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Friday, January 30, 2004
Back to life... back to virtual reality...
The system came crashing down again in the newsroom today. I came back from lunch and everybody was sitting around, complaining that nothing worked. Not the net, not our internal writing/editing/layout system, not anything. Work ground to a halt. Later on, our very cool tech guy said, chagrined, that we lost a few hundred manhours. (I think womanhours are even more expensive.)
Things crashed down in waves, I'm told, with some people accessing things that others couldn't, but those who could would be hit by the fireball and were left rudderless like the rest of us.
And then a calm, peaceful silence of chatter and shrugs. I think this is what the apocalypse will be like. Pockets of darkness expanding ever outward until every light goes out one by one -- you might see it coming as it covers into darkness your street, your city, the landscape, then the Earth.
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Celebrity statements I get
Floaty Disembodied Omie Head gets snarky about post-Oscar-nomination press releases and statements, and dares to mock Sting.
Really, that's just redundant these days.
Movies this week...
It's a two-star movie kind of week, ya know?
The Big Bounce: This is one of those movies that my friend Trejo would say, if you mentioned it to him, in his inimitable dismissive voice, "Never heard of it..." It's a movie that seemed to have appeared out of thin air, like a sudden drizzle. I bet every crew member on that movie is like, "Big Bounce? Is that the one with... oh, yeah, Owen! Yeah! I... uh... I have no recollection of that." It's based on an Elmore Leonard novel, as some very good films are (Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Get Shorty) but this looks more like that Dave Barry movie Big Trouble and it doesn't help that it also has "Big" in the title. "Big" movies are only good if Tim Buton is making them. Witness Big Fish. Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Big Top Pee Wee without Burton? Not so good. Big is also exempt from the rule because it falls under two exceptions: The "Early Career Penny Marshall" exception and the "The Word 'Big' With No Other Words in the Title" exception. For a full list of "Big" movie title exceptions, take a visit to your local library.
The Company: I've always liked that Robert Altman makes movies where dialogue overlaps, stuff doesn't always get resolved and the camera doesn't always seem to be in the right place for what's going on during, say, an earthquake. But it doesn't sound like that works here, mostly because you really gotta sell the shit out of a movie about ballet and if you forget things like, oh, characters and a story, you're probably leaving out a good 99.999999 percent of the moviegoing population. And me. I'll be seeing Lord of the Rings again before I watch this. How dare you make a structureless ballet movie, Mr. Altman! I bid you good day, sir! I SAID "GOOD DAY!!!!!" (Tosses scarf over shoulder, leaves in a huff.)
Eyes Without a Face: "Got no human graaaaaheeeece! You're eyes without a faaaaace, faaaaace, faaaaace..." (Cheesy guitar solo.) Sorry, couldn't resist. So this one's a 1959 movie about a crazy-ass plastic surgeon who goes nuts and starts butchering people to make a new face for a disfigured girl. So it's a musical? This is actually a sort of horror classic, so if you're into dissecting frogs in your backyard or snakes, this is probably totally your bag. It's also an old horror movie, so you might have people saying things like, "The doctor... he's MAD!" or "What in humanity is going on here, inspector?" Michael Jackson saw this movie and called it the feel-good film of the last century.
Girl With a Pearl Earring: After appearing in Ghost World and Lost in Translation, Scarlett Johansson is the poster girl for emo chicks and the wet-dream-havin' boys who love them. In fact, a dude I work with was talking about this movie and saying that he heard that she gets down and dirty in this movie and was excited to see if that was true. To which I nodded solemnly, but secretly thought, "Ew!" I just don't find her hot. Skilled and compelling on screen, sure, but hot? That shit didn't even occur to me. I just can't get excited about actresses who look under 20 anymore. Not this one, not Katie Holmes, certainly not any actresses in the Christina Ricci or Mandy Moore mold. (There IS a mold. You can find it on eBay.) I came really close to seeing this movie this week, but I'm almost glad I didn't because the more I read about it, the more boring and glacial-paced it sounds. So this guy painted a chick. And they had sex. And she had a facial expression that people have been wondering about for centuries. Art historians need to get a damn life. They can start with this movie, which will serve as their gateway porn.
The Perfect Score: Oh yeah, the other Scarlett Johansson movie, the one her agent wishes wasn't being released the week she got snubbed for not one, but two Oscar-touted roles. Oops, muthafuckas. This movie is about some students who steal SAT scores so that their loser asses can all score perfectly, which, sure, nobody would even notice was a little weird. Who wants perfect SAT scores anyway? You'll just end up going to some fancy-schmantz college, getting a job on Wall Street, marrying a frigid trial lawyer and molesting a bunch of kids in some suburban New Hampshire neighborhood before gunning down state troopers from the town clock tower. Seriously, you're better off with an 1140 and some student loans.
You Got Served:
"Who's directing this shit?"
"That fool that did House Party 4."
"There was a House Party 4?"
"Yeah. I heard that movie was so cheap, it didn't even go straight-to-video."
"Naw. That shit went straight to View Master!"
"Damn. That's cold."
"I know. Hey, Chris Stokes! YOU GOT SERVED!"
DVDs: I wrote a review of Alice in Wonderland that you can read here. Also watched Whale Rider, which you can read about below. Finished Scarface, which was freakin' depressing. This weekend, I hope to watch Intolerable Cruelty and maybe some Alias episodes that I've been neglecting.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
The mchick interview
Thanks to everyone who responded to my request for interview subjects. I got a little overwhelmed with so many people volunteering and I'm not sure I'll be able to get to everyone who stepped forward (If I do, they won't all be done until well past summer).
My thanks to mchick for being brave enough to be the first. You can read our interview here.
(And for those of you who don't go to the main page, there's a new Smiley out there.)
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Whale Rider watchers
On the couch, with the allergies bothering us both, Whale Rider made a moist, (pun intended) blubbering mess of us.
We'd had people say, "Oh that movie's gonna make you cry," or, "I love that movie!" with fists invariably balled up together at the chest in the "I want to hug this movie forever!" vein that I found myself engaging in after The Station Agent.
The truth is, the movie is damn nigh hard to resist. I know that there are people who don't like it, who think it's obvious and manipulative, but I found my heart unable to disengage, right from the moment when the gruff grandpa is circling around with Pai on the bicycle. The movie had been sitting on top of the DVD player for so long, unwatched for a stupid reason: I thought it was subtitled. Don't even ask me why, I just thought it was. So every night it'd be like, "Wanna watch Whale Rider?" "No, I don't feel like reading right now. My eyes hurt." Silly us.
"Are you crying?"
"What? No! Fucking allergies!"
"It's okay to cry."
"I know! It's not the movie. It's the damn cedar! The movie's just making it worse!"
"What's wrong with the whales?"
"They need to get Willy up on in there."
"She's so cute. Why doesn't anybody want her?"
"Because she's a girl."
"Girls have cooties."
"They do not."
"Maori cooties are the worst. You get tattoo looking things all over your face."
"She needs to kick somebody's ass with that stick. She could be 'Ass Rider.' "
"I think they already made that movie."
"She's so good. Why haven't they nominated her for any awards?"
"They wrote a lot about her when the movie came out, but it kind of died down."
"Are those barnacles on the whale?"
"They're like handlebars. You put quarters in the blowhole and then you ride for five minutes."
"She needs to leave that place. Be like, 'See ya! I'm riding to Hawaii!' "
"She's The Chosen One. Just nobody knows it yet."
"Because she's a girl."
"Because she has cooties. Whale cooties."
"Are you crying again?"
By the way, Rebecca totally called it on that Oscar nomination. I need to tap her psychic skills for upcoming Oscar pools.
Oh, one more cuteness: We had planned to see Big Fish last night and ended up seeing the whale movie instead.
Monday, January 26, 2004
The episode's so crappy, he's gotta wear shades
New recap of Smallville is up. Clark becomes, for one craptastic episode, Blind Willy Gay, a superhero who may not be able to see, but who can still hitch on the back of tow trucks and listen to your conversations from a block away. I really hope the maxim that the worse the episode the better the recap applies to this one.
If you're interested in being interviewed over AIM or e-mail for a short interview that would appear in these very pages, e-mail me. I'm not even sure what I'm doing here exactly, I just think it would be fun.
You must have the ability to answer questions. I will be the question asker.
EDITED TO ADD: Wow, that was amazing, thanks y'all. I've got way more than enough interview subjects. I'll post some of these soon.
Not a lot of writing, honestly. Recap writing, yes, but nothing free-form or novelistic or especially creative (Recaps are very creative, but in a reactionary way. I love doing them, but I should still have energy left over for my own stuff). Someone I respect quite a lot wrote me asking when my book projects would be done and published and available and I went into a shame spiral that carried me into the weekend.
Then we watched Scarface, which I'd never seen, about this guy who claws and fights and barks his way to the top, even if the top is some sort of angry anthill of coke fiends and crazy women. The documentary on the DVD about how hip hop culture has turned the movie into a symbol of minorities overcoming The Man was unintentionally hilarious. Yeah, P. Diddy, you're a modern-day Tony Montana.
The weekend also brought a viewing of the beginning of Glengary Glen Ross and I had visions of desperate men, men who get to a point in their life where they look back and go, "Oh, shit, how did we get here?" with great panic. That scares me a little, yeah. I look back a lot when I shouldn't and, while it's likely I'll never be looking back from behind a desk stacked with cocaine, there's still some lessons to be learned here that I'm not quite absorbing behind the allergy haze.
Oh, the eye drops. Optivar. It works great, but leaves an awful, stale taste in the back of your throat that I imagine you'd only replicate by fellating an Oak Ridge Boy. The drops get into your eyes and back into your throat and while your eyes feel so much better, less itchy and pained, you have to carry that taste around with you and it taints every flavor. It's a trade-off: Taste versus burning eye pain.
The weather in Austin has been especially good lately. It's so sunny and breezy that I don't really know what to do with myself. It seems criminal to stay inside, so yesterday, I revved up the leaf blower (set, probably permanently, to "Suck") and vacuumed up some leaves. The smell of rotting wet leaves under the dry ones overwhelmed me and the machine hurts my back to use, so it was done in short bursts.
Dry leaves crackled and popped as they were sucked in, chopped to tiny bits and held in a cloth bag for disposal. The seasons change and we pick up after them, moving ahead and ahead and ahead.
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