in this kind of a picture. Comics are like opera, but with a different visual language (here filtered through video game sounds and imagery). It gets across not the experience of reading a comic book, but the way a comic book makes you feel and imagine as you're reading it. I thought it was flawless, pitch perfect, particularly in its casting and the performances. Your precious Jesse Eisenberg would never have been able to pull this off. I especially have to mention that I loved Kieran Culkin, Brandon Routh, and Ellen Wong. Brilliant. Maybe my favorite movie this year, unashamedly. **** stars.

Wow, that was just bad. I was hopeful, because I loved V for Vendetta and Speed Racer, but this was just boring and pointless. * star for the violence. If you're into gore, there's some creative stuff here, especially in the beginning.

Oh, god, stop moving the fucking camera and do an establishing shot! Goddammit! This movie is impossible to look act, which is fine, because if you were able to pause and pay attention to what's going on, you'd realize that you were watching one of the worst things in the history of time and space. If you were one of the people telling Roger Ebert he was old and out of touch for calling this abomination out for the piece of filth it is, you are an idiot. No stars.

EASY A (2010)
I was really surprised here. I expected it to be pretty lame, but it's actually a smart, funny movie. Very well-written--the characters are mostly organic and believable instead of the usual high school stereotypes--and Emma Stone is at her most appealing here. The comparisons to Clueless and Mean Girls are warranted. Here, Stone plays a high school student who lies to her best friend (Aly Michalka) about losing her virginity, then gets a reputation as the school slut. She embraces it for the popularity--even sewing a scarlet "A" on her clothes--but begins to have second thoughts when her friends turn on her. **** stars, one of the best recent comedies I've seen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Some Personal Growth for a Change

As you may or may not know, I have a real phobia about letting people drive me anywhere. Especially in bad weather. Or, you know, at all. I am afraid to get in a car and let people drive me anywhere at all.

I'm really not sure anymore why this fear has taken so prominent a hold on my life. I think it's the result of a number of things happening at once. Too many bad trips with drivers who were just a shade too reckless, or in places I was too unfamiliar with to relax, and I just couldn't be a passenger anymore.

It didn't used to be this way. People used to drive me all the time. I remember when Becca used to drive us everywhere. But I realized it's been 15 years since I let anyone else get behind the wheel and take me anywhere.

It's an even bigger problem for me, because I also have fears associated with driving. I used to love to drive. Then I became more and more overcautious. I had a hard time in the dark, or in the rain. And if it's snowing? No way am I driving, especially since I got into a car accident coming home from work on a very snowy day.

As your mind-obliterating fears often do, these two came crashing into each other yesterday when it became imperative that Becca and I journey to the grocery store. Now, the roads were fairly decent, even though it had snowed all night before. There was a pretty dense fog. And the only car we have left is in desperate need of a visit to a mechanic--brakes are grinding, tires are failing, alignments are... misaligned. All of this was just a recipe for the anxiety I'm medicated because of.

See, my driving-related phobia is dangerous. It makes me too cautious, less willing to take chances. Which may sound good, but when I'm in a certain mental state I see things like driving any more than 5 miles under the speed limit as taking a chance. I've been worrying that trying too hard not to get into an accident is going to get me into an accident. A bad one.

So I had to swallow it all down yesterday and let Becca drive us to the store.

I know, for most people this is not a big deal. For me, it was an epic nightmare. I would have zero control over what was happening, and even thinking of it gave me this hot, prickly feeling in the back of my neck and a black hole in the pit of my stomach.

I got in the car and strapped myself in. Becca promised no sharp turns or sudden stops, if she could help it. As we pulled out of our parking lot, I started to breathe too fast. I had to do a lot of deep breathing to calm down. I purposely didn't look at the road. I looked at the ceiling, or closed my eyes. I could feel the car moving, but I tried to concentrate on conversation. Becca knows me very well; she told me to explain something to her that took a long time to explain. I chewed my gum (so I wouldn't grind my teeth or chew on my tongue, a bad habit I've been developing lately) and occasionally recited the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, which is surprisingly helpful.

And we made it. All of my nervous energy came out through laughter, and then I was just so, so tired from holding on for dear life and trying not to freak out.

But the point is, I didn't.

Yes, I'm a big baby, but despite one near-panic, I didn't throw a fit. And that's a pretty big personal victory.

I did even better on the ride home. This is another of my fears--like so many of them--which has become overwhelming until it just ran out of control. Now I think I may be able to let go of it.

I feel good about this. Becca, who sometimes feels she's just been enabling me for 15 years, feels good about it, too.

My Mom has tried to get me over this, too; in the summer, I was able to let her drive me around a bit, though not quite as far.

I'm building. I'm building up to being a person again.

No Kringus Offerings This Year

Well, for the first time in the six years I've been doing this blog, I decided that I'm not going to do my annual post of offerings for Lord Kringus. I know that means I won't get any presents this year, but I'm going to have to live with it. I just don't have the energy to scour YouTube for fun Christmas videos this year. Maybe next year, instead.

Also, I'm not doing my annual post of Christmas babes, either. When my computer crashed earlier this year, and then my external drive crashed over the summer, I just lost so much of what I'd collected for that post that I just didn't bother to try and find them again. I'm just going to let it go this year.

C'est la vie, Kringus. We meet again next year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Meme-O Polo

Via Jaquandor.

26. Whose responses to Stealing do you want to read the most?

Well, I don't go to Sunday Stealing, but I do get these from Jaquandor, so there's your answer. Still, if anyone I read does these, I always enjoy their answers.

27. What color shirt are you wearing?

Charcoal, which seems to be my favorite color for shirts. This one also has Oscar the Grouch on it.

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?

I don't think I ever have. Am I really missing out on something? I've never thought about it.

29. Can you whistle?

Yes, and beautifully.

30. Favorite colors(s)?

It's been the darker blues lately, but I still love purple and green.

31. Could you be a pirate?

The 10 year-old inside of me would leap at the chance, but frankly I don't have the energy for it these days.

32. What songs do you sing in the shower?

Usually some kind of show tune or something from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Or something by the Beach Boys or Roger Whittaker. Whatever hits me. Jimmy Webb songs are fun to sing.

33. Favorite girls name?

Andromeda. I would totally name a daughter Andromeda.

34. Favorite boy’s name?

It changes. Today I like Jim.

35. What’s in your pocket right now?

Nuttin'. I'm still in my sweatpants; they have pockets, but I don't put anything in them. These are strictly a comfort gig.

36. Last thing that made you laugh?

I don't remember... home alone, I haven't even spoken aloud yet today.

37. Best bed sheets as a child?

The ones I remember best were this sort of Mondrian-type design, but with circles over some of the lines. It was very 1980s.

38. Worst injury you’ve ever had?

I guess when I split my head open when I was 3 or 4. I can't remember much about it.

39. Do you love where you live?

It ain't not bad. I don't know if I'll ever really love DeKalb, but it's nice. I don't really care, as long as Becca's here.

40. How many TVs do you have in your house? How many HDTVs?

One, and it is an HDTV.

41. Who is your loudest friend?

I am. I am a loud motherfucker.

42. How many dogs do you have?

None. We're not allowed to have dogs in this complex. Besides, I have my rabbit, and I'd rather have him than anything.

43. Does anyone have a crush on you?

You do. We both know it. It's okay.

44. What are the most fun things you ever did?

Anything I did with Becca, even when she thinks I was pissed off or upset.

45. What are your favorite books?

I've mentioned them before, and I'm sure I will again.

47. Favorite Team?

I'm not a sports guy.

48. What songs do you want played at your funeral?

"Surf's Up" by the Beach Boys, "Rock and Roll Suicide" by David Bowie, and "I'll See You in My Dreams" by R. Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders.

49. What were you doing at 12 AM?


50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?

"I wonder what the roads look like this morning?"

More Pirates of the Caribbean

I'm shocked. The trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has been released, and it looks... good. It looks like something I'd actually like to see. I'm amazed, because after the one-two punch of the incredibly crowded Dead Man's Chest and the incredibly boring At World's End, I never thought I'd want to sit through one of these movies again.

I've talked before, at windy length, about how terrible I think the first three PotC movies are. The first movie was fun but very long and repetitive, and a few decent performances and some good special effects (though by no means all of them) couldn't make the second two films feel anything but 12 and a half hours long. Each.

But this new movie has done something wonderful: ditched most of the characters. PotC is a textbook example of a series that carries too many threads and is simply too anal retentive to drop any of its characters when they no longer serve any narrative purpose. The mistake is really made in the second movie when, like most series that were never originally designed to be series (no matter what the filmmakers say), we are tediously reintroduced to practically every character from the first movie and given convoluted reasons for them all to meet and journey together, and then several new characters and plots are added on, none of which the movie has any intention of resolving until a third movie. Even thinking about those second two movies just makes me tired.

So when I see there's now a fourth movie, with the only two characters worth holding onto from the first trilogy (Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa), and adds Penelope Cruz in a pirate outfit... well, I start to get excited. As much as those other movies did to make me hate pirates, I still love them and want to see them in adventure flicks. And though I'm not the biggest Rob Marshall fan, at least Gore Verbinski isn't directing this one, either. It's almost like getting a do-over.

I just hope it's not so long and blowhardy as the other movies. Less characters, less going around in circles, and please, please stop trying to humanize Jack Sparrow. You can't have it both ways: is he just funny and awesome, or am I supposed to care about the fucker? Because that gear shift really ground hard in the second movie.

But with no Keira Knightley or Oily Bloom in the picture, it can only be better.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Steve Landesberg 1945-2010

Good night, Sgt. Dietrich.

Happy Birthday, Jackie

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Song of the Week: "It's Over"

I've always loved Roy Orbison. I think it's because, during my days of high heart drama (otherwise known as my teenage years), he had more power than some to put my feelings into music. This is an especially wonderful, dramatic, emotional piece from 1965.