11.29.2008

And Critiques by Greeple's First Random Visitor Is... Er, That Greeple Knows of, Is...

Steiny, from Mucca Pazza! I'm not sure which member of Mucca you are, Steiny, but I appreciated your sentiments enough to shout it out on my blog. Uhm, and quote it:

hi jon, we're mucca pazza. just read your "what would Jesus buy" critique and appreciated it a great deal. smart blog my friend. nice to "meet" you.

-steiny

That was left for me on my MySpace page shortly after I 'friended' Mucca Pazza on MySpace because they rip super hard. Also, they're playing the Bottom Lounge in Chicago next Saturday Dec 6th @ with Icy Demons, who also shred my face off.

See what happens with random acts of kindness? Yeah. Go see Mucca Pazza, you nonexistent readers (I know, Steiny - you'll be there).

11.09.2008

What Would Jesus Buy? Not Rev. Billy's Bullsh*t, I'd Like to Think

The Reverend Billy Talen is kind of a douchebag. He's the reverend of the Stop Shopping Church... or something. I dig Billy's message - Americans consume too much. Wal-Mart sucks. We're entering a "Shopocalypse" every Christmas season (although I'm mad you made a good name like "Shopocalypse" lame and trivial), and it's gotten out of control (!!!).

So Billy had a light bulb flash on in his head.

I'll talk to these consumers like they're idiots, Billy thought. I'll bring a choir with me, the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir (yeah!), that sings Christmas Carols with modified lyrics to make fun of our shopaholic culture (YEAH!). And that's what he does. Oh, and I'll keep my hair dyed beach-blonde in an out of style Kurt Russell-like pompadour so absolutely NO ONE takes me seriously!!!

Good idea, Billy.


So we watch the documentary What Would Jesus Buy? and see Billy go to malls, families' doorsteps, The Mall of America, and Disneyland, to name a few, to change consumers minds for the month leading up to Christmas. I'm in favor of this kind of subversive behavior. But my problem with Billy is that he cannot get over himself and his ego enough to put true importance into his message. By being a joke, his mission is a joke. And unfortunately, he's actually on a noble mission.

If you want to invoke humor into your cause, whatever it may be, don't do it at the expense of your cause. Or else you just look like an idiot like Billy Talen.

I'm not sure that the makers of What Would Jesus Buy? wanted me to walk away feeling this way. I think it wanted to show a bizarre slice of Americana, a la or The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters or Confessions of a Superhero. But those films captured aspects of their subjects that made them human and (sometimes) endearing. I can't tell if WWJB wanted me to like Billy, shop less during Christmas, or not take any of the 90 minutes seriously at all.

Damn you Netflix and your suggestions. They're usually good, but you misfired on this pile of garbage.

Can I get a bah humbug? Eh, Jesus? How bout it? Can you hook that up, brother? Psh. Not bloody likely. You probably wouldn't even shop at Wal-Mart, you unAmerican goon.

10.26.2008

A Walk to Beautiful Heavy Metal in Baghdad.

Yes, that's actually two film titles that I decided to combine into one blog title for comedic and/or dramatic purposes (with mixed success). A Walk to Beautiful and Heavy Metal in Baghdad (both available for instant viewing on Netflix) differ drastically in content, but both convey similar stories of people struggling against that which they cannot control.

In retrospect, I'm not entirely sure why I decided to watch A Walk to Beautiful. Five Ethiopian women travel to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital. Have you ever heard of a fistula before? 'Cause I hadn't. I thought, Oh, just another disease prevalent in Africa because a buncha people there don't have access to decent health care. Should be emotionally devastating. But, I wasn't putting enough emphasis on emotionally devastating when I pressed play - maybe because it's only about 50 minutes long (85 minutes was the length of the original cut, but the 50 minutes for the PBS Nova version was more than enough for this guy).

Meet Ayehu, a 25 yr old single woman who lived in a straw shed, separate from her family, because she had a fistula, which is essentially a hole between organs' passageways that aren't really supposed to be there. In Ayehu's case, it was a hole between her bladder and vagina, so she constantly leaked urine. This happened because of her intensive, several days long labor in which she gave birth to a dead fetus, but the internal trauma of the experience had caused this fistula to appear. And apparently this is common enough for there to be a fistula hospital in Addis Ababa, where women all over the country travel for help.

Not a simple journey. Ayehu, for example, had a six-hour walk to the nearest road to take a 16 hour bus ride to the capital. Family did not travel with, and the women had to suffer the embarrassment of the long, hot bus ride sitting in and smelling like their own excrement (thus the incessant shunning from families, which sometimes drives these women to consider or commit suicide), not to mention the hygienic nightmare of such a situation.

As an American, though, I probably decided to watch this because I like success stories, or stories that make me hopeful and then satisfy my hopes in two hours or less. A movie titled A Walk to Beautiful has that kinda shit written all over it. Ayehu's beautiful walk, for example, while having the treacherous subtext of walking six hours and leaking urine down her leg the entire time, showed the untouched beauty of rural Ethiopia, and it was a walk endured to end suffering. And this hope and beauty is all here in this doc, but not before reality kicked me square in the nuts a few more times.

Wukete, a 17 year old, was at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital for her third time. Her fistula had been repaired, but she continued to leak. Let's take a timeout for some "fun" facts: 17 yr old Wukete had been married four times, escaped her first three husbands, received beatings from her father for leaving her husbands, did not have a mother, and stayed with the fourth husband because she got pregnant. She was in labor for, let's see...10 days? I could be wrong. It might have been 12. But back to the present narrative - though her fistula had been repaired in previous visits to the Fistula Hospital, her bladder had been crushed and shrunk to a size not able to contain her regular production of urine.

Now, Wukete was about as depressing as anything, but there was good news.

These fistulas? Yeah, not terribly difficult to repair. Well, the success rate at Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, at least from what A Walk to Beautiful depicted, seemed awfully high. These women came from across the country to find crowds of women suffering from the same condition, when they originally thought they were the only ones in the world. As Dr. Hamlin indicated, the emotional healing process at the Hospital can be as critical as the surgery itself. The women were relieved to hear others sharing the same stories that had haunted them for years, in some cases. They'd go home to their families to be accepted and loved again and tear down their straw 'quarantine' sheds.

But Wukete refused to return home. A wild horse at heart and trapped by circumstance, she plead with the nurses to help her find a place to go where she had a chance at being happy. And well, her smile was worth the emotionally taxing price of pressing play.

Material like this shocks our senses. I edited out some of my descriptions of these women's lives because I felt overwhelmed rereading it, which supports Acrassicauda drummer Marwan's final argument at the end of Heavy Metal in Baghdad.

After the band convinced filmmakers Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi to show some rough edits of the documentary's early footage, Marwan saw their old practice space in Baghdad demolished for the first time (he and guitarist Tony were first to leave Baghdad for Syria - the new home of over 1.2 million Iraqi refugees since the start of the Iraq war). Acrassicauda had spent better parts of days, weeks and months in this practice space learning to play the metal they loved listening to, and Marwan's memories of developing his passion for drumming lay amidst the videotaped rubble. "These are things that you lay your back on," he says. "These are the things that you turn off the TV whenever, or like change the channel when it's on...daily life in Iraq..." 23 yr old Marwan is right - it is a privilege to ignore the worst things that are happening in the world. Neither he nor Acrassicauda could ignore the destruction of their practice space that had enabled their passion.

Acrassicauda, the only metal band in Iraq, allowed Moretti and Alvi to film their lives from the start of the Iraq War in 2003 through the close of 2006. Life in Baghdad was decidedly not better after Saddam's regime, according to the band. They were all on edge, and Marwan cried out early in the film that he played drums so that he didn't kill someone. The bass player Firas, with whom the filmmakers spent much of their time, indicated that not only was his Slipknot tshirt endangering him, but his goatee was scrutinized as well (he decided to grow it into a beard). It was Firas's video of the aftermath and rubble of their practice space that Marwan saw - images familiar to the viewer by the time Marwan watched. The band had been split by the political turmoil and members of the band left for Damascus, Syria, where the others eventually went for refuge as well.

Firas hated Damascus and missed Baghdad. He joked that the rockets, bombs, and gunfire became a part of him that was now gone. Though safe, he was not at ease. They reignited Acrassicauda, however, and played a show in a large room in a basement, resembling a fancy catering room (not the ideal metal venue). Members had concluded this may be the last Acrassicauda show.

But something happened at that show that I've never seen at a show in America. They sucked. Hard. They opened with the unfortunate 80s pop smash "The Final Countdown," but 'metal-ed' up a bit (not a good thing). They'd prepared many cover songs because their metal scene in Iraq had either fled the country or died, and they weren't at home anyway. They knew as little of what to expect as the spectators (of which there appeared to be none, initially). Having been cautious at first with song selection, they let go and played Metallica.

Now, stop a second. Think of how we perceive Metallica now (lame?). Now, think of what Metallica might mean to oppressed Iraqi's and Syrians frightened of the war spilling into their homeland.

The crowd reacted. The room sparked. Acrassicauda, to the audience (now an actual crowd) for that moment, was Metallica, and would probably be the closest anyone in that basement would ever get to seeing the Metallica. Acrassicauda continued with their heavier covers and received more raucous praise from the audience. Confident now, they smashed out their original songs which were met with yet more cheers. Afterwards, they all concluded they could not disband.

A disaster gone success - a near impossibility at an American music venue. I'll be the first to admit that the second a band starts to suck ass, I don't give them a second chance. Part of the luxury of having the freedom to enjoy whatever music I like in whatever capacity, I guess.

And speaking of freedoms, this guy's glad, perhaps more so than ever, that he never has to bear the responsibility of birthing a child. And speaking of things that make this guy glad, I'm glad my metal-loving ass doesn't live in fucking Baghdad for crying out loud. *Air guitar squeal*

10.18.2008

W. the Movie: 'Bout As Good As His Presidency. Oh, Also, Religulous.

Oliver Stone - you fucking asshole. Fuck you. You decided to make this W. movie in January, okay, shot it in like, May or some shit, and fucking rushed it to theaters October 17th. And, it was a movie, that not only served zero purpose, no. It was also a movie that feasted endlessly on my balls. I cannot believe you didn't show Bush blowing coke once. Not Once!!! I'm sorry, but why would you be in such a rush to release a piece of shit movie before elections only to not show our dumb ass president blowing coke. Why?!

Okay. So you decided not to show W. (Josh Brolin) sending line after line of cocaine up his nose in a movie about his mishap of a life in which he blew lots of cocaine. No, I'm behind you, Oliver! Why waste time depicting all of the truth when you're on a tight schedule for no goddamn reason whatsoever!? On that line of reasoning, why waste your time working closely with an extremely talented cast of actors who all turned in sub-par to shitty performances? I mean, why would you wanna do a thing like that anyway, when you're making a movie, you jerk?!


I have one last idea as to why Oliver Stone first made this movie, and then rushed it into theatres. He saw potential interest in the public, because the country generally hates the shit outta this guy. Also, there was no way in hell such a bad idea and paltry product could make money any way else. Well guess what - you made a sucker outta me, Oliver. I plopped my $10 down and saw your pile of shit movie. Happy? I fucking hope so. You just committed career suicide in my book, brother. You think I'll pay for anything else you release here on out? I might watch it pirated. That is, if you ever have another pea-brained idea that raises any interest in me whatsoever. You fucking made Platoon, you fuck, and Natural Born Killers and Born on the 4th of July...some of my favorite movies! How in the hell coul...

*Deep breath*

Anyway, we meet our W. in...no. We never meet our W. We meet Stone's W. on a baseball field filled with cheers, roars, and completely empty seats. This imagery recurs. Fly ball, W. goes to catch it, but there's no ball to be caught. How symbolic! Then we see him in the White House, where he says stupid shit, and in a frat, where he says stupid shit and drinks a lot, and in the 70s where he says stupid shit and drinks a lot, and goading a fist fight with his father while drunk and saying stupid shit after drunkenly driving his car onto Poppy's front lawn (that's H.W., played yawningly by James Cromwell, or as Manohla Dargis of NYTimes put it, "Mr. Cromwell does a nice job imitating a block of wood...") - a decidedly stupid thing to do.

But let's go back to the White House. There they were - everyone I'd been dying to see play their respective crony: Richard Dreyfuss as Cheney; a delightfully comical physicality of Karl Rove from Toby Jones; Jeffrey Wright as a ho-hum Colin Powell; uhmm...some disappointing dudes as Rummsfeld and Ari Fleischer (Ari was actually Rob Corddry, the Daily Show correspondent guy, who I never before found boring); and uhh...oh dear god, the worst - Thandie Newton as a high-pitched Bobblehead Condoleeza Rice. Condy's not high-pitched, nor a bobblehead doll - make note, Mr. Stone: not a bobblehead doll.

So say what you will about the Bush administration, but it's just fulla interesting characters. How they could be reduced to caricatures by actors I'm consistently delighted to see on screen is just...insulting. Brolin and Dreyfuss stood out as actors most accurately inhabiting a physicality of their subjects, but the script - and presumably the director (that's you again, Oliver) - failed to give them anything to play with (that's what she said). Everyone recited sound bites we've all heard blared at us by the mainstream media countless times and don't need to hear again.

And that was the only reason I saw this movie. To get something else. Different. Something Stone-ian, a la Nixon or Wall Street. I got a Cleveland Steamer on my shoe, is what I got.

What a fucking prick, that Oliver...

Which brings me to Bill Maher, the indirect focus of the new documentary Religulous, directed by Larry Charles ("Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"). These guys decided to go out and make a movie that actually provided a different perspective from the ones rammed down our throats for the past eight years (love that buzz phrase - the past eight years - makes your skin crawl with fascism, doesn't it?). And I fucking appreciated it.


Bill Maher goes around America interviewing religious idiots for laughs, personal and otherwise. Lord knows I be enjoyin' me some laughs at the expense of religious idiots. And laugh I did. Often. For the first hour. Then Maher and company decided to make a point, and I said, "Whoa, whoa dudes. Whoa. Why can't I just laugh at you making jokes out of these religious imbeciles? Ya know, man? Why'd you, uhh, have to start shoving your anti-religious rhetoric down my throat like the Religious Right with their intolerance?" And shove he did, right down all of our nothungryforthisbullshit throats. It would've been nice to just see idiots look like idiots and the occasional religious non-idiot give Maher something thought-provoking to debate. But no. You had to tirade on secularism like a televangelist.

Still, it was quite funny when he made buffoons out of the religious televangelists he interviewed. A lot funnier than anything in W., which...ah, goddammit Oliver! Why couldn't you at least show Brolin send a little white line of nose candy up his fun hole (i.e. nostril)? I'd hate you so much less. Get fucked, Oliver, along with Bill Maher's preachy secularist horsepiss.

10.12.2008

Persepolis: Movie About Iranians Who Are Not In Fact Terrorists

I watched Persepolis today, Marjane Satrapi's true story of growing up in war-torn Tehran, Iran in the late 70s into the 80s. I know, I know - what interest might I have in the story of an inevitable terrorist cell? Well I'll say, I wouldn't have had any interest in this film if it had been about your prototypical Iranian terrorist, where they worship Jihad and eat their own babies (that's how the quote unquote Terrorist Story goes, right?). I realized that some terrorists aren't like real terrorists even if they are of terrorist descent, and actually behave the same way all my non terrorist friends do, too! Hell - some of these terrorists who happen to hail from Iran, like Marjane Satrapi, probably aren't even terrorists at all. Maybe they're just the unfortunate ones bearing the brunt of our hatred of terrorists without having terrorized anything at all. Some might argue they've endured more terrorism than US (what?!).



They might be right.

Not enough of the people showing up at Sarah Palin rallies, screaming how Barack Obama's a terrorist because he's a Muslim and has a terrorist name, have seen this movie. Persepolis deftly compiled a portrait of humanity in a digestible 95 minutes, complete with highlights of the importance of family values and necessity of teenage rebellion in unstable settings. Marjane had a strong family for support while she adapted to the wildness of an oppressive government, and she lashed out to better understand herself. Ya know - like American kids.

When I first heard that Persepolis would be made into a movie, I scoffed. I read Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood in a nonfiction workshop in college and it shocked me - the contrast of such adult times through the eyes of an innocent child, accentuated by the comic book narration in a form not unlike Maus I and II. Persepolis felt naturally conformed to the graphic novel, though the sense of immediacy tempted me to consider it happening on film. A film would not allow me to dwell, however, on the emotions aroused in me by Marjane's relationship with her uncle Anoush, for example (for which I needed much time to dwell - I needed to put the book down).

Years later I read the second book, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, and felt it missed the innocence and simplicity that thrived in the first book. Surely, Marjane had become a woman and had different, more complex adult views. I felt the text overwhelmed the powerful imagery, so prevalent before, now languishing in each graphic panel, replaced by political rhetoric and exclamations on coming of age. Persepolis 2 hadn't lost Satrapi's charm, however, and was only slightly disappointing because of the power of its predecessor.

In a roundabout way, the film Persepolis resolved the unevenness I felt from the two books. While the material from the first felt shortened in the movie and the emotions somewhat dampened, the material from the second felt appropriately consolidated into a tone more relatable to the first. Still - I marvel at the first novel and do not feel it could be improved upon in any way. The first chapter in Persepolis, "The Veil," introduced us to a repressed culture to which a Westerner could relate. The girls forced to wear veils and suffer from sameness played with the veils like toys on the playground by the bottom of the first page. Starting the film, however, we're introduced to an adult, contemplative Marjane sitting in an airport as she began reimagining childhood. The latter would be a staple beginning to a coming of age film, yet it didn't have the impact of breaking into a new world like the book. Would the first chapter of the book have better served the opening of the film? Possibly, but my bias is clear. In the film's defense, the recurring imagery of airports in the film elevated the tension of Marji's first parting from her parents for Vienna, as her father carried her faint mother away from the scene of the goodbye.

The reinterpretation of the second book to film allowed the imagery to do more of the narrative work. When Satrapi felt compelled to expound upon her duress in word, it delved too deeply into the mania of young adulthood. The heartache of loss, the betrayal of a first love... film has a wonderful thing called "montage," where the heartbreak can be conveyed quickly and understood without sweating the details in overbearing detail. This helped the second leg of the story. The animation stayed alive and playful amidst the often frightening backdrop Marjane's life - the film's, and story's, strongest achievement.

So that's a highfalutin' way of looking at it (gosh darn it!). But my point is, you can watch this movie and feel like you've experienced something like never before - like you heard a taboo secret, like you were punched in the stomach, like you heard a joke for the first time, like you have a new understanding of freedom, learning that people from "Terroristland Iran" eat, think, breathe and try to raise families under tough circumstances just like we do. Just like I felt after finishing Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood.

9.13.2008

Film Review Medley - from Arm Wrestling to Hitler.

My memory sucks. I might have reviewed at least two of these before elsewhere, but save the Hitler movie, I just saw these all again recently. They're fun to talk about. Enjoy.

To be assaulted by my critical fist:
  1. Over the Top
  2. Super High Me
  3. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
  4. Downfall
Over the Top - Sly Stallone arm wrestles his way into your heart.

If this ain't (or, tweren't) Ronnie Reagan's favorite movie, I don't know me my Ronnie. What's not to love? An arm-wrestling movie called Over the Top, based on an arm-wrestling move where you go "Over the Top" on the guy's hand to get leverage and win. Maybe you didn't know this, but arm-wrestling another man is the ultimate struggle to prove your manhood against guys who eat lit cigars and drink motor oil right before they hand-grapple you into submission.

Does "Over the Top" have a duel meaning for you, too, yet?

It couldn't be the grunting, sweating, slow-mo vein-bulging, big-rig driving alone that makes this Ronnie's favorite movie. That alone might be kinda gay.

Oh, wait. Let's get this outta the way... Sylvester Stallone plays a semi-truck driver named Lincoln (yes, like the best president EVER...next to Ronald Reagan, of course) Hawk (not quite an eagle, but a noble effort nonetheless) whose son just graduated some sissy boot camp school (they had to wear uniforms - I don't know...) where he learned how to be a giant douchebag sissy bastard who hates his dad (Hawk) because he never met him before. Upon douchebag boy's dying mother's request (if she weren't dying, or had big breasts, why would we care what she thinks? Right Ronnie?), Lincoln picks up his son (in the big-rig) for a father-son bonding adventure across the Land of the Free (that's America, for all you people who are not Ronald Reagan). Sissy boy's grandpa yells at the school's principal for letting his dead-beat father take him home, claiming his dying mother doesn't have the brain anymore to make such a decision... (I'm sure what he meant to say was "Women are too stupid to make such decisions," right Ronnie?! HA! That was a good one, wasn't it Ronnie?! HA!)

Sorry, I got carried away. It's just as easy to make fun of this movie by doing a synopsis as it is to call it Reagan's favorite movie. Well, know this - it's one of those bad, bad movies that doesn't get old. All 93 minutes are a laughing riot, because Stallone's script does not pick up on the irony of calling this movie Over the Top.

To sum up - arm-wrestling movie. Bizarre family values featuring a sunuvabitch kid. Ronnie's fave.

Super High Me - Doug Benson smokes his way into your heart.

If I were a stand-up comedian, the idea of Super High Me probably would have occurred to me in a joke at some point, much like it did for Doug Benson. He saw Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me (stoned, no doubt), and thought he could do the same thing with pot. Some filmmakers heard the idea and made it happen.

Doug smokes zero pot for 30 days (the constant of the experiment, I guess??), and then smokes pot constantly for 30 days. He takes tests of all sorts (psychology, psychic abilities (he was more psychic when stoned), physicals, memory tests, SATs, etc.) for no reason other than to legitimize this film's existence.

One major bummer here - you see DEA agents busting legitimate businesses (dispensaries, they're called - the legal pot-selling businesses in California). To summarize this debate, states are legalizing pot, but it's illegal federally, and federal law trumps state law. At least according to the DEA. So they can bust whatever legitimate business they feel like that sells pot. Just because. Isn't that awesome!?

Anyway, I recommend this movie. It depicts stoners as they are. As they should be. Stoned. But also because it doesn't ram the legalization issue down your throat. Sure, we see the DEA confiscating legal marijuana and the protests that ensue, but it's not the focus of the movie. The movie is fun and doesn't try to be anything else. But it doesn't try to ignore its topic, which is currently enshrouded in controversy. So it addresses it. Otherwise, you just feel high and giggly from watching this movie. Or from otherwise.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters - Billy Mitchell cheats his way into your heart.

This is my favorite documentary of all time. It gets a rise out of you, the viewer, like you would never expect from a movie about an arcade game from the early 80s. Hell, some WWII movies don't get me as worked up as The King of Kong. Really good ones, even (see review below). So, just see this for chrissakes and then we'll talk.



Seriously - just put your pre-conceived notions aside for one fucking second, of what this movie will be, and fucking watch it. Billy Mitchell/his hot sauce '08.

Downfall - Hitler hara-kiri's his way into...your...heart? Uhhh....

Based on a documentary called Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary, Downfall allows us to peak into The Fuhrer's existence during his last few days in the bunker before he offed himself - indirectly through the eyes of one of his secretaries, Traudl Junge (who is the focus of the documentary, obviously, but not the focus of Downfall, obviously). Now, personally, I'd like to believe that no one was ever this insane - that it would be impossible - but I defer to the based-on-a-true-story-ness of this flick. (It just has that based-on-a-true-story feel to it - that's how I know this actually happened.)

Needless to say, lotsa disturbing shit here, uhh...it's Hitler, up close and too personal. He shouts nonsense and refuses to listen to anyone (that doesn't sound like Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or George W. Bush or Dick Cheney or Karl Rove or anyone in our American political arena!). Hitler never struck me as a "good-lookin' dude," but in his last few days he's decrepit. All that hatred did quite a number on that guy.

For me, the most disturbing scene in the film was at a ballroom dance. Eva Braun was leading the show, dressed to the nines, dancin' to the band... Then the music stopped because of all the war they can't help but hear and feel in the background. It shook everyone. Life stopped, until Eva scolded the band to keep playing, hopping up on a table or piano and kept dancing until everyone who wasn't crying played along. I'd like to think that something like the Holocaust could only be possible in states where denial is so strong that you put your own life in danger. But who really knows. Guess how this scene ended.

This was nominated for the Best Foreign Picture Oscar a few years ago, and it's an excellent work. At times, too excellent. Depicting such a time excellently can be quite taxing on the viewer.


...And that's a medley. I like putting arm-wrestling, pot-smoking, arcade-playing, and (rounding it out with) Hitler together in a group. Good times.

What's that bad taste still in your mouth, you ask? That's Hitler. Don't worry about it.

9.02.2008

Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman was arrested @ RNC convention yesterday and I learned about it through an email alert from a cell phone provider.

...Today. Not yesterday, but today. At 3:38pm, I received this email.

OMG! CREDO Mobile have better journalists than the New York Times! They linked me to this video:



So I decided to do a Google News search for this story. Get an idea who covered it. Let's see...first result! Star Tribune, out of Minneapolis, MN covered it. The lead is more about like, how she's back to work now and stuff. Out of the clutches of evil. Err, cops. The Associated Press did a little ditty on it. Well not on it, but they covere...here's what they said:
"Authorities said 130 of the 286 people arrested Monday faced possible felony charges. At least four journalists were among those arrested: Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and two of her producers. The four were later released, but only Goodman was cited for a misdemeanor and issued a court date, at which time she could be charged with a crime." By MARTIGA LOHN and JON KRAWCZYNSKI, the AP
Having trouble finding that within the link? That's because it's in the 11th paragraph (well, it's one sentence per paragraph in that link, so you could also say the 11th obnoxiously-spaced-out sentence).

And THEN there's a link to NYTi...err...MSNB...no, uhmm...CN-FUCK!...uhmm...er...Fox Ne - no, sorry I said it...uhmm...err...no wait! Fox DID cover it!!! Ha! Eat THAT liberals!!!

That's right. My Fox 9, Twin Cities.

I'm sure the liberal blogosphere is shitting itself right now, and I suppose you could call this "shitting myself"...either way, it is fucked, but not surprising that some renowned journalist got thrown in the slammer and charged. What's more surprising...no, it's not surprising. What's more vomit-inducing is that mainstream media can't even cover illegal offenses against their own fellow journalists. I don't know that my mind is devious enough to consider why in their right mind they would do that. And I do have a devious mind. Not quite as devious as FOX News, though.

Point is - this 2008 presidential election has gone from farce to fascist...farce. And I'm not just an angry liberal who likes to call things fascist. I mean, I do like calling things fascist, but I especially enjoy calling fascist things fascist.

...So HOW WAS YOUR LABOR DAY WEEKEND?! Like, omg!!!

8.31.2008

Zombie Strippers.

This movie, starring Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) and Jenna Jameson (accountant), exists, and had a limited theatrical run in the United States. The proof is in the picture:



...Eh, I needed to go with something less offensive here than my previous post. And yes, that is definitely Tito Ortiz in the upper left corner of the poster.

8.30.2008

Tropic Thunder and Tom Cruise and Retarded Humor

Never did I think that 2008 would be the year I say, without sarcasm, "Tom Cruise was the highlight." In reference to...anything. But I saw Tropic Thunder last night and Tom Cruise was definitely the highlight.



Screwball comedies, in my opinion, sometimes make the effort to be too ridiculous and lose a lot of laughs. I think a lot of people will find this movie to have its hits and misses (surprising lack of hits for Jack Black, who usually makes me pee my pants). Tropic Thunder sits in a constant state of absurdity which made me laugh as much as it made me roll my eyes. The excessive amount of entrails and blood earned from me a chortle or two, along with the lack of regard for political correctness in regards to retards and the mentally retarded.

In fact, I could've used more retard humor, what with the national boycotts and uproar this film has generated for making a joke of retarded people. Frankly, I expected/hoped for a complete onslaught of retard humor. Let's face it - if you don't hold someone really close who is retarded, you laugh at retarded people jokes.

I laugh at and seek out good retard humor. Sue me.

...Okay fine, I don't actively seek out retard humor.

If you think I'm a pig, tell me you didn't laugh at Michael Scott calling Oscar gay, not like gay gay but gay like bad at sports (The Office, people, new episodes soon!). My point is, if you ever laugh at gay jokes (remember - people kill people for being gay), it's okay to laugh at an actor whapping his chest with his hand sideways while he crosses his eyes.

You know what else I like? Fool-proof logic.

A few years back, Johnny Knoxville starred in a Farrelly Brothers' comedy called The Ringer. The premise? Johnny Knoxville acts like a retard to get into the Special Olympics, prolly to nail some girl, I dunno, never saw it. The Special Olympics officially approved of this movie that makes fun of retarded people, apparently because its heart was in the right place. What horseshit. Tropic Thunder had next to nothing to do with retarded people. It's one joke revisited a few times.

I could talk about Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as a white guy playing a white guy playing a black guy. When I realized why this character didn't cause any ruckus, I felt stupid. It's so obvious. Racism is over.

Along with my retarded tangent.

But there's not much else to say about this movie. Jack Black hams it up in a bleach-blond flat-top haircut - high comedy potential that fell flat. Robert Downey Jr. continues his rise as one of the more promising careers in Hollywood, though I expected his character to be taken much less seriously. He's kind of the protagonist moving a pointless plot forward. I figured this would happen through Ben Stiller's character, aka Tuggernuts (here's lookin' at you, McConaughey), because Stiller wrote and directed it and stuff, but Tuggernuts flails around aimlessly for two hours, sometimes stumbling upon the protagonist role by chance.

But Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise was hilarious. Just see that treat for yourself.

...And I'm sorry if you found this review retarded. Or gay, for that matter. Maybe you shouldn't be such a racist, because that's so last century.

8.20.2008

Dumb comedies rarely satiate my Giggle Palate like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS did.

So my roommate Henry says to me, "Let's see a movie." All the times sucked for everything we wanted to see. The most convenient showing would have been Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but we both concluded that of the movies we'd be willing to see, shit sandwiches like The Clone Wars rounded out the bottom of the list. It would be Tropic Thunder or Pineapple Express.

The last movie I saw starring Seth Rogen was Knocked Up, which was hilarious, fulla pot jokes (not that I understood any of them, of course), and made my mom say "That's Jonathan's friends!" when she saw it with my dad. Also, though I disagree with the statement, Rogen's line from Knocked Up, "Steely Dan gargles my balls," kept me giggling for months. Superbad was good, even though Rogen's character appeared too often in the script and was not terribly funny.
The last movie I saw starring Ben Stiller was Night at the Museum.

....

Pineapple Express it was.

I'm glad a few stoners finally have some sway in Hollywood. After Rogen ran out of his earthquaking home in Knocked Up with his giantly phallic bong in hand instead of his pregnant girlfriend, audiences yukked it up instead of cringing their way to the exit. After Pineapple Express (which turns out to be a SUPER strain of good pot), the brahs (think 'bros' who are stoned and way into sports, or Urijah Faber) sitting behind us stood up and said, "Man, I want some Pineapple Express!" Really?! I couldn't tell when you plopped down loudly behind me, each with popcorns the size of your torsos! Once upon a time, instead, I could've heard something about "You see what happens when you smoke pot?" Or maybe not. But affable, relatively harmless pot-smokers on the big screen is good for our media, especially when at least one of them states how dumb they get when stoned (yes, something real stoners willingly acknowledge (not that I'd know anything about that personally)). For a subculture repressed by the mainstream media through lies of the effects of marijuana, Rogen & Co. portray today's young adult male pot smokers to a T. They say things stoners all said before, like your dealer thinks he's your friend; you get eight times more high when you cough up a lung after a hit; everything's better when you're stoned, etc. And guess what? That's all they care about!

Err, so my friend...err...of a friend explained it to me anyway...

Real quick, Dale Denton (Rogen) and Saul (an awesome and undeniably sexually attractive James Franco (what? I'm secure in my hetero.)) get high together. Dale continues getting high in front of a murder and leaves his rare Pineapple Express roach on the scene. Hilarity ensues.

The difference between Rogen's blend of pot humor and that which you'll find in the Harold and Kumar movies would be reality. Granted, it's a fine line, but you'll never see a Seth Rogen character getting high with a George W Bush impersonator. Taking on a stoner-action-comedy, Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, "Da Ali G Show") attacked the script with stoner logic, should stoners happen to witness a murder. They freak out, more so than normal because they're paranoid, and the best temporary solution is to get really stoned. And forget prior obligations. And figure there's nothing to really worry about - they're just being paranoid and stoned. So fuck it, let's get more stoned.

The laughs didn't die as the action picked up and half the audience started craving another joint (well, not this guy anyway, because I never even knew what pot looked like before this movie). Impressive for a crowd of less stoned stoners. Some critics complained that the action marred the comedy, but really, who has the final say? Manohla Dargis of NYTimes or Tommy Chong? Ya dig? Far out.

8.14.2008

Hey Wal-Mart - Don't Force Your Employees to Vote a Certain Way Because That's Illegal and Stuff

Gee whiz, Wal-Mart. For being one of the most evil corporations ever, and having a reputation for being so, you sure have gotten sloppier than a basset hound galloping away from his water dish.

A lot of people don't get their way all the time, Wal-Mart. It's a way of life. I understand how privileged you've been, what with terrorizing the world with (SMILEY FACE!) Everyday Low Prices and a little thing I like to call causing international humanitarian crises due to a complete lack of regard for ethics to get said Everyday Low Prices. But we all get a tiny slap on the wrist from those we love when we tiptoe over the line.



Well you, Wal-Mart, have crossed, shat-on on your way over, and bazooka'd as you looked back at said line, but that's besides the point.

Not even The Wall Street Journal decided to cover up that you were holding political meetings with employees nationwide in hopes of swaying their votes towards McCain through scare tactics so you won't have to worry about any unionizing for four more years. Not even your beloved, on-your-side Double-U Ess Jay.

8.13.2008

Hey, Rod Blagojevich - Eat a Turd.

Here's the thing, Rod. You're a turd. And your first name remains synonymous with words like 'cock' and 'johnson,' to name a few.

I won't pretend like I know much about Rod Blagojevich beyond what a turd he is, but I can confidently claim that I know enough about Rod to state that he is, in fact, a turd. And he should eat himself.

About a month ago, Rod signed a gun control bill, under which the adult who provides a minor with a firearm will serve a sentence just as bad as the minor's sentence for using said firearm. Which is great, because our prison system is so excellent and rehabilitative, especially for dudes who give kids guns. Referencing the number of children murdered this summer as a primary reason for action, he said:

"Twenty-eight of those [twenty-nine murdered] kids are African-American and Latino. Hard to imagine that that would be acceptable if that were, in fact, the case in other parts of the city or in a middle-class suburb somewhere," he said. "Something is wrong, and this violence has to stop."
Good call, Rod. Thank goodness someone was brave enough to say what we were all thinking, and that the fucking National Guard might be a solution!

But perhaps he's onto something. Perhaps Rod's just ahead of his time, thinking that bringing in the National Guard will solve Chicago's violent crime problems that are rising OUT OF CONTROL!!! AAHHHHHHHH!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES AND LET THE MILITARY HANDLE THESE OUT OF CONTROL MINORITIES AAAHHHHHHH SO WE DON'T HAVE TO WORRY THAT THERE MIGHT BE A BIGGER PROBLEM THAT'S CAUSING THE OUT OF CONTROL (AHHHHH!!!) VIOLENT CRIME RATES IN THE MINORITY COMMUNITIES!!! AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

...

AAAHHHHHHHokay. Forget that CPD spokesperson Monique Bond also mentioned that 2008 is projected to be one of Chicago's least deadly years in the past 40 years, 'cause like, who ever listened to the CPD spokesperson anyway? Rod's office all but called him a numbnuts turd by reiterrating he had no plans to bring in the National Guard to stave off violent crimes, shortly after he made an ass of himself by saying he would consider bringing in the National Guard to help stave off violent crimes. Though he hadn't put much thought into it (NO, REALLY?!), other options include putting state troops in white neighborhoods so the roughnecks of the CPD can tear up the black and latino neighborhoods - again, in order to stop violence - or just asking retired cops to come back and fuck shit up. Temporarily.

I could elaborate on where the real problem is, insert some more fruitful opinions or whatever, but when our idiot governor gives idiotic opinions like bringing the National Guard to Chicago, ya know. I'm compelled to be a dick about it. Or a 'rod,' if you will.

Also - notice any resemblance?



Sorry, Michael. You didn't deserve that. But whatever.

8.07.2008

Stanley Kauffmann says...

A few years ago, Stanley Kauffmann was first recommended to me by one of my writing professors at Knox, Robin Metz, as a film critic I need to read. Until recently, all his reviews were for 'members only' or subscribers of the The New Republic magazine. Robin described him as a 90 yr old film critic still crackin' away at films with writing as brilliant as ever. Kauffmann just reviewed a film called A Very British Gangster, a documentary about an openly gay yet Godfather-esque gangster, and he commented on something obvious regarding our enjoyment of film that I never considered.

Food for thought:

"A Very British Gangster proves yet again that one great asset of film is vicarious participation in crime. Sex is OK, adventure and fantasy and even horror are OK, but crime lets us sneer at the laws we must live by, lets us relish evil and come out unscathed. Paradoxically, we feel as if we have stepped for a while into the real world underneath the laws and proprieties, a world that generously tolerates the conventions prettily laced above it." - for 8.13.08 issue of TNR

8.06.2008

Cutco: Fellated by the Wall Street Journal

For those who don't know, I used to sell Cutco. I have an opinion or two about it. But first, an excerpt:

The knife company in question is Cutco Cutlery, an Olean, N.Y., manufacturer with $198 million in revenue, according to Sarah Baker Andrus, director of academic programs for Vector Marketing, Cutco's sales arm. Ms. Andrus says the company brings in 60% of its sales over the summer, when a force of 40,000 -- 85% of whom are students -- fan out to ply their wares.

These junior salespeople don't receive an hourly or weekly wage. Instead they earn a commission that starts at 10% and can climb to more than 50% for top sellers. Ms. Andrus says students who work the whole summer earn an average of $3,000 to $5,000. But there are plenty who earn more.

WSJ's backlogged articles don't retain the dates they were published (stupid), but this could not be further from the truth. In 2004, I sold $10,000 worth of knives, which, by the way, is a LOT of fucking knives. Wanna know what my summer haul was? $2,000. With the sliding commission scale, pending how much you sell, you make $10,000 if you sell $25,000 worth of Cutco, and make 50% commission from there on out.

SO.

In order to make $3,000-$5,000...you gotta be thinking 'sales' for a career beforehand. They hen pick schlubs to sell maybe $500 or $1,000 worth of product before they quit, and guess what? Cutco had to pay them DICK to do it! And they have the "office stars" who most likely will find a career in sales for all the schlubs to look up to and think "WOW! THAT COULD BE ME!" until they only sell $500 and quit.

Now, she did say 'those who stay for the entire summer'... Still, I'll put it this way. The Tinley Park office in IL was one of the top 3 offices in the nation in sales, my office. Over half the people I started with were actually fired (something they imply they'll never do) and couldn't stay the whole summer. I was on the top 15 board in sales the second half of the summer. Maybe 11 or 12 people sold more than I did in the number three office in the country.

Kind of a brilliant scheme. Kind of a dick-sucking article, serving zero purpose other than publicity. Fuck the Wall Street Journal.

I copied everything after the block-quote from an email I sent to my friend Eric after he sent me that article. I was gonna write something more blog-specific, but...I didn't.

7.30.2008

Weezer's "Red" Album Makes Me Red with (St.) Anger.

Rivers could fart for an album and I'd still give it a listen.



That being said, what a pile of dogshit. This pile of dogshit smells slightly less pungent than Weezer's last pile of dogshit. The only reason would be track 2 of this album, titled 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn).' Okay, this song is also really stupid. Stupid fun. Beginning with a weepy piano line, transitioning into Rivers's patented shit-rap, then some heavy rock, followed by acoustic guitar/vocals, then choral anthems...it's the 'experimental' track. And Rivers's idea of experimentation would be mixing The Blue album, The Green album, Pinkerton, Maladroit, and Make Believe into one track. Oh, including his patented shit-rap (did I mention there's a track called "Everybody Get Dangerous" on here? Guess how the chorus goes.)

Everything else here makes my heart hurt, just as bad as Make Believe did. I used to worship these guys. They changed the way I looked at music. They were my first rock and roll concert, right after Pinkerton came out, age 12. Then, I felt like the only kid who cared about Weezer. A couple years later, everyone else my age realized how emo they were and gave Pinkerton another listen and they became one of the most revered bands of the 90s. Then "The Green album" happened. Okay, fine. They got a pass. "Blue" and Pinkerton allotted them a mediocre album. Then Maladroit. Had a jam or two, and "December" harked back to the Weezer of old. Okay, fine - we'll continue waiting for the next masterpiece.

Then came Make Believe. I took its rottenness personally. Vomiting, and then eating my own vomit, I thought, would be more appealing than listening to this album. The one song that didn't induce vomit or tears was the 3rd track, and it sounded like the fucking Cure. So fuck that song, too - if I want a Cure song, I know where to go.

So I expected nothing of "The Red album." Just promised myself to listen to every album they put out and discard immediately if necessary. Another obvious blunder of "The Red album"...well, I'll preface this by saying that I applaud Rivers for getting over himself enough to make this album a more collaborative effort than "I write, you play. No questions!" However, why the fuck would you let anyone else in the band take lead vocals on a song? You've done a lot of stupid shit, Rivers. Lots. But the dumbest thing you did was extricate your voice from your music - arguably your music's signature. 3 or 4 Weezer songs without Rivers's lead vocals is 3 or 4 too many.

But this song(!) where Rivers started singing "I am the great-est - man that ev-er li-ived..." Like all my friends, the first listen made me slap my forehead/roll my eyes/contemplate skipping the track when he started rapping. Slowly, it started sucking less, caught my attention with an old Weezer sound, and eventually forced me to consider it as a guilty pleasure. I won't hold my breath, but I hope I can say the same for Weezer's future.

7.25.2008

The (Un)Official End of the Siskel & Ebert Legacy

In college, I ranted and raved about how much Roger Ebert sucks. No secret - I was always a Gene Siskel fan. Now that the end of their highly renowned TV show, "Siskel & Ebert At The Movies," is nigh...hell. I'll miss hating that slightly chubby, droopy Ebert face. What was "Siskel & Ebert" became "Ebert & Roeper at the Movies," and Richard Roeper sucks as hard, if not more than Ebert. So no, I never really tuned in after Siskel whisked off to the afterlife, but that's not the point.

As much as I hate that Ebert guy and his (re)views, they're almost uniformly different than mine. That's invaluable when evaluating art, something I learned after an extended period of stubbornness. Not that his disagreements would suddenly enlighten me, but only differing opinions will help my intellect for films grow. Ebert has stuck his thumb up for all kinds of stupid bullcrap excuses for movies, but he watches them with different, more learned eyes than mine. I can't discount that.

Due to illness and currently not having a voice, it's been well over a year, maybe two, since Ebert hosted his own show. Even if I want, I can't watch his jowls spout erratic, asinine opinions with succinct and effective criticisms behind them (I still don't get how that happens, how anyone not brainless could stick a thumb or two up for Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, without the tongue placed firmly in the cheek). I didn't think he'd return to television before his mortality took hold, but I can't help feeling like the loss is greater now. Effectively, Richard Roeper and Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips had taken over and will continue to seek out a new television show elsewhere.

Prolly won't watch that either.

It was good to know that such a program hosted by such a scholar aired weekly, enlightening the public in a way that doesn't talk down to viewers.

Not anymore.

I suppose it's natural that execs feel the need to dumb it down to appeal to children, but in my always humble opinion, children actually interested in film criticism will not be interested in this revamped kiddie show. Those children will be found pruning through rottentomatoes.com to find the highest rated, bonehead action flicks and screwball-potty-humor comedies (we won't kid ourselves - even the intelligent kids want that stuff). So, I hope your new show tanks, ABC Disney, and you wake up with bananas in your butts (big kids like potty-humor, too).

7.24.2008

Why So Serious? Heath's So Funny! and other Dark Knight thoughts


I think the funniest thing I read about Heath's performance was that it was completely overshadowed by Aaron Eckhart's performance as Harvey Dent. Christopher Orr of The New Republic you contrarian bastard you.

We'll get back to that. He's wrong, by the way. Dead wrong. And stupid.


And not good looking (possibly, I don't know).


Again, Christopher Nolan and company proved with The Dark Knight that summer blockbusters don't have to be total suck-fests of explosions and bad dialogue. 2005's Batman Begins expanded my expectations of what could be a good superhero movie, which continued evolving with Knight. As my latte-sipping-film-connoisseur friend said of this latest Batman flick, "It's not a superhero movie. It's a great film." Sure, whatever - the guy still wears a cape and fights crime. It's a great superhero movie that also happens to be a great film.


All the cast members known and loved from Begins return here (yes, all of them. No one liked Katie Holmes because she lost her teenage-Dawson's-Creek-charm and married a friggin' psycho. And Maggie Gyllenhaal is way cooler, actually acts well, and looks like less of a chipmunk), with a handful of highly anticipated characters, specifically Harvey Dent and The Joker.


(Spoilers kept minimal and insignificant, regrettably)


Now, how anyone could call Aaron Eckhart's performance as Harvey Dent a 'show stealer' over Heath Ledger's joker is beyond my comprehension. The uniqueness to Harvey Dent resides in tragedy. The role of a tragic character has limitations in how the character develops as tragedy unfolds. Not to take any credit away from Eckhart's performance - he was well-cast and executed a gut-wrenching, sympathetic performance. (Everyone knows through Batman folklore that Harvey Dent is Two-Face, but if you haven't seen The Dark Knight, he can fall from grace without becoming Two-Face yet, spoiler haters...)


But don't we tire of the tragic, fallen hero? Even more specifically, the hero? This film's central theme segues nicely into my point that The Joker stole the show and was my on-screen hero. "Why So Serious?" indeed, said the villain/comic relief. The brilliance of Ledger's performance had been lauded an obscene amount before the film's release, to the point of early-July Oscar buzz from critics and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Now I see why people would say crap like that, but that trivialized his performance more than it drew attention to its finer nuances that one can't gauge with a golden naked anatomically incorrect statue. When I think of an obvious Oscar-winning performance, I think of Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood or Helen Mirren in The Queen. Neither of these had mass appeal, which was why Ledger's Joker thrived - the intricacy, brilliance, irony, subtlety, blah, blah, and blah of Ledger's Joker lied in its mass appeal.


(Sorry, gotta start a new paragraph for the posthumous jerking off of how hard this performance rocked...)


What Ledger did was make us forget he was acting. Make us forget he was brilliant. Make us forget he rehearsed these lines. Make us forget they said that Jack Nicholson was born to play the Joker. Make us forget we all raised a collective eyebrow upon the news of Ledger's casting. Make us forget, in the face of a media that would not let us, that this was his swansong performance. As Christopher Nolan predicted, none of this could impact the audience's reaction. The audience need not analyze anything about his performance to enjoy it; on the other hand, they could analyze everything. When he says "...kill the Batman," we all just laughed, everyone. It was funny. Or, you could analyze Ledger's delivery of the line. He understood the monotony and cliche behind such a line, but he also recognized that it is the penultimate goal of a villain, if not specifically the penultimate line. Since when was it a secret the villain wants to kill the hero? Why do other films/villains/actors pretend it is a secret? The Joker mocked the question asked of him by potentially fellow villains with his reply; at the same time, Ledger winked at the audience because his character created an anticipation of the bizarre and unthinkable, yet delivered the obvious response. Almost but not quite playing to the cliche of "easier said than done," in regards to "...kill the Batman." Well-played, Heath. Well-played.


In retrospect, I can't say much about Harvey Dent other than important plot points. It's not as good, period. And now that I've written a full rebuttal to Mr. Orr's claim, I'm going to actually read what he said instead of the tagline.


Oh, but see the shit outta this movie. Nothin' but rock and roll, here.

7.15.2008

Dunkin Donuts Vs. Krispy Kreme

Dunkin Donuts eked this one out. I get all excited about Krispy Kremes until I eat one and a half and feel the sudden urge to throw it back up. With Dunkin Donuts, I can eat two and wait hours before I feel like death.

That is all.

7.14.2008

Zimbabwe's Inflation and the End of Zimbabwean Currency


Here's a photo of the $500 million bank note from Zimbabwe. This note was introduced to the country in May, because the rate of inflation was so high that smaller forms of currency had become obsolete. It was worth $2 USD.

Here's a photo of a Zimbabwean bank note that is now obsolete.

The newest bank note from Zimbabwe? The $50 billion note. It's value? $1 USD. Why isn't it pictured? Well, I guess it's just too new for a picture to have circulated the internet. Read all about it in this article from LATimes, or click on the title of this blog. Anyone who has talked to me since Zimbabwe's March 29th presidential elections knows my thoughts, concerns and unwilling suspensions of disbelief about this, but it'd be cool to have a dialogue with folks on my comments page.

For anyone ever curious what happens when a country crumbles, we might just see it happen with Zimbabwe. I hope we don't.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army


I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that this movie about...uhhh.....well, it's about...uhmm... I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that this movie was pretty stupid.
That isn't to say I wasn't entertained, because I was entertained most of the time. But in my first (documented) disagreement with my best friend A.O. Scott of NYTimes, I found the film very tedious and slow at points, whereas he felt the film "pack[ed] a remarkable range of moods and genre elements into a fairly compact 110 minutes." It definitely felt like one-hundred and ten minutes.

I saw Hellboy II because of Pan's Labyrinth; also, I wanted hard evidence as to what vision director Guillermo del Toro may bring to his version of The Hobbit. I hated the first Hellboy, and thought Blade II was as dumb and pointless as 'dark' action movies could get (not that "dark," full of stupid poses w/ sunglasses, full of...well, shit). At first, I didn't enjoy Pan's Labyrinth either, because I didn't know it was a Spanish Civil war movie with sci-fi/fantasy overtones - rather, the other way around. But the visual style of Pan captivated me, and when I saw the Hellboy II trailers (click on title of blog to view or here), I revelled again in del Toro's visual technique and artistic conception of otherworldly creatures. Ecstatic to see a world filled with nothing but these creatures, I plopped $10.50 on the counter for something I didn't get. Don't assume that a film with such visual cohesion could be, in any other conceivable way, cohesive.

What a mess. And that's fine - why do we see action movies anyway? The key to a successful hodge-podgin mess is that I don't sit back mid-movie and think that. Then I don't care what creatures you've created - my watch suddenly looks way more interesting.

Plus side? I laughed very genuinely multiple times. Del Toro has a knack for infusing humor into his bizarre stories - very much a relief for the forthcoming Hobbit film(s). Put this guy to work, Peter Jackson.

7.10.2008

The World According to Greeple.

I started writing this blog 2 1/2 months ago and never finished. Now, it's been so long since I finished the book that I don't feel right trying to assess it until I re-read it. My brief observations here were growing to be something I was really proud to have written, but I fizzled. I wanted to go in-depth in ways I've not really done before - for personal growth, and to feel that my writing did this book due justice. So, I post this with some regret. But, if you've read the book, you might appreciate some of the things I'd gotten to address already. If you haven't read the book, I still spit a little vitriol at the movie version for your entertainment. Enjoy. - 9/23/08

Yes yes, I just finished The World According to Garp by John Irving. It's hard to say with certainty, but it may be my new favorite fictional novel. I haven't read anything so bizarre, yet so true to the American experience, that still holds as much relevance today (if not more, arguably) as it did over thirty years ago when it was first published. Upon completion, I felt shaken to the core, exhausted, awed. Barely stopped crying the last 8 pages. Don't think that's ever happened before. Eight pages.



For those unfamiliar, I don't want that to mislead - my tears were a reaction to some of the finest, most clear-headed prose I've read, along with the feeling of losing a companion (the book). Garp could be considered, regrettably, a tragicomedy. But that word makes me chunder in the back of my mouth a bit. When I think tragicomedy, I think 'bad Robin Williams movie like Patch Adams.' Fine - so the film The World According to Garp also stars Robin Williams. Sue me. But I hear the film sucks too. For example, the cover of the movie shows a plane crashing into a house. That just does not happen in the book. So fuck that movie.

Though no summary would suffice, The World According to Garp is about the life of the 'bastard' T.S. Garp and his one-time-only sexually active mother Jenny Fields. We meet Jenny in a movie theatre receiving flirtatious advances from a soldier during wartime, and Nurse Jenny reaches for her handy-dandy scalpel and sliced the guy from shoulder to wrist.

Summary stops here. And yeah, that's within the first several pages or so.

Incredible foreshadowing on behalf of Irving, establishing a central theme in the novel under circumstances so extreme that it's lost on the reader until Jenny announces her thoughts on lust. Guess what? They're rather negative. Lust plagues The World According to Garp. How ironic, then, that Garp grows to be a young-adult male obsessed with his Austrian prostitutes (during his trip to Austria with none other than Jenny Fields, who knowingly wanted to pay for a prostitute for Garp under the acknowledgement that boys can't help their lust), and then a married man obsessed with the babysitter (not to mention Alice (Alith)).

Lust is common, though. To not lust raises suspicion - an issue Jenny fought regularly after conceiving Garp. There was no husband, no courtship to the rest of the world. I'd argue that Jenny was courted by the invalid Garp, whom Jenny nursed (literally, occasionally) until his death. Garp's father, Garp, only attracted Jenny due to his complete inability to lust. He did lust, though (he wasn't actually nursing, obviously), but he lusted in a way that Jenny could interpret as a need for her nurturing.

7.07.2008

Porn Vs. Rugby


I'm disappointed, BBC. First of all, you covered a trashy (fine, perhaps 'relevant' though funny) story without including any of the trash. What kind of hardcore porn was it? Standard missionary? Doggy? Blowjob? Money shot compilation? 70's? 80's? Pubic hair or not so much? Hardcore close-up penetration? Double penetration? Two guys and a girl/two girls and a guy? Interracial? BBW's? Toys? Anal Beads? Foot fetish? Orgy? Lesbian orgy? 69? Voyeur video? Amateur? Big Naturals? S & M? Dominatricies? Chicks with dicks? Bukkake?


I mean, really.

Some may consider this 'blurb worthy,' and blurb-ed it was in five sentences. But isn't this the story that could become a human interest piece? Families tuned in to watch grown men inadvertently kick the fuck out of each other while they play rugby; instead, they got...well, I don't know what the fuck they got 'cause BBC feared divulging specifics. We know that it may have been seen by children. What children? Why weren't they interviewed? What happened to real investigative reporting?! Think of the amazing quotes to be obtained.

Feel free to leave comments of styles of porn I omitted.

6.26.2008

Barack Obama - Zombie Vampire Terrorist

Afraid of Barack Obama? If not, your friends don't love you enough to even forward you their emails. If I hadn't received this forward today, I wouldn't have known that I'm still voting for an America-hating, murder-loving, freedom-hating, brown-people siding (ONLY SIDES WITH BROWN PEOPLE CAUSE HE'S A MUSLIM TERRORIST AND THOSE PEOPLE HATE EVERYONE EXCEPT THEMSELVES EXCEPT THEY MIGHT HATE THEMSELVES TOO CAUSE THEY'RE TERRORISTS I DON'T REALLY KNOW BECAUSE I'M NOT A TERRORIST) terrorist.

Enjoy. I mean...BEWARE!!! (Note: I emboldened the best parts 'cause it's really long and boneheaded.)

The Jihad Candidate By Rich Carroll

Conspiracy theories make for interesting novels when the storyline is not so absurd that it can grasp our attention. 'The Manchurian Candidate' and 'Seven Days in May' are examples of plausible chains of events that captures the reader's imagination at best-seller level. 'What if' has always been the solid grist of fiction. Get yourself something cool to drink, find a relaxing position, but before you continue, visualize the television photos of two jet airliners smashing into the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan and remind yourself this cowardly act of Muslim terror was planned for eight years. How long did it take Islam and their oil money to find a candidate for President of the United States ? As long as it took them to place a Senator from Illinois and Minnesota ? The same amount of time to create a large Muslim enclave in Detroit? The time it took them to build over 2,000 mosques in America ? The same amount of time required to place radical wahabbist clerics in our military and prisons as 'chaplains'? Find a candidate who can get away with lying about their father being a 'freedom fighter' when he was actually part of the most corrupt and violent government in Kenya 's history. Find a candidate with close ties to The Nation of Islam and the violent Muslim overthrow in Africa , a candidate who is educated among white infidel Americans but hides his bitterness and anger behind a superficial toothy smile. Find a candidate who changes his American name of Barry to the Muslim name of Barak Hussein Obama, and dares anyone to question his true ties under the banner o f 'racism'. Nurture this candidate in an atmosphere of anti-white American teaching and surround him with Islamic teachers. Provide him with a bitter, racist, anti-white, anti-American wife, and supply him with Muslim middle east connections and Islamic monies. Allow him to be clever enough to get away with his anti-white rhetoric and proclaim he will give $834 billion taxpayer dollars to the Muslim controlled United Nations for use in Africa .Install your candidate in an atmosphere of deception because questioning him on any issue involving Africa or Islam would be seen as 'bigoted racism'; two words too powerful to allow the citizenry to be informed of facts. Allow your candidate to employ several black racist Nation of Islam Louis Farrakhan followers as members of his Illinois Senatorial and campaign staffs.Where is the bloodhound American 'free press' who doggedly overturned every stone in the Watergate case? Where are our nation 's reporters that have placed every Presidential candidate under the microscope of detailed scrutiny; the same press who pursue Bush's 'Skull and Bones' club or ran other candidates off with persistent detective and research work? Why haven't 'newsmen' pursued the 65 blatant lies told by this candidate during the Presidential primaries? Where are the stories about this candidate's cousin and the Muslim butchery in Africa ? Since when did our national press corps become weak, timid, and silent? Why haven't they regaled us with the long list of socialists and communists who have surrounded this 'out of nowhere' Democrat candidate or that his church re-printed the Hamas Manifesto in their bulletin, and that his 'close pastor friend and mentor' met with Middle East terrorist Moammar Gaddafi, (Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)? Why isn't the American press telling us this candidate is supported by every Muslim organization in the world? As an ultimate slap in the face, be blatant in the fact your candidate has ZERO interest in traditional American values and has the most liberal voting record in U.S. Senate history. Why has the American main stream media clammed-up on any negative reporting on Barak Hussein Obama? Why will they print Hillary Rodham Clinton's name but never write his middle name? Is it not his name? Why, suddenly, is ANY information about this candidate not coming from main stream media, but from the blogosphere by citizens seeking facts and the truth? Why isn't our media connecting the dots with Islam? Why do they focus on 'those bad American soldiers' while Islam slaughters non Muslims daily in 44 countries around the globe? Why does our media refer to Darfur as 'ethnic cleansing' instead of what it really is; Muslims killing non Muslims! There is enough strange, anti-American activity surrounding Barak Hussein Obama to peek the curiosity of any reporter. WHERE IS OUR INVESTIGATIVE MEDIA!?A formal plan for targeting America was devised three years after the Iranian revolution in 1982. The plan was summarized in a 1991 memorandum by Mohamed Akram, an operative of the global Muslim Brotherhood. 'The process of settlement' of Muslims in America , Akram explained, 'is a civilization jihad process.' This means that members of the Brotherhood must understand that their work in 'America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.'There is terrorism we can see, smell and fear, but there is a new kind of terror invading The United States in the form of Sharia law and finance. Condoning it is civilization suicide. Middle East Muslims are coming to America in record numbers and building hate infidel mosques, buying our corporations, suing us for our traditions, but they and the whole subject of Islam is white noise leaving uninformed Americans about who and what is really peaceful. Where is our investigative press? Any criticism of Islam or their intentions, even though Islamic leaders state their intentions daily around the globe, brings-forth a volley of 'racist' from the left-wing Democrat crowd.Lies and deception behind a master plan - the ingredients for 'The Manchurian Candidate' or the placement of an anti-American President in our nation's White House? Is it mere coincidence that an anti-capitalist run for President at the same time Islamic sharia finance and law is trying to make advancing strides into the United States ? Is it mere coincidence this same candidate wants to dis-arm our nuclear capability at a time when terrorist Muslim nations are expanding their nuclear weapons capability? Is it mere coincidence this candidate wants to reduce our military at a time of global jihad from Muslim nations? Change for America ? What change? =

Rich Carroll - ever heard of an idiot? Yeah. Didn't think so.