Monday, November 30, 2009

It's not that I'm against the cold or anything.

I used to be one of those "four seasons" type of person. The one that would claim that one of the perks of living in Minnesota was the weather (instead of... you know, the bane of its existence). The cold was alright with me... made everything interesting for a while, made the holidays that much more cozier... plus, it made you appreciate Spring a little more.

But sometimes things change. Sometimes things grow distant. This is what happening between me and winter right now... I can feel us growing apart as we speak. Soon enough I'll probably be cheating on winter in Miami with 70 degrees and sunshine. Basically, it seems like it's heading towards a bitter breakup.

I now have to walk 15 minutes to and from work everyday in the cold, and then as I'm trying to get back, wait up to 30 minutes for the bus to finally arrive.

I also now have to worry about heating bills, as I have been very careful not to turn on the heating in my place because apparently the building uses a convoluted and expensive way to heat the whole place up. I was going to try to avoid it as much as possible, but then my roommate recommended that we turn the heat on. I immediately responded by weather proofing the windows in my room, hoping that it cuts out excess cold from getting in and making the place a lot warmer.

All of a sudden I look at the forecast a lot more frequently, hoping that somehow, someway, it stays above 50. Sometimes it gets close. Even more regularly it's been inching closer towards 20. It's a massively depressing thought for me, and it's not one I can prevent in any shape or form. Nope, the cruel old world keeps moving along, and soon enough it'll stomp right along me.

There are ways to combat these problems... like a car... like money... the first one requires money, an the second requires effort. Neither of which I am in possession of as of late. If someone were to supply a little bit of either, perhaps things would get rolling my way. But until that time, I'm just going to have to freeze, and embrace it.

In other news, I'm stressed about money and need to start looking for jobs, and as a result I pretty much hate everything now.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

So the whole not writing thing has actually been sort of refreshing, as I've been able to pursue other interests without having to worry about how to word something in the most precise way (not that I really worry about that much anyways... I typically pound out these things and go with it, usually only editing if it's some sort of spelling error).

I really don't have much to say right now, as a result of the layoff, but I feel like I should get the ball rolling again so the whole sabbatical is not so much laziness as it is a sabbatical.

Here are a few things:

-Watched The Graduate tonight. The last two times I've seen it I've been reminded of some article or writer (or random internet people) seeming at a loss at how anyone at the time of the film's release could identify with Dustin Hoffman's character, since he is pretty much spoiled, self-centered and weak. I always saw the argument as sort of missing the point. The character is obviously disillusioned with life and the expected path that he is on, but it makes it quite clear that he still doesn't know what to do with his life as the movie concludes. Moreover, he makes the same mistake that Mrs. Robinson makes in rushing into a romance that seems doomed to fail. I would say that Ben is actually quite identifiable... but not in a pleasant way, in that you can relate to him drifting aimlessly but also realize that he's screwing up life just as you probably feel you're screwing yours...

-The Vikings won again. Big surprise.

The next five games will be a challenge, as we're going to be facing some top notch opponents. I'm leaning towards Arizona being able to knock us off next week, and then we have to face the Bengals. At Carolina and at Chicago will be somewhat winnable, and I'm assuming the Giants will be a tough out as they fight for their playoff lives. I'm actually thinking that we lose 2-3 games in there... enough that we lose all hope of home field advantage throughout, but enough to stave off Green Bay at least (who have a tough schedule of their own).

-Also, I'm getting pretty amped for the holiday season.

I've been having the crazy idea of watching as many crappy holiday specials as possible, then writing about them. Which would actually be a lot of fun. For some reason, the crappy specials/annoying commercialism is always a reason why I kind of like the holidays... I don't know, they make it all the more kitschy. Which would get annoying 12 months out of the year, but in December? It's all good.

Watching all the crappy Christmas specials would probably test my love for all things holiday related, though.

Maybe it isn't the best idea in the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So I haven't written in the last few days, and I pretty much have no excuse. Except that Sunday I worked late, Monday I fell asleep at some ridiculous early hour... and yesterday I had a crappy day at work and didn't feel like doing anything.

So really I have a lot of excuses.

But let's just cover what we missed:

Sunday: The Vikings won. Which is good and everything, and they looked mighty convincing in doing so (even if it was against the Seahawks). The problem is that they've been playing too well. Well enough that I'm starting to believe.

Yep. I'm starting to think that maybe... just maybe, the Vikings will actually make the Super Bowl this year. This is dangerous thinking. Last times I believed: 1998 (lost to Falcons in NFC championship game... I cried), 2000 (lost to Giants in NFC championship 41-0), 2004 (?) (started out 6-0... then didn't make the playoffs on the last play of the season). This is not going to end well. Basically, we're going to lose out now... mostly because it's just not like the Vikings to meet expectations, you know?

Monday: Sleep is good, you know?

Tuesday: LOSING YOUR CHECKBOOK IS KIND OF STRESSFUL.

Basically, I feel like I've already lost all my money, even though I haven't (I really don't know what happened to it... I could have just misplaced it for all I know). And it kind of makes me want to go out and beg for money and such. Tell everyone about my woes... how I was robbed of everything I had, even if that's not true.

Wednesday: I learned something about big corporations today. They kind of suck.

If you didn't know that before I told you, you're welcome.

So at the place of my employment, we were told to start asking for donations to the Children's Miracle Network, which is cool and everything in of itself, but then I took a look at the program info that the stuff came with, and apparently only 50% goes directly to the fund. The other 50% goes to Blockbuster, who then buys product from the store to donate it. As a way to take advantage of people's charity and increase sales.

According to the website the Children's Miracle Network uses funds for stuff like research and education. I hope they also need used copies of American Pie movies...

Perhaps it's something that all the major corporations do, and perhaps I didn't get a close enough look at the details, but still. It'd be cool to do something just for the sake of charity, rather than bosses telling you should push it because it will mean more sales for the company.

Blegh.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Review: Funny People

(Note: I was going to watch the "unrated" version since the DVD allowed for the option between that and the theatrical version, but then I clicked play and it just went to the theatrical version. I looked in setup to see if I could switch, but it wasn't there, so I just went with the one it was playing. Apparently, you could choose between the two in the bonus features section, which is stupid.

Oh well. My ears probably wouldn't be able to take all the added raunchy language that the unrated version most likely offered (that or a penis or two... so basically I'm not missing much)).

Anyway. To the movie. I came in not really a huge fan of the "Apatow universe"or whatever the hell you might want to call it. 40 Year Old Virgin was OK, Superbad was OK, and I pretty much skipped out on all the rest. Not that I didn't enjoy myself or everything, but the two I saw (So Superbad really isn't *his* movie, but he produced and crap... so go with me) didn't really have a lot of substance. It was mainly a bunch of dumb jokes with a bit of sentiment wrapped in there as well so you "feel good". So when I heard about this film, I was intrigued because it seemed to be something that might be of more weight, something that I can actually sink my teeth into and think about... sure, the trailers sucked, but you know... I can overlook that.

So the fact that the film has had me thinking all day must be a good sign in some respect. Unfortunately, while I wasn't actively bored or not enjoying myself, I'm not sure if I really liked what I saw.

Part of me wonders exactly how autobiographical this movie is. I think it's been made clear in interviews that Seth Rogen's character was modeled after Apatow and his struggle to break through, but I wonder if Adam Sandler's character isn't also somewhat modeled after him. Because the film makes quite clear... as Sandler (the mega movie star comic) takes Rogen (the struggling improv kid) under his wing that given the right circumstances Rogen will turn into the same self-absorbed person that Sandler had become. Which leads me to believe that at least Apatow finds himself somewhat becoming the character that Sandler plays and somewhat fearful of that outcome. Cause Sandler's character is one side of the spectrum--self-centered in an environment that needs you to be self-centered in order to survive fame and continue making people laugh, and Rogen's character is on the opposite end--self-deprecating yet ultimately very warm-hearted (yada yada).

I think the most interesting moments come when Rogen's character finds himself on the way to becoming like Sandler--cutting out his friend on a deal to write jokes for Sandler--but they seem to be pretty few and far between, because the second half seems to concentrate on the romance between Sandler and Leslie Mann--his former fling now married with kids. The rest of the movie seems to hint at the fact that Sandler--while still narcissistic--is showing rays of light that he might not be completely cold hearted yet. Then the film zeroes in on Sandler and Mann's relationship, and pretty much completely destroys that. Both Sandler and Mann seem completely conceited in their dalliance that they completely forget that they are about to DESTROY A FAMILY, and while I guess the film is smart enough to realize that it shouldn't be encouraging us to be cheering for them, it still grinds the film down to a halt.

Also, it has a lot of the really frustrating and contrived "meaningful" scenes. The one that bothers me is the scene where Rogen creates an iTunes playlist for Sandler in an effort to cheer him up. As the scene went on, I could pretty much count down what was going to be played... first song was going to be the one that Sandler doesn't like, second song is going to be a schlocky song for humorous effect, and then the third song is going to MEAN SOMETHING and speak to Sandler about how LONELY and SAD he is, promptly changing his life FOREVER and crap. What is this, Garden State?

I still somewhat enjoyed it though. I'm thinking a large part of that is because Rogen's character is stuck in a crappy job at the deli while dreaming of bigger and better things. Sort of like me, except... you know, the whole "the character actually *does* something about it" part, while I just sit around and expect that one day I'll rich for some reason or another without any effort whatsoever.

It's a good expectation to have, I think.

RATING:

Half birthdays

...are pretty cool.

I had mine yesterday. It wasn't actually something I actively celebrated, since I had to work from 2-9 and what not, but it's something that you have floating in your mind... you're dealing with a bunch of difficult people and then you think "hey, it's my half birthday, so the day is somewhat but not really in honor of me." Which makes you feel a little better, although not to the point where you are whining that you have to work on such a day.

I'm pretty sure I know no one else that celebrates their half birthday. I only do it because one year, I realized that a few days prior was my half birthday and I should at least recognize it when it would come next year. Then I'd forget the next year as well until a few days later, and then I'd make the same vow... rinse, repeat. I finally was able to note either last year or the year before that November 20th is my half-birthday on that exact date, and now I'm going to keep up with it. I'd say it's not too shabby of an idea either... casuse you get a day celebrating you without the baggage of being a year older. I mean, I'd guess you'd be a half year older and everything, but no one notes that you're *blank* and a half years after the age of 9, so it doesn't really matter.

Apparently there are other ways to calculate your half birthday other than taking your birthdate and making it six months later. But they're all stupid and are designed to include those born on a day like August 31st feel like they can get in on the half-birthday fun. But they really can't. Their half birthday is floating out in space somewhere, and they'll never be able to ever come into contact with it.

That's just the way it is.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I thought about today

So I just realized today that both Up and Star Trek feature scores from the same guy.

It's funny, because I thought both of them were pretty amazing and (especially in the case of Star Trek) made the viewing experience that much more exhilarating. Which lead to Google searching hoping to uncover some selections from each movie. Which wasn't really all that successful, because I was looking for the music that was playing in Star Trek right as baby Kirk was about to be born (right when all the other sounds promptly die off to make the scene much more epic and such) and got frustrated quickly thereafter, but still.

I always feel like I should invest more time into film soundtracks since they can pretty much make or break how I feel about a film. Perhaps it's just that I associate the music with images so closely that to listen to it without the accompanying images would be disappointing. Maybe it's because I don't really know which ones I really actually might like. I think I only have two soundtracks on my iTunes... that being A Clockwork Orange and 8 1/2... and the latter was especially disappointing, since I sought it out so I could hear one little piece only to discover that it wasn't on the disc.

(It's this by the way. In the scene where Guido fantasizes about his childhood... it's not necessarily awe-inspiring, but it's so damn melancholic. I also contribute about 34% of my appreciation of the film to it... )



Oh, and I forgot that I also own The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly soundtrack on vinyl.

Oh, and I fought laziness and encountered the piece from Star Trek. Just imagine a noisy intergalactic space battle--with all the sound suddenly fading out to make way for this. It's pretty cool. It's also the point where I realized that I might actually *like* the friggin' movie.



(I can't remember if I ever wrote about Star Trek, but three things really made me enjoy it despite never really caring much for the TV series: 1) the music, 2) its sense of humor, and 3) the lens flares. Apparently a lot of people didn't like the lens flares, which puzzles the crap out of me. Not only does it give the film its own visual flair, but it gives me more of a sense of a futuristic setting that the usual tricks don't usually do.)

I don't know where I was going with this, but this seems like a good place to stop.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I really like driving. I really do. There's something very relaxing about being in control of this large vehicle moving at fast speeds, while listening to something you like on the radio (which would be 89.3 The Current for me, even though I dislike half the stuff and the DJ with the weird accent annoys me--I could probably tell you his name if I listened to the station more than once a month (which is also the amount I drive in 3o days)).

Even better is when I have a vague idea of where I'm going, but really no clue how to get there. A lot of people think it's stressful, but it's kind of exciting to me. One time I was visiting a friend who was staying in the cities right after the 35W bridge collapsed, and the only way I knew how to get to his place was closed off due to 35W related shenanigans. It took me about an hour to get there... at one point I was a block or two away, but the road I was on didn't connect to his road, and then curved off in some weird direction. It took me about 15-20 minutes after that. It's actually fun. You just need to not be under the heavy burden of time, and then it becomes a little puzzle that can be somewhat challenging since city road layouts can be really stupid at times.

I don't own a car at the moment, mostly due to budget constraints and also because for a while I labored under the romantic ideal that life would be much more enjoyable and hassle free without one (wrong: just a lot cheaper). Maybe at some point I'll actually own one, but I'm guessing that since I'll be barely getting by for these next few months, that probably won't happen. Also, I sort of don't want to be oversaturated with nice cruises down the road, because inevitably my experiences will be ruined by you.

(You meaning "everyone else" here. I think it's a saying everyone thinks that they're the best at driving. If it isn't, then it's really weird cause I feel like I just read it a few days ago... anyway, I'm not confident enough to write that it's a saying without adding this long rambling footnote to it, at least.)

Certain things bother me. Like tailgating. I try not to let things bother me, and I try to like everyone I come across and everything, but tailgaters are my least favorite people on Earth. If I were to meet a person, and considered them a friend, then got into the car and found out that they were extreme tailgaters, I just might break off the friendship. Cause obviously, their driving tendencies must then mirror their own character traits, and so tailgaters must be selfish jackasses. That's just how it must be.

Perhaps if the concept of a personal bubble didn't exist, it wouldn't bother me to the extent that it does. But it annoys me when some guy willingly makes you uncomfortable just because you're going only a bit above the speed limit, just because he wants to get to Taco Bell 28 seconds quicker. I'm saying all this because I saw some tailgating while out on the road today... the worst example was some guy right on the tail of another--who was going 65 on a 55 mph road. Then the dude tried to pass the other guy in a no passing zone, right as they were about to reach the top of a hill as well.

It made me wish that the driver would get in a horrible accident that would either result in him losing his leg, or resulting in legal damages up the wazoo. Those aren't particularly good thoughts to have, I'm presuming, and although I don't think it has resulted in any poor driving decisions (such as... slamming on the brakes when someone is tailgating me) nor do I think it will, it's still sort of unsettling that I'm wishing bodily harm to someone. It makes me rethink the whole "dang, I should get a car" stance I've been taking the past few weeks.

For a while, at least. Then I walk 20+ minutes to get where I need to go every single day.

Which isn't terrible, but you know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm at home. Which means that I'm usually constantly hanging out with my family and such, without really doing much in the way of anything else (thus my excuse for neglecting this little page).

One of the things we did was watch Up. I wrote about it, way back in May... let me see if I can find it... OK, I found it but what I wrote sort of sucks... let me just recap what I thought for you. 1) The first 20 or so minutes were amazing, should have been extended into perhaps 45-50 minutes, with the rest of the film focusing on the pursuit to get to Paradise Falls or something like that. 2) There were too many "cute" characters and at some point I wanted to stab myself.

That last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but whatever. Watching it again, I'm still sort of thinking the same things: the first 20 or so minutes are sublime, and that exhilarating moment where Carl takes to the sky should have had a little more build up to make it more rewarding... and the cute characters are still a little annoying.

Strangely enough, I enjoyed the second half a lot more this time around, probably due to the fact that my expectations were lessened and the fact that it was standard perilous adventure didn't really matter as long as it was executed nicely. Still, I can't help but feeling that the first 20 minutes were so amazing that the fact it went into standard perilous adventure means that there was a large opportunity wasted.

OK, so the first 20 minutes is this: Carl and Elle meet, fall in love, spend the rest of their life together, dream of going to Paradise Falls, have life get in the way of that dream, and then Elle passes on. Carl is still around, cranky, and the world has moved by him as the rest of his neighborhood is being developed into commercial and business properties. The word I'm thinking of is bittersweet, never actually realizing the dreams you have but enjoying life nonetheless, and then when the world gets to be too much for you, you escape.

I really like the whole "guys in black suits trying to buy Carl's property" storyline, because it does nicely contrast with the fairytale-like romance that was his marriage and it gives a lot of weight to that desire for escape. The only problem is that it lasts for about 5 minutes before Carl goes up with his house in balloons. Which is OK, but you could have devoted so much more time to it that it pains me to think about it. I mean, I guess maybe they didn't want to hit people over the head with the fact that he seems to no longer fit in this society, but focusing more attention on how he's now out-of-place, how mundane and routine life has become for him and society, etc. would make the whole escape-by-balloon not seem as much as the doings of a crazy old man, but a much needed necessity. It isn't exactly given enough time to seem like a necessity.

After that, all the adventure and peril is OK and such, because it would then be apparent that it's a reaction against the monotony of life and a guy living out his dream and all that crap. But since the first 20 or so minutes was just 20 or so minutes, it comes off as just routine adventure... well done adventure, but adventure with lesser weight.

So maybe I don't exactly *love* the first twenty or so minutes, but I like the idea behind it, you know?

(Unrelated note: so apparently someone decided that they should send as little copies of Up as possible to local rental stores as to persuade more people into buying copies of the movie, a.k.a. more profit for Disney. It kind of sucks, because then everyone asks if we have copies, and I feel bad for not having any copies that my response is "uhh, we have copies for sale?" Then Ifeel guilty for contributing even more money into Disney.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bruno

This is coming out to DVD this next week. So I got an advance copy of it to watch. Quick thoughts.

-It's probably the dirtiest R rated film I could possibly think of.

-It's funny at parts, but it's really not as funny as it thinks it is. And obviously, it's trying to do the same thing as Borat and try to reveal underlying hatred. But the problem is that everything is painted in LARGE brush strokes. Bruno is pretty much made to be a huge stereotype, and so the ones who actually react with hatred are just as large stereotypes. Cause, you know... rednecks are easy targets. Cool. Let's go for them instead of going after anyone difficult.

And the problem is that the movie tries to provoke so many uncomfortable moments that it sometimes doesn't boil down to homophobia or anything like that, but rather just down to how people can deal with extremely uncomfortable situations. I'm thinking of the hotel scene mainly, where some guy gets called in and--well, I really don't know how to describe it. It's not that the dude seems to be homophobic or anything, it's just that the scene is so bizarre, that no matter what people's opinions are some people would not be comfortable with it. What I'm trying to say is that I think the film fails in getting any sort of point across effectively. I haven't seen Borat since it was released in 2006, but I at least remember there being scenes in which people's discomfort in a foreigner were revealed in interesting ways. This doesn't really have that.

The scenes focusing in on the culture of celebrity (and its vapid nature) work a little better for me, but unfortunately it also tries way too hard for humor. There's a scene in which Bruno is about to interview Paula Abdul, and they don't have any furniture, so they recruit some Mexican workers to act as furniture. Not only does Paula go along with it, but then the first question discussed is about Paula's charity work and how she likes to help people (you know, as she's sitting on the back of this poor immigrant). It's wonderfully absurd, but then the scene is ruined by bringing in a guy fashioned as a food plate in an obvious attempt for shock value.

So basically, I don't know what the heck the point of it all is.

RATING:

Something

OK, so last time I detailed that I was going to do some football picks, because I was fashioning myself as a huge expert, which is pretty much me blowing smoke left and right.

And there was a game last Thursday, so I made a quick prediction before I went on with my predictions for tomorrow's games, and lo and behold... I was right. I predicted the 49ers by 4... and whaddaya know, they won by 4.

This means either two things:

1) Complete luck.
2) I AM A BRILLIANT GURU IN ALL THINGS *INCLUDING* FOOTBALL.

I wouldn't blame you for leaning towards number 2.

I'm going to first do the games I care about.

Vikings vs. Lions
-This one might be closer than people think. The Lions are a division rival, jumped out to a 10-0 lead earlier in the game before losing big... and last year, their game against us was the closest they were to winning (losing by a stupid safety by their QB). Vikings still win, cause they have all the talent, but it's close for a while before the Vikings put it away.
Vikings by 17.

Cowboys vs. Packers
OK. This is hard. 1) The Cowboys don't really *need* this game, and the Packers do. 2) I don't think the Packers are a bad team... just not a very good one. 3) Cowboys have had two tough losses to two good teams (at least at the time), so they can definitely keep up with anyone. Since the Packers seem less than clutch at crunch time, Cowboys by 3. Although I sort of want to say the Packers just to hope it causes a reverse jinx.

Bengals vs. Steelers
Steelers are playing pretty dang good right now. The Bengals are as well, but they lack the experience in tough games like the Steelers do. Or something like that. Sounds like something an expert would say... I don't actually know if the Steelers players lead the Bengals players in "total tough games played." But what I mean is that the Steelers won the Super Bowl last year, so they're probably better. Steelers by 14.

Patriots vs. Colts
So, due to Manning's crazy goodness, plus due to the fact that they probably have had this game on their radar for a while now... they win by 12. And then lose next week to Baltimore. Cause they'll get a big head after this game, you see. Or something to that effect.

Games I don't really care about:

Bills vs. Titans: Titans by 17.
Saints vs. Rams: Saints by 26.
Bucs vs. Dolphins: Dolphins by 15.
Jaguars vs. Jets: Jaguars by 6.
Broncos vs. Redskins: Broncos by 10.
Falcons vs. Panthers: Falcons by 7.
Chiefs vs. Raiders: Chiefs by 4.
Seahawks vs. Cardinals: Cardinals by 21.
Eagles vs. Chargers: Chargers by 13.
Ravens vs. Browns: Ravens by 14.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Complaint.

I hate Kay Jewelers commercials.

I am going to assume that pretty much everyone hates them, but they take on a special kind of hatred for me, since they constantly infiltrate the airwaves during the holiday season with their message of "nothing says 'I love you' (or 'Merry Christmas') like a HUGE, F***ING EXPENSIVE DIAMOND."

I guess you could replace diamond with any type of possession and you'd get your typical "it's the gift of giving!" holiday commercial, but I guess the that Kay uses such a mawkish taste that it irks me even worse than your typical ad.

Anyway, I saw the Kay ad with the deaf lady. It's kind of cool that someone out there is using a deaf person in a marketing campaign, but then again... the fact that it's Kay Jewelers ruins deaf people for me.

Not really, but still.

Boring football post.

So after weeks and weeks of me touting how great of a prognosticator I've been after games have already come to pass, I figured that I would try to make my predictions known to people before the games are actually played.

Since there's a game tonight apparently, I'm going to quickly write something about this game, and pretend to actually know what I'm talking about. When I try to predict the rest of the games later, I won't write as much, but that's probably for the better cause I really know nothing.

Bears at 49ers.

-The game's probably going to suck.

-Neither team is all that good, but the 49ers have been competitive against stronger opponents (Vikings, Colts, Texans), while the Bears have gotten blown out by the Bengals and Cardinals. Also, the game that the Bears beat a good team... they should have lost (Steelers) while the 49ers lost a game they should have won (Vikings).

-I was really glad the Vikings didn't get Cutler like a lot of people were expecting over the offseason. I mean, I was sort of hoping we'd get him, because we have crap else... but really, I was relieved to not get him. That collapse down the stretch last year... pretty ugly.

-All of this to say that I'm taking the 49ers. By 4, let's say. Also, I want the 49ers to win, which has bearing on my prognostications, usually.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sad news to report:

Not sad news for me per se, but sad news in general.

FOX canceled a show called Dollhouse today.

Normally I wouldn't care about this because... I've never seen the show, and the only foray into televised sci-fi has probably been Space Ghost: Coast To Coast (if we broaden our definition of sci-fi to its loosest form possible), but I am posting this now because I want to extend my deep sympathies to the random guy on the street we ran into on Sunday.

So Sara and I were at this one event put on by this German group whose name I'm forgetting. And as we were about to head home, we were approached by this guy with a clipboard. Now, in my experience guy approaching you with something on the street = he wants your money. It actually happened earlier in the day when some guy wanted to do a portrait of us for $5 (which I refused... because I had little use of a portrait of myself.)

But this guy? He just wanted us to sign a petition to save Dollhouse.

It was at the same time refreshing and yet kind of weird. I mean, in a period in which the internet is pretty much taking over the world, replacing the traditional forms of media to create this one superpower... it's kind of cool to see a material petition in someone's actual hands, instead of the now more ubiquitous online form.

At the same time... isn't it a lot more effective to go online anyway for this type of petition? I'm assuming that-unless there's an extraordinary amount of German-American fans of the show-there's not going to be a whole lot of people that really care or have heard about the show. And I'd imagine that going to the streets for a petition would be for a cause that's actually relevant and topical, but this was for a TV show. Again, it was cool, but weird.

But hey, all the power to the guy. It was kind of funny, as the petition dude seemed to be a little on the geeky side, and then he did the stereotypical "drop the papers you're holding" thing to pretty much confirm it. But still, he was going out to the people fighting to save the show that I am assuming he loved. And I hope he isn't taking this news too hard, even if it was inevitable like the article says.

Hopefully this news won't discourage him either. Keep on fighting the good fight, good sir.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A list of things I'm not doing

I'm in the midst of a 5-day break from work.

Things I *could* be doing:

-Watching all the stuff I've been meaning to watch for a while.
-Catch up with people that I haven't talked to in weeks/months.
-Writing. Either something for here, or I could continue with the screenplay that I actually started (!!!). Not that I'll ever finish it (because... you know, I have little drive and self esteem), but right now I've got 3+ pages... perhaps more if I were to format it like an actual screenplay. So that's kind of cool. I could be working on that.
-Cashing in my check, which would make me feel less broke.
-Returning the DVD I need to bring back to the library, because it needs to go back before Thursday.
-Etc.

What I have instead been doing with all my free time:

-Playing online poker.
-And not even poker for money, so it's even more pointless (although less of a strain on my wallet... even though I've been playing well as of late... although that's probably because people who actually play for money might actually be somewhat good.)
-(Except that I lost the last game I played, ruining all the good will I had going on there. Although it was because Sara called me and we made plans to go to Cub and such... so it wasn't the worst thing in the world.)
-(I guess it's good that I've got something to do now, though...)
-(So I went to CNN and saw that cells phones are slowly killing people, and then Sara called... and I tried to hold the phone as far away from me as possible. And now, after looking at the symptoms online... I now believe I have a brain tumor.)
-(Which means that when I get the swine flu, it's going to battle with the brain tumor in a race to see what can kill me first.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Obligatory football post

Why is it that the one Sunday that I don't work is the one in which the Vikings don't play?

Still a good week for the Vikings, though. Not a surprising one though... honestly. Arizona can be spotty, but they're overall a MUCH more solid football team than the Bears, who don't impress me AT ALL. And I was kind of feeling the Bucs upset over the Packers, since the Bucs had nothing to lose and I'm still not convinced the Packers can come through under pressure.

I'm pretty good at revealing my predictions after they've already come true.

Review: Tyson

I'm glad this movie exists.

I think it's the natural inclination for a lot of us to see a person on television represented as a bit off naturally assume that they are quite crazy. And of course this isn't the case. And actually, I didn't need this documentary to tell me that Mike Tyson wasn't just a monster. Back in the early part of the decade, I was watching Jimmy Kimmel and it had Mike Tyson as a "guest host" for the week. And there was this bit in which they showed Mike Tyson with a bunch of pigeons. It wasn't a comedy bit, it wasn't meant to be ironic or anything... it was just a piece showing how much Tyson cared for these pigeons. That there was when the illusion of the "baddest man on the planet" disappeared.

Of course, the fact that Tyson participated in one of the most brutal sports possible doesn't help his perception, meaning the fact that he has been convicted of rape and bitten off a man's ear supplements his boxing persona as a ruthless bloodseeker. So what this film does is just give Tyson the floor, letting him tell his side of the story... which might easily seem like a fluff piece where the person does nothing but defend every single one of his actions, resulting in a boring, one sided story.

Thankfully, Tyson is honest enough to tell his story through the eyes of someone who is much older and much more mature, so he spares us little in detailing his own faults and misgivings. I mean, I don't know if he's telling the *whole* truth, but when he paints himself in unflattering lights on certain stories, you lend credence to the entire story.

And in the process, this dude who once declared that he was going to eat Lennox Lewis' children becomes much more human and--dare I say it--more identifiable. For example, the ear biting incident: sure, it was a terrible and unfortunate incident, and Tyson says this himself in admitting that he let his anger get the best of him. But this is what unfolded in my eyes--Tyson is trained to be animal-like in the ring. Holyfield uses dirty headbutts to get advantage in first fight. Uses dirty headbutts to get advantage in second fight. I would be pretty pissed in that situation, and if I were going to retaliate in some way, I'd guess I'd go for some part of the head.

Again, it doesn't excuse the actions, but everyone has moments in which they are pushed to the limit and let their demons come out. And Tyson isn't any different, only his demons came out in the spotlight as one of the biggest sports figures in the world.

(Some points off for random interludes where the director has Tyson reciting poems by the beach. I think these sections were inserted to alleviate the director's guilt that most of the film was just Tyson talking about himself the entire time.)

RATING:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Review: Flaming Lips--Embryonic

I thought the fact that I couldn't sit down and listen to this was my fault. I thought--like I always do--that I am the one to blame for all failures in relationships, and that this was no different and I refused to return to it because I am a BAD consumer of music.

However, I have come to realize something different.

This was a liberating moment for me, and ever since then I have been seeing things a bit differently. The sun is a bit shinier, the leaves are a bit crisper, the Vikings are a more viable Super Bowl contender... you name it. Things feel so much better for me.

So I am going to just say what has been floating around in my mind for a good while now, and that is this: Flaming Lips... you've got to meet me halfway here and be a *little* bit more engaging.

Now, I love the Flaming Lips (or... I love Transmissions From The Satellite Heart and Clouds Taste Metallic), and I was greatly pleased to see that they were moving away from the more precious sounds of The Soft Yoshimi Battles With The Mystics. And Embryonic is a decent album. I might even say it's a good album, honestly. But there's a bit of a problem with it that makes me think this is just a half-step in the right direction.

It kind of drags.

Perhaps this is due to the 70 minute nature of the beast, which almost always assures there are lows to go along with the highs. However I think the main problem is that it's just not as exciting and engaging as it could be. Sure, they've got a cool 60s-70s psychedelic atmosphere here. But it only *seems* to be dark and foreboding... I can't taste it.

"Convinced Of The Hex" is a bad choice to start off the album, since it plods along in an ugly manner, which ends up being the main impressions derived from the album. Slow, plodding, kind of ugly... which is OK and all, as long as you have counterbalance that with some more up-tempo numbers to keep a bit of interest. Unfortunately, that department is lacking a bit too much for my tastes.

There are some great songs here, though. "The Ego's Last Stand" is the cream of the crop, with the bass line menacingly forewarning an impending escalation in chaos. Everyone starts playing mid-song, and it's a treat--it seems as if it's the first time where the general atmosphere leads somewhere. It's quite delectably evil--and *exciting* too. I'm not sure if my appreciation for the track is due to the fact that the preceding songs seemed so middle-of-the-road, but nonetheless it's one of the best Lips songs since Clouds Taste Metallic.

"Sagittarius Silver Announcement" is another "generally middling and atmospheric" song, but the vocals sound as if they were sung by a 40's horror film villain, and it's really dark and cool. And honestly, the second half is a lot more fun to listen to (yet still remaining dark) and avoids the whole "sound like everything else" plague on the first half, which raises the album's effectiveness. But man, that first half is such a slog to get through that's it's sometimes hard to get to the rewarding part, you know?

Oh, and "Watching The Planets" is probably the best rock song they've made in 10+ years as well.

RATING:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Random thoughts version 2.0

-I keep meaning to post little old reviews of albums that I've been listening to the past month or so, but I NEVER get around to it.

I blame this on the Flaming Lips. I've been wanting to write about them first, and then I sit down to listen to the album again so I can properly write about it, but then I start listening to something else. Every single time. It means that I get a whole lot of nothing done.

Like, I could be listening to it now, and then power it out late tonight after work, but instead I'm listening to this:



Isn't this awesome? First it's catchy as hell, and a little bit of ridiculous. Adding to the ridiculous factor is the lead singer wears this ridiculous sweater/scarf combo while indulging in terribly awkward motions that sort of look like an attempt at dancing. BUT THE KEYBOARDIST IS AMAZING. At first he seems kind of annoyed to be there, with a little bit of playing along to the camera, but then it just looks like he's PISSED OFF. I like to imagine that he was annoyed with the lead singer at some point for being an embarrassment, harboring secret desires to strangle him right around the time he grits his teeth. This hatred theory might be helped by the fact that they're brothers, too.

Anyway, the point is... I'm easily distracted.

-Another cool thing I like: Julian Casablancas covering "I Wish It Was Christmas Today."

A) I do have a soft post for Strokes-related stuff. I think a lot of what turned people off was the hipper-than-thou vibe they gave off, but the problem with that for me was that they executed simple and good rock music too well. Their first album just has plain quality songwriting... and the whole buzz around them as the "saviors of rock and roll" was simply some overeager folks excited that something simple like that could sound fresh and exciting again.

B) I also have a soft spot for early 2000's SNL, which is where the cover originates from. It was pretty much all stupid, and people like Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, etc are probably derided more than actually enjoyed... I grew up watching them, so they get a pass in my book, you know?

C) Also this cover is pretty much awesome. And makes me want to 1) review every single Christmas item that I may or may not have, and 2) listen to the dude's solo album a little more closely, perhaps.

-Also, I need to listen to Bob Dylan's Christmas album. I'm pretty sure it is awesome. Any ill will towards it must be because parents generally hate their kids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

For the record... again:

The Yankees can go to hell.

Right now, if at all possible.

Bringing Out The Dead (1999)

This one is a bit more difficult to review, since I really don't know what to think about it.

It's in the same vein as Taxi Driver, The King Of Comedy... dark, psychological dramas with very flawed protagonists in the spotlight. This here involves Nicolas Cage as an ambulance driver, who has had a string of bad luck as he has been unable to save any lives. The rest of the film pretty much explores the impact that watching people die must have on a person, as Cage grows all the more insane living in a New York that can seemingly swallow anyone at any given moment.

Which makes Cage's relationship with one of his patients really quite intriguing. After bringing someone who was for all intents and purposes dead back to "life" (one that requires a constant use of the defibrillator to keep him normal), Cage begins to wonder if he did the right thing in bringing this guy back to a world that is constantly wrapped in pain and misery.

There's a LOT of humor as well, especially the scenes with Ving Rhames as the wise-cracking, Bible preaching partner of Cage's... but the problem is that it didn't really seem to gel with the more psychological elements of the script. I really don't know how to describe it. It was an absurd humor that I sort of wanted to see a lot more of, yet would have made the film a lot less compelling. Probably the most humorous of his since The King Of Comedy, but the humor in that was so dark that it fit. Here... not so sure.

I'm assuming I'll watch it again at some point. I don't hate it, I don't love it, I'm intrigued but not fascinated, etc. etc.

RATING:

Reviews!

Going through a bunch of Scorsese flicks... you haven't seen any of these, I'm presuming, but this is for my own personal enjoyment, so the hell with you. This is one of two that I might do tonight. The other is Bringing Out The Dead... I might talk about Casino as well.

My Voyage To Italy

The point of this documentary is that Scorsese likes Italian Neorealism, and so he decided to make a movie about these movies in the hope that he would then get you to see these movies. Which is cool and all, I suppose, and I guess it has piqued my interest in post-war Italian films. But it's not really interesting as a movie, you know?

At first, Scorsese spends some time talking about his family and how they used to watch these movies on a TV channel broadcasting out of New York (heavily populated with immigrated Italians, of course), and how the films would remind them of the home that they once left. This is the part that works the best, because it is Scorsese not only talking about the films themselves but how they related to his life and culture. But then it becomes more about the films and how they influenced Scorsese as a director, which I suppose is the natural progression that it is bound to take, but it becomes then more of a film history lesson rather than a documentary.

At some point, I stopped caring about what Scorsese said about the films I haven't seen and rather what he said about the ones I have seen (which means--pretty much I was interested in the Fellini segments). Is that a good thing? I don't know. I also don't know if it actually made me really all that more interested in seeing these films, since I pretty much got the condensed versions of them right here.

It's interesting at times, and I enjoyed seeing the insights into the films that I had seen (although I was disappointed he glanced over La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, but oh well), but it's four hours long.

RATING:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I was going to write about the Flaming Lips, but then I saw this:

Weezer would probably be my favorite band right now if I were to base that purely on a complete lack of self-awareness, disregarding the music all together. I mean, there's no reason that a performance with Kenny G and a band-inspired Snuggie would be considered anything but stupid and in bad taste.

But if Weezer does it? The band who made the "acclaimed" self titled blue album and Pinkerton? The band who pissed off its entire fanbase by deciding to make sub-par top-40 friendly albums? Well then, it just suddenly makes it awesome.

I'm probably going to listen to their new album soon... I'll probably dislike it, but you know what? I don't care. I got over the fact that most of their albums suck sometime after Make Believe and have enjoyed them for their gut-busting stupidity since then. It's kind of like enjoying a really bad movie for me, except if the director had made movies you really liked and THEN decided to blow his talent just for the hell of it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Of course, I didn't watch the game...

but if I did, here's what I'd be saying:

-The game played out pretty much just like I expected it to. I was pretty much expecting... well, I was actually kind of envisioning a game from 2000 (I believe... during the Vikings' run to the NFC championship game), where there's a lot of points, Favre keeps his team ahead with the other team pecking away but just not enough, finishing the game with a 10 point win. Which is what happened. Of course, it's easy for me to say this now, and of course I was also somewhat expecting the Packers to win 38-10, but between that result and the result we got, that's all I was expecting. So that's sort of cool, right?

-I probably would have punched a hole through the TV screen if I had to watch a 24-3 lead erode. Not that I'm surprised that the Packers put up more of a fight, but after that Ravens game any double digit lead that evaporates triggers an impulse to kidnap Brad Childress and replace him with a robotic lookalike (which I would assume would know how to manage a game better).

-For now, the Vikings are the 2nd best team in the NFC. The Saints are the clear cut favorites for the Super Bowl, and there's no way the Vikings are going to get through them. Around playoff time I'm assuming the Eagles will assume the position of 2nd best, and we'll get knocked out by them (or the Giants... although they've looked bad the past three weeks). We look to be in good shape *now*-- but we have been lucky and should be 5-3. So yeah.

-Mainly, I'm just glad the Packers didn't win. I live near a few Packer fans, who are good people and everything (aside from being Packer fans), but I don't think I would have been able to live with them after a Packer win, cause I'm assuming they would have been talking about how great their chances are at making the Super Bowl and how they match up against the Saints and Colts and crap.

Which would have been stupid. Cause the Packers aren't that good.

I say this admitting that I wouldn't put the Vikings much higher up than them, and that the Bears look even worse. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the NFC North really isn't all that good. They've all benefitted from playing the Lions, the Rams and the Browns. Perhaps the three worst teams in the league.

Graaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Wanna know what's the worst?

Biggest game for the Vikings this afternoon... against the Packers. My official prediction is that we're going to win by 7-10 points due to eventual deflation by the Packer fans and players after being hyped for the game for so long.................... or the Packers jump out to a 14-0 lead and win 38-10.

Another prediction is that tonight will suck, because I work from 2-8, right when the game is on.

I'll have my brother texting me scores from the game, but the problem is is that my boss doesn't like people having their phones with them, so I will have to SECRETLY check the scores. And if she sees me with the phone... won't know who won till after 8 then.

Awesome, huh?

Also, I'm annoyed that they decided to schedule me to work EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND TILL THE END OF TIME, but that is another matter.