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Friday, February 27, 2004
From Slinky: 50 Years of Fun for a Girl and a Boy, 1995, Toy Boat Press
But what began as a toy for children and the masses became a kind of cult prop for scientists and engineers who admired Slinky's elegant simplicity. Indeed, it was not uncommon to find Slinkies in functioning engineering projects on university campuses throughout the 1960s and it is said that NASA engineers on the Apollo project were apt to roll the springy device from hand to hand while discussing atmosphere re-entry and propulsion in group sessions.
The key to its appeal, both to children and to intellectuals and artists of the era, some psychologists say, is the device's many paradoxes. It is hollow and (would that we assign it human characteristics) healthily round at once. It appears infinitely pliable, yet what it's made of is durable metal. It goes from squat to impossibly tall, still to mobile, potential to kinetic, with only a light push.
But perhap unconsciously, it is Slinky's resilience that has engendered it such lasting appeal. Slinky grows and moves, Slinky hope and stretches, changes its appearance and size, but always returns to its coiled, uniform root. Barring a careless stretch-out (and who hasn't mourned the "Death" of a Slinky by overextention?), Slinky stays the same, outlasting Presidents, love and practically every other toy with its inimitable ability to return meekly and perfectly to form, leaving no evidence of what and where it's been.
Found! The Dirty Dancing commentary track that should have been
Pamie's story about the original Dirty Dancing is up. May require free registration, but the story is totally worth it.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Movies this week
When did Thursdays get so busy all of a sudden?
The Barbarian Invasions: It took me a little bit to reconcile that this was a Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee from Canada. I was thinking those must be some really thick accents to fool the Academy. But, it turns out that it's all Frenchified and a Very Important Film About Healthcare and Family. I bet there are lots of very quiet scenes where the patriarch is in a wheelchair and the son talks about how the father never played catch with him and maybe an uncle fondled his bumhole or something, and how the father drove mamma to an early grave; what do you have to say about that, old man? Huh? ANSWER ME! "Répondent moi, Papa!" Yeah, I think I can do without that on Oscar weekend. [Note: does not contain real Barbarians. That's just not as fun, is it?]
Club Dread: I admire any comedy troupe that can get its shit together long enough to make a movie. This troupe, Broken Lizard, made two movies, including the sorta-cult movie Super Troopers which most comedy people really like. This one is getting awful reviews, even worse than their last movie and the trailer I saw for the film looked really, really bad. And I sort of rationalized it in my head that maybe the trailer doesn't represent the vast reservoirs of ingrained comedy to be had by actually seeing the whole movie. But the early reviews seem to indicate that, no, there are not only reservoirs lacking, but any semblance of comedy water at all. it's a desert in there! Do I take the metaphor too far? Perhaps I take the metaphor too far...
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights: I took an informal poll a few weeks ago and concluded that everybody my age has a mom who either owns the DVD or the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing. (My mom has both.) It's like part of the standard equipment package for moms in their 40s or 50s. This movie stars Diego Luna, last seen whacking it off on a diving board in "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and some blonde chick that the critics really seem to like. Also, Patrick Swayze returns. No Jennifer Grey, though, because nobody would know it was her anyway. Pamie has a funny article coming out in our paper tomorrow about the original film, so I'll link to it when it's up.
The Fog of War: This was supposed to open next week after bouncing all over the release schedule, and I'm a little bitter about that for work-related reasons, but whatever. It looks great. Errol Morris is to documentaries what Mike Tyson is to beating the shit out of people and rape. He's just the king and after seeing the preview of this at The Dobie during Triplets of Belleville (GO SEE IT!), even my brother had a hankering to check out this sobering documentary about a clearly conflicted former warmonger. In deference to the other big release this week, I still think they should have called this The Fog of the War.
Greendale: There's a really funny story about this "Movie" (I use that term loosely; truth be told, it's a Neil Young "thing" where people lip synch his songs for an hour and a half. Remember that scene in Magnolia? Yeah. Like that.) but I don't know if I can safely tell it. Let's just say that people in the media are not exactly beating the theater door down to go see and review this film. Also, people are wary of talking to Neil Young about it because it's like getting to meet Elvis, but you're only allowed to talk to him about dying on the crapper. You just know it's going to be uncomfortable. So see this movie at your own risk. It's made even hard-core Neil Young fans whine and moan.
Ashley Judd: Wait a minute. Are you trying to tell me that --
Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson or Yaphet Kotto: Yes. Your husband is actually the man who's been trying to kill you.
Ashley Judd: Good thing I cut my hair short, then. But what about the handsome stranger I just started falling in love with?
Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson or Yaphet Kotto: That was your husband, too. He's clever like that.
Ashley Judd: No! I...
(Husband comes in and shoots Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson or Yaphet Kotto. Ashley Judd shoots him back.)
Ashley Judd: Whew. Now I can finally get on with my fulfilling professional career as a district attorney/cop/yoga instructor.
The Passion of the Christ: Hoo boy. What can I say about this? I do actually want to see it, just to, you know, check it out for myself. On Monday night, I was at a theater doing lots of advanced screenings of it, and people were walking out of it just demolished. They were crying and hugging and praying. I can't speak to the quality or content of the film, but when was the last time you saw people walking out of a movie screening with much of any reaction? Usually I just see assorted grumbling or half-amused laughter. I really don't have much to add to the cacophany than that other than I think this movie is going to make a lot more money than anybody expected. It's going to be a big hit.
DVDs: You can check out my review of the Chappelle Show Season One DVD (it's rich, beeyatch!). Hoping to check out Capturing the Friedmans on DVD, but it's not likely I'll be watching much of anything since I'm working Oscar night.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Anatomy of a blog: L'il Floaty Omie Head testifies
Sometimes, when you're out of ideas, you just write for the sake of not being embarassed. That happened when I had no idea what to write for today's XL Blog. So I scrambled. In a moment of weakness I even googled "Blog prompts" hoping to find some inspiration. Then I decided to fuck all that and just write what I think about having a work blog and this blog. I know other people are way more eloquent about blogging and "What a blog is," but I just re-read it after it was posted and I'm at least not embarassed by what I wrote.
Sometimes, when the well done run dry, that's enough.
Up, up, up, up, up
I'm instant messaging with a friend of mine and they're going through a very rough heartbreak. Three months ago, when we instant messaged, I was hearing them talk about falling in love.
I'm feeling a lot better today. Yesterday was a crash and I was in the breakdown lane. But in 24 hours, what felt lost is now visible and what seemed hopeless yesterday now seems manageable. I'm optimistic, even.
My moods, are least, aren't predicated on suddenly finding or losing love, at least, and that's a relief. That's a good thing, right? That love in your life is the most stable part of it. I do remember genuine heartbreak, what that feels like, and it's like looking back at a dark, tangled forest you're far beyond the path from. You don't exactly want a return trip.
I'm following politics today. I'm not allowed to be political on here the way some of my peers are on their Web sites (the person holding the withholding whip is only me; I like my paycheck too much to go spouting overtly political stuff here), but some of what's happening out there right now represents to me a shift that makes me feel… lighter. I feel less burdered knowing that hearts are changing, that wolves in sheepskins are exposing their seams, that there is a very real potential for change. I hadn't realized how much the political climate had been cloudy above me until I inadvertently spotted some clear skies up over the horizon.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Recap and sleep
New Smallville recap is up:
How To Turn A Gay Superhero Straight -- A girl who has the power to teleport turns Clark on, but just as quickly turns into a psycho hose beast. Still, it's better than watching him moon over Lana.
I tried to go to bed early because I haven't been sleeping well in general lately. 12:30 is early for me. It didn't work. I tossed and turned until 1:30, got up, had some cereal, watched the last Sex and the City (better than I expected, actually), did a little reading, considered going out on the back porch and chilling, but laid on the couch instead, wished I was a smoker so I'd have a reson to go out on the back porch and chill, took a shower, went back to bed, tossed and turned some more, rolled some anxieties around in my head, finally fell asleep around 3.
I don't know why something as innocuous as the new Starsky & Hutch movie, which I saw last night, could put me into a funk. (It's not that great, incidentally.) When I've been tired and sleepless for a week or two, I get a little hopeless and depressed about little things. I wonder if I'm going to write anything great when it doesn't feel like the creative wheels are spinning at all. I worry about wedding planning stuff I've been dragging my feet on. I get a mental image of the yellow legal pad I keep at work with its bulletted to-do list and I think about the items I'm going to need to add to that list in the morning; phone calls I need to make, e-mails that need sending, stories that need editing, reviews that need work.
Sometimes I feel like the yodeller on the Price is Right Cliffhanger game, just chugging along up a mountain without knowing what's at the top. I'm not sure if it's the right mountain I'm climbing, even, when it comes to the writing. It's not a good feeling, this holding pattern, this feeling of dissatisfaction with some of the things I do, this feeling that the wheels are spinning, the work is pointless or that my growth is non-existent.
I think it's lack of sleep that's making me grouchy and listless. But even when I try to sleep, I don't.
Monday, February 23, 2004
I sit only a few yards from a mounted television set that hangs from the ceiling. On days when news isn't breaking (Michael Jackson did whaaaa? Robert Blake in the wheeeere?), the TV is kept on the Weather Channel (or our local equivalent) as it alternates between the Austin metro, the Texas state and the Central Texas maps.
Today, we've been watching the line of storms as it loomed all the way from the Panhandle. It crept along in a neat, diagonal line -- a forward-slash, headed right for us.
It's here. The line intensified from green to red-purple as it came and right now, we're bumping against orange. At nearly the exact moment it hit us on the TV, the skies darkened through our windows and a low, steady rumble shook us. A few seconds later, all the lights in the newsroom blinked quickly. "Whoah!" people yelled out, and our server overloaded a bit as everyone simultaneously saved their work.
The rain hasn't started yet, but the red and the purple and the orange seem to say that it's time to open the umbrellas. Take it from your friends on the airwaves.
The debut of the new Web comic my brother and I are working on, "SPACE MONKEYS!" is now up for your perusal.
Forgot to mention in that journal entry that this isn't the first comic to run in these pages. Remember Copperfield Comix?
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