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Friday, August 29, 2003
MTV Awards, redux
This morning, at our Friday features meeting, I struggled to explain why it was that the MTV Video Music Awards (which I think I've probably watched every year in their 20-year existence) were so bad.
"They were..." I strained, "They were... just... lame."
Since I was the only person in the room who'd watched the whole thing (I didn't mention that I zapped through it all, including the pre-show, in under two hours with help from the magic of digital recording), they pressed me for details. I had to grudgingly admit that Chris Rock was a very good host (and that the worst year ever was the year the Wayans Bros. hosted), that some of the performances (Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, my boys Coldplay) were not bad. (Coldplay was better at the Grammys, though.)
So what was it that made it so lame? It's not like the dresses were any more ho-ish than at other events (except for Vivica Fox. What the HELL happened to Vivica Fox? Is she really dating 50 Cent? Should I even care?), the pre-show interviewers weren't any lamer than at other award shows (Kurt Loder, by the way, is showing definite signs of aging if you look about the jowl-al region) and the dance numbers weren't any more overblown and annoying than at other award shows. (I'm mighty tired of people twice my age at work cooing over the Madonna/Britney/Aguilera kisses; if Madonna knew it would get her talked about again, she's french kiss a spider monkey.)
It was just a general lame, an undefinable stank du jour that, cloudlike, hovered over the event. It made me loathe people I'd previously only mildly disliked. 50 Cent, first off, may be the dumbest person on the planet. No, wait, that's Margaret Cho, but that's a whole other discussion. Beyonce came across as just needy. Kelly Rowland, in the pre-show, seemed pleasantly surprised that her movie is doing well and then talked up Beyonce for fear that Papa Knowles would beat her up again. Justin Timberlake seemed all alone, despite the awards, and only had this froofy guy in pink to hug each time he got up. Eminem, of course, acted like he didn't care if he won or not, but look how he goes to every MTV show anyway. Don't even get me started about Metallica. Those sad-sacks WISH they were as young as Good Charlotte. (Who are Bad. Very Bad Charlotte.)
I refuse to believe I'm too old for these awards. If I were five years younger, I'd still think the shit blew. But what else can you say about an awards show for an sorta art form that the channel giving the awards doesn't even promote anymore? To quote the New York Times piece, "for the two weeks leading up to the annual Video Music Awards, MTV goes out of its way to make amends, like a neglectful spouse who overcompensates on anniversary night."
I'd go one step further: the awards are where all the most annoying, flamboyant relatives come out to embarrass themselves at the wake of a favorite, once-cool uncle.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Movies this week...
The Cuckoo: I would never go so far as to say a movie is too foreign to watch. If people will pay money to see Inuits from possibly thousands of years ago or a bunch of damn birds fly around for an hour and a half, anything is possible. But this movie features three languages, none of them English, and I guess part of the point is the language barriers and wartime love and blah blah blah. I have an aversion to war-time dramas/love stories to begin with (they always make it look like World War II nurses were the Pussycat Dolls of their day), but this movie has three things that automatically make me skip any movie: "Sniper," "Finnish" and "love-triangle."
Dirty Prety Things: I really do want to see this, having been an admirer of Stephen Frears' The Grifters and Dangerous Liaisons (what person that actually watched it didn't love Dangerous Liaisons?) Oh and High Fidelity! This movie has a great premise -- the underground immigrant culture of London. (Why doesn't someone make a movie about that set in southern California that isn't El Norte?) Then there are shocks, and sex, and murder. Sounds dark and great, huh? The previews and poster, however, are making this look like an Audrey Tautou Joint ("Oh, yes, so she is the Dirty, Pretty thing? Ah. Oh ho ho. Yes! Me like!" the scoundrels in the movie lobby are supposed to think.), when in fact it probably isn't. I'm just glad she's doing movies like this instead of trying to be like Franke Potente after Run, Lola, Run and leaping to star in movies with Matt Damon. Audrey: Don't Do the Damon.
Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary: Somebody got a hold of Tara Reid's diary?!? Okay, fine, cheap shot, sorry. This movie is all Canadian and visually lush, with ballet, and slow-motion and black and white and some Asian dude as Drac and probably gallons of beautiful blood and... man, I really want to see this. I've got a lot of affection for the mythos since our high school production of Dracula. I still can't believe they let us do that as a high school play. I played Jonathan Harker (Keanu in the Francis Ford Coppola version) and some of my best memories are of made-up vampiresses clawing all over me on stage. Ah, good times. We were going to make a mock Dracula porno called "Count Jackula." I was to play Jonathan Hardon. Sadly, it was not to be. What was I talking about again?
Jeepers Creepers 2: I didn't see the first one, and have no real interest in this one, but something that really pissed me off this week was reading a review that began by talking about how the director (who also did Powder way back in the day) was a convicted child molester. I understand that this is a very big deal, but why mention it as the lead of a movie review? To show that this guy is incapable of directing a good movie? Because you, the reviewer, were afraid the director's hand was going to come out of the movie screen and tickle your bunghole? I'm not trying to make light of child molesting, but how is that germain (Jackson, even?) to whether people should see this movie or not? Should that apply to The Pianist as well? "Statutory rapist Roman Polanski does a great job with the Holocaust story in..." "Known masturbator Pee-Wee Herman stars in..." Just shut up, guy. Go read The Smoking Gun or something.
Thirteen: Speaking of youngsters and sex, much has already been written about this movie's depiction of young teen girls gone wild. It's getting pretty good reviews (all of which use variations of the words "disturbing" or "harrowing"), especially for its acting. Holly Hunter's in it and our critic says she's the best thing about it. The director is also a UT grad and she's in town this week promoting the film, which she co-wrote with Nikki Reed, who has stolen the spotlight on this movie and run with it, Hamburglar style.
DVDs: Still watching Meaning of Life, which has some fantastic extras, and I started seeing Animal House last night, which I've never watched all the way through? Honestly? Don't hate me, but it's not as funny as I expected. Still, for its time, I can see how people would love, love, love it. Also planning on watching Heaven this weekend and maybe some more Mr. Show Season 3 commentary. It's not as funny as the commentary on the first two seasons, but oh well. Maybe it'll get better.
We did a package on 50 things to look forward to this Fall (a nice read for those of you who suffer season depression at the end of summer. My contribution was five video games, and if you can't tell, my enthusiasm for the upcoming Half-Life 2 is palpable like a Lunchable. Unless the game, upon installation, makes your computer explode into fiery chards (and given my recent laptop problems, that's not completely unimaginable), I can't see how it won't be the best game of the year. Perhaps ever.
Go read the bits and I'll be back in a bit with the weekly Movies wrap-up.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
That's how much my laptop repair is going to be.
I'll pay it. I mean, what else am I going to do? That cost covers labor, parts (an entire new system board, incidentally), shipping, all that.
I can't help thinking, though, that for two or three times that, I could just get a whole new laptop, one that's probably twice as fast as the (albeit beloved) 5005-S504.
In my online research, I did find this, though. I'm not a big fan of rooting for lawyers, but in this case, I don't see how they'll lose the case. I sent in my information. Who knows -- maybe that $366.97 will somedy come back in the from of a class action settlement. The problems I was having (and what the technician told me on the phone) sounds like the exact, dreaded overheating problem.
I think the 5005-S504 romance has officially died.
Water, Walter, whatever
Go check out my friend Erin's Fametracker Two-Stars, One-Slot piece today, in which she validates the bulk-quantity love in my house for one Mr. Adam Brody. The fact that she went and saw Grind in a palace of moviegoing shows that she just loves him a little more than I do.
I've also seen her band and they do, indeed, rawk the freakin' house. Do they Grind? No, they do better than that.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Toshiba 5005-S504: My sweet, sweet friend
My Toshiba laptop, which I take with me everywhere (dancin' at the club? I'll be dancin' with my big-ass laptop bag. Sex? You better make room in bed for 5005-S504, baby.), is sick.
So sick, in fact, that I had to completely reformat her, erasing a year and a half of stuff off her hard drive. I was luckily able to take all my data off first, transferring it to my desktop computer, but still. That cliff-diving moment where you tell the Toshiba recovery program, yes, go ahead and erase drive C: ("Yes, you cold, heartless, bastard! Just do it! Fucking DO IT! NOW!") is heart-stopping, even when you know that your data files and (if you're into that sort of thing) huge porn files, are safe and sound and backed up.
I did what the Toshiba Tech Support guy told me and threw the switch... a few hours later, the computer was reformatted and was supposed to be shiny and new, all Like a Virgin. But it was a virgin with awful meningitis and a yeast infection: every time the computer would reboot, it would play a little jaunty Toshiba music ("To-sheeeba! You love us, you love us, you really dooooo!") and then go to a blue screen and crash. ("To-sheeeba! You love us, you... hey, what are you doing?! Put down that knife, man! AAIIIIYYYEEEE!!")
I called the tech support guy back and he was wily enough to tell me that I should renew my warranty and take it in to the shop. I called about my warranty.
Omar: Can I... er, renew my warranty? In case something should, God forbid, happen to my laptop?
Warranty Lady: Oh, of course you can. When did you buy your computer?
Omar: May... May 2002.
Warranty Lady: Oh, let's see, that's one, two, three, three months after the warranty expired. We usually give you a grace period of a month to renew.
Omar: (Long silence) So, I...
Warranty Lady: No.
Omar: Not even if --
Warranty Lady: No.
Omar: Well, what if my laptop --
Warrantly Lady: You'll have to pay for it yourself.
Omar: Oh. Why do you sound so happy about it?
Warranty Lady: I love my job!
So Toshiba 5005-S504 is now at the shop, getting looked at and worked over by rough techie hands. I'm waiting to hear back about how much it's going to cost me since it's almost surely a hardware problem and laptops aren't like desktop computers, where you can just rip out the hard drive or replace a video card and move on with your life. I think it's going to be expensive and painful and annoying, especially given that you can buy a new laptop for about a grand these days. But what I am going to do? Not fix it? Leave it as a useless doorstop?
Sigh. My baby. Somebody please help my poor little blue Toshiba.
Monday, August 25, 2003
Online journal celebs
Hey, I know two people in a front-page New York Times story today! The Times did a story about "Online Diet Journals" (Registration Required) featuring Pound and with a photo of Erin.
Wow, it looks this whole crazy online journaling Internet thingy might be newsworthy after all!
Okay, perhaps I exaggerate
New Xl Blog entry is up.
All right, maybe I don't feel that sick. It sure felt that way when I wrote it this morning, though. Guess the Allegra just hadn't kicked in yet.
Be the Piojo
This morning at work:
Office person: (Takes one look at me. Giggles.) We saw the show Saturday night.
Office Person: You really have no shame, huh? I was afraid I wouldn't be able to look at you today.
Omar: I have that same fear about myself sometimes.
Like our last show in May, we did the Piojo (Head Lice) sketch, which if you haven't seen it, involves me dressed up in a stretchy head lice outfit (tights, antennae, arms aplenty) and dancing around the stage to opera music. I swear, one of these days I'll put up a photo here to give you a visual (an unwanted visual, perhaps), but mostly I'm so worried about getting that cumbersome costume on and not falling on my ass that getting photos taken is about the last thing on my mind.
I like that sketch a lot because it's exactly my sense of humor right there. It's not verbal. It doesn't particularly have anything grand to say about anything in particular. I just think it's really funny, to see a grown man dance around stage in a head lice costume. To ioera music. Maybe I'm simple and low, but I don't care. It's mine and I love it.
It was part of the big Latino Comedy Fiesta that we do every year. This year, Erica wasn't here, and that's become a sad, unfortunately regular part of our process. In many ways, she and Victor were the glue the kept the group going, and it's both a relief and a sad thing that we've found a way to do these shows without her here.
Like the last few Fiestas, we wouldn't be the bulk of the show. We brought in four other performers and by intermission, our part of the night was done. We got to kick back for the second half and watch Ruby Nelda Perez do a fantastic monologue about Heaven, Hell and Mexican food (that was me and Patty yelling and squealing from the back row throughout, with, "CUTIE!" and "WE LOVE YOU!") We watched Rick Gutierrez tear through his set, and Jesse deliver his fantastic material, which just gets better every year.
We've been doing this for more than five years. Five years. That's such a long time. It's longer than many marriages, a lot of jobs and some religions. We keep doing this, making people laugh, working together, getting through our annoyances and frustrationgs, plugging on and getting on that stage. And it may not appear to the audience this way, but from the stage, it's a marvel that it all works.
It doesn't, of course. In Piojo, the music cut out right in the middle of the sketch, leaving me to wonder whether it would come back at the same bit (paused?) or keep going (a volume problem?). I kept dancing, hoping it was the latter and completely unsure how to handle it if it was the former. And at one point, my foam arms got tangled together. I tried to gracefully find a way to get them free as I ran with open (human) arms toward Patty. But it worked out. (Even if my tights were hanging a bit low, as I was later informed, along with a suggestion that I wear shorts over my costume from now on.)
Still. The show amazes me. That it flows and moves and is funny. You might be in the clock tower, seeing all the gears move, but there has to be that moment of wonder, that blissful bit of time where it all just works and that feeling, slightly out-of-body, is an amazing thing. It never gets old, even after five years. It makes up for an awful lot in life, a lot of the things I've been struggling with the last few weeks. It makes up for quite a lot.
I don't know if that's why I'm happy right now, or if it's just a confluence of other things. If it's the stars, or my biorhythms or the weather. But I was close to bursting Saturday night, at the show and at the cast party. It stayed with me yesterday, even as I kicked up dust mowing my yellowing lawn, and today as I roused myself from bed to go to work. It's still there, that glowing sense of control and accomplishment, even if it was only for one great night.
It's something that in the morass of confusion and uncertainty in my life, works.
I'm grateful for it.
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